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Showing posts with label fitness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fitness. Show all posts

The belief about food that you need to change in order to see success.

So, here's an idea for a post that I've had for a little while... and I want to start by letting you know that it is partially an observation and commentary on the fitness industry, but it will have a conclusion that will not only be applicable to the general public, but actually could be of potentially life changing significance to serious fitness enthusiasts who struggle with the nutrition side of things.

This was inspired by something that came across my social media feeds last week which I don't seem to be able to find again right now, so perhaps I'll misquote this, but it got me thinking anyway. It was something to the effect of "how to change your client's belief systems about foods" so that they'll have good adherence, or... be successful... or something.

Now, this got me thinking because generally speaking, when you look into these things you tend to find that the "change in belief systems" actually infers adopting a lot of beliefs that don't quite stand up to scrutiny and aren't actually factual. These sorts of things are intriguing to me. It's easy enough to just write everyone off as a scam artist or a Pete Evans style delusional simpleton repeating a bunch of nonsense and trying to brainwash other people into believing it... but in some cases that would be a little unfair, as you have actually quite decent people with the best intentions of contributing positively to the industry by teaching valuable skills to aspiring professional coaches.

With all that said, the question remains: why is it that good and intelligent people would believe so passionately in things that just aren't factual?

Well, that was a long introduction so let's cut from the chase from this point on. Refer to my rather excellent flow chart below, and let's start at the top and then work down just the green boxes on the left hand side.

Pretty simple, right?

You read... oh, let's say you read "Good Calories Bad Calories" or you watch one of those food documentaries on Netflix, and it tells you "this is the problem, and this is the solution". Fortunately for you, your reaction happens to be "hmm... well, that seems to make some kind of sense, and doesn't sound too difficult to me, so I'll give it a go". And what do you know, it actually works and you actually see good results.

Fantastic. So, seeing results you have every reason to believe "obviously this works" and it's not unreasonable to extend that to "obviously this works, and it works for the reasons I have been taught. This is what everyone needs to do".
That'd be an understandable conclusion, but really... all we really know at this point is that it happened to suit you, and it happened to work. We don't necessarily know that it worked because what convinced you to try it in the first place was 100% factual.

Now let's back up though and we'll follow the chart but end up in some of those red boxes.

You hear about something or are instructed to do something by your coach, and you can see these other people very enthusiastic and having a good time with it. Maybe you think "ok that sounds easy enough", or maybe you think "this sounds awful, but fuck, what choice do I have if that's what it takes?". Either way, in this example, you give it your best shot, but for some reason you just can't seem to make it work.

Or... actually you know what? Maybe you don't even give it a shot because it sounds that awful and you're just that lacking in optimism about your chances of pulling it off. Contrary to the way a lot of the fitness industry seems to think, this can be entirely understandable. You're told a diet that is high in animal fats is required, and you want to be a vegan. Or you're told a grain free diet is required, but you love bread and cereal. Or you might even be told a vegan diet is required, but you love steak. Maybe you're just one of these people who only really likes a rather limited variety of foods and isn't very good at trying new ones. I'm in the minority but for whatever it's worth, I for one would not blame you for giving up without even trying under any of those or similar circumstances.

But in any case, in these red squares... either you're not enthusiastic and not able to adhere to it, you attempt to force yourself but it still doesn't work, or you were actually quite enthusiastic and you're pretty sure you're doing everything you've been told, but it's still not working. If you or your coach really believes "it you do this it works, if it's not working you're not doing it right, and it has to be done like this and no other way", then you're screwed. Especially if you're one of those unfortunate people who spent a lot of time mouthing off online about how stupid everyone else must be, and then found your condition going backwards no matter how much harder you tried to stay in ketosis, just saying.

Here's the wild card though. That other box all the way on it's own on the right.

Let's start again from the top. You get told about something and how great it is, it may or may not really make sense, it may or may not be based in reality, but either way you already have some other approach that you like, which is working out very nicely for you.

Now, for some reason... that's a situation that not many people in the online fitness world seem to be able to imagine. Think about it... how could two different people be doing two different things, and both of them successfully? How could someone think that is good, when I think this is good? Are they trying to insult me, or what?

Honestly, it gets so silly. But here's the thing.

As per what's in the green section of the chart, here's what we can assume about every person out there who is having a good time and maintaining improvements in condition.
  1. They have a decent approach to training that they get stuck into enthusiastically.
  2. They have an approach to nutrition that they believe is the best, that happens to suit them, and actually does consistently give them enough of all the energy and nutritional resources that they need to facilitate results, at least to the level at which they've achieved so far.
Also let's specify that we're talking about people who've maintained a degree of success for... oh, let's say five or more years. We're not talking about people who did some "miraculous transformation" for about half a season but then regained 30kg or something like that, and we're not talking about the people who will eventually come clean and confess that they were miserable the whole time either.

We can probably safely say that no one who has been successful long term was doing something that didn't appeal to them, that didn't suit them, that they hated, or that they forced themselves to believe in even though it didn't really seem to make sense. We can definitely say that they don't have the same approach, or even necessarily a similar approach to one another. And while many people will want to believe that there is a specific, scientific reason why their personally preferred approach is "the best" approach for anyone... if you like the approach, if the approach is working out for you satisfactorily, it should be enough just to be confident and to be enthusiastic about having found the approach that is best for you.

In short, the belief that you need to change is that there is ANYONE out there being successful by doing ANYTHING other than what happens to most appeal to them and what happens to best suit them. And if they try to tell you anything else, they're full of shit.

So, the take home point from all of this, for you.

For everyone out there saying, "but you can't do it unless you cut out grains and never eat cereal for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch again", there are people out there who are doing it while eating cereal for breakfast or whatever else. For everyone out there saying "but you can't do it on a vegan diet" there are some incredibly successful vegan athletes out there as well. The same goes for anything to do with the number of meals per day, the timing and frequency of meals across the day, the same again for any other, more elitist ideals about what people "need to" do, or what they should and should not want to do as far as their approach to nutrition goes as well.

Now obviously there are some technically concerns that come into this. Your dietary habits cannot be conducive to excessive energy intake if you expect to develop a leaner condition. At the same time, your dietary habits must provide an adequate total level of energy intake, and an adequate level of protein intake, to facilitate improvements in performance, recovery after training, and to maintain and increase lean mass. Also you need to get enough fibre, vitamins and minerals from some of the healthy stuff.

Aside from that? You require an approach that you're enthusiastic about, and are able to adhere to with a reasonable level of consistency. What better reason to be enthusiastic than because you truly believe it is best approach for you? What better reason to believe that, than because you have actually designed and continued to refine the approach to be what is best for you?
This is how I like to do it, the way that suits me best, and I'm more than happy with the results. How anyone else prefers to go about it is irrelevant. I have my own story. They aint me and this isn't their life.
Now, as coaches I believe it is fine to only offer one approach that you specialise in. I only offer one approach, and if someone tells me they're looking for something different, they're free to and in fact best to go looking for another coach who specialises in that, because I won't accept them as a client. But as coaches whatever we are telling people in support of our preferred approach should be truthful, and where applicable should be able to be supported by credible scientific evidence as well as every day observations. It shouldn't be bullshit that robs the people who aren't suited to that approach of the belief that they too can be successful.

Why not come and discuss this post with us on my facebook page?

Goal Setting: Think "trajectory" rather than specifics.

Here's something I've been working on.

It’s not so much a “real graph” in that it’s not based on real data, so much as it is an illustration of a logical point. Now… for people about to come into the New Year with a resolution of achieving some sort of a goal via training and dieting over the course of the year… here’s something to think about.

The key word here is TRAJECTORY.

First up though let’s talk goals. Your goal is multifaceted as follows:
  • Weight: It’s not helpful or healthy to be too concerned with a very specific weight on the scales, but perhaps falling somewhere closer to / within a suitable athletic weight range is a part of it.
  • Body Fat %: For most people it is not necessary nor helpful to be too concerned with a very specific body fat % reading, however we’re likely to want to see an increase in lean mass as we adapt to training, aka body composition or as I like to refer to it “body condition”.
  • Performance: On an individual level depending on how competitive your nature is, you may have a specific performance / ability goal, or it may be enough just to see progress and improvements, and in simple terms be able to “do more” whether that is to run a greater distance, lift a bigger weight, or whatever.
  • Body Satisfaction: This is super important. We want to feel good about ourselves, how we’re performing and the changes in condition that we see as a result. What I always feel is the ultimate success is when a client has already gone beyond what they had previously thought was the limit of their potential, and knows exactly what they would need to do to go even further, but thinks something like “who gives a shit though, what I’ve already done is awesome enough and now i just want to enjoy training and fueling and feel good about myself instead of thinking ‘it’s still not enough it’ll never be enough’” you know what I mean?
  • Enjoyment: Training and eating is supposed to be enjoyable, right? Never lose sight of that.
So those are some/all of the things we might be interested in achieving via training in the New Year. Fast forward to this time next year, and we want to be looking back and saying “well, that was a successful year of training” where we made performance gains, improvements in condition, enjoyed ourselves and felt good about ourselves too.

For that to occur, what would need to happen between now and then?

It is easy to get sucked in to the idea that it would mean never missing a training session under any circumstances, strict dieting day in, day out, hitting our macro and energy targets consistently with the best choices of healthy foods.

Well… that all sounds great but in reality, it’s just not humanly possible. If you were really to chart a successful person’s attendance at training, adherence to the nutrition plan, motivation and enthusiasm levels and so on… in reality it might look more like the yellow line in my illustration… and in fact even this is probably overly optimistic. Some periods you do a little better, some periods you go off the boil a little, once in a while life’s not perfect and your ability to attend training suffers… but over all you do enough to keep you on that trajectory towards improved condition & all of those other goals.

People have to be realistic and they have to be for real, too. Writing these posts there’s always a danger of people choosing to interpret it like “cool, I can just do a half arsed job, not show up very often, not hit intake targets, and I’ll still make good progress because this guy says it can work like that”. No. You have to come into something with the intention to do the best you can, as consistently as you can… but being a realist you also accept that perfection isn’t possible and perfectionism isn’t helpful. What’s important here is that when you do have a rough period, you don’t convince yourself that it’s the end of the story and that you’ve failed. So long as you are genuinely doing what you can, when you can, you should expect to move closer to your goals even if the process is gradual.

So that’s it in a nutshell really. The goal that we set is to be on that trajectory that keeps us moving closer to and beyond our goal condition as described above. To keep moving in the right direction, via establishing and practicing habits that are sensible, sustainable, healthy and conducive to improvements in performance, condition and mindset.

What you can also see on this chart in the red is my illustration of the trajectory we’re likely to follow via yo-yoing on and off crash diets. As you can see, over the long term we only move further and further away from all aspects of our goal condition. Many people reading this will know this all too well from personal experience already.

If you want to get off that yo-yo dieting cycle and into effective training, appropriate fueling and a sensible and sustainable approach that will keep moving in the right direction towards all of your condition goals, you can register your interest in the next launch of my Online Flexible Fueling Program, via the survey to the right of your screen.


Why do people get fat? Because it's easy.

I have had a few ideas for some articles recently, but I've felt kind of disillusioned at the moment like trying to talk sense just gets lost in all the noise and idiocy that is rampant everywhere else.

I had this idea though for a "why people get fat" article.

Everyone's looking for like a "root cause" like it's a mystery. We argue about whether the issue is with total calories or with choices of foods irrespective of calories... and then there's some bizarre ideas going around about "over eating doesn't make people fat, being fat causes over eating" and so forth. Crazy.

There are borderline orthorexic theories as if certain foods are impossible to not over eat, crap about sugar being "more addictive than cocaine", and nonsense about certain foods instantly being stored as fat just because they're "bad" for some reason due to being processed, or transported long distances, or including GMOs or whatever.

All nonsense and taken to extremes, potentially harmful as people start to get neurotic about which choices of foods are "ok" and which ones aren't. Don't get me wrong though, it's a good thing that people are considering the underlying, root causes and trying to treat the cause rather than just the symptom.

So then. Why do people get fat? 


It's easy to get fat. Most of us have no need to perform any strenuous activity or even move around much in our daily lives. Therefore a "normal" amount of food is enough to make you gain weight. It's easy to consume a way above normal amount too if you're not a little bit mindful especially in regard to snacking and choice of beverages.

It's no mystery. We get fat because it is easy and truthfully, unless you take a few steps to make up for an otherwise inactive modern lifestyle, it's not just easy... it is the most likely outcome.

The issue IS with total calorific intake. You can either resolve this by limiting your choices of foods to ones with a really good satiety to energy content ratio (meaning they fill you up without a lot of calories),  or by simply planning to meet your requirements with appropriate (and therefore non excessive) amounts of whatever foods you fancy.

You'll be well aware by now that my preferred course of action is the latter. Since appropriate calorie intake is the key, you might as well ensure success by determining and planning to meet your requirements. I see the other option as something of a shot in the dark, and if you don't see the expected results you're really left guessing as to what adjustments you need to make. Are you making all the most wise choices of foods, but still eating too much of them? Or are you making all the most sensible choices of foods, but with a total intake that is insufficient, forcing your body to compensate and conserve energy? It's certainly not down to any one off individual choice of a more indulgent meal, although this is what people tend to assume, leading to more of that neurotic fear of "unclean" foods that we touched on earlier.

So then. What to do?

It's pretty simple. Sort of.

An excessive intake of energy above the amount you require will result in excessive weight via increased body fat. Therefore, simply consume an appropriate amount rather than an excessive amount.

There's a problem though. This will work, but it's not terribly efficient. In most cases people have gained weight gradually, almost without noticing. When trying to lose weight, we want to see consistent results, or we lose interest.

Bigger problem. You have psychological needs as well as just energy and micronutrient requirements. On a total intake suitable only for an inactive lifestyle, there's just not enough room in the plan for much indulgence or enjoyment. We can address this somewhat by increasing activity levels, but simply by "moving more" we're still left with a fairly inefficient strategy that it isn't much fun to stick to.

So then. What to actually do?

The same thing I always say. We need to do more than just "move more", and apply some strenuous effort in the context of a more strategic training program. A program that is designed to promote the increase and maintenance of lean mass... specifically increased bone density and muscle tissue, at the expense of body fat stores.

Following a program such as this, your energy requirements are increased significantly, and continue to increase as you make progress and improve performance at training. Within these requirements there is plenty of room to base your nutrition plan on the choices of foods you enjoy, secure in the knowledge that all of the resources those foods provide will be utilised to good effect in building your healthy, athletic goal body condition at goal weight.


My Free Weight Loss Program, now over 20,000 served!

This is GREAT!

Actually I'm a little ahead of myself, but the counter is about to tick over to 20,000 views before the end of the day, or by the time I get out of bed tomorrow morning at least. We're now averaging about 340 a day. That's AMAZING to me.

The first weight loss success stories are already online, and I get at least a couple of messages every day from people who love my articles. It feels good to be helping people! It's helping me too, of course. It feels good knowing that there is a change going on out there, and more and more people are starting to look for real solutions, looking to get educated, and are prepared to take positive action to create the life that they want and deserve.

So, the health and fitness revolution is here. People are sick of hearing about "tricks" to lose weight. They know that restrictive diets and food avoidance is not the answer. They're seeking out more positive role models, more supportive and encouraging social networks, and getting inspired. They're starting to believe in their potential to succeed and achieve physical goals that might have seemed way too ambitious in the past.

And that means more people are training PROPERLY. Like THIS:

Pay close attention you will notice my logo on that tank top!

Who is this program for though?

The program is for anyone who wants to cut out the bullshit and just focus on what will actually produce the results they want to achieve. So far my best successes have involved people who were already training, already watching what they ate, already putting in the effort... but not quite seeing the results. Maybe they were stuck in a plateau after getting some results earlier on... in almost all of these cases, the results have come not from doing any EXTRA, but by changing the focus a little. A bit more of this, a bit less of that, perhaps with a better structure more conducive to results as well.

In probably... I don't know... there's only been maybe two or three cases at the most where I haven't actually INCREASED the range of calories per day for most people, as well.

So.. that's for people who have been following some other strategy with limited success. But even if you are BRAND NEW this program is for you. Even more so, it means I don't have to de-program you from whatever bad advice you've been fed in the past.


3000 calorie vegetarian bodybuilding meal plan

I've changed up my meal plan a little recently, and it's working out pretty well so far so I thought I would tell people about it. Usually when I get up in the morning the only thing I've got on my mind is a massive bowl of cereal, with some vanilla whey concentrate over the top. Lately I haven't been feeling the cereal so much for some reason, so I made some changes as follows.

I keep going back and forward on whether what I do counts as "body building" or not, since it's not like I'm training to get on stage and compete. But whatever... if you're training to change the shape of your body, that's body building innit?

Anyway here we go with my current meal plan!

First meal: Massive Bowl Of Fruits

They say you're supposed to eat 5 pieces of fruit a day, don't they? Well I think that's about right and I like to get my five (or more) all in the one hit, early in the day. At the moment I'm hitting up some watermelon, different types of peaches, nectarines, grapes, and strawberries. Fruit is like nature's candy except it's also nutritious. You should eat a fuck tonne of fruit every day if you want to be happy, in my opinion.

Second meal: Breakfasty type things

Next up I'm hitting some french toast (2 eggs, two slices soy & linseed bread) and some vegetarian sausages. I'm on Quorn sausages at the moment, with a little hummus as well. You could add spinach, tomatoes, whatever vegies you like here as well. More vegetables is always better.

Pre Training:

Vanilla Protein Shake with a frozen banana blended in.

Post Training:

As soon as I walk in the door I'll have 2 thick white ricecakes with raspberry jam. I'm usually a wreck by the time I'm done training so this is a good way to start recovering and replenish those energy (glycogen) stores. Next up is another protein shake. I have choc mint flavour which is OH MY GOD SO GOOD.


Pancakes. Protein is important so I'm hitting 4 more eggs & a couple scoops WPC, plus oats and a splash of milk in the form of delicious pancakes. And the beautiful part is, I put icecream on top of 'em.

IIIFYM, bitches.


Dinner is a little more varied. Usually there's a vegie burger (just the patty) as the protein source, with whatever steamed or fresh vegetables. Usually I have some pre-prepared vege or lentil curry as well. I used to make my own and they were awesome, but I got lazy. It's the HEAT, people. Summer weather.

And there you have it!

Approximately 3000 calories and not too far off my 40 protein : 35 carbohydrates :  25 fats macro targets.

Obviously if you're looking for a Vegetarian Personal Trainer in Brunswick, you know who to talk to!

The one simple weight loss trick that guarantees results every time

Use this one simple, revolutionary trick for
 amazing fat loss results like this!
Unlike other sites, this is actually one of my clients
and not just a couple of photos I stole from the internet.
I already took the piss out of those "one simple trick I stumbled onto" websites over on my other (other other) blog. You know the ones. I think about 90% of all the ads I see on the web have that as the tag line, or something similar. One simple trick, latest breakthrough by Chinese scientists, whatever else. It's always a load of garbage.

There's a reason why they market like that though. For one reason or another, that's what most people are looking for. Some "trick" that's going to solve all of their problems without any effort, inconvenience or change in habits or lifestyle. Just throw these berries in with your breakfast, or take this pill before meals, or whatever. Usually something ridiculous, and most of them use an identical approach, sales pitch and website. For that matter there are virtually identical websites for "how to pick up chicks", "how to regrow your hair", and who knows what else. I saw one about wrinkles today as well. All with the same "I couldn't believe how easy it was with this one simple trick" voice over, and the same "wait are you sure you really want to exit?" popup when you realise you've heard all this before.

It's a problem when the supposedly reputable websites will run the ads to these scam products. My Lose Weight, No Bullshit website gets slammed with traffic every day, so it would be nice to make a couple of bucks with some ads on there... but how can I be talking about scam free, healthy weight loss and then have a "5 foods to never eat" banner on the side?

Oh yeah, the "5 foods to never eat"... that's another one, isn't it?

That's the same thing again, right? The idea that there's some simple little tip or trick that'll take care of everything else. I still get rather a lot of similar enquiries... "I'm not losing weight, could it be because of this?" trying to pin the blame on one individual, particular habit. It's not like they're saying "triple chocolate chip double chocolate icecream chocolate mud cake" or something either, something clearly packing a shittonne of calories that you shouldn't be eating habitually outside of special occasions or rare treats. Usually it's something quite innocuous. In some cases morons who should know better will be talking about perfectly normal, actually quite nutritious foods and telling people "oh, you want to lose weight? Don't eat too much fruit, it has sugar init", for example. OOOH. 

So all of this stuff is terrible, right? The scammers should be banned from doing business, the reputable sites should refuse to run ads with unhelpful messages that link to these scam websites, and the media should stop running stories on any and every fad diet and making them seem credible. 

Especially when it goes beyond simply "not working", and many of these fad or gimmick diets are seriously unhealthy and damaging both to physical health as well as mental health through encouraging eating disorder style food avoidance. I've written about this at great length in the past, but the bottom line is that if you're actually interested in helping people, you don't offer up half baked quick fixes and false hope.

You know what though? The irony is that there actually IS one simple trick that will absolutely ensure success in losing weight. I have built my online fat loss coaching system around this one simple tip and it means that I can tell people with absolute certainty that they will hit a particular, specific goal weight by the end of the 12 week program.

Unless you're new you already know what I am going to say, because I say the same thing in almost every entry. Simply: consume the amount of calories appropriate to maintain your healthy, goal weight.

Now, I'll bet about half all people reading this just sighed like "ughhh, is that it? I thought he had an actual trick I could use", right? One time I even had an idiot reblog me on tumblr like "eat the right amount? That's it? That's your revolutionary break through idea? Like no one ever thought of that before!"

Before you dismiss the idea though, honestly answer the following questions:

  1. If you actually did consume the right amount, can you think of a single reason why you would not end up at your healthy goal weight? 
  2. Is there really any reason why you would not be able to eat the right amount if you decided to? I didn't say "starve yourself", either. The right amount is "enough but not too much".
  3. If you're NOT eating the right amount, how fantastically magical would any "trick" have to be to make up for this and get you to your goal weight and body type?
There you have it. Determine a suitable and healthy goal weight range, then figuring out about how many calories will be required to maintain it, and then spend maybe 15 - 20 minutes making a meal plan that fits your schedule, based on foods you like, and exercise for about an hour a day.

It's simple and the only trick you need.

Stop wasting your time with junk products and gimmick diets, and use the proven, sensible methods used by thousands of successful people instead.

There's plenty of information about my program right here on blogspot, or you can head straight to the brand new Flexible Fueling domain to sign up for VIP Access.


Is it ok to eat fruit when you are trying to lose weight?

You'd be amazed how often this question comes up, and it doesn't help that there are "trainers" out there who give the wrong answer. I've even heard of people talking about carrots and other vegetables "having too much sugar".

Absolutely fucking ridiculous. I'm swearing because it actually makes me quite angry.

People need to have a healthy relationship with food. Obviously eating large amounts of sugar laden junk food is not good, but we're talking about fresh fruits and vegetables here. They're quite literally the best, healthiest things you can possibly eat.

So here's a little video I made to really spell this out once and for all.

There's a similar video (I shot a few different takes) on the Lose Weight, No Bullshit weblog which is all about losing weight while eating fruit, or whatever else you like.

Common sense look at IIFYM, continued.

Read the previous entry first, it's all about the If It Fits Your Macros approach to nutrition planning for weight loss.

For long term results, all diets either succeed or fail due to providing the appropriate amount of calories. I always talk about “appropriate to maintain your goal weight” to rule out unhealthy over restriction, but as long as you are consuming less than is required to maintain your current weight, you will lose weight.

Regardless of absolutely everything else, at the end of the day you're either getting the right amount or you aint. It really is that simple.

Well... almost.

Appropriate calories is the top priority, but we also need to pay attention to the ratio of calories from protein, carbohydrates and dietary fats as well. Contrary to popular belief, all of these macronutrients are important, although ideal ratios will vary from one person to the next.

By now you can probably imagine how this theory on nutrition got its name. Someone asks “I'm trying to lose weight, is it OK to eat [insert particular food choice here]?”, and the answer invariably is “if it fits your macros”. In other words, if overall intake is suitable to fuel, recover and adapt to exercise while maintaining your goal weight, individual choices of foods do not matter.

Now quite often the particular food that they might be asking about is a perfectly healthy, normal choice of foods that there's no good reason to avoid. With that being said though, even the healthiest foods will cause weight gain if eating them means that you end up consuming more calories than are necessary to maintain your current weight. Similarly, even a less healthy food choice will not cause weight gain unless you exceed your maintenance level of calories.

So, does this mean people can eat junk food and still lose weight?

It depends. Junk food tends to pack a lot of calories into a small amount of food, and usually those calories are predominately from sugars or fats. Junk food also has that addictive quality where (if you're anything like me) even though you say “I'll just have one”, you end up going back for another 6, or until there's none left. So, while it's possible to include some food purely for enjoyment rather than for nutritional content, it makes it a lot harder to end up meeting your targets for overall calories and macronutrient ratios at the end of the day.

Why IIFYM is the logical choice for weight loss.

OK! Going back to that list of common diet tips from earlier, astute readers might have picked up a couple of references to some legitimate approaches in amongst a lot of stuff which is pretty much nonsense. So if you're offended because you think I'm talking about favourite approach, or something your favourite body builder uses, or for any other reason because you think I'm saying “that's no good, that won't work” hold up for a moment while I explain.

First up, I'm not in competition shape and I do not coach people in contest preparation. If anyone out there wants to tell me that specific meal timing or frequency (some of the other stuff too) gives them an edge in contest preparation I am happy to take their word for it. With that said, the body builders I follow and attempt to learn from mostly just talk in terms of “this macro ratio for off season, and this ratio for contest preparation”.
Either way, we're not talking about nutrition plans for contest preparation here. What I'm interested in is taking people from overweight or obesity into amazing shape, and getting the best results possible with the simplest possible approach.

So in the case of an overweight or an obese person who may have tried to lose weight without lasting success several times already, the last thing they need is a complicated plan that focuses on the minute details rather than the big picture. They most often already have a bad relationship with food and have formed any number of negative beliefs about their ability to lose weight (“I can never stick to a diet” or “I don't like healthy food”, for example).

The last thing these people need is some complicated set of rules that is at best fine tuning for elite level competitors, and at worst entirely irrelevant.

Instead, what if you could build your own weight loss diet based on foods you will actually eat, and timed to fit your schedule? As long as it actually does fit your macros, how could you possibly go wrong?

Making it work.

Obviously it's not just a matter of choosing your favourite foods and going to town on them. We need to determine our target calorie and macronutrient guidelines first, and then start developing a meal plan to suit. One option would be keep notes on all meals, snacks and beverages consumed in a day, and then tally up the macronutritional content. From here it is easy to see which are the bad choices that are putting you into surplus calories (which means weight gain), and swap them out for some more appropriate choices. In many cases it may not require a particularly drastic change in eating habits.

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Drop your details in the box at the top of the page, and there'll be a whole heap of quality, free information coming your way. Alternatively you can visit the brand new Flexible Fueling website instead, and subscribe there.

I've been writing about this IIFYM stuff for quite a while now, way before it went mainstream. Here's one of my earliest articles about IIFYM, and another comparing IIFYM with conventional weight loss dieting.

IIFYM - Common Sense Approach To Weight Loss

It is a little ironic and unfortunate that while the motivation to lose weight may come from wanting to take better care of their health, the average overweight or obese person seems to adopt an unhealthy weight loss strategy more often than not. Usually this means extreme calorie restriction in the form of a crash diet, whether in the form of one of the many popular fad diets, meal replacement products, or just plain old “not eating”.

I would hope that anyone reading this article with an interest in health and fitness would agree that “food avoidance” is never a healthy option, even as a short term measure. Restriction leads to conservation, and it should be common knowledge by now that crash dieting invariable leads to weight gain as soon as the dieter returns to their usual eating habits. Not just gaining back the weight that they lost by starving themselves, but actually ending up heavier and more unhealthy than they started.

Perhaps even more damaging than the physical weight gain though is that each failed attempt to lose weight can reinforce negative and incorrect beliefs such as “I can't lose weight and I'll always be fat”, or even worse “eating makes you fat, not eating makes you lose weight”. Although there is a growing industry in products that take advantage of and propagate these messages, as fitness professionals or enthusiasts and decent human beings I'm sure we can all agree on how important it is that we combat these negative and untrue beliefs with practical, common sense advice on dieting, and the message that all human beings can get into shape and be healthy and happy through appropriate nutrition and exercise.

So that's crash dieting well and truly ruled out, forever!

What are some better options though? Our hypothetical overweight or obese person may be fortunate enough to have a friend or co-worker who knows (or at least, thinks he knows) something about training and nutrition who they can turn to for advice. Or, perhaps they get online and start researching the latest in legitimate dieting strategies as used by fitness models or body builders in contest preparation.

Depending on who's advice they follow, the dieting tips may be some or all of the following:
  • Eat a particular number of meals per day.
  • Eat only at these times of the day.
  • Only eat these types of foods, never eat those types of foods. 
  • Never eat these types of foods at the same time as those types of foods.
  • Only eat these types of foods in the morning, and only eat these types of foods in the afternoon. 
  • Avoid anything with a high glycaemic index.
  • Cut out carbs.
  • Cut out fats.
  • And perhaps my personal favourite; “Just eat clean”.
What's missing from this list?

Let me put it to you another way. Imagine I get an email, or I have a conversation with a member at the gym and they tell me “Dave, why aren't I losing weight? I'm eating 6 small meals a day, nothing after 7pm, I've cut out this, increased that, and I'm eating pretty clean. I should have lost more weight by now. What gives?”

What do you think I am most likely to ask them before I can hazard a guess at why they are not seeing results?

Simply put: How many calories are you getting in a day?

Let me break it down for you this way. There are four ranges of calories that a person could be consuming on average, as follows:
  • Excessive to current requirements, resulting in weight gain through increased body fat.
  • Suitable to maintain current weight. 
  • Suitable to achieve and maintain a healthy goal weight. 
  • Insufficient for good health, with unpredictable results that may include weight gain.
There would be some grey areas in between, but in short “you are either consuming an appropriate amount of calories to maintain your goal weight, or you are NOT consuming an appropriate amount of calories to maintain your goal weight”.

Continue to the next entry on IIFYM For Weight Loss.


information about burning calories through exercise

There's lots of new reading material over on the Lose Weight, No Bullshit site that you should check out. Start with my Eat More, Do Less; Lose Weight post from earlier in the week if you have not seen it already.

What we talked about in the that instalment was determining our actual requirements, rather than just sticking to the numbers we expect to work based on our mathematical formulas. As I said, in most cases we will get an accurate prediction using the Mifflin - St Joer equation... but if we're not seeing results, we're not using the right targets.

These days the issue often gets further confused by the popular habit of tracking (or attempting to) the amount of calories burned while exercising. I've discussed this already in the Cardio vs Weight Training entry (about half way down) in the Free Weight Loss Education Program. So, what I notice on people's weight loss & exercise blogs is that they seem to be talking about three different sets of calories they need to work to. One being their "base" or minimum requirement, then the amount they have burned off at training, and then a third amount which is the extra they need to "eat back" due to training.

Or something. I can barely follow the logic of it all, to be honest with you. It just seems way over complicated and confusing, and that's never the best strategy for anything in my opinion. I talk about it more in this post about eating back calories burned while exercising.

Over the past few years an idea seems to have spread that "more calories burned" = "a better workout". Well, without getting too pedantic and going into the difference between a workout and training for results, I don't think this is necessarily correct. So in this entry I talk about the difference between training methodically to produce a specific result, and just working out to burn calories.

Plenty of good information! Study up!

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.

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