Surprise Yourself

In the past 2 months, the gym has exploded. We have had a lot of things going on inside the gym, as well as outside the gym. With the spring and summer brings new fitness goals as well as busy personal calendars; weddings, vacations, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and somewhere in there, a fitness business that is blowing up like the fourth of July.

We aren’t arrogant, we simply believe in what we do. We are confident that you will find success at On Target Fitness, whoever you are.

So, with that said, we have been participating in the nationwide Lean Down Challenge. It is put on in exclusive locations throughout the US, and we were lucky enough to have been one of those gyms. The aim of the challenge is to help people lose 20 pounds of weight or reduce body composition by 5 percent. In 6 weeks.

Is that even possible?

Yes. It absolutely is.

The results have been surprising for many people, in more positive ways than you might think. Check our Facebook page to see some of them.

Here are some common trends that we as a staff have been seeing with the people that are most successful with this challenge, and any other big health change you might want to make.

Full Commitment

With many of the folks participating in the LDC, people that are most successful come in ready to commit, take on the challenge, and never look back once they start. The same rings true to anyone starting a new routine. You have to see it through, or you are wasting your time. As coaches who understand psychology and physiology, we recognize the immediate barriers that stand in your way. Fear. Ambivalence. Money. Self doubt. Those challenges are real, and we cannot act like they don't exist. 

With that said, if you let those things define you and shape your being, you aren’t being your true self. You are fighting a losing battle. Change starts to happen the moment you truly believe it can.

You can.

Ownership and Zero Excuses Attitude

We don’t need to dwell on the past, but we need to at least understand where your personal battles lie. What has limited you before needs to be out of the equation. That’s why the meal plan is strict. That’s why alcohol is not recommended. For this period of time, your full attention is required. Additionally, many successful people do not make excuses for their setbacks.

They acknowledge them, and move on. Chasing perfection is a sure way to be miserable. Mistakes happen. We can get caught in the undertow when your actions become justified through unrelated things. This is the adult version of “my dog ate my homework.” Stop.

Own it, learn, and get better. You control you.

Hard Work, in and out of the gym.

Photo Credit: Calum McAuley, 

Photo Credit: Calum McAuley, 

Nutrition! Do you think the gainz happen without the stuff to build them? No way.

Someone smart said that most fat loss happens inside the kitchen. It’s true. There is no substitute for hard work inside and outside of the gym. We’ve seen great adherence and with it, great results for people who simply pay attention to what they eat. They make sure they get enough calories to crush training sessions, but stay within the limits of the LDC meal plan.

Are they perfect? No, we’ve even had people tell us they’ve had a couple drinks on the weekend and still have significant weight loss at the end of the week to show for it. It’s all about balance!


Man, this might be the most important. You simply cannot make yourself miserable and expect to get the results you want. Seems easy in theory, but the fitness and nutrition industry is full of quick “fixes” and magic pill marketing. If you have to starve yourself and think you can get your dream body in only one month, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work like that.

Having health and having fitness is a journey. There’s no reason you can’t be happy, and make positive changes for yourself. It takes consistent work and constant understanding of yourself, to be able to adapt to challenges and give yourself fulfillment. The people in the LDC that have been the most successful at our gym have understood from day one, that this is not just a six week challenge. They have made fitness part of their life, and continue to use it to better themselves.

After all, you only get one.

Thanks for continuing to inspire us, and keep trying to surprise yourself.



What's Up with this Keto Stuff?

Originally published at

Lately there has been an influx of people interested in the ketogenic diet. If you are unfamiliar with this approach, it basically means you starve yourself (pun absolutely intended) of carbohydrates (less than 20g/day), to the point where your body flips on a protective mechanism to preserve the brain and supply it energy.

At super low levels of carbohydrate intake, in times of starvation, or if you are unable to process blood glucose because you have diabetes (and have not had insulin), the brain needs a source of fuel. It does this by breaking down fat in the body and supplying your brain with ketones. This protects your brain and keeps it performing optimally, especially those times of dire need. Ketones can keep you alive for a little bit, but ketoacidosis can also kill you.

Photo Credit; Dan Gold,

Photo Credit; Dan Gold,

So why are we talking about this? Well, to be honest, I’m almost 100 percent sure you have heard of ketosis. There are many “gurus” out there who are talking about this approach, and trying to help people through this approach. The problem is, this type of methodology bastardizes carbohydrates as a whole: meaning they exclude things like sweet potatoes or whole fruits. Along with many of these foods, you are also losing a ton of nutrients through vitamins and minerals. Why is that important? Well, if we are trying to optimize the way we look and feel, depriving ourselves of vitamins and minerals is not going to help our metabolic processes succeed.

From the energy supply standpoint, ketosis can work *** depending on what you are doing in the gym. If you are staying aerobic and low intensity enough, then yeah, it can work. However, take into account how we specifically train at On Target Fitness, in Portsmouth. Much of what we do in the gym is highly anaerobic- meaning it needs glycogen to get the engine going. So without those sources, you can’t push your intensity beyond what your body can efficiently get energy through the system. To me, that’s completely limiting your potential.

So, imagine yourself on a long run and then you get to a long hill. Your HR starts to climb but your energy efficiency stays put. That means you can’t keep up your pace, and will have to slow down. You won’t have a choice. Here is the problem with that.  You can’t diet your way to building muscle.  If you want to be healthy, feel good, and look good, you need to build muscle.  Muscle takes hard work to build.  By going Keto, you are making it even harder, or close to impossible, to build muscle.

Aside from that, carbohydrates are not the devil. When the hell did bananas and apples become “too sugary.” There is one ingredient in a potato, yet we are willing to remove these items and replace them with greens powder, bars, protein powders, and shove unnecessary pills down our throats. We just have to have the perspective that says what we are willing to accept. And from that standpoint, it’s just flawed logic. Three servings of fruit are not going to make you fat. Collectively choosing poor foods and letting your body get complacent, will. 

Why are carbs actually important for fat loss? Muscle tissue. We don’t need huge amounts of them, but we need them to store that glycogen we’ve been talking about. As we strength train, we create microtrauma, and then the inflammatory process happens. To rebuild, and repair, and create new muscle tissue, we need a steady supply of amino acids (protein), and carbohydrates to store in the muscle. So with more muscle tissue, we are more metabolically active at rest. This helps us maintain our weight, and burn more calories at rest.

Intakes like the ones in ketosis have been shown to reduce the active muscle on our body (muscle wasting), which defeats the purpose long term (See Tinsley and Willoghby, 2016). Less muscle, slower metabolism. This can be debated, but at the end of the day, you have to take into account you, your goals, and streamlining the process for results. I also recognize the value in personal preference, but I’m sorry, just because you can eat bacon and chicken wings and still be in ketosis, doesn’t make it healthier.

So, to wrap up- carbs will always be the king for high performance. You don’t need to be on the high end of the spectrum, but they are there for a reason. For building muscle and overall performance, keto is not a great fit with hard training.

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, is how smart we think we are. We think we know a lot about nutrition, but in reality we are just getting started. Your body is smarter than you. It will protect a joint by tightening a muscle when the joint is hurt. It goes into ketosis when you don't have enough of an energy supply for the brain. It will also tone down your metabolic rate when you sit on the couch all day.

Guys and gals. Don’t make things more complex than they need to be. Fruits and whole food carb sources are great ways to get nutrients, fiber, and supply energy, so you can crush your workouts. Stay simple, stay effective. Feel free to experiment, but be willing to face the consequences and see the results.

Tinsley, G.M. & Willoughby, D.S. Fat-Free Mass Changes During Ketogenic Diets and the Potential Role of Resistance Training. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2016, 26, 78-92.