Eat Some Clock: how watching sports can help


Brian Moore, sports commentator

Recently, while watching a college football team lose (they were unranked and playing a team ranked 5th in the nation), I jotted down 11 things I heard that could easily apply to anyone trying to change/win/quit sucking/wake up:

1.  Eat some clock.

Because the higher-ranked team with the bigger players also had a huge hustle factor, the commentator said very early in the game that the underdog team needed to “Eat some clock.”  They needed to find a way to slow things down.  Control momentum more.  Run down the time so that these west coast beasts couldn’t keep getting the ball.  This advice applies to many people who are trying to change the way they eat.  People ask me,

“What’s a good snack after dinner?”
Nothing.  Eat some clock.
“What about fruit?”
No.  Eat some clock.  Feel the burn.  You can’t burn fat if you keep eating.  Go to bed.

The other use of “Eat some clock” is this:  you need time…more than a week, more than six weeks, to see what a good habit can mean for you.  One client told me that she’d keep trying “this” for awhile and then see.  What is this?  I’m not recommending a wacky cream, so when you say “this” you mean, “I’m going to try healthy eating for awhile and then I’m going to go back to eating crap and see how that feels.”  I see.

You need time under your belt, not cookies.

2.  It’s gut-check time for the ___________ (fill in your name or the name of your team).

It’s true.  Taking care of yourself comes down to getting in-tune with your gut.  So this could be literal.  Realize that you’re not talking about “losing weight”.  You mean to say that you don’t like your belly.  That’s what people mean.  ”Losing weight” is a phrase for magazines.  You can just tell me the truth:  you feel gross and it’s complicated.  I get it.  This could also be spiritual/mental — you have to be more intuitive when it comes to making daily decisions for yourself.  Unless you’ve caught something, most deteriorating health is about unmanaged (or mismanaged) stress.  You have to see how unmanaged stress is taking a toll on your health.

3. It’s time to install their power running game.

Again…you could get literal and log some miles.  Go walking.  Sign up for a race.  Break a sweat.  Move your bohaunkus.  Or…from a “woo-woo” place, this advice is about how your dreaming (or lobbing balls into the end zone) is maybe too ambitious.  It’s not working out.  For instance, you’ve been daydreaming and TALKING about losing twenty pounds, but that’s all it is…TALK.  You need to DO something good for yourself and the weight will take care of itself.  You have to run this ball/dream/goal.  Try to get the first down.  The do, do, do…that’s all I have to say to you.

4.  Boy, did they need that!

Something good happened for the losing team right before this comment.  It was a good sign.  Something positive to pump everyone up.  That’s important.  But it wasn’t a lucky break.  It wasn’t the lottery.  It was something they executed right because they’ve been practicing this stuff since they were in the third grade.  What little break in the weather could you control this week? How’s your practice?

5.  No flag on the play.

There’s no weight loss boss.  There’s no sugar police.  You may get nagged but surely you know how to ignore or work around that.  You want to get buff?  Go for it, but it will be up to you.  You won’t get fired because you haven’t “done your abs” this week.  I’ll say again: it’s up to you (because “nobody cares” is too harsh and not quite accurate).  On the playing field, this means the commentator and definitely the fans caught something that the referees missed.  Yep.  It happens.  Somebody got away with something.  There aren’t really going to be flags on your “plays” unless you’re well down the line of lifestyle-induced disease.

6.  Beautiful play fake!

You don’t need to over-explain what you’re working on to other people.  While I think you need to be supported, I also think you can turn down dessert as if you don’t want it, not like you can’t have it.  It makes the world of difference.  Pretend you’re a really private person who barely eats sweets.  Fake it.  Change means identity change, so start that right away.

7.  He’s gotta dial it in.

That crazy thing you’re doing.  Knock it off.

8.  This has got to be a blinding rhythm.

This goes back to the first comment.  By this time of the game, the winning team was winning because they were so quick to get back in position.  Pace was more integral than talent.  There may be something you have to do (suggestions:  start meditating or start saying no or stop watching so much tv and then telling me that you’re wicked busy all the time when the truth is that you are enjoying screen entertainment from 8pm and until midnight every night and then you wonder why you’re roaming around the kitchen looking for sweets…hear me now:   YOU HAVE UNMANAGED STRESS AND YOU ARE WATCHING OTHER PEOPLE FULFILLING THEIR DREAMS ALL EVENING LONG — THAT TAKES A TOLL ON YOU AND IT’S ABOUT ALOT MORE THAN THE GLARE ON YOUR EYEBALLS).  If you are in the middle of a blinding rhythm, figure out how to step outside it or slow it down.

9.  Our sloppiness…we are beating ourselves.

I notice during halftime interviews that coaches (for the most part) are very into self-examination.  What are we doing that isn’t working?  We’ve got to blah, blah, blah.  I don’t see them blaming others.  They are all about using words like “responsibility”.  Be honest with yourself.  If doctors are supposed to do no harm, then we are supposed to do no self-harm.  That crazy thing you’re doing.  Knock it off.

10.  He has struggled with his accuracy.

That candy bowl at work will interfere with your accuracy.  Snacking will interfere with your accuracy.  Eating out of the box will interfere with your accuracy.  Having a magically-refilling wine glass will mess with your accuracy.

11.  His coaches will tell him.  You gotta do the smart thing.

I bet your breakfast and lunch don’t need a makeover.  I direct you to look at the hours between 4pm and 12am and get back to me.  I know people.  I know me.  I know where the damage is done.  It gets ugly between those hours.  It’s not the dressing on your grilled chicken salad.

If we were practicing this afternoon, we’d only talk a little.  We’d practice more.  I’d try to pump you up.  Get you motivated.  Draw up a game plan.  Fuss at you because that’s what coaches do.  I hope one piece of sideline commentary or sports psychology speaks to you and helps you this week.  


Strength Training in the Dark

photo by Elli Williams

photo by Elli Williams

Tricep curls with Chris Collins and Christmas lights.  It wasn’t Christmas.  It was Labor Day at ACAC and time for a special occasion.  In typical type-A, Charlottesville-style, the room was packed with people scrambling for weights, mats and spots — all wanting to start their “day off” with a very tough workout.  When I say very tough I mean I was alternating between trying to touch my knee to the ground during the lunges, checking the clock, and quitting a set early whenever Chris had his back turned.  Oh, and praying (“I am so sorry.  Make it stop.”).  The overhead lights were off so there was just the soft glow along the walls.  With the low lights and the great retro music, it was just like my old roller rink days — mostly because no one took advantage of me. 
I’ve been taking Chris’ classes for over 4 years now.  While I can’t pull off clapping in the air between push-ups, I have identified with and admired his trouble with authority.  Over the years, his renegade style and personal ideas about what a great strength class is have allowed him to morph his classes from a standard template into his own design.  For instance, he used to teach Body Pump, which is taught at gyms around the country and follows a set routine and set soundtrack.   In that time slot now is Strength Challenge:  it’s Chris’ class and it’s different (mostly, it’s harder!).  A signature of his classes is a carefully constructed music mix (he’s open to requests).  You know as well as I do that the music mix can MAKE OR BREAK your organized exercise efforts.  Although he was in a car seat and I was in college, apparently we were both enjoying many of the same 90s tunes.  Other people agree.  His classes are usually packed (not just on Labor Day), and along with Blaise Spinelli’s classes (which also have me praying for help on Monday mornings) were voted Best Fitness Class of 2013 by the readers of Cville Weekly.
I recently sat down with him and asked a few questions:       
photo by Elli Williams

photo by Elli Williams

What’s your athletic background, and how did you transition from being an athlete into training and instructing?    

My mom was an avid runner and I started running with her in the 2nd grade.  I worked my mileage up.  Then I started playing basketball.  My dad coached me in the 3rd and 4th grades.  I was also on a swim team from 8th — 12th grade, but basketball was my thing.  I got on the year-round AAU travel team.  Ben D’Alessandro, who is a maniac, was my coach.  He was really into conditioning.  We did conditioning practices 3 times a week.  I look back and see how his emphasis on conditioning influences how I teach.  As far as how it happened…I started working here (ACAC) right after college.  I was running a lot then, but my body was pretty broken down and I was bored.  I started taking Blaise’s athletic conditioning classes and they reminded me so much of my basketball conditioning days that I eventually got my certification to teach group exercise.  
Classes Chris teaches:  Athletic conditioning — strength training, Athletic conditioning — cardio max, Strength Challenge, and special events such as the recent obstacle course event over Labor Day weekend at Barracks Road Shopping Center.  
the Labor Day Obstacle Course at Barracks Road

the Labor Day Obstacle Course at Barracks Road curtesy of Lululemon Athletica of Charlottesville

What do you eat right after a workout?  What trainers eat is of interest to people…that’s why I’m asking.
After a strength workout:  a protein shake (whey protein, blueberry Greek yogurt, 2 bananas, fruit juice).
After a cardio workout (hour-long runs, usually twice a week):  chocolate milk and 2 pieces of whole wheat bread with peanut butter  – I’m talking about the freshly ground peanut butter from Whole Foods.
What’s a typical dinner?
I’m into greens these days, so a typical dinner would be kale, spinach or arugula with fish or chicken and chick peas cooked in coconut oil or olive oil.   

photo by Elli Williams

photo by Elli Williams

What’s the toughest workout for you?
I think the toughest class I teach is the Thursday morning Cardio Max class.  That’s got everything in it — 3 sets of 3 plyo-metric body weight exercises done for 30 sec at a time till exhaustion, side to side, 180 – 360 turns, and vertical jumps.  On my own the toughest days are either speed workouts or hill workouts.  
What else do you want to teach?
I’d like to teach something that just uses your body weight.  It would be about strength, and it would be hot in the room.  I don’t like it when somebody cranks up the fan at the beginning of a workout.  I want to teach something that attracts the yoga crowd, but it wouldn’t be a yoga class.  
Speaking of using your own body weight, why are you so plank-CRAZY?
Ha. Ha.  You noticed that? 
Denise:  Yes.

I read an article about how planks could strengthen my legs and I started to emphasize it more.  You feel it all over.  It’s a great exercise.  We’ve been having plank-offs here.  

 What’s your next event?

I am hosting an After Hours event Oct 12th at ACAC – it’s going to be fun.  I want to crown a Mr. and Ms. ACAC after partaking in a series of fitness challenges and games that test strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, music history, concentration and mental toughness – all the things exhibited in one of my classes.
When Chris isn’t devising super-sets, running marathons, working as a Membership Coordinator, or finding new music, he is coaching the JV basketball team at the Covenant School.  ACAC happens to be running a great special this month — 25 days for $25.  All twenty-five dollars go to Hospice of the Piedmont.  To learn more, go to  
To read other interviews with Charlottesville people, click here.   

nutrition intensive: a six-week class in Crozet


Tomorrow night begins a six-part nutrition series in Crozet.  This class is being graciously hosted by Crozet Baptist Church on St. George Ave.

July 17 Cracker Nation:  Keeping Blood Sugar Stable
It’s so important to keep your blood sugar stable.  This class goes over exactly WHAT spikes your blood sugar, and what combinations of food will help to keep your energy high and your waist measurement low.

July 24 Guest Speaker:  TBA
This will be an expert in nutrition and exercise nutrition or both.

July 31 No class

Aug 7 Going for the Glow:  20 Ways to Get the Best Foods into Your Life

Aug 14 What About Wheat?  What About Dairy?  What About Animal?  Taking on conflicting reports and research and making the decision that’s right for you.

Aug 21 Sleep, Digestion, Immunity and Skin
Practices and food lists/meal ideas that will take you back to your nutritional healing roots. 

Aug 28 Student’s Choice!
We’ll see where you are and what you want to make sure I cover.

If you are interested in this class or in hosting a similar series with your organization/company, please contact me at

Cost for this class is $50 for the six weeks.

Process Over Mystical Talent

If you harness the energy of your emotional tornado for creative goodness, I applaud you.  In fact, you amaze me.  Boogie-on, little buddy.  I hear people say they have tons of good ideas and no time to write about it, sculpt it, or sing it.  Others feel creatively depleted.  They’ve become the drudge that has nothing to say, but it’s not who they used to be.  They used to create.  Many of us don’t practice stillness long enough to be able to create regularly.  So, we’re idea factories.  Factories with no workers.  No work product.  Sad, little sad-faced, heartsick people who listen to NPR and watch marathons of other people’s dreams.

Recently, I did a class on Mindfulness for Creativity.  This is the handout from that class:


Process over mystical talent will always bring you back to the do, do, do.  Some examples of the DO I’ve seen over the past two weeks:

  • a guy booking studio time for an afternoon to go and work on his cd
  • a woman rewriting, remapping, and rereading the final revisions on her book
  • a woman finishing a comic strip then posting it on her blog
  • a client taking a workshop at the Omega Institute

These are examples of finding space, making time, showing confidence, and then finding more time to work creatively.

But, but, but….we make a mistake when we leave creativity to the “creatives”.  It’s not just about novels and paintings and the song you keep working on in the shower (yes, I watch you in the shower).  You might need to think creatively to get out of the mess that you’ve made in a relationship.  You might need to renew your creativity so that you can think strategically about your business over the next six months.  You might need to think creatively about how to get the support that you need.   Do you have a problem that needs fixing?  I almost always do.

I’m always inspired and led to new books thanks to the blog Brain Pickings, so please check out this post about books about creativity and mindfulness.  In class, we talked about:

  • the mind as an empty attic
  • process over talent
  • cognitive flexibility
  • the problems of living inside the emotional tornado
  • the lack of the habit of creating
  • John Cleese’s recommendations for creating
  • the search for relationships and how that leads to ideas


Also, we meditated.

On Thursday, August 1 from 6–8pm I will be teaching a Mindfulness for Creativity class at my workspace (1115 Little High Street, Charlottesville).  The cost is $20.  The class is limited to 6 people, so please email me at to enroll or ask more questions.

Let’s get your idea factory up and running…

Greek Yogurt with Banana and Strawberries


lunch today

plain (whole milk) greek yogurt

(option:  drizzle a little honey on top…I don’t do this, but you can)

Skip the already-flavored yogurt at the store.  Skip the light yogurt (that usually has lots of added sugar).  Revisit weirdness about lowfat and nonfat  – (looks like it doesn’t matter like we used to hear it mattered…what matters is inflammation and avoiding SUGAR).  Taste the difference between whole milk yogurt and nonfat yogurt and check out this article from the San Francisco Chronicle about how whole milk yogurt is making a comeback.