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Jacked-o-Lantern Challenge with Coach Jack

It’s Harvest season, and while October is the first of many months when we crave comforting soups and festive drinks, the Stronger U Community is ready to help you stay focused and moving during the Halloween season. Beginning on October 10th, the Stronger U Community will be transformed into a frighteningly good time with a 3-week Jacked-o-Lantern challenge! This movement-based challenge, fearlessly led by Coach Jack Purdom, will have you moving, laughing, and getting stronger during the month of October.

About the Challenge

This challenge is broken up into four different categories that focus on strength, cardio, movement, and a little extra community fun. You will be able to download a challenge calendar and then will work to complete the exercises provided by Coach Jack. These exercises will not require any extra equipment (but if you need a little extra weight, you could pick up a pumpkin at your local patch).

Each Saturday, Coach Jack will be live for a Wicked Weekend Workout. Come ready to sweat as Coach Jack will coach you through the movements and help you start your Saturday strong. Also, we’ve heard some rumors that there may be some costumes.

This challenge will last until Halloween, so don’t delay! Find out more in the Stronger U Community!

About Coach Jack

Jack Purdom has been a Stronger U coach for 3.5 years and has run my fitness and mindset coaching company Fifth Element Fitness since 2016. He lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with my wife Grace (who works for another SU favorite, Peloton). You will find him hanging out with his family when he’s not coaching, dominating on the pickleball court, or reading sci-fi/fantasy.Interesting jobs he’s held in this industry before now include: trainer at a $10/mo gym, managing corporate fitness centers of big-time companies (Kraft, McDonald’s, etc), and early on, a protein bar startup with some college friends called…Brotein Bars. 🤦🏻‍♂️ He’s a big fan of injecting some fun and humor into these very serious goals, so let’s get to work (but not take ourselves too seriously).

Let’s Get Stronger Together

October is about to be scary fun with Coach Jack and the Jacked-o-Lantern Challenge. Are you ready to join in? This challenge will be available to the Stronger U Community beginning on October 10th. To participate:

  • Make sure you’re a member of the Stronger U Community
  • Download your Jacked-o-Lantern Challenge (available on October 10th) in the Stronger U Community
  • Participate in Coach Jack’s Wicked Weekend (virtual) Workouts each Saturday morning.
  • Encourage other’s by posting your pictures in the community using #Jackedolantern.

The Health Benefits of Sunny Summer Days

Summer is synonymous with the great outdoors. After a long winter (for many) and a chilly spring, the warmth gives a welcomed sense of rejuvenation. Many of us are heading out to explore other parts of the world, country or even within our own neighborhoods. Whether you live by the beach, in the city, in the country or in the suburbs, making it a point to trade air conditioning and wi-fi for fresh air and sunshine should be topping your to-do list.  

Catching some rays results in a lot more goodness than a tan (although we’re here for that, too!). In fact, a study published in 2019 by researchers in the UK found that spending at least 120 minutes per week in nature (that’s only about 17 minutes a day!) is associated with good health. The benefits that can potentially come from spending more time outside range from improved immunity to feeling happier and sleeping better.  

Here are 5 ways a little extra sun can boost your overall wellbeing: 


Mental Clarity 

Clear out the brain fog by stepping outside for an afternoon walk. The increased levels of oxygen improve your brain function so you can have more energy and be more productive. Win/win! 


Stronger Body 

There’s a reason we’ve been hearing about Vitamin D so much for the last two years. In addition to helping support your immune system by protecting you against infections, it also reduces inflammation, promotes cell growth, strong bones and teeth.  

Better Sleep 

Insomnia killin’ your vibe? Exposure to sunlight early in the day can help reset your circadian rhythm (the fancy term for your internal clock). Sunlight triggers melatonin production which is a chemical that helps you fall asleep easier and get better zzz’s.  

Lower Blood Pressure 

When your skin is exposed to sunlight, your body releases an important molecule called nitric oxide which causes blood vessels to widen as it moves into the bloodstream. This results in a decrease in blood pressure and increase in blood flow to the heart. 

Boosted Mood 

It’s true, getting outside really does make you feel happier! Sunlight helps increase production of the hormone serotonin, which is responsible for stabilizing your mood.  


It’s easy to see why prioritizing outdoor time should be an essential aspect of your wellness regimen. We know our body is an interconnected series of functions that work together – when one thing is off balance it impacts all the others. The health benefits from spending more time in nature mentioned above can affect how you eat and exercise, especially when it comes to getting better sleep and feeling good overall.  

Finding ways to get out more doesn’t have to be a big production either. It can be as simple as taking small steps to incorporate it into your daily life. Put on some sunscreen and head out for a short walk each day in between tasks or meetings, set up your laptop on your patio for an hour or two, opt for a coffee shop or restaurant with outdoor seating, or meet up with a friend for a social hike. Get creative as to how you can make spending more time outside part of your routine.  

How will you be making the most of the outdoors this summer? Check in with your coach for more personalized ideas and be sure to share your favorite alfresco activities with us by tagging @strongeru on Facebook or Instagram.  

How To Get the Most Out of Your Peloton

Let’s stop and talk Peloton for a hot minute! Whether your quads are pulsing during a Tabata with Robin or you’re jamming out, full-volume on the EDM ride with Jess King, I guarantee you, you are nonstop smiling.  

And while the Peloton is the king of living room cardio and just an absolute encyclopedia of outstanding instructors, it can very well revolutionize your fitness too. 

The ultimate question is, how? 

How do you get the most out of your Peloton? How do you properly fuel for a ride? How do you physically prepare your body to set a new PR and still feel like a million bucks after?

As much as you want me to give you a one-word solution to cover it all, I’m afraid it’s a bit more complex than that. But not by much! Regardless of the class duration, your performance stands on four pillars that can elevate the end result (aka total output). The four pillars are: hydration, moderation, positioning, and fuel. 



Let us begin with hydration!! Just because you remain stationary without the rubber hitting the road doesn’t mean you don’t have to hydrate and balance electrolytes the same way you would on a road bike. As a matter of fact, since you won’t have a draft and will be in steadier temperatures, you might want to start thinking about your hydration a day or two in advance. Are you usually drinking enough water? Do you have a favorite water bottle that you carry around? Have you ever set reminders on your phone to refill your water? These are all great things to consider before you clip in and initiate the sweat-fest. 


Nutrition (aka Fuel)

Next up, what kind of fuel have you been pumping in all week? Be honest with yourself for a minute and look back at the entire week. Were we steady with our consumption all week? Or did we let a lot of the week slip due to stress or underconsumption? Because the last thing we want to do for a big ride is shake up the entire week, yank up the calories, and expect to utilize all of it as PR-fuel magically. Instead, the real ticket to a PR is a consistent week leading up. 

So, decide how you want to handle the week’s nutrition, make your coach proud with a proactive week, and let that happy body be the paving stone for a great workout. Understand that fueling for a ride doesn’t mean we need to always ask for more calories added to our savings account. It instead means that sometimes, we just need to shift meal timing to accommodate a little bigger push on that ride. As you get within a few hours away from the ride, gauge your energy, see how you feel, see if you can perhaps borrow some carbs from your dinner plan, and bring in a cup of diced pineapple or some Gatorade, etc. Get yourself in a place where you’re not overly full when you kick down for that first pedal to start the warmup. On the contrary, don’t put yourself in a place where you clip in and immediately think about what you will eat after the ride. We want to be able to tunnel vision that ride and that instructor as much as possible, without any external distractions, let alone hunger. 

The magical thing about the Peloton is that we never get on there and underdeliver. There is far too much motivation and energy coming out of those speakers just to close our eyes and coast. So, for us to make sure we aren’t teetering a fine line of depletion, especially when the intensity picks up and the playlist ends up switching to your FAVORITE PUMP UP SONG, we need to make sure we have adequate calories in and we are following coach’s orders with our food, to prepare us for what is to come. 



While the terms ‘intensity, motivation, and effort’ have been hyping up this write-up, there is an essential place for moderation too. The term moderation can cover many approaches, but the most important skill is listening to your body. It is being comfortable with the thought that not every day is a Power Zone PR. Not every day can handle a Tunde or Robin class at max output. YOU are your most accurate gauge of what is left in the tank, and that is precisely how you are going to get the most out of your Peloton… but allowing yourself to come to terms that we are human. We need those 15–20-minute low-impact rides where we scrape the bottom of the leaderboard. We need those days where we come home from a hectic day at work and switch our scheduled workout to a scenic ride so that we can clear our head. 



Finally, let’s take a more technical approach and look at our stance on that Peloton. With proper positioning, there are lots of things to consider. That is the main reason I paid an expert (Adam Baskin from Cat One Fitness) to virtually walk me through a custom fitment/positioning set-up for my bike. And while I know getting fitted might be more challenging for some users, especially those sharing a bike at home, here are some of the bullet points you can address on your own for a cursory fit. 


  1. Cleats/Pedal axle should typically be under the ball of the foot.
  2. Axis of rotation of the knee should be over the pedal axle with the cranks parallel to the ground, typically referred to as “knee over the pedal spindle.”
  3. The saddle should generally be level with respect to the ground.
  4. Your trunk should be roughly 45-60 degrees with respect to the ground when holding the handlebars.
  5. Keep your back/spine neutral and avoid locking out your elbows.


Now that you’ve got your nutrition in line, hydration at an all-time high and saddle positioned right where you need it to be, nothing is holding you back from clipping in and hitting a PR on your next ride. 

How to Lose Weight When You Can’t Exercise

When it comes to weight loss, we know that it ultimately boils down to calories in vs. calories out. Sure, there is a lot of nuance there, and the weight loss process can be complicated, but weight loss is a result of creating a sustainable calorie deficit. 

One very common misconception we hear is that you need to be working out all the time to lose weight, and this simply isn’t true. 

Now, does regular exercise help? Absolutely! There are so many health benefits to exercise, and the more active you are, the more calories you’ll be burning over the course of the day. We always encourage exercise when possible, and the more calories you burn, the more you’ll be able to eat while still seeing results.

In reality though, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Busy schedules, lack of gym access, injuries, travel, there are a lot of reasons why taking an hour to work out just isn’t realistic, and that’s perfectly okay. It may not be quite as easy to lose weight without exercise, but it’s certainly possible, and there are a few important things you can focus on to make it as easy as possible. 

Accuracy and consistency are essential. 

With regular exercise off the table, we have to put all our focus on food, and this is where being as precise as possible becomes very important. It’s easy to get complacent, start eyeballing portions, and letting little things sneak in, but these things can really set you back

The reality is that if you’re not exercising, your calorie intake is probably going to be a bit lower than if you were very active, and the lower your calorie intake becomes, the more important precision is. If you’re only working with 1400 calories, for example, even an extra 100-200 untracked can make a significant impact.

Double down on your tracking, weigh everything, and be as precise as possible to get the best results. 

Walking is your best friend.

Maybe getting in challenging workouts isn’t an option, but unless you have an injury, you should be able to add some more movement and walking to your day. Every little bit counts, and it doesn’t have to be an hour-long walk at a time – we’re just looking to sneak in movement wherever we can. 

Maybe you park further away when you go places, take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a walk when you have to take a phone call, stand up and take a lap around the office (or your home) every hour, all of these little ways to add activity can certainly add up. 

If you have a fitness watch, tracking your daily steps is a great way to make sure you’re moving around during the day. If you don’t have one, most smartphones have pedometers built-in, or you can find an affordable step-tracker on Amazon like this one, which could be a great tool to have at your disposal. 

Focus on your lifestyle. 

This is often underlooked, but managing your lifestyle factors, particularly stress and sleep, are very important when it comes to sticking to your plan. 

If your sleep quality suffers, or stress is high, hitting your macros regularly can become more difficult. You may have more hunger, cravings, less energy, and generally find it more difficult to make the right decisions. The better you take care of your body, the easier it’ll be to stay on plan. 

This is true whether you’re exercising or not, but when you really want to nail your nutrition and don’t have the boost from exercise, you want to make it as easy as possible for yourself to succeed. Good sleeping habits, minimizing stress, and doing things that help your body relax, like walking, reading, doing breathing exercises – these help you have an easier time following the plan. 

Choose high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. 

When your calories are lower, it becomes even more important to make sure you’re choosing nutrient-dense, filling foods. Lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be the foundations of your plan. 

Depending on where you are in your journey, you may find your macros on the lower end at certain points. If you’re spending them on snacks, sweet foods, and things that would normally be considered treats, you may have a hard time feeling full, and find it difficult to get enough high-quality, nutrient-dense foods in your daily meals with whatever macros are left..

If you find yourself with low macros, having a high-calorie meal and a drink could easily knock out half of your daily macros, and that’s going to limit how much healthy food you can be taking in the rest of the day, and may leave you feeling extra hungry. That can get tricky if it becomes a regular thing. 

Be consistent, and patient. 

Losing weight when you can’t regularly exercise is certainly possible! Stay as accurate as possible, try to find ways to move around, rest and take care of your body, and fuel yourself with high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. 

It takes time, consistency, and patience, but if you’re consistent with your food, the results will follow. 

Why You’re Not Losing Weight With Your Peloton

Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight With Your Peloton


SO…you busted your butt in January.  You established a new exercise routine, got your heart rate up for up to 60 minutes a day several times a week, joined a bunch of Peloton groups, earned some new badges, and maybe even made some new internet friends along the way. 


You drank less alcohol, you ate fewer carbs, you snatched some wigs, and you generally slayed the heck out of January. 


But the scale didn’t move.  And while you’re proud of your new high-intensity indoor cycling exercise routine, you didn’t exactly see the results you wanted. Did you gain muscle mass? Are you retaining water? Is Aunt Flo to blame?


Well, maybe. There are a million reasons why the scale doesn’t move.  And the most common answer is a simple one — you’re not consistently in a calorie deficit.


Ok, ok.  Don’t burn me at the stake.  I know that society and diet culture, in general, have led you to believe that watching carbs, eating plenty of healthy fats, and eating “clean” is all you need to lose weight.  And sure…eliminating hyper-palatable foods ( Lucky Charms, Cheesy Gordita Crunch, etc) *can* help you lose weight. But actual weight loss comes from creating and maintaining a calorie deficit for a period of time. 


So yes, I’m saying you can have your carbs, eat them too, and still lose body fat.  Even if those carbs aren’t free-range, grain-free, non-GMO carbs grown in your own backyard.  


Again, you will lose weight regardless of what you’re eating as long as you’re eating in a calorie deficit. 


Are we good on that? Ok…now moving on to the actual task of figuring out how to get in that calorie deficit.  


Your body weight x 10-12 = about the number of calories you should be eating to create a calorie deficit


Tada.  Nothing fancy, nothing crazy, just a simple idea that calories in vs. calories out will help you lose weight through a calorie deficit. 


Of course, there are additional components that matter, including protein intake, quality of food, actually weighing your food, sodium intake, etc.  But if you focus on your overall caloric intake while prioritizing protein, you’ll start seeing results. 


Check out some of our Stronger U members who saw success with their Peloton bikes after incorporating a focus on nutrition into their routine.  

Read Kayla’s Story

Watch Bitsy’s Story

Read Carrie’s Story

Losing Weight With Orange Theory Fitness

That 4:36am alarm comes fast. It’s rude, really. Buzzing that early just so you can drag yourself out of bed, yank on some leggings, a shirt, shoes, and rush out the door? Why would anyone willingly choose to start their day this way?

If you’re like thousands of others, not only do you choose to start your day like this, you look forward to it. It means that in just a little while you’ll be rocking that heart rate monitor, bathed in orange light, sweating and cheering along with your friends as you all sprint, row, and lift weights.

That’s the magic of Orangetheory Fitness. In over 1,000 locations, there are people of varying fitness levels who show up nearly every single day for an hour long workout to burn a lot of calories and lose weight. But without changing their eating habits, they might not be getting the results they want. 

So let’s talk about healthy eating, Orangetheory Fitness, and how the two can work together.


Let’s be real. Exercise isn’t always fun or easy. It takes a lot to drag yourself out of a nice warm bed to get into a dark studio and sweat for an hour as you row, run, and lift. But the community aspect of Orangetheory — that’s a built-in accountability system. The people you do classes with become your accountability partners. The certified personal trainers guide you, push you, and tell you when to take a step back. Not unlike a Stronger U coach. 

These are all things that not only make sure you have the best training experience possible; they keep you coming back. You’re accountable to the people you do classes with. You start to know the trainers you see regularly. All of that familiarity leads to a sense of belonging. And that sense of belonging makes it much easier to stick to.

You’re in a game! 

A simple fact of life: people love points. Drop us into an environment where we can rack up points and grade our workouts and we’re bound to push just a bit more. That’s the beauty of the Orangetheory system. During a workout, you’re aiming to collect at least 12 splat points and the harder you push the more points you accumulate. And while there can be drawbacks to this if taken to the extreme, there’s no denying that it’s a simple solution to making sure everyone gets as much as possible out of their workout.

A great workout.

The actual theory behind Orangetheory is as sound as can be. At Stronger U we talk about taking care of the big rocks. The big behaviors and actions that provide a high ROI on your dieting efforts. Orangetheory works in much the same way.

At Orangetheory you’ll spend most of your strength training time doing compound movements — movements that involve multiple joints moving together, increasing metabolic demand. What does this mean? A more efficient workout, as far as time and output are concerned. Put another way, an Orangetheory workout packs plenty of bang for your buck. We can’t all spend two hours working out most days of the week. Some of us simply don’t have the time to devote to serious endurance exercise or highly customized training programs. Orangetheory lets you know this is okay. Because at Orangetheory, so long as you show up consistently, you’re going to get in better shape. The program ensures that.

Don’t look to Orangetheory as your weight-loss cure-all.

Don’t look to a single workout modality as the single thing that will change everything. Exercising regularly in a supportive community might encourage you to adopt some other healthy habits, and that’s great! We want that. But if you’re showing up to Orangetheory with the intention to lose weight, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of exercise and weight loss.

Exercise is an incredible tool to live a healthier life. It has a myriad of benefits that carry over into countless other areas of our lives. But exercise in itself doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss. Not even if you spend an hour sweating under orange lights.

Orangetheory is built on the idea of interval training. At OTF, you pack as much into an hour as you can. You’re going to do some strength training, intervals, and all along the way, you’re going to monitor your heart rate. These are all sound principles to help you get a well-rounded workout. But as we’ve talked about before, just because you’re burning calories during a workout doesn’t mean that those calories you’ve burned are what you should be paying attention to

You still have to pay attention to your food.

Paying attention to your food and learning where your calories come from is a skill that will always serve you, especially if you’re looking to lose weight.

At the end of the day, weight loss is a math equation. If you’re burning more calories on a daily basis than you’re taking in, weight loss is going to happen. But just because it’s a simple equation doesn’t mean that it’s easy to maintain in the real world. This equation gets more complicated when we look to our workouts to take care of most of our calorie-burning efforts. 

The calories we burn during exercise are negligible compared to what we burn daily just to live. Looking to the calories you burn during a workout as a weight-loss tool is a lot like looking to the spare change you collect to fund your next big vacation. It might be possible, but it’s taking an unnecessarily long road to get there.

A class at Orangetheory is going to take an hour. That’s 4% of your day. Even if you push yourself to the limit during class, the calorie burn you experience in that class and after still only make up a small percentage of the total calories you burn every day. Meaning there are still 22-23 hours in a day where calories can find their way in and destroy your weight loss plans. It’s those other hours in a day where most diets meet their end through unplanned snacking, meals out with friends, or mindlessly overeating.

Here at Stronger U, we recommend tracking your food as the primary tool to pay attention to how much you’re eating. Simple, right? Logging the foods you eat in an app like MyFitnessPal is the easiest way to understand how much you’re actually eating on a daily basis and where your calories are coming from. 

If you’re not losing weight at the rate you want, you can look at your log and identify the areas where you could improve your approach to food. Tracking brings a level of awareness to your eating that most of us tend to lack. Once we have that awareness, we can begin improving our food choices. Like Peter Drucker once said: “What gets measured gets managed.”

The relationship between diet and exercise are deeply connected.  And when you effectively connect the two, you establish a system where one positive behavior feeds the other.  You begin to recognize that staying active, eating well, and tracking your food helps you achieve weight loss while properly fueling you for your workouts. So get out there, get those splat points, and make sure you’re prioritizing the habits that bring you closer to your goals. 

Interested in learning more about Stronger U? Email us at or to schedule a free informational phone call with someone on our Member Experience Team just CLICK HERE! Can’t wait to hear from you!

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