'Wellness'

Can we just be real here? Is anyone else over the pompous demeanour of the wellness industry and thinks it’s a load of kale-covered rubbish? I mean come on. I am all for self-development, being true to yourself and being authentic. I am all for being active too! And the whole mindfulness thing, taking time for yourself and resting and recharging and whatnot; I am ALL about the rest day action. But I am getting a little over this superficial industry and those preaching about how great they feel after smashing a green smoothie and covering themselves with coconut oil. Don’t lie to me! Nothing tastes as good as a big fat bowl of spaghetti Bolognese followed by a Coles peanut butter ice-cream chaser and everyone knows it. And zucchini is not, nor will it ever be, a suitable ‘replacement’ for pasta, ever. That idea really has to be knocked on the head right now.

Food should be enjoyed! And by food I do not mean the equivalent of something so mediocre in flavour it resembles cardboard at best. Yes we all love eating nice healthy meals, fresh fruit, veges, lean proteins (fire up the barbie!!) but when did we turn in to a world of people who actually LIKE eating brown rice and kale? It tastes like crap! I don’t give a fuck. I will call it. I don’t eat junk all day every day, but I do eat damn real delicious normal food. Like cake. Seriously if we cant have a bit of cake every now and then, what the hell are we even doing here? I ask you!

No one can tell me they think chocolate mousse made from fucking avocado is ‘oh so delicious’ because we all know it is nowhere near as delicious as the real thing! And, if one even had the slightest knowledge pertaining to the nutritional breakdown of food, they would realise that this so called ‘healthy version’ is likely to be made up of a heap more calories anyway, so the whole point of it kind of goes out the window. Calories matter, sorry team but they do. They matter more than most things believe it or not.

The majority of these ‘healthy’ snacks, ironically, are absolutely calorie laden. It’s these foods incorrectly labelled as healthy which are causing some problems. Rather than try to avoid the real thing, and instead make cakes from nuts and coconut oil, they’re completely missing the point and in the process are generally upping the calorie count 10 fold.

Another problem is this whole idea of trying to create ‘macro friendly’ (why not just say low cal… that’s what they mean isn’t it?) ‘healthy’ ‘natural’ or whatever, food replacements because when you break it down nutritionally it is actually a waste of time. What exactly is the point of making food that tastes like nothing, to try and be ‘healthier’? And often the ingredients used, albeit natural, are actually higher in cals anyway (as with avocado chocolate mousse) so it’s either lacking in flavour, or increasing in calories (or both), which doesn’t make any sense. Protein cheesecake? Just have the damn cheesecake and work out how much you’re allowed. And have a protein shake and a bit of fruit with it if you’re that worried.

‘Pancakes’ made from just egg whites? That ain’t a pancake no matter how much you want to believe it is. And egg white alone, without the yolk is what I can only assume you must get served for breakfast in hell.

All of this ‘macro friendly’ BS is just as bad as the connotation that consuming some foods somehow makes you morally superior to others. Just because I eat burgers doesn’t mean I’m not healthy. Just because I would never go bunless on a burger doesn’t mean I’m not either. We all need protein, fat and carb to survive and in a very basic sense this is all that matters. Whether we choose to get it from ‘clean’ (eye roll) sources or not really shouldn’t matter; it is all just FOOD. And it should come down to personal preference and flavour (and thus my point, no one can really like quinoa and wood chip salad so stop pretending, ploise).

Certain foods taste good. Hell sugar tastes good! Those on the anti-sugar brigade spouting the absolute nonsense that sugar is ‘toxic’ really need to shut up too. Because even if it was (it’s not) who fucking cares?! It tastes good and it's ok to enjoy that fact. No, maybe not all day every day, but in moderation and in amounts appropriate to you and your goals, is completely ok. Common bloody sense tells us that. It is completely possible to eat normal food and maintain good health and a healthy weight range. Those on their pompous quests to build ‘health from the inside out’ are losing their minds. Newsflash – ALL foods are made up of calories, and we need calories or we die. The food you eat, be it classed as ‘healthy’ or not, doesn’t relate to anything aside from some kind of moral superiority it seems these days. I don’t give a fuck if people want to judge me because I eat sugar – I don’t judge them because they don’t; it does correlate to their IQ level though (our brains like sugar/carbs…) :P

If people don’t want sugar then ok, they don’t have to have it. But if you are one of those people, I don’t agree with you pushing your agenda on to others under the false pretence of it being ‘toxic’. It is quite simply untrue, and the toxicity is in the dose. For a fun fact look up the physical amount of sugar vs the physical amount of salt that is toxic to a human (or the LD50 of each).

And those on the detox bandwagon I am really starting to wonder WTF they are actually on. Are they swapping sugar for actual cocaine? (It’s totally as addictive didn’t you know… LOL) Because the whole connotation that we need to ‘detox’ to me seems like the attitude of someone who clearly is high. Detox from what exactly? Detox from life? Detox from food? From calories? Living? I DON’T UNDERSTAND!

I am a qualified chef. I am completely about the flavour, but not to the detriment of my health. I am bang on with each and every blood test I get, and shock horror I eat sugar, and I drink wine, and I eat steak and cake and all of the good stuff. The difference is, I eat everything in moderation. I have a high carbohydrate diet because my body responds well to this; I train hard, I am tall, I don’t want to look ‘flat’ or too lean because I look better with some fat on me (and muscle) and I want to feel fit and strong. My build is better for this. Some people are smaller, and I am not saying that’s not ok either. I don’t believe in health at any size as common sense tells us there should be some limitations on this, but I don’t believe in bullshit weight loss fads or restriction either. I believe in being active, having balance, practicing moderation, and being happy. I don’t believe for one second that someone on the ‘wellness’ buzz is happy. The first clue is that it’s all they ever talk about! There is more to life that what you fucking eat. Like training (:P) going to the beach and riding motorbikes! Going out with friends, spending time creating and building something. And laughing and eating good food! Those obsessed with how they look and what they eat over how they actually feel have got it all wrong in my book. They are frauds. They play this fake game telling people they are happy sucking on their wheat grass juice when in reality all they probably need is a bit of cake, and a decent glass of red.

Vive la real food resistance, and eat the cake!

Calculating macros - no online calculator needed!

Calculating macros

Rather than relying on online calculators, I think it is worth learning how to calculate macros manually, so you are aware of how it’s done and where the numbers come from.

With iifym, really the most important thing is to pick numbers, and just start. Hit these numbers consistently for at least 3-4 weeks first and from there you will know whether you need to make changes. Having a base to start from, and knowing what happens on these numbers is important. After all it is just guess work for the most part; coaches are using formulas themselves, as well as their knowledge to make educated guesses so having the knowledge around why they are giving you these numbers I think is important. Own your choices, and educate yourself when it comes to your own health; take responsibility.

You must first calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate), which is the amount of calories you need simply to exist. It does not take in to consideration your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis; the amount of energy you burn during your day to day activities) nor does it include your exercise. It is the bare minimum.

Once you have your BMR, then you add a multiplier for your activity levels which gives you your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). TDEE is made up of BMR, NEAT and exercise and is the total amount of calories needed to maintain your current state, based on your current activity levels.

Once you have your TDEE, you then decide whether you will be in a deficit (to lose) stay the same (maintain) or be in a surplus (gain/bulk). 

Once you have this, then you can calculate macronutrient requirements based on this daily calorie goal.

BMR (women)

10x weight (kg) + 6.25x height (cm) – 5x age (years) – 161

BMR (men)

10x weight (kg) + 6.25x height (cm) – 5x age (years) + 5

 

Break it down as follows:

I will use 70kg weight, 178cm height, 32 years age

(10 x 70) + (6.25 x 178) – (5x32) – 161 (or +5 for men)

700 + 1,113 – 160 – 161

1,813 – 160 – 161

1,492 = BMR

 

To calculate your TDEE, take your BMR and multiply it by one of the activity factors below (or use a number in between two of them if you think this would be more appropriate - again this is educated guesswork, use your best judgement)

 

Activity Factors

 

Activity Level             Description                                                         TDEE Multiplier
Sedentary                   Little/no activity, desk job                                  BMR x 1.2
Lightly Active             Light exercise/sport 1-3 days                             BMR x 1.375
Moderately Active      Moderate exercise/sport 3-5 days                     BMR x 1.55
Very Active                 Heavy exercise 6-7 days                                     BMR x 1.725
Extremely Active        Very heavy exercise/physical job/training 2x/day BMR x 1.9 

 

If I use the very active multiplier of 1.725x it will give me a TDEE of 2,574 calories per day. This amount is what I need to consume in order to cover my BMR, training, NEAT and maintain where I am at currently.

If I wish to lose weight, I need to eat in a deficit. If I wish to gain then I need to eat in a surplus.

For example, if I wish to lose, I could create a deficit and make my daily calorie target around 2,100 – 2,200 calories. Always diet on as many calories as possible; leave room to move should you need it.

Next step is to calculate your macros, and work this in to your current status and body comp goals, and your daily calorie target as above.

First calculate protein, then fats, and the remainder is made up of carbs.

Protein – minimum of 0.8g per lb of bodyweight. If you are to be in a deficit then it is important to have adequate protein to help with muscle retention and satiety. If in a deficit I would suggest around 1-1.1g protein per lb of TARGET bodyweight.

Example, I used my current bodyweight of 70kg if I wanted to drop to say 66kg (145.5lbs) then I multiply by 145.5, I prefer a high protein diet, so I am using 1.1g per lb, which gives me 160g of protein.

Fats – go with 0.4-0.6g per lb of CURRENT bodyweight. 70kg = 154lbs – using 0.4x gives me 62g of fat. I prefer lower fat and higher carb so have used 0.4 multiplier.

Now you have your protein and fat macros, you need to convert this to calories, to then make up the rest with carbs.

1g of protein or carb = 4 calories

1g of fat = 9 calories

 

160p = 640 calories (160 x 4) 

62f = 558 calories (62 x 9) 

Total 1,198 calories

 

If I make my daily calorie target 2,150 calories, then to get carbs I must subtract the fat and protein numbers in calories from the total daily calorie target.

 

2,150 calories – 1,198 calories = 952 calories left for carbs

 

952 calories / 4 (carbs = 4 cals per gram) = 238g of carbs

I would make it simpler and go with: 160p 62f 240c

160p = 640 cals

62f = 558 cals

240c = 960 cals

2,158 calories per day

 

These would be my starting numbers based on my current activity levels, and being in a deficit to lose weight.

Once you have calculated your starting numbers, then hit these for at least 3-4 weeks consistently. Consistency is what gets results, and trusting the process. After this time you will get a feel for how it is working, and can then adjust accordingly. Some people prefer higher fats and lower carbs, and others vice versa. Using the calorie to macro calculations above you can swap fats/carbs around based on what is going to be better for you; at the end of the day it comes down to total calories for weight loss, but for fat loss specifically, and body composition changes then macronutrients are more important. When macronutrients are correct then you have enough energy, hormones should be balanced and you should not get cravings. It can take a bit of trial and error to get just right, but as mentioned, working on getting some numbers to start with can be done with the above calculations - just get started and go with it for at least 3-4 weeks, and from there make adjustments as needed. 

 

Just eat!

Here is the thing. You absolutely can eat the foods you enjoy, and still get results. What a lot of people seem to think, is that some foods are inherently bad for you, and some are good. This is quite simply untrue, yet there are a lot of people still stuck on this mindset.

All foods are just foods. They provide energy. They provide enjoyment. They provide deliciousness for your tastebuds and the chef in me has always lived by the mantra that ‘fat is flavour’ (even though fitness Danni knows that personally she is better off on lower fats and higher carbs most of the time, but that’s by the by). Fat is still flavour. And carbs = happiness. Actually, food = happiness too, and denying yourself something you enjoy eating simply because it’s maybe seen as ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ is just silly.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. If this means indulging in a big fat piece of chocolate cake once in a while, then do it. Embrace it. Learn how to still have things like this, in moderation, and in amounts appropriate to you and your goals, and you will still get results.

Sugar, again, if you like it, have it! It’s not bad for you, in amounts appropriate to you and your goals. I have sugar in my tea. Not raw, (which is the same anyway BTW) not natvia or any of those other artificial sweeteners, and not honey because it’s ‘healthier’ (it’s not, it’s still sugar/carb at the end of the day no matter how natural it is) but ordinary, white (delicious) sugar. I have one teaspoon in my English Breakfast tea with milk because that’s how I like it.

I went through a period where I had no sugar. I had herbal teas because they were apparently better for me. Fuck that! I like English Breakfast, and I like it with milk and one sugar. And having it like that 10 times a day may not be the best thing for me, but a cup here and there? It’s happening. It’s delicious. I like it. And I’m not stopping. And now I want tea.

Biscuits! Another treat. I eat them. I like them. Not every day, but every now and again. They are ON my menu along with everything else imaginable. Every food in the world is on my menu, apart from the things I don’t like. I am fortunate enough to not have any allergies. Some of us aren’t. And for obvious reasons any foods you’re allergic too should be avoided. But apart from the plain and simple reason of not liking something, then that is it for foods you should not ever eat. 'Eat these foods to drop belly fat’ pfft please. It’s all nonsense. And the ridiculous notion that there are good and bad foods should not be entertained any longer.

There also seems to still be this phenomenon of whoever suffers the most, and is the most hard core is somehow better than those who are not. Those who restrict themselves to a bland, boring diet in order to become lean are some kind of martyrs because of it. Well not in my eyes. For one the restriction is not only unnecessary, it’s stupid. Who in their right mind would want to live like that? Existing on a bland, limited, restrictive diet of egg whites, green veges and chicken breast? I mean come on, how can that be even remotely enjoyable, no matter how ripped you may be?

The whole idea of ‘dieting’ is ridiculous. The idea that you must restrict until you get to a certain bodyweight or look, then you will 1. Feel better about yourself, and 2. Go back to eating normally, kind of defeats the whole purpose.

Why not simply just eat? Eat for your goals and for enjoyment because the two are not mutually exclusive. Yes food is fuel but food is also culture. It’s festivity, it’s nourishment and enjoyment. It’s part of who we are and where we came from. It’s memories and good times with friends and family. It’s life. To deprive yourself of this huge part of your world and restrict yourself in order to achieve a certain look is just narcissistic and sad.

Having goals based on aesthetics is fine, I have them myself, BUT I also have goals of inner health, and happiness; I would not trade one for the other, they all go hand in hand. I love the strength that comes from weight training, and the feeling of being strong, and healthy. And I love being in control of my nutrition rather than having it control me.

Having balance, and a healthy mindset over having stress about what you can and cant eat is a wonderful thing. Restriction simply controls you, and breeds self loathing and misery. And it is written all over peoples’ faces. Whereas self-confidence and happiness are qualities that beam out of those who have them. This isn’t achieved by getting down to a goal weight or dress size, this comes from being comfortable with who you are, and being happy which for most stems from living a healthy lifestyle inside and out.  

The meaning of life is to be truly happy in ones self. To see such unhappiness stemming from poor self image, and the aftermath of restriction is disappointing. It’s really not difficult. Have balance and practice moderation; eat for your goals, and do things you enjoy. Move a little more, find a sport you like, be more active. And just eat!

 

Stop Buying in to the Bullshit

We all know the fitness industry has some major flaws, and there are a few of us who are vocal about these issues. There is a clear divide between two very obvious sides; one full of fakery looking to rort the system and take advantage of the uneducated for a quick buck, and then the other; those wanting to help others, but quite blatantly sick of the bullshit who struggle with the eternal battle between simply letting some things go, or continuing to fight the good fight against what the fitness industry has become. It’s frustrating, and it’s draining. And it’s disappointing to see that some of us are buying in to the bullshit and drifting away from the overall message needed to cut through all of the noise.

Why people must continue to “call out” others is beyond me. For fucks sake just stop. Pushing a positive message, promoting balance, happiness, and overall GOOD HEALTH is what we need. Not the ‘he said, she said’ kindergarten crap. Get the fuck over it. By creating statuses targeting people directly it just begins an online shitstorm, which then creates more unnecessary drama that the industry quite frankly could do without. We have enough of that amongst those on the side of the bullshit, so if you really do want to push for a change how about promoting the good? Encouraging people to be healthy, encouraging people to move more and get active, and encouraging people to have balance and educate themselves on diet and nutrition I believe will do far more good than targeting those who do things a little differently to you and trying to bring them down.

Promote the good in what you do. Provide decent, unbiased, honest common sense information that can HELP people. Because if you truly want to help, then this is going to be a far more effective approach than bagging others to try and get a name for yourself; if this is what you’re doing, then you are not on my team.

I will always promote the benefits of a healthy balanced lifestyle, but I refuse to align myself with the fake bullshit that the fitness industry is now rife with. That is not fitness. And it does not promote good health one little bit. What the fitness industry now promotes is unrealistic body images, extremes and restriction. And I am done with it. 

I’ve gotten sucked in to online debates in the past about who is right, and why. It’s a waste of time. I could have spent that time writing encouraging words on how to start on your fitness journey, how to create long term healthy habits, and worked on how to inspire those around me to become more active and put their health as a priority. This is what fitness should be. But it’s not. So fuck fitness I say, I’m in the health industry. I’m in the business of promoting balance and the benefits of an active lifestyle. I’m in the business of helping those who might not know where to start, and need a little motivation. I’m in the business of encouraging people to get active, because quite simply this is what the world needs. And I'm in the business of ignoring those who want to be negative and unproductive. 

The fitness industry is intimidating to those on the outside. It’s too hard-core, and its too extreme. It’s not welcoming, its not encouraging, nor is it inspiring. No wonder the populations’ health is becoming a major issue.

Obesity rates are rising at a very concerning rate. By the year 2020, 6 million Australians will be classed as overweight or obese. This is obscene. Yet it’s our own fault. Those wanting to help others, rather than encourage, are so stuck on what is the “right or wrong” amount of reps according to a fucking text-book they are failing to see the bigger picture.

The solution is simple. Encourage people to move more, and help to promote a balanced lifestyle. If you really want to make a change, this is going to be how we do it. Stop with the extremes, and stop with the arguing with those who are simply not worth it. As soon as you try to change someone’s mind on something they feel very strongly about, you are steering them towards defending their opinion even more staunchly. Forget them and focus on those who need help, because there is an extremely large percentage of the population who do need it. They should be our focus.

As much as every trainer wants to work purely with athletes, and go by what’s “optimal” its simply not reality. Yes some coaches target competitors and that’s their niche, however those who want and need to train like an athlete make up a very small percentage of the population.

How many people do you think wish they could get motivated to lose a little weight? I can tell you right now, it’s a truckload more than those wanting to “get shredded.” Those wanting to get shredded seem to know everything anyway, so why not be useful and encourage those who are actually begging out for some help, as they are the ones who need us? They are the ones who will actually appreciate the help, and they are the ones who make up the largest percentage of the population.

It’s nice to help those around us, and it gives us something that money cannot buy. It gives a sense of pride and satisfaction knowing that you have helped someone achieve something they perhaps could not have done on their own, and for that they will be always grateful. That to me is what it is all about. Encouragement and positivity. Having overall balance yourself, and promoting that to those around you.; practicing what you preach and leading by example.

By looking at the bigger picture, and helping to push a positive message of encouragement this is how the industry will change. This is how you can help make the world fitter and healthier. Arguing online, getting in to debates, worrying about what other people are doing is petty. I for one am not in that game anymore. I don’t give a shit if someone wants to go paleo and cut out glorious carbs from their diet. I need to spend my time on those who want and need my help, and promote what I feel to be the answer to some bigger issues; becoming more active, and having balance.

 

Eat The Cake

Unsure where to start with this one.

Let’s just say That Sugar Film and it’s wonderful followers have gotten my creative juices flowing on this fine winters evening. I wont blame it entirely on them, this has been a long time coming but I will say it has tipped me over the edge and really bought to light again some of the major issues that are still very current in not just the fitness industry, but in general.

To have an opinion on health, nutrition and food is fine. To have researched, and found something that “works for you” (pardon the use of that godforsaken term I despise) then that is fine. To have reasons for dieting and eating the way you do is completely fine too.

To force those opinions on to others is really not that fine, but possibly understandable when one is so passionate about the cause (say, vegetarians who choose that lifestyle for ethical reasons). But, to force those opinions on others, and use pseudoscience, lies, fear mongering and outright woo to do so is not on. In fact, it’s fucking rude. Ignorance is NO excuse, and neither is stupidity however this does seem to be the main cause of this not so new phenomenon that has taken over not just the fitness industry, but also the entire world. All of a sudden everyone now seems to have an opinion on what everyone else is doing and it’s getting out of hand.

Well, to have an opinion is one thing. To have an uneducated opinion is another. To have blatant disregard for scientific reasoning, research and evidence yet still continue to peddle your opinion to the masses is well and truly irresponsible. Yet, it continues to happen on a day-to-day basis.

I understand why a vegetarian may want to be a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I do. But I will never be a vegetarian. I don’t want to, and to be perfectly honest vegetarians shouldn’t care that I don’t want to be one. The problem is that, many vegetarians do care. They say that their way is the ONLY way, and that no one should be eating the poor animals because “people weren’t designed to eat animals.” Well that is absolutely 100% false. Health-wise, animal protein is the best protein we can get. And health-wise, it is not really optimal to be a vegetarian anyway; iron levels need to be monitored for one. Yet there are people out there, not only blatantly believing this nonsense, but also pushing it upon others as fact. It is not.

Much like the anti-sugar brigade. Stop with the fucking fear mongering. If you don’t want to eat sugar, then fine. Don’t eat it. I couldn’t care less, plus all the more for me anyway (#gains) 

But when people go around spouting absolute fucking nonsense pertaining to sugar, and BLAMING sugar for the obesity epidemic then that is simply false and misleading.  I am the first to admit that many foods high in sugar are very easy to overeat, and thus lead to a calorie surplus (which does matter BTW, anyone who thinks looking at calorie intake is “out-dated” please enlighten me on your magical ways of controlling body composition without doing so, and provide peer reviewed research to support your claims). But sugar itself is not to blame. Not in the slightest. It is fine to have sugar as part of a balanced diet (key word there, balanced) if you want to, in moderation. If you don’t, then don’t. But while you are over in the corner having your sugar-fat-gluten-dairy-free brownies (which are made of what, by the way??) don’t give us cake lovers “that look” thank you very much. I am unsure why it bothers people so much that some people enjoy the odd sugary donut or other treat here and there. Perhaps it’s the fact they have not themselves succeeded in the eternal quest of having a good relationship with food and being able to stop at just one Timtam. It’s also completely incorrect to state that we “don’t need carbs in our diets.” Some people may not think they do (they’re wrong but if they’re happy being wrong… and hungry… then cool) but unless you are some kind of freak, you simply cannot sustain a no-carb lifestyle forever. Plus if you cannot admit carbs are freaken delicious at least, then I really feel for you.

The same goes for artificial sweeteners – many people don’t want to consume these because they believe there to be adverse affects from including them as part of a balanced diet. That’s fine to not want to consume artificial sweeteners, but to incorrectly tell others they shouldn’t either because they are poison and “toxic” is wrong. W R O N G. There is NO evidence to suggest that artificial sweeteners, when incorporated in a healthy, balanced (there’s that wonderful word again, balanced) diet cause any adverse reactions. A study on rodents, where they were pumped full of artificial sweeteners in quantities had it been in humans, would be more than physically impossible to consume, does not prove shit sorry. Well, it proves that we can make rats do whatever we want… Hooray!

Having an opinion, living a lifestyle that you like and that works for you (shudder) is great. Pushing it on to others, not so great. Worrying about what others are doing, also not so great, or productive really. Pushing an ideal on to others AND using false, misleading, bullshit claims to do so, is fucking low. If you really, really don’t know any better then shame on you. The first rule of nutrition is to look at the facts subjectively. Well the first rule is to eat because food is delicious and should be enjoyed. But lets say the second rule, when looking at evidence and research it’s probably best to look at all of the available data, and then form an unbiased opinion based on your findings. Rather than form an opinion, then go souring the inter-web for articles to back up your claims. There is a study for everything. Look at them ALL, not just the ones you happen to agree with, or ones that were funded by companies who want to sway your opinion a certain way (MLM anyone?).

In conclusion, there is a LOT of bullshit out there. It’s perpetuated by people who either don’t know any better (but should), or people that for some reason think you should be doing exactly what they are doing. Don’t. Do whatever you want. Worry about yourself. And don’t get sucked in to the crap. And don’t make shit up! Because like it or not, science can prove a lot of things. Hearsay can’t.

And if some data comes out that shows artificial sweeteners are “poison” after all, well you only live once so have that sugarfree rockstar if you really want it and don’t let anyone stop you. Do what you want! 

It's just marketing

Setting an example, and acting with integrity is something that not enough people do IMO. The fitness industry is rife with people misrepresenting themselves and to be honest I am sick of it. I see people making false claims about their credentials, and misrepresenting who they are in order to gain fame.

I see people more concerned about getting likes and followers than they are about fitness and actually helping others to achieve their goals.  To be honest I see straight through this. I have been in sales for over 10 years, I know marketing, blatant bullshit and a rip off when I see it. This isn’t what the fitness industry should be about. It should be about helping others. Spreading your knowledge and actually helping people because you love it and you’re passionate about it, not because you want to exploit the uneducated and vulnerable for cash. There are still so many trainers and coaches that do not have their clients’ best interests at heart and it is disappointing to be seeing sell outs like this being taken seriously over and over again.

Outright lying is more common than you think. I see people making statements about achievements that are not even remotely true, simply in order to gain popularity in an attempt to make a name for themselves. Fake transformations, bullshit claims about products, attaching themselves to other fitness professionals under false pretences, the list goes on. Newsflash, this does not work forever. And while some people may be fooled, it is only a matter of time before these kinds of people are all called out. You can only survive on bullshit for a certain amount of time before people see what is truly underneath.

Social media has made the fitness industry what it is today. Instagram has single-handedly made it easier for people to become “online coaches” and exploit the system. People with no credentials but a tonne of “fitness” selfies are now selling meal plans online like they are some kind of experts. There is no regulation. And there are no consequences when their “clients” suffer from eating disorders, and health issues from these stupid low calorie plans. Yet they have a massive online following therefore their opinions are valued. Since when did someone’s Instagram account become the equivalent of a qualification? That’s not to say experience cant be discounted, but when you have the likes of Charlotte and Vicki from Geordie Shore, without an ounce of knowledge on nutrition or fitness, selling diet plans, then something is seriously wrong. That’s fucked. What’s even more fucked is that people are stupid enough to buy in to it. 3 minute belly blitz! Please. Don’t be fooled. All it is is marketing and so many people are STILL being sucked in time and time again. Use your brain! Quick fixes are a blatant scam!

Marketing is everywhere, and that is how people are gaining traction. There are trainers and coaches out there who are nothing other than glorified personal trainers (if that) with marketing teams. Cue Michelle Bridges and Ashy Bines to name just two. What these to imbeciles promote as a “healthy lifestyle” is nothing more than starvation. This isn’t helping anyone. Yes you get results short term, but it is not sustainable to operate on such low calories forever. Sooner or later something has to give, and your body will shut down. You need to put fuel in your car for it to go. Our bodies are the same. No food, well you wont be able to function.

Yet, the public perceive these people to be knowledgeable which to be honest is quite concerning. People like this don’t have a place in the industry anymore. Fitness industry professionals have an obligation to be up to date with the latest research and information. To be peddling out-dated protocols, and telling women to eat a dangerously low amount of calories to drop weight is down right irresponsible. MLM companies are the same. People with no interest in nutrition, with an extremely old fashioned idea of consuming 1200 cals a days to drop weight clearly have no idea what they are talking about. All of a sudden someone is a nutrition coach because they have bought in to some bullshit isagenix herbalife scheme and lost a few pounds. Please.

MLM companies infuriate me. Anyone who is honestly interested in their health and well being, and in helping others would steer clear of these. For one the company structure is a blatant pyramid scheme, poorly attempting to disguise itself as something it’s not behind some bullshit products. Just because they are selling a product does not counter the fact that it is in fact a pyramid scheme. Look it up, that is how they operate.

These companies KNOW that you aren’t going to make money off selling the products. They KNOW that their sales come from signing up new “coaches” and distributors, and the products that they have to buy to be a part of it, NOT from them actually selling the products or making profit themselves. Their financial freedom stories and just that; stories. And it all comes down to marketing. Marketing and hype. And the fact you have to sell your soul, and lose all of your friends to be a part of it. It’s like a cult and they are brainwashing every last individual who they suck in.

If you for a second think that you can make money from a network marketing business then you are sadly mistaken. I am not saying it’s impossible, but I am saying that for the amount of work involved there are far better ways to utilise your time IMO. And anyone involved in these companies has zero credibility or integrity. Those are 2 qualities that you are going to need to be truly successful, and last.

What I see people preaching, and what goes on behind their closed doors are two separate things. Trainers I know posting pictures of “clean eating” preaching a clean lifestyle, yet its common knowledge to those in the industry they are taking drugs to get lean (and advising their clients to!) and they pig out on cheat meals every other weekend as well! Saying you shouldn’t eat cake, but then taking drugs. I hardly think that PEDs are “clean.” I have nothing against anyone who uses I really don’t. But when you state that you achieve a certain physique from “clean eating” when clearly that is not the case then that leaves you with zero credibility as far as I’m concerned. These people are part of the problem. Pro status or not it doesn’t matter its still a damn double standard and it’s a joke. Marketing yourself as one thing when you really are something else is lying.

That’s what the fitness industry has sadly become. An industry full of liars. Obviously not everyone, and there are a still lot of decent, genuine people who do have their clients best interests at heart, and are truly passionate about what they do. There are good ones. They are few and far between, but they are the ones who will still be standing long after all of the fake ones have been taken out.

Then there are the trainers who may be good, and they do offer some good information but they somehow think of themselves as a bit of a celebrity. The posts I see asking for follows or likes then they will post something else or do some giveaway to me look desperate. Yes, getting traction simply by providing good content does take longer. But to be honest good content to me, trumps anyone with thousands of followers on Instagram. I’m more of a quality over quantity person. I like real people. You can tell the difference between the people who know what they are talking about, do their own research and are passionate, to the ones who simply hire a marketing guru and do exactly as they are told. It is so blatantly obvious! And it’s a little sickening to be honest.

I have been seeing these things go on and on for some time, and I am over it. You don’t have to have millions of followers to determine your self worth. You shouldn’t have to ask people to like things and tag others to get likes. How pathetic does it look? Even if you do have tonnes of followers, instagram is not real life. Being humble, being passionate and having integrity trumps any amount of social media bullshit if you ask me. Be honest with yourself, and be real. Because there are too many fake people in this industry already we don’t need any more. Don’t be a sell out! 

Paleo Pete

Oh Pete. Under scrutiny in the media about his new book, Paleo for babies (Bubba Yum Yum - The Paleo Way...), it’s a wonder he has lasted as long as he has. Firstly, the paleo diet. Now, don’t get me wrong, if someone has gone from completely sedentary, eating a very unhealthy diet and paleo has helped them make some healthy changes then that is great. I like that it advocates whole foods. BUT that’s where it stops for me. I say this a lot, but anyone even remotely interested in their health and well being will by default, eat a wide range of fresh fruit, veges, lean proteins and whole foods. You can’t not. This is the stuff that is full of nutrients. It tastes great and more importantly it makes you feel great. This is something I always wonder about – these people that somehow think that anyone interested in fitness doesn't eat this way. I’ll let you in on a secret – we ALL do. No one in their right mind would simply eat poptarts all day every day if they have an interest in their health and fitness. They just wouldn’t. Your inner health is more important than how you look on the outside, these two things go hand in hand. Feel good, look good, feel good. Paleo or not, fit people like to eat well.

Using analogies like comparing McDonalds to Pete’s new Paleo for babies formula is just stupid. People in to fitness don’t eat McDonalds all day every day. They may enjoy the odd burger now and then, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Its their choice and once in a blue moon is most definitely not detrimental to results. I personally don’t really eat McDonalds. I can’t remember the last time I had it. I am partial to their nuggets, but seriously I would not have had McDonalds for a few years. Now Nandos on the other hand… totally addicted! It tastes better, it has far less fat, it’s easier for me to fit in to my macros, and its fresher. Now that is my choice to have Nandos above McDonalds, and those are the reasons why I choose it.

Anyway, McDonalds as much as I am not their biggest fan, doesn’t have exorbitantly high levels of Vitamin A. Some people have been comparing his baby formula thing to McDonalds, stating that at least it is better. Well it’s actually not.

The main problem with Pete’s Bubba Yum BS baby formula is that it contains over 10 times the maximum recommended level of Vitamin A for infants. And contrary to popular belief, it is not necessarily beneficial to have extra vitamins and minerals as your body can only handle a certain amount. There is a maximum that your body can process each day, and anything over and above can actually be detrimental in some cases. Giving infants 10 times the maximum dose of Vitamin A can result in death. It is serious. 

Yet in this new book, this is what he is promoting. He is promoting Paleo for babies and children and this is a major problem. Apart from the issues with the baby formula thing, kids shouldn’t be limited, restricted or deprived when it comes to food. They need to eat a balanced diet they need energy and they need nutrients for their growing bodies. They need to be taught moderation and portion control. Telling kids that some foods are off limits never to be eaten is wrong. And it’s just plain mean. It’s setting them up for disordered eating, and will easily lead to other problems like orthorexia and body dysmorphia. Young females especially are under pressure as it is; society says they should look a certain way. It’s hard. It sucks being overweight at school. And teaching children disordered thinking around food is a really mean thing to do when they have enough pressure with body image as it is.

Paleo is simply two lists of food. One you can have and one you cant. Therein lies the problem. The scientific reasoning’s behind why certain foods are not allowed are non-existent. “Because that’s how we ate in the Paleolithic era” is not good enough. It is not even correct anyway, because back then they ate whatever they could get their damn hands on. And their life expectancy was around 30 years of age. I would already be dead. No thanks. How is following a diet where the average life expectancy was less than half what it is today beneficial? That to me is just bonkers.

The issue with restricting foods is that it leads to an unhealthy obsession with what you can and cant eat. This is not good for the mind (or the body), missing out on vital nutrients is one thing, but doing your head in, stressing, and having cortisol levels affected from this is extremely detrimental to your health. It causes unnecessary stress. We should eat to nourish our bodies, not deprive them. 

The other issue is the quantities of these foods. (I don’t think I need to touch on paleo cupcakes…..) HOW MUCH is the most important thing you need to look at when eating for your goals. WHAT you eat is secondary to this.

And I quote “the best part about this diet [paleo] is that calories don’t count” – Pete Evans.

I’m sorry, what now? Calories DON’T COUNT?? The last time I checked, every single study within in the past 100 years supports the theory of calories in vs calories out for weight management. Hormones play a big part too, but essentially your results will come down to energy in, energy out. So for Pete to say that calories don’t count, really just proves his intellect on the subject of nutrition. For someone to get that SO WRONG, yet have such a large following is actually really scary. The amount of people that are blindly following his idiotic instructions is mind blowing. The fitness industry is rife with cowboys like Pete. People with a large following of the public who believe anything they say, and for some reason haven’t stopped to think logically about what he is actually saying. They aren’t even taking his advice with a grain of salt. The important thing to do for your health and well being is to do your own research. If you are doing something, then you should be able to give the reasoning’s behind this rather than “such and such celebrity chef told me too” (or another great one “because my coach said so”).

Know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Your coach needs to explain why they have you doing certain things, so how come this yobbo Pete makes idiotic statements like “calories don’t count” and everyone stupidly believes him? It’s ridiculous.

The baby thing. Pete is promoting Paleo for babies and children. Now as mentioned, kids need a balanced diet. They need to be kids. They don’t need the added stress of wondering if what they serve at the school tuck shop is paleo or not? WTF!! This is wrong as it is, but now he has even gone one step further with his idiotic ramblings and decided that his version of a bone broth is better for babies than their mothers breast milk.. This is taking things far too far.

Not only is recipe 749% higher in Vitamin A than breast milk, it is 2,326% higher in vitamin B12, 1,067% higher in iron, 879% higher in sodium, and 220% higher in protein. The Vitamin A levels are the most concerning as this can literally kill a child. But they also can’t handle that amount of iron or sodium, it affects their kidneys and it can interfere with the absorption of other vitamins and minerals.

It is extremely irresponsible of him to be giving such nutritionally incompetent advice. Yes people need to make their own choices and its up to them whether they listen to him or not, but as we have seen, people believe him on the old “calories don’t count” stance so in terms of him telling people to feed their babies something that could kill them, I’m pretty sure we would have more than a few morons actually doing this should his book be released. And if this happens, children WILL die. It is that simple. And it is that serious. 

Several professionals have made a stand against this Paleo for children book, mainly in regards to this baby formula alternative. These are health and nutrition professionals. People who are qualified to make these calls. Pete Evans is not. He does not know one thing about adequate nutrition for adults, let alone for children who are still developing, and babies, the most vulnerable of us all. He is a qualified chef, yes (so am I) so that means he knows food. You know what you learn in cooking school? How to make things TASTE GOOD. Good flavour does not necessarily correlate to good nutrition. And we all know by chucking loads of butter (paleo friendly incidentally, but only if its from grass fed cows, and churned by fair haired virgins in a lush green meadow) in to something then it’s going to taste damn good. Fat is flavour for sure!

Speaking of fat. Many of the foods on the approved paleo list are extremely high in fat Butters, avocado, coconut oil, the list goes on. High in fat means high in calories, and high in calories DOES mean weight gain. You CANNOT simply eat an abundance of high fat paleo foods without any repercussions. High fat diets have been proven to be a cause of heart disease amongst other things. Looking at how MUCH you are consuming, rather than WHAT is essential to a healthy body, inside and out.

The problems in the fitness industry all stem back to mis-information. That, and people wanting quick fixes (another topic for another day, and I have written on this previously as well).

Pete spouting on about Paleo this and Paleo that is actually very dangerous. Paleo is NOT optimal for anyone. Yes it can be a stepping stone from a very unhealthy lifestyle, in the right direction. But to be honest, I am a fan of getting things right the first time. Do your research. Don’t listen to people who clearly have no understanding of basic nutrition. Look for things that MAKE SENSE – calories DO MATTER. There is no doubt about that. Don’t waste your time on things that are not optimal for you, your health, your goals, your body, and your mind. Find balance, and don’t restrict yourself unnecessarily. And for goodness sake, don't feed your kids something that can kill them!

Negative Nancy

Of late there seems to be a lot of negativity in the fitness industry. A lot of this actually appears to be coming from women, directed at other women. In my opinion, real women support each other. We lift each other up we don’t tear each other down.  We should be encouraging other women to be strong and confident, no matter where they are in their fitness journey.

I’ve seen comments from nasty young girls discrediting competitors because of the division they compete in. This is just appalling. Firstly, be humble. Arrogance is not attractive. Especially coming from someone who has no idea what they are talking about. Secondly, anyone who gets on stage, regardless of the division they compete in, should be commended, not ridiculed. You don’t know where they started their journey, and you shouldn’t have to. No one needs to justify themselves to anyone other than themselves.

I have seen it all lately. A supposed “pro” female competitor had photos on her page with rude comments about other competitors in the Arnold Sports Festival she competed in. She was judging them in a negative way very publicly. Yes this is a sport that is judged purely on looks, but this was completely uncalled for. F*ck you lady. The other competitors physiques and conditioning are no ones business except for theirs and the judges in my opinion. Yes everyone is entitled to an opinion of course, but not saying anything at all trumps saying something nasty. And to be honest it says more about who is doing the talking than anything. She has lost a lot of fans because of it and rightly so.

Why people feel the need to tear others down is beyond me. Yes there are some major problems in the fitness industry already, but this seems to be a much more recent issue and it’s getting worse. What is it about being rude and belittling others that appeals to some people? I can’t understand it.

Online forums don’t help this problem. The amount of facebook posts I have seen from coaches, trainers and the like, publicly naming and shaming others, and getting in to stupid petty arguments online with people they don’t even know is actually getting beyond a joke. Surely there is something better you could be doing with your time rather than arguing with a complete stranger on the internet about whether clean eating is better than paleo?? (Newsflash, they’re both sh*t.) The amount of posts I have seen, directly attacking someone personally, is a lot. And I mean a lot. And it seems to be the same ones doing it. I creep about online all the time. I read, (make popcorn in some cases) and don’t necessarily comment or like the posts, but just take it all in. I see names pop up and I remember them. And boy does it make me laugh. It’s the SAME PEOPLE. At what point do you stop and think, how is this being even remotely productive? In my opinion, if you ask yourself is what you are doing going to give a positive return on your time and the answer is no (apart from an ego boost at best) then what exactly is the point? I don’t get it.

Hours upon hours must be spent by people simply arguing their point online, usually with people they have never even met. I see some absolutely horrible comments. Nasty, personal attacks bringing people down. Actually this isn’t just exclusive to the fitness industry, it’s the online world in general. It seems people have no trouble saying such horrible things when they are hidden behind their IP addresses (or are they…?) and for what? What a complete waste of time. And I doubt they would say the same things to these people in real life given the chance.  

I don’t have time for this anymore. I used to get sucked in to a few online debates here and there, and I will still add a comment when I see something that I strongly disagree with, but going back and forth, to and fro, playing this stupid frustrating game of “who knows more” really comes down to who’s a bigger f*ckwit and has more time on their hands. Surely no one can be that bored. It really does take a bigger person to simply walk way. But walking away can’t affect your blood pressure levels as much as playing tit for tat would. Learn to let it go. Spend time being productive rather than destructive. If you aren’t part of the solution you’re part of the problem.

I get that people are passionate about things. I am most definitely one of those people. Get me talking about nutrition, diet, training, competing etc and I will go on and on as long as you’ll let me. But being passionate, and trying to help people in a positive way surely has to be more effective than arguing and getting in to online pissing contests with people you don’t even know. What does their opinion, or the fact their opinion is different to yours even matter? Let them think what they like what’s the problem? Unless someone is seriously causing harm to others (low cal diets, restriction, MLM BS!!!!) then why not leave them be, thus giving yourself more time for more important matters.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good debate. And I think having a difference of opinion is great, it’s refreshing to be able to have a conversation with someone who does have a different opinion and can articulate it coherently without resorting to personal juvenile attacks. There should be more of this. It’s a great way to learn. It says more about your character and integrity, and I think that being helpful and providing good information in a positive way is much better than being negative and argumentative just for the sake of it.

There needs to be more support, and more positivity especially amongst females in the fitness industry in particular. We should promote a healthy lifestyle. Encourage one another to embrace ourselves for who we are right now, no matter how far we still have to go. There is no place for negativity and comparing ourselves to others and there is no place for condescending attitudes or bringing others down. Anyone doing this clearly has other issues to deal with. Worry less what others are doing, and focus on being the best you possible. Be humble, be genuine, it’s easier, less stressful and more rewarding. 

Problems in the fitness industry...

I disagree with a huge amount that goes on in the fitness industry. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I do have some concerns with how some of them are voiced and I think in some instances the wrong approach may have been taken.  

I read an article the other day and to be honest I was pretty shocked. It was publicly naming and shaming someone. And this sort of behaviour, while is absolutely necessary in some cases, is actually being done more often than not of late. Some trainers and coaches feel the need to pull others down in a bid to make themselves look better. This is not on. It is a pathetic attempt at self-promotion, or at least that’s what it comes across as some of the time.

If you are good at what you do, and you are passionate then this is enough in my opinion. I have respect for people who build credibility, practice what they preach, and are genuinely in this to help others. These people do not feel the need to tear others down in a negative way. It can often say more about the person saying it, than the one it is being said about. So many are too busy being “concerned” about what others are doing, and to be honest I think there are better, more productive things that they could be doing with their time. 

Now I know there are issues that do need to be addressed. I know there are coaches out there who offer cookie cutter diets and advocate dangerously low calorie and very restrictive “meal plans” and this is a huge problem in the industry.

I know the industry is unregulated and there are multiple people offering their services who do NOT have the right, nor the qualifications to do so.

I know there are qualified professionals – dieticians and nutritionists – who advocate bogus MLM products and are in it just to make a quick buck at the expense of the vulnerable and uneducated.

I know there are a lot of people who have literally no idea what they are doing. It is one thing to be naïve and be new – everyone starts somewhere. And as long as you take an interest, are passionate and are prepared to put in the work and learn then I think this is what the industry needs. Genuine people who are passionate. But people who have no idea what they are doing and are not willing to learn are dangerous. People who use lines such as “it works for me” “because I said so” and the like. These are the people that need to be called out.

The amount of people who compete once and then proclaim themselves a prep coach is still growing at an alarming rate. Good coaches are still few and far between and there are many coaches posing as good coaches offering supposed individual plans and giving the impression they know what they are doing, but when questioned they show little to no understanding of basic nutrition or science. This is an issue. There are STILL many coaches who give all of their clients the same “meal plans” - this is possibly the biggest issue at hand, purely because of the repercussions. These diets are generally far too low in calories, and severely restrictive. And because of the restriction and low cals the bodys’ only natural reaction is to crave more calories and eventually give in and binge.

I think disordered eating, and a full blown eating disorder are two quite different things. Yes I believe this is how many EDs can start, and if left alone can turn in to something very serious. This is the problem with these plans. The concept of cheat meals also adds fuel to the fire, allowing a blatant binge session where you can eat all of the “unclean” foods you like without guilt. Except because of the way you are told to think about food, there is guilt and lots of it. This leads to further restriction to “undo” the damage from the weekends binge. So the body is getting even less, yet is expected to do more (extra training usually accompanies this further restriction) which is a sure recipe for failure. You cannot expect your car to go further without fuel and your body is no different.

This sort of behaviour is all too common. And providing that no issues have been experienced previously, then this could be addressed by gaining control of your nutrition, having no restrictions, and learning to eat to enjoy food and also to perform in the gym. Simply regaining control and finding balance I think can help people like this, who have had these issues bought on by the restrictive nature of these diets or meal plans.

Then there are the bigger issues. EDs that have stemmed from other external problems or events in the past. These are very serious, and most are classed as a mental disorder. No amount of “nutrition help” or training or balance will necessarily help these people and they need to address these things with qualified professionals. This is where I think there may be a break down in the industry. I understand that people are passionate about helping others, and want to help, but as a fitness industry professional I believe you need access to your own network of professionals who you can recommend in certain cases. Most trainers would know a chiropractor, physiotherapist, nutritionist and the like that they can refer their clients too when needed. Yes a trainer or a coach will in some cases act like a councillor and listen to their clients and offer every day advice but when it comes to serious issues like EDs that can clearly not be classed as disordered eating, then this is when they need to refer them on to someone who is qualified to help.

There is a difference between someone who previously had no issues with their relationship with food, and has developed an obsession from a “bro comp prep” or “meal plan” to someone who has had years of problems battling with their weight, body image, relationship with food and other things. I am not taking away from people who have had major problems from preps, I am one of those people. But for me, simply regaining control of my nutrition and finding flexible dieting, has helped me a great deal. I no longer have a bad relationship with food, I am eating enough to fuel my body so there are no cravings or binges, and I love my lifestyle and my training. Yes I must track every/most days, but I also have a life, I can guess some of the time, I have a drink every now and then. It has not turned in to an obsession to hit numbers. Comp prep I will need to be more accurate but this is to be expected, and this is a welcome change from chicken, asparagus and egg whites daily.

I think being able to distinguish between these things is important. And being able to get people the appropriate help that they need is paramount to being a good person in this industry. Knowing when you cannot help someone, and when to refer them to appropriate professionals is important so your clients get the help they need. I understand trainers wanting to help their clients, I really do. But I disagree with anyone giving advice beyond their scope. So many personal trainers give nutrition advice that is less than ideal (to be polite). Many personal trainers are in these MLM scams, making money off their clients. Many are taking it upon themselves to take over their clients lives, telling them what to do for every waking moment rather than helping them help themselves and teaching them about making healthier choices.

I still think the fitness industry has a long long way to go. I think there are slowly becoming more and more people who are genuine, and want to make a difference and I think that is great. I get that people want to make changes, but they also must look at the way they are doing this. Naming and shaming others, trying to get one up on someone, rather than looking at a different, more positive approach I think is a mistake. Mud sticks. I wouldn’t bag anyone unless I am prepared to back what I am saying, 100% and I have my facts right. There needs to be more positivity, and less bagging others. The industry is bad enough as it is, without this as well. 

"Coaches"

There are coaches, and then there are coaches. And like in any industry you will no doubt have to take the good with the bad. Except the thing with bad coaches is that there are still far too many of them around, despite there being a lot of uproar in the fitness industry about the dangers of low calorie dieting.  You have to have been living under a rock if you have not heard about flexible dieting or iifym and its’ benefits. The issues with cookie cutter meal plans, simply copied and passed on (for a fee of course) are very apparent especially if you keep up to date with some of the leading names in health and fitness. Dr Layne Norton, Brad Shoenfeld, Alan Aragon and Lyle McDonald are all heavy weights in the fitness industry. They are gurus and they are challenging the old school “coaches” and teams with something a bit more scientific than plain old chicken and broccoli combined with fasted cardio to get lean. These guys are good. They are not simply personal trainers these guys are sports scientists. They have degrees. They spend time researching and providing new information. They challenge the previous “old school ways” and they know their shit.

Due to the increasing popularity with competitive bodybuilding, there seems to be a number of contest prep coaches popping up offering their services, especially online. Yes competing teaches you a lot, however many people simply compete once, get given a cookie cutter diet by their “coach” and because it worked for them they think that it will work for everyone. They then pass it on to others, for a small fee of course. This is the problem. This is not coaching.

Coaches who simply give all of their clients the same diets, most of them dangerously low in calories, are slowly being weeded out of the industry. But it is still not happening fast enough. I am still shocked almost every day at some of the things I see online pertaining to a competitors’ diet or fitness regime. Yet here I was thinking that progress was being made. Apparently not.

There are coaches advising bikini competitors to take illegal and banned substances in order to get lean. There are coaches taking their clients health and lives in to their own hands when they have no professional qualifications or the necessary experience. Qualifications are one thing, yes, yet on the other hand I also see qualified nutritionists and dieticians peddling bogus MLM products that are not only unnecessary for weight/fat loss, they are actually terrible for you anyway. No one needs synthetic vitamins and fake fibre, especially not at the exorbitant cost that these companies charge! My god what is going on?! I would have thought that by now people knew better. But they don’t. And to be honest is sucks. And I am over it.

As frustrating as it is, we continue to try and beat the bullshit. And while I don’t claim to be any kind of expert, I still know what is right and what is wrong. There is a push for a more sustainable, long term approach to weight loss, and to be honest it makes a lot more sense than destroying your metabolism and your relationship with food to get lean. I’ve had experience with dangerously low calories myself. I have done the “bro prep” and been on a diet of 800 calories a day whilst doing 3 hours of LISS daily, and 5 weights sessions per week. It. Does. Not. Work. Well it works once, and then you’re fu*ked. It has taken well over a year to undo the damage that was done. All because I had a coach that hadn’t kept up to date with what was going on because “they knew what they were doing and had 20 years experience in the industry.” Ok 20 years experience is all well and good until new evidence comes out that blows your bullshit meal plan to shreds. As a fitness industry professional you should always be questioning and learning. And as an individual interested in your own health and fitness you should also do the same. People trust their coaches, which I understand. I trusted my previous trainer and look where that got me. I should have taken more of an interest in my own health to do a little digging myself. Well I have learnt my lesson.  

My experience with a coach like that taught me a lot. The hard way. It has given me experience and by going through what I went through this does help me to help others who are in similar situations. This is why I write. This is why I rant about flexible dieting. This is why I go on about the dangers of low calorie diets and how they are a leading cause of EDs. This is why I am passionate about finding balance. Because I went for so long without it, and I am adamant on letting people know there is a healthier way.  Competing does not have to consist of a bland, horrible, limiting diet at all. It does not have to be miserable. No it’s not easy but it sure as hell doesn’t have to be anything like what I went through.

I believe a good coach should not simply tell their clients what they want to hear. They should have their clients’ health at the top of their priority list rather than just thinking about the money. Most successful coaches actually give out a lot of free information. It’s because they’re passionate about helping others. It is satisfying knowing that you have really helped someone, and when they thank you for it, that’s something money doesn’t buy.

My current coach (who I never ever want to leave!) is amazing. What I have learned from him beats everything I have ever learnt from all of my previous trainers combined. Times a million. I am finally back in a place where I am on top of my training and nutrition. My metabolism is working as it should. In fact it is working better than it ever has. I am on track to compete again later this year, and I am actually really excited about it rather than dreading it because I know it will be nothing like previous preps at all. I had originally thought about competing last year, but we decided to wait and take more time to build metabolism and muscle off season. Best decision ever. And that is the difference between a great coach and a not so great one. Someone who actually has your best interests at heart and wont push you to do things that are aren’t necessarily right for you at the time.

There is a major difference between someone who absolutely loves helping people and loves what they do, to someone who is going through the motions and only wants to make money. There is a difference between someone who is prepared to put in the work, and continue learning not only for their benefit but also their clients, to someone who thinks there is nothing that they don’t know. If you ask a question and get told “because I said so” as the answer, then run.

I ask Paul questions all the time. He is always so knowledgeable in his responses and how he explains things to me. From previously being told “because I said so” as the answer to everything, this is such a welcome change and has enabled me to learn a whole lot more in the process. I started working with Paul Revelia in September 2013 and it has been an absolute breeze so far. How this has changed things for me is nothing short of amazing.

Having a coach that you trust makes a huge difference. I never ever told my old trainer the full extent of what was going on. I knew I would get blasted and told I wasn’t working hard enough and needed to just suck it up.  That I was the problem, that long with the stupid meal plan she had me on. If you can’t be completely honest with your coach then this is a big problem and a sign that things will not turn out well.

It is one thing to have a big team and a big following, but it shouldn’t be about that. A lot of these so called teams are made up of bullys who push their ideals on to new clients and brainwash them in to thinking that their way is the only way. It is not. I don’t care what pros are doing what, and who else is wearing a god damned squeem. The fact of the matter is, if you have a coach who is dictating to you, making you purchase ridiculous supplements and products because “that’s what you need to do to win” then I’m sorry but they are bad people and you don’t need that in your life.

Surrounding yourself with more positive ad uplifting people is far more beneficial than associating with people who simply bring you down.

You see some of these girls competing and even winning, but at what cost? No ones health is worth a mere $15.00 trophy.  To be doing countless hours of cardio daily, trying to survive on a measly 20g of carbs a day and likely even less fat is simply never going to work long term. Even getting a place but having to put yourself through hell for it how is that winning? It is not. Being at peace with yourself, loving the journey, loving the actual sport and taking a vested interest in your health really has to be at the top of your priority list. And while it is hard to sift through the terrible coaches that are out there, it is worth it when you find do finally find one of the good ones. 

Competing bro

I read an article today written by a bikini competitor about competing. Whilst it was well written, I dispute everything that was said in it. It was on the “realities of competing” and what it is like to be a competitor. And it was clear to me that this persons’ coach is stuck in the past and still set on using out-dated protocols.

There still seems to be an abundance of “bro” prep coaches and competitors out there. This, even after all of the information that has recently come out about competing in a healthier way, is pretty concerning. I was under the impression that we were making progress here, and that asparagus and chicken diets were slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past. But apparently I was wrong.

Here’s the thing about competing. It takes a certain type of person to compete. It is hard and you have to make sacrifices; it isn’t necessarily for the faint hearted.  Is it healthy? Not in the final stages of prep, not really. BUT can it be done in a healthier way that doesn’t wreck your metabolism, your relationship with food, or your sanity? Absolutely.

Contrary to popular belief comp prep doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. It doesn’t have to consist of a restrictive diet and countless hours at the gym. Nor does it have to mean fasted cardio, or even any more than 2-3 short HIIT cardio sessions per week in most cases.

If you are in comp prep mode, and you are performing cardio on the daily then you are DOING IT WRONG. Not only is excess cardio unnecessary, it can also be detrimental to results and cause issues with metabolism and hormones. Not to mention the time it takes. Work smarter AND harder (you still have to work hard to compete) but a 20 min HIIT session albeit a lot more intense and difficult than LISS, is a far more beneficial use of your time. You get more out of it, you burn more after the fact, and it leaves you with at least a spare 40 mins that you wouldn’t have if you were to try and burn the same amount with LISS.

If you are limited to a list of less than 10 different foods then you are also DOING IT WRONG. If your diet consists of egg whites, asparagus, oats (if you’re lucky) protein shakes, and the disgusting TILAPIA (#gutterfish) then unfortunately you are on what is considered a “bro” diet. You are unnecessarily restricting yourself, your coach is a moron and you are DOING IT WRONG.

If you are on a severely restrictive diet like the above you will be seriously lacking in essential vitamins and minerals. Iron levels will most likely be extremely low due to lack of red meat. It’s also apparently still common to cut out sodium, another mineral which contrary to popular belief isn’t “bad”.  You lose sodium when you sweat/exercise, and not having adequate amounts of it can affect blood pressure, and muscle and nerve functionality.

Here’s another thing. Fish doesn’t “thin the skin” protein is protein, and a calorie deficit is a calorie deficit. No matter where you get your protein fats or carbs from, you will still get the same end result if your macro breakdown and therefore overall calorie intake is the same.

If you are in comp prep, and you cannot tell someone how many calories you are on a day then that is a pretty big concern. What is an even bigger concern is the fact that calories will most likely be extremely low, around the 1000 a day mark. If proper work is done in the off season, and depending on the individual, then a calorie intake this low is most definitely not necessary. If you have to cut cals this low to get lean, (and aren’t 4’0” tall) then you have not done enough work in the off season and shouldn’t be competing IMO. If cals are this low and you are more than 1-2 weeks out, then you shouldn’t be competing. I have heard of women consuming 1200 calories a day when they are not even on prep! This is insane! Been there, done that, never again.

Of course there are extreme circumstances where calories may need to be dropped to a lower than ideal amount in the final stages, but this is to be expected and is only ever very temporary. The body fat levels required for competing are not normal, and it is not sustainable or realistic to expect to stay comp lean all year round. Unless you are not natural. Which is a whole other conversation again.

The thing with competing is that you have to love it. It is a lifestyle. And while it is a nice by-product having the lean body at the end of it, the competition day itself is the smallest part of it all. Off season is so important. This is when the hard work is done. This is when you still have to train, week in and week out even when you don’t feel like it. Being tired, sore, or just not feeling it doesn’t cut it and the work outs you do now, especially the ones when you aren’t necessarily in the mood, they are the important ones. They are what make the difference when you finally step on that stage.

Having appropriate time off season to build, and work on metabolism will mean a much nicer and more manageable prep. Taking your time to diet down slowly will mean less muscle lost, and a more enjoyable experience overall. Yes competing is difficult. Being in the calorie deficit that is required to lose fat isn’t fun, but it doesn’t have to be horrible. Competing doesn’t have to mean you do not have a social life. If you are taking tuppaware containers to social events, then you are DOING IT WRONG. Yes things need to be very accurately weighed and measured during your prep, but unless you are in the final few weeks then you should still be able to work around these things, and enjoy a meal out with friends once in a while. Consistency is what gets results. If you are continually guesstimating meals and eating dinners out, then your results will show this. If it is every now and then, it should not be an issue. One bad meal will not ruin everything, and if your coach says it will then find a new one.

Does competing need to mean you don’t have a social life? No. Does competing mean you have to make sacrifices? Yes. But it does it have to be at the expense of living a normal life? No. Competing does not have to take over. Of course you will train more than the average person, and some people wont necessarily understand this “obsession” but hey they probably have an “obsession” with binge drinking every other weekend. Good for them.

Finding a balance and making this work with your lifestyle is absolutely possible.  I personally wouldn’t usually include alcohol during a prep because IMO it is a waste of calories that would be of a better use for my body. Off season is a different story, and it is easy to work around this and fit a few drinks in now and then. Or more. You just need to account for it. This is key. Balance. There is more to life than god damn chicken and asparagus. There is more to life than suffering EVEN if you want to compete. It is entirely possible to compete, and be less extreme with your diet, and include all the foods YOU like rather than an abysmal list of bland, boring foods. It is possible to eat chocolate during prep. It is possible to do little to no cardio during prep. It is still hard work, and takes dedication but competing does not mean you have to literally starve yourself and have a miserable time during the process. 

It works for me..

If you are eating certain foods, or doing certain things pertaining to fitness and your health, then you should know why. Simply following someone yet having no understanding of the reasons behind why they do what they do is a cop out. Time and time again in the industry I come across people doing things because “everyone does it” “it works for me” or “because my coach told me to.”

These are not valid reasons and to be honest it makes you look a little stupid. If you are doing something, make sure you know why and you can justify it. Do your own research so YOU are comfortable with the decisions you are making. Yes it is up to your coach to explain their processes and protocols, but at the end of the day it is still your body and you are the one in control of it.

Squeems. These damn things come up at LEAST once a week in one of the competitor groups I am in. Reasons for using these include “because my coach is a pro and she swears by them” ok well that’s great. Lets look at what you need to become a pro these days. First you need a good coach (or not so good in some cases) you also have to pay to have your pro card, and the majority of pros are in untested federations anyway. As in pharmaceutically enhanced. I have nothing against this, however it is still something to keep in mind when comparing what you are doing to what they are doing. If you’re natural you’re different and can’t expect the same things to work.

But, I know of a lot of pros that are against squeems too. Layne Norton for one and he’s a pro in the IFPA and NGA. He also has a BS in Biochemistry and a PhD in Nutritional Sciences (both hons) which is more than I can say for most pros, and most coaches even. His credentials blow most coaches' out of the water. If you are going to take advice from someone make sure its someone that actually knows what they’re doing. Better yet, do your own research on the matter so you can make an informed decision. Just because someone is a pro, does not necessarily mean they are qualified to be giving out certain advice. And just because they are a pro doesn’t mean you should take what they say as gospel.

Simply because someone has competed before also doesn’t mean they are qualified to be giving advice. A large percentage of competitors simply follow a cookie cutter meal plan. 1,000 calories a day is a calorie deficit for almost anyone so of course by following this you are going to drop weight (and muscle). These people then pass this same diet plan on to their “clients” and pose as coaches themselves. This is a problem. I have been in this situation before and while I didn’t know any better, and while I was told by my trainer at the time this is what it took to compete, ultimately the responsibility still has to lie with me. Yes as a fitness industry professional she should have known better and should not have been giving me the nutrition “advice” that she did, however once problems started arising with this so called meal plan, I should have done something. It’s not normal to be on such low calories and be performing 3 hours of cardio on the daily. I have to take some responsibility for this myself.

Now I know better. I have learned from my mistakes and I have an amazing coach who has taught me a great deal. (Paul Revelia www.prophysique.com I highly recommend him if anyone is looking for a coach he is absolutely fantastic) He will give me reasons behind why I am doing the things I am doing, but I also need to be comfortable with this and do my own learning too. You have to trust your coach and know they have your best interests at heart.

Another thing I’ve heard of is someone taking baby asprin before performing fasted cardio! Ok fasted cardio for one isn’t necessary. If you want to learn more about this Brad Shoenfeld and Alan Aragon have published a study on it you can read here: http://www.jissn.com/content/11/1/54/abstract

But baby asprin? What the hell? Does this not ring alarm bells and make you wonder why the hell someone would tell you to be doing this? The answer this person got from their coach was that “I don’t remember but everyone just does it” Pardon? No they fu*king don’t! I sure as hell don’t take pain killers before working out. The fact that this coach was telling their client to do this is a huge issue. BUT the fact that the client was doing this, no questions asked, is that not more alarming?? It is to me.

Since when did we become so simple minded we did anything someone else told us without question? Just because they are a “pro” or a highly respected “coach” (I use that term loosely) if something sounds suspect, it's usually because it is.

How you learn is by asking questions. And if you’re given an answer along the lines of “everyone does it” well that is not good enough and you need to look further for answers. With all of the free information available online, and all of the forums where good coaches are actually happy to help and answer questions, not doing your own homework is a cop out. Things are forever changing. New research is continually being published. And while it is up to the fitness industry professionals to be up to date, the buck also needs to stop with you. The individual. If you are even remotely interested in your health and well being, don’t you think you ought to know what you are putting in to your body and why you are doing the things you are doing? Research, find out why, ask questions. That way when someone queries what you are doing, you can give them an honest, educated answer rather than “my coach said to”

 

Healthy Eating

Healthy. This is a term that actually annoys me. What determines healthy? We know that fresh fruit, veges and lean meats/proteins are really good for us. But how do we determine what is healthy? What is good for one person may not be good for another. Healthy eating is a term that is used far too loosely in my opinion.

The amount of people who advise me they “eat healthy” is astounding. Yet the amount of those people who can tell me HOW MUCH they are eating is pretty abysmal. If you think you’re eating healthy, yet you have no idea how many calories you consume on the daily, then I’m sorry you have absolutely no idea about basic thermodynamics or how to lose/gain muscle and fat, and you are in fact NOT eating “healthy.”

To be healthy, one must be getting the right amounts of required micronutrients. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals and such. Their body must be functioning properly. They must be getting enough fuel for their day-to-day life and their exercise. Someone eating a paltry diet consisting of only 5 different foods is NOT healthy. Someone only eating vegetables and fruit, yet missing out on important proteins is NOT healthy. People that are cutting out certain food groups or whole macronutrients (carbs, anyone??) are NOT healthy. People who are slaves to their diets are also not healthy. A healthy mind is so so important.

Here is the problem with the word healthy. It is used incorrectly to describe certain things, and thus gives people the “ok” to consume excess amounts. Its ok, almonds are made up of healthy fats. HEALTHY FATS? I’m sorry what now? Fat is still FAT! And fat is still 9 calories per gram. That is more than twice the calorie amount of protein or carb. Just because an avocado is healthy, does not mean you can consume it in excess and not gain weight. The law of thermodynamics suggests otherwise.

What is important is this – calories. Calories in vs calories out. This is basic, and this is the most important thing to know about to control your weight. Breaking it down further in to protein, fat and carbs is simply counting calories in a much smarter way. Protein and carbs provide 4 calories per gram and fat provides 9 calories per gram. Protein, fats and carbs (macronutrients) ARE calories. Mind blown? But wait there is more.

Your body has a certain requirement of calories each day. This is dependant on many things. Current body composition, desired body composition, activity level, gender, age, height, weight, the list goes on. Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the amount of calories that you need simply to exist. Your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is the amount of calories you need to counter for your daily activities and exercise. These numbers are important.

If you eat more calories, even from “healthy foods” than you need in your day-to-day life, then I’m sorry but no matter how “clean” your diet is, you will gain weight. It is simple science. It is the basic rule that if you eat MORE than you burn the excess is stored as fat. If you are weight training, then you will utilise the calories to gain some muscle, but the bottom line is this – eat more and weight goes on, eat less and weight comes off. No ifs buts or maybes you cannot defy the laws of thermodynamics. Especially if you are natural.

Any food consumed in excess will result in weight gain. This is fact. Yet some people still seem to think that if their diet is “clean” this doesn’t apply to them. It does. Everyone is the same. Everyone. Whether they get their calories from poptarts or chicken breast, if they consume more calories than required then they will gain weight.

Food types. This is another interesting piece of information. Your body doesn’t know (or give a damn) where the calories come from. It simply processes them. Protein, fat and carbs are all used by the body for different things, so it is important to be getting the right amount of each macronutrient for you and your goals. But what foods you use to get them really is up to you. If you like chicken and broccoli day in and day out, then yes you can use them for your protein and a small amount of carb. BUT. By doing this you will not be hitting your micronutrients. Fibre probably (that is a LOT of broccoli) but iron, vitamin b and c and others; these will most likely be deficient. If you are deficient then you are unhealthy. Colourful veges are full of vitamins. Fruits as well. Fruits are also full of sugar! Oh no! But sugars are carbs, and carbs are an essential macronutrient. You need them for energy.

Freelee the banana girl. All she eats is bananas. I would love to see the blood test results of that woman. She will be deficient in a number of things (sanity being the number one) so her insides are completely unhealthy. You cannot expect to eat the same thing day in and day out and be healthy, no matter how healthy the food you consume is said to be, and no matter how healthy you think you look on the outside. Bananas are healthy, sure! But not in excess. Nothing is. Even water in excess can kill you. Think I’m being dramatic? Look it up. Water intoxication. Any substance when consumed in excess over a period of time can be considered poison. People have literally died from drinking too much water.

Consuming excess amounts of anything is not necessary and can be detrimental to your health. Balance is important. Balance, variety and moderation.

I eat ice-cream. And I eat poptarts, and bread, and pasta and all kinds of foods that aren’t necessarily considered “healthy” by some. Do I consume them in excess? No. Do I consume them in quantities that are inline with my calorie and macronutrient requirements? Yes.

Example: one serving of that delicious Coles peanut butter ice-cream contains 19.7g of carb (13.9g of which is sugar) 15.4g fat and 6.6g protein. Those sugars make up around 3% of my current carb allowance for the day. Hardly excessive. The fats make up around 20% of my daily fat allowance. Considering I usually eat 4 meals per day, fitting one serve of that ice-cream in really isn’t a big deal.

For someone with a much lower calorie intake than me, that ice-cream may be more difficult to fit in or justify. They may only have a half serve, or use a lower fat ice-cream. The point is some foods can be “healthier” for some people than others. And everyone is different. And as long as you are aware of your current calorie requirements and work within this, then that is what is important.

Variety is also important. Your body craves variety. If you have the same thing day in and day out it not only gets boring but depending on what it is, your body may not like it so much. Excess cooked veges can cause bloating as they create gases when break down in your stomach. Having a balance of cooked and raw vegetables helps. Having things like rice and pasta to break up a mundane diet of just protein and vegetables is also important. Having foods you enjoy is also important. Eating foods you don’t like, just because they are considered “healthy” is wrong. You don’t need to do this and you don’t need to suffer through a bland and boring diet even on a weight loss phase or comp prep.

I don’t particularly like sweet potatoes. So guess what, I don’t eat them. I can’t stand brown rice so that is 100% OFF my menu. Actually, brown rice is an interesting one. It’s processed. Just like quinoa. Yet these foods are considered to be on the “healthy” list. Isn’t that odd? Word on the street is that processed foods are bad. L O damn L. No. They are not. It’s the same as anything, foods whether they are processed or not are not good or bad. It’s the amounts of these foods that is important. Excess of anything is not good.

Processed foods – so as mentioned above brown rice and quinoa are processed foods. A rice grain that has the outer husk removed is brown rice. Once this then has the next layer removed it becomes white rice. Does that mean white rice is “more processed” than brown rice? Please. It is irrelevant. What is relevant is much of this food are you consuming and does it fit within your calorie requirement? And do you like this food? End of.

This whole healthy living, clean eating BS has to stop. It makes you sound like an idiot if you preach chicken and broccoli all day every day. Whats more, it makes you sound like a wanker if you think your diet makes you better than the next person. Chugging down gluten free kale smoothies doesn’t make you any better than someone who enjoys a glass of wine and a slice of pizza on the odd occasion. Yet people seem to think what you eat reflects on your internal healthiness, and therefore overall place in the world. Eating healthy, and suffering through a bland boring diet somehow makes you more hard core than someone who has learned to enjoy foods in moderation and has balance in their life. Incidentally the same people who claim they are so hard core, are only hard core until their next cheat meal, where they binge uncontrollably on the foods they have deprived themselves of for the past week. This isn’t hard core. This is mental.

If you have a handle on your nutrition, and know how to eat the foods you enjoy without it having a negative affect on your health, your body or your LIFE, then you are what I would call healthy. 

Isagenix

This stuff has got to be at the top of a very long list of products that are a blatant waste of money. Not only that, the majority of these quick fixes are actually very dangerous. They are not magic weight loss products, they do not give you any benefits over eating real food and most of these products are actually full of bogus ingredients that are not even good for you.

Isagenix promote themselves as a weight loss organisation. It is simply a meal replacement system, and quite blatantly a pyramid sales scheme.

MLM, network marketing, or whatever else you want to call it, Isagenix is a pyramid scheme plain and simple. Any product that you cannot buy via normal retail channels is suspect, and the fact that this company advocates its members to bring even more people in to the scheme shows that it is a pyramid organisation. You make more money by getting more people on to your “team” or down line.

I have a number of issues with Isagenix. First being the company structure – I will never understand anyone who wants to make money off their friends and family. I do understand people want to make money, and that a lot of people are lazy hence why something like this could appeal for a split second. However, when the product is inferior and you are ripping people off in a bid to better your own financial circumstances then that is when I think you are a bad person. (More about the actual products later). 

Financial freedom is something most people dream of. It is possible if you are smart about it. There are ways to bring in residual income without selling your soul in the process. It is hard work and nothing comes easy because if it did everyone would be doing it.

Here is the thing. You are NOT going to get rich by partaking in a pyramid scheme. The reason these schemes “work” is because they are dependent on the individuals they suck in to buying these products. They are making money off YOU, not off the people you intend to sell to.

The company depends on the new “members” buying in to the products. Yes you could make money from selling these products (in theory) however what the company depends on to make its money is the fact most people will fail. That is their plan. They do not want you to succeed and they do not care if you make money or not; but if you want to be a part of it, and if you want financial freedom, then you must buy these products first, and THEN sell them. You are the buyer in this case.

Another thing; there is no regard for market supply or demand. And the further down the chain you are the more difficult it is to actually make any money. It is estimated that 90% of people who get involved in a pyramid scheme will lose their money. That’s lose, not break even. And hence the ones at the top continue to rake it in. Pyramid schemes are great if you are the fat cat at the top. But if you are anywhere else in that triangle then you are wasting your time.

The other issue with so many of these organisations is the actual products themselves. I understand that some people are stupid. They will swap a 500 calorie meal for a 100 calorie shake and lose weight and believe it must be the magic Isagenix shake right? No. It is calories in vs calories out plain and simple. It is NOT a magic shake. But you don’t know what you don’t know, so I can see where some people may get confused. Correlation and causation are 2 different things. People will attribute the weight loss with the shake when it’s actually got nothing to do with it. It is the overall calorie deficit that has caused it.

To lose weight you must be at a calorie deficit. As in you must eat LESS than you are expending energy-wise. And this can be done with real food. Shock horror you can actually eat food and lose weight.

Isagenix promote their products and their cleanse system as weight loss tools. This is false advertising IMO. Yes, people will lose weight if they simply start swapping out food for lower calorie shakes, however it is not down to the products themselves and it is not sustainable long term. If you were to lose weight using these products by eating at a huge deficit, then once you go back to eating normally then the weight goes back on. So you must then complete the program again. Do you see how this cycle could continue on and on, all the while costing hundreds of thousands of dollars? This is part of their plan.

These weight loss quick fixes do not solve any problems long term. They do not educate people and teach them how to create something themselves long term. They do not advocate taking a long term approach or making permanent lifestyle changes, and this is why they fail in the long run. This is also why there is such a huge problem with obesity. People are buying in to these schemes, seeing results quickly, losing weight, but then not being able to keep it off. Their options are to try the program again or give up. It must be extremely frustrating going through this cycle and not knowing why the weight keeps going back on. I know, I have been through it myself, not with any of these stupid products, but with low calorie diets in the past.

Your metabolism will adapt to the lower calories. It will slow and your body will try to make do with less. As soon as your calorie intake goes back up to normal or what it was before, your body will automatically want to store as much fat as possible. You will gain everything back that you lost and probably more.

These products cause issues with metabolism. These products promote starvation and deprivation, which ultimately lead to bingeing and failure. This can then very easily lead to further emotional or mental issues like eating disorders, or depression and low self esteem. It is all linked. And to put your body in such a severe deficit, its only natural reaction is to fight back, crave, and binge. Your body will say enough is enough and cry out for food and calories sooner or later.

Then people think it’s their fault they cannot stick to a simple weight loss plan. It is not. You cannot trick your body. If your BMR is 2,000 calories (that is your requirement to simply exist without exercise) and you are consuming less than 1,300 on an Isagenix 30 day nutritional cleansing plan, then you are going to have a bad time. You’re setting yourself up for failure right from the beginning and it is not your fault you can’t stick to it; it’s the law of thermodynamics and physics.

The 30 day cleanse system is exactly that. It is a combination of bogus cleansing products and extremely low calorie snack options. A day on this program looks like this:

Breakfast – 2x Isalean Shakes (240 cals, 24P 5F 24C)

Snack (average 89 cals)

Lunch 400-600 calorie meal of your choice

Snack (average 89 cals)

Dinner 2x Isalean Shakes (240 cals)

This is on a NORMAL day (“cleanse days” are even worse). Total calories - 1,240. And this is using the highest meal option for lunch. That is the definition of starvation, and is literally less food than what prisoners were given in starvation camps when they were starved to death. This is serious. The snack options are as follows:

Isagenix Slim cake (90 cals 2P 2F 20C)

1 hard-boiled egg (139cals 12.4P 9.5F 0.7C)

Celery Stalks 200g (30 cals, 1.2P 0.2F 2.4C)

4 (YES fu*king 4!!!!) cashew nuts/walnuts (87cals 1.53P 3.6F 1.4C)

Averaging 89 cals. Yes, 89 miserable, measly calories!!! What an absolute joke and no wonder people are getting really messed up on this program! That is NOT NORMAL. You must be eating more than this! I personally eat close to 3,000 calories a day at the time of writing this (2,954 to be exact) yes I am in a muscle building phase, I have reverse dieted and I complete 7x training sessions per week, however this meal plan is just over one THIRD of what I eat each day. And I’m a chick. I could not fathom a snack of less than 400 calories. 89 calories what is that, a snack for ants??!!

Then there are the cleanse days. You CANNOT cleanse your body with a particular product. There is no such thing as a true cleanse or a detox unless you are talking about dialysis. Your body cleanses and detoxes itself. It’s called your liver and it does a damn fine job on its own without any bogus bullshit products.

The cleansing product has dire side affects as well, including diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Not the most pleasant way to lose weight and most definitely not the healthiest. You risk losing valuable electrolytes and suffering from dehydration for a start. There are online forums for these terrible products and I have seen multiple posts of people experiencing terrible side effects such as these, yet the idiots running the pages tell them this is normal and to keep going. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. This is NOT an appropriate, safe, or normal way to lose weight. If you are taking something and experiencing this then my advice would be to stop using the product immediately.

There are also concerns about the high levels of Vitamin A in some of the products, levels so high they go against the recommendations of The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics.

Isagenix products and their claims have NOT been evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (The TGA is a division of the Australian Department of Health).  

Isagenix products and their claims have NOT been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. (The USFDA is a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services).

Dr. Harriet A Hall (B.A, M.D - you can find her credentials here http://www.skepdoc.info/id22.html ) wrote a review of Isagenix a few years ago after she received an enquiry about the product:

http://healthfraudoz.blogspot.com.au/2006/11/critique-of-isagenix.html

And for an even better read, her responses to some of the comments posted after the article:

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/defending_isagenix_a_case_study_in_flawed_thinking

 

Isagenix is simply a bogus marketing organisation, with no scientific substance behind their products or claims. Not only is it a complete and utter waste of money, their products are also extremely dangerous in terms of your health. Time and time again this has been proven yet people will still use the products because "it worked for them” or for their aunty, or their friend, or whoever else has used it and wants to make a quick buck off any unsuspecting individuals who don’t know any better.

Don’t buy in to the hype. Use your brain. Be smart about weight loss. Eat real food, exercise, and enjoy life (and save your money). 

Stupid Soup Diet!

I started writing this as I watched an infomercial for the 7 day soup diet, invented by Brendan McCarthy. And let me just say how abhorrent it was. All it is is marketing hype, and making this guy rich at the expense of the health of others who apparently don’t know any better.  

This is the epitome of what is wrong with the fitness industry. As a fitness industry professional I find this frightening and dangerous. And as a chef, I actually find it offensive. This yahoo is telling people they can create restaurant quality soups in a blender with a heating element. You cant. As much as that annoys me, it is the fact that this is being marketed as a legitimate weight loss protocol that really does it.

This diet is for 7 days. And all you can eat is soup. Soup, as a rule, is generally very low in calories. It has barely any protein, and any carbohydrate content would be minimal. Fat, even less again. It would most likely contain some micronutrients from the vegetables but you cannot survive on these alone. You need calories (FOOD) to survive.

This “soup diet” is a glorified starvation diet. Soups are much lower in calories than a lot of other foods. By switching a normal diet, or even an unhealthy one, (which lets face it, the target market for this product will be consuming) for one that is less than half the amount of calories, this will result in fast weight loss.

Weight loss comes down to calories in vs calories out, and pretty much if you STARVE yourself for any period of time of course you are going to lose weight.

Why people see such drastic (and “amazing”) results is simply because they are now eating less than half of what they had been previously. They are putting themselves in a massive calorie deficit. There is no magic to these soups, you certainly don’t need to buy this stupid blender to make soup, and you do not need to pay anyone if you’re just going to starve yourself to lose weight. You can do that on your own volition. And for free. Just stop eating. Full stop. You’ll drop weight but you wont feel good. Plus it will most likely be water weight, it will not be legitimate fat loss.

The problem with drastically reducing calories is that this is going to drastically affect your energy levels in a very negative way. The amount of people who say they lost weight by doing this and feel amazing are lying. They are tired and they are hungry. Yes they think they are losing weight, therefore they look better, and as such think they feel better. BUT it is not healthy, and it is not sustainable. Any form of quick fix diet plan will only ever offer short term results. And the weight WILL go straight back on.

The sooner people realise that it takes time and consistency to effectively manage their weight the better. These diet quick fixes, shakes, soup blenders, and magic pills and teas are all causing problems further down the track. They are simply giving people a short burst at weight loss, making it incredibly difficult to sustain due to lack of calories and energy, and thus they gain the weight again. The majority will keep trying different quick fixes yet find they keep regaining the weight again eventually. This is how these companies make their money. You need to keep using their product or program to try and lose the weight again once you’ve put it back on.

What if I told you you could effectively manage your weight WITHOUT buying any gimmicks and WITHOUT giving up the foods your love? No soups, no teas, no pills or supplements just real food. And it’s free.

Calories in vs calories out is how you mange your weight. And calories broken down further in to macronutrients (protein, fats and carbs) give you even more control over your body composition and results. There are resources online, ebooks, online macro calculators the works. All you need to do is calculate your TDEE (total daily calorie expenditure) based on your current stats (height, weight, age, activity level, etc) then from there you can either maintain, or create a calorie deficit (weight loss) or calorie surplus (weight gain).  

From there you can calculate a macronutrient split based on those calories. This is what gives you the power to manipulate your body composition, lose fat rather than just "weight", or gain muscle, and fuel your body according to your goals.

1g or protein or carb = 4 calories, and 1g of fat = 9 calories. And from there, you simply fit in the foods you like.

If you are working on losing weight, and you want icecream, you can have it and it wont affect your results in a negative way. You may not be able to have a huge amount, and it may mean you need to give up other more filling foods in order to “fit it in” but the point is you get the choice. You choose the foods you like, and the only thing you are limited by is the quantity. Which, less face it, is inevitable if you want to look a certain way, you must monitor how much you eat.

There are other factors to take in to consideration – fibre, micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) rather than simply looking at protein, fat, and carbs. But if you are conscious about health and fitness, then it is only natural to want to eat a variety of foods, mainly consisting of whole foods, with very little “junk” anyway.

It’s about balance and knowing your own limits. Knowing what works for your body, how MUCH you need, and of what.

These ridiculous weight loss gimmicks need to stop. They only work short term, and are not sustainable. They create even more problems later on and the time spent on going through a couple of these “diet” cycles is time much better spent doing things slowly and surely, the right way. Get educated. Stop buying in to the hype. If something sounds too good to be true that’s because it is.

Nothing beats consistency and hard work.

And as long as you are thinking short term, then your results are going to be short term too. 

IIFYM explained

Of late, there seems to be an influx of people who simply do not understand iifym. They either haven’t researched it, or someone has told them incorrect information, or they’re just idiots and cant understand simple science. Not understanding something, yet having an opinion on it doesn’t really sit well with me. I am an advocate of iifym for a number of reasons (top one would have to be because it works…) so I’ll explain the reasons WHY and HOW and also what iifym is exactly. What it is and how to use it will be my opinion and my interpretation, but the why and how it works is not debatable, its fact.

Calories in vs calories out. This is how we lose or gain weight. Fact. This is true. Every study in the past 100 years has proven this theory. And until someone comes along with enough evidence to question this theory (as in prove it wrong) then this stands. If anyone disagrees with this please stop reading because its probably too late for you.

So to lose weight we need a calorie deficit, and to gain weight we need a calorie surplus.

Yes there are ways to manipulate your metabolism and increase or decrease your BMR / “maintenance.” If you start eating less, your metabolisms natural course of action is to adapt, and slow eventually. It will try to maintain your current body weight or composition on your new calorie intake. You can also manipulate your metabolism by way of increasing with a reverse diet.

But even with a new reduced or increased BMR, to lose more weight you will need to create a new deficit.  

One calorie is defined as the amount of energy it takes to heat 1 litre (or kg) of water by 1 degree Celsius. It’s a unit of energy, and food provides this energy in the form of calories. Our body then uses these calories for certain processes, as energy, to build muscle (or store fat) and change our body composition. We need calories for energy. We need them to survive, obviously.

Calories are made up of macronutrients. Macronutrients are protein, fat and carbs. Food. This is a difficult concept for some people to grasp. Macronutrients are just food. They’re not some magic thing that all of us iifymers are making up. It’s just food.

Rather than simply count calories, if you count macronutrients you will get a far superior result, especially if you exercise or play a sport, or if you want to change your body composition. Changing body composition is something that even Joe public will want to do, as this means rather than simply “losing weight” you would be losing fat in particular. And wanting to maintain muscle. 1 gram of protein or carb is equal to 4 calories, and 1 gram of fat is equal to 9 calories. So counting macros, you are counting calories by default, but you’re just being a bit smarter about it. If you’re trying to build muscle, but getting all of your calories from fat its not going to work too well.

So this is the reason iifym gives superior results over simply counting calories - it takes in to account how much of each macronutrient you need for your goals and your body. I train for body building comps. I need high protein as I want to preserve muscle, I need a lot of carbs for energy for training and to grow muscle, and I need some fats because they are necessary for certain bodily functions – brain function, transporting vitamins around the body etc.

Each macronutrient is required for a different reason. And each macronutrient is processed by the body in a certain way. And provided you do not have a medical condition (e.g. diabetes) then your body will process protein, fat and carbs the same way as everybody else. No one is different. If you take 1 calorie from a carb it does the exact same thing to everyone.

Yes, some people might not be able to have as MANY carbs as someone else. Some people may not NEED as many carbs as the next person. They may work better with higher fat. Who knows? Well we do. Each person has an optimal daily requirement for each macronutrient. This is fact. Based on your TDEE you will have a calorie requirement for your goal (lose, gain, maintain weight) and within that calorie allowance, there is an optimal split of protein, fats and carbs.

Your individual daily macronutrient targets are dependant on your current body composition. They’re also dependant on your age, gender, activity levels, goals, height, weight, the lot. And they don’t necessarily stay the same either. If you diet down to lose fat, then at the end of it you will need to adjust to a maintenance allowance rather than a fat loss allowance. This will be different to your previous maintenance allowance, as after you have lost weight your body composition would have changed. You’ll most likely have less fat, and possibly more muscle.

So one reason iifym works is that it is individual, tailored to the specific person, it recognises that everyone is different and has different requirements. You can do a high carb diet on iifym. Or a low carb, low fat one. Or even a ketogenic diet (not recommended IMO). If you have a “meal plan” given to you by your coach, this will have a certain amount of protein, fat and carbs once you break that food down in to macronutrients. If you are eating certain foods each day, in certain amounts it’s not hard to work out your macros.

And here’s the kicker. This is “the thing” about iifym. This is it. All it is, plain and simple, is the concept of CHANGING your foods for something else that “fits your macros.” That’s it. Its not rocket science. But it is science.

Science tells us we need a certain amount of calories each day, yes? And science also tells us that there is an OPTIMAL calorie split between each macronutrient for each individual, yes? So ALL we are saying, is that if one day you don’t feel like having the chicken and rice on your meal plan, there is NO REASON why you cannot swap this for other foods that contains the SAME amount of protein, fat and carb as the chicken and rice.  You choose. If you want chicken and rice, then have it. Or if you want something else then have that. It’s really up to you. And it doesn’t matter. In terms of your body, and its processes, your body doesn’t know or care where the protein, fats and carbs even come from all it cares is that its getting them. Whether your carbs come from sweet potato, rice or even sugar, your body does not know. It simply recognises the carb and processes it accordingly. It doesn’t care where they come from and it doesn’t even care when. Meal timing, eating every 3 hours, forget it. It doesn’t matter. Overall daily numbers of protein, fats and carbs are what matters. End of.

Timing is important for athletes, and it is optimal to time carbs around your work outs, but not essential in the grand scheme of things. Your body doesn’t automatically stop digesting protein once its hit 30g, that is absurd. (BTW what happens to the rest of it if that’s the case does it just disappear? I think not) Eating carbs at night doesn’t cause fat gain its an OVERALL calorie surplus that does that. Carbs at night actually help raise serotonin levels which can help with sleep. Plus your body repairs and grows at night, which carbs also help with.

All of those diet myths are just that. What matters is calories in vs calories out, and if you’re smart about it, macronutrients matter. There are no unnecessary restrictions on foods and there are no magical weight loss foods. Its calories in vs calories out, and where the protein, fat carbs come from it doesn’t matter.

Science tells us this works. And common sense tells us in order to follow iifym successfully, you also count fibre, and keep track of your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) as in, if you eat sugar for all of your carb allowance you’re going to feel like crap. We’re smart about it. We eat mainly whole foods, lean proteins, fresh fruit and veges, and grains. But we know we can also incorporate the so called naughty foods in too. It’s all about moderation. Eating for your goals. Being smart about it. And having the freedom to choose for yourself. 

Reverse Diet

Reverse dieting is something I am quite familiar with. Coming from the typical (outdated) competitor background, low cals, low carbs, low fat (low damn everything except for cardio!!) a reverse diet was a good option for me at the time. After several low cal lose-gain weight cycles, cutting carbs, restrictive diets, and bingeing, the list goes on, I had a very poor relationship with food and had all but given up. With the help of my coach my calorie intake has more than doubled over a period of around 10 months.

The purpose of a reverse diet is to increase metabolic capacity. This is what is claimed, however this is not actually true in the sense that your metabolism/BMR doesn't actually change. Your NEAT however, does. This often gets incorrectly correlated to 'eating more but still losing weight so its magic' it is not. 

Your body, when fuelled correctly, will function correctly. And this means metabolism will actually work at the rate it’s designed to work. By eating too fewer calories the body will try to make do on this. It will try its best to function on less fuel, and most of the time it will also try to do MORE on less. The problem with this is that you cannot trick your body. You can try to, and you may get away with it short term, but sooner or later your body will say hey, I need more wtf are you doing to me? And you will binge. No one can stay compliant forever on an amount that is designed to make them starve to death. Your body wants to survive, it wants to be a little bit fat, and it wants to protect itself from starving. 

The 'reverse diet' has since become quite controversial. There are some claiming that it magically increases metabolism. It doesn't 

While I believe there is benefit to slowly adding calories in SOME cases, for most, it is a waste of time being in a larger deficit than required for any longer than necessary. Standard practice after a diet phase is to get back up to maintenance as soon as possible. 

When one increases calories, the natural response is to move more. It happens subconsciously. We eat more, we have more energy to burn. Our NEAT goes up - our non exercise activity thermogenesis, our day to day moving around. 

If you are in a deficit, you have low energy as it is and you don't feel like doing an awful lot. Those waiting side of stage to compete and often just lying down somewhere trying to preserve their energy. Had they eaten a decent serve of carbs, then this would be a different story. 

So when once increases calories (generally by way of carbs on a 'reverse') then what happens is they have more energy, so they move around more - they can train harder at the gym, they have energy to get up and move around more - and as such, their energy expenditure increases. So, they are technically still in the same calorie deficit, they are just eating more and also burning more. 

But the belief is that somehow as they are eating more (yet still losing weight!) that it is magic, and increasing metabolic capacity. It is not. The law of thermodynamics still stands. 

I also used to believe this, but quickly learned that the increase in NEAT is a far more sensible explanation. 

If someone has had a hard time getting used to the idea of going from a fat loss phase, to now a gaining phase without prior experience of a gain, then this might be a little tricky for them to get their heads around so in this case it can be helpful for them going slow. The process does have merit in that regard, and there is a lot to be said of competitors who are afraid to ever eat more than 1200 cals a day - for them being able to slowly increase but not see the scales jump up, then this can help. 

But aside from that, generally it is best to stay on as high a cals as you can, all of the time. Always diet on as many calories as possible. 

So in terms of the reverse diet, it is not some magic thing that increases metabolic capacity, but it still can be a useful tool in some cases to help those who may be a little intimidated by the thought of actually having to eat more

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of IIFYM - it’s all in the mind man

Ok so we all know I am a raging advocate for iifym or flexible dieting. I wanted to share my reasoning behind why I love it so much, and go more into the emotional and mental side of how it works, rather than just the facts (which I will do in another blog #sciencebitch)

I came from a clean eating background. Also, being a competitor I was no stranger to the world of low carb, low cal restriction diets, and spent several months on an extremely low calorie meal plan partnered with 3 hours of cardio a day and 5 weights sessions a week during my last comp prep. It was not fun. Well thinking back now it was not fun, but at the time I didn’t know any different. Plus I was pretty lean, so that meant I looked and felt great. Kind of.

At the time, yes I did. I thought I enjoyed eating chicken, asparagus and zucchini and egg whites day in day out. (I wasn’t even allowed broccoli in the end, just asparagus as it is a natural diuretic… and all in tiny, weighed portions, which were to be consumed at specific times throughout the day). I thought it was normal and that is what it takes to compete. Dedication, hard work, and suffering. Well its not. This is not normal. This is not normal for a competitor. And it certainly is not normal for joe public wanting to “get in shape” or just lose weight in general.

You do not have to eliminate certain food groups. And you certainly do not have to subject yourself to dangerously low calorie diets in order to get lean. This is not sustainable, and this is blatantly setting yourself up for failure.

The first point is that consuming low calories affects your body and not in a good way. Your metabolism is something that can be manipulated – it adapts. As soon as you start dropping your calories, yes you will lose weight however your metabolism will start to slow down. It will start to survive on the lesser amount of calories you are consuming and it will then drop to a level where it will try to maintain your current body composition on less energy. This is not good. While we have all been told, eat less exercise more to lose weight this is actually not the case.

Yes you need a calorie deficit to lose weight, however there are other ways to do this, and keep your metabolism working at a more appropriate rate.

The other problem with low calorie diets is that they are simply not sustainable long term. While you may get results in the short term, once your body adapts and maintains on the new, lower calorie intake, you will then need to create a deficit again once weight loss stalls. And you can’t keep taking away calories forever it simply doesn’t work like that.

Restriction or elimination diets are also a big problem, and with idiotic articles being flung around in the media stating that you need to cut carbs, or sugar, or processed food, or even protein, its no wonder people are confused with how to lose weight and maintain it. It’s also no wonder we have a huge problem with obesity. One cause of this is the lack of education, and another is the ridiculous amount of quick fixes and magic weight loss pills and supplements that are on the market at the moment. The quick fixes wouldn’t be so much of an issue if people would stop buying in to them, and stop being LAZY (yeah I said it) and actually realise that it takes a bit of work on their part, and consistency to see results.

Eliminating certain foods, or labelling foods as “good vs bad” is ridiculous. Yes if you are allergic to nuts, then obviously nuts are going to be bad for YOU. But by cutting out food groups, or certain types of food altogether for no reason then you’re automatically setting yourself up for failure. As soon as you say no chocolate for a week, what do you want? Yes, chocolate. It is human nature to want something you’re “not supposed” to have. Rather than cutting things out, I believe a far more realistic and sustainable approach is simply to include all foods in moderation.

And that is where iifym comes in. What this does is allows you to make your own choices, and eat the foods your want to, AND it gives you results. I believe one of the main reasons this protocol works is that it doesn’t discriminate against any food groups, and what you eat is entirely up to you. It changes “dieting” or eating for your goals back in to something you can actually enjoy.

Iifym gives you the power back. It’s up to YOU what you eat. It’s up to you WHEN you eat. You get to do whatever you want. And to be honest, especially coming from a very restrictive eating background myself, I think this is god damned liberating. Fancy a poptart? Have one! Yes that might mean you miss out on something else later in the day, but hey that’s your choice! And that’s the beauty of it. No longer are we slaves to the chicken and broccoli, AND we are looking and feeling a whole lot better because of it.

I don’t know when this happened exactly, but suffering and having a terrible time in order to get lean became the norm. Whoever gave up the most, and was the most miserable and therefore “hardcore” was somehow better than everyone else because of it. What the hell? When did enjoying delicious foods, and eating for enjoyment die out? Food shaming is in, eating damn kale smoothies topped with activated almonds and organic goji berries must mean you’re healthy and hence you’re a better person than someone who eats pizza. Whatever. Suffer, because I’m going back for more gummi bears.

Here’s the thing with iifym. Contrary to popular belief it takes will power. But, it’s not at all difficult to sustain long term once you get your head around it. Yes, you are limited to certain quantities, BUT the fact that you can eat any food you want does wonders for the mind. No longer is anything off limits. No longer are you restricted to a limited amount of boring tasteless foods. No longer do you get cravings for every damn thing on the list of banned foods, because you can have literally any food you like.

Yes the limitations on the quantity mean you cant just sit down to a whole block of chocolate necessarily, but lets be realistic, you don’t need a whole block to be satisfied, and you cant expect to have a whole block and get results. Hell if you don’t have certain goals for body composition or want to have a healthy relationship towards food then go ahead eat the whole damn block I don’t care! But if you do have goals, then you still have to make some sacrifices in order to achieve them, however sacrifices do not have to mean your life is miserable.

Once the realisation that no foods are off limits sets in, the possibilities are endless. Cravings will be a thing of the past. And even if you do really feel like having something, and you don’t have enough macros left that day it really doesn’t matter because you have all day tomorrow to have it. Or the next day, or the next day. You don’t have to wait a week for your next “cheat meal” as you can simply fit in the foods you want, whenever you want.

Cheat meals are the very things that binge eating disorders stem from. This goes back to again, the concept of some foods being good, and some being bad. Having this mindset really causes a whole heap of problems that you don’t want, or need.

Simply, some foods will be better for YOU, as others may be better for ME. And having the flexibility to experiment with the foods you like gives you the ability to also find out what does or doesn’t work for you. Diet and nutrition is very individual and no 2 people could eat the exact same things and get the same results. What works for one will not work for another. Yet, there is an abundance of cookie cutter meal plans available online for people to purchase and download. These “meal plans” do not take in to account anything about the client. 9 times out of 10 they are simply very low calorie, with little to no variety, they are not sustainable long term, and they are BORING. Variety is the spice of life!

Flexible dieting or iifym is not just random guesswork either. Your macronutrient requirements are individual to you. And they are based on a number of things, age, gender, current body composition, goals, activity levels, etc. What one athlete requires to maintain energy levels for marathon training will be different entirely from what a bodybuilder requires, which will be different again to a powerlifter, which will also be different again to someone who simply wants to look and feel better about themselves, and goes for the occasional afternoon stroll, but works full time in a very active job. It is very individual. Also it gives the power back to you by allowing you to take control of your nutrition, and create something that YOU can stick to long term, and if that involves having pizza or chocolate every week (or even every day!) then so be it.

Yes, you track your numbers and have to watch how MUCH you’re eating, but isn’t that a whole lot more realistic than having a huge list of foods you simply cant have at all? The amount of the foods you consume is pretty important. Calorie dense foods (even “healthy” things like almonds and avocados, not just chocolate and pizza) are not foods that should be eaten in excess anyway. Hell you can even gain weight from eating too much chicken! It is important how MUCH you eat, and I think that iifym makes you more aware of what you personally can or cant get away with, and also of what portion sizes should look like. That, and it does wonders for your sanity. 

It's not a diet it's a lifestyle

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One thing I do find interesting is the attitude a lot of people seem to have to weight loss. Some people “get it” and take a holistic approach to fitness - they live it, breathe it, and love it. But the majority of people do not. They get too caught up in the outcome, the numbers and the end result, and this can cause frustrations. Yes, you need to keep the end goal in sight, however I think the realisation that it’s the journey, and the process that you must learn to enjoy, is a game changer. The penny drops…. It’s no longer a chore, or a punishment. If you step back, and take things one day at a time all of a sudden the pressure of reaching certain goals lessens, but the funny thing is once you allow yourself to do this, reaching the goal simply happens anyway.

Most of us have been guilty of focusing purely on the outcome, setting unrealistic goals and having extremely high expectations on ourselves, and others. There is nothing wrong with having high standards but I think we also must learn to take some of the pressure off ourselves.

How many people will set a goal to lose x amount of weight by a certain time? Or they want to get to a certain body fat percentage (maybe for comps) and then they’ll be “happier” when they get there. They may be, but the problem I see with this attitude, is that it is too focused on the outcome, and a number. A number on the scales is just that. Just a number. It shouldn’t define how you feel. It shouldn’t make you happier or sadder, but it does. It is amazing how those scales, a number, can make or break you for that day or week.

If you focus on losing x amount of weight in a certain amount of time, then when the scales are moving in the “right” direction it does make you feel good. You’re making progress, or you think you are. You’re happier, and it makes you want to stick to your diet or program. However, when the opposite happens this can cause havoc not only on your mental state, but also on your hormones, which can affect your progress. If you are so focused on losing weight, and today the scales say you have gained what does that do to you? It doesn’t make you feel good. It can make you feel like you have failed. So you must work harder. You put more pressure on yourself. You spend more time at the gym and are stricter with your diet. You weigh yourself again later in the day – no change. The next day, no change. Maybe a slight increase or drop, but it starts to turn in to an obsession.

Letting the scale dictate how you feel is not healthy. The scale does not measure body fat or muscle accurately. The scale doesn’t measure fluid retention. The scale can’t tell if you’ve had a good nights’ sleep or not. The scale doesn’t know what time of day it is. It can’t tell whether you’ve just drunk a bottle of water, or had an alcoholic drink the night before. It can’t tell where females are at with their monthly cycle. And it can’t tell whether you’ve just smashed out a big leg session in the gym either. You know what? The scale doesn’t know shit!

Yet somehow we all seem to obsess over what that stupid scale tells us! We let it mess with us, and we let it determine how we feel. We let it put us in a glass case of emotion!

As soon as that tie to the scales goes, it is amazing how much happier you feel. But for some it isn’t necessarily just as simple as not worrying about it, it does take practice to get in to the right mindset.

The way to do this is to instead try to focus on the process. Break it down and take it one day at a time. Find something you enjoy, commit to doing it once, or twice a week and go from there. If you love walking, then walk. If you enjoy running then do that! It doesn’t have to be a big change, and if anything I think smaller realistic changes are better to start with. Make it achievable. You can always add more in later.

Going from completely sedentary to trying to eat right, and run 5x a week, plus do an extra 2 spin classes may be over doing it. If you add things in to your routine slowly, and make small changes at a time, you turn these in to habits.

By trying to do everything at once, and quite often, too much too soon, is what can ultimately lead to burn out and failure. Especially if you go by the scales and they lead you to believe that what you’re doing isn’t working! Those damn scales…

Take the focus away from the weight loss or the end result. Take the pressure off yourself. And instead start to simply think about what you need to do each day. The rest will take care of itself. Each week that you consistently hit your new goal of going for 2 walks and 1 jog (for example), you know you’re making progress. Newsflash! Slow progress is still progress!! And instead of having that goal weight or number in your head and looking at how far you still have to go, instead look back and see how far you’ve come. It’s pretty motivating. Everyone started somewhere, and the point is that they started.

Trust the process. You may have heard people in the fitness industry say this. Trust the process and enjoy the journey. Learn to love what it is you’re doing every day. If you consistently tick off what you need to do each day/week, and you’re enjoying yourself while you’re doing it then this is the key to success. You’ll start to relax and be happier simply knowing that what you are doing, albeit in small steps compared to previous attempts, are still steps that are taking you in the right direction. And the slower the approach, the more realistic it is to expect that you will continue with these habits long term.

If you “fall off the wagon” or slip up, it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Don’t beat yourself up. Just accept it, and move on. One day is not going to be so detrimental to you that it’s ever worth worrying about. Especially when the majority of the time, day in and day out, you are consistently taking steps in the right direction.

Worrying and stressing can affect your results as this increases cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone and it can cause your body to store fat. I can’t imagine that having a slip up and getting straight back to your routine would affect cortisol anywhere near as much as continuing to worry about it would. Beating yourself up, worrying and feeling bad about it can really affect that stress hormone and cause some problems. Learn to let it go. Accept it, move on, and get back to what you were doing.

Obviously if you are having these slip ups every other day then there’s a separate underlying issue. However if it’s just every now and then, it is nothing to be worried about. One “bad” meal won’t make you overweight just like one “good” meal wont make you lean. And naturally you will find this happens less and less, the more you get in to the “zone” anyway. 

The Zone. The process. It’s the lifestyle. If you want to be “healthy” and/or lose weight, you must embrace the life style. If it’s simply a quick fix, and a short term thing then its only going to last short term. You cannot expect to lose weight quickly then stop eating/exercising that way yet still get the same results. It takes patience and consistency. It doesn’t have to be hard work; if you simply want to get fitter and leaner, all you need to do is move! Fuel your body according to your goals, find an exercise you enjoy, and make it a priority to include this in to your routine and your lifestyle. If for example you love eating chocolate, find a way to include this in your diet if it will make it easier for you to adhere to.

The life style you create must be done so in such a way that it is sustainable long term. You can add to it and adjust it as your goals and interests change, but the bottom line is that it’s the journey that is the most important part. If you are able to enjoy HOW you get to your goals, then it makes reaching them a whole lot easier.  

Pov macros....

If you’re familiar to iifym, then you may have heard the term “pov macros”

This pretty much means that you don’t have a lot of calories each day – you may be on comp prep, or at the start of a reverse diet to increase your metabolic capacity. I know before I got on to flexible dieting I was guilty of consuming too fewer cals so when you haven’t got much room to move, you need foods that are lower in calories so you get more of it!

There are a heap of foods that allow you to get more “bang for your buck” so during a comp prep in particular if you have come down from higher fats and carbs, then it can be useful having some of these foods up your sleeve.

Carbs would probably the biggest one people struggle with if/when they get reduced. Most vegetables are pretty low in carbs, so they are always good for volume. Broccoli, green beans, eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, carrot, cabbage, spinach, silverbeet onion, cauliflower and asparagus etc are all low in carb content (roughly 5g or less per 100g), so you could easily have a huge plate of this, and it wouldn’t eat in to too much of your carb allowance. Salad vegetables like tomato, cucumber, radish, and lettuce are the same, all under 5g carbs per 100g. It can be harder to feel full off just salad vegetables though. 

Pumpkin, peas and beetroot are a little higher between 5-10g of carbs per 100g. And then things like potatoes, parsnips and corn are higher again, around 10g – 20g carbs with some types of potato being at the higher end of that, or just over. It also depends on how you cook it!

Steaming and stir-frying are pretty low fat ways to cook  - stir-frying in a non-stick pan and without adding oil. Soy sauce with a little bit of a honey is a great way to add flavour to veges, and also using garlic/onion, spices and herbs will add a tonne of flavour without having to add fat.

Baking is another good way of cooking veges (especially potato, parsnip, beetroot and pumpkin) as you can do this without adding fat, and just add salt and pepper and/or spices. Spray cans of oil are handy to have if you do want to use some fat for cooking, but only a little bit.

Fats – fats can also get dropped during comp prep, and it may be hard to adjust to if you’re used to having a decent amount each day. Protein amount would typically stay about the same but if you’ve been used to having steak for dinner, and/or eggs for breakfast and find that your fat has dropped then you may need to look at ways to reduce fat in other meals or look at alternatives some days.

Egg white omelettes as boring as they sound, are actually not that bad if you add a yolk, some veges, onion, and herbs/spices. If you whisk up the egg whites first (just to soft peak otherwise you get lumps when you add to the yolk), then fold in to the yolk this also makes it “bigger” even though when you whisk its just adding air… If i cook them this way I usually finish in the oven first before folding over, so it stays nice and fluffy. Sometimes just little tricks like this can make a big difference! Loading up an omelette with spinach, tomato, zucchini etc and even a little bit of cheese can turn this in to a decent sized meal. 

Speaking of cheese, if you use the finer grater part (small side) you can make a half portion seem like a lot more than it is! This is great for when I make pizza, or have cheese on my pasta or burgers.

Another cheat for cheesy deliciousness is to use a combination of cream cheese and cottage cheese. This makes it higher in protein, but without the extra fat and it still tastes like cream cheese. (Adding sour cream to this combo as well is also a trick I use for some of the cheese sauce in a lasagne.)

When it comes to butter, there is a 50% fat butter that I haven’t tried, but I do have it on good authority that it tastes pretty good, so is worth using so you can have more of it. When it comes to other spreads though especially oil based and marge though I would steer clear personally (unless you like it for some reason…)

Low fat yoghurts are popular during comp preps as well (chobani) and also aeroplane jelly. They have sugar free options, which don’t take much to fit in. BCAA jelly is also handy – simply make jelly using BCAAS (Genetix Nutrition Revive), water and gelatine. Also, BCAA slushys are pretty good in summer too – just crush ice in a blender and add a mix of water and GN Revive.

There are a number of lower fat, or higher protein ice-creams on the market too – Skinny cow brand I have heard is good, much less fat than normal ice-cream but still tastes nice. And Whey Whip (you can get from Nutrition Warehouse) is a protein ice-cream I have tried, much easier to fit in than a normal ice-cream and flavour is really good. There is a new burnt caramel flavour now too!

It seems to be common for people to crave sweet things, especially at night. One other thing I recommend trying, is flavoured herbal tea. They come in heaps of different flavours, lots of fruity ones, and also having something hot can help satisfy that feeling of hunger.

Desperate times can also call for sugarfree gum (last, last resort if you’re really needing something and have absolutely NOTHING left) having too much of this can cause problems though. Same with sugarfree lollies - desperate times, and I mean desperate! Sometimes having artificial sweeteners wont satisfy a craving for sugar anyway so in some instances you could be better off going for something like honey, or fruit instead although this may take you slightly over.

For more savoury foods, if you are sick of eating vegetables all the time, then there is a low carb bread – Well Being brand (green pack, you can get from Coles) “Lower Carb Bread” has 21.7C for 2 slices. Wattle Farms wraps are around the same, about 19C per wrap (sourdough, wholegrain and lite-white) with the lite-white one having a little more fibre (that and the sourdough ones also hold together better than the wholegrain). I used to use these for lunch, and load up with some lettuce/tomato/cucumber/chicken – they’re small, but at least having bread or a wrap can seem more substantial than just veges or salad.

Wholegrain pasta I found had the lowest amount of carbs per 100g (we’re not talking much, about 5g less carbs per 100g, BUT every bit helps!) Rice – wild rice seemed to be a little lower, I have also heard of people making “cauliflower rice” I haven’t tried this though and am not sure I would… Slim pasta I tried once, I was not a fan but some people seem to like it. Its made from a vegetable, so is extremely low in cals and carbs. I have seen people make “pasta” from zucchinis too but again, like the cauliflower rice we are talking serious pov macros to be doing this! 

It does pay to check the nutritional labels (usually the 100g part is easiest to look at first to get a quick idea). Sometimes a different brand will have a few less grams of carbs/fats etc not a big difference, but this can add up, especially for a couple of different foods over the whole day!