I have said it before and I will say it again, I love nutrition and studying different methodologies and experimenting with it all. I am convinced that there is no such thing as a perfect diet, because if there were, there’d only be one!!!
I have been thinking a lot about dieting and what I was going to do after my contest as far as transitioning back to normal living. This is actually a very tricky thing to do because when you’re body fat gets to abnormally low levels, ~4% or so, it is in a very depleted state that means supercompensation can and will take place. If I am not careful, I can easily wind up 40 pounds heavier and heavier than I was before I started to diet down. I will not get too far into this topic in this article, but I will talk about some of it in our first of three reasons why a diet won’t work.
1. Your body is hell bent on survival. It doesn’t want to lose fat or gain muscle. It prefers easy and it prefers to conserve energy for things like the immune system, reproductive system and central nervous system. When you DIEt, within 3 days, even before you’ve lost any fat, your thyroid levels will begin to drop, IGF-1 levels will drop, testosterone levels will drop, sympathetic nervous system activity will drop, and leptin levels will drop to name a few of the adapations. This means that starvation diets and linear diets don’t and never will work in the long term. With this is mind, if you are dieting and not drinking enough water or sleeping enough, your body will just kind of slug along, not changing in composition much. Why, again, because it views dehydration and lack of sleep as stessors and threats that must be dealt with before it starts utilizing fat as a fuel source.
2. Linear deficit diets, meaning you are in a calorie deficit for the long term will lead to hunger. Now, don’t get me wrong, hunger is going to be present if you are trying to lose fat, and learning to deal with hunger is a skill in my opinion. You must view it as fat loss mode, reframe it if you will. But if hunger is chronic, you will binge unexpectedly. The way around this would be to have a chaotic diet or a cycle diet in which you have higher calorie days to reset the down regulations of all the systems and hormones. Hunger in the long term will always win out even over the most disciplined of dieters.
3. This last part is one that I’ve only seen one other coach talk about and that is my former coach, Scott Abel. He talks about it in terms of compassion for self. I want to talk about it in terms of the ID. Without getting too much into psychology, we have an ID, an Ego and a Super-ego. The ID is the part of us that wants pleasure. Dieting by its nature is self-depriving, more on the side of the super ego and the need to improve and the desire to want to fit the mold of ourselves that we think the world should see. We need to enjoy food, but we cannot binge or have an unhealthy attitude towards food. This is why I love cycle dieting! I get to have my cake and eat it too!
I will write a separate article by next week about cycle dieting and how it works. There are many different forms of cycle dieting and I utilized a high carb day in my bodybuilding prep, taking in anywhere from 1000-1300 grams of carbs in one day. During most of the rest of the week I was in a large deficit. It kept my metabolism humming along gave me something to look forward to and allowed me to keep my strength levels up. In the next article, I will talk about how to set your calorie levels, what needs to be done before starting or going on a cycle diet and how a cycle diet works.
Hey guys, today was the pilot episode of Chris Lopez and myself’s radio show. We plan on making this thing huge, so please like it, leave comments and let us know what you want to hear on the next episode. Thanks!
Lean in close, I have a secret to tell you…..I actually am more interested in nutrition than I am in strength training. Yes, a little weird, but I can totally geek out on nutrition and even more so when I am in warrior mode and trying to get as lean as I am capable of getting. I can read stuff on fat cells, calories and more for hours on end, in fact, Devon usually has to summon me up to bed when I lose track of time in the subject.
Well, I am now 5 ½ weeks out from my show and I can say that I have never felt this energetic this far into a contest preparation. I am not having any cravings or fantasizing about what I am going to pig out on after the show. I also believe that the system I am it the process of developing can and will literally change the way people look at nutrition and I am sure it will attract many haters, but that’s another topic for an entirely different article.
My weight started at 242 when the contest prep began. I started ‘dieting’ at 16 weeks out (March 8th) for my June 28th show. My coach began by slicing some cals and increasing activity and it worked, a little; but 8 weeks in I was still sitting around 230 and frustrated out of my mind. I tried my best to be a compliant student and client but you have to remember that this is my field too and I am a total geek as I stated earlier. I know what has worked for me in the past and I know how my body and mind should feel at certain points throughout a cut down diet. However, in the past, I have suffered and starved and was never able to maintain an ideal weight and body fat for myself and I know that had to do with following traditional dietary practices, i.e-cut calories, lower carbs, a lot of small meals and so forth.
And add to that the fact that I have never been able to get those last few ounces of fat off in my stubborn areas, which for me, like 99% of men, is the lowest of the lower abs and the lower back. So, I used my Coaches plan to kind of coast through the first half of my prep period and in the back of my mind I knew I would go into full throttle mode. I did this so as not to burn out and because I wanted to prove my theories would work at the most extreme levels of dieting: a bodybuilding show.
So here it is and yes, I will expound on each in a separate article because as I sit here I realize that each deserves as much. But in the interest of you, I wanted to get you the framework. I diet in a big deficit 4.5 days out of the week. With this, I cut my calories to ½ of what my maintenance calories would be and I make sure carbs are less than 20% of my total calories. This essentially mimics fasting and inhibits the alpha adrenoreceptors that are located in those stubborn fat areas. For me, this means that Wednesday through Sunday afternoon is a big time cut down. Monday and Tuesday I eat slightly less than maintenance calories (2300 for myself), which would be enough to help me get respectably lean over a period of time and I up my carbs to about 300 grams per day. I diet in this fashion so as to send my thyroid, leptin, testosterone, GH and central nervous system the signal that I am not starving to death (the body’s main concern is always first and foremost: survival).
The increase in carbs help to accomplish this. What’s that you say? What about Sunday night? Well, I make sure my muscles are completely ringed out of glycogen (the storage form of carbs), which in and of itself is something most people would run the other way from. It is not comfortable and will only be a concern when you are below a certain body fat percent anyway (for men this would be about 10%). I then keep my fat intake for Sunday below 40 grams for the day and protein at about 200 grams per day. I dramatically increase carbs to 1200 grams from 4pm-10pm Sunday night. Last Sunday I had things like fat free fig newtons, pop tarts, fat free cheese and chicken pizza, pancakes to name a few. This is much different than bingeing or a cheat meal and I am in a supercompenstation state in which it is impossible for my body to store these carbs as fat, rather they are partitioned directly to the muscles. I will also explain this in a follow up article in addition to how I am now incorporating intermittent fasting with this plan.
What I explained in this first article was designed by Lyle McDonald and his UD 2.0 book. The stuff I will highlight about intermittent fasting is revolutionary while getting ready for a bodybuilding show and I want to pay it the respect it deserves with a full write up. It is my own twist to what Lyle has come up with and it will change the way the game is played. Remember, this is way more than most people will ever need to do and it won’t work unless you are at least below 15% as a male or 20% as a female. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3. …
I recently started re-reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. It is a great book and one that was instrumental in my success philosophy. The book is a must read for everyone. While reading this morning, I had some truths hit me square in the head.
Napolean Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” I know that Arnold Schwarzenegger was also a big fan of this mindset and it was and is one of his guiding principles. I too go through periods of self-doubt and thinking that I cannot achieve certain things or I sit back and wonder how I got to where I am sometimes.
And lately, I have been feeling that more simply because my energy is drained from getting ready for my bodybuilding show and my focus is understandably in that arena for the time being. I knew that I would have to try my best to balance Newell Strength and my relationships with getting ready for the show.
But I do know and you should know too that Newell Strength was born in my mind while getting ready for a show. You see, I got so focused on becoming the best bodybuilder that I could become that I developed a mindset that anything is possible. I got caught in momentum, which is an awesome thing. Remember the formula for momentum:
And it also important to note that other people are going to tell you that you are stupid, that it can’t be done and that you are wasting your. These are the Vampires that you must be aware of. They don’t have the mindset that they can accomplish anything and it comes across to others as bitterness. Any significant idea that has ever been thought of was ridiculed first. But the people that refused to hear the critics were and are the ones that change the world, both the outer world and their own inner world.
Just know that if you can have the thought, then that very thought is indeed possible. This is the idea of ‘open architecture’, which one of my mentors, Paul Reddick, commonly reminds us of in our mastermind group. It is the very concept that we can create our reality and future as we go along. We are not at the mercy of the drones and mediocrity mindset. The world would be much more competitive if everyone believed this concept to be true. Competition would be fierce and success would be much harder to come by.
But here is the catch: although you can achieve what you can conceive, it still takes persistence, sweat and hard work. And to most people, those mine as well be curse words. The very thought of being uncomfortable is enough to turn 99% back, never venturing into the greatness that could await them. This has nothing to do with luck or genetics; it has to do with a mindset; one that you can start cultivating this very moment. The choice is yours my friend, but when you come to a fork in the road, you better take it.
I have been fascinated with diet and nutrition ever since I took up lifting in high school. This was the start of Newell Strength in its infancy. The crew I hung out with created our own little version of Muscle Beach. During the summer, we would plan our days around lifting, sometimes twice, with eating. Our whole purpose in life was to gain muscle and lose fat. We would love getting the stares, as we would take over a restaurant and eat to our content.
I managed to put on 30 pounds of muscle in that summer, still my biggest gain ever for that period of time, although I did manage to put on 14 pounds of muscle this year, not bad for an aging, bald guy. I use some of those same techniques by the way with the athletes that currently train at Newell Strength. Sometimes effective strategies are always effective.
But fast-forward a few years and I had taken my eating expeditions a little too far and got all the way up to 260 plus pounds (I’ll find some of those pictures so you can have a good laugh). It was at this point that I really started studying nutrition and figuring out ways to eat for both performance and physique enhancement.
I even developed theories around calorie spiking, which I had been experimenting with for a year when I brought the idea to my nutrition professor. I was so excited, I set up an appointment with the professor and I was going to have all my questions and thoughts answered and validated. Alas, he had no clue about what I was talking about, never heard of ideas like that and basically dismissed my ideas about re-feeds and metabolism despite my year long study on myself.
There has since been much research out there done on calorie spiking, cheat meals, leptin and the effects of chronic dieting on metabolism and the damage that can be done, which is what I would really like to talk about in this piece.
Unfortunately, I know about a lot about calorie restrictive diets to a great degree because I dieted a little too extreme for many of my past bodybuilding shows, only to gain 35-40 pounds in the following 3-4 days after a show. No, that is not a misprint. And each year, I would have to diet a little harder to get lean. And when I was in the off-season, I wouldn’t be able to eat as much as a guy my size should be able to eat without getting fat. Devon often asks me why I am not leaner for the way I eat year round. And the answer is….I never took time to restore my metabolism. I will go into reverse dieting in a near future article as I am researching it, but there isn’t a lot of research out there.
But what I do know for sure is that all these ‘fad diets’ that are out there that many females seem to want to follow and post about on Facebook. Any diet that claims you can lose 10 pounds in 10 days or 7 pounds in 7 days or anything along those lines will have you bloated tick shortly after you finish the diet. Anything that promises extreme weight loss (note they rarely say fat loss) will down regulate things like leptin, thyroid, testosterone, IGF-1, sympathetic nervous system activity and the list goes on. And when you finish the ‘diet’ (I’ll be back to this in a minute), you go back to eating maintenance calories but somehow get fatter. Well, you did it to yourself.
If you shut them metabolic machinery down and essentially turn the setting on the thermostat down and then go back to trying to eat normal, all the extra will get stored as body fat and your metabolism will suffer each time you do this and most people never even know that it can be fixed. Secondly, a diet should not have an end point unless you are doing something extreme like a bodybuilding show. A great diet is functional and sustainable and fat loss and muscle gain will be a byproduct of the way you eat.
You didn’t get fat in 7 days or 21 days and you aren’t going to fix the issue in that amount of time. And the reason they don’t promise fat loss is because you are likely just flushing out water and losing muscle at a faster rate than you are losing fat, essentially making you a lighter, fatter YOU. The lack of diet expertise out there is astounding and the lack of information out there is equally appalling. The human body is meant to be lean and muscular, if its not, you are doing something wrong whether in diet, sleep, lifestyle etc. I’ll be back with more on reverse dieting in the near future.
I have been feeling great physically until late last week when I started to get that drained, weak feeling. I am 8 weeks into my contest prep and have been sticking to my plan like a champ. But when the mind starts coming into play and you start hearing that nagging voice that you aren’t going to be ready, that what you are doing isn’t working and all that good stuff, you need to get it under control and fast! Well, luckily, I was able to dig up the journal from my last bodybuilding contest in 2008 and the similarities were stunning. The mindset, the body weight, and even the calories. It helped to put my mind at ease and make me realize that I am on the right track. I had not been keeping a journal for this prep up until now but I have started one after looking through the old one.
I also swung my parents house and picked up some of Skip Lacour’s books that I last read while getting ready for my 2 shows in 2007. I figured I had to change my mindset and develop or regain that positive mental attitude that has served me so well in the past. Getting back to the journal…The first thing I have new clients do is start keeping a nutrition journal. You cannot improve that which you do not measure. This goes for any area of life. In your journal, I would keep track of your eating, your training, and your goals for that phase (i.e-fat loss, strength, etc.) and your mental outlook. The mental outlook is something that most people wouldn’t think of but the part that helped me the most looking back through my old journal was the mindset stuff. When you are trying to make change, the mind is going to fight you and second-guess you.
It’s the two wolves story, one good one and one bad one, each on different shoulders. The wolf that will win is the one that you will feed. You might feel like you aren’t making any progress but when you look back month by month through your journal, you will be amazed at how much you have grown mentally and how far you have come physically. You cannot separate the two by the way. If you mindset is crap, you will get crap. The law of attraction is always at work and it was interesting to note in my old journal that I said, “Very cool that every year, every contest, my body takes a huge step forward around week 6. That is always after about 10 weeks of intense focus and single-minded purpose. Its like there is a higher sense at work here, like the sixth sense.” I am convinced that you cannot attain your physical goals if you aren’t utterly focused on them. People talk about balance, and balance is good. But when you are trying to do something extreme such as get to a low, single digit body fat percentage, you are going to have to be all in physically and mentally and the sum will total higher than the two parts separately. Start journaling, start recording and do it in all areas of life.
I am about 8 weeks away from competing once again in the South Jersey bodybuilding championships. I competed in the South Jersey and won the overall in 2007, so this will be a nice reunion for me.
The man above, John Meadows, aka Mountain Dog, has been my Coach for the past 2 plus years. He helped guide me nutritionally through my knee injury and we teamed up to gain 14 pounds of muscle this year, which is the most I have gained since my high school days, when I was a newbie.
Many people are shocked when they find out I have my own personal coaches. Well, it is very hard to look at myself objectively in business or with my body. Having a coach in those areas has allowed me to accelerate my progress and take a ton of unneeded stress off of myself. Plus, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t have my own coach. Coaching is my life and something I believe in with all my heart. If I believe in it, yet didn’t have my own coach, it would be sending the wrong message and it would mean that I really didn’t believe in the power of coaching.
Well, to get back to the point at hand, John has been able to help me with my diet, training and supplementation plan big time. In the past, I would diet so hard that I would literally come to tears as my whole body would begin to shut down. Do you know what its like to diet to the point where you actually cry because you feel like shit and will literally eat your own arm if you had to? That is definitely not the healthiest way to go but it was part of my mentaility that I will outwork anyone, anywhere and part of that was just dieting harder than anyone else was willing to.
But the problems arose after my shows, when I had done severe damage to my metabolism through things like the thyroid, testosterone levels, IGF-1, leptin and sympathetic nervous system activity to name a few. Each show in the past was followed up in the subsequent week with a 35-40 pound weight gain, probably a 50/50 split of muscle and fat. The other issue is that I never took time to restore my metabolism through something known as ‘reverse dieting’, something I will be experimenting with on myself after the show and a few clients. This has made it harder and harder each year to eat a decent amount to put on muscle without gaining much fat and it has made it just as hard to diet down without having to go so low with my calories.
Don’t get me wrong, to do something extreme like a bodybuilding show, you are sometimes to, make that a lot of the times going to have to do things that are uncomfortable, which means being hungry a lot of the times.
But the point I wanted to really get to is that a few weeks ago I went back to my old way of doing things to prep for the show because I wanted results faster. Well, that was a terrible week both mentally and physically and I didn’t make any changes in my body that week either. I went off what John had me doing because it seemed too easy, I wasn’t suffering enough. With that, being that this is easier than in years past, it is also one of the hardest things I have ever had to do because I am over-riding my natural instincts each and every day. I must follow my coach and have trust in him. I hired him to do a job and I need to put it in his hands. I also try to place myself in his shoes and wonder how I feel when a client goes off my plan because as a coach, it takes away your ability to affect the situation.
Sometimes easier can be harder, when the easier way is going against your ingrained habits. This can apply to anything in life. As of 7 weeks in, I was down to 228, meaning I have average a 2 lb. drop in fat per week, which is really good when I think about it. I know I will get to where I have to be and I trust Mountain Dog to get me there. But when something is working and it seems to easy, just keep doing. If you force the body it will react, if you coax it, it will respond. Which way would you rather go?
I don’t listen to live radio much anymore unless I need to chill my brain out. And when I do listen, it’s usually to Howard Stern or sports talk, which drives Devon crazy if she happens to be stuck in the car with me on a road trip. But its better than the alternative of her having to listen to my audio books and programsJ.
Well, today was my luck day. One of my favorite characters, Danny Trejo, was on Howard Stern, one of my other favorite and colorful characters. Trejo has an amazing story and I hope they one-day make a movie of it. But one of the things that hit home when they were wrapping the interview up was that Trejo finished with this, “Everything good that has ever happened to me was the result of me helping someone else. Every single time.”
Powerful when you grasp the concept. Trejo is an American/Mexican badass, yet he let us all in on his ‘secret’. Its not about what you get, its about what you give to others. One of my main goals when I write in my nightly journal is to help other discover their own inner greatness. Not always easy to keep that in focus, but that’s what I believe a good coach should be doing at all times.
I just had the team at Newell Strength (Dana, Kevin, JDB and Johnny Maz) read the Go Giver as the first in a line of our ‘must read books’. The entire concept of the book is about giving. I am telling you that the first time I read that book, I had one of the greatest weeks I have had in recent memory. The book will take you less than 2 hours to read too. But, go back to the question: What can you do today to give to others? How are you going to make someone else’s day? Make real connections with people, make eye contact and listen!!!! Most people are always just waiting to talk, not really listening. Listening is a skill and the ultimate one at that.
When I went to Michigan State’s basketball camp before my senior year of high school, Coach Izzo repeatedly said, ‘Learn to listen and listen to learn.’ That has stuck with me.
Giving is receiving. Think about the last time that you got a really great gift. Now, think about the last time you gave a really great gift, whether in your time or material things and think about which one made you feel better. Which one made a more lasting memory? I can’t even think of what the last gift I received was. But I can remember the times I really helped someone in a meaningful way.
Giving is also the same door you receive through. This applies to all areas of life. However, you cannot focus on what you will get, that defeats the entire purpose. Listen; each day you wake up, you have the chance to make someone else’s life better. It may be a friend, a student, a colleague, a spouse, a child or a complete stranger. You never know whose path you are going to change and in turn, where that change of turns will lead you.
The beauty is that can give without any money or material means. Give you heart and soul to every person you meet. Give your time and attention to those that need it. If giving really is receiving and you start to practice this, you will be the wealthiest person on Earth. Change a life today.