Posts Tagged ‘diet’

“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?

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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.

Meh.

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.

-Moody

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Alright, rather than pretend that I haven’t been posting much, I’m going to broach that subject head on.  It was kind of (mostly) on purpose.

That makes little to no sense; allow me to explain.

Simply put, I didn’t have anything to say.  As much as I enjoy rambling on about my opinions in the hopes that some random person will appreciate it, I really didn’t want to become that guy.   I did write a bunch and have some ideas but they aren’t fleshed out enough on their own just yet.  That being said, my hiatus is over.

As for the “on purpose” part, that is totally true.  I’m in a different part of this fitness journey and, unfortunately, figuring this particular conundrum out wasn’t going to happen via epiphany like so many of my other issues.  I had to spend some time going through the motions to really figure out exactly what I was encountering and, in turn, learning.

I can sum it up with one word: Balance.

Balancing, in general, is hard.  Whether you’re talking about life or are literally trying to balance on a stupid beam to impress your niece and nephews and then busting your ass; it’s no joke.  As for the fiasco that is life; adding in trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle while also going out with your friends, working, having a family, and just generally being human can be one helluva task.

Luckily, I’ve done some of the leg work in this aspect and have (finally) learned a few things that I think are worth sharing.

1) Balancing your workout schedule with your social life.

 This may or may not be an issue depending on when you choose to get your sweat on.  For me, I like to knock it out early in the mornings which can be a conflict of interest when my friends like going out late at night.  It got so bad that I pretty much stopped going out because “I have to work out in the morning.”

Well, that ladies and gentlemen is how you become the “crappy friend who never does anything,” and also, “single.”  Nobody wants to be this person.  So, in lieu of becoming that particular stereotype I started planning in advance when I would go out and actually have a life.  Sometimes this involves moving my gym time around and changing plans, but I’ve found that it keeps me mentally grounded.

2) Balancing eating delicious things while also meeting dietary needs.

The easiest way I can put this is to follow the 80%/20% rule.  80% of the time I eat everything exactly like I’m supposed to and the other 20% I enjoy what life has to offer.  To be perfectly honest I think I’m close to 90%/10%, but the former is my goal.  I happen to enjoy eating really healthy things because I like the way I feel, so shying away from the other stuff isn’t such a huge deal.

What this rule really does is give me some mental armor.  I know plenty of people who beat themselves up over cheat meals or cheat days.  I don’t do that because I plan what days I will be able to flex my diet and make adjustments accordingly.  I don’t feel bad when I go out to have a drink with my friends and have some wings, thereby accomplishing what a cheat meal is supposed to do which is give you a mental break.

3) Balancing what the rest of the family eats VS what you eat.

I’ve lucked out with this one as well.  I live with my parents (I know…) and they also eat really healthy which makes it much easier for all of us to cohabitate.  They aren’t quite as strict as I am, but they don’t need to be because their goals are different.  Where we do overlap, though, we help each other out.  I eat lots of sweet potatoes and chicken.  My parents also will eat these things, so when I meal prep what I need for my week I cook enough for them to have some as well.  My mom, being all awesome as hell, will gladly cook extra of whatever she makes herself and my dad so that I can partake.

For people with kids at home, not grown up kids like me but actual—never mind, you get the point.  For those people, it can be a little tougher finding a balance.  If you’ve got growing kids in the house and you’re trying to get the whole family eating right, do some research.  Nutritionally, your needs are vastly different from your children.  Learning balance here can go a long way towards healthy humans.

4) Balancing your goals with your needs and vice versa.

Here’s the kicker, for me at least.  To figure out all of this balance you’ve got to sit down and really hammer out what it is you’re trying to accomplish.  If you don’t know where you want to go, getting there is going pose a decent problem.  For me I had to hammer out my goals so I could figure out how/when/where I could be flexible.

I’ve touched on this before.  It doesn’t matter if your goal is to be a fitness competitor or if you’re simply trying to be healthy; you have to decide what sacrifices you’re willing to make to achieve those goals.  My goal is to be a healthy and fit firefighter who is more than capable of meeting the physical demands of the job.  That requires that I train certain ways, eat certain things, and make some social sacrifices.  I’m okay with that because I have found balance.

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After finding these balances in my life I had to come to one more conclusion.

Balance is a constant battle between you and gravity.

What I’m getting at is the need for you to be flexible and make changes to stay up on your feet.  They may not be huge changes, just small minor adjustments, but they will keep you standing.  So, when you notice something isn’t working quite as well as it did a few weeks ago, change it.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with your workouts, your diet,  and your sacrifices to help you reach your goal.

-Moody

WHAT?! TWO POSTS IN ONE WEEK?!?! ERMAHGERD!!!

At least that’s what I like to imagine my followers are saying, because it baffles me that people actually read my blog.  So, to begin with, thank you folks for internet stalking me.  It’s truly an oddly gratifying experience.

Moving on, this double feature was brought on the other day when my sister dropped a knowledge bomb on me.  I’m not all that shocked by this considering she’s the “good child”.

You know the type; went to college to learn college things, got her masters in those college things, and now teaches college things to new college going people.  A vicious cycle, if you ask me, and one much better suited to her.

Because this:

It's just not my thing.

It’s just not my thing.

Luckily, she had my fitness endeavors at the forefront of her mind when making these decisions because she majored in something related to exercise physiology and subsequently has become my main source for questions.  A decent perk if you absolutely must put up with another sibling.

She also makes killer banana bread.  Hint sis, it is Christmas time.

In my never ending quest for improvement, I started looking into tracking my caloric intake which eventually led to me to a whole bunch of articles about these things called Macros, leading to a very important question.

WTF is a macro?

The answer is that macro is short for Macro-nutrient which refers to the three main things we eat; protein, carbohydrates, and fat.  All of which are completely necessary to having a healthy human body.

Just for the sake of answering the question, there are also Micro-nutrients which refer to the stuff you might get out of a daily vitamin.  Also very necessary.

Anyways, we all know that this isn’t really my shtick.  I don’t write this blog to wax poetic about scientific things that I barely understand.  Sure, I’ve taught myself a lot about tracking my caloric/macronutrient intake and it seems to work for me, but the real purpose of this post is my sister’s aforementioned knowledge bomb, probably to her complete displeasure.

“Here’s the issue: you can number crunch all you like, however your body will act the way it naturally does regardless of all the “perfect” ratio numbers I could throw at you.”

BOOM.  KNOWLEDGE BOMB.

While out of context, you might compare me to Indiana Jones in search of the golden ratio of macro’s I should be eating (which I totally would never do because there is no way I could compare to him….unless, you know, you wanted to) I really wasn’t.  I was just asking for her help since she’s all educated and junk.

Regardless, her statement got me thinking.  There is definitely such a thing as obsessing too much over the little things when it comes to fitness.  For instance, I casually track my intake.  Seriously.  I don’t freak out when my numbers vary a bit from day to day because I’m not a figure competitor or bodybuilder, nor do I plan to be.  For that, you are welcome.

I think this over-thinking can ultimately lead to over-complication and, subsequently, not achieving your fitness goals or even giving up altogether.  I’ve mentioned in the past that people should “trust the process.”  Don’t you just love ubiquitous statements that tell you absolutely nothing?

That’s my bad, I’m gonna clear it up right now.

All you have to do to be healthy is:

  1.  Eat good/healthy food.  Whole foods.  Vegetables.  Fruit.  Skip the fast food.
  2.  Exercise.  Be active.  Workout at the gym.  Go for a walk.  Don’t sit on the couch or in your        office chair all day.
  3.  Repeat.  Keep going.  Commit to a better lifestyle.  Don’t give up or let an “off” day lead               you to quitting.

Anything that becomes more complex than that is completely unnecessary.  The KISS principle applies to being healthy.

Keep it Simple Shithead.  (In my defense, that’s how my Dad used to say it to me.  I guess you could substitute “Stupid” in there.  To each his own.)

So, trust the process and don’t over-complicate things.

Oh, and sis, seriously… the banana bread.

-Moody

It’s not as hard as it sounds, but it seems like lots of people I know are struggling with this right now.

Recently, I posted a progress pic to Facebook and I shall shamelessly put it here as well.  No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks…that is, indeed, a mirror selfie.

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DON’T JUDGE ME.  Mostly because I kind of loathe myself for stooping so low ( and I may have made fun of my own mother for posting a selfie…again, sorry Mom).  As usual, I digress.

After I posted it, my kickass family and friends gave me all the wonderful support that I have come to expect from them because they are awesome.  What I started running into, generally from people I saw in person, was, “Man, I wish I had half the strength you do.  I’d love to get in shape,” or some derivative thereof.  This was followed by a, “I don’t know how you do it,” type statement.

I wasn’t sure what to say to this, at least at first.  I mean, I knew they weren’t talking about what I literally did to get in shape.  Most of them had seen me eating piles of spinach and chicken at some point.  They were talking about how I maintained the self control necessary to see results.

The answer is twofold: Baby Steps and Focus.

The first part is the easiest to explain.  I took every day as it came.  I didn’t worry about the next day; I concentrated on each challenge as it came my way.  I mentioned in the first post that, once I started seeing results, it became easier to keep on going.  I became my own perpetual motivation machine by the mere realization of, “Holy hell, this is working.”

Stick it out for 2-3 weeks, give yourself an opportunity to see results, and you will succeed.

That’s the easy part… sort of.  To achieve that initial push, and continued success, you need to focus.  You need willpower.  I’m not trying to go Mr. Miyagi on you, but you need self discipline.

Luckily, I firmly believe that willpower is a muscle; all you have to do is exercise it.  Which, brings us back to the baby steps thing.

I know, my thought processes are whack.  Bear with me.

Start making small changes.  For your next meal, instead of fast food, go hit the grocery store and get a salad.  The next time you go shopping, knock one of the unhealthier items you always buy off of your list and replace it with a healthier alternative.  Do this every time you go to the store and, soon, you’ve revamped your entire shopping list.  Go for a 10 minute walk tonight, tomorrow do 15, and so on.  Make small changes that will build on themselves to improve your life.

This is gonna sound weird coming from me, and I tell a surprising number of people this; don’t do what I did.  Not unless it’s going to fit the way you live and want to live.  I, admittedly, went to the extreme in my lifestyle changes to achieve my goals.  Not everyone can do that, and that’s okay.  That doesn’t make me better than anyone else who’s trying to become healthier.  I made the changes I did because I knew that I was cutting my life in half, at the very least, by they choices that I had been making.  That being said, don’t sell yourself short, I wasn’t positive I could pull off what I did when I started either.  A huge lesson I’ve come to learn; you’re capable of more than you know.

I guess I’ll come back to what seems to be the running them of this blog; do what’s right for you.  Trust the process, make baby steps, and focus.

Results will follow.

-Moody

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.

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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.

-Moody

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.

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(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:

                nutrition

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 Bodybuilding.com.  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.

-Moody