In this file photo taken on Aug. 6, 2018, Tivy defensive coordinator Jeremy Hickman gives instructions to his team during an Antlers’ practice. Hickman is also a fitness expert who will give you advice on how to stay in shape for the Fourth of July

At this very moment, fitness enthusiasts across America are sweating profusely, and it’s not because of their most recent CrossFit workout. 

No, it’s because they are about to endure a sinister trial: The Fourth of July, a day where their strictly regimented diets encounter grave danger.  On this holiday, out-of-shape people have the audacity to invite them to their unhealthy cookout, without any consideration that 2019 is the #yearofthecore. 

“The holiday in the middle of the week can be a detriment to your diet,” said Jeremy Hickman, Tivy’s defensive coordinator and acclaimed body builder. “You put in a good three days and you have a holiday fall right in the middle of the week. That can really lead to some bad food choices that will negate your first three days of the week of good eating.”

Fortunately, the Fourth of July doesn’t have to be a traumatizing event. If you are an elite athlete or just someone who wants a six-pack, this column is for you. This guide won’t just help you survive America’s birthday, but will teach you how to thrive, showing you how you can be the life of the party while also adhering to your strict body-builder diet.


To ensure that you are in the proper Fourth of July spirit, make sure “The Star-spangled Banner”  and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A” are the only two songs on your playlist.

“When I get in that weight room, I’ll be honest: It can be a struggle to find motivation,” former Tivy offensive lineman Kirkland Connally said. “It’s just me, that bar and my mind telling me to quit. But when I blast some Lee Greenwood and Francis Scott Key, it just takes me to another time, another place even. What if I was in Boston in 1773? What if I needed to lift a barrel of British tea? So I just imagine that bar is a barrel of tea and throw it up. 

“The Fourth of July is always my best day of the year from a gains perspective for sure.”


This is a win-win-win situation for you. A) You become the cool, outdoorsy person in your friend group by organizing a trip to the lake. B) You have the chance to get some much-needed cardio — while your friends are reclining on floats like normal people, you will be swimming vigorously up and down the lake. And C) you have the opportunity to strut your physique in front of your out-of-shape friends, establishing yourself as the alpha in your group. Make sure to flex as often as possible while staring at your reflection in the water. Your friends will be impressed by this flourish of self-confidence, and by the fact that you have a six-pack.

“Since you’re a serious fitness person, it is important to take your shirt off and let everyone else feel minute compared to you,” said Hickman, who emphasized that he was being 100 percent serious during this interview. “It’s vital that you show off what you have been working on for the last 364 days, because you never take a day off.”

If you are among the 99.5 percent of the population who doesn’t have abs, just use a sharpie to draw a six-pack on yourself.


This is by far the most dangerous time of day: Your friend’s neighborhood Fourth of July Barbecue. Here, you will be tempted with a multitude of delicious, unhealthy food options: hotdogs, cheese burgers, cheese dip, chips, cookies and so forth. Don’t worry: you have a plan to resist these tasty temptations. You are going to bring ground turkey and celery to the cookout to ensure that you don’t cheat yourself on America’s birthday.

But don’t just worry about yourself, use the Fourth as an opportunity to improve your friends’ diets as well. Offer them plenty of warnings about their food choices. It’s important to remind them that they are likely exceeding their daily recommended nutritional values at this cookout alone, and that the processed food they love so much is responsible for inflammation and bloated stomachs. Your friends will be touched by this altruistic concern for their well-being.

“I think it’s very important to bring your nutritional food to a barbecue and watch everyone else eat unhealthy,” Hickman said. “That way you can let everyone know how much better you are than them as you are snacking on your celery and ground turkey as they are eating on their food. You need to remind them of how bad they should feel eating that stuff.

“I think it’s very important that you bring your own food to a barbecue just for the simple fact that you are an elite athlete and you want people to know that you are different — that you are so serious that you can’t take a day off, even for America’s birthday.”

It’s also important that you arm wrestle one of your friends at this cookout to further assert your dominance. But make sure that it’s a friend you know you can beat. For example, I challenged Mark Keller — the voice of the Antlers — to an arm wrestling contest before a Tivy baseball playoff game. He beat me so bad that I slightly strained a muscle and was sore for an entire week. Moral of the story? I should have challenged Keller’s color analyst, Justin Stieler, to arm wrestle instead.


Attending Robert Earl Keen’s concert is a Kerrville tradition, but it involves many pitfalls for body builders. For example, there will be many people inside a tent who will ask you if you want to buy delicious beer. Once again, I have solution on how to avoid indulging on empty calories: Carry 2 gallons of water around with you at the concert. This accomplishes two goals: it ensures that your hands are full, so you won’t be able to hold a pint of beer. And furthermore, the 2 gallons of water lets everyone there know that you are a fitness expert who knows how to hydrate.

Also, the average gallon of water weighs 7 pounds, so you are also getting in an extra arm workout as well.

So there you have it: The perfect Fourth of July itinerary for fitness people. But if you are still unsure whether or not it’s OK to have a cheat day on the Fourth, I reached out to longtime coach Grant Palmer. Everyone who knows Palmer agrees that he’s in better shape than 99 percent of the American population. Surely, he’s in such great shape because he never took any days off in his life, even on America’s birthday.

So, I called him to see what he was doing for the Fourth.

“I am going to be at my church and we are going to cook 1,000 hot dogs,” Palmer beamed.

Wait, what?

“I am going to eat those hot dogs as fast as I cook them,” Palmer continued. “I take the Fourth of July off too.”

Then Hickman called and wanted everyone to know that he was being sarcastic in his interview.

He, too, hopes everyone to have the best Fourth possible with friends and families, even if that means eating real hamburgers instead of ground turkey.

In other words, please disregard everything I wrote in this column. Be a normal person and enjoy the Fourth, even if you are a fitness enthusiast.

After all, life’s too short to bring celery to a Fourth of July party. Be an American hero and bring fried Oreos instead.

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