Category Archives: Food for Thought

How Hormones Affect Body Fat Regulation

Below is a list of just some of the hormones that affect body fat regulation and metabolism.  I hope this gives you a clearer idea of the wonderful complexity of our human system without making you feel overwhelmed.  Remember, even though understanding the role of hormones is important, it all comes back to actionable steps – like the ones I have listed out on the EAT page.


Insulin: (“the bank teller”) – Think of insulin like a bank teller that only accepts  it puts money in the bank (i.e. energy into the cells), but doesn’t release any back into circulation.  When insulin is high, it’s partner hormone glucagon is unable to release energy from the cells into the bloodstream.

Leptin: (“the weather reporter”) – Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells in the body. It acts on receptors in the hypothalamus of the brain, where it inhibits appetite.  In essence, it tells the brain how much fat the body is storing for energy.  However, through a condition called leptin resistance, it’s possible that this forecast is inaccurate and that the body will continue to store body fat well beyond what is necessary.  Think of if a weather reporter told you it was freezing outside – you’d bundle up!  But when you stepped outside, you realized it was 60 degrees and sunny, but it’s too late to turn back to change clothes.  Your body can work in the same way if it thinks we are low on essential body fat!

Cortisol: (“the emergency responder”) – Also known as the “stress hormone”, cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands to help the body recover from a fight or flight stress response.  When you get stressed out, cortisol is there to help.  However, chronically elevated levels of cortisol promotes insulin resistance and elevates leptin levels.  This has led to cortisol getting a bad rap, when in actuality it is an essential hormone to our survival – we just want to make sure it’s not overworking itself.

Glucagon: (“the ATM”) – Glucagon is a hormone secreted from the alpha cells of the pancreas in response to the demand for energy.  It lets the energy out of cells that insulin has stored.  When your body gets low on energy (or cash in this example), you can go to the ATM and withdraw more.  This keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day.

Emotional Well-Being and Tiger Kittens – The Human Animal Podcast

In today’s episode, we dive down a rabbit-hole that Nate opened on a previous pod:  emotional goal-setting.  Drawing inspiration from the work of Thich Nhat Hanh, Nathan lays out a template for understanding our emotional selves and how we relate to others.  We also talk about empaths from Star Trek and Tiger Kittens.  What’s not to like?

We feel this is a topic that gets swept under the rug in most “fitness” circles, but our emotional readiness is just as important to handling a situation as our physical readiness.

We’d love feedback/shared experiences/etc!  Just send them over to:

And if you have time, please leave a review on iTunes!


Matt and the crew

Do You Have a Health or a Fitness Goal? – The Human Animal Podcast

This week, Nate and I sit down to cover a topic near and dear to our hearts: goal-setting.  Why do we set the goals we do?  Are they appropriate for what we want to accomplish?  And how does the fitness industry alter our perception of ourselves?  This was one of our most powerful discussions yet!

Have questions?  Send them to

140 Character Philosopher

I recently hit 1,000 total tweets on my Twitter account, freefitguy. It spurred me to go back and look at how my thoughts have evolved over the past 3 years.  Some things my thoughts have shifted on, while others still struck a chord with me.  I hope that something in here will strike a similar chord with you and serve as some small inspiration for your day.

Screenshot 2014-03-07 17.27.46

Train at the edge of your ability regularly, but at the edge of your capacity rarely. #freefitguyacademy

One of the best program minimum systems out there – @Mark_Sisson‘s 3 rules: move frequently at a slow pace, lift heavy things, & sprint

Spending time in the proper progressions and teaching perception will yield stunning results in the long and short-term.

OVERcoaching is often the result of UNDERpreparing your athlete/client.

Change the movement environment, change the movement behavior.

Top 2 ways we can help prevent ACL injury in female athletes via ortho surgeon – Teach landing mechanics and help them get a “fanny” #TLAG2

You must change your perception to change your reality. While the first is difficult, the second is impossible without it.

New poster I want in my gym: “Fatigue is not the goal. Getting better is the goal.” #lessismore

Performance does not guarantee health. #TrainLikeAGirl2

@JoelJamieson knocked it out of the park with his presentation. “Stress is stress whether perceived or real.” #stressmanagement #TLAG2 Continue reading

Figuring Out Exercise

Why do we exercise?  That might seem like a weird question coming from a Personal Trainer, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about seriously of late.  Not necessarily why you exercise (we covered how to determine your individual motivations for exercise in this post), but why we exercise.

Evolutionary Perspective

In our modern culture, exercise has become second nature.  However, when anthropologists visit modern hunter-gatherer societies, many don’t even have a word for “exercise”.  And that makes sense – why would you expend energy needlessly when your life requires constant and adaptive movement?  Do you think a hunter-gatherer would do a CrossFit WOD and risk being unable to walk the next day?  (Something that I often see celebrated in today’s exercise culture.  “Gosh, I could hardly walk down the stairs for 4 days!  It was such a great workout.”) I don’t believe so.  Instead, they would focus on developing the skills necessary for their tribe to survive and thrive.  Whatever conditioning that created, as long as they were useful, would be acceptable.

Hadzabe Hunters practicing archery in Tanzania.

Hadzabe Hunters practicing archery in Tanzania.

This is the same attitude that I take towards fitness.  Focus on the full range of human movement skills.  It is by acquiring those practical skills that we gain (appropriate) conditioning.  In most programs, it is the other way around – i.e. if I can do 20 pull ups, I should be able to get on top a tree branch.   Only the conditioning often doesn’t transfer to the practical skill 1:1.

Maybe it is this loss of perspective on how exercise and conditioning transfers into useful skills that has created the segmentation of exercise over the past 100 years of physical culture.  The appearance of large muscles or skinny bodies has become more important than the abilities those body types are supposed to predict. Continue reading