You’re Not a Kangaroo; Lose the Pooch!

So my blogs have been sparse this busy month and all over the map with subject matter; from pillow reviews to fasting techniques. I’ve got mad ideas for blog topics but right now, it’s about the questions I’m getting most frequently and situations that just keep coming up.

Let’s talk Kangaroo…

The “pooch” or pouch for the baby kangaroo in the above pic is natural for the animal to have. But if you have a suspicion that your pooch could be worked on (and not surgically!) and improved well, let’s get into some background and finally some solutions. Not the easiest thing in the world for a male trainer to talk about as this subject, for the most part, I’ll never face it, nor will my guy clients. We like to pack spare tires instead.

Situation 1: Pregnancy-Induced Pooch

Now, if you had the flattest tummy pre-baby poppin’ I VERY much suggest you listen to me when I say that doing endless crunches or other exercises may actually make the problem worse!

If that is the situation, I would point you to this excellent post I discovered which talks about a unique situation called diastis recti. The author of the blog post speaks and demonstrates from experience a method of improving such a situation. Go read that here: http://www.momaroo.com/758365915/rehabilitation-of-my-abs-post-baby/

Situation 2: Lower Abdominals That Don’t Respond

This is a little more common. There are a few reasons: lack of body awareness and how to activate those muscles; hip flexing musculature taking over; lower and/or thoracic spine inflexibility/stiffness; and lack of activity in that area. Think about it, it’s not natural to engage and “flex” your lower abs when you sit on your butt. And how long in a day are you sitting? The longer you’re sitting, the greater the chance of the pooch creeping up on you.

First, the stuff you can pinch with your fingers has ZERO to do with the lower ab musculature. Fat is fat, it needs to be burned off. Skin elasticity is a separate issue and I know nothing about how to improve that, consult a dermatologist instead. We’re talking about when you poke through all that jiggle, the wall you run into is your abs.

Firming, tightening and in many cases: improving the size and thickness of the abs, in particular, the rectus abdominus (the “6 pack” muscle) can make a dramatic difference. Here it is in red:

If when poking and feeling around that muscle in red you don’t feel the lines between the “ball” type structure of the abs, it’s a good sign you just need some old-fashioned ab strength work. Personally, I love cable crunches! I use them often with myself and I have sworn many a time that if I had only 1 exercise for the 6 pack muscle to be worked, it would be that one. I have a unique way of doing cable crunches that doesn’t actually involve a “crunch” but instead focuses on the bracing (static contraction) or anti-extension factor of using an absurd amount of weight to bully the weight down and control it up each rep. See that in the 2nd exercise of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGidiE2Isso

But, don’t let me get ahead of myself. I need to bring you back to the whole reason your muscles are poochy in the first place which could very well be either a very lordodic (excessive lumbar/lower spine curvature) and/or the inability to get the lower portion of the rectus abdominus to “feel” the contraction.

I address all of this and give you solutions on both improving quality of all abdominal exercises (SMR of spine and hip flexing group) to a solution of learning to activate/feel your lower abs, and lastly an exercise to directly target the lower portion of the abdominal musculature.

Watch that 25 minute instructional video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaMpvZEMN8o

As for the half foam roller, they can be picked up at many different sport stores but I recommend buying a black (max firmness) one which I personally picked up from Fitter First.

The Multi-Pronged Approach

For half of the stuff you can pinch (fat;  skin like I said, I can’t help with) being active is number 1, which first and foremost means stop sitting so damn much!  Number 2 is diet, get it clean, drop the wheat, mind your sugars. Some fasting may be a good option if you read this and find it could work for you (heed the warnings in the blog post!). Some high intensity cardio is a VERY good idea for burning off some excess fuel stores. And women, you need weight/resistance training. Seriously…did you know an extra 5lbs of muscle equates to roughly 300-500 extra calories burned each and every single day!! Can’t get to a gym, do this (watch the instructional video for this too) or some of the other videos I have for you on my YouTube channel.

Any questions on abdominal training, feel free to ask!

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Pre – Intra – Post Workout Nutrition

I see it every day…the drop…the crash…the deafening of the body and that look: the scared, where-should-I-throw-up-if-I-have-to look.

I feel for you. I’ve been there. I came to realize it had a lot more to do with maintaining blood sugar levels than anything related to intensity. If your blood sugar crashes during an intense workout, it’s very shortly followed with the dizzy→pale face→nauseated→gonna upchuck performance deterioration process.

Some History

I’ve tried every supplement type of supplement out there. Whey isolate, check. Creatine, check. Beta-alanine, check. Arginine, check. Tribulus, check. Alpha Lipoic Acid, check. Phosphatidylserine, check. Saw palmetto, check. Pre-workout caffeine overdosed stimulant, check. Every vitamin. Every performance mineral (zinc, magnesium, selenium, vanadium). Just everything over the years. Here’s the other thing, I’m pretty reactive to stuff. Most stuff I feel working and notice a difference in a short period of time. The question then becomes: what’s worth my hard earned money?

Now, I’m not delusional, I’m fully aware of the power of the placebo effect. At the same time though I experiment with my supplements often to figure out how best to use them.  I will say this: if paying $50 for a powder supplement of some sort gives me the benefit of lifting more, recovering faster and not being as sore, all with zero noticeable side effects: I’m going to use and buy this powder.

I have to admit there was a time I was a little more like Mr. Olympia here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gZJ-T7ajrw

I love how he doesn’t show his growth hormone, steroid and insulin “supplements.” Good thing those minerals are making up for all his “non-vegetable taking.” “That’s pretty much it for me, pretty plain and simple.”

Back to the topic at hand: as per a question asked of me this week (and many times in the past) I’m going to cover this topic only once.

What is the best thing to eat or take before a workout?

I am going to break this into two methods: the pills and powder method and the whole food method.

The Whole Food Method

Why: One could very easily argue that we, as humans, were never meant to be chugging SuperDump or NOExplodin’ blue raspberry pre-workout crack enduced stimulant supplements before performing a tough workout or activity. We were fine with food for a good half million years on this planet. Also, who’s to say the ingredient label isn’t a lie? Or that the ingredients in a supplement are in efficacious amounts? And what about artificial sweeteners, colorings and this 16 consinent anti-aromatase stuff that is supposed to help me build more muscle??!?! I will admit 99.9% of all supplements, especially in the bodybuilding realm are complete bullshit! And if you’re not willing to research, spend the money and honestly, put faith and trust in some product manufacturer’s supplement, then go the whole food method. Don’t drink some “awesome shit!” just because your buddy who looks no better or is no stronger than you tells you too. And ladies…put the fat burners down!!!

How: There’s one problem with food for workouts…digestion. Digestion of food can take a lot of effort, a lot of blood in the stomach tissues, etc to process and break those calories into something usable: glucose, amino acids and fats. No one eats a steak while running a marathon. 2 rules to follow with the whole food method: 1) Keep dense protein (think chicken), fiber and fats far away from a pre workout meal (more than 2 hours). That stuff takes a while to digest and your muscles could use the blood instead. 2) Don’t eat a lot before a workout; just enough that you think you’ll be able to fuel and get through the workout.

What: Everyone is different. Some people swear by bananas. They don’t work for me. Fruit is always a good way to go but the two problems are 1) finding what doesn’t upset your stomach while training and 2) having a fruit not too acidic (skip the orange), not too high in fiber (skip the apple and blueberries) and not too dense (skip the mango and banana).  The best fruit options are melons by far! Low fiber, high water content (especially watermelon, obviously). I’ve never had cantelope or honeydew bother a person’s stomach. In fact if someone is really skinny I suggest they pack that to their workout with them and mid-workout when the dreaded blood sugar drop happens, I tell them to slam a couple of chunks of melon while resting. Still, however, fruit can bother some people’s stomachs. So the trick is finding what bland starch works. Yams? White potato? White rice? The answer lies somewhere between a slice of white bread (not the ideal but can help those with acid issues while training) and a half cup of the starches just listed. You don’t need a lot; just enough to get you through the workout.

When best: Here is where whole food can do some magic. Consume some easily digestible carbs (low fiber, not too acidic, not overly dense and best if bland about 60-90 mins pre-workout to boost blood sugar levels. Don’t worry, if your workout is hard enough you’ll burn those calories and more. During a workout, I find the whole food route is better served with water only coming in. That said, if the drop feels like it may happen then pack a ziplock of melons already cut up (cantelope, honeydew, watermelon). Post workout is by far the most important time to get nutrients into you. Here, in regards to whole food, it’s best to go starch & low fat protein: think chicken and rice. Again, go low fat and low fiber as both slow digestion which is the enemy post workout. You need nutrients in those broken down muscles NOW! If you don’t “have time” to eat at the gym right after your workout and you’re heading to work, then I suggest you pack a protein bar like this one which is essentially whey protein (as supplement free as I’m going to recommend), fruit, nuts; zero preservatives; no food additives (like palm kernel oil; WTF is that anyway?).  Lastly, I will say that for those who generally workout in the evening, after dinner, it’s best to train on the whole food method. You’ll feel more satisfied before bed and not go calorie overboard right before sleep which can disrupt and destroy sleep quality.

The Pills & Powder Method (aka: dietary supplements)

Why: I, personally, can’t do whole food and then workout. It’s never worked well for me, even with my own above recommendations. My body (being of the ectomorph, low fuel storage variety) doesn’t like doing two jobs at once. It wants to either workout hard or digest and chill. Not both. Early on I quickly realized that a simple whey isolate shake with some extra carb powder was the ticket for me. Later I discovered that mixing all my supplements into a big 2L jug and sipping between sets until done (pre-intra-post) was the method that worked best for me. I will say that if you are the type that wakes up, trains in less than 60 mins of waking the whole food method is really hard to make work. You need your blood sugar up right away. Even fruit can be too slow (but again, melons are best).

How: Pre-workout: slam a mix of whatever 30-60mins before the start of your warm up. There is a whole genre of supplements for this category, usually falling into the nitric oxide category (bunk) or the stimulant category (whohooo!). These generally work best as suggested to be used: 30-60mins pre-workout. Intra-workout: sip nutrients during workout, with the main goal of maintaining blood sugar. Post-workout: get those important nutrients in you ASAP (protein/amino acids, carbs, fancy stuff like creatine, etc you may be taking).

What: The big ones are a whey isolate/hydrosylate, carbs (a slow, medium and fast delivery/glycemic index mix is best), glutamine, creatine, beta-alanine and anything else you may be taking.

When best: Follow the directions of the supplement. They put them there for a reason.

What do I do?

It would be irresponsible for me to tell you what to take or eat. I can only give you my experience. Take it as you wish. But hear me on this: GO RESEARCH THINGS FOR YOURSELF!!  Sometimes a simple Google search of your product name with “review” can tell you a lot. Other people out there that like or hate a supplement will post their reviews for you to read. I think bodybuilding.com has done a good job there allowing users to rate the product.

Whole food Route:

Again, I think melons are best. Strawberries seem to be okay with me too. I don’t admit it often but my own workouts make me nervous as hell. My Monday workout right now takes me two days of psyching myself up to just not back out. It sucks. But so worth it when it’s done. When I’m anxious or nervous I really love eating a few of my lady’s special protein pancakes about an hour beforehand. Settles the tummy good.  But that’s me, this recipe goes against everything I said about dense protein and fiber intake.

Protein Pancakes Recipe:

½ cup rolled oats

¼ cup Nutracleanse

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (mine is 35g of protein per scoop; Kaizen brand I get from Costco)

1 whole egg

1/3 cup low fat cottage cheese

Directions: blend dry ingredients until fine(r), mix in wet ingredients, stir well. Place in fridge for 3-5mins while frying pan heats up on medium. Pour to whatever size you want, flip every once in a while until they look browned and cooked. You really don’t need syrup or honey or any other sweeteners as the vanilla protein powder takes care of this.

Don’t you just love my guy-dumb recipe directions?

The above yields (as a whole batch so divide by as many pankcakes as you make/eat): 523 cals, 15g fat, 42g carbs (27g net carbs once minus out fiber count), 15g fiber, 58g protein.

Supplement Route:

Pre-workout: I like MuscleTech’s Neurocore. Does what it claims for me. I’ve tried every pre-workout out there and this one is my favorite thus far (yes, even over VPX’s now discontinued Anarchy).

Intra-workout: Nothing beat’s Biotest’s Surge Workout Fuel. I throw in 10g of glutamine as well. I also mix in 1 scoop of AST’s VP2 (100% whey hydrosylate).

Immediately Post-workout: 1 scoop AST VP2, 1 scoop Biotest Surge Workout Fuel, 10 more grams of glutamine and extra creatine monohydrate if it’s a creatine day (I cycle it 3 days on/3 off per the old AST/Paul Cribb suggestion).

Post-workout meal: Starch (like rice) and meat or Elevate Me protein bar if I am in a rush to my next client.

Again, that’s me, that’s what works for me. Everyone is different.

Stop twisting my arm

Okay, I yield. If I HAD to make a supplement suggestion I would say 1st and foremost: Biotest’s Surge Workout Fuel @1-2scoops sipped during workout but finish within 15 mins of finishing workout. The cheesy quote on the front of the jug about “makes the hardest workouts feel easy” is damn near true. Post-workout: AST’s VP2 or some other whey isolate powder. I’ve been using AST’s VP2 for about 10 years when it used to taste like Maalox, no kidding, it was so chalky. Best protein on the market in my opinion (Biotest’s Mag 10 would be a close second but I don’t feel it’s worth its price tag).

Food For Thought

This time of year I get all sorts of questions about what my opinion of what a person should eat, how they should exercise, what they can do to spice things up and start seeing faster results.

Well, the doctor is in:

Rule 1: Extremes work extremely well…for a short period of time. Have a plan for beyond that time frame.

Rule 2: Decide right off the bat if you’re the type of person who does well with extremes. If extremes set you off for things like binge eating, getting sick and injured from over training, etc, be smart and settle on a more moderated approach.

Rule 3: Intensity always trumps duration. That’s assuming you’re doing something already. If not, start there. Hell, even a 30 minute walk a day could change your life.

Rule 4: You could use some more muscle!

Rule 5: Find your arch-nemesis. I’m a firm believer that every one has 1 thing/1 habit that ruins 90% of all of their goals and dreams. If you could manage/change that one habit you’d be on the right track. SO STOP ARGUING OVER THE MINUTIA!

Okay, with those rules out-of-the-way:

1. If your main goal is to lose fat, I fall in the opinion of fat loss being an all out WAR! Extremes work best. EXCEPT IF YOU FALL IN THE CATEGORY OF RULE #2!! I personally think that very strict diets will help you achieve more in far less time and teach you some important lessons. What kind of short-term are we talking about: 28-45 days. What strict dietary plans I’ve done and seen work best: Rapid Fat Loss by Lyle McDonald, Velocity Diet by T-Nation, and to a lesser extreme: Eat-Stop-Eat by Brad Pilon (only extreme because the thought of fasting to most people is radical!). Those results you see on the Biggest Loser and similar shows of 4-10lbs of fat loss a week, depending on where you are currently (meaning if you have 10-100lbs to spare) are totally possible in these situations. Just prepare for an all out war with yourself if you chose to go this route. On these sorts of diets the workouts you perform should not be super intense!

2. If your main goal is a sane approach to fat loss with some muscle gain I suggest you work out two details: which dietary approach are you going to cover and which workout program are you going to follow. A good choice on the diet end is Tosca Reno’s Clean Eating books or Metabolic Cooking and as for programs, well, you really should see a trainer and have them walk you through and build something specific to your needs. But if you are going to go for the pre-packaged plan then the P90X route ain’t a bad way to go (because of its intensity; not because I wholly agree with the programming).

3. A good bunch of you fit into the “skinny fat” category. Which basically means your main focus should be Rule #4: gain muscle, eat clean while doing so and the fat will come down while you do. In this case I suggest you opt for an eating plan closer to what Wet Wolf could recommend to you. Another good way to go is via a workout program like this one for guys or this one for the ladies and a diet program designed for you by Scott Abel because face it, you really don’t know what it would take to see a 6 pack or your perfect bikini – this is quite simply a lack of education that you need and then need to apply with some good old-fashioned hard work! The cookie cutter programs won’t work for you.

Oh, and in case anyone doesn’t understand what I’m trying to tell you, this picture should clear it up (note the time difference! This ain’t an easy road as it’s very similar to #4 below):

Weigh more, look better!

4. If your goal is to get absolutely jacked, huge and ripped, well you need a coach who specializes in that. For that I personally turn to the work of Christian Thibaudeau. He’s a major brain child over at T-Nation.com. I think the best programs he’s put out are Mechanical Drop Sets or HP Mass. Follow his diet, training and supplementation recommendations and you’ll be more than happy with your results. But it’s not an easy road. In fact, muscle gain is the hardest of all roads!  See rule 1 and rule 3!

Pick a path, and from experience, stay on it as long as possible. It’s after 12 weeks when things all come together!

And for those that missed it, the doctor above is actually Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology. Trust me, this fat loss, weight gain, become healthy endeavor is as much about your psychology as it is about your health! Just sayin’.

Fat Loss Insurance

Hi, my name is Bob. Aside from being a great workout partner I also sell insurance. A very unique insurance in fact and my rates are very reasonable.

Let’s first talk about what other sorts of insurance you may currently have.

Do you have house or tenant insurance? “Well, yes, I do. I need that in case of fire, theft or the situations like this slippery ice on my sidewalk where liability may be a factor.”

Excellent!

How about life insurance? “No, my wife doesn’t need to get rich off me dying and we don’t have any kids.” Hmmm, I see. I understand that situation but you may wish to consider a small amount of insurance that would help her face the short-term (1 year) financial burden of such a situation. I have a friend in that business that could help. “Sure, shoot me his info; I’ll take a look into it.”

Now how about Critical Illness and Disability insurances? You realize 1/3 of all people die of some form of cancer and that a great many of them if caught early enough are treatable which is quite costly. Critical Illness insurance covers this along with a great deal more illnesses we commonly face. And while I wholly agree with your attitude towards life insurance, Disability insurance is very important. Most people in accidents don’t die, they get injured. Now of course we have WCB and ICBC for work and car insurance but I’m sure you’ve heard of how hard they work for the average Joe. “Those are some good points. Do you have any more information on prices?” Actually, I have a contact for that as well. But a great book on this whole subject is called Die Broke by Stephen Pollan and Mark Levine and I think it will give you some peace of mind to look at money in this manner.

Okay, let’s move on to health insurance. Do you have a good extended health plan with your employer? “Yes, both my wife and I have pretty decent plans.” Excellent, make sure you’re milking them for those massage, chiro and other services!!

How about fat loss insurance? Are you covered there?

Enter: Fasting

I know a half-dozen people who will most likely put out a hit on my life for suggesting I touch their food intakes but hey, do what you like, I’m just going to argue the pros and cons.

What is fasting? Well, it’s easier to answer the question: “What is eating/feeding?”

Fasting is the complete opposite of that last question. It’s a period of time where zero calories are entering the body. Plain and simple.

History

Fasting in some manner has been going on since the spawn of humans. It happens everywhere in the animal kingdom. It’s natural. There are times you’re eating and there are times you are not. There are times when the wolf catches its prey and there are times it’s out there searching. The conundrum of modern life for humans is that it’s become FAR too easy to catch our prey by opening up our refrigerator or cupboards.

It wasn’t always like that; even 150 years ago and we’ve been on this planet for near a half million years. And obesity, like gout, was only seen in the wealthy, greedy and laziest of people. The citizens of the third world are right to look at the obesity epidemic in industrialized nations as absurd. I mean what parent hasn’t used the infamous “there are kids starving in Ethiopia right now that would kill to eat your dinner!” “Yes mom, but do I really have to eat these brussels sprouts?”

Humans for the most part were hunter/gatherers. We evolved and developed agriculture. Somehow in this past 150 years that’s turned into McDonald’s Extra Value menus, chocolate bars, eating out of cardboard boxes and my favorite obscenity: the delivery and cheer of a co-worker who brings Tim Horton’s assorted donuts to work instead of a veggie or fruit platter.

We used to have to work to get our food. Now, we just pay. With our health mostly.

I’m not the authority on such a subject but try Googling religious fasting. You’ll find it’s been used in that manner a great deal as well.

The point is, we’ve been doing it for a half million years as a species, and somehow Kraft Dinner and Kashi cereal and the never-going-more-than-4-hours-without-food-or-our-precious-muscle-will-spontaneously-combust mentality became a better option.

Back to the topic at hand

I’ve already explained the logic of fasting above. Plain and simple, it’s natural. It always was.

Let me drive home some selling points and I urge you to read all the way through before jumping on the bandwagon as there are some serious warnings I must include and there is a percentage of the population that absolutely should never fast for any real length of time. But first let’s talk about the nitty-gritty, how-to’s of fasting.

Methods of Fasting

There are quite a few different suggested ways floating around out there on how to fast and for different goals. Being that the main goal I’m discussing is weight loss/fat loss/weight management/health, I will only be talking about two methods I’ve used, suggested to clients and watched them succeed with.

The Hard, Yet Most Effective Method: I’m not going to do Brad Pilon an injustice by explaining everything (hows/whys(like insulin receptor sensitivity increases)/research) found in his fantastic easy read ebook called Eat-Stop-Eat. Instead I suggest you just purchase it and get your learn on. But the take home method was essentially a 24hour fast every 5th-7th day. Now that’s not like you wake up on Thursday and just don’t eat. Trust me you won’t make it and it’s not advisable. Instead you simply choose a 24 hour time period where you have zero calories coming in. I always suggest going from either lunch to lunch the next day, or dinner to dinner the next day. It takes some experimenting to find out what works better for you. Personally, I found it “easier” to do lunch to lunch the next day for when I got hungry that night I would just go to bed earlier (probably a good thing anyway) and when I woke I would simply count down the hours until I got to eat lunch again.

The Easy, Slightly Less Effective Method: I learned quickly (think flying daggers towards my head) that some people just can’t hack the above 24hour suggestion. So I had to come up with a different, more reasonable suggestion. Now, you need to hear me when I say it’s only 60-75% as effective as the Eat-Stop-Eat method. Essentially, you find a 16hour period, every 4th-5th day where you have zero calories coming in. The easy way to go: 8pm – 12noon the next day. That’s pretty doable for most people. You eat dinner, pass on breakfast and those damn Tim Horton’s donuts your evil co-worker brought to work and then eat a healthy lunch.

The Big But(t?)

I can easily count a dozen people on my hands that do this 16hour fasting method every day. Every single day they do this. You know, the type that skips breakfast and instead chews 3 pots of coffee with fattening French vanilla coffee additive to the mix instead. Look, before you even consider fasting you need to be eating enough to support your function anyway.

A GREAT DEAL OF THE TIME, IT’S NOT THAT YOU EAT TOO MUCH, IT COULD ACTUALLY BE YOU DON’T EAT ENOUGH!

Generally speaking those people fall into the category of “skinny fat.” Or worse: “binge eaters” who go so long without food in their day because they are “too busy” so for dinner they instead eat a giant lettuce-only salad with insane amounts of fattening caesar dressing and finish it off with half a pint of ice cream before bed. Now they’ve only eaten 1000 calories that day, if lucky but yet they still keep gaining “skinny fat.” Hmm, I wonder why.

Look, learn to eat to support a healthy metabolism. Get your protein, healthy carbs like fruits and veggies and limit processed foods and sugars. When you get that part of the equation right this fasting thing may work for you. Until then, you’re bordering on anorexia. If you have no idea how to eat for a proper metabolism you may want to consult with someone like Scott Abel or Wet Wolf.

Math Is Fun!

I’m going to do the math on the Eat-Stop-Eat plan. The 16hour suggestion is roughly 60-75% as effective so do some of your own math after on that one. One number we need to keep in mind is 1lb of fat equates to roughly 3500 calories.

Let’s go with the most effective strategy: a 24 hour fast done every 5th day.

Okay: that means every month I’m roughly going to perform 6 fasts.

Alright for the average dude eating 2000 calories in a day, those 6 fasts in the month will equate to a total of 12,000 calories he would not have normally taken in. So if I take 12,000 calories divided by 3500 calories (1lb of fat’s worth) that should, in a perfect world, mean this person would lose 3.4lbs this month only from doing fasting. Add in exercise, appropriate sleep levels, etc and you see this means more.

Let’s then take the average babe and she’s trucking along at around 1650 calories a day and also performs those 6 x 24 hours fasts in a month. Well, she passing on 9,900 calories that would have otherwise been taken in; divide that by the 3500 cals in 1lb of fat and you get roughly 2.8lbs of, in a perfect world, fat loss. Again, add in exercise, appropriate sleep levels, some de-stressing techniques and you should see a pretty sweet picture.

The reality is, that this is not a perfect world and that the results of the above math are more like 80% of that as we tend to eat more going into or coming out of a fast. Those who use fasting are also not afraid to go have a nice meal once a week to treat themselves. But still 2-3lbs every month in extra fat loss insurance…sign me up!

The cost of this fat loss insurance? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. In fact you’ll save a ton of money!

Fasting may be, the only insurance that actually pays you!

WARNINGS!

Listen to me VERY CAREFULLY…I’m not a doctor. I’m not a certified nutritionist. I’m not a registered dietician. Everything I know I read elsewhere, experimented with myself and suggested others experimented and got some feedback on the subject. So you need to take what I say with a handful of grains of salt.

Rule 1: No eating does NOT mean you shouldn’t be drinking water. In fact you should drink a lot (again, not extreme). But calorie free, means that. Coffee, served black is calorie free. Add anything to it, even artificial sweeteners and you change this equation. Most teas are also calorie free or so low it won’t matter. But adding milk would. So don’t do that.

If you are unsure whether you should perform regular fasting, don’t. Go see your doctor and discuss this. Hell, print this article and ask their opinion on the methods I talked about above.

If you’re diabetic, don’t even think about fasting.

If you take ANY medication, especially the kind that say to take with food (because many require fats and carb based insulin spikes to absorb!) then either do not fast period OR again, use your noggin’ and go talk with your doctor.

If you are an athlete or workout enthusiast, from experience don’t workout mid-fast. Your performance will suck and it could be dangerous. Plot your fasting on a time period you do not have any training going on. Also, I highly suggest you use Surge Workout Fuel for your workouts to maintain adequate blood sugar and electrolyte levels; this stuff is awesome!!

If you’re pregnant or think you may be, obviously, do not fast!

If you have low blood pressure, fasting is probably not a good choice for fat loss!

USE COMMON SENSE or go ask your doctor. Period!

“What about…?” “What if I just….instead?” “Could I do…..instead”

Look, I’m not your daddy. Do what you like. Be smart about it. Go educate yourself about what I’m talking about here. Discuss your decisions with your doctor.

The most effective way to fast is to take in zero calories for 24 hours, every 5th day until you achieve a weight you wish to maintain and then I have seen good results with people changing to a 24 hour fast every 7th day.

Every time you downgrade from this, meaning you must have sugar in your coffee or you would rather select the 16 hours fasts instead, just know you are lessening the effectiveness. These insane questions like “What if I just take in BCAA powder?” or “What about Splenda in my coffee?” or “What if I just ate fruit only?” ALL change the equations and lessen the effectiveness.

I’m not your daddy. Do what you like. Be smart about it. Go educate yourself about what I’m talking about here. Discuss your decisions with your doctor. Use common sense. Heed my warnings in the WARNING section above.

Oh wait, I already said all that.

Any other reasonable questions, leave a comment.

You’re Going To Fall Down

It’s definitely January. The gym is twice as busy, my schedule was literally 6am to 9pm today with 2 x 45 minute breaks for food. Tomorrow and Friday aren’t much different. But holy wow, do I have ideas or what!!

My problem is time. And energy. But let’s talk about your problem soon to be facing you: the trip, the slip, the plummet and your reaction.

Short (horrifying) story: When I was a teen my aunt brought my 3-year-old cousin over to visit at my grandma’s house. She needed to take a nap so she crashed in the spare room’s bed. My aunt asked me to go wake her and bring her downstairs. Now this is a 20+ stair carpeted staircase. My cousin was obviously very sleepy after her nap and I was walking behind her, she did grab the railing but missed a step and proceeded to tumble-down the entire staircase: head first. It all happened so fast all I really remember was her flying down the stairs like a Raggedy Ann Doll. It was so scary.

When she finished her tumble, being that she was so sleepy, she really didn’t know how to respond; nor did I. I simply flew down the stairs. Now her mom, my grandma and me all ran towards her with this deathly look of fear….that’s when the crying happened. But right before she started crying (and luckily she wasn’t seriously hurt) there was this look of confusion as to how to respond to such an event. It reminds me that maybe we have a choice in how we respond to bad situations.

And with this crazy time of year and everyone so motivated to change I want to talk about 2 things:

  1. Clearly I shouldn’t babysit your kids, so don’t ask
  2. You’re going to fall down, slip up, screw up, mess up, let yourself down, etc, etc…but how you react will govern the level of your success

So while you’re in this highly motivated state I need y’all to start thinking ahead of time on how you’re going to react when you do take the one step backward.

Do you:

A) Analyze how it happened in-depth to ensure it doesn’t happen again

B) Swear, curse, blame others, get down on yourself, call yourself a complete failure and give up

C) Bounce off the ground as graceful as possible, pretend it never happened and just keep trucking along

Now, answer B sounds stupid, obviously; how funny we see it happen so often though. But I think a lot of the time if we just spent more time reacting like answer C we’d be A LOT better off and a lot further ahead of our LONG TERM goals if we didn’t stop to overanalyze everything.

Learn, grow, become better. I’m not saying that isn’t vital.

Just do it without losing too much momentum. Half of all success is momentum!

 

You’re going to fall down, my friends. Get back up. We got work to do!

 

Fire Your Trainer!!

How’s that saying go?

You don’t plan to fail, you fail to plan!

I heard a fantastic analogy comparing training to a car ride. I wish I could remember the source so I could quote the guy…but it went a little something like this:

When was the last time you grabbed your car keys, no wallet, no jacket, nothing, you just bolted out the door, and drove off…no destination in mind, no care about the amount of fuel in the car, no purpose?

“Well there was this one time my girl was driving me crazy and instead of going all silverback gorilla on her I decided it best to just drive. Oddly enough, I found myself sitting in front of the ex’s place. Hmmmm.” Okay, no, not what I was getting at.

I’m talking about you’re just going to make a random left whenever you feel like it, a random right here and there, just stop on the side of the road for no determined length of time to rest and find a random hill to speed up.

Two things: 1) Sounds kinda fun but 2) Sounds mostly kinda stupid. What a waste of time, energy, resources, fuel and purpose.

Here’s the thing…this happens in gyms, every single day 9 times out of every 10 workouts I see in the weight room. No plan, no challenge, no pre-selected purpose. No warm up even, just jump into biceps, chest, biceps, chest, abs, whoa that was too hard, so back to biceps and chest. The ladies have their version that looks more like this: machine cardio like a hamster on a wheel, lots of abs that aren’t overly challenging, some silly little leg movement you think is targeting that fat pocket you hate so much and then of course, more cardio.

AHHHHHHHH!

I’m going to keep this short. Guaranteed, you are losing 80% of the results you are aiming for (that is why you go to the gym, no?) if you are walking into the gym without a piece of paper in your hand that states what you intended to do while you are there.

I’m talking about a program. Do you have a workout plan to follow and implement when you arrive at the gym?

No?

FAIL. Period. Exclamation point!

And don’t even get me started on the other half of the trainers in EVERY SINGLE GYM that walk around with zero plan for their client. Look, I can barely remember the 12-20 movements of my own warm up sequence, let alone what I intended for that person to do that day, this week, this month so they achieve the result they hired me to help them attain in 6-12 weeks. Let alone for the 6 other clients I’m supposed to see that day. If you think your trainer can remember all of that wow, he or she is in the wrong career and should be a poker champion instead.

That’s why I wrote a while back that there is a stall, a harsh 3 month plateau that happens with these paperless trainers and their clients. I feel sorry for you. The probelm is most people don’t actually know what to expect and demand of their trainers.

Look, worry more about having a plan of action when you walk into the gym than what that actual plan is. Why? Because guaranteed when you reach that 30-45 minute period when things get hard and you get tired, you’re just going to bail out on yourself and do 1/2 or none of what you thought you were going to before you arrived at the gym. If you write it out, you’ll likely stick too it or at the bare minimum learn something along the way about what your capabilities are.

Stop going the random left (bicep curl) followed by a random right (tricep pressdown) preceded with going up this random hill (the ab exercise you mastered 6 months ago that gives you no further real challenge) and lastly, dare your trainer to provide you with a written or typed copy of the workout he or she intends to do…before the day you actually do it.

Here’s an example of what I wrote out for the 4 Saturdays I ran the superstar ladies through during my shape & conditioning class in December: The Parisi Warm Up Method I use has 20+ movements alone!! You think I’m going to remember everything else following that without a pre-written program? HA.

Last time I checked you were paying a personal trainer to write you a personal program to help you achieve your personal goals. If you only hung around long enough, you’d realize that the next 8 people that day the trainer was going to see is running them through nearly the same workout you got run through, yet the clients are all shapes, sizes and have very different goals.

Last rant, do a proper dynamic warm up already. Be an all-star and do some self myofascial release even. And no, that doesn’t just mean a lighter set of bicep curls before the 12 other sets of bicep stuff you have planned. I mean a real warm up that preps your joints and body for all sorts of movements. I got an easy one here for you.

I just can’t stand those make-stuff-up-as-I-go trainers. They make the rest of us look bad. There’s a reason I regularly hear post-workout “wow, that was a tough workout; but it felt really good!” Yep. I planned it that way!

Fire your trainer if he or she falls into the paperless category!!

The Fuel of Dreams

“They say sleep is the cousin of death /

Sew my eyes wide open cuz a dream is kin to ya last breath.”

I keep hearing these lyrics in my head from the song “Dreams” by The Game. It got me thinking about emotions and the numerous driving factors that cause us to move, change and grow and more importantly how they are intertwined.

As this time of year is ripe for change we start thinking about such factors as motivation, discipline, goal setting and finally, action.

But change is personal. It can be absolute, or at times, dynamic enough to simply toss out a decision and start over. I want to go deeper: what actually causes us to change because it’s not motivation, it’s not discipline, it’s not because you set goals…

In my youth my grandfather would endlessly go off about “If you wanted it bad enough you would…” I hated when he’d say that. Partly because I found it hypocritical, but mostly because it’s just not that simple. This isn’t some The Secret b.s.! Wanting and working for something are very different things.

There are a few base factors that cause movement and change in my life:

Love/Joy: I am drawn to helping others. I’m drawn to the idea of seeing others happy. People ask me to be a part of their journey and to be fair, I’m a sap and I adore the people that surround my life. So when I can or someone asks, I just do.

Tangent: Speaking of discipline, I just read this blog post from another great coach who speaks on the topic FAR better than I ever could hope and ties into the idea of love and joy being a true factor in change.

Anger: This emotion can be the most destructive of all of them. Anger is rarely accompanied with ration, nor does it lead to much constructive action. But when infused with action there is bound to be massive change. A word of caution, I’ve used anger as a platform for change but I’ve learned the hard way it’s just better to direct it outward at no real target; never direct it at someone if you hope anything positive to come of it.

You take this guy:

 

And this guy:

 

And have them debate…guaranteed the more logical of the two wins every time!

Desperation/Stress: I personally feel these two emotions are closely related even though they can feel different, they both sort of lead to the negative: stress, from which change can occur. Sometimes desperation is preceded by loss. If you end up being laid off, it forces you to change. That can turn out to be one of the greatest things that ever happened to you.

Angst: When my grandfather said “If you wanted it bad enough you would…” the better teaching would have been to say that wanting it bad enough builds the angst from which you can achieve great things. Angst, while it could be called the step-brother to anger, as the first can so quickly turn to the latter, has the potential to be the greatest useable, renewable, endless source of energy for creating positive change in life. In fact, I go so far as to call angst the fuel of dreams.

Angst is a great many emotions all wrapped into one neat little package. It’s our wants, desires, aches, longings, and that deep seeded need for something to become, be possessed (in every meaning of the word be it an item or a skill or…), to quite simply change!

Angst is a radio station with really shitty radio towers; the reception is usually terrible and fleeting. In any one given moment it can be intense or completely non-existent.

The trick is tuning it just right, for just long enough to create a single, solitary action that moves the situation one step closer to your dream.

Reread that.

You need to create ONE single action right when the moment arises as it’s not sticking around long. Now, it’ll probably come back tomorrow and the next day and 5 years from now if you don’t act on it (that’s really where the so-called “mid-life crisis” stems from, is years of ignoring the angst for change in your life); but still, you only have a few precious seconds.

What actions?

1)      Write something down NOW! Add it to a to-do list. Send a text message. Write an email, even just to yourself to read later. Write out a goal. Something, anything. It has to be written or 9/10 times it’s never going to happen.

2)      Tell someone else. Tell them what you want. Ask them to keep you accountable “will you please help me with…” works extremely well.

3)      Buy your intentions

The above three small actions set in motion more powerful emotion and change factors like motivation, realization, revelation, epiphany, and hope. Plus, you’d be very surprised the answer you get when  you ask someone for help.

How long do you have to act? Seven breaths. There are times it is 5 minutes, there are times when it’s only 5 seconds. The average is seven breaths according to my absolute favored quote from the Hagakure:

“In the words of the ancients, one should make his decision within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break through to the other side.”

 I read those words 10 years ago, it stuck at the time and this simple blog post has finally wrapped up for me why it’s meant so much.

Angst was always the fuel of my dreams.

So tune in, act quickly, and become epic!