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Choosing an exercise program for weight loss.

I used to say "the best form of exercise is the one that you're more likely to do, so choose something you can get enthusiastic about it and then go and get stuck into it". It makes sense, right?

Here's the thing though. When it comes to producing a specific physical result, not all forms of exercise are equally effective. Anything is better than nothing at all, but if you're serious about getting results you need to be doing what is actually required to produce those results.

First let's consider the factors that might influence you to make a particular choice of training program.
  1. It fits with my current self perception.
  2. Social or entertainment value.
  3. It will actually produce the physical result that I desire.

Option 1 ties in with what we discussed in an earlier entry, and this piece about how your beliefs influence your choice of program, over on my business site. To summarise, people often adopt an exercise strategy that fits in with who they think they are now, rather than who they are trying to become. Subconsciously they gravitate towards something that's unlikely to produce a result, due to not really believing that it is possible for them to successfully achieve the result.

Option 2... well, you know. This might be the latest trend in group fitness, and even some personal trainers market more on "variety" so that "you won't get bored doing the same workout twice" rather than actually promising specific results. I guess... anything that gets up and active, working up a bit of a sweat and feeling good about yourself is a good thing. On the other hand I'd be a little concerned that if they're putting in a decent effort to something that won't produce the required result, eventually they're likely to lose motivation, or worse, start to believe that it is not possible for them to achieve the result they are looking for. That's worst case scenario, but perhaps the best case scenario of this activity leading into some more serious training towards a specific result is just as likely.

Which leads us to...

Option 3. Clearly the most favourable, logical and desirable option.

The best advice I can offer people is, if you have a specific result in mind... first off, your goal should be to achieve your dream body... not just "to be slightly less overweight" or something reasonable like that. Forget reasonable. Be ambitious! Now, someone in that sort of shape already... how would they train? Now obviously as a new person going from no active to some activity, you can't expect to match the performance of someone who as already achieved your goal. However, you most certainly can (and should) attempted to emulate their approach.

More often, people think along the lines of "well, that's what I'll do once I've gotten into better shape... but I'll just stick to this other activity for now, that is more suitable to my current shape". In other words you could say "I'm a fat person, so I'll train like a fat person until I'm in shape, and then I'll train like an in shape person!"

The obvious problem here is that transition never occurs. If you want to get into shape, you must train to the best of your ability, in the style of someone who is in the sort of shape you would like to be in. If your goal is to lose weight, why would you do what all the other people who are failing to lose weight are doing? You must "begin with the end in mind", and train accordingly.

If you are serious about learning how to manage your weight and build a lean, toned and attractive physique, you should check out my brand new "Lose Weight, No Bullshit" site and study up! It has everything you need to know, and it is free.

Follow this link for more information about my Personal Training And Weight Loss Services In Brunswick.

Weight Loss Education and Exercise

This is BRAND NEW and exciting. I've been working on a new Weight Loss Education and Exercise Program for the past few weeks, and finally launched it officially yesterday. I still plan to add some more content, but already there's enough there to keep people busy for a couple of weeks.

What I have noticed lately (and this is a good thing) is that more people are genuinely interested in learning the hows and whys of fitness and nutrition, rather than just wanting someone to give them "a diet" to blindly follow. People actually want to take control and take responsibility for their own outcomes, and to understand what they should be doing and why they should be doing it.

And these are really the people I'm most interested in working with. The people who actually want a genuine solution that will deliver results. The only problem though is that there is SO MUCH information out there that is incorrect, unhelpful, or actually unhealthy and dangerous (not to mention all the scams!) that it is really easy for people to get lead down the wrong path.

So at the same time... I realised I had so much information already written up and posted at various locations around the internet, as well as a heap of stuff typed up on the computer but never published... I decided it would be a good idea to organise everything and put it together as an education program all in the one place, indexed and ordered. It's also a nice way to showcase my writing on the subject of health and fitness, which is something I intend to develop as a career path in the future.

Anyway enough of the background info... here's the gist of what I cover in the education program.
  • Using BMI to determine your goal weight.
  • IIFYM Nutrition Theory.
  • Sample 1700 Calorie IIFYM Meal Plan.
  • Belief Systems, Self Perception and how they influence your choice of weight loss / fitness / exercise program.
  • Resistance Training or Cardio; which is better for weight loss?
  • Introductory Resistance Training Program.
  • Interval Training Routine.
  • And it almost goes without saying that I do a lot of health, fitness & weight loss myth busting and scam busting as well.
  • I even finally, definitively answer the enduring question "Does Eating Bread Make You Fat?", once and for all!
If I do say so myself, this has come together nicely and it is an awesome program. If people read one article a day, I'd go so far as to say that within two weeks they'll have a better understanding of nutrition and exercise programming for weight loss that the average newly qualified personal trainer.

Go have a look.

Get Educated, Get Empowered, Get Results!


IIFYM vs other weight management strategies

First off, conventional crash / starvation dieting. We all know by now that this doesn't work. You might even know this from personal experience. By definition, when you talk about "going on a diet" the implication is that it is a temporary measure, and a temporary measure can only produce a temporary result... unless you count the actual long term result which is actually GAINING weight when you come off the diet.
There's about 8 million different versions I've seen people (coworkers when I was a corporate square) go on and off. Soup diets, yogurt diets, cabbage diets... the list goes on and on but they're all boil down to the same thing; eating as little as possible. Also known as "starving yourself to lose weight". Something we all shake our heads and say "oh isn't that terrible" when there's a story about teenage girls with eating disorders, but as grown adults we'll adopt the same unhealthy, unsustainable and self-destructive habits in order to shed some weight.
I've already talked about the VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) products as well, which also push this false notion of "eating as little as possible to lose weight". As I've said, it's not a good strategy for weight management in the first place, and it's a TERRIBLE idea if you are remotely interested in being healthy and / or happy.
Here's another article I've published about why conventional weight loss methods and in particular Very Low Calorie Diets are dangerous and ineffective. If you could give it a rating of "awesome" when you're done reading, that would be nice.
Since you're here reading about how to lose weight through sensible nutrition and exercise I'll go ahead and assume that you're not interested in these phony "quick fix" products anyway so we'll move right along.
What is IIFYM, anyway?
IIFYM stands for "If It Fits Your Macros". Macros being short for "macronutrients", better know as Proteins, Fats, and Carbohydrates. The idea is pretty simple; at the end of the day you are either (a) consuming the appropriate amount of calories (and appropriate ratio of Proteins, Fats and Carbs) or (b) you are NOT consuming the appropriate amount of calories to achieve and maintain your goal weight.
So when people might ask "is it OK to eat [insert particular food here] while I'm trying to lose weight?" the answer is "if it fits your macros". In other words, will eating that food mean that you end up consuming too many calories over all? If it won't, then it is OK.
There's an article on my business site about how to reach your goal weight with IIFYM dieting, so if you go and read that one it will save me from repeating myself too much here.
To summarise though... there's a lot of talk about needing to time your meals in this way or that way, not eat certain foods at the same time, not eat certain foods are particular times of the day, glycemic index and so on... let me put it to you like this:
Let's say I have a client who needs to lose 20kg to get down to our primary goal of BMI 23, which for the sake of example we'll say is 60kg. So I crunch the numbers and come up with a plan of 1700 calories with 40% from protein, 40% carbs and 20% fats which should be about right to support a healthy 60kg and get results from training. Now, you're trying to tell me that's not going to work unless she spaces her meals precisely 3 hours apart, and we can forget the whole thing if she eats a fucking potato after 4pm?
Ridiculous! If your body requires x amount of calories and you do not exceed that amount, it is going to utilise those calories regardless of what time of day you consume them. Especially when we're eating at a calorie deficit (ie - less than required to maintain current bodyweight), as if your body is going to say "wow I could really use this fuel for energy and recovery from that workout this afternoon, but it's late in the day so instead it goes straight to the love handles". Preposterous.
What about "clean eating" though?
Absolutely. If you're currently indulging in high calorie junk foods, and you "clean up" your diet by eliminating these and replacing them with more nutritious choices you are quite likely to lose weight. Of course no matter how "clean" you eat, too many calories is too many calories. And I must reiterate that too few calories is no better than too many. Personally I want to be certain. I want to do the maths and come up with a plan and be 100% confident of success.
The other issues with "clean eating" are that (a) it is such a vague and subjective term, and (b) people can get far too carried away with it and it becomes something more like orthorexia.
Remember; results come from what you do habitually.
This is important because it should take some of the stress and pressure out of dieting. If you are in the habit of consuming the right amount of calories to support your goal weight, the results will come. So having a small slice of cake at your friend's birthday party doesn't spell the end of your progress even though it might mean that you exceed your targets on that particular day. Even if you do go a bit overboard, as long as you get back on track the next day it is barely even a bump in the road.
Keep it in perspective.

More truth about diets

A controversial subject I have been writing about a lot lately. But when you think about it, diets have been a hot topic for decades now... ironically when I think about how long diets have been a hot topic, it seems to coincide with the amount of time concern over the increasing numbers of overweight and obese people as been on the rise. Since they're related topics it may not seem so ironic, until you consider that obesity is now at pandemic levels despite at least 30 years of public obsession with various diets. Clearly something is not right with this situation. These diets don't seem to be working.

Before we look at the current crop of popular or fad diets, let's take a brief look at dieting history over the previous decades.

If you're old enough, you'll remember when fats were considered the root of all evil, leading to all manner of health complications. Eggs were considered unhealthy, for example. Eggs! You would scarcely believe this now, 30 or more years later.

Things turned around in the late 90s / early 2000s when the Atkins Diet suddenly became a worldwide phenomenon. Where fats had been demonised in the past, suddenly carbohydrates were the problem and we were encouraged to get stuck into those fats instead, along with high protein from meats.

Somewhere in between (around 1985 to be exact) the Fit For Life diet was the big thing. Now, this one focused more on the timing and combinations of different types of foods, rather than on calorie counting. For example, eat nothing but fruit before noon, don't combine protein and carbohydrates in the same meal, and avoid dairy as much as possible.

There are numerous other fad diets with a variety of names and approaches. Meal frequency became the big thing for a while, and we were encouraged to eat small meals every 3 hours to "boost metabolism", amongst other things. The Glycemic Index became a focal point too, with faster digested carbohydrates being associated with fat gain due to increases in insulin levels, amongst other things.

Where are they now?

Mostly forgotten, right? These days when you see or hear these particular diets mentioned it is in the context of an "I even tried this, back in the day... hey everyone was doing it!" type list of failed weight loss attempts. Now to be fair, both Atkins and Fit For Life were designed to be long term solutions, so maybe if people had stuck with them long term they would have had long term success. I would speculate that most people merely tried the initial phase and then returned to their regular eating habits, meaning a return to weight gain.

What have they been replaced with?

This is where I get controversial.

I've already talked a lot about how I feel about Very Low Calorie Diets, meal replacement products, appetite suppressants and so on. I hate all of that garbage. Aside from not actually being a good strategy to maintain a healthy weight over the long term, these products send a damaging message that "food makes you fat", which I believe contributes to the increasing instances in eating disorders amongst young people.

Recently I've been made aware of a few of the currently popular diets put out by self proclaimed "obesity researchers" who I don't want to name in case I get sued... but it only takes a cursory glance at their websites to see that the extent of their research seems to be reading the Atkins and Fit For Life books, combining some of the incorrect concepts contained therein and putting it out again under a new name. I am going to lump all the ketogenic and "caveman" diets in under the "rebranded Atkins" label as well.

What's my issue with all of these diets?

Well, it's not so simple as to say that they don't work. Maybe if people stick to them consistently they will maintain results, but history has shown that most people are unable to do so.

Why? In my opinion; too many rules.

That's not the real issue though. The issue I have is that all of these diets promote the notion that certain foods "make you fat", or at the very least "stop you from losing weight". And we're not just talking about cakes and cookies here. Various of the so called paleo or "caveman" diets actually ban all legumes, for example. Of all the things, LENTILS make you fat now? Really? Other diets (Harcombe diet for example) actually recommend avoiding fruit, claiming that the sugar content will keep you fat. FRUIT? Can they actually be serious with this nonsense? It goes without saying that almost all of these diets are also intensely phobic of grains and bread in particular, for some reason.

All of these messages are entirely incorrect and irresponsible. As I talked about earlier, they encourage that dangerous "eating makes you fat" thought process that leads to eating disorders. I believe you cannot successfully manage your weight long term unless you have a healthy attitude towards food and enjoy a variety of foods in moderation. Being afraid or ashamed of eating is not healthy or helpful.

The bottom line.

Food does not make you fat. Calories are fuel that your body needs to function and thrive. Particularly for those who participate in exercise, you must be adequately fuelled to recover and adapt to training.

Regardless of the source of calories (protein, fat, carb, high GI, low GI or whatever) your body can ONLY store fat when the intake of calories is in excess of what is required to maintain your current weight and adapt to training. Back in primitive times such as the 1990s tracking your intake of calories may have been an arduous task leading to the rise of the restrictive "no calorie counting required" approaches we have discussed, but in the modern age of technology we have a myriad of choices of free resources at our fingertips that will do all the work for us. There is no excuse at all to be too lazy to do this!

Again I'll repeat the bottom line here, with an example.

Let's imagine that we have used the Mifflin - St Joer equation to determine that to maintain your current bodyweight (taking into account your daily activities and exercise schedule) would require 2300 calories... and then we only eat 1800 calories per day.... regardless of how much fruit (or whatever else) you eat or at what time, how can your body possibly store extra fat? Body fat comes from energy intake that is surplus to requirements, not from particular "bad" foods. And especially not from eating fruit!

A little plug just to finish up on: I just launched my brand new "Lose Weight, No Bullshit" FREE Weight Loss Education & Exercise Program, and if you check it out and read one article a day you be very well equipped to take control and make some amazing changes in terms of your health and body weight.

When is a trainer not a trainer?

So I network with a lot of trainers and for that matter I've been rather fortunate to have become friends (online or in real life) with some truly great, successful, well known and even famous trainers around the world who I've had the opportunity to learn from. It's really great to have other people who are just as passionate as you are, to share advice, tips, motivation and encouragement with.

I'll tell you something though... you really do have to learn how to sort the wheat from the chaff. I think I've written before about how much I usually prefer just talking fitness with what you might call "successful enthusiasts" rather than industry professionals... the people I'm referring to above would be exceptions to these rules, the people who are actually knowledgeable, but also have understanding. Understanding means more than just being able to quote so called "facts" from selected articles or studies that support their chosen agenda. People with true understanding know that there are many approaches that can be taken in pursuit of a goal.

Which is not to say that any approach is as good as any other. Lots of people out there are trying to force a square peg into a round hole, with nutritional habits that don't support their training routine, or a training routine that isn't suited to their goal. For that matter some trainers are guilty of pushing these inappropriate methods as well. My point though would be that one who has knowledge AND understanding would realise that what is required for a body builder to reach competition level is not the same as what is required for an obese person to lose 20 kilos. The best approach is the one that stands the best chance of success, and simplicity and ease of compliance is a big part of this.

So you've got actually competent trainers, knowledgeable trainers who may have unrealistic expectations / poor understanding of what their clients actually require, and then you have your run of the mill well-intentioned trainer who has been let down by the industry and not actually learned how to deliver results while pursuing their qualification. There's LOTS of those, unfortunately.

You know what else there's a lot of? Trainers who aren't actually trainers. There's an absolute abundance of these, too!

I'm talking about these self branded "fitness industry leaders" who don't seem to have any interest in actually training anyone. Rather, they'll all about marketing systems, pushing supplements and other products through multilevel marketing schemes, hiring a bunch of inexperienced young trainers on poverty level wages and farming clients out to them... anything other than actually training a client in the gym themselves. These will be a lot of the same guys pushing these bullshit "miracle fat burning formulas" as well. You know, the ones with the "before" picture taken at the end of a weight gain cycle, bloated and full of water... and then the "after pic" when they're lean and carb depleted again. Often the "after" photos are actually taken first! This is a known tactic, I didn't just make it up.

So these guys bother me for a couple of reasons. One being that when I first got qualified and built my website, the constant phone calls trying to sell me their ethically questionable marketing schemes. After about 2 years they seemed to finally get the message and stop calling me. I remember I actually started telling them "i'm not in the industry any more, I have gone back to property management". So... if your sales tactic is unsolicited phone calls hounding people about buying your marketing system... that sort of thing pisses me the hell off, so it's not something I want to learn how to do so I can have other people pissed off at me, right?

The other issue I have is that PT is turning into something more like what a certain network marketing product line is. You know the one I mean. Now those actually have a reputation of being really good products, but it seems like no one's actually interested in selling them, because the money is in being a distributor and having a bunch of people below you doing the selling. PT is becoming a bit like that, except without the high quality of products. It's becoming too many people who aren't actually trainers, just trying to make a fast buck with their marketing skills.

Now there's always an exception to the rule and I'm lucky enough to have a business coach who is actually legit, wants to help people, and only uses ethical means to reach the right clients. Rather than trying to sell to anyone and everyone, without actually being concerned with delivering results. It's enough just to "get people active", right? Bah!

So those are my complaints but let's finish on a positive note with what I'd actually like to see happen in the industry, which all of the Actual Trainers I network with agree on.

  1. Qualifications that actually mean something. 
    By the time you are qualified as a trainer you should actually have the skills, knowledge and understanding to help clients achieve their weight loss and body composition goals, rather than just being taught to "get people moving".
  2. Ethical Marketing Systems
    Just like some of the ridiculous products on TV, there's a huge market of people who aren't actually looking for something that will work. I'd like to see ALL trainers pushing only the true facts about what's required to lose weight and/or get into shape, rather than sensationalist approaches about "secret formulas" or whatever other garbage.


Is personal training too expensive?

Short answer: No.

Personal training is NOT supposed to be cheap.

A good personal trainer is equal parts sports coach, nutritionist, psychologist, business person, marketing strategist, and health care specialist. You only become a good trainer from years of study, practice, self experimentation and eventually learning to sort the facts from the chaff. If you’re extremely fortunate as I have been, you somehow manage to get noticed by / introduced to some of the best in the business (world wide) and have a chance to learn a few things from them as well, and your clients get the benefit of all this.

Undervaluing (and under pricing) Personal Training only means that you only attract the sort of casual clients who are really just looking for entertainment / an activity to do once a week when the weather is nice and they’re not too tired. You end up haggling over price with people who are happy to pay twice as much at the hairdressers or on a night out, rather than actually helping the sort of people who could most benefit from (and appreciate) your advice.

So once you know that you are actually good at what you do and have proven that you can deliver results, you start to think about which people you want to work with. You set a fair price, and as my coach would say “that’s what it costs, if you don’t want to pay that much then maybe you can find someone cheaper who isn’t as good”.

There is no reason you can't get into great shape and stay there, IF you actually want to.

I was thinking about reasons a person might fail to lose weight, get into shape, or whatever you want to call it. I posted the other day about how the people who actually want results, get results and how lately I'm getting a lot more legit clients who actually do want to know how to achieve their goals. These people actually follow my advice and, well you can see the comments they leave me, within a week or two they are seeing and feeling a big difference.

I spent a lot of years trying really hard and not getting such great results due to not really knowing what I was doing, not understanding nutrition, listening to too much bro-science and urban myths from guys who thought they knew what they were talking about but really didn't. So now... well I got qualified as a PT, started only listening to seriously knowledgeable PTs and body builders, threw out everything that was bullshit or over complicated... and now it is actually VERY VERY SIMPLE.

And that's what I'm passing on to my clients and online clients and really just anyone who asks (if I think they're actually sincere and will follow the advice. I test 'em out a bit first!). Like I say... the ones who listen, who actually want to know how to get results, are always very successful quite quickly.

People who WANT results, GET results!

Something kind of awesome has happened in the past 3 or 4 months. I can't put my finger on what I've been doing differently, but there's been a change in that I'm attracting more and more of the people who ACTUALLY WANT RESULTS.

In the past... not all of the time, but some of the time I'd be frustrated trying to help people who would argue / refuse to follow the advice I was giving them. For example "no, I don't want to count calories", "but bread makes you fat", "I'll just starve myself instead", or 3 months later "can you send me that program again? I didn't actually start it or even save the file on my computer but maybe now I can waste your time all over again". Not that I'm bitter! hahah - but it's frustrating when you've actually put a lot of time and thought into a program for someone, trying to make it as straight forward and simple as possible, easy to follow, and sure to get results... and they won't do it?

Anyway I'm pleased to report that those days seem to be over and what I am getting now is people from all over the world who actually follow my advice, and report back with great results almost immediately. People who are trying to get into shape for the first time, people who are already fit and active but not seeing what they'd like to see in the mirror... all sorts of people!

The best part is when people come back for MORE advice because what you told them the first time worked out so well!

Here's some screen shots of the nice things people have been saying;

Personal Training Testimonial

Personal Training Testimonial

Personal Training Testimonial

Personal Training Testimonial

The important thing to notice in ALL of these is that no one is starving or going without. I keep saying this over and over again; it's about eating APPROPRIATELY to build a great physique and kick ass all day every day.

Lots more Personal Training Testimonials are up on my official site. Go have a look. Also I have a brand new site for Free Weight Loss Advice and you'd be crazy not to check that out too.

"Starvation Mode": fact or myth?

Quite a hotly debated subject it seems!

Well... if you've never heard of it before, the theory of starvation mode is that if you do not hit a certain minimum level of calories, your metabolism slows down and your body will start to store more fat.

It's a subject of contention because, well some would say "you cannot put on fat unless you are eating MORE calories than are required to maintain your current weight". And that seems quite logical to me.

HOWEVER there's a bit of a hole in this argument. I'm thinking when people make that argument, it's based on saying "well you're this age, this height, this weight; therefore your maintenance calories is this amount and you cannot gain fat unless you eat more than this". I don't think that's correct.

In most cases you can do the math as described above (also taking account for gender and activity levels) and predict a person's maintenance requirements with reasonable accuracy. Everyone is a little different and interpretations of activity levels can vary but still you can end up with a ball park figure that's pretty close to correct. From there, you just pay attention and tweak things a little as necessary.

Of course... here's the big problem that I think people are forgetting. This equation assumes that we are talking about human beings under normal (medical) circumstances. So, you have the rather odd logic where someone says "if you do this, it'll screw things up and you'll put on fat", and the response is "no, under normal circumstances that is impossible", and the first guy rightly points out "that's why I said 'screw things up', it is no longer normal circumstances". You guys following me on this?

So the theory goes that due to being under-fuelled the body says "ok I need to conserve energy". Metabolism slows and hormonal balance changes. Often the thyroid is affected and stops (or reduces) production of hormones that effect how we burn fat stores. Cortisol production can increase as well, which also encourages the body to hang on to those fat stores.

So at the very least... you could see that the effect might be that the body stubbornly holds on to those fat stores, and perhaps stores more fat at the expense of lean mass. That's assuming we still accept that "you cannot gain weight at below maintenance calories".... so, what we're talking about here is more fat without an increase in weight.

I actually think the human body is far more mysterious than that though. And when you mess with it and make it unhealthy (in this case by under fuelling, perhaps combined with over training), all bets are off. The rules do not apply any more. Results are completely unpredictable. That's why you get people who are quite overweight or obese, despite eating way too few calories to be healthy... or, maybe they're just lying to me about how much they really eat?

Anyway consider this. There was a story not so long ago in the news about a guy who had this massive, like MASSIVE 96kg tumour that needed removed for obvious reasons. Now, I forget where this happened but it wasn't a western country so there were issues with the medical facilities and so forth... so, I'm thinking 3rd world conditions, not an affluent society. So my point is, you're telling me this guy who is otherwise very lean is eating enough to support an extra 96kg of body weight in the form of a tumour?

I mean... I had a tumour once (thyroid) but I was a bit fat and unhealthy at the time and it was maybe a kilo or two (fist sized) not fricken 96 kg. Where the hell does the human body get the resources to grow that thing?

I dunno how it works. I'm not saying that I do. My point is, when we're outside of normal medical circumstances, usual expectations of how things work do not apply. So when you screw with your body with ridiculously low calories, I'm prepared to accept that it's possible to put on weight in the form of increased fat.

Here's the thing though about starvation mode. I'm saying I think it does exist / happen, BUT not in the way that a lot of people talk about it. It's not going to kick in just because you under eat one day for some reason. We're talking about the effects of prolonged under eating, not just skipping a meal or two.

So the bottom line here is; if you're active, training hard and expecting to see a great physique when you look in the mirror, you had better be eating right! Not too much, not too little.

I've been doing some online PT lately and also just giving advice to anyone who asks for it, and rather a lot of people have been coming back to me saying "since I increased my calories like you told me to, I'm seeing much better results already".

More on this subject? Check here: Too Much Exercise, Too Little Food?
Also: Over Training While Under Eating

Body Image & Pressure on young adult males.

So, I wrote a few blogs over on my Personal Training business site about body image issues with young females and in particular this notion of the media "pressuring" them to be thin which in my opinion is, well... garbage.

But rather than be redundant and repeat myself here, you can just follow these links to the entries I'm talking about. Apparently they are quite insightful and people have liked them a lot so far.

  1. Weight management body image and depression in young people.
  2. A healthy approach to weight loss is crucial.
  3. Body image; work to your strengths.
So those articles are talking more about girls to an extent but have you noticed, there's a new angle on this story that the media have picked up on? Apparently it's not just young girls, but now young boys also have body image problems because they feel PRESSURED to have a muscular physique like the lead actors in all those action movies we like to watch.

What an absolute load of complete and utter bollocks.

There's been a couple of stories on the current affairs shows about this lately. The most recent was on SBS Insight program where I think they got like 3 kids who were into weight training and a panel of know-nothing-know-it-alls telling them "stop doing that, you only THINK it is making you happy" and demanding that they justify their choices in life as if it is anyone's business but their own. 

The implication being that trying to eat healthy is an eating disorder, choosing not to eat basically toxic fast foods is ruining their social lives, and whey protein and creatine are dangerous steroids. Seriously I'm not making this up.

And of course, it's because they feel pressured by society to look like action heroes.

Let me tell you something. Never in my entire life have I felt pressured by society to put in an effort to improve myself or become above average in any field.

Where I have felt pressured? Let me think. Here's a list off the top of my head;
  1. Stop lifting weights.
  2. Stop being a vegetarian.
  3. Stop listening to heavy metal and listen to normal music (which was probably, fucking, "who let the dogs out" or some such drivel at the time).
  4. Stop writing my own songs and just play music that other people like.
  5. Cut off your hair (when I looked like a rockstar from my teens into my mid 20s)
  6. Stay in some mind numbing job where you're miserable, but you're making decent money and that's what people are supposed to do.
That's all I can think of. Basically stop doing anything that makes you an individual, and just conform and be like everyone else, completely mediocre, bland and boring. 

Have things changed that much in the past 20 or so years (yeah I'm pretty old now), that young kids today actually feel that they need to hit the weights just to be good enough for society's approval?

Well, if these tv shows are anything to go buy; I put it to you that things haven't changed a god damn thing. A bunch of kids are pursuing an interest in life, and rather than say "hey good for you, making the effort to achieve a goal", the response is "oh you need to knock that off, why do you think you need to be in better shape than other people?" or "that activity does not appeal to me personally, therefore you shouldn't be doing it either".

Pressure vs Inspiration

I dunno who comes up with this stuff. It seems to me that a young kid might watch Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, or Brad Pitt as Achilles, or which ever WWE Superstar or UFC fighter... and they think "bloody hell, have a look at that physique. Gee that's impressive. But if HE did it, I can certainly try my hardest to build a physique like that. Wouldn't that be something?" And if they've got what it takes to actually step up and work towards that goal... jesus christ, that's admirable isn't it? And these jerks try to tell them "oh, don't do that - why should YOU be allowed to feel proud of your achievements if I get nothing out of it?"

And THAT is the issue here, as far as I see it.

You hit the gym every day and eat right because you're motivated to do something for yourself, to better yourself (at least as far as your physical appearance goes) and to feel a sense of pride in your accomplishments. Pride and self esteem comes from trying your best in life. 

So... we live in a country where footballers are considered the elite of society. Swimmers and other Olympic athletes are national heroes and we all marvel at their dedication and hard work required to get to that level of athleticism, so that we can sit back on our recliners, cheer them on and share in their victories as if they were our own. Right? It'd be un-Australian not to, or so I am frequently told. 

Now compare this to the view of the average guy who hits the gym every morning before school or every evening after work. He's showing dedication and working hard towards his own personal goals. But because the average slob isn't entertained by it, there's no "grand final" to get excited about or victory to share in... you see where I'm going here?

So. Enough with this bullshit talk about young people feeling pressured by society to do ANYTHING. I put it to you that the problems young people face are more about actually wanting to do something with their lives, to express themselves, and make something special of themselves, and society tells them "you can't do that, there's something wrong with you for even wanting to". The exception being spectator sports, of course.

I hope some young people read this and become more determined than ever to work hard, put in the effort and chase down your goals and become the person you'd like to be. And if the losers out there resent you for it because you had what it takes and they didn't... too bad.


Getting into shape? Forget everything you've been told.

One of the hardest parts in helping people to successfully lose weight and get into shape is in overcoming all the misconceptions they have and bad information they've been given (usually by other people who are not in very good shape and in no position to be advising anyone!)

So, I'm writing a few new articles to try clear some of this up! Have a read at my personal training website.

I keep saying this over and over again; it is NOT about trying to do more and more (exercise), on less and less (calories). It's all about finding the appropriate diet and activity levels to get into shape, and STAY in shape.

Scam of the week, volume 1: Kevin Trudeau

So, a friend on facebook who happens to also be a health and fitness professional showed me this. I hadn't heard of the guy before but apparently in the Americas he's sold a lot of books about "health" and stuff. Eh, just watch...

So... it's like I keep saying. The more outlandish and outrageous the lie, the more people will buy into it. So you come out with some book or some ridiculous product (and I'll posting all of them too!), you can get rich because people will buy it up hoping for a quick fix or easy answer. But just point out the simple common sense stuff that's actually true and useful... I dunno, it seems to be harder to get people interested.

Why is that, people?

Anyway my mission is to bust every myth, scam and lie in the world of health, fitness and weight loss... and I'm still putting together my new package "No Bullshit, No Excuses" which is just the simple, logical stuff that can't possibly fail. And that boils down just "eating the right amount, and doing some resistance training".

Simple, right?

Hardcore Holistic: Priorities and Responsibilities

That's me being a good uncle!
This series of entries is about making “an uncompromising commitment to health and happiness” and what I mean by this is that people need to make their health and happiness a top priority in life, and take a hardcore, uncompromising attitude towards it.

A main priority in life that we still need to give attention to is our financial security. We need a roof over our heads, shoes on our feet and food on the table, especially if you are a parent. It's hard to be happy and healthy without your finances in order. With that being said though, it's a great misconception in western societies such as ours that more wealth (money + material positions) equals more happiness. Working long stressful hours just to amass more wealth (or quiet likely to have more money to waste on toys) at the expense of time with your family and friends and while neglecting your health is surely NOT the way to create a great life.

The “work : life” balance is critical and while being a productive and contributing member of society who works hard and earns an honest living is an essential part of achieving our goal of a great life, it's important to keep it in perspective. Remember as well that when you are healthy and happy, your performance at work can only improve as you require less time off due to illness, and have more energy and enthusiasm to get stuck into it. You are far more likely to excel at your job if you see it as an important aspect of your amazing life, than as a burden that is holding you back.

For this reason I would say that health & happiness should be a higher priority even than career, and if anything, making health and happiness your top priority can only help your career.

Similarly some people out there reading this might be thinking “I'm sorry, but I have children and they are my top priority”. Well, good! So they should be! However, being a great parent is about setting a great example. If you are determined to live a happy and healthy life and refuse to settle for anything else, doesn't it seem more likely that your children will follow the same path? Conversely if we set the example of being unhealthy, poisoning ourselves with cigarettes, alcohol, junk food and stressful situations, then our children may grow up thinking this is a normal and acceptable way to live.

Rather than having children being a reason to put your own health and happiness on the back burner, it's all the more reason to be determined to do everything right to ensure that not only do you have an amazing life, but they do too. Remember, better health and fitness means being able to spend more quality time together, not less!

Ultimately the message I hope I can get through to people is to step up and take responsibility for your own health and happiness, and absolutely refuse to settle for anything less. It's not always going to be easy, but when the option is to give up and settle for a miserable or mediocre existence, what choice do you have but to dig in and be all the more determined? It's easy to find excuses, or pass the buck to other people but in the end it is up to each and every one of us as individuals to choose the courses of action that will lead to a happier life over the courses of action that will lead to poor health and depression.

Lau Tsu said “the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step, seemingly the hardest step”.

That single first step is in making a decision to take control of your life, and sensible eating habits combined with healthy exercise is the next step from which success in all avenues of life flows from.


Hardcore Holistic Training

You still gotta train hard!
What's great about the holistic approach to training is that as you might expect, it implies that factors such as good nutrition are considered vital, and that the desired outcome is for general well being on all levels encompassing physical fitness, mental health and emotional stability. Indeed you could say that the holistic philosophy views these three factors as inseparable, with each being unattainable without the other two.

This would probably be a rather extreme interpretation, but it is certainly true that nutrition plays an important role in achieving any physical fitness goal, and both nutrition and fitness greatly influence mental and emotional health in a positive manner.

More cynical body builders might view the idea of holistic training as just a way to let people feel good about themselves, going through the motions of an exercise program but without actually pushing themselves to increase their performance or improve upon their physical limitations. I've worded that a lot more politely than how it has been stated in some discussions!

That's rather cynical and judgemental, but in some cases they might be quite correct. Look at the websites or advertising for most holistic training centres and you'll see clean cut trainers in nicely ironed white shirts, everyone with a big smile, no one looking as though they're straining with effort or breaking into a sweat from the exercise... from the perspective of your average heavy lifting, grunting & sweating weight lifter, this really doesn't seem like much of a work out.

And this is where the concept of Hardcore Holistics comes in. Don't get me wrong, though. I am all about supportive environments, positive self talk, positive energy and good vibes. However when it comes to training, the benefit comes exclusively from getting out of your comfort zone, breaking a sweat, and pushing yourself to a new level. As personal trainers, our job is to ensure that a client makes real physical progress and continually sets new standards of performance.

In Hardcore Holistic training, the attention to good nutrition and the goal of positive self image and self esteem is still paramount, but the actual workout does not take a back seat. Deep down, I think everyone knows that self respect does not come from doing what is easy, it comes from doing what is hard!

Training hard provokes a physiological response of the brain releasing more of the feel good chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin and adrenaline, which are responsible for that awesome “post workout rush” that only those who truly train hard can experience. On the psychological level, there should also be that sense of pride and achievement from sticking to the program, making progress, looking more attractive and surpassing your previous concept of your own capabilities.

This is where true self esteem and self respect comes from, and it is the opposite of that feeling of “I know I should look after myself better and get into better shape, but I just don't have what it takes” that a lot of people are stuck with. And compared to the softer, gentle & ineffective approach to holistic training... getting into the gym and physically proving (to yourself) that you do have what it takes is worth more than all the positive affirmations in the world.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Oh, just climbing a mountain, you know.
The concept of physical exercise having beneficial effects on emotional health is nothing new, as the old adage “a healthy body and a healthy mind” suggests. This was well known to ancient Yoga practitioners, Shaolin Monks and Japanese Samurai. Perhaps most famously, Miyamoto Musashi who wrote the Book Of Five Rings believed he could achieve spiritual enlightenment through continuous practice with the sword. The practice of Yoga and Martial Arts forms is in many cases considered a form of active meditation.

As we have discussed, it is reasonable to expect the majority of personal training clients to have goals related to weight loss, cardiovascular fitness, increasing strength or muscle mass and so forth.


What IS Holistic Health And Fitness?

The word “holistic” comes from the concept of Holism, which could be described as viewing any system in it's entirety as a whole, rather than as the sum of it's components. In modern usage the word is mostly used in the context of Holistic Health, as well as in relation to so-called New Age philosophies which view the Mind, Body & Spirit as a singular concept rather than three separate ideas. Similarly a Holistic Health practitioner would be concerned with a patients overall lifestyle, for example investigating factors such as stress levels or nutrition as possible sources or contributors to a problem, rather than just treating the symptoms of a particular complaint.

There has also been a shift towards Holistic imagery within the Fitness Industry, which I believe is appropriate and shows a greater understanding of the motivation of many clients. This in turn has lead to the industry attempting to rebrand itself somewhat with “fitness” taking a back seat to “wellness” in many cases. Similarly there has been a slight shift away from the term “Personal Trainer” (which might imply sports performance related training programs) towards “Wellness Consultant” which has a softer vibe perhaps more suited to the average personal training client.

If you've seen my business card, you'll know that I've got one foot in each world as my business name is “Dave Hargreaves Personal Training”, and I'm offering “Health And Wellness Consulting”.

Rather than sports specific training designed to improve performance on the field, the majority of Personal Training... sorry, Wellness Consulting clients just want to feel healthier (and perhaps look more attractive as well) and many of them will also understand the holistic idea that by being healthier, they'll also feel a little happier as well.

As with most things associated with New Age types, the term Holistic often implies a softer, gentler approach with the primary goal simply being to feel good about yourself. And if you ask me, there's not much wrong with that! After all, this book is all about “an uncompromising commitment to health and happiness”. I think “Wellness Consultant” fits in more with this imagery... it certainly does not conjure up the image of an athletics coach clutching a stop watch and barking out orders.


Hardcore Holistic Health and Fitness, introduction

I'm about to post some new articles here, taken from an e-book I wrote some time last year about "The Uncompromising Commitment To Health And Happiness". Really, what else is more important than your health and happiness?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
First; an introduction, and a little bit about the author.

Hi everyone and thanks for your interest in reading my book on the Hardcore Holistic philosophy. As it says in the subtitle, this is all about taking an absolutely uncompromising approach to creating a happy, healthy life, and being committed to making it happen. We'll discuss the concept of Holism and the seemingly paradoxical idea of taking a “hardcore” approach to it.

In brief, we'll be discussing how a holistic approach to training will produce greater results, and is also beneficial to all aspects of life – not just physical fitness. It is my belief that making health and happiness our number one priority in life is the foundation for being successful in all of our endeavours, and it is necessary to take a uncompromising attitude towards this goal.

We'll be talking about getting hardcore with our training, and hardcore with our commitment to having a happy and healthy life.

First off, a little bit about me for those of you don't know already!

I'm Dave Hargreaves and I'm a Personal Trainer and founder of Hardcore Holistic Health & Fitness. I have several years experience as a trainer, having worked in corporate fitness clubs, independent gyms and personal training studios, and now in my own studio. I had trained with weights from my late teens and begun studying martial arts in my early twenties, and resumed training in my mid twenties after a few years of inactivity (during which I got quite out of shape and eventually was diagnosed with thyroid cancer) while I was more focussed on my music career.

I've released a total of 6 albums at last count, and I've also worked for about 9 years in the security industry. So, in case you haven't picked up on the irony already, you are currently reading a book on Holistic Health, written by an ex bouncer / heavy metal guitarist. Who could possibly be more qualified on the subject?

I hope you're starting to pick on my sense of humour a little bit by now, as I'll be trying to inject a little of it into the text as we go, to keep things from getting too heavy and serious.

Watch for the next instalment very soon!

Resistance training should be your top priority.

How do you build a lean, toned and attractive body?

Oh... like this:

Just a little promo for my brand new Online Personal Training Package. Dieting alone won't do it. Cardio alone won't do it. There's not much point going from being fat, to being skinny fat. We want to be firm and toned, and attractive. You gotta do some resistance training! There's a million people out there who actually have great cardiovascular fitness from jogging or cycling or whatever else, but to look at them you wouldn't even guess that they did any exercise, right? Gotta do your resistance stuff as well! In fact, resistance training should be your top priority as well as a good nutrition plan.

Check out No Bullshit No Excuses, an exercise and nutrition EDUCATION program that WORKS.

Diets are such a scam

I made another video talking about diets and why they're a bunch of garbage. People are always telling me about this diet or that. Some fad diet their friend went on and lost a heap of weight at first, but couldn't stick to it and put all the weight back on and then some. When I was a corporate square I'd watch people going on ridiculous starvation diets as well and just making themselves miserable. Just eating soup for example, or a yogurt for breakfast and then nothing all day. Again, they're absolutely miserable while they're on it, and then within a week of quitting the diet they blow up like a balloon even fatter than when they started.

Then there's all the "I'm cutting out bread because carbs make you fat" conversations... people actually pulling ME up on my meal choices (yeah, ME) because "oh look how much carbs you are eating" even though I look like a classical sculpture of a pagan god and they look like... well lets not get carried away. But anyway, I do look a bit better than the average person who for some reason has the audacity to try and "correct" my nutrition strategy based on it not fitting with some urban myth they picked up from some other out of shape person.

SO bottom line, what stuff do you have to cut out to lose weight and look good? Can I clear all this up and make it simple and easy to understand? Of course I can, don't be ridiculous. Just watch the video ok?

Wanna know more? This ties in nicely with an article I wrote a little while back talking about the If It Fits Your Macros nutrition theory.

Diets Do Not Work: No Bullshit No Excuses

I made a little promo video for my No Bullshit, No Excuses weight loss & body aesthetics program, available exclusively through my website.

Like it says in the video, DIETS DO NOT WORK. If your friend lost 8kg but then put 12kg back on, that means the DIET DID NOT WORK, get it? You want to lose the weight, and then keep it off, right?

More importantly, you want to maintain a healthy weight range, with a toned attractive figure. To do that, you just need the facts without the bullshit.

Weight loss programs with no calorie counting required?

As you might expect, I have some opinions on the matter!

My Best Online PT Package

It's a long time been blog entries but I have some exciting news!

I'm about to unveil my brand new "No Bullshit, No Excuses" training program. As the name implies, this program discards every myth, half truth, fad and fallacy and just gives you the simple facts, the stuff that works. What's more, when you learn & truly understand this stuff, there is absolutely no excuse for not sticking with it and making it work. Because it's EASY.

Sounds like every other marketing spiel right? Well, like I said, this time it is NO BULLSHIT.

As always this program is about building a lean, toned, attractive and aesthetic physique. This means less fat, and more lean mass. Improved health, posture and general happiness and well being are the bonus extras!

Stay tuned for more on this. Get excited, I am!

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