Archive for the tag - goals

Am I Gaining Fat Or Muscle?

Dear Davey,

I’ve recently started strength training at the gym and eating more calories because I’m trying to build muscle. Over the last two months I’ve gained 12 pounds. How do I know if it’s muscle or just fat?


muscle-mirror-selfie-manHey Shaun,

Congratulations on starting with a strength training program and kudos for sticking with it.

When it comes to exercise, evaluating results against our goals is crucial. Beyond helping us stay motivated, tracking progress lets us know what works - and what doesn’t work. By evaluating results, we can make changes toward a more efficient workout.

In your case, building muscle is the goal. Gaining weight, as you’ve noted, is an incomplete metric to measure against your goal. Excess weight can be indicative of added fat, increased water retention, muscle mass or any combination thereof. This is why it’s important to think beyond the scale.

Though there are fancy body composition tests that you can take and equations that can be utilized, there is a very simple trick for measuring muscle gains versus fat gains. Get a tape measure. Using a tape measure, record the circumference of your biceps, neck, chest, forearms, etc. Every few weeks, mark down your new measurements.

As a general rule, larger muscles and an unchanged waistline means that you’re gaining mostly muscle. If your muscles and waistline are both increasing, it means you’re adding both muscle and fat. And if you’re just noticing an increase around your waistline, then it’s mostly fat.

Taking a picture of yourself under the same lighting conditions (i.e., same time of day) every few weeks can also be helpful in observing changes. You can also notice how your clothes fit differently over time. Or, if you have the resources, take a monthly body composition test and crunch the numbers.


P.S. If you want a guaranteed strategy for adding lean bulk, download Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle!

What Did You Do Today To Achieve Your Goal?

top-10-fitness-goals-1048808-TwoByOneWe all have fitness goals. Yours might be to lose weight, build muscle, increase definition or improve overall health.

Whatever it is that you want, each day is an opportunity to bring you one step closer to that goal. There’s no magic to it. The achievement of any goal is the sum total of many small steps taken over and over again.

This begs the question: What did you do today to bring you one step closer to your goal?

If you can list decisions that you made today in support of your goal, you’re on the right track. If you can’t, there’s good news. The day isn’t over yet and you still have time. Get on your gym clothes and treat your body to a workout. Cook up some vegetables. Search for a yoga class that you can attend. Don’t miss the opportunity that is today!

Goals can seem big and abstract. But even the biggest, most high-reaching goals can be broken down into individual, manageable pieces. Each day, make decisions in support of your goal. While each decision seems insignificant, the sum total of these small steps will be a big and dramatic change in your life.

P.S. For more help achieving your fitness goals, download one of my customized workout programs!

Impossible = I’m Possible!

PossibleWhat’s impossible?

Landing a man on the moon? Running 100 meters in 9.58 seconds? Tubes of aluminum carrying passengers through the atmosphere? A black American president? Powering a city with the energy of a split atom?

Enter Apollo 11, Usain Bolt, airplanes, Barack Obama and nuclear power.

We all tell ourselves stories about what’s possible and what’s not. And then we use these stories as excuses that keep us from creating the life we really want.

For each of us, the story is different. Maybe you’ve tried to lose weight in the past, and your story is that you’ll always be overweight. You might think losing weight is impossible for you. Or maybe you’re in your 60s or 70s and think it’s impossible to get into shape at your age. Whatever the story is, the outcome is always the same: Unrealized desires and untapped potential.

Here’s the thing… Whatever “it” is, it is not impossible. Challenging? Maybe. Will it require doing something different? Probably. But impossible? No.

In fact, concealed in the word “impossible” is a hidden truth. The word itself says, “I’m possible.”

By viewing your fitness goals as a possibility, you remove yourself - and your thoughts - as an obstacle, and thus free yourself from the prison of limiting beliefs.

What Makes Someone Physically Fit?

Dear Davey,

Everyone talks about getting ‘fit’ but what exactly is ‘fit’ and how do you know when you have become ‘fit’? Is fitness a good BMI, fantastic looking body (like yours), low weight, being able to cycle for miles non stop or something else?


Hey Jonathan,

I love your question! And it speaks to the importance of structuring your program around a solid goal.

In the past, I’ve written about the necessity of S.M.A.R.T. goals. That is, goals that are:

  1. Specific: Goals should be laser-focused.
  2. Measurable: Whenever possible, attach real-world numbers to your goals. This could mean pounds, kilos, inches or clothing sizes.
  3. Attainable: A good goal should be achievable with hard work and dedication - but rooted in reason. Don’t make it too difficult. Conversely, don’t make it too easy.
  4. Relevant: The goal needs to be important to you. If it’s not important, you won’t stick with it.
  5. Timely: Attach a date to your goal. Rather than wanting to lose 10 pounds of fat, say that you want to lose 10 pounds of fat in 60 days.

With S.M.A.R.T. goals in mind, your question illustrates the problem of saying you’d like to become fit. For starters, it’s not specific, measurable or timely. So let’s turn “fit” into a smart goal.

body fat percentagesThough true physical fitness takes many complicated factors into consideration (such as cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility, balance, etc.), there is an easier way to cut to the point. It involves body fat percentages.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Essential fat: 10% - 13% for women, 2% - 5% for men
  • Athletes: 14% - 20% for women, 6% - 13% for men
  • Fitness: 21% - 24% for women, 14 - 17% for men
  • Average: 25% - 31% for women, 18 - 24% for men
  • Obese: 32+% for women, 25+% for men

Though body fat percentages don’t consider every aspect of physical fitness, they’re a great place to start. And it’s easy to create a smart goal around body fat percentages. For example, you could say,  “I want to achieve 15% body fat by December 31.”

With that S.M.A.R.T. goal in mind, you can certainly structure a fitness program to make it happen!

I hope that helps!



But when most people use the word fit, they’re referring to an in-shape individual with a low percentage of body fat.


5 Signs of Weight Loss Success!

Today’s guest post is by Davey Wavey’s good friend and spiritual weight release coach, Diane Petrella. Diane is also one of the contributors to The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.

If you monitor your weight loss progress, you probably look to your bathroom scale for feedback. Or perhaps you gauge pounds lost by how your clothes feel. While these visible indicators show you’re releasing weight, they don’t reveal the whole story. As any yo-yo dieter knows, these progress markers can come and go. Some other signs of success, however, aren’t so obvious, but once you achieve them they’re with you forever. 

A missing element in many weight loss approaches is developing your inner strength. You’ll reach your weight loss goal more easily when you erase negativity and doubt from your mind. Here are five signs that prove you’ve done so.

1. You Have Patience

Many people feel discouraged when they hit a plateau or the pounds don’t come off fast enough. They then give up too quickly. Permanent weight loss takes time. When you feel defeated re-evaluate your nutrition and exercise plan, and have patience. The longer it takes to release weight, the more time you have to change old ways of thinking that contributed to gaining weight in the first place. Patience helps you do that. You not only lose weight responsibly, you become a more confident person in the process.

2. You Persevere Through Set-backs

As you develop new lifestyle habits, you may falter sometimes. We all do. It doesn’t matter that you slip; what matters is what you do about it. Use set-backs as a valuable opportunity to strengthen your strong side. For example, if you missed exercising for several weeks, tell yourself with no judgment, “Tomorrow is a new day to keep moving forward.” Each time you persevere, you develop confidence. You weaken that taunting inner voice that says, “See, you can’t do this.” Perseverance responds, “Yes, I can”.

3. You Accept Your Body

Accepting your body doesn’t mean you tolerate being overweight. It means you honor your body as it is, while helping it become the best it can be. If it’s a big leap right now to “love” or even “like” your body, that’s OK. What’s important is to respect it. That means speaking to your body with kind words. It means giving it nutritious foods and movement so it thrives. You’ll reach your weight loss goals when you stop rebelling against your body. As you accept your body as the treasured gift it is, taking good care of it becomes your only option.

4. You Focus on Your Goal

Focus on where you’re headed instead of obsessing about where you are. You can’t move forward if your mind dwells on self-critical thoughts about being overweight. What we focus our attention on grows. Shift negative attention away from your current weight and concentrate on the positive lifestyle changes you’re making. This inspires you to succeed. When your desire to look forward overshadows the tendency to complain about where you are, you’ll reach your goal more easily.

5. You Make Yourself a Priority

To achieve weight loss success, your well-being must be of prime importance. This means setting boundaries. For example, if you plan to exercise after work and your friend asks to go shopping, what do you do? Do you skip exercise or do you skip shopping? If breaking promises to yourself becomes a pattern, you’re either not committed to your goals or you make other people’s needs more important than your own. When you make yourself a priority, however, you’ll not only reach your weight loss goal, your success will last forever.

What are your signs of success? Let me know in the comments below.

How to Stay at Your Goal Weight.

Hi Davey!

First and foremost, I just want to say that I’m a huge fan of yours. 🙂 I’ve been working out hard and eating healthy for the past six months and have finally dropped the 40 pounds to get to my goal weight. My question is should I change my workout regimen to stay at my goal weight and do lighter exercises? I want to obviously stay where I am, but I’m not sure how to keep the weight off.


Does reaching your weight loss goal mean it's time to ease up at the gym?

Hey Alex!

Congratulations on reaching your goal weight. Though I’m sure there are many envious blog buddies out there, we’re all happy to celebrate your transformation and achievement!

As you probably know, weight loss occurs when we have a calorie deficit. In other words, we lose weight when we take in (i.e., eat) fewer calories than our bodies burn. By eating smarter and moving more, we’re able to create the calorie deficit that results in weight loss.

For most people, it’s worth noting that the calorie deficit is fairly small and may only be a few hundred calories. Over time, these few hundred calories add up to long term and sustainable weight loss.

Once a goal weight is reached, it’s time to close the calorie deficit. Though easing up on your workout would mean fewer calories burned and thus close the calorie deficit, I’d encourage you to continue pushing yourself and training hard. Going to the gym is a wonderful way to honor your movement-craving body - and it will continue to transform and shape your body. Rather than easing up on your workout, I’d recommend modifying your diet to close the calorie deficit. In all actuality, it probably just means an extra small snack each day.

Again, congratulations on your transformation! I’d wish you good luck on maintaining your weight - but there’s no luck involved. Just continued mindfulness, effort, persistence and dedication!

Davey Wavey

When and How to Get Started?

Start here, and start now. 6 months from now, you'll be very glad you did.

It’s the new year and you’ve made a resolution to live healthier. Great! But when and how do you start?

The when is easy. The answer is, of course, now. The present moment is the only moment in which you’ll ever live - try as we might to live in the past or future. All decisions are made in the present moment and all actions are taken in the present moment.

And if you do act right now, in six or twelve months, you’ll be very glad that you did. Just think if you made (and stuck to) this resolution a year ago; you’d already be enjoying a transformed life. But instead of looking back, let’s stick to this present moment and know that the time for change is now.

The how can seem trickier. And indeed, the how will be different from person to person, and it really depends on your goals. As I’ve mentioned a million times, I advise my clients to commit their goals to writing (it makes it official!) and abide by the S.M.A.R.T. philosophy of specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely goals.

But while the details of what you need to do to make your S.M.A.R.T. goal a reality can seem overwhelming, remind yourself that all you need to do is take the first step. The realization of a goal is really the sum total of many small steps - and you just need to take the first one. It doesn’t seem so daunting, does it?

So the bottom line is this: Right now, take the first step. Just one step - whatever it might be for you. It might be the hardest step to take, but it’s also the most important.

P.S. There are only 48 hours left to use discount code “youtube” and save 25% off The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program. It’s been my most successful product launch ever – and I’ve been getting tons of great feedback. Snag your copy today before the discount ends!

Group Fitness Classes Vs. Individual Training.

Dear Davey,

For the last 2 months I have been working out through class exercise groups and have had great results. Currently I do 3 days of spin class for cardio and 3 days of BodyPump for strength training. I love my classes, but I am starting to plateau. Is it time to break away from the class atmosphere and start my own individual workout routine?


Hey Kevin,

As you’ve discovered, group fitness classes are great. I like group classes for a number of reasons:

  1. They are fun!
  2. The instructor pushes you.
  3. You learn new exercises.
  4. You can socialize and make friends.
  5. They’re great at building confidence and skill for beginners.
  6. They hold you to a regular schedule.
  7. The instructor can teach proper technique.

But for more advanced exercisers, it’s often advantageous to focus the bulk of your workout on individual training. I, for example, take a group class or two per week - but most of my training is individual.


As an exerciser, you have individual goals. If you’ve never taken the time to actually articulate and write down those goals, it’s definitely something that I’d recommend. When you’re in a group class, each person in that class also has a set of goals; these goals may or may not be in alignment with what you’re looking to achieve. Moreover, each person is operating from a different level of fitness - and each person has their own set of health issues or complications. Considering all this, the instructor will put together a very general fitness program, but it’s not necessarily the most effective program to deliver on your goals.

The BodyPump class, for example, may be focused on muscle endurance - and you may be looking to build muscle size, specifically in your biceps. It’s very easy to achieve this in an individual setting, but it’s not something you’ll get in a group setting. Or, perhaps, you have a specific muscular imbalance that needs to be addressed. It’s unlikely to be corrected through a group class.

If the transition from group classes to individual training seems scary or overwhelming, I recommend giving yourself the gift of a personal trainer. Even if you book a handful of sessions, the trainer will be able to put together a great workout program for you and show you how proper technique. Or, you can always download my Ultimate Guide to Working Out to create a custom workout program around your goals.

I’m not trying to discount group classes; they can be a wonderful and very effective - especially for beginners. But for more advanced exercisers, focusing on individual training will provide the best results.


Breaking Down Big Fitness Goals into Little Steps Forward.

Looking down toward Block Island's Corn Cove.

Last weekend, I went with my family to Block Island - a small chunk of land some 13 miles off the coast of my home state, Rhode Island. Block Island is a wonderful and largely untouched island (it’s considered on of the last 12 great places in the Western Hemisphere by the Nature Conservancy) with pristine beaches, hiking trails and scenic vistas that can’t be rivaled.

We followed a small path through the island’s bluffs to a beach known as Corn Cove. To get to the beach, visitors must descend a steep, 100-step winding staircase through eroding dunes and then scale a 25-foot cascade of split boulders. When considered as a whole, the task at hand seems overwhelmingly large. Looking down at the beach below from high atop the bluffs, it might even strike visitors - my mom and aunt included - as impossible.

But in actuality, the goal of getting down to the beach can be broken down into hundreds of small steps. And in and of themselves, none of those steps are actually that difficult; they’re doable. As visitors take their time and descend one step at a time, they’re soon surprised by their progress.

The same can be said about fitness. Our goals might seem unachievable or insurmountable - but in actuality, they’re really the sum total of many small and totally doable small steps.

To want to lose 20 pounds, run a 6-minute mile or add 15 pounds of muscle are all lofty goals. But really, each of those goals can be broken down into individual workouts. While each step to the beach or each workout might not seem like much, the cumulative effect of these steps is real progress.

Sometimes getting caught up in the big picture can paralyze us from moving forward. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When your goals seem overwhelming, remember that it’s only about taking the very next step.

And then the next

And the next.

How to Reach Your Fitness Goals.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” - Lao Tzu

Though the above quote works on many levels, I love how it applies to fitness.

My posture isn’t the best; I tend to walk on the outside edge of my feet with the toes pigeoned slightly outward. I often lock my knees and roll my shoulders forward. Such seemingly minor (and relatively unnoticeable) dysfunctions might not seem significant - but when they’re multiplied by the thousands of steps that I take each day, a path emerges.

Moreover, I’m an avid runner. Running several miles a day takes a toll on the human body and serves to further amplify my body’s dysfunctions.

As Lao Tzu reminds me, if I continue on my current path, I’ll probably get where I’m heading. And where I’m heading is in the direction of debilitating injury or joint replacements. It might not happen today - but as you extend the timeline of life further out, the likelihood of injury increases exponentially.

When looking through the lens of time, where I’m heading becomes clear. And so I’ve taken Lao Tzu’s advice and changed my direction. While I continue to run and exercise in the ways that I enjoy, I’ve incorporated Pilates and yoga into my fitness program. Such practices increase my flexibility and help to improve and correct my posture and various dysfunctions.

It begs the question: Where are you heading? Perhaps you’re heading in the direction of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Or perhaps in the direction of becoming obsessively thin. Or perhaps towards stalled or plateaued results due to a stale routine. The destination is different for all of us.

If where you’re heading isn’t where you want to be, ask yourself: What can I do to change course?

Tell me where you are heading in the comments below. I’ll select a random commentator to win a free copy of my Ultimate Guide to Working Out; it will help you get where you want to go. 🙂