It’s time for me to experiment again.
This is how I learn.
This is how I form my own fitness beliefs.
Findings from my own experiments are what I use to contribute to the people I train.
Starting next week (and for at least 3 weeks) I am eliminating starchy foods from my diet - Monday-Thursday, that is.
Over the past several months, I have been eating a lot of rice and oats, but next week they will be off limits.
My training has been going great as of late, and I am curious to know if I should attribute that to the starchy foods I’ve been eating, or if carbs from fruit alone can support the same training intensity.
I’m hoping to continue training at the same level, but we will see if it starts to drop off any.
Comment below if you’re interested in doing this along with me.
If there is enough interest I will share my eating plan moving forward.
A goal that many trainees have is to “get more toned”.
They want their arms and legs to have better shape.
They want a flatter stomach.
They want to look lean and athletic, but they don’t want to look too bulky.
While there is nothing wrong with having this type of goal, most people who desire this kind of physique do not understand what it takes to get there.
They think they do.
They read online and in numerous fitness magazines that “higher reps with lighter weight will make you more toned, and lower weight with heavier weight will make you bigger”.
Both of these claims sound sensible, but neither of them are true.
“Toning up” is simply the building of muscle tissue combined with simultaneous body fat reduction.
In order to satisfy your goal of toning up, you need to have both of these things, not just one or neither of them.
Tricep pressdowns done with light weight for sets of 30 reps will do neither of them for you. They won’t build muscle and they will do nothing to help you lose body fat.
“But Drew, I see all kinds of in-shape people (people who look how I want to look) doing tricep pressdowns with light weight for sets of 30 reps!”
If a person is already in shape, they can train this way. They are already lean enough and built in a way that showcases their toned features. They could even make you believe that doing tricep pressdowns with light weight for sets of 30 reps is what is responsible for their appearance. It’s not.
If you want to look more toned, you really must understand energy expenditure.
If you aren’t as toned as you want to be, you have more body fat than you want to have. You have a surplus of energy. That’s all body fat really is.
In order to get rid of some of that body fat, you need to create a deficit of energy.
To do this, you will probably want to eat less (fewer calories in), and you most definitely need to expend more energy during your workouts (more calories used).
Tricep pressdowns done with light weight for sets of 30 reps isn’t going to increase your energy expenditure.
Squats, presses, and deadlifts done for 6-12 reps will.
Tricep pressdowns done with light weight for sets of 30 reps will keep you stagnant and free of results.
Squats, presses, and deadlifts done for 6-12 reps will get you the toned body you crave.
What are you trying to accomplish?
Are you trying to lose weight?
Are you trying to lift heavier weights?
Whatever it is, accomplishment is not difficult to understand.
You have to do the right things.
You know that in order to lose weight you will need to clean up your eating and you should probably exercise.
You know that in order to lift heavier weight you will need to lift heavy things, recover, then lift heavy things again.
Understanding the right things to do is only the first step.
It is the easiest step.
Everyone is willing to go this far, but few are willing to go further than this.
The hard part is doing the right things for long enough.
This is the part that is most time-consuming.
This is the most crucial part.
You don’t need me to tell you what you should be doing. You already know, and hopefully are already doing what you should be doing. You just need to give the things you need to do more time.
For the three of you who read my stuff, you know that I have written a lot about preparation. It’s very key. Things like consistency and hard work are obviously extremely important when it comes to pursuing any goal, but in order to be consistent, you first have to be prepared to start, then stay consistent. In order to work hard, you have to prepare yourself (mentally and physically) for it.
Some of you know that I am giving up desserts for the month of April. I know that I will be successful in doing it because I am willing to think ahead and prepare myself for the moments that I will have cravings for desserts. Even though I only allow for these cravings to hit on the weekend, I will be ready with a pre-made protein/banana/peanut butter/oats shake (that tastes almost as good as many desserts) when they do.
It’s all about being prepared - to give yourself the opportunity to stay on track with where you are going.
So you’ve been going to the gym a few times a week for the last couple of weeks. You’ve been eating better each day over that same course of time.
Why aren’t you seeing faster results?
Why aren’t you much stronger, and why do you not look much better when you take a look at the mirror?
The short and cliche answer is that “it takes time”, but what that really means is you haven’t built enough of a foundation yet.
The lifts you can or cannot make are a result of the time you spent or did not spend in the gym over the last several months and several years.
A person does not become obese by eating pizza and cake a few times a week for a couple of weeks. It takes years of poor eating habits and low activity levels to do that.
Most things you are doing today will not affect your health (whether that be positively or negatively) until months and years down the road.
It’s great that you’re getting to the gym a lot right now.
Keep doing that.
You’ll be stronger and look better in July.
The goals you set out to achieve don’t just happen.
A process must be followed in order for you to reach them.
The process always trails back to your mentality.
You must stay positive.
Every single negative thought you have will affect your process in a bad way.
And a negative outlook on the process can develop quickly.
Much quicker than a positive one.
A positive outlook takes work to build.
Negative influence will come from yourself and it will come from others.
It will come daily.
You must be ready to kill it the very moment it tries to enter your mind.
First, do you believe in yourself that you can attain the goal?
You have to.
If you don’t, you will be pounded into the ground with self-doubt. You will let what others think and say about you hold you back. You’ll never even give yourself a chance from the start.
In addition to protecting yourself against your own self-destructive thoughts and from other people’s pessimism, you’ll have to train yourself to deal with day-to-day impulses and discouragements.
Are you going to be mentally disciplined enough to order the right thing from the menu, or will you succumb to ordering the burger basket?
Are you going to be mentally tough enough to push all the way through five reps (when the first three felt amazingly difficult), or will you quit and let the temporary discomfort win the battle?
If your visual body inspection doesn’t turn up the results you expected, will stay on track and order a salad from the menu, or will you give up on the process and go for the burger basket this time?
Will you be patient enough to keep drilling and fine-tuning your bench press (even though you’ve been stuck at the same weight for 6 months), or will you even begin to think to yourself that this will never get better?
Thinking to yourself that your bench press will never improve, or thinking to yourself that your body isn’t changing for the better is exactly what you need to avoid.
These thoughts are negativity.
These thoughts are going to happen.
There are going to be times that you feel you are making no progress.
There will be times that you question if you’re even going in the right direction.
This is when you find out where your mind is at.
This is your opportunity to improve your mindset.
It’s what you need to reach your goal.
My daughter is not quite two years old.
I am proud of her in so many ways.
Just recently, I began to realize how much she inspires me each day as well.
Actually, many things about her are inspirational, but I want to highlight just one of them here.
She loves to eat healthy food.
So much so, that this past weekend she wanted nothing to do with the pizza, cookies and ice cream I offered to her. She truly did not want any of that stuff, and stuck with her peas, blueberries, and cottage cheese instead.
During the week when I am very strict with my eating (and would rather be sinking my teeth into a burger and fries), I think of her.
If she can find enjoyment in eating her healthy food, I can tolerate eating it as well.
I knew it was going to be a hard week to get through.
I knew this 7 seconds after biting into the dusty chicken breast I had over-cooked on Monday night. My meal was not enjoyable, and I was supposed to eat the same thing for the next 3 nights.
On Wednesday night I collapsed.
On my way home from the gym, I decided I was too hungry to gag down chicken and vegetables for the third night in a row.
I went to Pancheros instead.
I actually don't view Pancheros as that bad of a place to eat out - the ingredients are pretty fresh, and you can pack a lot of quality nutrients into a burrito. But on a normal week, I consider Pancheros to be off limits.
The next time you fall a little off track with your diet (like I did last night), remember that one meal isn't going to make much of a difference long-term to throw you off schedule in reaching your goals.
Eating right should be a lifestyle habit. Look at the big picture of it. Heck, we all can even afford to go through a week or two straight of gluttony each year.
Just don't let bingeing on bad foods become your regular way of eating.
As a general rule of thumb when it comes to eating, try to eat foods that don't have a lot of ingredients in them.
Better yet, eat as many one-ingredient foods as possible.
Blueberries have only one ingredient: blueberries. Carrots have only one ingredient: carrots.
Kraft macaroni and cheese has 3 million ingredients in it. Even your typical 150-calorie "healthy" protein bar, that has 20 grams of protein and zero grams of sugar, is made from at least a dozen different ingredients (and some of them are probably things that you have no idea what they even are).
The more "pure" a food is, let's just say here, the less processed it is, the more nutrients the food will offer your body. Your body will have an easier time metabolizing a purer food as well.
Make sure most of the food you buy at the grocery store doesn't have any packaging at all (fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean cuts of protein).
And for the food you buy that does have packaging, take a look at the label. Look at the label not to see how many calories are in a serving, but to see what ingredients comprise this food item.
I have said before that I am not a fan of counting calories. I just think there is no need to track them if you simply focus on eating the right things. Eat high quality, nutrient-dense foods and everything falls into place.
Although I will always feel this way, at the end of the day calories do matter. If you are dieting and want to be successful, you will need to be in a caloric deficit. Being in a caloric deficit simply means that you will be expending more energy (calories) than you are consuming.
Lets assume that your goal is to lose weight, and you don't want to work out. It is obvious that to lose weight without exercise you will need to eat less food than what you are eating at your current state. Since you won't be exercising to expend any extra calories, consuming fewer calories is what you will need to do in order to get you to a deficit.
Most people understand everything up to this point.
What tends to confuse and frustrate people when they are dieting is why they feel hungry all the time.
Well, the reason is simple. You are eating (sometimes considerably) less than you are used to.
You shouldn't feel full.
You shouldn't feel satiated.
You should feel hungry often.
When dieting, you are training your body to operate on fewer calories consumed. You are forcing your body to tap into stored energy.
The overall message is that you want to feel hungry when you are dieting. It is actually a good thing and is an indication that the right processes are taking place in your body. People are quick to give up on their diet when hunger comes around. If only they recognized that this is a sign they are on the right track.