Why goal-setting is an absolute MUST

Goal-setting is an absolute must for people who want to succeed, find their true purpose, and create joy in their lives. Without clear goals, you will not have a clear direction on where you’re heading in your life. When you know your life purpose, determine your vision, convert your desires into achievable goals and then act on them, you’re virtually guaranteed success.

Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish, what do you want to experience? What do you want to acquire? Who do you want to be?

Follow this simple acrostic, SMART,and you’ll be well on your way.

S- Specific: Be specific, answer questions instead of creating ones. Make sure the goal is very specific.

M- Measurable: Include specific dates and exact amounts in your goal. An example is, I’d like to have 50K in recurring revenue by July, 2018.

A- Attainable: Your goal must be achievable and I recommend some breakthrough goals to get you there as well. These goals will really push you to attain.

R- Realistic: Does your reveal who you really are, your true purpose? Is it in lines with the culture that you have created?

T- Time-Bound: Have deadlines and create target dates for motivation and accountability.
This week the Whole Life Challenge says, “Making strides toward your heartfelt goals or intentions is likely one of the most fulfilling things you can do with your life. The goal of this practice is that you can not only achieve what is important to you now, but that you can become better at simply identifying what actually is important for you to pursue.”

NOW is the time to set those goals.
Go get it!

– Coach Esther Stien

GOMAD- Weightlifting and My Results

Strength, the pinnacle and building block of Weightlifting. There is no special magic sauce (That is legal), shortcut or way around moving more kilos. You can do one of two things to make this happen, improve mechanics or get stronger!  Of course there are a ton of variables at play here to become a more successful lifter, but one thing is certain if you want to get stronger you have to get under the barbell and move weights several times a week. Another important thing to remember is that Olympic Lifting is a weight class sport, and sometimes the call to move up a weight class is needed to get stronger. Mass moves mass, so if you hit thresholds and want to bust through them then maybe it’s time to try gaining some weight.


In November of 2017 I made a personal decision to jump from the 94 kilo class to the 105 kilos class.  I was competing at 91-93 kilos consistently and felt pretty good actually.  But turning 44 years of age soon and competing as a Master Weightlifter I knew that at some point in the near future I was going to shelf out and my gains would really slow down.  I wanted to make an attempt to put on around 10-15 good lbs of muscle to help me bust through that next threshold.  I decided to give the GOMAD a try for 30 days in January of 2018. What I am going to share is my experience with GOMAD and also my results at the end of the 30 day period.


What is GOMAD?

GOMAD is an old school technique that stands for GALLON OF MILK A DAY.  It is a method used for hard gainers (Like me) to gain size and muscle over a 30 day cycle.  I will tell you from personal experience that if you hear people say that the GOMAD is easy or wasn’t that hard, they aren’t being completely honest with you.  Honestly, GOMAD works for gaining size and strength, but no it isn’t much fun. I will let you decide if this plan might be right for you.  Keep in mind for length of this blog post, I am going over the finer points of this plan, there are pages all over the net you can read additional benefits and how this all works too.  So, what are some of the additional benefits for doing GOMAD?

Here are some benefits you can expect from GOMAD:

  • You will gain weight
  • You will gain strength
  • Milk is a cheap, natural source of ~2400 calories (128g of fat, 176g of carbs and 128g of protein)
  • Your appetite will increase (I found it hard sometimes to eat)

For those of you reading this at home we are talking about Whole Milk too!  2% and 1% milk are not going to yield you the results, you need those saturated fats to help boost your testosterone and aid your muscle gain. Most of the negative press you hear about GOMAD I never experienced, but there are sources out there that discuss these. Now, the claim is that you can gain 25-30lbs of mass in a month using GOMAD.  Well, I didn’t yield those results, but I did gain 14 lbs and saw huge strength gains in the month of January.My starting weight was 209lbs and my ending weight was 223lbs.  Did I eat as much as I normally did before starting?  Yup, I ate just as much if not more.  It helps to have a wife who cooks very healthy meals so that I get good dinners in each day also But, I will say that eating was really hard for me because I always felt so full from drinking milk.  Believe me it isn’t easy carrying a ½ Gallon jug with you all day long while you work.  I tried to take down a half gallon each morning by noon, and then finish the second gallon before I went to bed.  I also drank coffee and water too.  Two things will happen if you attempt this: You will pee almost every 45min to an hour and you will also become very ahem…regular if you know what I mean.


My personal results over a one month duration:

We are finishing a very aggressive 6 week cycle in preparation for the American Open Series 1 and the US Masters Nationals in April.  When I started the cycle my best Snatch was 110 Kilos and my Clean and Jerk was 140 kilos at 93 kilos (209lbs). By the end of the month I was weighing in at 101 kilos and can now snatch 118 kilos (260lbs) and have increased my clean and jerk to 145 kilos (318lbs).  We are also doing a front squat cycle and when we started my front squat max was 161 kilos (355lbs) and now I can perform 2×2 at that weight in 3 min on the clock.  I would guess when we test it again I should finish around 170 kilos (375lbs).  Now, these are real gains.  I want to discuss what happens when you stop drinking one gallon of milk a day now.  As soon as I stopped, I dropped about 6 lbs almost instantly.  But my strength gains remained, which was the goal all along.

Now, for you Crossfitters and whole 30 people trying to lose body fat percentage, this is NOT going to be for you.  I am guessing most women are not going to go for this either, unless they are serious competitive lifters who can’t gain weight easily.  But for skinny guys who are difficult weight gainers, maybe this is an option for you to bust through to that next level. Also remember, you can get plenty of gains eating a balanced healthy diet and following good programming cycles.  But if you need that extra push, give GOMAD a try, you might just find BIG gains right around the corner!

JD Stien

Notch 8 Barbell

USAW-1 Sports Performance Coach


Squats for the Booty and the Brain

Have you ever wondered what exercise has to offer outside of the physical world? Have you ever asked yourself what exercise does for your brain? I’m sure we have all heard the quote from the famous, Legally Blonde herself, Elle Woods, saying “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” According to science, when we exercise, we are in fact increasing the levels of neurotransmitters, essentially increasing our moods and relieving stress. When we experience stress, that stress releases a chemical, cortisol, which is very harmful towards our muscles and our gainz.

The director of strategy and program at the Center for Brain Health Brain Performance Institute, Dianna Purvis Jaffin, quotes: “What benefits the body benefits the brain. You are not a separate brain walking around on top of a body.” In the article, How Workouts Give Your Brain A Boost by Kristen Domonell, they identify the three brain benefits of exercise, those being: boost your mental fitness, banish stress for good, and age with grace. Take a read and see what your brain has to think of these!

Test your brain here!

-Coach Tara Heck


Social Media in Bed

Many of us stay up way too late in bed scrolling through social media before we actually fall asleep at night, but few actually pay attention to the negative effects this really has. I have  noticed this personally, how much harder it is just for me to fall asleep on the nights that I stay up staring at my iPhone. It is very easy to do, especially when you hear the phone buzz right next to you. It is hard to resist the urge of checking that latest notification and a common unhealthy habit done by SO many. A simple trick that is odd getting used to is just turning your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode. You can also set up your phone to turn on to “Do Not Disturb” at the same time every night, that way you won’t have to remember to turn it on. Do this a few minutes before you actually begin to wind down for the night and I guarantee you WILL notice the difference. There has already been tons of research and scientific studies proving that late night social media scrolling and even late night television has a negative impact on our quality sleep at night.

Check out this article talking about some of the negative impacts these screens have at night: Scary Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep

-Zeke Cutler


What water does for us

H2Oh… Really?! Yes, I went there.. Because today’s topic is all about the importance of staying hydrated. What does water actually do for us and why is it so important.. Keep reading to find out.

As human beings, we physically can NOT live without water. It is the most critical nutrient that we can provide ourselves. Take a few seconds to think about how you feel when you’ve gone all days or even hours on end without drinking water. Probably sluggish, exhausted, unmotivated and unable to focus, etc. So, what does water actually do for us?

  1. Forms saliva (which aids in our digestion).
  2. It is needed by our brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters- Our brain is actually composed of 95% water (which is why you might be having trouble focusing).
  3. Acts as a shock absorber for our brain and our spinal cord- (sounds pretty important if you ask me).
  4. Allows our body’s cells to grow, reproduce and survive.
  5. Regulates body temperature through sweating and respiration.
  6. Lubricates your joints.
  7. Flushes out body waste and toxins- (Keep track of how often you use the restroom throughout the day, you will notice a big change!)
  8. Helps deliver oxygen through our entire body.
  9. Essential in building muscle, strengthening, endurance, etc.


Let’s discuss number 9 briefly.. Water IS NECESSARY for building muscle, making your muscles stronger and increasing their endurance (aka how many reps you can do before fatigue!) Are muscles are made of mostly water so they NEED water to do the best they can do. Water helps transfer your nutrients and electrolytes to your muscles, keeps them full of energy and helps get rid of the toxins and wastes that your muscles might want to hold on to.. So drink that water and let’s recover together!

– Coach Samantha Jones


How exercise can change your life

How Exercise Can Change Your Life

What is exercise? According to Dictionary.com, the true definition of exercise is: “bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health.” The improvement of health is what really catches my eye. I think for the general population, most people don’t look at exercise as an improvement of health, rather than just a physical activity that we all dread to take on. So what is it that makes exercise so unappealing? Is it the thought of having to break from your recently addictive netflix series or is it the fact that you’ll have to get all sweaty and add a little extra effort into your daily schedule? On another point, what makes exercise worthwhile? To me, exercise is more than just the physical perspective, it’s emotional. Exercise is one of my biggest stress relievers; and when life gets just a little too crazy to handle, I know there is always a bar there when I need it.

Now, most people look at me and assume I’ve always been involved with fitness in some way. This statement may be true, but what most don’t know, is the reason behind it all. I was a competitive gymnast for fourteen years and let me tell you, exercise played a major role during that time. In gymnastics, conditioning and exercise is practically a fifth event. However, I wasn’t the athlete that looked towards it, like most. It wasn’t until a shoulder injury, causing me to leave the sport I so graciously loved, that exercise was the only thing I had left to look forward to. It was a completely new road for me, because for the last fourteen years of my life, I ate, slept, and breathed gymnastics, and in one blink of an eye, just like that, it wasn’t. So, like I said, exercise is my emotional outlet. When I no longer had gymnastics to lean on, I leaned on the gym. Even though I lost a love in my life, I found one in fitness. Exercise brought many benefits into my life to void what I lost after gymnastics. Exercise was more than just keeping me in shape, it brought joy into days where I needed it most, and it taught me patience, perseverance, and hope. Exercise soon began to shape my life, and shape the person I am today.


There is so much more to exercise than most people realize, far beyond just the improvements of our well-being. I recently stumbled upon a New York Times Article explaining the seven surprising benefits of exercise, those being: Exercise is great for the brain, you might get happier, it might make you age slower, It’ll make your skin look better, amazing things can happen in just a few minutes, it can help you recover from a major illness, and your fat cells will shrink. Exercise does more for a person than just the physical aspects. Take a read and find out what exercise can do for you.

Read more here!

-Coach Tara Heck

Quiet Time

Quiet Time

Is anyone else feeling rushed in the morning? Like there’s not enough time to get it all done before the day even really starts? No matter how early that alarm clock goes off it should have been earlier? Does chaos reign supreme as you hustle to start your day? Do you get out the door feeling off balance, already behind schedule and discouraged?

People who know me won’t be surprised that my morning routine was disciplined: workout; shower; pets tended; kids fed, situated and out the door; and last but not least, getting out the door myself. Hectic? Yes. Effective? Maybe. I began to find that more often than not, when others were falling behind, my motivational tone of encouragement was yelling. I was anxious worrying about what was being missed or forgotten. I began to dread mornings. No matter how quickly I tried to accomplish my list, or how many corners I cut, it seemed like there were roadblocks turning up at every opportunity. Something seemed determined to derail my success and steal my joy. I LOVE being a mom but I discovered that I didn’t like the mom I’d become. My behavior didn’t reflect my values and beliefs of what love truly is….selfless, sacrificial, gracious, forgiving. This well crafted disciplined plan of mine, good though it was, needed to be re-evaluated.

While surveying my friends for better options, one shared that she started her days with 30 minutes of seclusion, unplugged from everyone and everything. My first impression? “She’s crazy! I can’t do that. It would never work!” Then I remembered that a change needed to be made for myself and those around me. What did I have to lose?

So, I set that alarm clock 15 minutes earlier to give myself that uninterrupted time. Baby steps. I started reading a brief devotional followed by a quiet time in prayer. I admit, at first it was difficult. It was hard to keep focused without the challenges of the upcoming day creeping in. It was awkward. I felt like I was doing it wrong. I guiltily felt like 15 minutes wasn’t long enough. I remained committed and continued to fight for that precious time. As this practice became more consistent, God honored that time I set aside to fellowship with Him. I saw a shift (for the better) in my reaction to people and situations. Unconsciously, I was applying what I was learning. I was starting my day reinforcing what was important to me. What once seemed impossible is something I now eagerly look forward to each morning. Now it would be difficult for me to imagine starting my day any other way.

Is every morning now perfect? Nope. But I’m making progress. Is your morning routine working for you? If so, carry on and disregard. Do you feel like it’s lacking? Missing something? Consider a change. Why not try a quiet time of…….yoga, journaling, exercise, meditation? Take the challenge. You will be better for it. Your day will be better for it and the people you encounter will be appreciative.

For you night owls reading this, a quiet time before bed will help you de stress and rest better. The time of day isn’t as important as the practice itself. It will end the day on a good note and give you a jumpstart on the next.

– Coach Esther Stein


How much water do I actually need?


Let’s talk about some of that High Quality H2O people! Today we are going to dig in on the ever looming question, how much water do I actually need?

There is a general rule of thumb when it comes to drinking water and that is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces. I weigh about 185 right now which means I personally need to drink at least 95 ounces of water. However, there are a lot of other factors that take place that affect us all. How much do you sweat during exercise, what is the temperature today, humidity level, etc.

One way to add up how much additional water you should intake is that for every 20 minutes you are active, you drink an additional 8 ounces. So for everyone who takes group training or private training, you will need an additional 24 ounces!

If you aren’t great at drinking the amount of water you know you should be drinking, don’t worry, you aren’t the only one! Below are some different ways (from Prevention.com) to make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting into the habit of drinking more water daily.

  1. Add flavor (the right way) – We aren’t talking about those artificial flavor packets, were talking about REAL FOODS! You can easily add lemons, berries, oranges, mint, cucumbers, etc. to flavor your water.
  2. Turn your water bottle into a timer- A water bottle may be too small, but by marking lines and putting times on the lines, it gives you a “deadline” to drink!
  3. Turn transitions into triggers (My personal favorite)- If you have a hard time remembering to drink water, make it a task. I always drink 1 blender bottle as soon as I wake up; Another after I finish breakfast; 1 on my way to work; 1 when I get to work and get settled; 1-2 while I work out; and then an additional blender bottle full of water with each meal. Easily over 180 ounces of water!
  4. Sip, don’t gulp- If you are a number 3 person like me, you might not do much sipping, but it’s actually better than chugging and feeling bloated and sloshy.
  5. Use an app- Many apps have the ability to track water, but you can also specifically download an app for ONLY TRACKING WATER!
  6. Drink before breakfast, lunch and dinner- Another way of transition triggering, but it also helps with keeping you full and stops you from overeating.
  7. Find your happy temperature- Yes, everyone knows “cold” water is better, but I personally can only drink water if it’s “warm.” The colder the water is, the slower I drink it, but that doesn’t mean there is a right or wrong way.. Water is water!

Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to make sure you are drinking water, by then you are likely to already be dehydrated! My goal for you- Try one of the 7 ways to get more water in daily and TELL someone at Notch 8 about it! I want to hear everyone talking about how much more water they have been drinking. Let’s do our best during these next 6 weeks of our first Whole Life Challenge of the year to make staying hydrated a habit!

– Coach Samantha Jones

Hacks To Drink More Water