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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.

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