Cardio vs. Cardio plus Diet? Doesn't Make a Difference for Fat Loss Unless You Lift

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Cardio vs. Cardio plus Diet? Doesn't Make a Difference for Fat Loss Unless You Lift

Misinformed beliefs about fat loss just refuse to die.

The particular belief that's on my mind tonight was inspired by a conversation I had with a client this past week. A conversation that I've had numerous times over the years with new-er clients. It's the belief that cardio is the most important piece of the puzzle for losing fat.

Michael Scott read my mind.

Michael Scott read my mind.

Half of my clients have over 50 pounds to lose. What I see most of them do, early on, is allocate most of their time and energy to doing cardio, and IF they have time and energy left, they'll do some lifting. 

They think what they always need is more cardio.

But research tells us not to do more cardio, but to lift. And lift heavy.

In 1999, one of the OG's of exercise science, Dr. Kraemer, and his smart pals did a study that compared a weight loss protocol with and without exercise over a 12-week period.

They took 35 overweight men (175 to 275 pounds with around 30%+ body fat) and split them up into four groups:

A) Control (no intervention, just came in for testing)
B) Diet
C) Diet + cardio
and
D) Diet + cardio + heavy resistance training / lifting

The average daily caloric intake for the three experimental groups (B, C, and D) was about 1500 calories.  

The cardio group (C) did cardio three days a week at 70-80% intensity while gradually increasing the time from 30 minutes to 50 minutes a session over the course of 12 weeks. 

The diet plus cardio plus lifting group (D) still did the same cardio program (three days a week) - but they followed that with a weight training session right after.

By the end of the 12-weeks, all three groups (the diet, diet plus cardio, and diet plus cardio and heavy lifting) lost a similar amount of total weight -- 20 to 22 pounds. But there was a significant difference in the makeup of the weight loss. The resistance training group (D) lost the most amount of fat weight and maintained the most amount of muscle. 

For the diet-only group and the diet plus cardio groups, only 69% and 78% of the total weight loss was fat weight, respectively. Whereas for the diet plus cardio and resistance training group it was 97%.

The study pretty much says when it comes to making body composition changes, cardio plus diet doesn't do much more than dieting alone. But diet plus cardio plus heavy resistance training has the largest impact on improving body composition (Kraemer et al. 1999).

Is cardio important for fat loss? Yes, it is. I'm not saying it doesn't so don't stop doing it. 

If you're spending most of your effort on cardio, I just want you to switch that strategy. At least for a while. Try it. 

Do what they did in this study. Some days use weights that you can do only 5-7 repetitions with and rest 2-3 minutes between sets. Other days go a bit lighter and use weights that you can only do 8 to 10 repetitions with and rest 1-2 minutes. Keep your cardio in there and get your eating right. You're set. 

Oh, and be patient. 

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Travel Fitness: Tips for a Hotel Room Workout

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Travel Fitness: Tips for a Hotel Room Workout

As summer vacation approaches, chances are you’re going to be traveling. You want to enjoy yourself while you’re away. But maybe you also want to maintain some level of fitness and a resemblance of your pre-vacation body when you go home. So before your trip, you check out photos of the hotel gym. Inevitably, the gym ends up being a lot smaller than the picture on the website so it’s crowded and all the machines are taken.

Don’t sweat it.

Head back up to your room and try this routine I’ve put together.

It’s a full-body workout that requires zero equipment. All you need is your phone to use as a timer.

Click here to read more.

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Is money an effective weight-loss incentive?

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Is money an effective weight-loss incentive?

For some, the joy of exercise is enough to inspire early morning runs in the park.

Others can easily decline a second helping of chocolate cake, knowing moderation today may one day lead to better health.

But many of us need extra motivation to reach for our running shoes or forgo that second treat. And there is growing consensus that when it comes to losing weight, a big-time motivator can be cold hard cash.

But there is a HUGE caveat.  

Click here to read more

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The Definitive Guide To Working Out At Home

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The Definitive Guide To Working Out At Home

Finding time to work out is a struggle for a lot of people. They don't have much time left between work, changing diapers, making meals, and maybe shoveling snow. What little time is left is usually not enough to travel to a gym and back because that takes well over an hour.

Working out at a gym can take too much time -- time to go to and from the gym and to change in and out of workout gear when you get there. Imagine you do all that only to realize that you have to get in line to use a machine. 

Read more here.

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10 Ingredients For Living The Good Life

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10 Ingredients For Living The Good Life

This list is a collection of activities and food times I’ve incorporated into my life over very recent years to help with my anxiety, to sleep better, and to reduce general muscle achiness.

I’m a work in progress and will always be that way. I’m continuously researching and trying out different things to see what works. I encourage you to do the same after reading this book.

As of the date of writing this (December 2016) - at the age of 26 - I’ve found incorporating the ten items listed here to have helped me tremendously.

I posted this list on Instagram a few weeks ago. In this blog I'll go over each point and why it's a part of my day. 

 

Dark Chocolate (85% and above)

Dark chocolate became a staple in my life after my short stint of binge eating. I needed something to kill my cravings and to stop me from going all Cookie Monster on the pantry. Dark chocolate helped.

A lot of people - including myself - experience a blunting of sweet tooth cravings and hunger with just one or two squares of dark chocolate. There is research to back this up.  When compared to milk chocolate - promotes satiety, lowers the desire to eat something sweet, and suppresses energy intake.

But you might be wondering why I’m big on 85% dark chocolate. Is 70% bad? No.It’s just that I can’t tell any difference in the taste of 70% versus 85% dark chocolate. So for me, it’s a no-brainer to go with the darker chocolate and get more cacao with less added sugar.

My favorite right now is 99% dark chocolate from Lindt. What’s yours?

 

Coffee

I go to bed each night excited because sleep is a time machine to morning. The sooner morning comes around the corner the sooner I get to turn on my espresso machine.

Fact: coffee makes everything in life seem excellent. Coffee appears to be nothing short of a wonder drug. Study after study shows relationships between coffee consumption and positive health outcomes like lowered risk of colorectal cancer, better liver health, better brain health in seniors, enhanced memory, and it even helps keep ears from ringing. 

Remember that too much of anything isn’t good. So find a reasonable amount of coffee that makes you feel super, without making you anxious and messing with your sleep.

Because I’m sensitive to caffeine, I have a personal rule of not consuming any after 11 am. I typically have an espresso at 4:30 am and another one sometime before 11 am.

 

Short Workouts (in 'n out in 60 minutes)

When you’re forced to keep your workouts under 60 minutes, you make better use of your time instead of your texting muscles. Setting a time limit makes your workouts intense which leave you sweaty and breathing heavy.
 

I also believe in fitting fitness into your life, not the other way around. So I find setting aside 60 minutes to live a long healthy life in a body you’re proud of seems reasonable. The 6o minutes includes the time spent changing in and out of clothes, by the way. Realistically, all-in, your workout will take up to 45 minutes. They’re short enough to allow for quick day-to-day recovery and long enough to get you results.

The main reason I try to workout every day is the post-workout euphoria. That’s what gets me out of bed and into to gym at that ungodly hour. It’s not my unconditional love for the dumbbells or elliptical machine.

Ever after being on SSRIs, I’ve come to realize there is no better antidepressant than an energizing workout that gets your heart racing.

If you ever want to see what working out at 4:30 am is like and how good you’ll feel after, I can show you. You just have to show up :)


Sex (with yourself or others)

Just do it. It doesn't matter if you’re doing it to yourself or doing it with someone.

For guys, research shows an inverse relationship between ejaculation and risk of prostate cancer. As of yet, I’m not aware of any research on the relationship between orgasm frequency and physical health outcomes for women. What we know is that more sex and masturbation is good. Frequent orgasms highly correlate with an increased quality of life.

 

Stretch (three to five minutes, preferably pre-sleep)

Stretch (three to five minutes, preferably pre-sleep)

Self-care isn’t just manicures, pedicures, and shiatsu massages. Stretching is up there. And it’s free. Stretching helps reduce anxiety, bodily pain and exhaustion, and boosts vitality and mental health. It’s awesome for winding down gets you in a relaxed state ready for sleep.

I’ve tried to develop some stretching a habit a bunch of times but failed miserably. I gave the 20 to 30 minutes-a-day thing a shot a couple of occasions. I couldn’t do it. It took too long, and I didn’t have the patience for it. Same reason I can’t do an hour long yoga class. Find me a 20-minute yoga class, and I’m in.

Plus, three to five minutes is a lot more manageable than 20-30 minutes, and it’s so short that it makes for an easy add-on to your existing sleep routine.

Possible options - among many:

  1. Brush your teeth, then stretch.

  2. A warm glass of milk, then stretch.

  3. Watch cat videos on YouTube, while stretching.

  4. Sex, then stretch (or vice-versa as a warm-up).
     

Sleep (7-8 hours)

No amount of coffee or will make up for piss poor sleep. Eight cups of coffee are not the same as eight hours of sleep. One of them makes might you a heart attack while the other one decreases the chance of it.

I guard my sleep routine with my life. It’s one of, if not the single most effective change I’ve made to my life that has paid huge dividends.

Enough quality sleep will make you less anxious, irritable and bitchy. It also helps you to have better control over your appetite, and accomplish more in a day because you have more energy than when you have a crappy sleep.

Lack of quality sleep can cause:

  • Insulin resistance

  • Increased risk of diabetes

  • Impaired cognitive function

  • Higher fat mass

  • Increased hunger

  • Slowed fat loss


Alcohol (a couple drinks a week)

You might have heard that moderate alcohol intake (one to two drinks per day) can have benefits like decreased risk of heart disease and stroke. I used to think that until I started researching for this book.

But a behemoth of a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that the scientific evidence backing such claims is “shaky at best.”  If that’s your concern, diet and exercise will have a way bigger bang for your buck. Plus, the research on those isn’t equivocal like it is with alcohol intake.The researchers said there was no benefit regarding longevity with moderate alcohol consumption and no risk with the occasional drinks. That’s why alcohol is still on this list

And because I just discovered mezcal cocktails.

 

Nuts (handful a day)

This one has to be the easiest thing on this list to implement. (Unless you’re allergic to nuts).

20 grams or a handful of nuts a day can cut our risk of coronary heart disease by nearly 30 per cent, cancer by 15 per cent, and premature death by 22 percent. Doesn’t matter what kind. They all work.

 

Fruit (couple a day)

Nature’s dessert. Cliche but it’s true.

Fruits like pineapple, mango, banana, peach, and kiwi are awesome substitutes for a high-calorie snack. The research on diets higher in fruit and decreased risk every cause of death. The reason Kenny keeps dying in every South Park episode is that he never ate a single fruit.What’s your favourite fruit? I’m all about pears and pineapples right now.

 

Being early

I had a chronic problem with being on time for ages. I set my watches and clocks ahead yet I still managed to be late. Because I like getting the most out of every day, I plan every appointment and action item in my calendar close to one another. Too close.

I thought having a calendar would decrease my anxiety, but it backfired because it made me more anxious. I was either just on-time or five to ten minute late for everything.  Now I’m getting to my appointments early - as in 10 to 15 minutes early. Being early is tied with my sleep routine as adding tremendous benefits to my life.

If you want to live a more relaxed life, be early.

 

Gratitude

Do you ever wonder how, out of the seven billion people on this earth, you were lucky enough to be born into a family that fed, raised, and took care of you so that you can read this blog on your futuristic device?

Life can get shitty sometimes. I’ve been in and sometimes still go to some dark places. But all it to come back to the good life is to zoom out - way out - and realize:

  • You don’t have to worry about drinking water or dying from a fever.

  • You don’t have to run from bombs, gunfire, or wild animals.

  • You have access to the internet so you can learn whatever you want, whenever you want.

If you have any doubt that you’ve won the lotto by being alive you need to watch this.

 

 

References for the nerds:

Sørensen, L. B., & Astrup, A. (2011). Eating dark and milk chocolate: a randomized crossover study of effects on appetite and energy intake. Nutrition & diabetes, 1(12), e21.

http://qualitycounts.com/fpcoffee.html

Rider, J. R., Wilson, K. M., Sinnott, J. A., Kelly, R. S., Mucci, L. A., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2016). Ejaculation frequency and risk of prostate cancer: updated results with an additional decade of follow-up. European urology.

As a female, does orgasm affect my health? (2012). Retrieved December 09, 2016, from https://examine.com/nutrition/as-a-female-does-orgasm-affect-my-health/

Montero-Marin, J., Asún, S., Estrada-Marcen, N., Romero, R., & Asun, R. (2012). [Effectiveness of a stretching program on anxiety levels of workers in a logistic platform: a randomized controlled study]. Atencion primaria/Sociedad Española de Medicina de Familia y Comunitaria, 5(7), 376-383.

How important is sleep? (2015). Retrieved December 09, 2016, from https://examine.com/nutrition/how-important-is-sleep/

Stockwell T, Zhao J, Panwar S, Roemer A, Naimi T, Chikritzhs T. Do “Moderate” Drinkers Have Reduced Mortality Risk? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of alcohol Consumption and all-Cause Mortality. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2016.

Aune, D., Keum, N., Giovannucci, E., Fadnes, L. T., Boffetta, P., Greenwood, D. C., ... & Norat, T. (2016). Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMC medicine, 14(1), 207

 

Article Image: Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_lineartestpilot'>lineartestpilot / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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Make Your Form Great Again: Cable Glute Kickback

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Make Your Form Great Again: Cable Glute Kickback

This week I'm continuing my mission of making your form great again by going over an exercise that is a very popular exercise, especially among women. 

The Exercise

This cable glute kickback can be either a glute builder or a back destroyer, depending on how you go about performing it. 

The most common mistakes I see with the cable glute kickback are:

  • "Bad girl booty syndrome" where the low back is arched like a MF and butt sticks out. I mean, I'm not a real doctor, but that shit ain't good for your back.
  • Using momentum to drive the leg back and not controlling the negative portion.
  • Standing upright and DECREASING the range of motion. 


How To Make It Great Again: 

Stef demonstrates what NOT to do, followed by how I like to coach it. 

  • Brace your abs and maintain that tension throughout the set. This will keep your back from overarching and prevent Bad Girl Syndrome.
  • Bend your knees SLIGHTLY and bend at the hips.
  • Make your glute do all the work. Start the motion with your glute squeezing hard, instead of just kicking your leg back like you're kicking something off your leg. 


Give it a try with great form and let me know if this helped.

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Make Your Form Great Again: Cable Pull-Through

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Make Your Form Great Again: Cable Pull-Through

Nothing, and I mean nothing, gets me fired up more than glute training. 

A strong set of glutes will make any pair of pants look a million times better. And since the glutes are the largest and most powerful muscle group in the body, I see the glutes as the biceps of the lower body. A sign of both strength and fitness. 

 

The Exercise:

The cable pull-through is very underrated and underused exercise. Blasphemy!

Want to learn how to do a proper kettlebell swing? Do pull-throughs.

Want to work your glutes, but you're not too sure about deadlift technique just yet?  Do pull-throughs. 

Want to do a deadlift or do a hinge pattern exercise to work your glutes but don't feel like using a bar? Pull-throughs.

Who cares that people who have never seen this exercise will immediately think you're a sick pervert? If you like glutes, you will like the pull-through.

The most common mistakes I see with the pull-through are:

  • Squatting. Don't squat in a pull through. Your hips should go BACK. Not down.
    Back. It. Up.
  •  Knees going forward.
  • Using the arms and shoulders to move the weight. This is great if you want to work your shoulders. But it's crappy if you want to work your bum bum.
  • Not squeezing the glutes at the top of the movement. 🤔 do you NOT like gains? 

 


How To Make It Great Again:

In the video below, Kaitlin shows you how to make your pull-throughs great again.

  • Brace your core and think about squeezing oranges in your armpits. This will keep your back from overarching and prevent crappy posture.
  • No squatting with a pull through. Push your butt BACK. Not down.
  • Bend your knees only SLIGHTLY as you back it up.
  • Let your glutes do all the work by keeping your arms pressed against your hips throughout the motion. 


Give it a try with great form and let me know if this helped.

 

 

 

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Researchers Shed Light on Optimal Time and Amount of Protein To Build Muscle

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Researchers Shed Light on Optimal Time and Amount of Protein To Build Muscle

This week I came across a recent review in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.

It’s actually just over a year old, but I just read it last week for a course I’m taking in school. And I’m pretty sure you haven’t read it either. So, let’s just pretend this is brand-spanking new information.

Anyway, I got excited when I read it.

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No, not that kind of excited. But almost.

Here’s why:

This review delivers practical takeaways about the amount and timing of protein to maintain and build muscle. Otherwise known as hypertrophy.

A review summarizes the current literature and understanding on a given topic. Researchers study the body of published studies and draw conclusions based on those.

The cool thing about this review is that it included studies with subjects with a wide range of resistance exercise history. That makes it more applicable to us lifters.

So in this week's blog post I'm going to break down the findings of this new review of scientific literature.

Who does this review apply to?

Any person who wants to look as good and be as strong as they possibly can right now, and for life. 

 

It's Not Rocket Science. Lift Weights, Eat Protein

Beyond its thousands of metabolic and aesthetic benefits, muscle makes life better. It's the good stuff that lets you move, get off the toilet, pull off a new Kamasutra move, and lift things.

You build the good stuff with resistance exercise (lifting weights) and eating enough protein. 

Resistance exercise sets off the cascade of events that build muscle. But protein is the key ingredient in muscle building. 

It's like wheels to a bike; cheese to Kraft Dinner; caffeine to coffee. 

When you lift weights, you make a call to construction workers to come and build you a house (muscle).

If there are no bricks (protein), the construction workers will stand by for up to 24 hours. They use whatever scraps they can find, and if no more bricks arrive, they head home. 

This process is called muscle protein synthesis or MPS.

The more bricks you provide, the more they build - up to a point. Because there's only so much work they can handle at once. We'll get into the specifics below. 

 

Eat More Protein

Some of you are already up in arms about what I’m going to say here. 

So up in arms, you’re ready to smash me in the face with a tub of protein powder because you think that’s too much protein.

If that describes you, can you please make sure it’s vanilla flavor protein? It’s my fave :3

Also, please read my previous protein related article.

The optimal dose for MPS is 0.4 g/kg/meal. Or 0.2 g/lb/meal.

Example:

Me: 75 kg (165lbs) 
Protein per meal: 165 x 0.2 = 33 grams

Protein does more than help you build muscle.

30 grams per meal improves appetite control, satiety (feelings of fullness), and weight management. 

The recommended daily protein intake for those who lift ranges from 1.3g/kg/day to 1.8g/kg/day

Older folks AKA those over 65 years should err on the higher end. This is to help prevent age-related muscle loss and strength.

 

Have Protein Before Bed and After a Workout

The best time to have protein is post-workout when the signal of MPS is initially sent out.

You don’t need to chug a protein shake or scoff down your meal in the locker room right after a workout.

Will it be detrimental if you do? No. 

Will it be more beneficial if you eat within the first few hours after a workout? More likely than not.

So just do it. 

You're not getting enough protein anyway. And it's the total daily protein intake that is the strongest predictor of muscle growth. Timing is only of secondary importance, at best.

The next best time to add protein is pre-sleep.

40 grams, or up to 0.6 grams per kilogram per meal, of casein protein to be exact according to the review.

Why casein? Because it’s a form of protein that takes longer for the body to breakdown. So it gives your muscles a constant supply of protein overnight. In the quest to optimize recovery and hypertrophy, this approach is worth utilizing. 
 

You Don’t Need Carbs In Your Post-Workout Meal or Shake, Bro.

Back in my middle school days, when I still a gym newbie, I remember some bros saying I should load up on sugars and starches with my post-workout protein shake for better gains.

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This idea is based on something to do with insulin. A topic I won't get into in this blog. In short, it doesn’t matter in this context.

So long as you lift weights and eat enough protein, you won't get a bigger boost of MPS by having additional carbs with your protein. But depending on your caloric targets, goals, or energy levels you can add them in.

But again, get enough protein to build muscle. 

 

BONUS: Train to Failure

The last section in the review wasn’t nutrition related but the authors were awesome enough to include a summary of the current literature on lifting for hypertrophy. 

Train to failure once in a while. The researchers believe that reaching failure is what drives muscle adaptation.

I’m going to paraphrase here but the review clearly says, “Stop being soft. Put in more effort and reach failure." *with good form and in a safe manner, of course! 

Lunge until your legs are toast and curl until your arms give out. It’s needed for maximum muscle growth. Don’t do it every single set, but throw some in the mix. 

Like parmesan on pasta. Sprinkle that good sh*t on there, but don’t turn into parmesan with a side of pasta. 

And it doesn’t have to be with super heavy weights. Studies have shown that regardless of the weight lifted, training to failure results in hypertrophy. 

I generally find most guys don’t need to be told to train to failure. Most women, on the other hand, I don’t see training as hard as they can.

Every muscle in your body will look tighter and more toned as it grows. Trust me.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

 


Sources: 

Morton, R. W., McGlory, C., & Phillips, S. M. (2015). Nutritional interventions to augment resistance training-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Frontiers in Physiology, 6, 245. 

Phillips, S. M., Chevalier, S., & Leidy, H. J. (2016). Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health 1. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 41(5), 565-572.

 

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Make Your Form Great Again: Triceps Press-down

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Make Your Form Great Again: Triceps Press-down

In this week's edition of Make Your Form Great Again, I cover one of the most popular and basic exercises in the history of exercise - the triceps press-down. Basic doesn't necessarily mean simple or easy. A lot of people still do this with bad form.

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Do Fat Burners Really Work?

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Do Fat Burners Really Work?

‘Fat burners’ are the most popular category of nutritional supplements. They claim to limit fat absorption, increase fat burning, increase energy output, and increase weight loss.

Let’s take a look at a few ingredients that have scientific backing.

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The 4 Key Supplements for Athletes

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The 4 Key Supplements for Athletes

With thousands of different supplement options, differentiating between ones that work and don’t can be confusing. In this article, I will go over four of the most effective and dependable supplements, according to research.

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6 Random Thoughts from 6 Months of Internships

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6 Random Thoughts from 6 Months of Internships

Today is the last day of my internship at Cressey Sports Performance. And it’s end of 6 months of interning in the U.S.  Not many people can take 6 months off from paid work to pursue their passion and to get better at what they love. Flights, time, rent, food, and not having an income for a period of time can be tough. So to say I am grateful for the opportunity I had, would be an understatement. 

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