Changes to Eat To Perform Challenges

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Here at Eat To Perform, we run two different types of challenges for our members – ETP Challenges and Team Challenges, both with different standards of judging for different goals.  These occur about every two months and serve as a way to reward those members who take their performance, health, and body composition very seriously.  With your 1-year Science Lab membership, you will have the ability to participate in at least five challenges.

Challenge Schedule

We just began our first ever Team Challenge on August 1st!  Starting October 1st and going into 2015, the schedule will work like this:

  • October 1st will begin the last Challenge of 2014 – this will be an ETP Challenge.
  • January 1st will begin the first challenge of 2015 – this will be a Team Challenge.

ETP Challenges vs. Team Challenges

Let me explain the differences between the Challenges and why we do it the way we do it.  A big part of the idea with Eat To Perform is to get people thinking about the value of building muscle (not just fat loss), and both of these challenges emphasize that mindset.  We don’t want you to (and it’s unnecessary) to eat at a deficit all year!  This means building and maintaining muscle most of the time and only having short bursts of restriction so they are more effective and you can sustain that progress.  Put simply, ETP Challenges are about building muscle and they set you up for fat loss-focused Team Challenges.  They’re coordinated throughout the year to help you get the most out of your effort!

In the ETP Challenges, we emphasize muscle as a multiple of that of fat.  As an example, the October 1st challenge will bring us through the holiday season, a time where people typically aren’t looking to “diet”.  During this challenge, we’ll focus on keeping the muscle you are earning during your workouts while you also fit in time to lose fat (if that is your goal).  What typically happens is that people gain muscle, improve their work capacity, and that promotes fat loss.  You essentially change your fat loss equation.

The Team Challenge is different:  it’s focused more on fat loss.  These challenges take place during periods of the year where it’s usually desirable to lose fat, like after the holiday season – think early January.  This gives you the opportunity to focus on building muscle during the fall, then turn around and shed unnecessary body fat.  Because you’ve changed the math in your favor during the regular ETP Challenge, you’ll get very good results and have a lot of fun!  That doesn’t mean we don’t value performance though.

NEW:  Baseline Workouts

Going forward, we will add a NEW component to the Challenges that lets us objectively score for performance improvements!  If you have done challenges at a gym, you know that they will often have a baseline workout to judge gains in strength and conditioning; this is no different.  For now, I won’t give away the workouts but I will tell you how the scoring will work.

  • At the beginning of the challenge, you will do your workout and record the score.  This is your initial assessment.
  • At the end of the challenge, you will redo the workout and your actual score will be the difference between the initial assessment and the follow-up, whether it was positive or negative.
  • Then we take all participants that are in your group and rank the scoring/total the points for athletes places.  That will determine the winner.  Again, think about most fitness competitions like the Games or Regionals and you have the idea.

Adding this component will be a lot of fun and we also think it fits will with our theme of improving athletic performance alongside body composition so we’re really looking forward to kicking things off.

NEW:  Challenges WITHOUT Body Fat Testing

Since day one, body fat testing has been a big part of Eat To Perform and that won’t change anytime soon.  For a long time though, many of the Eat To Performers without access to either BOD POD, DexaScan or Hydrostatic weighing didn’t have many options to participate.  Now they do!  Beginning with our last Team Challenge and moving forward, we’ve added an untested group to allow them to compete alongside other members and get the same great advice from our doctors, nutritionists, and coaches; the only difference now is that they don’t miss out because they can’t find a testing facility nearby.  This allows them to Eat To Perform and pursue a goal without testing (which is completely possible).

We are excited about these new changes moving forward and we think it will make for a more interesting experience for everyone involved!

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“Giving Thanks” by Sheri Stiles


Today you can find blogs full of opinions on just about any subject matter you want. Some may be those of experts – there may be research involved – and some for all you know might just be the late night rants of your neighbor.

I would not consider myself an expert on many things, but there are areas I would consider myself knowledgeable in. When I write, I write for an audience (mainly women) and hope to inspire, motivate, or reassure others who may be facing the same struggles, situations, or achievements I am.  Although I love writing, and sharing my stories and experiences in general, people often still ask “Why do you write?”

Well, I write for others.

Just this week, I have had 2 women express to me that I (in my writing/blogging) have helped them through a difficult situation. The first woman is new to powerlifting and looking to improve her strength overall.  She told me she decided she wanted to clean up her diet; she decided she wanted to get a little more serious about eating habits, and how those transferred over to strength achievements. She expressed to me she had read my article on food journaling, and my starting to use MyFitnessPal as a way to get my own diet in check. From our conversation, it seemed like she was shocked to learn that I myself use a food diary as a tool—that its not just something for “beginners.” She told me I had inspired her to start journaling and we chatted about nutrition for a bit.

The second situation was a little different. I met a fellow female athlete this weekend (through mutual friends) that had recently decided to compete in her first strongwoman contest. Our mutual friend mentioned I had just completed my first one as well.  She came across my “Starting Strongman” article, of which she exclaimed helped to solidify her decision to compete in her first competition!

I can’t tell you what it means to me to hear from someone that I motivated them, that something I wrote inspired them, or that I helped them in anyway to keep pushing towards their goals.

That is exactly why I write. That is why I am so grateful and thankful to have the opportunity I do (thanks to Eat To Perform) to share my experiences, advice, and help with others.  I don’t claim to be an expert, but I still feel the same satisfaction from being a positive image to others.

I don’t believe these women or anyone else needs to thank me. I have not done anything but write some words down—The thanks should be given to those of you who read what I write, support me, and strive to reach your goals daily. If I am reaching or helping one person, its worth it!

So, thank you guys!  :)

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Inspiration From A Pizza? Hawaiian Pizza Tacos


Sometimes, I find inspiration from the most unlikely of places.  This recipe is courtesy of one of my favorite pizza combinations…The Hawaiian Pizza!  I love the saltiness of the Canadian bacon along with the sweetness of the pineapple.  I love to add a little bacon to my Hawaiian pizza as well.  So here you go!  Pizza inspired tacos!

Hawaiian Pizza Tacos072014_0664


  • 1 (6 pound) pork butt roast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt (I used Hawaiian Black Lava salt…cause I had it)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring
  • ½ pound bacon, cooked and chopped
  • Shredded cabbage
  • ½ pineapple, diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • ½ English cucumber, diced
  • ½ large red onion, diced
  • 1 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Soft tortillas (you can make your own Paleo tortillas if you want) or use Bibb lettuce for lettuce wraps

Rub your pork roast with the salt and place in your slow cooker.  Drizzle the liquid smoke on top and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-7 hours.

Combine your pineapple, mango, cucumber, onion, cilantro and honey.  Refrigerate until ready to use

When your pork is done you will be able to use 2 forks to pull it apart.

Assemble your tacos with pork, salsa, cabbage and bacon.  Feel free to squeeze a wedge of lime on top for even more yumminess!!

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“The Competitive Mindset” by Sheri Stiles


As human beings, we have basic instincts and emotions deeply rooted in our heritage.  I believe one of those instincts to be competitiveness. It makes sense if you think about it—in order to adapt in certain cultures and situations, we have to be competitive.  Today, however, we still see this trait in areas like work, school, and basic societal status.  If you watch animals, or children in certain situations, you can see this desire to be competitive manifest as jealousy.

Sure, there are advantages to being competitive—it pushes us to be better, we have a desire to work for something more, it makes us do well in school, work, etc.  But what happens when that drive to compete with others creates negative emotions and behaviors?

Lately I’ve seen a lot of this negative expression surrounding the lifting culture; I understand many of us train the way we do so we can compete ( and hopefully win events) but training and pushing ourselves to do the best is a lot different than being negative and disrespectful to another athlete or competitor.

I believe this to be especially true among female athletes. Try this: imagine someone who is better than you are at the sport you train for.  Now, were those thoughts of that person negative or positive? Although you may have a desire to get better, and feel competing against said person would be a test of your ability, that desire shouldn’t come with hoping the other person fails.

I’ve received many negative, demeaning comments and emails from others (women especially).  I brush it off as the person not being comfortable and confident in who they are but it gets frustrating that we are putting others down to lift themselves up instead of being a positive force. Shouldn’t we be lifting and supporting others to reach their goals whether or not those goals and abilities they have surpass our own?

I guess I see myself as a more positive person.  Do I think I’m the best there is? Absolutely not!  There will always be someone who is stronger than me—and that is fine!  I believe myself to be my biggest competition—I am trying to beat me!  Others develop friendly rivalries, which is also awesome!  Each goal is so individualized, and anything can happen.  Whether you win or lose a competition, people are going to remember how you treated others.

I am not saying you shouldn’t work your ass off and train to win in your sport. You should.  I am saying it matters how you get to that point. It matters how you treated others along the way.  It matters whether or not you supported your competitors or if you were negative, rude, and self-centered.

You may be ranked number 1, hold multiple records, and others may look up to you…but if you’re not a positive and respectful person, eventually people will not care if you’re the best.

The desire to be competitive with each other may be hardwired into our thinking, but we also have a conscious choice as to how we perceive competition and how we display the desire to win.  Whatever the goal, we should push it to the limit but remain humble in our achievements!

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“Beginning a Food Diary” by Sheri Stiles


Food tracking is something we hear a lot about.  Even with the progression of  technology and the availability of smart phones, it’s something I have not actually done for a while. I used to keep a food log (like an old school one where I wrote it in a little notebook) and it took forever!  Recently I have decided to try and drop some body fat, so I was told to get My Fitness Pal and start tracking!

I was a little hesitant at first, as it took so much time before.  I downloaded the app and have started to use it and to my surprise (so far) I love it! I would consider myself a little seasoned in the nutrition area—I did teach nutrition classes to kids and families – and I feel like I “know” what I am supposed to eat and do to lean out or improve body composition.  However, I have always struggled to drop much weight/fat without losing strength, so my strength goals have always taken priority.

Ill clarify, though, that I am not on a “diet”, nor is weight loss necessarily a goal.  I love my muscle (I wouldn’t be upset to gain more) and instead, I would just like to lose some body fat so those muscles I’ve worked hard for show more!

It is only day 3 of my working with this MFP app and I’m shocked how easy it is. There is an option to scan the barcode of food items you are eating, and it pulls in the nutrition information automatically; no searching, guessing, or trying to manually enter the food.  This is the biggest plus for me, as I am so busy during the day, and like most, I do not have time to fumble trying to find the foods to enter.

I also like that it gives you a graph breaking down your macros.  I can easily see how much protein, fat, and carbs I have had for the day in a simple graph.

So far, it’s helping to keep me honest as well :) I don’t eat too terribly (at least not usually) but actually seeing the calories and food choices is much easier than just having them in my head and guessing.

For me, this tracking is not really about limiting—sometimes I have a hard time getting all my meals in, so it’s been helpful in that sense too.  I make sure I get the macros and foods I need to in during the day. You can also track exercise, which I think would be very helpful for someone just starting out.

I am excited to try this tracking ‘experiment’ for a bit and see how it turns out! With rehab and changing my normal routines anyway, this is just another thing to play around with.  I will make sure to keep you all updated on the progress!

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“A Perfect Summer Meal” by Shannon Vonkaenel


I LOVE summer cooking!  I find so much inspiration in all of the fresh veggies!  The ironic thing is that until just recently, veggies were NOT my thing.  I rarely ate anything other than lettuce and maybe a tomato.  Now, I still have an aversion to some veggies (cauliflower, you will never be cooked in my house) but for the most part, I have found myself really enjoying them!  This chicken recipe is a HUGE crowd pleaser!  I have made it twice for get-togethers at my gym and it disappears quick (especially for the kids!)  It’s easy to make gluten free if you use a gluten free soy sauce too!  The salad was a Bobby Flay inspiration!  The man knows how to grill anything and I love his food.  I made my own version of a salad he made on one of his shows and LOVE how it turned out!  You can eliminate the bread if you want to make it Paleo or gluten-free, but the bread was delicious as it absorbed the dressing from the salad!

Honey Lime Grilled Chicken


  • 2-3 lbs chicken of choice (I did a combo of wings and bone-in thighs)
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup honey
  • The juice of 1 limes
  • The zest of 1 lime
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 4 Tbsp chili garlic sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk all of the ingredients together and marinade the chicken for at least one hour (I marinated for 4-5 hours).

Once you are ready to cook, remove the chicken to a cooking sheet lined with foil and pour the marinade into a small sauce pot.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer, reduce into a nice glaze and set aside.

Cook your chicken in the oven for 30 minutes.

Heat your grill to high heat and finish cooking the chicken on the grill while brushing the remaining glaze on your chicken until you get some nice grill marks on it.

This is a great chicken kabob recipe as well – just skip the oven and grill to perfection!


Grilled Ratatouille & Ciabatta Salad


  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 1 loaf ciabatta, split in half horizontally (optional but HIGHLY recommended!)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes

Prepare your dressing by combining the basil, parsley, vinegar, garlic, olive oil and salt & pepper.  Set aside until ready to dress the salad.

You will want to grill your vegetables and bread.  Brush your bread with olive oil.  You can cut your vegetables however you like and grill them, but I found it was easiest to cut them to fit on wooden skewers, brush with olive oil and grill.  It makes it easier to manage while on the grill.  You’ll want to grill the veggies and bread until you get some good grill marks and the veggies are tender but not too soft.  Cut your veggies into 1 inch pieces, place in a large bowl and toss with your dressing.  Cut your bread into 1 inch cubes.  Serve your salad over a handful of ciabatta cubes with another spoonful or so of dressing.

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“4 New Research Tips For Better Performance and Body Composition” By Dr. Mike T Nelson


June has been a busy month as I have been jumping from conference to conference, both presenting and attending.  Whoo ha.   Paul asked me to give you a breakdown of the top tips and tricks I learned along the way to boast your performance and improve your body composition.

The amazing part about conferences is that they’re really cutting edge.   Many times the data presented will not be out in formal journals for many months.   Here are some highlights.

Dr. Layne Norton’s VIP Camp in Tampa FL, June 2014

This was a pretty awesome experience to say the least due to the caliber of both presenters and coaches.  It is very rare to find highly educated researchers and practitioners in the same space.

Peak Week by Dr. Joe Klemczewski

The short version is simple:  Stop with the stupid last minute “water manipulation tricks”

This really only applies to those looking to compete in physique-based contests but it is one of those myths that will just not die!

You do not need to drink 3 gallons of water, salt the piss out of your food 2 weeks before a show, and then suck on ice cubes the day of the show to “trick” your body into losing more water.   Anyone looking to outsmart their body is in for a rude kick to the nut sack.   Or as my boy Dr. Jeremy Loenneke would say, “You are just not that smart.”  I am guilty of this too and have tried to outsmart my body in the past.  It ended poorly.

Physiology 101 tells us that your body keeps a very strict control over water and sodium/electrolytes. It has to do this in order to survive.  Cutting back on water will just reduce the amount of mean systemic filing pressure at some point and make all your hard work dieting appear worse.  Yes, worse.   If your blood volume is low, you are going to look more “flat” and it will be very hard to get a pump in the muscles.

Dr. Joe Klemczewski gave an amazing talk on this aspect and went into a lot more detail.   He has prepped many many natural competitors and they …gasp…..drank water right until they stepped on stage.  Ditto for other coaches such as Layne, Dave Goodin, etc

The cold reality is that those looking to put faith into magical changes in the days leading up to a competition are just not lean enough.  Sorry.

Judges don’t help this at all by telling competitors time and time again that “You had just a bit of water covering your quads.”, etc.   It is probably a way for them to save face than to tell someone who dieted for 24+ weeks, worked their butts off, and felt just above dog poo status for weeks that they were just not lean enough.  This unfortunately perpetuates the myth.   And yes, if people chose to use drugs they can have side effects that may cause water retention and competitors have used other methods such as diuretics to lose water.   Not only is this illegal, it can be deadly and has killed competitors in the past.   Do not do it.

Take away #1:  If you are a natural competitor looking to step on stage, don’t cut your water.


Mike (right) with Layne Norton

Meal Frequency by Dr. Bill Campbell

Dr. Campbell gave a great talk about the research behind meal frequency.

I am sure you have heard people say stuff like:

“You need to eat multiple times per day to keep your metabolic rate stoked!”


“Eating multiple times per day is the best way to burn more fat!”

Are those statements really true?

Well, if you look at the research there are not too many studies that only compared meal frequency: meaning that the percentages from protein, fat and carbs along with total calories were held exactly the same, only the number of meals were different.

What Dr. Campbell showed is that the data does not support the notion that increased meal frequency is beneficial for fat loss.   It did not show it was bad for it either – just pretty equivocal.

The research demonstrates that eating more meals per day is not bad but does not seem to have any magical fat loss properties.  Eating 3-5 times per day is a reasonable expectation.

Take away #2: Increased meal frequency does not appear to be advantageous for fat loss when calories and macronutrients are the same. 

There were many many great talks at Layne’s camp for sure and I don’t have space here to list all of them.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition Annual Conference, Clearwater FL, 2014

The ISSN as it is commonly known by is a great mix of practical and uber egg heads.  My kind of people!

Here are just a few highlights:

Neurological Benefits of Creatine Supplementation by Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky

Amazing talk!   I’ve been following the research on creatine over the years and more and more uses are being found.    The short version is this – creatine is awesome!

Creatine was actually found in the sports nutrition field and then found application in other aspects, especially now in neurology.  Many times the sports nutritionists and even exercise physiologists are the red headed step children of the medical community.  Everyone agrees exercise and nutrition are important, but not much beyond that.  Tell MDs that you research supplements and wait for a lecture about how evil sports supplements are now and what a profound waste of time for precious athletes to see if they can put on another pound of muscle or take 1/10 th a second off their sprint time.   Where is the medical research?

I remember attending Experimental Biology conference a few years ago with Dr. Lonnie Lowery and a researcher (Dr. Gabe Wilson) put up a picture of Arnold from his Conan days when presenting about BCAAs and said “…and maybe some people want to look like this…”   A huge gasp came over the crowd.  How dare a researcher say that people may want to look better too!

Back On Track

Even now with tons of research, many docs are reluctant to use creatine; even though they give drugs that have known nasty ass side effects.  Dr Tarnopolsky is a PhD and an MD who works as a clinical neurologist.  He presented some very cool data on mice where creatine was shown to reduce the risk of TBI—tramatic brain injury.  TBI results from many small “micro traumas” that happen from impact.  It has been seen in older football players and can be quite debilitating.

Critics may cry that it was a mouse stud – humans are not mice so how do we know it applies to us at all?  Unfortunately, no IRB is going to approve a study where humans get smacked in the head in a randomized fashion to see if one group has less brain damage.   Any volunteers?

Doses of creatine have been used in the 10-20 gram range and it does cross the blood brain barrier.   The biggest side effect he said was some GI distress in about 5%of the people—pretty much nothing considering the most common used drug (prednisone) has a laundry list of side effects including fluid retention and massive muscle loss over time, which leads to further impairment of their movement.

Take away #3 – creatine is good, cheap, and appears to have some nice preventive effects in neurologic disorders.

Metabolic Adaptation Panel Discussion (with Dr. Norton, Dr. Smith-Ryan, Dr. D’Agostino, Dr. Nelson)

I could retitle this one as “Poke the Hornet’s Nest and See What Happens”.

This was a packed house of about 250 people in attendance as Dr. Abbie Smith-Ryan moderated a panel discussion on metabolic changes with low calorie diets with Dr. Dom D’Agostino, myself, and Dr. Layne Norton.

Judging by the turnout and that we had some many questions afterwards for another hour after the discussion was done, it was a hot topic.   Much of that is the “Layne Norton Effect” though (LNE) as he draws discussion everywhere – which is great.

What Is Metabolic Adaptation?

As you cut calories, your body will decrease your metabolic rate a bit.   This does not mean it drops like a stone if you miss a meal or even decide to fast for 24-48 hours, but it will change based on how much you eat.

The nice part is that when you eat more, your metabolic rate will slowly go back up.  It is not fixed in stone.  The trick is that it does not appear to reach a super low level either.   Some complain that their metabolic rate is “damaged” and I got into depth on this in the Metabolic Flexibility for Fat Loss Ebook (shameless plug I know).

Dr. Dom showed data on the possible use of ketogenic diets as a way to lower calories and perhaps not see a big drop in metabolic rate.  A ketogenic diet is one that is moderate in protein, very low in carbs (less than 50 grams per day in many cases) and very high in fats.   In that state, your body produces ketones (similar to fat) that are used directly by muscles and your brain for fuel.   Ketones appear to have beneficial effects to combat the risk of oxygen toxicity that some Navy divers can encounter doing dives with rebreathers (more stealth and no bubbles).

Dr. Layne Norton discussed some research showing that the amount of times you diet and regain weight may have detrimental effects on your metabolic rate, thus making it harder to lose fat the next time.    He had a term called YOLO aka You are Only Lean Once.  He is a big proponent of “reverse dieting” where you work your calories back up over time to increase your metabolic rate.  I would agree with that approach and at ETP we are very big on working to expand your capacities.

I presented some cased studies of heart rate variability (HRV) and stalled progress.  HRV is a way to measure the stress on your nervous system.  I showed where 2 clients I had (a figure competitor and a burnt out crossfitter) came to me with signs of being classically overtrained.  When that happens, accessory movement grind to halt and people feel like poo, thus burn fewer calories (and many times don’t train).  How much HRV is linked to metabolic adaptation is not fully understood, but it is a measurement that you can do each AM and it does correlate to overall stress.

Take Away #4 – your metabolic rate is not fixed in stone and you can change it over time.


Now you are armed with some of the latest information from the geeky research world of nutrition and exercise physiology.   Go forth and apply for greater performance and better body composition!

–Mike T Nelson, CSCS, MSME, PhD

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Bacon (Yes! I said bacon) Rubbed Chicken Kababs

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So, while looking for some inspiration for recipes, I came across one that called for bacon paste…BACON PASTE?  It’s simply pureeing some raw bacon in your food processor until it’s a paste.  You can then use it to flavor ANYTHING!!!! (As long as you are cooking it)  The possibilities are endless with this one…add it to your bolognese, burgers, meat rub….oh boy!  What a discovery.  So today, I decided to make some chicken kababs since I have a plethora of chicken in my freezer.  The rub has got some kick to it, but pair it with my sweet BBQ sauce (you’ll never buy store bought BBQ sauce again!) and it’s perfect!  If it is too spicy, just cut the chipotle chili powder in half.  Enjoy!!!

Bacon (yes I said BACON) Rubbed Chicken Kababs


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons raw honey
  • 2-3 slices raw bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces


Trim chicken of excess fat and cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the salt. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the paprika and chili powder. Put the raw bacon in a food processor and pulse for about 30-45 seconds, until a smooth paste forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl twice throughout. Add the bacon paste, honey and spice mixture to the chicken. Mix with hands or spatula until the ingredients are blended and chicken is coated. Thread the chicken onto the skewers, rolling or folding as needed to maintain 1-inch cubes.

Grill the chicken over medium high heat with lid closed, turning one-quarter of a turn every 2 minutes or so, until browned and slightly charred (about 8 minutes total for chicken breast and 10 minutes for thighs). Brush the top of kebabs with BBQ sauce; flip and cook until sauce is browned in spots, about 1 minute. Brush second side with sauce; flip and cook for another minute or so, until cooked through.

Remove kebabs from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with remaining BBQ sauce, if desired.

Never Buy BBQ Sauce Again Barbeque Sauce


  • 1 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon hickory liquid smoke
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 1/8 cup cold water (optional)


Whisk together all ingredients (except the corn starch in water) in a medium pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. For a thicker sauce, add the corn starch and water mixture and simmer for about 15 minutes, until desired thickness is reached. Keep in mind that it may thicken slightly more while cooling. Serve immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator.

Eat To Perform Team Challenge


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It was clear from the genesis of Eat To Perform that we needed to live up to our namesake and emphasize the role proper nutrition plays in maximizing your performance in the gym.  At this point, the majority of our blog posts and materials reflect that.  Over time, Performance Focused Fat Loss became a priority and as such we started what ultimately became our ETP Live Challenge.  In those challenges the goal was simple: build muscle and lose fat.  The more muscle you gained, the better, but you also got points for fat loss.  What we really wanted people to know is that they shouldn’t always be seeking fat loss; a general focus on adding lean mass makes the times you do pursue fat loss much easier and more permanent.  A year and half later, people have gotten our message loud and clear.

To be perfectly clear, we’ve never suggested that fat loss should never be a goal but the fact of the matter is that many people are coming from an extreme dieting background – they’re not giving their bodies the energy and nutrients they need to adapt positively.  Our members have worked diligently to increase their energy intake and as a result, their work capacity has gone up.  That of course isn’t the end game for a lot of people.  Many people have more fat to lose and we want to help them get there.

With that in mind, we’re holding the first-ever Eat To Perform Team Challenge!

Over the course of this two month, 60 day challenge, we will be dividing everyone into teams.  The number of teams will be dependent upon how many members participate.  Each moderator in the Science Lab will be assigned to a team; what this means is that you will have a significant amount of support for the two month period.  In the end, points will be tallied, winners announced, and prizes distributed.  This challenge is only for Science Lab members so if you haven’t signed up, now is the time to do so.  In addition to being able to participate in multiple challenges every year, you’ll become part of a community and receive legitimate, science-based advice from our team of doctors, nutritionists, and coaches.

In addition to the team we will have individual winners (similar to our ETP Live challenges).  Here are some basic guidelines we will be using as a framework for judging:

  • After seeing 1000’s of body fat tests, one thing is clear:  the faster you lose weight, the more lean mass you lose.  This is not a good thing, so we came up with a general guideline of who should be most aggressive and who needs to be careful.  If you are a female over 35% or a male over 25% you will be allowed to lose more than eight pounds, or a pound a week.
  • For the leaner folks, we would like you to stick to the one pound a week guideline.  Please note that that’s a GUIDELINE, not a hard/fast rule.  If as an example you can get the weight to come off easily at a higher calorie point you probably aren’t jeopardizing a lot of the muscle.
  • Super lean people need to be even more careful.  If you are a female under 20% or a male under 12% your goal might be four to five pounds lost.
  • If you are coming from an extreme dieting background this challenge will be different for you.  Your goals will be to lose fat by gaining muscle.  We will help you do that by addressing deficiencies in the way you eat but fat loss is an equation.  If you are undereating, that needs to be addressed first.  It’s extremely common for people coming from a pretty restricted background to put on a decent amount of muscle in a few short weeks but if you are eating 1200 calories a day right now and you want to eat less than that as part of this challenge, that isn’t what we are trying to do.  This is about health, mental first and then physical.

What we’re ultimately trying to do is get people the fat loss results they want without detracting from their performance goals.  Losing lean mass is never desirable.  It certainly can and might happen when you pursue fat loss but we want to make people aware of the conditions that cause this.

We are excited about this challenge but because of the short time frame (two months) we need to have a quick turnaround on the materials submitted.  The latest we’ll accept entries is August 10th so act now!

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“My First Strongwoman Competition” by Sheri Stiles


Get all THREE of our eBooks – “Met Flex”, the Recipe Guide, and the Meal Planning Guide – for just $19.95! This also includes a 14 day Science Lab trial so you can work with our staff. 
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As I sit here, completely bruised up and feeling exhausted, I can’t help but think to myself “Man, no matter how sore I am right now, that was totally worth it!”

As many of you know, I competed in my first strongman/strongwoman event on Saturday.  As I feel the aftermath now, with every task seeming more daunting than normal and no matter how much coffee I consume, I could sleep at any given moment.  I don’t regret it at all :)

I have written before about the post-meet exhaustion and emotional process I go through, so I won’t go into that too much but it’s definitely no different this time around; if anything, I am sorer than after my powerlifting meets!  I am attributing the soreness to doing movements I am not accustomed to, and deadlifting (technically) 4,200lbs in 60 seconds!

I had a blast the whole day! Although I felt out of place (it seemed everyone else but me knew what was going on) it was quickly apparent that everyone was very supportive and willing to lend advice, and help each other.  You get some of that in powerlifting, but this seemed even more so in strongman. It was like it didn’t matter if you were first or last in an event, everyone was right there alongside of you, pushing you to go further. I know personally, during some of the events, it was others encouragement that made me bust out that last rep!

The competition had 5 events: farmers carry, circus dumbbell for 60 sec, 5 odd object load, yoke walk, and deadlift for 60 sec.

The farmer’s carry was 135 lbs. each hand for the women, for 100ft and timed. Originally it was 70 feet on the entry form, so those who trained this event for distance had to add 30 feet. This event was one I had actually trained (like 3 times anyway). I was nervous as it was the first event, but I also felt comfortable doing it. I finished the event in 14 seconds and 5th place. I remember thinking after, “I could have walked a little faster that wasn’t bad.”

The 2nd event was a 50 lb. circus DB for max reps in 60 seconds. I had tried this twice in the gym, and did alright. However, I have a tendency to press too much, and if I could learn to get underneath it more and use my legs I could have gotten more reps. I learned something I have to work on! I ended up getting 20 reps and 8th place in the event. Pressing has always been my weak point, I stopped doing any overhead movements about a year to heal a shoulder injury. My shoulders have been great since, however, much weaker than they used to be. Slowly, I am adding back in pressing movements as this is big in strongman.

Next we came to the 5 odd object load event – this was by far the most fun! Well, besides the deadlifting (anyone who knows me knows I LOVE deadliftingJ). We were given approximate weights prior to meet day, but no information on the implements that would be used. We were also planning to load to a shorter height than the actual event called for. I am kind of short, so I was disadvantaged in comparison to taller girls in this event. Plus, I had only ever practiced loading stones twice, and a sandbag once; neither of those were included in the 5 objects!  The objects we had were a 90 lb. keg, 115 lb. propane tank, 145 lb. fire hydrant, 165 lb. keg, and a 175 lb. circus dumbbell. You had 75 seconds to complete this event, and had to get at least the first 3 for it to count. I ended getting 4/5 implements before running out of time. This was probably the hardest for me endurance wise.  I don’t believe the weight was necessarily the issue, but the speed/time is new for me. I honestly loved this event though!

Yoke walks were next. This is what I had been dreading all day! I had practiced standing up with a 410lb yolk, and actually walking with it once without weight, and once with 375. I couldn’t move the 375 more than 10ft, so I was thinking there was no way I’d be able to do 350 for 100 ft. I ended up (somehow) finishing the yolk carry of 350lbs for 100 ft. in 19 seconds! I took 3rd in this event. It did not feel fast and smooth (all I remember doing was staring at the finish line) but the video made it look easy!

The final event was a 300 lb. conventional deadlift for max reps in 60 seconds. Needless to say, I looked forward to this ALL day. Going into the competition I knew I could deadlift; if nothing else, I could pull! After all, I would consider it my best lift, although having it last – after the loading event and the yoke carry – I was nervous about how my back would feel. One of my training partners said to me “Look at it like a powerlifting meet; you squat and bench before you get to pull!”  This was a great way of thinking. Usually, I go into the deadlift event in my powerlifting meets with a ‘clean slate’ mentality. Forget what just happened and pull like it’s the only lift of the day…So that’s what I did. I ended up doing 14 reps and ended in 3rd place. I pulled 11 reps easy, then decided to strap up (as that was allowed) and pull the last 3. Although I was tired at that time, and I fought for the last one, I think I wasted time strapping up to only get 3 more out of it. My grip has never been my issue, so I don’t usually conventional pull with straps, but in the moment I thought it could help me get a few more. Overall, however, I was fine with pulling 300×14—talk about endurance athlete ;)

I ended up placing 3rd overall (out of 13 very strong girls) and qualifying for nationals in my first strongwoman competition. This is something I did not expect; I was honestly shocked when I saw I had placed.  I was ecstatic nonetheless, but surprised!

I went into this competition super excited to try something new, and although I honestly felt I had no idea what to expect from the events, I told myself I would go there and do my best. No matter what the trial was, I was going to work my butt off and test my strength. I believe I did just that!

I love the challenge strongman has opened me up to. I love training, and doing work to see just what I am capable of, and I have once again found my desire and passion for competition!

I have even signed up to do North Carolina’s Strongest Man/Woman in SeptemberJ

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