P90X. The Perfect Workout???

I am sure you have heard of P90X or Insanity or any other DVD based workout that is sold on an infomercial only after midnight on Wednesday nights. Quickly to answer the question in the title, since I am sure you decided to read this post because you saw P90X and you tried that once like 5 years ago, no…P90X isn’t the perfect workout. But, since you are here you should stay for like 4 minutes and finish reading :)

There is no perfect workout. The workout that helps you achieve your goals and that you ENJOY doing is the “perfect” workout for YOU. Obviously you need some guidelines though…..

I have been writing a lot about nutrition and habits and such. I needed to get out a blog post on exercise, I mean I still am a American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer.

I always get questions like: “what is better, cardio or lifting weights?” Or, “I don’t want to get bulky, how do I lift weights to get tone?” OR “What will a workout look like if I train with Right Body Fitness??” I will answer that last question, because I live it daily.

Below is my definition of a “perfect” workout setup for someone on a weight loss journey. Again, my business is built around helping individuals get stronger and lose weight (and maintain it!!) through lifestyle changes. I do have clients who train for 10ks, a 23 year old client who wants be “cut,” and some high school athletes. But, 90% of my clients are weight loss clients (10-100lbs), so this post is dedicated to setting up a workout to maximize your time in the gym while on a weight loss journey. If you have different goals please comment or email me! I have a pretty good handle of muscle gaining programs and strength training for runners from personal experience.

 

So you just completed my 4-6 week Prep Phase of workouts with me. This included getting moving better with mobility drills, building up your stamina with cardio and getting you in tune with listening to your body. Now on to the good stuff, strength training!

Steps:

1) Walk into the gym with confidence and PLAN. Never walk into the gym or your basement not knowing EXACTLY what you are there to accomplish and EXACTLY what you are going to crush. If you don’t own your workout, it will own you. At that point you should look to change up what you are doing because your chances of success are out the window.
2) 5-10 minutes of mobility work (NOT STRETCHING!!!) to lubricate your joints and get some blood flowing to the areas you will be working.Focus on your shoulders, hips and thoracic spine. Below are great mobility drills!!
– Band pull aparts
-Band overheads (shoulder dislocators they are also called)
-Thoracic wall extension drills
-Fire hydrants
-Prone hip extensions on all fours
-Spiderman walks
-Overhead squats with broomstick or PVC pipe
3) Kettlebell swings: great to warmup up the hips, get the blood flowing and simulate the hip hinge you will be doing while deadlifting
4) Monster walks: another great warm up exercise to get blood flowing to those small gluteal muscles that are key in keeping proper knee and hip alignment while squatting and lunging
5) Pushups/Pullups: either as a warmup to heavier pushing/pulling or as the beginning of your strength work

kim-rdl2
6a) Deadlift or RDL variation (heavy weight and reps 3-5): this is in every program I write because 99% of people are quad dominate and have serious muscle imbalances…this means they need to focus on strengthening their posterior chain (think hamstrings and glutes) to avoid injuries and hip/knee pain. Lifting this heavy will not make you bulky. I will repeat that. Lifting for reps of 3-5 will not make you bulky when you keep volume low by doing 2-3 sets and are in a calorie deficit.  

6b) Weighted core exercise: I usually pair my lower body strength exercise with a weighted core exercise (weighted plank, Paloff band press etc) for time efficiency. This also reinforces the client to engage their core while deadlifting.

7)Upper body strength superset: 1 push (pushups/military press etc)/1 pull (single arm dumbbell row, TRX pullup etc). Same thing here as above: if you are lifting heavy and putting on weight you are eating too much.

**Supersets (two exercises back to back) are great for efficiency in a workout.

8) Dumbbell complex/dumbbell chain or density circuit for 10-15 minutes:  these are staples of all my weight loss programs as they are great for metabolic affects. AKA fat burning…what we all want!!!

**Think 3-6 exercises with dumbbells or kettbells in a continuous circuit (5-12 reps each exercise) for as  many rounds as you can complete in the allotted time. This will jack your heart rate up, but also give you resistance training benefits!! You can’t beat the efficiency of these circuits. I use them myself all the time. If you only have 20 minutes in your basement to crank out a workout, this would be it!!

9) If there is an extra 5 minutes I will use that for either a short HIIT circuit with the rower/ropes/medicine balls/stairs OR core OR stretching.

 

Boom. 60 minutes in and out. It felt like 20 minutes because I kept you moving and active and the rest was always timed. 

Time your rest breaks!!

Time your rest breaks!!

 

As you see, the focus for an hour workout with me is on strength. But, I am by no means against cardio. I use cardio (mainly HIIT) in my programs for weight loss clients. But, those are the workouts I usually give to clients to do on their own between sessions with me. HIIT helps you burn those extra calories needed to accelerate fat loss. HIIT  will also increase your stamina and work capacity, helping you recover faster in workouts, thus making those workouts more comfortable allowing you to complete more work in 30-60 minute session.

 

Why a focus on strength though???  Because if you are getting stronger, you are gaining more lean muscle and the more lean muscle you have the more efficient (I have said that word a lot) you are at burning fat. By gaining strength and thus more muscle it will help you avoid those dreaded 8lb weight gains after a weekend of binging because your metabolism will be in a better place. Crushing cardio 6 days a week does nothing for your metabolism and your ability to sustain the 20lbs you lost. Lifting heavy weights will help you sustain weight loss.

 

If P90X has worked you then keep at it! Just stay consistent with it because it is sometimes very easy to fall off the bandwagon when you don’t want to hear Tony Horton’s voice anymore and the DVD seems to get lost.

 

Being accountable with a personal coach just can’t be beat. I will leave it at that :)

 

Ryan

What is "Normal?"

A couple weeks back I had a really engaging and thoughtful conversation with a client of mine. She stayed an hour after her workout and she grilled me with questions about weight loss, the psychology of weight loss, what I do in my daily life to keep balance (and friends) and what is “normal.” That is the question that stood out to me the most. What is normal? This client has been on a weight loss journey since she was 12 years old. She is now in her 30s. That is a long time. Too long. She has had huge weight swings, up 40lbs, down 50lbs, up again and down again. She has had successes and failures, just like you and just like me. She is probably my best client at  preparing her meals and planning her weeks that I have ever had. I mean she has been doing it for 20 years! She has some great habits. So you would think that with all this experience planning, prepping, eating “clean,” tracking her macros she would be happy with where she is at. She is still struggling with the same things now as 20 years ago, because weight loss is just as much (if not more) psychological as it is about calories, meal prep and protein. Finding what is “normal” is a difficult task.

 

And she isn’t alone. The majority of people on a weight loss journey have been on that journey for far too long because they are struggling with the same psychological battles now as 10 or 20 years ago. You know that protein is good for you and that exercise lowers your risk of heart disease, But, then why aren’t you eating more protein or exercising daily?? It is the psychological battle of creating a new “normal” that scares people off.  Getting out of your comfort zone to make those new habits become normal for you is what makes weight loss so difficult. I am by no means a psychologist and won’t try to be one in this post, but I see this stuff daily and have experience working with clients who struggle with the same things you do. And I will use my personal life again to illustrate how I changed my habits and how it wasn’t as difficult as you may think. Don’t copy me though!! Use my habits and lifestyle as a guide for your new lifestyle; your life should not mirror mine.

Her interest in the psychology of weight loss is the reason for this post and the  other 15 blog topics I will use in the future that she sent me to write about :)

 

What is normal? Or on the other end of the spectrum…what is obsessive?? Normal/obsessive in regards to weight loss and living a healthy, happy life. That is what my client was asking.

 

normal-vs-abnormal-11-638

 

Tracking macros? Weighing food? Meal prepping? Going to happy hour every week? Eating a donut for breakfast every day? Having a beer or two with dinner? Lifting weights? Just doing cardio?

 

Normal is what YOU do on a daily basis. What YOUR daily habits and routines are. My normal is different than YOUR normal. My habits are different than other trainers and coaches habits (OK many of them are the same, but not exactly the same).

 

So, sit back for a minute and think about your day today. What you ate for breakfast, your meetings at work, your workout after work, dinner etc. That is YOUR normal. And that might not be a bad! Maybe you are happy and content and satisfied in your normal. Great!

 

But, I think if you are reading this post and my other blogs you are probably looking for some kind of change in your health, fitness, nutrition etc. That means your normal needs to change. Your habits need to change so your body, life, health, performance etc can change. Expecting a change in your weight without changing your normal daily routine will result in your eventual disappointment. That is the honest truth.

 

Quick flash back to 2010/2011. I was a sophomore in college and running track (not very well). My workouts sucked, my times sucked, I wasn’t happy with my performance at practice or at meets. I wanted to do better. I really fucking wanted to do better. I decided to change my habits. Little things: eating wheat bread instead of white bread, carrying a water bottle around with me, eating veggies twice a day (I didn’t eat anything green until I was like 19…shocking yes), taking a protein supplement etc. I changed MY normal. This took patience and the results didn’t pay off right away, but after a few months I had made new habits and built off those habits. Throughout all of this I was gaining confidence on the track as my times improved. One year after I started these habit changes I was standing on the podium with my relay team a school record holder. Habit changes led to a new normal which led to more confidence which led to success and that success led to even more confidence. I haven’t ever been on a 50lb weight loss journey, but I know what it takes to create a new normal because believe it or not I haven’t always had the habits  I have now.

 

 

 

Now on to my life today. Again, my normal does not need to be your normal, but the best way I can coach is to give you an idea of what has worked for me and you can decide if it is good fit your life. You can shake your head, laugh or think I am crazy for some of my habits, but I have found what works for me. What works for you is probably different, but to make a serious change in your lifestyle you will definitely needconsistency similar to mine.

  • I always meal prep. Every Sunday.
  • I eat the same things over and over. It is not boring to me because it keeps me where I want to be with my body and lifestyle.
  • I always have 1-2 scoops of protein a day. I always have meat at two meals a day.
  • I always have green veggies at two meals a day. I will eat broccoli before going out for wings. Is that obsessive? Not me to me. It is dedicated. And it works!!
  • I drink a water all day. Yesterday I had 190 ounces. That may seem like a lot, but my body craves water because I made it a habit. You need to understand that habits don’t come quickly and that giving up on something after two weeks is not being patient enough. I couldn’t have drank 190 ounces of water 5 years ago, but now I can because it is just second nature to me. Just like it is second nature for you to stop at McDonalds on the way home for dinner….it is a habit you have created by doing it day in and day out.
  • I workout 6 days a week. I lift and run. I am not cardio bunny or lifting bro. I have balance.
  • I drink on Saturdays.
  • I ate a 14 inch pizza in about 7 minutes this Saturday. That is normal for me. But, wont touch pizza again until this Saturday because that is my normal. And it works!!
  • I sleep 7 hours a night. I go to bed at 10:30 every night during the week so I can be productive the next day.
  • If I want a drink during the week I will have one because that isn’t the end of the world. This has been rare lately though.
  • I track my macros when I change my goals (ie: cutting weight or gaining weight). This means weighing and measuring food religiously. This might be obsessive, but obsessive isn’t a bad thing in the short term. Obsessive in the short term is extreme dedication to accomplishing a goal…that isn’t unhealthy is it??  You need to be obsessive about your nutrition when your doctor tells you need to lose 100lbs because your life is on the line. You do not need to be obsessive about your nutrition when you are happy with how you look and feel. You also need to be obsessive about your nutrition if you want a 6 pack…for guys that are reading. 
  • I don’t track my macros when I am in a maintenance mode.
  • My normal is constantly changing.

That is my normal. YOUR’S is different. What I do may seem obsessive to some, but to me it simply gets the job done for my goals. Are you ready to find your new normal?

 

PS: Remember that this stuff is my career and passion. I wouldn’t expect you or any of my clients to be quite as dedicated as I am. I expect a lot out of my clients, but I don’t expect them to actually be me :) I think I need to set an example, so don’t feel the need to copy me. Find what works for YOU!

The Most Important Day of Your Week

I have been experimenting with my body, nutrition, workouts and lifestyle the past 9 months. I have learned a lot about how my (hopefully your’s too) body responds to different caloric amounts, carb amounts, fat amounts, sleep, drinking and different stressors. After all of this I am pretty adamant when I say that Sunday is the most important day of your week. This can actually be any day where you are off work, for the most part relaxing, and getting ready to get back on the grind the next day. So, if  you work Wednesday through Sunday, think of this as your Tuesday.

 

Why is Sunday so important?? Here ya go!

 

  1. You have time to meal prep for the week. This is such a neglected skill, yet is something that is seriously so easy to do. Please. Please, check out my meal prep guide.
  2. This is the day you get back on track with your nutrition plan after going out the night before, or taking Saturday completely off in regards to nutrition. I am not saying you get hammered every Saturday, but most people slack a bit on Saturday and that is totally OK! As long as you know what to do Sunday. Again, this is where I see people mess up every single week and wake up Monday frustrated that they need to start all over.
  3. You get to relax and take mental break from work (hopefully).

 

Alright, I am going to let you into my Sunday life the past 5 months as I dropped 20lbs and 6% bodyfat. I am totally OK doing this because this has worked AMAZINGLY for me. If you want to keep having Sunday Funday, go for it! Just realize, you have no reason to complain and be frustrated when you are bloated, soft, and pissed off Monday morning because you “screwed up” again. Also, realize I was extra rigid with my diet on Sundays because of the goal I had in mind. Is this how I will be the rest of my life? Nope, I usually like to eat a lot on Sundays. A lot of salty foods :)

keep-calm-and-sunday-funday-5

 

  1. Eat a protein bar before bed at 1am, or 2am or whenever I get back from being out. You can think what you want, but I like to hang out with my buddies on Saturday nights. It’s my balance in life right now (maybe not in 5 years). I am a far cry from how I was in college, but staying out and having drinks with the guys is something I look forward to come Saturday. OK, so this protein bar. Eat a protein bar at 1am instead of Toppers. It will fill you up  and then go to bed. Drinking doesn’t necessary cause weight gain. It is the drunk food that will. Eating protein will also help your hangover, trust me it works.
  2. Wake up whenever I want to wake up because it is the one day I can sleep in past 6am. Maybe drink some Gatorade or AdvoCare Rehydrate (try this low calorie Gatorade powder, it’s great!). I log this in myfitnesspal. I DON’T START EATING OR GO GET BLOODY’S. When trying to lose weight, this just can’t happen.
  3. I suck it up and fast until noon. Why? This will shorten my window of eating for the day to 8 hours (noon-8pm) instead of eating for 12 hours (8am-8pm). By eating for 4 less hours I estimate I eat 500-1000 calories less than I normally would have. THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WAKING MONDAY UP 3 LBS AND WAKING UP MONDAY THE SAME WEIGHT AS SATURDAY MORNING. Now, that is going to be water weight, but if you are one of those people who let’s the scale weight determine your mood for the day (many people are like this so you are not alone), this fasting thing on Sundays is worth a try.
  4. I log my food for the entire day. Wait what??? Ryan, you log your food even though you have a headache and just want to eat all day? Yes. Log your damn food on Sundays. You cannot take Sunday off if you want to continue what you did Monday-Friday/Saturday. Your fun meal (s) was on Saturday. It is a new day, start over now and not Monday. That is too late. You absolutely must treat Sunday like your Wednesday. You know that day of the week when you are back eating salads twice a day and hitting the gym after work.
  5. Just logging food won’t do much though if you eat 4000 calories again. At that point you might as well just continue what you did Saturday. Which, is good to do sometimes! Not, when you are on a weight loss journey though. You need to keep carbs and fat low. I am not a big fan of being reactive about things, especially with your diet, but this is a place to be reactive and not proactive. You planned to fail on Saturday by eating protein all day and leaving room for your fatty and high carb dinner. Great job!! With 5 unplanned drinks Saturday night though, you now wake up Sunday with two options. Say screw it and eat hangover food all day (high fat and carbs) or say “I had fun, but back on track today.” This means back to high protein/low fat/low carb all Sunday. This is the best way to “kind of” balance out Saturday. It really worked for me! I usually kept Sunday calories 300-400 calories lower than my typical week day. Again, fasting until noon helped this.
  6. I meal prep for 1 hour. No longer than this. I don’t  really like meal prepping, but it makes my weeks so much easier.
  7. I drink a lot of water to keep me full.
  8. I keep reminding myself why I am doing this. The end goal in mind. If was blowing my Sundays I would have been blowing my chances of getting to where I wanted to be. How bad do you really want this?

 

Here is a list of foods I would eat on Sundays the past 5 months as I tried to keep my progress up and body-fat down:

  • Whole eggs/egg whites
  • Whey protein (alot of it)
  • Protein bars
  • Low fat string cheese sticks
  • Chicken breasts
  • Chicken wings (baked)
  • Steak (had steak quite a bit…I figured out a way to fit a 16oz ribeye in to my calories by sacrificing calories elsewhere). Eating while losing weight and fat does not need to be boring. 
  • Protein pancakes
  • Bacon (sometimes…3 slices not the whole pound)

 

This has been very difficult, don’t get me wrong. But, doing something that challenges  you is the only way you will make progress. It was more than worth it. I was a spray tan and two days of no sodium away from being fitness model competition ready….never would go that route, but that was my goal. This was out of my comfort zone. Are you willing to try new things and get out of your comfort zone?

 

Ryan

Reverse Diet, Don't Yo-Yo Diet

Question for you. How many times have you lost some weight, felt great about yourself and the progress you saw with your body, only to hit a wall (physically or psychologically) and put some, if not all the weight back on that you lost? I will assume, and I try not to normally assume things, that you have had cycles like I just described in the past. Or even currently! What is this called? And why does this happen?

Yo-Yo Diet or Weight Cycling: repeated loss and regain of body-weight.

**Note: this weight loss and regain is not planned like a “cut” and “bulk” phase that bros talk about. AKA me. Those bros are in complete control of their nutrition and lifestyle while losing and gaining weight. I actually don’t really think I am bro, but maybe I am.

Thank you Kelly D. Brownell of Yale University for that definition. She apparently came up with the definition of a “yo-yo diet.”

Why do so many people struggle with this so called yo-yo diet? Well, for one, most people who have lost weight haven’t established any sustainable habits that will allow them to maintain weight loss. The lack of patience in our society and the “need” for an instagram body pushes too many people to extreme measures of fat loss, such as cutting calories to 1200 or lower for months on end. In the short term this works great for results! If you are six weeks out from a vacation to Cabo and want to fit in that swim suit, than aggressive fat loss will work, but that is a topic for another blog.

The other reason you and many others just like you struggle with this constant weight loss and regain is that desire for a mental break post diet. You do need a mental break, you really do deserve it. I completely know how that feels (hope you read my last blog post). But, I am going to ask you to be patient just a little while longer.

 

Enter reverse dieting, or the process of slowly adding calories (mainly carbs) back into your diet one week at a time when coming off a “dieting” period. Again, this takes patience. The same patience you had for the past 6 months as you slowly lowered calories and the scale weight dropped 40lbs and you dropped 7 pant sizes :)

It is a simple concept that calls for you to add around 100-200 calories (so 25-50g of carbs) back into your daily diet, each week, until you hit your maintenance calories. Those are the calories you can eat everyday and maintain the weight and lifestyle you are happy with. You need to be tracking macros for this to work most efficiently. I know, moreeeeee macro tracking, but it is worth it. I mean you just lost 40lbs, wouldn’t it be awesome to keep it off this time!

This is a screen shot from my phone, yes. This diagram gives a general idea of what reverse dieting looks like with calories surpluses to recharge your metabolism and then deficits for fat loss.

This is a screen shot from my phone, yes. This diagram gives a general idea of what reverse dieting looks like with calories surpluses to recharge your metabolism and then deficits for fat loss. Notice “diet” periods are shorter than “maintenance” periods.

 

I will use me as an example:

-I was eating between 2000-2400 calories a day last week before I hit my goal. This week I am eating 2600 calories per day (50 more grams of carbs).

-Next week I will eat 2700 calories per day. The following week 2800 calories per day. The following 2900 calories per day. My maintenance calories are somewhere around 3000 calories for a being a male, age 24, at 181lbs,  and 6-7% bodyfat.  That is an estimation, but within in a 100 calories I am guessing.

-This means I need to religiously macro track for another 4-5 weeks in order to avoid losing all the progress I made in a matter of 1-2 weeks. Yes that can happen; if you don’t care about that happening then the rest of this post might be a waste of your time. I could go from 6% bodyfat to 10-12% (put on 10lbs) in two weeks if I lost all self control. I wasn’t going to lose all self control, but play along here. I want to stay as lean as I am as long as I can while eating more. I am hungry and want more carbs. Just have to do it slowly.

 

Now, this might seem meticulous, but this is what happens if I dont:

  • If I go from 2000-2400 calories a day right away to eating whatever I wanted (for me that is probably 3500ish calories during the week when not tracking), my body is going to essentially suck up the extra carbs and fat and store it. This is because I have been dieting down enough where my body is in a mini starvation mode. I will feel bloated, put on a bunch of water weight (from a huge increase in carbs) real quick and with that some fat weight. THIS IS THE MISTAKE I SEE SO OFTEN. Especially after a client hits a goal weight or after a weight loss challenge.

Here is what happens if I DO reverse diet to my maintenance calories:

  • I am patient and allow my body to re-adjust to eating 3000 calories on a daily basis for 2-3 weeks while tracking. Remember, if eat around 3000 calories  day right now I will maintain a weight of 181-184ish lbs, but I want to be as careful as possible. If, I kept calories in the low 2000s I would continue to lose weight very slowly. Then when I take a mental break from tracking for 1-2 months and eat maybe 3500 calories Monday, 2600 calories Tuesday, 3100 calories Wednesday etc, my body and metabolism aren’t “shocked” into a 1000+ calorie surplus. My body isn’t in that mini starvation mode at 3000 calories, so 3500 or 4000 calories isn’t as big of a deal as it was when I was eating 2000-2400 calories.

 

OK Ryan, what happens when I reach those “maintenance” calories you talk about? There are three options in my mind:

  1. You continue to track macros because it keeps you accountable and you can eat more than you have been for the last 6 months ago while maintaining around the same weight you got down to. Take a few days off of tracking if you need it and enjoy yourself, then get right back it.
  2. You give yourself an extended mental break (1-3 months) from tracking and just continue those healthy habits you have established. I RECOMMEND THIS IF YOU DON’T INHERENTLY LIKE MACRO TRACKING. Just be aware you might put on a few lbs or body comp might change slightly. If you are OK with this, then definitely go for it! If you want to limit weight gain at all costs because it is summer, stick with option 1.
  3. You immediately start another phase of weight loss by cutting calories. Only if you have another, realistic goal weight you want to hit.

 

That is how I am currently eating and tracking my macros. But, there is one other way that reverse dieting can be very helpful. This is for people who come to me on a weight loss plateau from cutting calories so low that they can’t cut them any lower without hating life.  Metabolism is basically in the tank at this point and they are on the verge of locking themselves in their bedroom with family size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, 3 double butter burgers from Culvers and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s because this “weight loss thing” sucks! By implementing reverse dieting with someone like this we recharge their metabolism with a slow and steady increase in carbs, slow enough that weight gain doesn’t happen. Once scale weight increases 2-3 lbs we know we have found maintenance calories and that is when we can begin a dieting phase of cutting calories or carb cycling (damn still need to get my blog up on that topic) to continue weight loss.

 

Here is another screen shot of someone who continued to lose weight while reverse dieting because she was still in a calorie deficit, even though she was starting to eat more.

Here is another screen shot of someone who continued to lose weight while reverse dieting because she was still in a calorie deficit, even though she was starting to eat more.

 

The takeaway from this long and kind of boring blog post:

  • Be patient with weight loss. It is up and down, not linear. You will hit plateaus. Don’t overreact.
  • Finish what you started. Yes you deserve a mental break for losing 40lbs, but let’s keep it off this time.
  • Realize that a goal weight of 140lbs is a great goal to have. This singular goal can drive you to establish better habits and stay on track because you so desperately want to see that number pop up on the scale. But, what happens when you hit that number? Are you happier than before? Do you move on to another goal or do you give up all you have learned and put into practice over the past 6 months-2 years?
  • Also realize that a specific goal weight number will be impossible to keep every day for the rest of your life. If you hit 140lbs awesome job! But, you could be 142lb the next day because you ate at Carabas last night. Don’t freak out. Having a range of weight you are happy in (say 140-147lbs) might be the best way to look at maintaining weight.
  • Maintaining a weight you are happy at does not need to be hard. Always revert back to those healthy habits and get back to tracking if you feel like you are getting off track.

 

A little extra patience can go a long way.

 

Ryan

Do you need to do what I do?

If you are a client of mine, family member or close friend you probably know that over the past 6 months or so I have ventured off on my own to start my personal training business with an emphasis on lifestyle change coaching for weight loss. By being able to dedicate each hour of each work day to helping my clients and grow my business I have also been able to dedicate even more time to my personal nutrition and exercise programming. I decided it was time I make some changes with the way I live my life to transform my body, since I had been in a solid, but too comfortable routine, for over a year. This is post is a detailed description of how I gained 15lbs (on purpose) and lost 20lbs getting to what I think is the best shape of my life. Now, this is not some vain attempt for me to brag about how “lean” I got or how awesome I am for doing this. You don’t care about that, and my bodyfat percentage doesn’t change how my clients view me as a trainer. Am I happier now than 6 months ago? Nope, just as happy with my body and appearance as ever. Again, I will never be paid to do photo shoots nor do I ever want to be on stage with a bunch of other dudes flexing. But, was the challenge worth it, hell yea it was.

 

This post will outline what it takes to lose 10lbs, 20lbs, 50lbs or even 100+lbs and transform your body and life. BUT, also to tell you that you DON’T need to do EXACTLY what I did! You have to do you, find what gives you some confidence, and be happy with the progress you see. My goal is that after you read this you can decide one of two things: first, “I am totally ready to make a commitment RIGHT NOW and change my life!” OR “I am not quite ready to make a commitment because the timing isn’t right, but when I am ready I will have a general idea of what it takes so I am prepared.” Either decision is totally OK. Seriously!

 

execute-repeat-wallpaper

Alright, so let’s go back to September of last year (2015). I decided I needed to understand how it feels to be on a weight loss journey, be in a constant calorie deficit, be hungry, have less energy etc. All the things that go along with being “on a diet” or “cutting” or whatever you want to call it. I decided I needed to do this for my YOU, my clients, or anyone else thinking about starting a weight loss journey. I wanted to look good too, don’t get me wrong, but trust me that was not my number one reason for doing this. I coach clients to lose weight every single day, but didn’t know myself what they were going through. All the macro numbers in the world I gave them didn’t put me in their shoes. OK, yes I didn’t need to lose weight for my health, but I will do my best to compare my “cut” to my clients’ 30, 60, 75lb  (anywhere in between as well) weight loss journeys. To first lose weight, I needed to gain weight. I decided on 15lbs. I won’t go into details on how I did this, but it really killed my grocery bill and eating that much actually wasn’t that fun. By Thanksgiving I was ready to start my slow and steady weight loss journey, with a goal to be done by my birthday in May at the latest (I actually just accomplished my goal yesterday). Slow and steady, remember that.

 

Here is how I got started:

  1. I dropped my ego. DO THIS OR YOU WON’T BE SUCCESSFUL. I coach clients to track macros daily. I never tracked more than two weeks in a row in my life, I didn’t have to…or so I thought. Well, in the past three months, I missed two days (Christmas and New Year’s). If I was hungover, still tracked. I knew I was in good shape already, but not tracking my macros in a food log app was not going to get me to my goal. The point here: you have to be willing to change and get out of your comfort zone. By the way, macro tracking takes 10 minutes a day. Time is not an excuse on this.
  2. I wanted it. I really fucking wanted to do this.  I didn’t want it 75%, I wanted it 110%. Every single day. If you don’t really fucking want to lose weight, “get lean,” “transform your body,” whatever it is you want to “do,” it won’t happen. And you need to want it for yourself. I was not expecting 6% bodyfat to get me new clients or have random people say wow that guy is cool shit for being in such good shape. I did this for my own confidence and to challenge myself. I mean it is winter in Wisconsin, I am not walking around a beach shirtless right now.
  3. I EXECUTED my plan, was CONSISTENT and was PATIENT. I knew I could drop 20lbs fast, but that was not the point because I would have lost all my muscle I worked hard to gain, thus losing the shape that I wanted to attain. Don’t forget that wanting to look good is not a crime, it can be great motivation, as long as it is not your only motivator. Please be patient, this takes months and even years, it really does. But, it is so worth it.
  4. I made SACRIFICES. This is huge. I didn’t have my 2-3 glasses of scotch on Friday nights. I missed those wings with the guys on Monday night…I just drank water.  I had a protein shake before bed every night instead of cereal. I fasted on Sunday mornings when I wanted to huge a breakfast with my friends. Luckily my girlfriend was gone for two of these months, that made this a lot easier.
  5. I DIDN’T SACRIFICE EVERYTHING. Trust me I still had a life. I ate carbs. I went out almost every Saturday. I ate pizza almost every Saturday. I ate bread 5 days a week. I  had moments of weakness and said screw it I am going over my calories by 1000 today (that happened like three times). Find three things you won’t give up and keep them in moderation. Everything else can probably be sacrificed if you REALLY want it.
  6. I weighed and measured my food. It is not obsessive! It works and without doing it you are not doing all you can to get where you want to be. When you fucking want it, you will realize this is a habit, not obsessive.
  7. I ate a shit ton of protein, BUT still hit my calorie goals. Protein powder was my best friend. Take out the two days I did not log my food and there were TWO days I did not hit my protein goal (200-220g a day). It took me 1-1/2 days for me to feel like my body composition was back to where I wanted it (ie:  not bloated, muscle definition etc) after these two days. Those were days I wanted back as a do over. Even if I wasn’t working out I hit that number religiously. Can’t stress this protein stuff enough; if your protein number is 150g, hit that EVERY SINGLE DAY. Hope you read my last blog post.
  8. I ate a shit ton of veggies. Fiber was always above 35g a day.
  9. I drank water all day. 150+ oz a day.
  10. I worked out 6 days a week, but didn’t do too much. I lifted heavy weights 4 days a week. I ran at most one day a week. I spent 60 minutes at most a week on cardio, at very most (basically did this to prove a point that you can lose weight without excessive cardio). I made Saturday a mobility and stretching day……as close to yoga as I will get. I made my calorie deficit come from my nutrition and not my exercise. Don’t exercise to lose weight; eat to lose weight.
  11. I slept 7 hours a night. I realize this harder for you if you have kids and such, but at least try it.
  12. For you nerds this one is for you: I carb cycled, meaning I mixed low and high carb days during the week. I would go three weeks in a calorie deficit (started at 2900 calories/day for high carb and 2400 for low carb) than do a week of “maintenance calories” at 3000 calories everyday to recharge my metabolism and my mind. Then I would drop calories 100 calories (down to 2800 and 2300) for three weeks. I did this cycle until I hit 2400 calories/day on high carb days and 2000 on low carb. Very low for me! I was hungry. But, not starving and guess what it worked!! Those maintenance or recovery weeks helped so much.
  13. I took the supplements that filled my nutritional gaps. AdvoCare Fiber, AdvoCare Omega-Plex, whey protein powder are the big three. I also took supplements like AdvoCare Spark to keep me focused on long days and AdvoCare Nighttime Recovery to help me recover from workouts.

 

2105922ab5faca4defdb1e40561c0100

Here is how I felt as I went along (please pay attention to this so know if you are ready to start a weight loss journey 100%):

  1. I was motivated first and foremost. I had a specific and realistic goal with a deadline.
  2. I was hungry (not starving), especially after the first month. This was not constant, but slightly out of my comfort zone. I was 80% full……VERY IMPORTANT!!
  3. I didn’t have as much energy to workout. So, I kept workouts to under an hour, but still kept them intense by lifting heavy weights. If I would have done excessive cardio I would have burned out.
  4. I was zonked at night, didn’t have much energy to do anything, but eat my dinner and go to bed.
  5. I was slightly edgy and crabbier at times (my girlfriend can attest to this probably). This is because I was slightly hungry on many days and my stress hormone cortisol was elevated.
  6. I was confident. What I was doing was working how I planned. I was losing bodyfat, but retaining the strength I had gained while putting on weight. I am still lifting as heavy at 180lbs as I did at 200lbs. Resistance training on a calorie deficit needs to be very specific and volume needs to be kept low. AKA: heavy weight + low reps = retain muscle and keep your shape.

 

Here are the most important takeaways to wrap up:

  1. Drop your ego. If you are reading this you probably want to lose weight and have tried in the past. It probably didn’t work…try something new and step out of your comfort zone…a baby step is still a step.
  2. Fucking want it.
  3. Track your macros….accurately. Logging your food just to log is a waste of time. I can help you do this better :)
  4. Execute the plan. If you aren’t seeing progress the first thing to evaluate before quitting is if you are actually doing what you should be doing. You can’t be frustrated with lack of progress if you don’t execute. Saying “I want to lose weight,” but not executing day in and day out won’t get it done.
  5. Be consistent. I had a protein shake every night before bed. It is boring, but damn it works.
  6. Be patient. Went over that already.
  7. Make sacrifices (just has to be done), but don’t sacrifice everything. Have a life.
  8. Buy a food scale. PLEASE!!!!!
  9. Eat protein, drink water, eat veggies and fruits.
  10. Lift heavy weights, do cardio, but don’t over do it.
  11. Get sleep. 4 hours isn’t enough.
  12. Try carb cycling if you want to.
  13. Find supplements that work for you. Don’t use this as a crutch. They are supplements for reason.
  14. Be ready for a challenge, but also be ready for how much better you will feel about yourself.
  15. ****Your weight loss journey doesn’t have to mirror mine or any of my other clients’. In fact every client of mine has their own journey and story. They definitely all did most of the things listed above, but maybe in a different order or in a different way.

 

If after reading this you are thinking, wow that is overwhelming that is completely OK and you should not feel bad about that what so ever. You are in the majority. My job (and I think I do a very good job of this) is to break all those things down for you in a step by step process so this is never overwhelming, but so you are always in a state of building more confidence.

 

If you read this and you are fired up to make a change, this is your time to do it. NOW. Do it why you have the motivation. Hire a coach, get guidance, learn how to move better and get strong and learn to log your food accurately. It is worth it.

 

Would I make these sacrifices again for a bodyfat % that I don’t need to have to survive, but just wanted? Yes I would. Am I going to give myself somewhat of a break now? Yup! I am going to reverse diet out of this…blog post about that in a couple weeks.

I think that only took you like 4 minutes to read :)

Ryan

The Best Diet: Part 3

You want to lose some weight? Gain some muscle? Change your figure? Get leaner? Burn more fat? Increase this one thing and you are off and running.

Protein. Something that isn’t just for bodybuilders or those guys who grunt real loud at the gym because they think they know what they are doing. Protein is ABSOLUTELY essential for weight loss. But wait, doesn’t protein help me build muscle or something like that? You are correct if you were thinking that! Will that new muscle from an increased protein intake make me bulky? In 99% of cases no, it will not. You would have to be on a specific resistance training program designed for mass gaining. I don’t specialize in training clients for that. But, what I do know is that when my clients eat the right amount of protein they lose weight. Time and time again.

So what is so special about protein? Thanks for asking! Here are some reasons protein is ABSOLUTELY essential for weight loss:

  1. Helps you build lean muscle. More lean muscle = higher metabolism = more efficient fat burning by the body.
    1. Note:  resistance training (lifting heavy things) is needed to build muscle, but lifting heavy things and not eating protein is just wasting your time. You will feel stronger no doubt, but it wont change your body much in the long run.
  2. Helps you retain that muscle  you build. When you are on a weight loss journey you are lowering your calorie intake. Right?? If you are aren’t we need to talk. Well, while I am sure your goal is lose fat and not muscle and eating a sufficient amount of protein will help retain that muscle and fuel fat burning.
  3. It has the highest thermic effect of food. AKA protein takes more energy to digest than carbs or fat. This means that when you eat protein your body is burning more calories than when you eat carbs or fat. Pretty cool!
    1. Note: These calories are much more important than the 187 calories you burned on the treadmill this morning.
  4. It satisfies you longer than carbs and slows down digestion. Having protein snacks around will keep you from having those high carb (usually sugar) snacks that keep you coming back for more in 30 minutes.
  5. It helps repair muscles that are broken down after exercise.
Red meat isn't bad for you. Eat it. In moderation.

Red meat isn’t bad for you. Eat it. In moderation.

Alright, yeah yeah, I am sure most people know protein repairs and builds muscle. But, what most people don’t know is how to get more protein into their diet and how much protein is necessary.

When you are looking for a protein source at least 65% of the calories need to be from protein. Sorry, almonds, peanuts, cashews, quinoa, most cheeses, peanut butter are not QUALITY protein sources. They definitely have protein in them, but when you go to the food label you will find the majority of the calories are from fat or carbs. Below are listed the best PRIMARY protein sources out there….in order of EAT THIS DAILY….to THESE ARE STILL GOOD OPTIONS.

  1. Whey protein (like 75-95% protein). Get an isolate protein if you are lactose intolerant.
    1. Note: Other protein sources like rice and pea proteins are good if that is what you prefer, but whey will give you the most benefit in regards to speed of absorption and a complete amino acid profile….basically it is a more complete protein.
  2. Chicken breast. Sorry, this wont ever change. Its great lean protein. Find ways to spice it up.
  3. Turkey. White meat here!
  4. Egg whites. If you aren’t using these, go to the store now and buy some. Seriously!
  5. Casein protein. I wont get scientific here. Whey protein is easier to find.
  6. Shell fish and lean fish (white fish, tuna, cod, bass, walleye). Not fried fish…..
  7. Beef jerky. Keep it low sodium by making your own!
  8. Lean beef or other game meats. At least 85/15. Go for 93/7 if you can though.
  9. Low fat greek yogurt. Plain is best.
  10. Low fat string cheese sticks.
  11. Low fat cottage cheese.
  12. Whole eggs.
  13. Fattier fish (salmon, catfish).
  14. Porkchops or pork loin.
  15. Skim milk.
  16. Protein bars. Make sure they have 20g of protein and less than 5g of sugar.

Great, we have the best protein options listed, you are set! Not quite. Eating more protein won’t magically cause weight loss. You can still eat too much protein. Not to the point of shutting your liver down, but to the point of eating too many calories. There can always be too much of a good thing. Always. Here are a couple ways to figure out how much protein to eat….if you don’t want to hire a coach to do all the work for you :)

  1. Take your bodyweight and for each lb. eat 1 gram of protein.
    1. Note: If you weigh 250lbs this probably won’t be doable in a calorie deficit. See below options if this number seems way too high for you.
  2. Find your bodyfat % (not BMI). Use this to determine  your intake. Here is an example:
    1. You weigh 250lbs. You have a coach take your bodyfat and it is 38%.
    2. Multiply your bf% by your weight to find how many lbs of fat you have on your body currently.
    3. Subtract that total fat number from your total weight number to get your Lean Body Mass (LBM).
    4. Now for every lb of LBM, eat 1 gram of protein. That comes to 155g of protein. Much more doable!
  3. Eat 25-25% of your daily calories in protein. This only works if you are logging your food in an app.
    1. Note: This can be very inaccurate if you are eating too many calories or not enough calories.

Of the three above options the first option works usually works great if you are under 200lbs and the second option is best if you are are over 200lbs or have a bf% over 30%. Remember though, there can always be too much of a good thing. If you calculate your protein number and are tracking your macros accurately, but not losing weight than you need to readjust your numbers. You might be eating too many calories in protein. Here is my macro tracking post if you want a refresher: here

The best way to make eating more protein a habit is by having the protein options around you at all times. If you substitute a high carb, high sugar granola bar with a protein bar you have a much better snack option. If you swap your high carb, high sugar yogurt cup with a Greek yogurt cup you have another quality option. If you get rid of that bag of chips in your lunch and put a bag of protein chips (yes they make those) you are set!

Every diet you have ever tried as had one good thing about it. It has never cut out protein. It may not have given you the adequate amount of protein for your body, but at least it didn’t cut out protein entirely. I will guarantee that.

Increasing protein intake should be the first habit you look at changing when starting a weight loss journey.

Next post in the series is on Carb Cycling and why I love it.

 

Ryan

 

The Best Diet: Part 2

A calorie is a calorie. Right? You have heard that before. A calorie coming from potato chips is the same calorie coming from a sweet potato. This is basic premise of a concept called “Flexible Dieting;” something relatively new to the fitness and nutrition world. This sounds absolutely awesome in theory because you can eat whatever you want as long as you hit your calorie number for the day! I believe flexible dieting is a great way to create balance in your life, but I am going to outline why many people over do it.

 

I follow numerous personal trainers on Facebook and on blogs. Many fitness professionals (not all) are jumping on this flexible dieting concept as the perfect way to lose weight. But, looking deeper you will realize it and can be just as destructive as any other fad diet, if done incorrectly. To give an example, one of my favorite trainers that I follow eats ice cream nearly every night because it fits in his macros, yet is still “cut.” He can afford to do this because he is a 28 year old guy, who is naturally lean, 5’10, has been resistance training for 15+ years, has a high genetic ceiling with a supercharged metabolism and has been very strict with his nutrition for years. Of my 30+ clients, none of them fit those criteria to a tee. Neither do I! Overall, I have good genetics and great health (thanks Mom and Dad), but it is nothing to write home about in regards to being like a fitness model. I truly have to work hard hard for everything I have accomplished with my sports career, strength, speed etc. So, no I can’t eat ice cream every night to get where I want to be and I don’t think most people on weight loss journeys should either.

48923329

 

Here are examples of why eating just to fit your macros might help you lose weight initially, but you won’t be getting everything possible out of the food you are eating and wont feel as good either!

1)There are 160 calories, 1g of fiber and 170mg of sodium in one serving of Lays plain potato chips. There are 114 calories, 5g of fiber and only 73mg of sodium in one serving of sweet potato.

2)There are 500 calories, 1g of fiber and 375mg of sodium in a Jack’s frozen pizza (I love that cheese on cardboard for some reason). There are around 400 calories, 12g of fiber and less than 150g of sodium in a chicken stir fry (4oz chicken, 1/2 cup rice, bunch of mixed veggies).

 

Those two examples illustrate that you are severely missing out on fiber and your sodium intake will be through the roof if your ONLY focus is on hitting your calorie number for the day. Lack of fiber (under 25g of day) can result in you not being regular with bowel movements. People can have up to 5-6lbs of fecal matter at anytime in their colon that doesn’t pass through. Sodium intake over 1800mg for women and 2500mg for men per day can result in bloating and water retention of up to 8-12lbs!

pepperoni

 

Flexible dieting can be very beneficial though! Here are some ways:

1)Allows you to enjoy food you love in portions that will keep you on track with your weight loss.

2)Allows you to not feel guilty about eating those foods you enjoy from time to time.

3)Teaches you if you are someone who can handle 1-2 larger “fun” meals a week or someone who is better with more spread out “fun” snacks through out the week.

4)Can recharge your body and mind if you fit in a “fun” meal 1-2 times per week. OR 5-6 smaller “fun” snacks if that works better for you.

 

I look forward to my entire pizza or 20 wings once a week and small dessert here and there. I do my best to fit those things into my calorie and macro numbers by sacrificing carbs and fat the rest of the day. If I fit pizza into my calories every single day though, I would be bloated, feel greasy and sluggish, my fat intake would be too high, my protein would be too low and I would be missing many important vitamins and minerals I get from eating fresh produce and lean meats.

To recap for those who like to skim read :)

1)Hitting your macros and calorie numbers are still the most important thing in regards to weight loss.

2)Allowing yourself “fun” meals or snacks throughout the week that fit in in your calories is OK and I recommend it!

3)Generally, focus on eating fresh produce that is high in fiber, eating lean meats or proteins, keeping sodium intake down and drinking a lot of water. Those habits will take you a long way whether you are macro counting or not. Not to mention you will feel better and have a higher quality of life!

 

The Best Diet: Part 3 will go over the “high protein diet” and why every diet EVER has had this, whether they told you or not. This includes Oprah’s Weight Watchers.

 

Ryan

The Best Diet: Part 1

Paleo. Low carb. Ketogenic (basically no carbs). Atkins (fancy name for low carb). Low fat.  Flexible Dieting. South Beach (high protein). The Wild Diet (high fat). Slim Fast. Nutrisystem. The no sugar diet. The 1200 calorie a day diet no matter what your weight is because you heard once when you were 18 that 1200 calories would make you lose weight, diet. The “I don’t care anymore, I give up diet” of cheeseburgers, fries, pizza and ice cream.

cutting-carbs1

Those all look familiar? Most people have heard of all those; most people have tried all those! You are probably nodding your head. And why have you tried all those diets? Because they did not work for the long term and you “had” to turn to something else for a quick fix. They didn’t teach you any habits you could sustain for the rest of your life.They just  taught you how to lose weight.

Soooooooo, what is the best diet out there? There isn’t one. Everything listed above is centered around one or a few strict food rules that do not allow the person “attempting” the diet to sustain success for ever. Many of these diets take out a whole food group such as “no bread,” “no fruit,” no “healthy fats,” no “red meat.” No one can sustain a no carb diet for the rest of their life, I do not care who you are. Eventually you will have a wedding, a party or some random day where you want or need to eat a lot of carbs. You know what happens when you haven’t eaten a complex carb in 6 months? You will put on 5-10lbs just like that. Or, for the people trying to stick to 1200 calories every day of the week, eventually (it could be this weekend, it could be this Thanksgiving) you will eat 4000 calories in one day. Maybe even one sitting. You know what happens? Your body is starved and sucks up all those calories (mostly fat and carbs). You will gain 5-10lbs in a matter of days. I won’t even go into the Slim Fast craze, that just didn’t make sense. And, I will save my thoughts on flexible dieting for my next post in this series.

I have said it time and time again. I won’t stop saying it. The best diet is a lifestyle change. More specifically a lifestyle change that works for YOU. This could mean going Paleo because you have Celiac Disease, or eating 1200 calories a  day because you are tiny and weigh 100lbs. But, find what works best for your long term health. Yes, I know that you know that. But, do you really know that? Because if people knew that, they wouldn’t always go for the quick fix. Of course a quick fix is easier, but eventually you will want to see sustainable results and sustainable results only come with habit changes over time. Habits such as learning what the best protein options are, drinking 100+oz of water everyday, eating green veggies 2-3 times a day, MACRO TRACKING…at least at some point in your life, not feeling guilty over a bad weekend, letting yourself enjoy food and “fun” meals, planning your day of eating the night before, meal prepping etc. These habits are not inherently difficult, they are DIFFERENT. We need to stop having the thought that eating veggies is a chore, or that eating your veggies gets you dessert. Eating veggies has to be something you NEED to have in your daily routine or you are flustered and wondering how you will ever make it through the day. OK, not that extreme, but kind of close to that….

Everyone has habits, its human nature. How long did it take you to build the habit of having a Coke for lunch everyday? I would say it probably took longer than a couple weeks. To build habits takes time. We live in an impatient society and that is the biggest struggle for my weight loss clients. Thinking about the long term. Here is a quick example of why patience is key for someone on a weight loss journey if they don’t want to put weight back on after they lose a few lbs.

Antihealth-Habits

Say I have a client named Ricky. He weighs 280lbs. He wants to weigh 200lbs with more muscle mass. Based off calculations and watching him food log for a weeks I decide he needs to 2700 calories a day. Right now he is eating around 3200 calories on average. He tells me he can handle eating 1500 calories a day because he wants to get “cut” fast. I tell him, “Yes you will lose weight fast, but what happens when you stop losing weight at 1500 calories?” The answer to that most people would say is to cut the calories down again. Let’s look at this realistically though and based off my 1200 calorie diet example. Ricky will be starving at 1500 calories (psychologically he won’t be able to handle that long term). If he is starving at 1500 calories how will dropping calories again help? I tell Ricky he needs to be in the smallest calorie deficit possible so he can still enjoy life and see consistent progress. We put him at 2700 calories and slowly lower the calories as he loses weight. Of course this isn’t what he wants to hear. He agrees though and after 14 months he has dropped 80lbs. Over the course of those 14 months he has successfully learned and practiced countless habits that are now a part of his life so he can stay at 200lbs. The other option would have maybe gotten him 30lbs of weight loss, then a plateau that is hard to get off, frustration, anger, and the weight goes back on.

Patience is the key to habit building and habit building is the key to the “best diet”out there: the lifestyle change that works for YOU. To build those habits you have to want it. And when you “want it,” those habits won’t seem like chores.

 

Next post in the series is on Flexible Dieting. What is it? Why it is awesome sometimes and why people over do it.

 

Ryan

Planning to Fail

So as I am sitting here drinking some nice scotch (my clients are awesome), I thought it was a good time to get out a quick blog post about planning to fail. Not fail in your weight loss journey or fail in your attempt to accomplish any fitness or health goal, but planning to fail for a day or two on holidays or during certain special events. It’s Christmas and there are endless food and drink options, but you are in the middle of a weight loss journey and have been consistently losing weight for the past 5 months. What do you do to not take a step back?? You enjoy yourself today and tomorrow! You indulge in things you haven’t in awhile so you can enjoy your time with family and friends. I will never tell a client to not eat what they want to eat on a holiday or tell them to not go out for a friends birthday etc. But, there are certain ways to have a good time and still maintain your weight loss and not be up 5lbs at your next weekly weigh in.

If you want to keep your progress rolling here is what you should do on a Saturday night or on any holiday:

-Eat ALOT of protein in the morning and the entire day leading up to your main meal (usually carb and fat loaded). This means protein shakes are probably a must.
-Limit carbs and fat throughout the day until your main meal.
-Limit your overall calories the entire day until your main meal.
-Drink ALOT of water throughout the day to fill your stomach. Drink a glass or two before your meal.
-Try to workout the day of your event or holiday to rev up your metabolism.
-Only (and I really mean this) log your food if you feel like it isn’t interrupting your time with family and friends. Maybe log all your food the night before so you have a general idea of what you have left over for dinner and drinks. If you go over calories it is OK! You just need to plan the next day well then to make up for it.
-The next day should ideally be a low carb/low fat/high protein day with lower calories than you normally eat. This is so crucial. Don’t let a day of 4000 calories turn into two or three days straight of 4000 calories. That is asking for trouble.

A couple weeks back I went out for dinner and drinks on Saturday night; nothing abnormal. I logged all my food the day leading up and the next day to give you an idea of how to do this. I screen shotted my food logs as best I could.

Saturday:
IMG_0362
IMG_0369
IMG_0364
IMG_0365

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday (low carb/low calorie day):
IMG_0366
IMG_0367
IMG_0368

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things to note:
-I was allowing myself ~1000 calories over my maintenance calories (~3000) on Saturday; I was thinking around 4000 calories. So, I was slightly over that (around 300 calories), but not the end of the world. Allowing yourself around 1000 calories over your normal calories is OK as long as you go low the next day. I planned out Sunday then.
-I had 6-7 drinks Saturday but, planned for that the entire day by limiting carbs. I could have done that better by taking out my bagel on Saturday morning.
-On Sunday I tried to fast a little bit in the morning by only eating a banana and drinking some Gatorade just to rehydrate. No I wasn’t hungover; Macallan doesn’t give hangovers like Kessler does. By limiting my calories Sunday morning it was easier to keep calories low the entire day.
-I kept protein high again Sunday (228g)
-Carbs Sunday: 156g
-Fat Sunday: 72g

My weight on Saturday AM: 190.8 lbs.
My weight on Monday AM: 190.4 lbs.

Hope this helps out in the future; it is definitely possible with a little planning. Have a Merry Christmas!

Ryan

You Need this Skill to Lose Weight and Maintain It

There are numerous skills you must possess in order to start, maintain and finish a weight loss journey. There is one in particular though that is most important in my mind. Is it exercising 6 days a week? Nope. Is it eating more green veggies? No (but that is a good place to start). Is it eating just chicken and broccoli three meals a day? Of course not; though this might get the job done, it is far too extreme and just isn’t realistic. Is the most important skill counting your points for Weight Watchers? No, but close. The number one, MOST IMPORTANT skill to have when starting a weight loss journey is knowing how to count your macro nutrients. In my opinion it isn’t even close. You can work out 6 days a week, but if you don’t know how to fuel your body for weight loss you will not be successful for the long term. This post might get kind of lengthy, so hope you have 8-10 minutes to sit down and soak it all up. It is worth it.

Let’s start with the basics, what are macro nutrients? If you know what they are bear with me. Macros (I will have this abbreviated from here on out) are protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. These three nutrients and these nutrients only, will make up every calorie, of every food you eat. You may be thinking what about sugar, sodium, fiber, and all those vitamins and minerals you see on nutrition labels? Sugar is a carb. Sodium won’t affect long term weight loss, but still keep it under control. Fiber is included as a carb and vitamins and minerals don’t have calories. Don’t get me wrong, being aware of your sugar, sodium, fiber and vitamin intake is very important to your overall health, but this post is specifically about weight loss. OK, now on to macros. I would say most people know what foods have protein (chicken, beef, fish etc), carbs (rice, potatoes, fruit etc) and fat (almonds, olive oil, dressings etc). Most people don’t know the caloric amount of those foods or how to balance those macros though. This is where learning how to count your macros comes into play for long term weight loss and maintenance of that weight loss. Each gram of protein and each gram of carb contains 4 calories. Each gram of fat contains 9 calories. In short, fat is more dense with calories than protein or carbs and why it will fill you up for longer, but where most people need to be very careful. High fat foods will jack up your calorie quickly. Here is an example of how protein, carbs and fat (protein, carbs and fat only) will make up ALL the calories of one piece of wheat bread:

-5g protein=20 calories from protein (5gx4=20 calories)
-20g carbs=80 calories from protein (20gx4=80 calories)
-3.5g fat=31.5 calories from protein (3.5gx9=31.5 calories)
-Total calories= 131.5 calories

See how that works out? So yes, macro tracking is essentially calorie counting, but going more in depth because eating 1500 calories of carbs and only 100 calories of protein isn’t healthy and you won’t feel very good. Didn’t need to count sugar, sodium, fiber, Vitamin A, Calcium etc. Low sugar diets are usually low carb diets….

Now, why is counting these macros so important? Because the simplest way to lose weight or fat is to eat less calories than you take in. If you are eating 3000 calories a day and cut that to 1500 calories a day I will guarantee you lose weight initially. But, you want to lose weight for the long term and keep it off or you wouldn’t be reading this post still. By knowing what the calories you put in your body are made up of YOU are in complete control of speeding up or slowing down weight loss (or weight gain if you want that too). Let me repeat that again, YOU ARE IN COMPLETE CONTROL OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS.

41ZwQoTuh-L._SL190_SY246_CR0,0,190,246_

By eating less and eating healthier you will most likely lose weight right away but, are you really aware of what you are putting in your body in regards to macros and calories? Unless you have tracked your food in an app like myfitnesspal or loseit you are blindly losing weight. Blindly losing weight is better than putting on weight or struggling to lose at all, I won’t argue that! I want you to know how you are losing weight though, so down the road when have hit a plateau or have put weight back on (yes this will happen if you blindly lose weight) you know how to lose that weight again! Maintaining weight loss after a long journey will be harder than losing the weight in the first place, but if you able to track your macros and at least have some idea of what protein, carbs and fat are, then maintaining where you want to be will be less work.

I have people tell me all the time that macro tracking and logging food in an app is too much work and they don’t have time. This is shocking to me; it takes me 10 minutes a day to track my macros. I tell them if they can track for even 2-3 weeks and get an idea of what they eat and how much they eat that is a good start. It will open your eyes, trust me. Can you eyeball 100 calories of rice, 250 calories of salmon or 10g of salad dressing? I can’t. If you are truly serious about your weight loss journey then you will come back to tracking because it keeps you accountable and you are fully aware of what your body needs to lose weight. You definitely do not need to macro track every single day for the rest of your life though. That is just being crazy and obsessive. Do I track every day? Hell no. Here are times when I think tracking is crucial and very much needed and some times when it is totally OK not to track!

-Track when you are starting a weight loss journey, at a plateau in weight loss, want to change your body fat, are trying new foods/recipes, planning around holidays and events, when you need to stay accountable to yourself, when you interested in learning how the body uses different foods for energy (I find it fascinating), when you are 110% committed to your weight loss.
-It is OK not to track when you are happy maintaining weight (I will have a post on maintenance as well), on holidays/vacations, need a mental break from it, it is stressing you out (macro counting is not for everyone unfortunately, it takes a lot of discipline).

If you are like, “alright this macro tracking thing sounds interesting and I want to start”, but don’t know what to do next, that where is myself or a coach with experience helping clients adjust macros becomes important. Just as blindly losing weight doesn’t set you up for long term weight loss and keeping that weight off, neither does blind macro tracking. Blind macro tracking is starting to eat a certain amount of protein, carbs and fat that you found on a calorie calculator or food app without knowing what you had been eating before. If you start to track macros you must always know what your starting point is. What if a calorie calculator told you to eat 1600 calories a day, but you only eat 900 a day right now?? You will put on weight fast! If you can even mentally handle eating that much. Or what if you eat 3500 calories a day and you are told to eat 1200 calories and only 100g of carbs (that isn’t that much by the way) a day? You will lose weight initially, but try to keep that up for the long run. Your body and mind will need to binge sooner or later. Macro counting will help you avoid extremes, if done correctly. There is no perfect macro number or ratio out there, that comes down to each individual person. Log your food for 2-3 weeks before you decide on how much protein, carbs or fat to eat. Then from there adjust based off of your progress (or lack of progress in some cases).

Here is what you need to macro track and have a successful, healthy weight loss journey:
-A food log app like myfitnesspal or loseit are good ones
-Food scale highly recommended.
-Willing to try something new in order to lose weight.
-Willing to be flexible because your protein, carbs , fat and thus calorie numbers will always be changing as you lose weight!
-Practice. This is skill like any skill you have learned in your life. You will need to take time to figure out what makes up each food you eat and how and when to eat those foods so your body is always ready to burn fat.
-10-15 minutes a day

Whew, that was long. I can go into much more detail and help on an individual basis if you are interested. Comment below or shoot me an email with questions. Happy tracking!

Ryan