The Best form of Exercise

Before I go on I will say there is no single best form of exercise. Lets just say there are forms of exercise that contribute more than others to you reaching your goals. So if you’re exercising multiple times per week, how important is the type of exercise you do? Incredibly important.

I always hear people let out their frustrations with their exercise routines. “I workout X amount of times per week and my body hasn’t changed.” Or, “I work out so much, I’m just naturally a bigger person.” They then proceed to either add more, or they quit all together. More isn’t always better, better is better.

So whats the best form of exercise for getting the body you want? Let me first use two clients of mine as examples. Mandy, who’s goal was fat loss, and Donnelly, who’s goal was to build muscle.

Mandy Before                                                                       Mandy -40lbs After


Donnelly Before        Donnelly 20lbs more muscle

These two individuals had different goals, however they used the SAME training program to achieve these results. 3-4 days/week of intense strength training. Although their nutrition plan was incredibly different, their exercise was identical.

People tend to associate training for fat loss with higher heart rate and more sweat, and muscle gain to heavy lifting. It’s not that simple. Here is a simple way to look at it. Compare your body to a Car.

-Your Muscles are the engine, the carlories you eat are the fuel.

-The bigger the engine, the more fuel it burns. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.

-The stronger and more powerful the engine, the faster the vehicle drives, which will burn more fuel. The stronger your muscles are, the more intensely you can exercise, which will burn more calories.

-If an engine is running, even if the car is not driving, it’s burning fuel. Your muscles are burning calories even if you’re not exercising. If you gain 5lbs of muscle, you’ll burn 250 more calories each day, while resting.

So if your goal is to get in shape, it is of utmost importance your exercise is focused on intensity, becoming strong, and maintaining if not gaining muscle. And the ideal form of exercise for that, is Strength Training.

A Day in the Life: My daily diet

I get asked frequently about nutrition, so I wanted to take a moment and share what my daily diet looks like. If you’ve heard me talk about transformations before, you know what a huge advocate I am of adequate nutrition. I use the word adequate, simply because the outline of a nutrition plan may change under certain circumstances and goals. There is no one perfect plan.

Just as you take on a training regime to hit your goals, you will need to do the same with your nutrition. It’s unlikely you’ll get very far with your transformation without putting serious emphasis on your eating. Unless of course you’ve set very underachieving goals, which even then may seem impossible to reach.

I will first state that my diet is based on these specific goals:

-Decrease Bodyfat

-Maintain muscle

-Maintain/Gain Strength

Considering these goals, I’ve structured a plan to make that happen. My plan allows for adjustments as I track my progress and see fit. Here is a typical day. (with pictures)

Coffee and 1/2 and 1/2. Every morning I have a cup before the day starts. I do however, drink a glass of water before I have my coffee. I may drink 1-3 cups of joe a day. I drink it black or with 1/2 and 1/2, depending on how many I’ve had. Everything counts.

Meal 1: Stirfry

I eat some type of stirfry every day. This was 8 oz. chicken breast, onions, red and green bell peppers. I cooked this in 1 tsp coconut oil. Then added 1/2 avocado.

Meal 2: Fish and Avocado

8oz of Cod, seasoned and cooked in a nonstick pan. Then I added 1/2 Avocado. Yeah, I love Avocado.

Meal 3: Pork Larb.

Larb is a Thai dish, pronounced “Lop”. It’s made with ground meat, lime juice, cilantro, and a few other goodies. I eat it probably every day. This was 10oz of ground lean pork. I ate 1 oz of raw almonds along side this as my healthy fats.

Meal 4: Steak and Veggies

8oz of London Broil steak, zucchini, and onion. This was dinner, and I cooked it on my grill. I didn’t add any healthy fat, since I basted the grill with coconut oil spray.

These are some of what you’ll find in my spice cabinets. I use many of these every day, to keep the meals tasty. As long as it doesn’t contain sugar, starch, or any fake stuff, I’ll use it.

Each day is consistent, and it’s the consistency that produces the results. I have each meal broken down into servings, and I know my servings for the day. The meals of this day were all different, however some days I will eat the same thing more than once. As long as it fits the servings and food groups of my plan, I have flexibility.

My current Plan:

-2lbs/day of lean meat (Beef, Pork, Poultry, Fish)

-4 servings of Healthy fats (approx 15grams/fat per serving)

-Various veggies as I see fit for the meal.

*On days I workout (strength train) I drink an amino acid shake.

That’s it. I will eat like this for a certain amount of days, then have a “cheat day”. This is usually every 7 days, and it usually contains lots of torilla chips with queso dip, tacos, and Mint and chip Ice cream. But I switch it up. How crazy I get on my cheat day all depends on the progress made while eating on the plan.


-You may notice I’m not eating carbs. I typically rotate through weeks of eating carbs and not eating them. It really depends on how I’m feeling, and how I’m progressing.

-Cooking oils: If I use it, I use coconut oil. But I like to grill or bake my food as much as possible, so I don’t need it. I’d rather “eat” my healthy fats, like avocado or almonds.

-Water: I drink about 1 gallon per day.

***Consistency is KEY. Make sure if you’re following a plan, you actually follow it. Commit to doing it. I’ve never seen anything produce desired results when not done consistently. So Make it Happen!



Good vs Adequate

As someone who coaches a lot of people on improving their body composition, there are certain thought processes I encounter on a daily basis. The first of which, on the subject of Good vs Adequate.

The idea of good, hard, healthy, and strong are just that, ideas. They are all completely subjective. There is no definition for a “good diet”. When I used to bring a tupperware full of broccoli with my lunch to work, my co workers told me I was “too healthy”. However now I live in the town of Mill Valley, and the fact that I grocery shop at Safeway instead of Whole Foods, some consider me “unhealthy”. It’s subjective, and sometimes hilarious.

If I ask 10 people who want to get in shape, about their diet, 8 out of 10 will respond with the phrase, “I already eat good.” Or, “I eat really healthy.” When I first started coaching people I was pretty blunt, and not so smooth with my words. So my response to this would usually be, “Well, it’s obviously not because you’re overweight and not losing any.” I was quite charming.

Now that I’ve refined my communication a bit, I don’t have to be as harsh on my clients. The first thing I do is find out what their goal is. This is the most important step because everything else is based off of their desired outcome, or goal.  If your goal is to improve your body composition, meaning to minimize fat and sustain or build lean muscle, the recipe calls for two main ingredients:

1. Adequate Training

2. Adequate Nutrition

Notice I did not say “hard” training and “healthy” nutrition.

The definition of Adequate: As much, or as good as necessary for some requirement or purpose.

Your nutrition, just like your training, should be based on your goals. And the evaluation of how “good” or “healthy” something is should be based on results, not the process. You say you eat good and train hard, yet your not getting the results you want.

In other words, your training and/or your nutrition are inadequate to reach your goals. Regardless, they need to improve in order for your results to improve. When it comes to fat loss, the greatest factor is nutrition, hands down. The reality is, training without adequate nutrition will only yield limited results.

So if your goal is to lose fat, assume your nutrition can improve. If you say you don’t want to lose fat, but just flatten your stomach or “tone” your flabby triceps, you’re probably misinformed and the answer is you want to lose fat.  And whats the most effective way to lose fat? Yeah, nutrition. Not motivational spin classes, barbell classes who take pride in making you puke, triathalon training, or any other training program designed by myself. It’s good ole unsexy nutrition.

So what do you do now? These are four steps I use to create the results I want, and the results my clients want. These apply to nutrition, training, and just about anything. Here they are:

1. Plan. Set up a gameplan. Set up a plan to follow, and follow it for a set amount of time. For nutrition, I like the two week mark. Set a two week diet, writing down what you will be doing, and all the details, servings, meals per day, etc. This isn’t a log, its a plan of action.

2. Execute. Simple right? Just do what you said you were gonna do. Easier said then done. How many times have you heard someone say they’ll start eating better tomorrow? I actually say that every cheat day. But that cheat day is part of my plan. And I stick to my “non” cheat days as they are laid out. A  plan is useless if you don’t execute it the way it is intended to be.

3. Evaluate. After you’ve gone your given timeframe, evaluate your results. Did you see the results you were expecting? Did you even follow the plan? Did you set up a plan nearly impossible to stick to? Was it miserable? Did you feel better executing it? Did you lose weight? Did you lose strength? How did you feel?

4. Adjust. Only if necessary. If you’re happy with the results, continue on. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But if you’re not satisfied, make adjustments set for another time period, and repeat. You can endlessly repeat this process until you reach the results you are looking for.

At the end of day, there is one thing I find very empowering. You can take control of this. When the goal is to get a certain result, remember that it is just that, a result. Results are byproducts of our decisions. So before you get frustrated as so many of us do, apply the four steps I’ve listed above. Decide to make it happen, to continue on until you reach your goals.

I’d love to hear your comments below. Let me know your thoughts.

-Jonny Chai

Make it Happen, Live the Dream

Getting the most out of 2013

Happy New Year!! I’m sure you’ve all heard more than enough of that by now. It is still mind boggling to me how fast 2012 flew by. As I’m sure many of you have your resolutions for the year, perhaps even more of you are apposed to the whole resolution thing. I want to share what I have found to be the case with my Health and Fitness Resolutions, and how I have approached them for the greatest benefit.

To me New years day is a day that gives you the feel of “A fresh Start”. There is something about starting fresh that is so redeeming. You’ve probably said it yourself before, “I’ll start training hard again Monday” “I’ll start my diet next week after the parties and happy hours are over” “When I get back from my trip it’s on, full swing in the gym” “This is the year I finally get in the best shape of my life” etc. You know the lines.

I’ve thought these so many times myself, and hear them on a daily basis. Rest assured this type of thinking is a sure way to set yourself up for failure.  Which is probably why so many rolled there eyes when “New Years Resolutions” came up last night. Some people have come to associate new years resolutions with failure.

The reality is that every day, even every moment is fresh. Not so much a fresh start, but a fresh opportunity. You are already moving on a track, you’ve already started. You’re either progressing or regressing. I’ve found that it’s not so much about restarting, it’s more about moving in the right direction. The direction you decide to go in is up to you. When I began to look at each moment, and each day as a new opportunity to move in the right direction, it was a gamechanger. Every workout, every meal, every choice was a chance for me to make progress.
The best time to start fresh is now, and that applies to whatever time of year it may be. As I heard from one of our Club Rockstars Matty O, aka Dr. Matty on Monday, “My resolution for 2013 is to not focus on the future, or when it’s going to get better, but instead to focus on the Now.” This is the exact type of thinking that brings success, as Matty O is a true testament to.
The choices you make now will dictate your outcome, 2013’s outcome, short term outcome, your life’s outcome, fitness or otherwise. So I will end this with a question other than the usual “what are your resolutions”. My question is, “What choices are you going to make right now, that will move you in the direction of where you want to be?”
Happy New Year!!!