Archive for the ‘diet’ Category

“Have you tried the (insert name here) diet?”

You know what I’m talking about. Paleo, South Beach, Atkins; if it’s got a marketable name then it’s a Fad diet. I get that question all the time along with, “Have you tried (insert workout they saw on TV here)?”

Lately, I’ve been encountering a spate of these questions in person and otherwise. It’s not that I mind, but most of those people read this… so I figure I’ll hit all of the birds with one stone.

To begin with, I’m not calling these things out as bad because my initial foray into getting healthy was on one of these diet trains, but I am going to point out some of the important things I think people should take away from them if they are looking to go in this direction.

Tackling the diets first; there are a few things they all (for the most part) have in common that are actually quite necessary to being a healthy individual.

– They encourage the eating of whole and nutritious foods. You know, the stuff around the edge of the grocery store.
– They discourage anything processed or containing refined sugars/carbohydrates. Candy, soda, etc.
– They (the decent ones anyway) try to get you to prepare your own food, giving you complete control over what goes into your body.
– They all need to be done consistently to work. Granted, some of that is for marketing purposes, but the takeaway is consistency.

These things, done consistently, will get anyone results. You can’t eat healthy for a week and then binge on whatever you want the next and hope to see results.

Next to consistency, the number one thing I can say people should get behind is preparing your own food. If I could point to one single thing that was a key to my success, it would be preparing my meals in advance and planning what I would eat. I’m currently working on a big ‘ole post about meal prepping and how I do it, so I’ll save most of my rant for that. If you can’t wait for that, just Google meal prep and fitness or some variation thereof, and you will come up with tons of stuff on the subject.

Along with that, proper nutrition is key.  Carbohydrates, fats, protein.  Your body needs all of these things.  I know, the guy who did low carb to shed fat is saying you need carbs.  Trust me, they aren’t the enemy when used correctly.

Again, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with these types of diets. I believe that the issues begin when people believe that these are the only ways to get/stay healthy. The truth is that there is no need to subscribe to some pay as you go program or buy the latest fad diet, but there are things you can learn from these resources. Or, like I had to do, you can figure out that the internet has access to tons of freaking information and can actually give you more useful things than pictures of puppies looking all cute as hell. For free (just hijack your neighbors WiFi.)

Because puppy and Star Wars all in one.

Because puppy and Star Wars all in one.

As for the latest workout DVD’s and programs, I personally don’t have much to say about them thats positive or negative.

Obviously, there are some options full of nothing less than complete and utter bullshit.  6 Minute anything is sure to be 6 minutes you’ll never get back.  Anything that follows that pattern or tries to sell you all sorts of fancy equipment that is proprietary and relies on anything sounding like “special never before seen ab ripping technology” is not worth your time or hard earned money.

I say that, because this shit actually exists.  People.  This is a thing.  Why is this a thing?


I have dabbled in P90X with some guys who happened to be going through the series and I did do some of the Insanity program with a roommate. While they certainly are challenging workouts, there is nothing particularly unique or new about them. However, if that’s what someone needs to get some kind of physical activity in their lives then I say go for it.

Having said that, I don’t really see it as necessary to shell out a whole bunch of dollars for a DVD’s worth of workouts when you can find all sorts of workouts online. See also: free.

A follow up question I got from someone after giving this answer was, “Well I don’t really know much about working out.” Okay, fair enough, but if you’re willing to shell out some hard earned dollars for some education, then I will always (and have somewhere else in this blog) recommend going to a gym and taking advantage of one of the personal training deals they always give to new members.

That probably doesn’t really give a good indication as to my feelings, so to sum it all up I shall use one of the most versatile words I can.


For some, these things are the best ways for them to get healthy or stay healthy and I think that’s awesome. If that’s your tune then sing it, but if you’ve got the time to devote to actual training or some kind of research than I definitely think that’s the best way to go.

As always, find what works for you and do that.  Then do it again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  You know… consistently.



I’m for serious. It’s telling you a whole bunch of stuff and, if you’re anything like me, you probably aren’t listening nearly as much as you should. Much like when you don’t finish the “honey do” list — fellas I’m looking at you; if you don’t listen, you’re gonna have a bad time.

So, onward to the background:

I had been doing my HIIT/turbulence routine for a few months and decided that it was time to change it up. My doctor had told me losing weight is no longer my problem and that I just needed to lose the excess fat.

This, my dear friends, is wonderful news. This means that I can start lifting the way I want to; which is to say really heavy. My goal so far was, “lose weight” my goal now is “get jacked”. What I want to do is put on quality lean muscle without the fat. I’ll continue to burn fat during this period, but it’s more of a bi-product of the muscle building. What I hadn’t fully anticipated, though, was that I would need to alter my strategy in the kitchen just as much as my strategy in the gym.

Oh sure, in theory I knew I needed to change a few things, but I didn’t think I would be able to feel a difference and that I would just eat more of the good stuff that I had been eating.

Never have I been so wrong.

I came out of the gym on the first day of my new routine ready to fall over, feeling like I was gonna vomit. I went home and splayed out on the couch feeling miserable for myself. About 20 minutes into my self hate, I sat up and said “a sweet potato sounds delicious.”

I do not know why I said this, but I listened. I took my miserable ass to the kitchen and grabbed a sweet potato I had already baked, heated it up, and I nom nom nom’d the hell out of it.


It was like Popeye and spinach. I felt awesome. Then the lightbulb went off over my head and I felt like an awesome idiot.

My body had essentially been consuming itself because of the intense workout I had done. It NEEDED fuel, in this case, it needed carbs.

Since then, I’ve done a suitable amount of research into what I need to do to fuel my body correctly for my new goals. I feel a million times better after my workouts and I’m seeing genuine progress.

A few things I’ve learned:

1) Your body needs fuel, this I knew from losing weight. Carbs, Fat, Protein. Your goals decide how much of each. When your goals change, however, your fuel needs to adjust as well.

2) Pre-workout meals and Post-workout meals. Timing is everything and everyone is different, but for me these variables can be the difference between an average workout and mind- blowing workout.

3) Track your macronutrients. Carbs, Fat, Protein. I’m not saying you need to weigh your food or obsess over every little number. Just have an idea of what your putting into your body so that when you need to make changes you have a stepping off point.

So, take a look at your goals and really try and pay attention to how you’re feeling. You’re body knows exactly what it needs, all you have to do is listen.


Your Goal, Your Rules.

Posted: September 23, 2013 in diet, fitness, health
Tags: , , , , ,

Over the last few days I’ve had some interesting run-ins with various articles and, in most hypocritical fashion, I think they’re full of it.

I’m only mentioning this because there’s a chance that if you read my blog you also read other fitness related things on the interwebz and if you read what I did, well, things got uncomfortable.

These particular sources of frustration pointed at two of the most glaring problems that people attempting to be healthy run into, at least in my eyes.  The worst part is that, once again, they come from the fitness community itself.

1) Telling you that your way, in regards to how you eat, is wrong because they feel their way is better.

2) You’re goals are unrealistic (because I can’t reach them so you shouldn’t either.)

The first is the easiest to address seeing as I’ve already touched on it in an earlier post.  Moral of the story: just make good choices.  There’s plenty of information out there on how to eat healthy. If you feel good about how you’re eating don’t let someone else knock you down because they do it differently.

The second point, however, is where the real source of my frustration lies.

Your goals are your goals.  If your goal is to be absolutely shredded, jacked, and have a six-pack then DO IT.  If your goal is to drop a few pounds and just be a little healthier then DO IT.  If your goal is to run a marathon then DO IT.  If your goal is to eat a box of Krispy Kreme’s then DO IT… but maybe only once.


There’s a pattern here.

Whatever your goal is, you need to figure out how to reach it.  For the person (aka me) who wants the first goal I listed up there, they are going to have to make much different choices than the person who wants to drop a couple of pounds and keep it off.  The same goes for the person with the goal of running a marathon.  When you set an actual goal, not just a theoretical “wouldn’t it be cool if” thing, but a real life “I’m gonna do this” thing; when you do that, you have already started the process of figuring out what you need to do to get there.

Generally, what “you need to do” involves making a whole bunch of smaller goals that work toward your overarching goal.  Take me for instance; yep, I sure do want a six-pack.  However, I am realistic enough to know that I’m not going to get it overnight or even in the immediate future.  What I do know, though, is that to get there from here I need to work my ass off and eat right.  So I AM.  I make lifestyle choices that get me closer to my goal every day.  I have milestones that let me know that I am, in fact, making progress toward my bigger goal.

Besides, I’m lazy at heart and since this goal is fairly long-term I won’t have to come up with a new one anytime soon.

The problem is when someone questions your goal.

“Is that realistic?  Like, do you actually think you can do it?”

The next time I hear that, somebody is getting judo chopped and I don’t even know what that actually is.


 Really, though.  I will.

There is a more civilized answer, though, and it is a resounding, “YES”.  So: set your goal. achieve your goal, tell everyone else to screw off.


This weekend I ate terribly.

By terribly, I really mean awesome.  I regret nothing.

The best part; I don’t feel like I should regret anything.  You know that feeling where you think that you should feel guilty about something but don’t and then start wondering if you’re a sociopath?

Just me? Again?

Cue the Law and Order music.

Really though, I did have a great “cheat weekend”.  I went out into the city one night with friends and had a great time and followed that by driving out to the country and camping with other friends.  All of which involved alcohol, meat, and carbohydrates in various other forms.  I didn’t flinch or have a Gollum like reaction at all, it was great!




Now, I wasn’t really expecting to beat myself up over it because I’m just not that guy.  But what I really wasn’t expecting was the feeling of refocus I returned with.  Maybe it was the time spent with good friends, the West Virginian mountain air, or even the moonshine; I don’t know, but I feel good.

                                           Note: Probably from the moonshine.

It all depends on your goals, but I truly believe taking the time to live is just as important as making the effort to eat right and exercise the rest of the time.  I hadn’t allowed myself to do that since vacation earlier in the summer and I enjoyed not worrying about my macro intake or what was really in that mason jar I was drinking out of.

Everyone seems to stress the importance of rest days when it comes to work out routines, but what about mental rest days?  We all get inundated with stories of people who seemingly burn out from their health kick and end up yo-yo dieting back to where they started at.  I firmly believe that giving myself these mental/nutritional breaks has allowed me to make more consistent progress that is going to last far into the future.

That all being said, I think you need to know and understand exactly what it is you’re doing so you know your limits.  For me, it was, “This weekend, I’m gonna have great time from Friday-Sunday afternoon and then I’m back on the wagon Sunday night at work.”

Then, that’s exactly what I did.  When I pulled back into my house after getting back from West Virginia, the first thing I did was fire up the grill and start cooking chicken for my work week.  It didn’t bother me to do this.  I didn’t have any feelings of self deprivation.  I didn’t crave what I had just spent the weekend eating at all.  Mentally, I came back stronger and ready to buckle down and keep the fitness train moving.

And also I chugged water like a champ.  I’m still not sure what was in that jar.

Live a little.


I must admit, I’m shocked at the feedback I’ve received.

Mostly because I’m shocked that I’ve received feedback at all and that it wasn’t even hate mail!  The common thread was, “What did you actually do to drop all the weight?”

That’s a fair question, especially because one might think that I would have shared those minor details earlier in my short-lived WordPress career.  Before I get to the sordid details though, I’m going to tell you why I hesitated initially.

The fitness community, while incredibly motivating and at times inspiring, is a fickle beast.  I’ve touched on this before, everyone has an opinion and that includes me.  So, guaranteed, somebody will read this and decide that they shall bring forth the fiery flames of internet hate upon me until I apologize for my actions.

Spare me.  Unless it’s funny, then fire away Almighty Internet Fitness Police.

Also, if my lack of eloquence and disregard for common journalism practices didn’t clue you in; I’m not a doctor, dietician, personal trainer, or 6 minute abs specialist.  So that means I probably got a few things wrong, but I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in and am continuing to improve so nothing you can say is really going to sway me.

One last thing, if you have any health issues I really do urge you to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about drastically changing your diet in any way, especially for folks with diabetes.  Your needs are much different from mine or the average person’s, so don’t go jumping in blind.

On to the good stuff.

What I did was a ketogenic diet.  I limited carbohydrates (carbs) so that my body switched to burning fat for fuel instead of carbs.  I know, everyone hates to hear about counting carbs, but it does work.  Staying on this diet does take discipline but, done correctly, it can yield fantastic results.

For many, diets are something used to accomplish a mission, a temporary arrangement before they go back to living their old lives.

This is a mistake.

Living healthy is a lifestyle, not something to be done just when you feel like it.  What helped me most was the way that I looked at food.  To be frank, I don’t really know what I saw food as before, a crutch maybe or an escape.  What I view food as now, though, is fuel.  What I put into my body I get out.  If I put good in I get good out.  If I put shit in…well, you get the idea.


(photo @team_get_fit on Instagram)


My diet was a high protein/high fiber diet:

60% Lean protein (chicken, fish, turkey)

30% Green “Ruffage”  (spinach, kale, the thicker the green the better for you it is)

10% Good Fats (nuts especially almonds, avocado, the occasional piece of cheese)

I would eat 6-8 smaller meals a day, roughly every two hours.  This helps to avoid spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, which is a part of why a lot of people get sluggish in the mid-afternoon.  I won’t say that this does anything for your metabolism, that’s way above my head, I will say that eating smaller meals more frequently kept me from overeating.

Now, for the first two weeks of this I limited my net carb intake to 20g a day.  If you don’t know how to figure this out: you calculate your net carbs by taking the total carbohydrate number on the nutrition label and subtracting the fiber.  Also, sugar is a carbohydrate and on this plan, no more sweet stuff.  No simple sugars (think candy), frosting, soda, etc.

Example of calculating net carbs:


Total Carbohydrate 5g

 Fiber 3g

So:   5g-3g= 2g net carbohydrates.

Honesty is my thing, so I’m going to tell you right now that the first 3-5 days suck.

I mean really suck.

You are lethargic, you might have a slight headache, and you’re going to want to quit.

Do not quit.

This is your body freaking out because you aren’t giving it a steady stream of carbs to burn for fuel.  It’ll pass.

For me, around day 4, I became a furnace.  My body switched over to burning fat and I had energy for days.  I didn’t know what to do with all of that energy, I felt like a machine.

It. Was. Awesome.

If you can reach that point, you have crossed one of the toughest hurdles.  The next challenge is not stopping when your buddies want to grab a beer, your significant other wants to cook you a pasta dinner, or your budget has decided a five dollar foot long is the way to go.  Stay strong and stick to your principles.  The people who support you in this are probably the ones you want to keep around anyways, send the others packing.

After those initial two weeks, I increased my net carb allowance to 40 grams.  Another two-three weeks, I bumped it to 60g.  Once I worked myself up to about 80 grams I figured out that I could stay within the 80-100 gram range and maintain my fat burning capabilities.  This range is different for everyone but once you get to know  your body you’ll figure it out.

Keep in mind, these carbohydrates should be spread throughout your day and not just loaded into one meal.

I’m not telling you to stop living.  I pretty much allowed myself one day a month, after the first month, to eat what I wanted.  I’d go out and have those beers and relax and enjoy myself.  From what I’ve learned and experienced, it’s not such a bad thing to throw a curve-ball like that at your body once in a while.

The keys to a successful “cheat day” are:

1) Plan it, don’t just start binge eating

 2) Jump right back onto the bandwagon the next day.

If you are, in fact, going to come off the diet you need to use some self-control.  DO NOT simply revert to the carb loading days of your past or any weight you lost you will put back on.  You’ll need to slowly reintegrate carbs back into your diet, much like I stated above, so that your body can adjust to using them as fuel rather than storing them as fat.

This diet isn’t for everyone, neither is the lifestyle.  I go to the gym six times a week.  I prep my meals for work ahead of time.  These are choices I have made for myself to reach goals that I have set.  Nobody else can make a change for you; you’ve got to decide for yourself.

As for where I’m at now, I still limit my carb intake compared to that of most people, but it’s more about when and what kind of carbs I put into my body.  What I really subscribe to now is eating clean.  If you want a quick rundown on this way of life, check out this article at  One could skip the entire plan that I followed and jump straight into this and also see great results.

That’s it in a nutshell.  There are lots of resources out there to learn about how to get healthy, so please don’t just jump into what I did without checking things out for yourself.  I’ve got a couple sites over on my External Links page to help you get started.