Organized Mental Training!

This was sent to me from Steve Hannot who wrote the book Mental Preparation of Elite Athletes: A Qualitive Study that he interviewed me for in regards to fighting MMA.

He interviewed a few other MMA athletes about fighting MMA and The UFC. He asked me for input and I thought it was very interesting so I thought I would post it here. Thank You

Travis Lutter

Alex Semenik’s Fitness Training Newsletter 9-6-2011

CategoriesWeekly Newsletter

Organized Mental Training

A very good friend of mine who I have just started to communicate with on a regular basis again has done me a huge favor. He has committed to helping me develop the motivation portion of this newsletter.

If you have not noticed the pattern each week, I work to give you some actionable and specific information in three areas, motivation, nutrition and training. My goal is to always bring more and more value so that you can easily solve your weight loss/fitness issues.

My friends name is Dr. Steven Hannant Psy.D. Dr. Steve used to help me train people in Arizona at my old gym when he was in college. We also lived together in a house where a ton of my clients were developed called the Plaza.

This place is legendary in Arizona and Dr. Steve not only helped me get it started, he gave it the name. It is so well know and well thought of by many of the athletes that trained there that one of my top students actually had the name tattooed on his back.


Dr. Steve has a Psy.D. in psychology and is a practicing psychologist in North Carolina. Dr. Steve was also a great athlete in the sports of football and boxing. He has done clinical research with professional mixed martial arts athletes that have participated in the exploding organization known as the U.F.C.

Some of the star athletes that thought highly enough of Dr. Steve to participate in his studies were the likes of Travis Lutter,  Matt “The Law” Lindland, Dan “The Beast” Severn, and Denis Kang to name a few. He is in the process of publishing his book on these studies but has offered to give them to me to start helping my readers and clients get an edge!

He is developing an 11 day introductory phase program that will kick off 4 phases to be followed for those of you who are determined to take your mental game to the next level. I will be adding days to the program each newsletter.

Here are the instructions and day 1 of the program if you want to start understanding the concept.

Level 1 – Phase 1 (11 Days) – Introduction & Experimentation

During this phase you will be learning and experimenting with various forms of meditation / self-control / focus exercises. All these examples will utilize YouTube to make the practice easy during this introductory phase.

Each day there will be options to choose from for each detailed exercise. The goal: find at least one per day that you feel comfortable with and hopefully enjoy – After practicing, SAVE this exercise on a YouTube playlist (name of your choice). Use this playlist to save all exercises that you like best. These may be used later in other phases as needed.

DAY 1 –


 Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn – 112 min

The Cheat Meal

In my new book that I am working on there is a chapter about a very powerful tool that can be used to accelerate your fat loss efforts. It is known to those who use it consistently on the Stop Being Fat and Start Storing It diet plan as the CHEAT MEAL. I will let you take a look at it here.

I have been using this tool for years with my clients and it works like a charm for a couple of different reasons and one especially. IT WORKS!

First of all, it gives the focused and mentally disciplined dieter a much needed mental break from the grind of training and diet. Second, it actually has some very important metabolic effects that help people lose weight on a consistent basis.

Many of the clients I have trained over the years have done extremely well right off the bat with the different diet strategies I use. The problem that occurs is that they become paranoid that if they cheat it will all be for nothing.

After following the new diet plan for 14 days the client is asked to take a cheat meal and then another cheat meal every 5 days until they reach their optimal body weight. This is extremely strange for most people.


After learning how to clean their diet up and what foods really make them lose fat quickly their brain is no in shock. They don’t want to go back to where they were. Trust me I know the feeling.

I had a lady that did this pattern and got tremendous results. However, she started to stall on her weight loss. I told her to go ahead and have your cheat meal. She was scared but to death but did it. Two amazing things happened.

  1. She lost another 2 lbs. very quickly
  2. She improved her mile time by almost 20 seconds

The combination of shocking her metabolism and filling her muscles with maximum carbohydrates made both of these things happened. She now not only looks forward to the cheat day from a  mental release but also looks forward the improved performance and further weight loss.

This system is great for people who like to party or eat a lot in a short amount of time on the weekend.

Here is a picture of a couple of buddies of mine who I used to write diets and workouts for. They are enjoying being lean, muscular and having a few beers on the weekend! That is the beauty of the diet once it has been followed long enough to get into great shape!

It’s possible to have your cake and eat it too!



Hereat article I read that sheds some more light on the subject of the cheat meal. It was written by an author on It refers to a cheat day but in all honesty most people will be using a cheat meal every 5 days until they get to their optimal body weight. So if you are not there stay with a cheat meal.

To accept the notion that cheat days help your body to lose fat more rapidly, you need to know about a super important hormone…one that you’ve probably never even heard of before – LEPTIN…

Why is leptin so important to your fat loss goals?

Leptin’s main role is to tell your brain and body about your overall nutritional status.  There are two ways leptin levels are controlled.

The first is the amount of body fat you have.  Basically, people with higher levels of body fat will have greater leptin levels than those with lower body fat percentages.

Because leptin is released by fat cells, you’d think that under everyday conditions there would be a direct relationship between the amount of fat you have and the rate of leptin production.

But when you try to lose fat by following a diet plan and restricting food intake, your internal conditions become a little screwy.

This brings us to the second way leptin levels are adjusted by your body…

The amount and types of calories you eat will also affect leptin levels.  Therefore, a fat loss diet causes your body to reduce leptin levels, regardless of how much body fat you have.

This means you can be really overweight and still have low leptin levels…  just by starting on a diet in attempt to shed some body fat.  Why is this important?

Well, like I said before… normally, leptin levels are hanging around at a typical level and the brain therefore thinks that nutrition intake is fine and dandy.  Your metabolic rate is operating at a good clip and technically, your body is ready to burn fat.

But almost as soon as you decide to go on a fat loss diet, problems arise…

After just 6-8 days of dieting, leptin levels will drop by at least 50-60%.  This sends a signal to the brain that you’re starving and not eating enough food.

Unfortunately, your body responds by shutting down your metabolism (ability to burn fat) and creating a hormone response that’s even worse… your thyroid hormones are also reduced substantially (this causes an even slower metabolism) and you release more cortisol (a nasty stress hormone that likes to store fat, especially in your stomach area — damn you, cortisol!).

Let me summarize because I don’t want to lose you…

You aren’t happy with your body because you have extra fat you want to get rid of.  So you go on a fat loss diet and eat healthier foods in smaller quantities, like a good boy or girl.

After about one week of this diet, your leptin levels drop and your body tries it’s hardest to STORE more fat because it thinks you’re going to starve (the body acts this way because of the old days where we actually DID go weeks at a time without eating… you know before all the fast food restaurants and total over-abundance of food options everywhere you go).

Are you starting to see why most diets only work at first and then for some reason they always fail?  It’s because after a short amount of time and a small amount of progress, your body starts working against you.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, your body now releases other hormones to increase appetite.  So inside your body is trying to store more fat and now you have to deal with cravings for the food you’re trying to avoid in the first place.

This makes sense, right?  Remember how I said I could only go so long with my clean eating and after a while it’s like I couldn’t control myself… well, this explains why that ALWAYS happens.

Basically, our bodies are only ready to achieve quick fat burn when we’re stuffing our faces with high calorie foods (aka eating normally).

But as soon as we start to try to lose weight and get a lean body, all hell breaks loose and your body goes into fat-storing mode.  So what’s the solution?

We have to find a way to keep leptin levels high and our bodies ready for fat loss DURING a dieting process that produces a caloric deficit.

Here’s Where A Cheat Day/Meal Comes Into Play.

It is known that weight loss diets will drop leptin levels by about 50% or more after just one week.  The good thing is that it doesn’t take near that long to bump leptin levels back to normal, through planned high calorie intake.

The research shows that this can be accomplished in as little as 8-12 hours.  So the answer to the fat loss dilemma is strategic, high calorie, high carbohydrate (and high fat) food intake.

By eating calorie dense foods on purpose one day per week, you’ll give leptin levels (and your metabolism) a “reset” before your body starts to work against you.  This keeps your fat-burning potential maxed out.

When you follow this cheat day up with a total fasting day, you create a HUGE caloric deficit and thanks to your newly recharged metabolism, you can tear through stubborn body fat stores and finally achieve rapid weight loss.

The fasting day may not totally cancel out all the extra calories you hogged down (in a strategic way) during your cheat day, but you have to trust that the benefits of a much higher metabolism and less hunger cravings will more than make up this ground later in the week and in each subsequent week.

What I’m telling you is if you don’t do some form of cheat day, carb-cycling, carb-rotation, etc (call it what you want), your fat loss results will eventually come to a screeching halt and you may even start to GAIN back the fat you’ve already lost.

Again, this is why every single fad diet fails in the long run.  These diet plans restrict the calories and the amounts/types of food you can eat (usually the carbs are the first thing to go) and this is just flat-out too simple of an approach.

These bogus fat loss diets fail to out-smart your body.  After a while the metabolism slows, the fat-storing begins, and cravings skyrocket, leading to another failed fat burning attempt.

Hopefully this complex topic makes sense and you’re starting to understand why it’s so damn difficult to lose weight at all — let alone quickly.

Now for the second part of Robert’s question… let’s assume some people STILL don’t feel comfortable with eating low-quality food, in the form of a strategic cheat day once each week.

Does it have to be “junk food” or can you just eat larger quantities of healthier foods on the cheat day?

Studies show that carbohydrates, insulin and leptin all have a very strong connection.  Higher calories alone will NOT get the job done.  In other words, overeating on chicken breasts, green beans and almonds does not produce a bump in dwindling leptin levels.

To produce a major increase in leptin levels from pigging out, there needs to be a lot of carbs consumed.

Because of this relationship amongst leptin levels, carbs and insulin, it works best to eat foods that are high in carbs and fat.  Pizza, breadsticks, pasta dishes, macaroni and cheese, cookies, candy, cake, doughnuts, etc therefore all work great due to the huge amount of insulin they release when eaten.

I’m telling you that the exact foods we usually crave and are told to avoid when trying to lose fat are actually the BEST to consume during our cheat day.  They cause the largest increase in leptin levels, which means a body that is more primed for extreme fat loss.

I think it’s equally important — from a metal and emotional standpoint — to allow yourself to indulge once a week on the foods we all love.  Plus, you can plan this cheat day around your life.

In other words, if you know you’re celebrating a friend’s birthday at an Italian restaurant next weekend, just schedule that day in for your cheat day.  This way you can still take part in all the social activities and you don’t have to be a “fun-hater.”

Trust me; if anyone believes in making sacrifices to lose fat and get a lean, shredded body, it’s me…

But in the past, I’ve been “that guy” who never wants to do anything fun and who was always making excuses to dodge any get-together that would involve unhealthy eating (that’s aLOTof stuff if you think about it).  I was so worried that I’d ruin all the hard work I’d put in.

Little did I know that I could show up to these events, pig out, have the time of my life AND lose fat in the process.

I guess you really can have your cake and eat it too.  Just don’t take that too literal and think that you never have to turn down an invitation to eat out.  One day a week is all you get, so plan accordingly.

Okay, but maybe you still feel like a fat slob after consuming these bad foods for an entire cheat day.  Can you still get the same effects with other, healthier foods?

You CAN, but it may not be quite as effective…

Food choices that have lots of high-glycemic carbs AND fat show a much more powerful response when it comes to releasing insulin.

Cleaner foods that have complex carbs and healthy fats are okay to eat during your cheat day, but you’ll also need some higher-glycemic carbs (with fat)  to get the best insulin (and therefore leptin) response.

Much of the information in this article sounds really good to me and I have used many of the same tactics with success. Give it a try and see how the cheat meal works for you.

Increasing Work Capacity

Increasing work capacity means that as your body gets into better shape you will be better able to do exercise like running, jumping, lifting weights etc. When this happens you want to focus on adding more of this into your workout.


At first, when people start training they can only do so much work. They get tired, sore, don’t recover as easily or it’s generally harder to do everything. As you develop physical fitness these things go away and things get easier. Once they do the flood gates need to open up.

Many people make the same mistake of lifting the same amount of weight for the same reps or run the same speed for the same distance or walk the same amount in the same amount of time. You need to constantly challenge your numbers and improve them whenever possible. This is known as “Kaizen” Japanese for “improvement”, or “change for the better”

I have one female client named Tracy Turek that has made impressive gains in less than 15 weeks attending my Weight Loss Evolution fitness boot camp. What I have noticed is that she has done the program religiously with attending classes and following the Stop Being Fat and Start Burning It diet plan and really focused on increasing her work capacity.


She rides her bike to her workout sessions; she hikes and or runs extra on the weekend and has a habit that irritates me. She hardly ever follows her rest intervals during her weight lifting workouts. She is always moving between sets whether it is bouncing around, jumping on the elliptical machine etc. I let her get away with it because she keeps getting results. Even though I told her she would get stronger in her pull ups if she rested.

What this amounts to is a lot of extra energy burned and a commitment to constant movement. I use this also when working to shed extra pounds of fat. Many times in my training I run sprints in the morning, then train weights at night and then I may add a half an hour of shadow boxing and jump roping while listening to some jamming music on my I-pod.


The key to my Weight Loss Evolution Boot Camp training program is developing a strong foundation to get the body ready to move and move at a very high and efficient level. All the workouts build upon each other so that the participants are able to train more efficiently on their own, build their work capacity and ultimately lose their unwanted body fat.

At the time of this writingTracyhas lost almost 20 lbs., can do 4 pull ups and has taken at least 2 minutes off her mile time! This is all in less than 15 weeks of attending boot camp.

If you are going copy her successful strategy, remember to keep your diet clean and start adding running, biking, shadow boxing, jump rope and hiking to your training program along with a sound training plan like the Boot Camp system.

Amazing Fitness Recipe of the Week

Rising Sun Scramble

Makes 1 Serving


• 6 Egg Whites

• 2 Eggs (with yolk)

• 1 cup of chopped Mushrooms

• 1/2 cup of chopped Red Pepper

• 2 tbsp of Scallion (green onions)

• 12 Snow Peas (cut in small pieces)

• 1 tablespoon of Canola Oil

• 1 teaspoon of Ginger

• 1 teaspoon of Garlic

• 1 tbsp of low-sodium soy sauce



1. In a skillet at medium-high heat, cook the garlic and ginger in olive oil until golden. Then add the mushroom, red pepper and scallion with the soy sauce, cook for about 2 minutes. Cover and set aside.

2. In a medium skillet coated lightly with cooking spray – set to medium heat – scramble the eggs and egg whites.

3. Just before the eggs are completely cooked, add the veggies and mix everything.

Travis Lutter




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