I am a fitness professional who is certified as an Adventure Boot Camp instructor, personal fitness trainer, sports nutritionist, and health coach. I have a B.S. in Health Promotion with a Minor in Business from Auburn University. Currently I am the owner and operator of Joe Martin Fitness LLC, a fitness company that specializes in fitness boot camps, youth fitness, and on-line personal training. I was voted Huntsville's Healthiest Male, Huntsville's Healthiest Trainer, and Huntsville Adventure Boot Camp was voted Huntsville's Healthiest Place to Workout. As a writer, I have written the best selling book The Wellness Code, The 21 Day Tight and Toned Transformation, the Army MWR Sports and Fitness Newsletter, and I am a frequent contributor to the Huntsville Times as a fitness writer. I had been a lifelong athlete, until one day I woke up and realized I was 50 pounds overweight, depressed, and injured. It was a turning point in my life when I got fed up and realized there had to be a better way. From that day on I have dedicated my life to studying health and fitness and using it to help others achieve their goals. I have used this passion to train all populations but my specialty is fat loss for women.

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Posts by brawny7878

What Sam Walton, Walmart, and a panty hose rack have to do with your body

Son, you've got a panty on your head

Son, you've got a panty on your head

There is a famous story about the founder of WalMart, Sam Walton, and a trip he took to little old Huntsville, Alabama.


Whenever Mr. Walton would go into a new town, he liked to check out the competition.


He went into one of our local establishments with one of his assistants. The assistant was blown away with how terrible the place was. Junk everywhere, terrible employees, poor store layout, etc…


Sam and the assistant met back up later to compare notes. The assistant laid out all the things that were so bad about the store.


Sam did not say one thing about the negative. He said "Did you see that panty hose rack? I wrote down the manufacturer, we have to get those for our stores! Also, did you see the ethnic hair care section? They have 12 feet of shelf space, we only have 4! We are missing out on this, we need to correct it."


What's the moral of this story? You can focus on the negative or you can accentuate the positive.


This week I have talked a lot about niching things down to one focused thing at a time. A good place to start for a lot of women is with their poor body image.


Do you constantly comment on the things you don't like about your body? How often do you talk about how awesome your body is?


The times you talk bad about your body, does it motivate you to work harder or does it just depress you more? I'm guessing the latter is true.


Here is your homework. I want you to come up with 2 things you absolutely love about your body.


It can be as simple as "I really like how my shoulders look." Or as hard hitting as "I love that my body was able to carry and deliver 3 children and allows me the energy to care for them every day."


Whenever you are tempted to talk negatively, flip it around and think about the positive. Whenever you are focused on the negative, that is all you see. It gives you tunnel vision and makes you miserable.


Stick with the positive message and it will open your mind up to the possibility that the other things you dislike about your body might not be so bad after all.

“I Hate Vegetables!”



On Monday I talked about an interview I did with the multi-talented Arky Shea. Arky is getting married in 6 months and is starting to get serious about shaping up for his wedding.


We sat down and talked about a variety of subjects. Traffic, giant panties, exercise, simplicity, what is the best diet, and the one thing I want him to do. Here is a hint, it has something to do with the title of this post.


I'm excited to be working with Arky because I see a lot of myself in him and he is a great guy. You can listen to the full podcast free at the link below.




Simplicity. It's a pretty cool word isn't it? That word has been on my mind a lot lately.


The biggest reason the word is top of mind with me is because we sold our house. I am really wishing I had embraced simplicity earlier in my life. We have been in this house almost 10 years, so the amount of junk is pretty substantial.


I found some floppy disks from when I was in grad school. What am I doing with these? There is no computer in my house that can use them. It was good for confusing people younger than 30 years old though.


Another reason is a book I am reading now told the history of the word priority. It was never meant to be plural. Have you ever thought about your top priorities? Most of us have.


The original meaning was- the very first thing. If you had to simplify everything in your life down to one priority what would it be?


The third reason simplicity keeps popping up is the interview I did with my friend Arky Shea yesterday. Arky is a sports radio producer, comedian, all around good dude who also hosts his own podcast.


We were talking on his show yesterday and Arky confided with me (and what I am sure are the billions of people who listen to his podcast) that he needs to lose over 100 pounds. He is getting married in 6 months and it is sinking in that this wedding pictures will be around forever.

The multi-talented Arky Shea a few years ago

The multi-talented Arky Shea a few years ago

His struggles are very similar to ones I hear a lot. There is so much information out there about diet and exercise that people get paralyzed!

How many calories do I need? Is Paleo for me? How many times a week do I need to workout? Are eggs good or bad? Should I lift weights or do cardio?


We talked about a lot of things, but my one piece of advice you would be the same thing I want to share with you. What is one thing you can start today and make a habit the easiest?

That's it. When that becomes a habit, pick out your next thing. Don't get overthink things, avoid getting overwhelmed, and keep taking a long term approach.


When you commit to a lifestyle change, you are committing to a life long journey of improvement. When you commit to sacrificing short results with long term gains, you are setting yourself up for failure.


What can you start doing today that will become your next healthy habit?


PS-I will send you a link to listen to the full podcast on Wednesday.

8 Minute Weight Loss Plan



Meal planning may seem monotonous (because it is), but the pay off is worth it. Think about what happens when you do not have anything planned a meal, time gets short, and you are hungry?


Fast food, pizza deliveries (that was me last night), microwave salt licks. (No, Lean Cuisines are not a health food).


What if instead of spending 8 minutes a week looking into a fridge hoping healthy food would magically appear, you spent that time productively? Take some advice from dietitian Keri Glassman's article "Change Your Life in 8 Minutes".


Here is what she suggests doing with your 8 minutes:

-Write out your challenges for the week (birthday celebration, Mexican food, girls' night out, etc.) and then write down a plan to overcome the challenges.

-Plan your dinners at home around your schedule for the week and then create a grocery list to go with them.

-Write a list for work snacks, and add them to your grocery list.

-Schedule exactly when you are going to go to the grocery store and then follow through.


If you notice, not one of those is the actual food prep or cooking we all dread so much. This is formulating a food game plan for the week. It will save you time, money, and calories just by having some kind of plan.

If you do have time left in your 8 minutes, you Glassman suggests you could:

-Make a pitcher of iced lemon water to store in the fridge. -Chop the veggies you have around. -Mix a healthy salad dressing to keep in your fridge. -Portion out healthy snacks, like nuts, into little bags.

Nutrition is just like working out. When you have a game plan of what you are going to do, you get much quicker results without wasting your time. Make that plan today!

20 Ways To Spark Your Flame. Choose one and let’s do this!



Sometimes all it takes is one little spark to ignite a flame. It's the same way with getting started on a healthy lifestyle.


One action step at a time. Picking out a specific action and making it a habit. Think about what you would like to change the most.


Your weight?

Your endurance?

Your strength?

Your eating habits?

Your energy level?


What is one thing you can do this week to ignite that fire and start conquering your struggles?


Here are 20 examples of what that one thing could be:

1. Get the junk food out of your house 2. Set an alarm and stand up for 5 minutes every hour 3. Avoid fast food this week 4. Eat one healthy meal today 5. Take a 10 minute walk 6. Use a foam roller for 10 minutes 7. Floss (it adds 6 years to your life) 8. Stretch for 10 minutes 9. No liquid calories today (soft drinks, alcohol, coffees, etc…) 10. Commit to one workout (I know a great boot camp if you need it) 11. Turn the TV off and go to bed on time 12. Take 10 minutes of absolute quiet by yourself to de-stress 13. Find someone who will keep you accountable (friend, trainer, group) 14. Go buy some new workout clothes or shoes 15. Write down your goals where you will see them daily 16. Rather than creating excuses for not getting healthy, create a plan 17. Start a sleep routine you will do every night 18. Eat a vegetable you've never tried this week 19. Take a picture of yourself and do your measurements so you can track the amazing results you are about to achieve 20. Get negative people (AKA energy vampires) out of your life


The list could be thousands of things, but I want you to think of one specific thing you will commit to TODAY to take action on. Pick something you know you can do, keep at it until it becomes a habit, and then target your next goal.

5 fixes to fight desk job posture


Slouching in Front of a Computer - Xray

Desk jobs have their benefits such as: less chance of being attacked by vicious dogs; great for gingers avoiding excessive sun; good chance you have a chair that spins around; trash can basketball; the list goes on and on.


The downfall of desk jobs are the tight muscles and bad posture that go along with all these nice things. If they unchecked they can result in some serious problems.


The first fix is called the Thoracic Bridge. It's a great way to correct imbalances and tight muscles, plus it sounds fancy. Max Shank, a highly respected fitness pro, shows you how it is done here: Thoracic Bridge Video: 


Here are 4 other options you can add to your arsenal as well.



1. Sound the alarm

Set an alarm so that you have a reminder to stand up at a minimum once an hour. Preferably every 15 minutes if possible. Or you could always rock the stand up desk.

Don't listen to this guy

Don't listen to this guy

2. Squeeze the Charmin

A side effect of too much sitting is your glute muscles going to waste. While you are standing up any way when the alarm goes off, why not add a little something to it? Put your feet slightly closer than shoulder width apart, feet pointed out at 45 degree angles, and pinch your butt cheeks together. Sounds weird (because it is), but it will really help you.



3. Pull it apart

You need a band for this one. Hold a band directly out in front of you, arms straight, wrists straight, knuckles up, and then extend your arms all the way out like you are demonstrating your awesome wing span. Make sure to pinch your shoulder blades together in the back. This one will you will feel a difference in by doing them for just a few days.



4. Tight hips don't lie

Sitting too much causes your hip flexors to tighten up. If you have trouble getting into a deep squat, the culprit can sometimes be tight hips. Try the 90/90 hip flexor stretch.

Go into a kneeling position, with your right knee up and your left knee on the ground. Keeping your back straight, push your hips forward, and think about sinking your hips into the ground. Hold that for 15-20 seconds and then do the same on the other side.

Jedi Mind Tricks For Runners



One of my biggest takeaways from running the half marathon is how important the mental aspect of running is. To be honest with you, I really wanted to stop at 2 miles in. Only 11 miles to go!


My right hip was hurting, I was freezing, I had to use the bathroom, I was tired, I was asking myself why I agreed to run 13 miles when I had only ran 3 times to get ready, etc... I thought I would share a few of the mental tricks I used to take my mind off things and get through the rest of the race.


1. Just get THERE

This was the number one thing I used. I would tell myself to just make it to the next light pole, the next water station, the next hill. I did that the entire way. When I thought about how far I had to go I got discouraged, but breaking it up into mini goals kept me going.


2. Pick out an item and start counting it

You can pick out something like a white hat, red shorts, knee brace, etc... and start keeping count. Since I was wearing half sleeves, I counted those. I saw 84 people wearing them if you are curious.


3. Think about your plans after the race

How good it will feel to cross that finish line. Or maybe you have something cool planned for later in the day. Kind of like going to your happy place. Since our race finished at the 50 yard line in Neyland Stadium, I kept picturing myself running through that tunnel, crossing that sweet finish line, and seeing my son cheering me on.

Plus I was really looking forward to a nap.


4. The invisible rope trick

Pick out someone who is ahead of you, picture that you lassoed them with a rope like Wonder Woman, and then picture they are pulling you up to where they are. Sounds crazy I know, but it works.


My wife and I used a slightly different version. There was a guy with a ponytail ahead of us on a hill and we pictured that ponytail dragging us up. This was mile 11, I thought it was hilarious and it did help. I was fairly delirious at the time.

5. Do things as a team

Pick out a runner who is ahead of you and decide to overtake them. I call this one the Lion vs gazelle technique because I always pick out someone who is limping a little. I'm almost certain other people did this to me.


While I don't necessarily recommend doing a half marathon without running, I do recommend finding something outside of your comfort zone to challenge yourself with. The main reason I didn't run a lot to get read was my concern that my knees couldn't take the pounding of all the training mileage. I did learn some alternative methods (besides running) to really increase my endurance though, so all in all it was an awesome experience.


Playing Calvinball (your weekend homework)



My son has recently got into reading Calvin and Hobbes. I love Calvin and Hobbes, so this is a great bonding experience because those books are still hilarious.


This guy is pretty hilarious too


Calvin is a young boy who is lawyers getting into trouble and adventures with his stuffed tiger Hobbes. Calvin is not a fan of organized sports, so they come up with something called Calvinball.


There is only one rule to Calvinball and that is that you can not play it the same way twice. My son thought this sounded awesome, so he asked me if we could play and I thought that sounded awesome too.


We got out a tire, soccer ball, football, inflatable float thing, some rope, a scooter, and a 360 degree Razor scooter. We kicked, threw, roped, rode, chased, wrestled, and next thing you know nearly an hour had gone by. It was one of the greatest workouts ever!


Your assignment is to go out this weekend and have some unstructured play time. Life is too short to be so serious all the time. Run, skip, hop, kick, throw, hike, dance, or whatever form of movement speaks to you. It doesn't matter if you have a kid with you or not, it is even better with a group of adults. The point is to have fun and MOVE!


I guarantee if you do this, you will laugh and feel so much better overall. Your neighbor will think you are nuts, but he cuts his grass with scissors who is he to judge? Just remember, you can't play it the same way twice.


Have a great weekend!




Last week I was co-race director for a local race. Since it was a trail run, we had to be extra careful with the weather. The weather would be beautiful one minute, raining the next, and repeat.


One day the race was on, yeah! Next day, race was off, boo! It was a maddening experience to be in limbo like that. Not knowing what was going to happen and having it be out of your hands.


We eventually had to cancel because when we checked the trials that morning it was an obvious decision to cancel. Despite that not being what anyone wanted, it felt good to have closure.


Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever thought:


"I should lose a few pounds...Who brought these stinking donuts into the office?"


"I'm going to train for that race... No way they are having a Blossom marathon on FX!"


"I'm going to get up early and go workout tomorrow... This pillow has me in a headlock, I better stay here and see if he loses strength."


These things can derail you if you truly have not decided to make the change. If it is just something you think would "be nice" or "I would like to (insert goal)."


Don't put yourself in limbo! Decide TODAY that you are going to make this happen. Whatever your THIS happens to be. Write it down right now, stick it on your steering wheel, fridge, computer, or whatever you will see it every day.


Stop putting yourself half in. That is a miserable place to be because you are constantly having to start over. Seriously think about it and if the goal you are going after is not something you truly want, stop trying to go after it.


I sound like an anti-motivational speaker guru, but I'm serious. If you are going to reach a lofty goal, it has to be something that you are excited about and that you will persevere to each. Don't make yourself feel bad all the time about something you don't truly care about.


Take 15 minutes this week to think about it. If you decide you are in, write that goal down on the places I suggested earlier. Then list the action steps you will take to get there. If you aren't in, trash that goal and move onto something that gets you excited.

Drinking a Guinness on a job interview



When I was 21 years old, I took a summer off when I was in college and moved to Dublin, Ireland. Didn't know anyone, no job, and no real plan other than it was something I had always wanted to do so I was doing it.


Eventually I formulated a plan for getting a job when I got there. The plan consisted of one step: Walk around until I found a job. There is a reason you can't rent a car until you are 25, males below the age of 25 do not have fully formed brains and are not known for making excellent decisions. Some say their brains never quite get there after 25 either.


I managed to secure a job interview as short order cook at a local pub. Part of the interview process was to gather all of the applicants into a room, give them a Guinness, have them hang out, and do a feeling out process.


This was the greatest job interview ever! I was laughing, having a good time, and I thought it was all going great until I heard a disapproving noise. And the noise was aimed directly at me.


The noise was followed by a disapproving sentence from the owner. He said, "That's the problem with you bloody (cleaned up for this e-mail's sake) Americans, you do everything so bloody (edited) fast!"


After a moment of confusion, I looked around and realized what he was talking about. Everyone had about 3/4 of their beer left and mine was just sitting there in a pile of lonely foam.


Spoiler alert I did not end up getting the job. But while I was living there I noticed that they have a lot of very lean people and a low number of overweight people.


So I started observing and I came up with 5 ways they stay in shape in Ireland.


1. Slow eating and drinking

This is the one I first learned at the job interview. Irish meals would be drawn out over music, laughter, and conversation. They would eat smaller amounts of food, but would feel full because they gave their brains the time to tell their stomachs that they and eaten enough.The focal point of their meals was the company they were with, not the food itself. This was pre-smart phones, so it may be different now.


2. Lots of walking

Everybody walks! I'm guessing it is because the people that drive are on the wrong side of the road. Crazy people. Think about how many calories you would burn if you walked 1-2 hours a day. Not to mention avoiding a lot of the trouble brought on by excess sitting.


This place in Ireland reminded me of McDowell's in Coming To America


3. A lot of the food is terrible

Seriously. Hard to eat to much when you don’t enjoy the food. I made the mistake of wandering into McCary’s (thinking it was a McDonald’s). Had the golden arches and everything, but I'm pretty sure the burger was made of ground leprechaun. It was AWFUL.

The thing I started doing is just using food as fuel, not a way to make myself happy. It was a mind set shift for me. Food should be enjoyed, but it's not a way to alter my mood. This ended up being a very valuable lesson for me down the road.


4. Avoiding fast food

Whenever I went into a fast food place (I was desperate! Have you ever seen blood pudding?) it would be 99% tourists. The locals would not eat there. A co-worker put it simply "We don't eat it it's because the food is addictive and it will make you fat." The Irish have a way with words.


Weird how "outsiders" can see that so easily, but we Americans keep right on keeping on with fast food.


5. Access to affordable, fresh produce

I was making the equivalent to about 4 dollars an hour. Not much in a big city like Dublin, but I could still afford to get fresh fruits and vegetables from the Farmer’s Markets they would have scattered throughout the city. Not that I ate vegetables back then, but a lot of the locals took advantage of it.


I'm not asking you to eat terrible food, but: eating and drinking slower; walking more; eating more fresh fruits and vegetables; not using food as a way to alter your mood; and avoiding fast food are all habits you can start adding to your life that will be a tremendous help no matter where you live.


Happy Saint Patrick's Day tomorrow, have some green vegetables!

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