Jen Shaw


By: Jen Shaw

The weekend...A.K.A. killer of all diets, is more often than not where people break. What is it about "the weekend" that makes people jump off shit pier and ruin everything? Even if you are absolutely perfect Monday through Friday you will completely blow your goals if you food orgy pizza and beer for two days, or even one full day. 

So, in an effort to help you battle the weekend slip-ups, I want to share the rules that I abide by. They might seem dumb or maybe even minuscule....but you they're the keys to coming out of the weekend on top and in control.


1. There are no "cheat days" so stop. 

First, stop using the word "cheat." It's super negative and means you are doing something wrong which you are not, you are living. However, going on a sugar bender all day will absolutely ruin you. Yes, you can recover from it and move on for sure. However if you are involved in anything like "GET RIPPED" that only lasts six weeks you are really stunting your progress. 

2. NEVER ever treat yourself on Sunday night.

Sunday night is usually the night before you are back at the gym and lifting heavy. Treating yourself on Sunday night will sabotage your workout and possibly how you feel when you wake up Monday morning. Only good things Sunday night. 

3. If you MUST have a bad meal, do it at lunch - not dinner. 

It's much harder to recover from a treat if you have it at dinner. Eating bad and then going to sleep leaves you feeling like crap in the morning. So after your treat at lunch drink water, nap, eat a good dinner and have all the good things before you sleep. 

4. NEVER EVER drink after you eat your last meal of the day. 

I cannot stress this enough. Have you ever woken up anywhere between 2-4am sweating and your heart racing and beating out of your chest? That's drinking, and sugar. I suggest you have your cocktails before dinner, then eat, then water. Wine after meals, the worst. All of that sugar just sitting there waiting to crush your sleep at 2am. 

Try it and let me know how it works! 


Katrina joined LIFT months ago from a figure background, looking for something different. Jen knew she would be a perfect fit for TCS and LIFT when she jumped up to the pull up bar and knocked out six strict pull ups and then said " I don't know how to kip." Jen love having her in class and the energy she brings. She is always upbeat, ready to roll and works hard.

While I grew up playing soccer, it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I committed myself to fitness. At first, my biggest motivation was literally “to look hot”. I wanted to look like the girls in Oxygen magazine and eventually compete in physique competitions. I joined Gold’s Gym, hired a trainer, and began the bodybuilder lifestyle. I was able to put on enough muscle that I could then diet down for my first bikini show.

My prep started 16 weeks out from the competition. I had 1 hour of lifting and 2 hours of walking/stairclimbing nearly every day, while eating less than 1200cals and 60 grams of carbs. And while the physical aspect sounds tough, it was the mental beating that was far more torturous. There were other girls at my gym training for the same show, and I couldn’t help but size them up and mentally tear them down. However, the person I tore down the most was myself. Every day my flaws were pointed out to me “so that I could win”. Do you know how many rear delt flies I’ve done in my life??? Every day I felt like I was ready to crack, and I finally reached my breaking point 4 weeks out from the competition.

Once the dieting was officially over, I went on the Holy Grail of Binges. WichWich, Coal Vines, Moonshine buffet, How Do You Roll, Magnolia’s Cafe, JuiceLand and Alamo Drafthouse- all in the first 24 hours. I gained 8lbs in the first week, and stopped weighing myself once I hit 15. I continued this way for 2 months before promising to start over. And then I tore my ACL.

And now we have reached the lowest of low. Overweight, one-legged, and overall depressed- I had no idea how I was going to pull myself up out of this hole. As luck would have it, I became friends with a fellow Gold’s go-er who had witnessed my roller coaster. Instead of pointing out my flaws, he focused on my milestones, showed me what a 30-minute circuit can do versus a 90-minute lift session, and held me accountable for all the extra scoops of chocolate peanut butter I had been eating. Not only did he help me at a crucial time, he is the one who introduced me to LIFT for women.

To compare my experience at LIFT to everything prior would just be unfair. But I am going to anyways :) Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could work out with females and NOT side-eye them. But when you start working out with the LIFT women, the support and motivation is truly overwhelming (not gonna lie, Calland and Tina intimated the shit out of me on Day 1). I have come to terms that I will not be as strong or fast or dynamic as some of the others, but I’ll always be sure to try as hard as them. And that is what LIFT is about. Not lift weighting - lifting each other up. What started out as a mission to look good in a bikini, I ended up finding true strength inside and out thanks to the TCS community.


Today's post comes to you by Coach Jen Shaw. I'll tell you right here and now that It's not going to be about proper lifting technique or some crazy workout she had her LIFT chicks knock out. Nothing about her post has anything really to do with fitness, workouts, or gym life. It does, however, have everything to do with STRENGTH.

This post is not about TCS, LIFT, or the gym. It's personal. So if you are not into personal shit- you should probably stop reading right now. Blogs are for business, but sometimes also for therapy. I apologize for no words typed, and if you are offended that is on you.

I never ask anyone "what does your tattoo mean?" It's annoying, sometimes embarrassing, but most of the time when people ask I just give the blank "deer in the headlights stare". You don't want to know, and no its NOT a damn peacock.

PSA: if you don't like the answer its on you for asking the question.

There are so many reasons why people trust a complete stranger to put a drawing with a needle on their arm that will never go away. Some think its super cool to get that sun around your belly button...I wonder what those girls are doing now? And some are pieces of art, something to look "more cool", tributes to children, loved ones, military, and then there's the drunk ones you KNOW they regret. But there is another category- catastrophic life experience. The kind of shit that tears your organs apart with pain. The experience that leaves you dying inside daily and wondering when you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror again and recognize the person you see. The pain that leaves you on the floor with a gun under your pillow for three days straight wondering what day or time it is, or if anyone would ever notice if you just were not on the earth anymore. Real pain.

Real pain cannot be described. It's a daily dose of "wow I want to die, this life sucks, shit sucks."  At this point some choose to quit on life, go to therapy, whine and complain, lean on their friends until they have none, or just move and start a new life pretending. None of this works.

I sat down for a total of 12 hours and needled that pain right out of me. I always thought black ravens were the coolest birds ever. But the phoenix, that's me. It's starting over without having to talk it out with a stranger, without having my friends have to hear every single solitary day how miserable I am. It's how I dealt with ( I hope ) the worst experience of my life. I don't regret one minute. I LOVE my tattoos. Every time I look down I am reminded of how I did NOT let it get to me. How I didn't loose. I WON. I made a life for myself. I ended up respecting myself. I didn't just give up, even though that was a thought at one time. I overcame and moved on. And yes, that is what a tattoo is sometimes. It's my sort of therapy.

Recently I was judged because I had it, by my own family. It's caused me pain, and hard to handle. But looking at my tattoo is a reminder that its not that bad. They can get over it, I don't regret this amazing bird on my arm. And I have been through worse. SO go ahead guys, judge away. In the end its you that lose, because I am one of the most loyal and honest people you will meet. And I am no longer in your corner.

So next time you see someone with a tattoo don't assume its what you think. Sometimes its something that got them standing where they are today. And stop asking "what does your tattoo mean?' unless you are ready for the answer.

Everything is a Skill - by Nyki H

If you didn't already know, Travis County Strength - and specifically LIFT - has a relatively new face leading classes. Coach Nyki Helmcamp, has been an awesome addition to an already stellar team here at TCS, and we thought that it would be cool to have "Guest Blogs" from other coaches so that you get the chance to hear their voice and get a vibe on their styles.

In this first of many "Guest Blogs", Coach Nyki shares her belief that, "Everything is a Skill". 

This post has a ton of great information ideal for anyone looking to boost their performance in any realm of their life. It would definitely be beneficial to take the time to read this one, think about it, and finally, apply it to an area of your life. Cool?

Ready?! GO!

EVERYTHING IS A SKILL - by Nyki Helmcamp

3M Run Group

If you liked the post on 9.15.14 about how "To Run Faster...Get Stronger" by Coach Jen Shaw, then you might be interested to know that she is about to kick-start her 3rd run group training program.

In true Travis County Strength/LIFT fashion, Jen has developed a straight forward approach to improving your run performance while cutting all the unwanted/unneeded bullshit.

The program is centered around maintaining, if not improving, your strength while simultaneously getting faster on your runs! This is not something you hear about very often. Usually, you'll hear runners talk about how they've had to step away from the gym in order to fit all those miles in.

Ask yourself.....Does that really make sense?

In any case, if this is something that tickles your need to check out Jen's latest blog post detailing the 3M Run Group that starts this Saturday! All the info you'll need is right HERE. 

What is Strength [by Jen Shaw]

What is strength?

by Jen Shaw
Creator and Head Coach of LIFT

How much do you snatch?  Does it really matter? Is that really going to help you get away from an intruder? Pull a loved one out of a fire? Carry someone a far distance in an emergency situation? Yeah, I does help. However not all problems you are faced with come in tight pretty little packages with time to set up and get chalk, as Trav says. When shit hits the fan, you do as your adrenaline says and fucking move. You might think that is over the top..but I assure you it is not. 

Working out and being strong will allow you to be that person that can help save your family, be the reliable force that others know will be able to get you out of whatever shit hole you have put yourself in. Working with odd objects will allow you to do these things. Now let me be clear, in order to work with odd objects you have to press, deadlift, and squat. Otherwise you have a back that is as strong as cotton candy. And ain't nobody got time for that!

Logs, stones, kegs, yoke and sleds. They are difficult, odd, hard. Oh is anything that is worth pursuing. Learning to use this equipment will make you the strongest version of yourself, and make the barbell seem easy! 

On the 24th Coach Nick Mounce will be heading up a class focusing on some of these objects. If you think I am just full of it, come on and sign up. Prove me wrong. Better bring your strong back though.




He's Baaaaaack!


In this strength and conditioning business you develop relationships.  As a coach, you watch your clients put everything they've got in to the task you give them.  You watch them struggle, fight, sweat, bleed, cry.  You also have the privilege of watching them overcome, succeed, celebrate, focus, achieve, and re-focus on the next dragon to be slayed.  It should go without saying, but with all of this emotion and these powerful experiences, strong bonds are made between coach and athlete. 

This is especially the case for my relationship with my long-time personal training client, Mike.  Mike was my very first personal training client when I first moved to Austin and during that time we've made some massive changes in health, strength, mental toughness, etc.  It's truly been an absolute joy to train Mike over the last several years.

Mike would put everything he had in to our hour-long sessions.  He busted is ass as hard as any one in the gym and was positive - even when he was near his breaking point.  In fact, the only thing that halted our steady progression was a shoulder injury - the cause of which is still unknown.  

In any case, Mike took a step back from our training and began physical therapy for what they were calling a "misalignment of the shoulder".  With the PT taking priority, we decided to take some time off and get back to when we had the OK from the docs.  

Well, we all know that when you start sliding it can be hard to stop, right?  That's kind of what happened in Mike's case.  He had stepped out of our training routine and started slipping.  That is, until I touched base with him two weeks ago....

It's amazing what a simple "check in" can yield!  Mike received my text and responded back that just that week he had stopped by my old stomping grounds in an effort to find me so that we could start up again!  Needless to say, I was PUMPED!

So that's that.  We started back up again on Wednesday after a year hiatus!  Our first session was awesome.  It seemed as though we hadn't missed a day!  And just as I expected, Mike worked his ass off from start to finish.

 gotta say....It's good to have him back! 


On a final note - this should be more than just a story for you to read.  This should be a call to action to get back to doing the things that were producing results in your life....regardless of whether they were hard or not.  Do those things that required great things of you so as to challenge yourself and exceed expectations. 

Got Ripped?

It's not just hard work in the gym....These chicks dial it in outside the TCS walls as well.

It's not just hard work in the gym....These chicks dial it in outside the TCS walls as well.

Every January LIFT Owner and Head Coach, Jen Shaw poses a "GET RIPPED" month of clean eating to her LIFT girls. This year the month was opened up to all the Travis County Strength ladies and the results were amazing!  Jen put this quick recap together detailing the parameters and the results of the Get Ripped month... 

I took the approach of a non-challenge. In fact, the word "challenge" is no longer used in my gym-ictionary. Challenges are meant to get you in better shape, eating better, and working out more. The problem with them is they are usually so strict and different from normal life that it's impossible to stick to them. Usually after the challenge it takes two weeks for everyone to get right back into old habits. There are actually people out there who live challenge-to-challenge at their gym. What a sad existence. Its a complete lack of self control. This has happened to the GET RIPPED month before, so this year I came up with something a little different." 

This year was all about getting through the WHOLE year. How can you learn to eat in one month for the rest of the year? By being realistic, smart about choices, and being REAL about what you want and what you need. Don't set yourself up for failure by going so far outside your normal realm of eating. Small steps and a plan. That is what we did this year. 

98% of the girls' biggest issue was wine and dessert.  Saying that 45 girls will not have that all month because its GET RIPPED is ridiculous and naive. It's called living. You do things you enjoy, you don't go through each day and slap yourself every time you want wine or chocolate. You are put on this earth for a very short period of time. You should enjoy yourself! The hard part is making a plan to keep what you love in your diet and still hit goals.

SO..... I did allow 4oz of wine...every single night. You could not save it up and get shit crazy on one night. You could have it- or not. If you have ever measured out 4oz you know that is not a lot. Usually just enough to cook and have quiet time in the kitchen and then sit down to dinner. However, I did not allow any desserts at all of any kind. The girls were extremely surprised by this rule,  but it went well! They knew it was there if they wanted it, and surprisingly not everyone partook. All the food was back to the basics: protein at every meal, healthy fats, and lots of vegetables. Keeping it simple, eat what you know is good for you. No crap. Be smart. 

The food logs were highly impressive! I am very proud of the knowledge these ladies have and glad to see they at times branched out and tried some new dishes. The most impressive by far was the way they supported each other, and if someone did fall and mess up they got right back on it. Most importantly they did not worry about the cheat- just accept it and get through the rest of the day. 

After a month and all the measuring the TCS women lost 85 total inches!! And I still have five girls to measure. That's incredible! I think the most important breakthroughs were the lessons of self control. I will be posting up some highlighted stories on this blog!! stay tuned.....

As promised, Jen has posted the results of some of the participants on her Lift4women blog, including some amazing before and after photos.  Be sure to check those updates for some potential inspiration for your very own transformation!

Guilty, or just faking it?

This past weekend I was at a social event with a lot of people I didn't know.  As to be expected, there was a lot of small talk as newly introduced individuals mingle for the first time.  What I found interesting, though, was that as soon as I mentioned that I owned a gym and was a strength and conditioning coach - people lost their shit!

What I mean by that is that the tone of the conversation automatically shifted.  What was a casual conversation turned into what you might expect if you walked in on a parent disciplining a child.  I mean, they were practically beating themselves up for their lack of fitness.


Now, before I continue, this is by no means a bash session on these people or anyone else that doesn't see fitness as a priority in their life.  Really this is just a post posing a question to anyone and everyone:

"Are you really guilty, or are you just faking it?"

I ask this question because the situation I was in over the weekend is pretty common when I step foot into a new social circle.....and it just makes me wonder.

I guess this is where I stand:

If you truly feel guilty about how you've neglected your health and fitness, GREAT!  That's a fantastic start.  Often times, people must encounter tremendous pain before being driven enough to make a massive change.  If you're ready to make that change and work hard for it, I welcome you to come be a part of what we do at Travis County Strength.  You will evolve and transform.

BUT.....and this is a big one......if you merely speak about what you should do, what you used to be able to do, and what keeps you from doing what you "want" to do - then I would encourage you to simply stop pretending and own your beliefs.

To put it simply....If you're going to do something about it, do it!  If you're not, stop talking about it!

Either way, I wish you the best.  Our doors will always be open to those that are ready to work for their change.