Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

April 2017

Truth and Ethics in Exercise

Fads in the commercial fitness industry tend to be short-lived. Since its inception in the late 1970s/early 1980s, the commercial fitness industry has seen many fads come and go, such as dance aerobics classes, functional training, and cross-training (those of us that are old enough can remember Nike's cross-training ad campaign featuring Bo Jackson and Howie Long in the late 1980s). To most of the American Public, it's very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, to understand what is true and what is false as far as exercise is concerned. Most fitness philosophies (and nutritional philosophies, for that matter) mislead you with false promises and unrealistic expectations. Because of this, it's no wonder so many people wind up frustrated and disillusioned, or worse, injured as a result of their commercial fitness experience. Because of our commitment to truth and science, I would like to contrast the Total Results/High Intensity Exercise philosophy with four other philosophies found in the commercial fitness industry.

CrossFit - This form of training has gained in popularity over the last decade. There are even competitive games broadcast on television dedicated to elements of this type of training. CrossFit involves performing ballistic calisthenics, Olympic-style weightlifting, and very fast strength training/body weight exercises. You can go on You Tube and watch demonstration workouts, as I have. The risk of injury in this type of training is very high. CrossFit violates principles of safety, physics, and motor learning. The bottom line is that unless you are training specifically to compete in the CrossFit games, or are a competitive Olympic-style lifter (more on this later), there is no sane reason to participate in this type of activity.

Orange Theory - In the interest of full disclosure, there is an Orange Theory studio located just down the street from our Total Results facility, so that's what prompted me to research them. Orange Theory incorporates elements of steady-state activity, ballistic resistance movements, body weight exercises, functional training, and aerobic dance. On their website and marketing materials, they mislead you into thinking that you can burn between 500-1,000 calories during one of their workouts, which is virtually impossible. They also say that you keep burning calories for up to 36 hours after a workout. Even if exercise were simply about burning calories (which it is not), they fail to take into account the amount of calories burned due to one's basal metabolic rate. Since Orange Theory's methodology (if you can call it that) has a high risk of injury due to its high volume and disregard for speed of movement, it violates principles of safety, principles of motor learning, and shows a complete and utter ignorance of how the body's metabolism works.

Olympic Weight Lifting - This philosophy is very prevalent in athletics. Boyd Epley, who is the long-time head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Nebraska, was the first to popularize this philosophy at the collegiate level, and most other collegiate and professional programs have followed his lead. Some Olympic lifting exercises include power cleans, squats, and the clean-and-jerk. Simply put, Olympic lifting is very skill-oriented and involves mostly throwing and catching of extremely heavy weights, thus placing a significant force on the muscles, connective tissues, and joints. Any professional who is responsible for the safety and well-being of a client/athlete that utilizes this approach is guilty not only of scientific ignorance, but also guilty of malpractice, in my opinion. In addition to a high risk of injury, there is very little effective muscular loading involved due to the high-force nature of the activity. Unless you are a competitive Olympic lifter, there is no rational reason to perform this type of weightlifting.

Aerobics Philosophy - The leader of the Aerobics movement was Dr. Kenneth Cooper, who is an M.D. and former Air Force colonel. His philosophy exploded in popularity in the late 1960s following the release of his book Aerobics in 1968. The aerobics philosophy was built around the use of the VO2 Max test; this is where his philosophy runs into problems. The test was originally designed to measure the minimum oxygen uptake of comatose patients; it was later to be used to measure the maximum oxygen uptake of people running on treadmills. VO2 Max has been completely invalidated; as Dr. Doug McGuff has stated, one's VO2 Max is about 90 percent genetically predetermined. Dr. Michael Pollock, who conducted more studies involving VO2 Max than anyone, admitted to Ellington Darden, PhD, that the VO2 Max test wasn't a valid test of anything. It's also important to understand that one cannot separate the aerobic metabolic pathway from the anaerobic metabolic pathway. Depending on the intensity of the activity you are performing, you may use a greater degree of one pathway than the other, but never is one completely shut off at the expense of the other. Not only does the aerobics philosophy contain a high rate of injury (both acute and overuse), it is founded on bad science.

Total Results/High Intensity Exercise philosophy is the only exercise philosophy that is congruent with the traditional hard sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, and concepts of motor learning). We are the only exercise practitioners that are conscious of the importance of proper head/neck position, avoidance of unilateral loading (particularly in the entry/exit of each machine), and the avoidance of Val Salva (breath holding). We utilize a safe, slow speed of movement, with an emphasis on avoidance of undue acceleration and careful change of direction. Our workouts are brief, infrequent, and intense, and we keep detailed records of every workout. Regulation of exercise volume and frequency are paramount. We stimulate the body to adapt, and then allow you to reap the benefits.

We are always searching for a better way. A day may eventually come when we are proven wrong, but this philosophy has been around for almost 40 years, and it's still just as rational today as it was back then. We'll continue to improve as instructors to keep giving you the safest and most efficient workout possible.

Posted April 28, 2017 by Matthew Romans

Vacation Thoughts

I just returned from a Spring break trip with my family to the beach. The weather was near perfect. I even went in the water a few times, which is highly unusual for me in April. Below are a few observations from my trip.

Fast Food:

On the long drive down to our beach rental, we stopped to gas up and get a bite to eat. I held out for an exit with both a gas station and a Wendy's restaurant. Don't Judge! Sometimes in the middle of nowhere on Route 95 at 9pm there are no other options besides fast food and gas station snacks. I chose Wendy's because they have very edible salads (I am partial to the apple pecan chicken salad). Of course, this Wendy's was out of salads at the time of our visit. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich which I ended up eating about 2/3 of in the car. It was edible but not great and certainly not an award winning start to my vacation diet. However, when I am on a road trip, I don't sweat my diet too much. I try to take some healthy snacks along (fruit, nuts, etc.) and make decent choices when I stop for food, but one or two fast food meals will not make or break me.

People Watching:

We spent three beautiful days hanging out on the beach, mostly reading, walking, and taking in the view. I was very encouraged by how many people were out walking the beach from very early in the morning until well past sundown. There were also many groups of (mostly young) people playing soccer, football, and various beach games. However, I would say that at least half of the people I saw over the course of our mini-week were significantly overweight. And the overweight people tended to congregate together. There are several reasons for this. Obviously, genetics plays a factor within families. However, I was reminded of some studies I read about several years back which concluded that one significant predictor of obesity and type II diabetes was spending time with other overweight and obese people. The company we keep can actually make us fat. This can be due to similar diets, an acceptance of unhealthy body weights and practices, and other psychological reasons.

Working out while on Vacation:

I saw several gyms inside hotels as well as commercial gyms in town. My advice to anyone thinking of working out while on vacation - Don't! You should run away as fast as possible from anything resembling a gym at the beach or any other vacation spot. Why? First, the equipment is usually terrible - poor quality, poorly maintained, and different settings and sizes than you use at home. Second, you are on vacation to relax and rejuvenate. You can actually do more good for you body by not doing a hard workout using unfamiliar equipment. Third, most vacation spots have countless recreational opportunities. Our beach area had great walking, body surfing, golf, biking, tennis and more. While it may not be the most intense and effective exercise, all these actvities are fun and invigorating. Trust me, your muscles will not atrophy from a week or two missing your workout!

Posted April 21, 2017 by Matthew Romans

It's not the gluten! There are many issues with grains that are making us sick

An increasing number of Americans are sensitive to wheat and other grains. Symptoms of these grain sensitivities range from a variety of gastro intestinal issues to headaches, brain fog and fatigue to muscle soreness and more. Because of this, a $10+ billion industry has grown up promoting "gluten free" products. Only about 1% percent of the population is thought to have Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder caused by the gluten in grains that damages the intestines, but the number of people with Celiac is on the rise.

Gluten, which is a group of proteins that give bread its elasticity and chewiness, is often blamed for the non-Celiac wheat sensitivities. This is in part because when wheat products, which naturally contain gluten, are removed from the diet, symptoms often reduce or disappear. However, is gluten really to blame for all these symptoms? It may not be as simple as that. A look at the processes we use to grow, harvest, mill, refine, enrich, and even bake our wheat products in the United States point to a number of alarming practices which individually or together may be compromising our grain products and our health. Let's start at the beginning.

Growing Process

Plants produce natural pesticides in order to protect themselves from insects. A few generations ago, wheat breeders began to select for higher insect resistance. Ultimately, wheat developed that had about the same amount of gluten as always, but many times the amount of these natural pesticides, known as Amylase Tripsin Inhibitor (ATI). This ATI is known as a major wheat allergen and it is possible that Celiac disease actually starts as an allergy to the ATI in wheat flour and evolves into an inability of the intestines to handle gluten. Link: cooling inflammation blogspot

Harvesting Process

Approximately 7-10 days before harvest a majority of non-organic wheat in the United States is treated with Round-up, or another glyphosate containing herbicide. This is done to kill the plant, allowing for an earlier harvest and makes the wheat crop bigger and easier to harvest. According to the USDA, 99% of durum wheat, 97% of spring wheat and 61% of winter wheat is treated with these herbicides. Unfortunately, some amount of this herbicide stays on the wheat and makes its way into our digestive systems through the bread, pasta and other wheat products we eat. What wrong with that? The glyphosate in Round-up can disrupt the functioning of beneficial bacteria in our guts, and therefore can contribute to autoimmune disorders such as Celiac disease, certain cancers and other inflammatory health problems. The real reason wheat is toxic

Milling/Refining Process

Most conventional wheat products are made using a process called superfine milling. The inedible bran and the germ are first removed, then the remaining endosperm is ground so finely that the starch granules are broken. This superfine milling is done to lengthen the shelf life of wheat products. The problem with Superfine milling is the flour is readily digested in the intestines instead of feeding gut flora in the form of soluble fiber. This starves our gut flora and makes us more susceptible to allergy and inflammation. We are taking out vitamins and nutrients and making the product less nutritious and more inflammatory to our bodies. Other questionable processes at this stage include bromating the wheat, which means adding potassium bromate in order to strengthen gluten development and bleaching the flour to make the bread lighter colored. Link - cooling inflammation blogspot


A critical consequence of all this refining is that we lose our taste for foods that don't contain certain vitamins. In other words, when we consume low nutrient food, our appetites lessen or down regulate, and we find other sources of food to get our nutrients. The government and the grain industry realized this many decades ago and found that if you add certain B vitamins back into the grains, usually at much higher levels than the grains had in the first place, our appetite for these breads and cereals will increase and we will buy and eat more. Of course, we are told that breads and cereals are "enriched" for our health, but in reality it has nothing to do with health. This addition of unnaturally high amounts of iron, thiamine, niacin, etc. increases our appetite and encourages us to eat more food that we would not normally have a taste for. There is a current theory that this is what has caused our current obesity epidemic. How food enrichment promotes obesity. It is interesting to note that France and several other countries do not enrich their bread (in fact there are laws against it) and they have significantly less obesity even though they eat 40% more grains than Americans. Vitamin supplementation and obesity.

Baking Process

Most current wheat crops do not have much more gluten than in past generations. However, modern baking practices increase the gluten in the end product in several ways. First, instead of traditional bread making which uses sourdough starter with naturally occurring bacteria and yeast from the surrounding air, commercial bakers use fast rising yeasts. An additive called "Vital Wheat Gluten" is frequently added to allow bread to rise better in this environment. Rising in just minutes instead of the traditional hours does not give the yeast and bacteria enough time to digest all the gluten in the flour. This can lead to a variety of problems in our guts. Why there is more gluten in our bread today.

What can we do? What can we eat?

It is amazing what has happened to our wheat products in a few short decades. In efforts to increase yield, improve shelf life, and enhance our appetites, modern food producers have taken a staple of our diet (breads and grains) that humans have consumed for millennia with little or no health issues, and turned it into a "Frankenfood". Bread, which was a cheap, nutritious way to fill our stomachs for thousands of years, is now potentially the cause of obesity and a variety of inflammatory diseases.

So, should we swear off all bread and pasta? Go gluten free in order to avoid the risk of all these health problems? The answer for me is no. Now I know that gluten, which is a natural part of wheat and other grain products, is not intrinsically unhealthy. Now I know the processes we have developed in recent decades to bring wheat from farm to plate have made these foods a health risk and lacking in proper nutrition. Now I can take steps and make choices to get better, more nutritious wheat products in my diet. However, we have to be very careful of what we consume. Much like other food in our diets, we need to consider both the source and the process by which it is made.

I recommend a few key practices when buying or making bread or other wheat products (ex. flour, crackers, pasta, etc.):

Look for 100% whole grain as the only ingredient. If it says "Enriched" don't buy it. If the ingredients include folate, iron, thiamine, etc. that also means it has been enriched.

Favor organically grown bread, pasta, flour. Organic wheat products have not been coated with Round -up just days before harvest. Even my local Food Lion has organically grown bread with 100% whole wheat in the bakery section.

Several brands of Italian pastas are grown organically and without any of the practices I mention in this article. Read the labels carefully. These pastas are about twice the price of regular enriched pasta but for me, the $3 vs the $1.50 for a box of pasta is well worth it for such a superior product.

Make your own bread or pasta. I have started buying King Arthur brand flour, which is not enriched, bleached, bromated or otherwise adulterated. I use my old bread machine to knead the dough then let it rise for a few hours and bake in a traditional bread pan. One loaf per week is great to have with dinner, for lunch sandwiches and even with some honey on top at breakfast.

Look for bakeries that make bread in the traditional manner, with 100% whole wheat and sourdough starter. They are few and far between but I have found a few in my area.

When you vacation in France, Italy, or various other countries, enjoy the bread and pasta without guilt!

At first glance, these suggestions may seem like you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get high quality, unadulterated wheat products. Remember, however, I recommend very similar discriminating practices when it comes to buying and eating eggs, beef, fruit and vegetables and other food. For example beef from factory farms have less healthy omega-3 fatty acids and more omega-6's because the cattle are fed corn instead of the grasses they evolved to eat. Because of this unnatural diet, the cattle must be injected with antibiotics to keep them gaining weight. Therefore, whenever possible we should be buying and eating beef from organically grown, grass fed cattle.


Gluten has been cited by many well-meaning, health conscious people, including myself over the years, as being something to avoid. Something that can and will make you sick, and generally miserable. However, with the exception of those few who have unfortunately developed Celiac Disease, gluten per se should not be a problem for most of us. However, wheat and wheat products that are bred for super pest resistance, drenched in Round-up just prior to harvest, milled into oblivion, hyper-enriched, and baked unnaturally fast can and will cause many of us problems to our health. Avoid conventionally grown and commercially made wheat products and stick with organic, artisanal, and home made and you can enjoy a long and healthy relationship with bread, pasta and other wheat products for years to come!

Posted April 16, 2017 by Matthew Romans

Great Workout, Great Results!

It is not often in life that we find a perfect fit. Whether it is a relationship that is seamless and easy, or just the right diet combination that makes you feel focused and energetic, or an exercise program that perfectly fits your lifestyle and rewards you with lifelong benefits. Back in 2000, I was out of shape and in search of some type of exercise that would get and keep me fit with a minimum time commitment, due to my work and family responsibilities. Serendipitously, I stumbled upon this 20 minute high intensity, slow movement, weight training program. It sounded too good to be true, but at the same time the logic and science behind it sounded reasonable.

I started the program in early 2001 and from the very first workout I knew this was going to be different than anything I had ever tried before. Coming from an athletic background I was no stranger to demanding physical effort, but I also knew I was in poor condition at the time (10+ years of corporate life with all the lunches and drinks and dinners and none of the exercise discipline required). Each workout, my muscles quivered and shook, my energy was temporarily drained and I sometimes had to sit and recover for 10-15 minutes prior to driving home. Slowly but steadily, I gained strength and started seeing some definition in my body. This inspired me to improve my diet and I started off with a low carb, Atkins type diet, which was popular at the time (I have evolved my thinking on this and will share more in future posts). Excess fat started to melt away, and over the course of a year or so, I lost 30 unneeded pounds. I have easily maintained my body weight for over 16 years within a 5 pound range. I had such great results, I saw this as way to help others achieve lifelong health and fitness and I opened Total Results a year later.

Perhaps more important than a body I am happy with at the beach or in slim fitting clothing are the health markers that improved and have stayed in great ranges over all these years. My resting heart rate is still about 50 bpm, my blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol levels are ideal, and I am still able hike and bike and participate at a high level in most physical endeavors, even though I have old knee and back injuries that would severely limit most people. I also know I am attaining great metabolic benefits such as improved Insulin sensitivity and the conversion of fatty acids to energy (ie. burning fat).

All this and you would think I had to commit thousands of hours of time running or on the tread mill and at the gym, as well as mantaining a highly restrictive diet all the while. If you thought that, you would be wrong. I have spent less than 30 minutes per week exercising and follow a roughly 80/20 rule for eating well. Most "exercisers" spend more time at the gym in just one year than I spent in the last fifteen years COMBINED! Yet, I am as strong, healthy, and physically able as anyone in my age range; in fact, more so than all but maybe 5% of elite athletes.

Make no mistake, this workout is hard. It takes a lot of mental focus as well as great physical effort. From Teenagers all the way up to people in their Nineties, Total Results clients work their tails off. It is not something that most clients, even our most dedicated 10+ year clients, look forward to each week. But like me, they see and feel and understand the benefits. They know that this workout is special and that the results are amazing!

My story is only one anecdote. However, we have supervised and documented tens of thousands of workouts with hundreds of clients at Total Results over the years, and the positive results cross all boundaries of age, gender, initial fitness level or any other variable. Those who are willing to commit, on a regular basis, to this brief but intense routine, just once or twice per week, can see results equal to, if not greater than, my own amazing transformation.

If you are looking for an answer to a slow but noticeable loss of bodyshape, energy, stamina, or strength that you enjoyed at a younger age, I urge you to come talk to us. If you want to get stronger but are afraid of aggravating an injury, please give us a call. If you just want to lose 20 pounds and fit back in your smaller size clothes, you owe it to yourself to come experience the program that has safely, and efficiently helped so many others over the years!

Total Results offers a truly great workout, and if you committ to it, you, like me, will achieve truly great results!

Posted April 09, 2017 by Matthew Romans