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What's a good lunch?
"Today I had boneless, skinless baked chicken, Broccolini florets and roasted garlic couscous that I made at home. Smoothies and shakes are good for lunch if you don't love vegetables. Throw in an apple, banana, berries, spinach — you can put a lot of greens and veggies into a smoothie, and the taste is masked by the fruits."
What's a good dinner?
"Maybe a salad with some grilled shrimp or salmon, an oil-based dressing, and some tomatoes and peppers."
Is it better to eat a bunch of little meals throughout the day or eat three square meals?
"Personally, I prefer eating throughout the day because it stabilizes the blood sugar and keeps you from having that huge desire to gorge at dinner."
What's the healthiest kind of alcohol to drink?
"Straight alcohol — the less mixers the better. Think about a margarita. They add all kinds of sugars and juices to those things on top of the alcohol. You have a big margarita at dinner and you're adding 1,000 calories to the meal."
Is vodka healthier than whiskey?
"Not in any way that significantly matters."
Are there any especially effective ways to lose weight in my bulging stomach?
"You really can't target body-fat loss. When you start losing weight, you lose all over. But if you have more weight to lose in your stomach, it'll seem like it's harder to lose. That's because there was more there to begin with, so it takes longer to lose it."
Hard truths. But on my way out the door, Heffner did give me one bit of advice with a little sunshine in it: "I think the 80–20 rule is a pretty good one to go by," he said. "Stay locked into these healthy foods about 80 percent of the time, and the other 20 percent of the time, you don't have to feel guilty about going out for pizza and beers. You can be realistic about this stuff. You know, I'm not going to go to my daughter's birthday party and not eat the cake."
Before he was a personal trainer, Derek McQuinn played college football at MidAmerica Nazarene University. He transitioned from that into a career on the professional wrestling circuit. He went through the Harley Race Wrestling Academy in Eldon, Missouri, and spent seven years knocking around the Midwest as "Dangerous Derek." He even made it onto a couple of WWE events, playing the bad guy against the league's superstars. His signature hold was the "Spear of Mass Destruction."
About a year ago, McQuinn relocated from the Lake of the Ozarks to Kansas City, where he was raised. He trains clients at Excel Wellness Studio, at 11705 College Boulevard, in Overland Park. His fitness philosophy is, not surprisingly, informed by intense sports.
McQuinn is one of about 60 or so "masterminds," personal trainers in the United States who have studied under Todd Durkin, a San Diego–based strength-and-conditioning expert who has coached elite football players such as Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and Aaron Rodgers. Durkin's philosophy — and, by extension, McQuinn's — is to "train the Joes like the pros."
"The best-conditioned people in the world are professional athletes," McQuinn told me. "So why not train the way they do? The idea is that you can simulate those guys' workouts without doing 500-pound lifts. The reason they have bodies like they do is because they're using all their muscles when they work out."