Tag Archives: paleo diet

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now

12 Nov

Over the last two years, I’ve learned a LOT about weight loss, fitness, and nutrition. I’d like to think that I wasn’t totally ignorant before I started on this self-improvement journey. Generally speaking, I’m a reasonably smart guy. I have a college education from a prestigious school, I’m a big reader, and I’m naturally inquisitive. That all said, I WISH I had known then what I know now!

I’ve recently been having people ask for my help and guidance on how they can lose weight, get in shape, etc. At times been shocked at how ignorant people are about nutrition and fitness! The things people hold as self evident truths about fitness and nutrition, while silly to me now, are many of the same things that I believed once upon a time! Reflecting on it, I’ve thought of a few things that I wish I had known, or done a bit differently when I got started:

1) Don’t Start Over Your Head – I had a few failed attempts to whip myself into shape in years past. I bought P90X from Beachbody because of the flashy infomercial and super fit people doing the workouts on TV. Boy was that a mistake! Not because it isn’t a great program, but because it was WAY too advanced for me at the time. What ultimately got me to stick to a routine was not getting in over my head right away. In February of 2012, I started with Power 90 (which I call “P90X-light”). Power 90 is geared towards a typical fitness beginner. The workouts are shorter, and less intense than P90X which made them more approachable for me and helped me to stick with the program. I lost 33 pounds in 90 days on Power 90, and then couldn’t wait to tackle P90X from there. The moral of the story is to start slow. If you are truly trying to change your lifestyle, the important thing is that you start doing something. By biting off more than you can chew right away, you are likely to get frustrated and give up.

2) You MUST Focus On Nutrition – Ask any serious trainer, body builder, fitness model, etc., about their physical conditioning, and they will tell you that results are 75%+ nutrition. Ever hear the old adage, “you are what you eat?” This is so true! If you are serious about losing weight, improving physical performance, etc., you have to have a proper diet. You simply cannot out-exercise bad nutrition. A definition of “proper nutrition” however is a bit subjective. For me, proper nutrition has taken the form of adopting a Paleo diet. For more on this, I recommend the book The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. At a minimum though, I recommend people eliminate processed foods, minimize/eliminate wheat and grain, eliminate sugar, and eat more vegetables. I’ve experimented with a variety of nutrition schemes, and hands down Paleo has yielded the best results and made me feel and perform my best.

3) Have A Plan – If you are serious about losing weight and getting in shape, you need a plan. Just going to the gym and fiddling with the various equipment does not count. In order to have a plan, you need a goal – lose 30 lbs?, gain muscle?, train for a sport?, etc… Sometimes, your goal may be obvious. When I started, I was 227 lbs and had a 40″ waist dress pant. My goal was simple – LOSE WEIGHT! I adopted a plan that limited my calories and gave me a broad workout with a mix of circuit and cardio training. Whatever your goal is, make sure you are selecting a workout and nutrition regiment optimized to get you to your goal. While on your plan, I also found it very motivating to keep records. I tracked my body measurements and weight so I could visually track my progress. Before and after photos are also a great idea. Keeping a workout log in a notebook is a must. Monitoring your reps/weights and tracking them over time shows your progress. It also makes just keeping track of what to do workout to workout easier.

4) Educate Yourself – Reading about fitness and nutrition has been very important to me. I’ve learned a ton about the subject I didn’t know, I’ve “unlearned” things I thought I knew that was just wrong, and I’ve incorporated new things into my routines and nutrition that have vastly improved my results. Knowledge is power, so educate yourself!

Eat Fat, Get Lean

22 Oct

Too good to be true? Can you REALLY eat fats to get lean? OF COURSE!

We have been indoctrinated as a society to believe that “low fat” and “no fat” foods are the way to go for being lean and healthy. Just walk through your local grocery store and pay attention to the marketing of low fat foods. On that same trip, look around at the people shopping for these low fat foods. How many of them look lean and fit? Probably not many!

I myself falsely believed that low/no fat foods were “healthier” than their full fat alternatives. I had to do a lot of research on my own, and try out a higher fat diet, to find out for myself if fats were my friend or enemy. Here are my top reasons why you should ditch the low fat foods and embrace a big fat intake in your diet:

1) Low / No Fat Foods are Junk – when companies market low fat foods, they are actually removing something healthy (the fats) and replacing them with fillers that are not (such as soy, soy derivatives, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or chemicals that you can’t pronounce).

2) Fat is FULL of nutrients – gram for gram, fats are more nutrient dense than protein or carbohydrates. Not only do fats contain numerous vitamins and nutrients, they also have another interesting benefit. Many vitamins and minerals are actually fat-soluble, which means that eating fat increases the bioavailability of nutrients of other foods. In other words, eating fats allow you to get more nutrients out of the non-fat foods you are eating!

3) Fat DOES NOT make you fat – this is probably one of the most common misconceptions. I’ll say a couple of things about this. First, fat is very satiating which means it makes you feel full, thus it prevents over eating. This is especially true when you are paring the consumption of fat with a low-carb diet (like paleo). Second, study after study shows that high fat and limited carb diets improve your body’s ability to access stored fat you already have for energy. This has the result of improving body composition (increasing lean muscle mass and reducing body fat percentage).

4) Fat DOES NOT increase cholesterol and clog your arteries –There are no studies that link the consumption of fat to increased blood cholesterol. In fact, the best studies available indicate that cholesterol is most negatively impacted by high carb diets that are wheat based. Similarly, clogged arteries are caused by inflammation (which is also the number one cause of all diseases in the body). Inflammation is much more causally linked to the consumption of wheat and carbohydrates. You don’t consume fats that in turn get poured into the blood stream and plug things up… it just doesn’t work that way.

5) Fats make hormones – hormones are pretty much in charge of doing EVERYTHING in your body. Dietary fats are a key structural component of hormones. Having your hormones in proper balance, and in adequate supply, are critical for sex drive, building muscle, regulating your mood, etc.