If you have become resistant to weight loss, the things you used to do don’t work anymore chances are your metabolism is damaged.
Many of us have gone on diets throughout our lives, losing significant amounts of weight and then gaining it back. Every time this happens, if done quickly and improperly, your metabolism can slow. Studies on some contestants of The Biggest Loser have shown that most of them have gained back a lot of the weight. Sadly, even if they held on to the weight loss, many of these contestants have shown metabolic problems, lowering their daily potential caloric burn to as much as 700/day. At this point, weight loss is next to impossible.
So, what can you do to lose weight and maintain a healthy metabolism?
Get food allergy tests – You could be eating a fantastic diet, nutrient dense and clean food with great ratios of macros. But if something(s) in your meal plan are causing inflammation or destabilizing healthy gut bacteria then you will have a hard time losing weight and/or gaining muscle. The first time I did a 6 month vegan experiment, I responded very poorly to an increased intake of soy and it caused major inflammation and ended with a loss of muscle mass and tendinitis in my forearms. The second year I did it, I cut all Soy and managed to gain 8 lbs of muscle (this is a lot for me, I don’t put on weight very easily. It took over 4000 calories a day with less training than I had done in years) and my tendinitis was under control!
* If any of you are suffering from tendinitis, I highly recommend getting food allergy tests done. 3 other things that might help – cut out coffee and tea, in Eastern medicine, the tendons are directly linked to the liver and if your body is taxed by processing caffeine it may have detrimental effects on your tissues. For the same reason, avoid alcohol. Maintaining hydration will help keep your tendons in good shape so cutting these diuretics will do wonders.A systemic enzyme supplement may help reduce inflammation. I took one for about 6 months and it seemed to help.
Fine tune your systems – Every system in our body needs to be fed in order to run optimally. Vitamins and minerals play a huge role in maintaining your digestive, immune, cardiovascular, lymphatic systems. A blood panel is a great tool to get a glimpse into what you may be deficient in. Of course multiple tests are ideal but one will at least let you know if anything is in serious need of attention. Is getting your micros from food better than supplementation? Absolutely. But is it possible? Depends on how much you eat and how varied your diet is. If you have a hard time getting any one vitamin, do yourself a favor and get a high quality supplement. Look for companies that self regulate so you know you are getting what they say is in the capsule or liquid.
Avoid drastic calorie cuts – While you may want to change your macronutrient ratios, focusing on serious calorie cuts will only increase the damage done. Putting your already stressed and potentially inflamed body in a starvation mode will increase hormonal imbalance and solidify your bodies reflex to hold on to fat stores. You may even need to eat more for the time being. Adding nutrient dense foods to your diet while increasing your exercise can optimize how your body functions and get the ball rolling for weight loss. Remember it should be the long game you are playing. Quick weight loss destroys metabolism.
Improve your sleep – The two most important factors for maintaining a healthy weight are nutrition and sleep. Your circadian rhythms play a direct role in hormone cycles and recovery. Having a stable pattern of high quality sleep will help you put on muscle which will increase your metabolism and improve fat loss. If you don’t sleep your body and brain do not recover from your activities. This will inevitably lead to a build up of tissue damage and allow your stress hormones to run wild –> fat stores.
Increase your protein and fat intake – More Protein and fat while limiting unhealthy carbohydrates will reduce stress on your digestive system. Your sources of protein should be as clean as possible – organic, grass fed or pastured meats, organic yogurt, grass fed whey protein powder, wild caught bottom-feeder sea food, organic beans, lentils, chickpeas etc., are all good examples. Protein first thing in the morning is much better than starting with breads or cereal.
*Not everyone responds to this kind of eating in the same way. Some people, if very active, can keep a decent level of high glycemic carbohydrates in their diet. Not everyone reacts with the same spike of insulin. You can check by testing your blood glucose levels after a meal. You can buy testing kits at almost any pharmacy. But if you tend to crash after a meal with carbs in it then you already know that your body has a hard time handling it.
Choose strength training – Exercise is a key component to fixing your metabolism. Not all forms are equal for this purpose though. Steady state, long distance cardio is going to have to take a back seat for the time being. If you like running or spinning or rowing, don’t worry, you can get back to it eventually and you can even do these exercises for short sprints.The problem is that long distance cardio tends to increase stress hormones in the body, the same ones that your body may already have too much of floating around.
Metabolic rate decreases as we age. One of the factors is a reduced amount of muscle mass. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that intense strength training leading to higher lean muscle mass increased the resting metabolic rate in healthy older men, After a 16 week resistance training program body weight didn’t change but fat percentage dropped while muscle mass increased. No steady state cardiovascular work was used in the program.
Try some breath work – While the above mentioned exercise works the parasympathetic system, we want to balance things out by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation or simple breath work all have amazing benefits in this department.
Slow Diaphragmatic breathing is easy and effective. It stimulates the vagus nerve, which has been shown to connect the digestive/immune system and the brain. Here is a link to a quick explanation from Harvard Health on how to perform this kind of breathing exercise. But I urge you to try something with some movement involved like Tai Chi or Yoga, the benefits will go way beyond what you get from the breath work. Even better, is if you can find a class that takes place outdoors. Research has shown that outdoor activity has a significant positive mental benefits. A 2010 study showed that even 5 minutes of outdoor activity can improve mood and self esteem. Regulating mood as you would guess reduces stress and physical tension. A body and mind at ease will smooth the way for the metabolic benefits from improved nutrition and exercise to lose weight!
Everything is connected. If you want to improve or maintain your metabolism there isn’t one quick fix, its about finding balance. What works for you won’t work for everyone, which is why it’s important to do things like find out if you have allergies, intolerances or deficiencies. If you don’t know what to do for exercise, or how much muscle to put on that makes sense for your body type, find a professional and get a program designed for you!
Your body is constantly feeding you information and one of the best ways to get results from a nutritional and exercise program is to listen.
I have a list of behaviors and sensations that I ask clients to monitor on a daily basis. Small things like if and when you hit a wall in the afternoon, or if you crave certain foods or when you fall asleep can say a lot about what your hormonal balance is like. Read More
I keep saying this during conversations with clients, friends and strangers (pro tip – when you meet people while out for dinner or at a party, don’t tell them you’re a trainer unless you wanna hear their excuses for eating bad food in front of you. Ps – I don’t care, eat drink and be merry!). The conversation starts with how someone is trying to cut something out of their diet or is trying to eat better in general. We talk about what foods you can use to curb cravings or keep hunger at bay. By the end I always end up saying the same thing – food should be boring.
Variety is blessing and a curse. We can use it to maximize our nutrition by adding all sorts of fruits and vegetables for a wider range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. But we can also become a slave to change. If we don’t know how to use herbs and spices and bring new life to old staples, then the healthy meals we eat become dull. This inevitably leads us to using foods that appeal to our tongues more than anything else, like sugar, salt and fats (the deep fried kind). When in doubt, deep fry it! Am I Right? No! That was a trick question!
We have made an art form out of pleasing our taste buds by exploiting our tendency for fatty or sugary foods that long ago would replenish much needed nutrition and energy reserves during times of rarity. It’s an amazing feat really – the highly manipulated use of foods to mesmerize nations into quiet acceptance of illness – mass suicide by muffins, also known as breakfast cake.
It’s not fun to eat the same thing for lunch everyday. Trust me I get it. I love going out to eat, I truly enjoy trying new foods or new combinations and I occasionally indulge in the fatty, sweet and salty goodness that tempts everyone else. But here’s the thing, food isn’t supposed to be fun. Its meant to sustain, nourish and build community. I do think that cooking and eating together is important. Removing this part of the equation will again push us towards fast food. When we don’t know how to cook, when we grow up without the knowledge of what is good for us, or where it comes from then we end up forgoing the whole thing.
The food itself can still taste good. But it shouldn’t have to tantalize our taste buds every gosh darn meal. I truly believe we all need to find a way to live with boring – to live with less. One of the best results from trying intermittent fasting for me was to remember what it was like to be hungry. Truly hungry. I mean, I’ve been hungry here and there but rarely has it been so apparent. I usually get to the point where my body says ‘hey, I think you’re forgetting something” but not the “For the love of god, feed us” point. It puts things into perspective. It awakens this deep genetic imprint, a feeling and reaction that our ancestors lived with on a fairly regular basis. It reminds me of how many people at this very moment don’t have enough food. Those people don’t give a damn about variety, they just want to survive.
I’m not saying that we need to return to this extreme. Don’t starve yourself and don’t limit your diet to bugs and mushrooms (sounds kinda good though). But cycling your meals on a weekly or even monthly basis is a good place to start. This is very effective for weight maintenance. Why? It allows your body to balance. When your nutrition intake is predictable your body can find hormonal balance, your digestive, lymphatic and immune systems work better and cognition and mood stabilizes. Of course, this is only true if you are eating foods that have enough vitamins and minerals and fuel your activity level. But we can figure this out a lot easier if you eat the same things. If you change your meals up all the time then its harder to track where/when your deficiencies are coming from.
If you want to lose weight, eat the same meals every day. Want to bulk up? Same thing. Are you trying to balance your hormones to get pregnant? Same same! Is it boring? Hell yes it is! But I really think it does us all some good to bring it back to boring.
The key to avoid committing crimes in the name of boredom is to cycle your meals. Start with 1 week. Plan out your meals for the entire week. Keep them simple so that your prep and cooking time isn’t insane. For example, I make a bean salad every week. I eat it at lunch and dinner. The size of the portion depends on whether I have something else prepped or not. Sometimes its a side and sometimes its a main. Here is the recipe –
- 1 cucumber
- 2 bell peppers (different colors)
- 2 cans of beans (Kidney and black)
- 1/2 cup of olive slices (black and green)
- 1/2 avocado (I add this after, so I get this amount each serving)
- Small amount of Feta (optional)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
With this super simple meal, I get plenty of protein, fiber, slow carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and it’s cheap! Yes, if I made a baby with my girlfriend it would probably come out as a bean but I’ve become accustomed to this meal as a major staple of my diet and my digestive system loves this. When I remove it from my diet everything goes wonky.
I usually don’t eat this on the weekends. This seems to be a good cycle for me I get a bit of variety a couple days each week but the rest of the month(s) its the same. I actually look forward to it now! For those of my clients that are trying to lose weight (and we are on a macronutrient counting phase) keeping the same meals on rotation makes this whole process so much easier. We count everything out once and then they just repeat the same portion. If I try and get someone to count macros on a “free diet” it inevitably fails. Without mild OCD, almost no one can keep up this attention to detail for several weeks or months.
So, Is this sustainable? We have been reprogrammed to expect change and eat according to taste. I think it is if you don’t take it to an extreme. If you can cycle your foods 80% of the time and then allow for days or weeks where you focus on variety then you will be doing well. Once you’ve figured out your meals and taken into consideration adequate levels of macro and micronutrients you can rest easy knowing everything is accounted for and all you need to do is eat and move on. The time spent searching for a recipe is no longer an issue, you won’t be as tempted to fill your meals with easy carbs and before you know it your weight will begin to shift. As always though, if you have intense fitness goals, then you may need to be more consistent than 80%. If you don’t know how to manage your nutrients, hire someone to set out a plan for you.
Before you begin, find about 10 recipes that you really like. Try them out, experiment with spices and cooking methods to see what you enjoy the most but remember, keep it simple. Scrambled eggs are an easy breakfast. You can add vegetables and spices such as turmeric to keep things interesting. Try adding some heat! Spicy dishes release endorphins. If you find the right amount this may make a boring baked chicken into something you look forward to!
Example week for a moderately active client of mine. Portions will change for each oerson so I have not included measured amounts here.
- Breakfast – 1 piece of Kamut toast with avocado & 3 scrambled eggs 1 serving of fruit (alternating the type of fruit daily) – for slight changes of flavor they alternate between adding chili powder, turmeric, or just salt and pepper to the eggs. The kinds of veggies they add to their scrambled eggs depend on whats in their fridge but the base meal stays the same.
- Lunch – Cucumber, mushroom and tomato salad with spinach, kale, flax seeds, feta and entire can of tuna. Big portion. On training days, they add avocado and a turkey burger they prepared earlier in the week (no bun)
- Grass fed beef tacos and baked vegetables – 1 on a wheat tortilla and 1-2 others on a lettuce shell with hot sauce and a light sprinkle of yeast to give it a cheesy flavor. We alternate this with a black bean “sloppy joe” mix for weeks where they want to eat a more vegan diet.
- Snacks – nuts – change the type of nut regularly. Veggies and humus, fruit
1 day per week is a variety day – Anything goes as long as they stick to the same portions of macronutrients and include lots of vegetables. We switch up the meal plan every 2 weeks as that seems to be this clients’ particular threshold of food boredom.
Trust me, if you want results you need consistency and the easiest way to remain consistent is by keeping it simple and dropping your need for variety. Sometimes boring is best!
Though we speak of it more as an abstract quality, something inherent that we are either born with or not and subsequently unable to cultivate, I truly believe that motivation is a skill; something you can learn and practice to get better at.
The same line of thought is used when people say things like they aren’t artistically inclined. All it is, is practice, a deep focused practice, but nonetheless, just practice. Has your friends’ kid ever drawn you a picture and you put it on your fridge because its sweet and you’re just happy that someone made you something out of love and without you asking for it? Me too! But did the drawing kinda suck? Of course it did! Because they’re like 3 years old and they just started drawing and they haven’t learned concepts of perspective and dimensions and how to translate that onto paper. And….they haven’t practiced enough yet. But because they are 3 and its adorable, we give them some slack and we don’t criticize them, in fact we encourage them and tell them how great it is. If you are struggling with motivation, that’s where you are with it…the concepts, strategies and perspective hasn’t been practiced enough for you to be good at it – for it to look so natural that we call it inherent. So give yourself some slack, start slow, begin to practice and learn self encouragement. I promise, it will come.
So where do you begin? Do you have a big goal? Something that may take months or even years? Is it so lofty and vague that it causes anxiety because there is no specific pinnacle that defines your achievement? That’s fine, all we need to define are the steps that get you there or on the right path. Everything is in flux so sometimes its best to keep the big goals vague but define the means to the general end.
Visualization is a tool often talked about by successful people. You hear them describe how they visualized a championship bout, holding the belt or trophy, or doing a victory lap before having it happen. There seems to be a correlation between visualizing victory and achieved it.
One day. a broke and depressed Jim Carey sat in his car daydreaming of success. He thought about what success would meant to him at the time and he wrote himself a cheque for 10 million dollars, post dated it for 10 years from that day and put it in his wallet. He visualized something that symbolized his future achievement (though somewhat vague), put it in writing and with a lot of hard work (practice) he eventually made it a reality. This is a great story, one that inspires us and goes to show what belief in oneself, even when in the midst of struggle, can accomplish. But the story does a slight disservice in that it glosses over the actual work that was necessary for the achievement and how belief in oneself is actually harnessed.
Belief in oneself can start with visualization and is reinforced through repetition. Visualizing your big goal is great because it can reignite the spark that got us excited to begin with. But it can be a bit overwhelming when it seems so far away. I like to think that success comes in increments rather than being defined by the big splash moments. The same goes for confidence and motivation. You have to practice the path and not just the goal.
Take some time out of your day and envision yourself going through the simplest of tasks, the things you need to do to achieve the loftier goals. Want to have an exhibit of your artwork? Visualize the path. Go through the steps you need to take, see yourself setting time aside to sign up for painting lessons, see yourself buying supplies and making room in your house for a little art space/studio, see yourself practicing, painting the pieces, prepare yourself for setbacks, envision the struggle but know that each of these simple steps is achievable. Use visualization to break the path up to its smallest challenges and see yourself getting past each one. This is how you can use visualization to help build self belief and it is backed by science!
In 1999, research by psychologists Lien Pham and Shelley Taylor showed that visualization of the process of studying made for better grades compared to students who visualized simply getting a good grade or not visualizing anything at all. Not only did it reduce anxiety linked to studying for exams it also improved organization and increased time spent studying. Since then, more research has shown similar results for athletes who spent time visualizing training more so than those who visualized winning.
There is a lot to be said about visualizing the struggle and set backs. It makes things slightly more visceral. Research has also shown that those who imagining possible problems in a positive manner has more benefits than visualizing everything just going well, or simply focusing on the negative. Thinking the path is going to be a smooth one, is a recipe for being overwhelmed.
You can start really small by using visualization to help yourself accomplish a simple physical exercise, like a plank.
Begin by kneeling on the floor. Focus in on your breath, try to elongate each breath just by a little bit, prolong your inhalation and exhalation so that it becomes purposeful rather than just reflexive. This in itself is great practice, it brings attention inwards and allows you to focus on a single goal. To make this slightly more complex, run through the following steps to visualize each component of the plank, once you’ve visualized each step, follow through with the action
1 – Draw in your abdomen to create a brace
2 – Place your hands on the floor and walk out until your body is extended, but you are still on your knees. Hands directly under your shoulders.
3 – Brace your core as much as you can to prepare for lifting your knees off of the floor.
4 – Activate your shoulder blades so that they are not collapsed.
5 – Stretch out one leg and squeeze your quad and glute.
6 – Stretch out your other leg and squeeze that side.
7 – Tuck in your pelvis slightly as to not put pressure on your lower back.
8 – Hold for as long as you can maintain this perfect position, Go back to focusing on your breathing but stay aware of your body.
This simple exercise of visualization and execution can do wonders. You can then take it to another level and try and use it for an exercise that you can’t complete just yet. The progress will be surprising. You may just need some guidance for the proper steps to use.
The next part is to recognize each successful moment. As I do with clients who have been struggling with a certain movement pattern (which is just a step in the path to reach a bigger goal of higher fitness or weight loss or rehabilitation) I try and take the time to point out the effort it took to get there. We go over the progressions we used, the time it took and most importantly the effort they exerted. Each session is a challenge overcome. If you get in the habit of recognizing all the mini successes, you begin to cultivate self belief, you build on motivation and perpetuate good habits. So take the time to reinforce your effort and then visualize the next steps. Practice the path and it will all come together into something you are proud enough to put on your fridge.
Looking for help with your own customized workout and/or meal plan? Contact Joey. Online coaching available for everyone and personal training/coaching available to Montreal residents.
Is there a perfect diet? There is one for you, but it most likely does not apply to the person sitting next to you. Most people want to lose body fat while gaining or maintaining muscle mass. Lose fat/gain muscle this is the dream, right?….now where is the god damn genie to fulfill my wishes! In that joke lies the main problem, people want a quick fix. Most of my clients’ “realistic” timelines for reaching whatever goal they have is still usually only half the time needed.
And its not your fault. Its ours as trainers and nutritionists. Too many of us try to sell our services by making false promises of complete body transformations in 30 or 60 or 90 days. It’s just not going to happen that quickly, not in a healthy way that will keep the weight off permanently, or without sacrificing muscle mass and all the negative effects that come with that. So step one is going to be a commitment to slowing down.
Name me a diet and I will show you elements from it that are definitely worth incorporating into your plan. Paleo? Great but hard to sustain and lacking in certain nutrients. Keto? Has some very interesting research behind it but some people do very poorly on this diet. They all have something worth doing, but be weary if any one diet that proclaims that it is universal. Each and every diet is a marketing ploy. This article is no different. I may not be trying to sell a specific diet but I am, indirectly selling my services.
Have you heard the term “skinny fat”? Its a term used to describe someone who is slim but unhealthy. After ten years of doing physical evaluations all of the worst ones were by people who fit this description. Past clients who came to me severely overweight still had a decent amount of muscle – you need to be strong to be able to carry around a hundred pounds of extra weight! What we want to avoid is turning someone who is obese into someone who is “skinny fat”. We want to avoid the same result for people who are physically fit but want to lose 10-20 lbs. Quick fix diets tend to sacrifice muscle mass in order to obtain that overall goal of weight loss. I am not going to outline a perfect diet for you but I am going to give you some approaches you can try and adapt into your routine.
The majority of the nutritional programs I have used with clients looking to lose weight and put on or maintain muscle mass involved adding more food to the diet. I know, you are like “sign me up!” but hold on a second.
The EAT MORE rule comes with a caveat – MOVE MORE.
More is also a bit of a vague term, eat MORE GOOD FOOD is closer to what I mean. I have definitely had clients that needed an overall calorie cut. But as activity increased and intensified, the cut was fairly small as we focused on shifting the source of calories rather than just cutting. Over all, the rule stands as eating more…and moving more.
Remember this “perfect meal plan” is one based on longevity. This is not just a weight loss program. We want low body fat % (relative) and healthy muscle mass. We want to balance hormones, improve sleep and digestion. Simply losing weight is just one facet. So think about adding more food rather than just cutting some out.
CALORIES & MACRONUTRIENTS
This is your foundation. We want to figure out what your calorie count should be with regards to your activity level. A good diet is much more complicated than this but this is what we start with. How closely you follow these metrics is up to you and how specific your body composition goals are. If you want high performance, very low fat percentage and muscle gains, you are going to have to count those calories. Most of us do not need this.
JUST DO IT ONCE
Something I use for clients who are averse to counting calories is to just do it once. I ask them for 12-15 meals they like. We go over the ingredients, replace anything deemed too unhealthy and then proceed to count the calories for a couple different portion sizes. Its really not that much work. Once you have all the numbers crunched you have a very good idea as to what you can or can not eat given how many calories you are allotted that day.
A term coined by Dr. John Berardi, G-Flux is the fluctuation of energy consumed and energy expended. Increasing G-flux means increasing both sides of the equation. This is essentially the same principle as what I have been using with my clients. When you increase energy output through activity while simultaneously increasing energy input with nutrient dense food you get a much stronger, positive reaction from the body. Many of us simply cut energy input and while this may be effective for weight loss, we end up with the skinny-fat effect and then the weight comes back. When we stimulate the body with more energy expenditure you build more efficient use of the nutrients you are consuming. As muscle grows and as cardiovascular health improves, your body’s systems function better and the metabolic processes involved in fat loss are stimulated more than they would be by simply cutting calories. You become more resilient against infections, your hormones balance out, your digestive and lymphatic system become better at doing their job! Diet alone can’t do this, nor can just exercise.
So, using an online calorie calculator, go figure out what you need for someone your size, age, sex, height with accordance to your activity level. Don’t cut the calories just yet, you may even need to increase them as many of my clients have. Once you have an idea as to what your calorie count should be based on what you want to do we can find out the ratio of carbs, protein and fats.
How do you break up your macronutrients? This should fluctuate but I’ll give you an idea on how to organize it.
If you have increased your activity with some high intensity training, including strength training you will want a high percentage of proteins to help build muscle. Don’t worry, this is not going to make you bulk up. Bulking up takes a lot more effort than you think. But if you find you are getting bigger than you like, simply dial it back. You won’t ever wake up one day having ripped your wonder woman pj’s with because you got massive in your sleep. And if you do, than feel free to curse my name and send me hate mail for your brand new awesome muscles…and then cut the protein down. Start with 40% Protein
Carbs, Ew, he just said the C word. Vegetables, fruits, sweet potatoes and rice. These are all carbs and they’re just fine. Don’t go eating a bucket of rice or anything, focus on the fruits and veggies, but if you’re training hard then some yams or sweet potatoes and a fist size of rice will do you some good. Start with 35-40%
Now that fats are no longer the devils food lets all rejoice and shove some avocados in our faces. Healthy fats, you know what they are – Go get some and be generous. Start with 20-25%.
This is just the start. You can adjust the ratio as you begin to adapt to your training regimen and see how you feel throughout the day. You can also adjust day by day. On particularly heavy training days you may want to add calories, just make sure they are nutrient dense – Lean meats, fish, eggs, fruits and veggies, nuts, etc..
Training Days vs Rest Days
This is where you can play with your calorie totals as well as your macro ratio. On rest days I would drop your carb intake to 25-30% and replace the missing percentage with fats. The increase in fats will keep you satiated and help with recovery. If you have increased your total calorie count for your training days, then take 500-1000 calories out on the rest days is you are focusing on losing fat. As long as your protein count is still relatively high, you will still maintain muscle mass.
If you are trying to gain muscle weight, then don’t drop your calories. Keep them where they are but I would still adapt your macro ratio to a lower percentage of carbs.
Some point systems like weight watchers or Insulin sensitivity diets allow for you to eat almost anything you want as log as it fits in with your calorie count and/or macro ratio. I don’t love those approaches as it allows for bad habits to continue but there can be moments, like special occasions when you can adopt this way of thinking. If you are on a short vacation or out for a holiday meal, then let the calories guide you but don’t worry about the kind of foods you’re eating.
I’ve written before that sometimes taking things out of your diet is not what you need to do in order to help lose weight or gain muscle. Sometimes what you are missing are essential vitamins and minerals that will help stimulate or balance your systems. Metabolic, hormonal, immune and digestive processes are complex and they require the building blocks in order to function effectively. If all you eat is meat and bananas, some stuff is gonna be missing. So include a variety of foods and make sure it includes a variety of colours. That is always a good indicator that micronutrients are of plenty. skittles don’t count, ya goofballs.
Some key vitamins and compounds that often end up being deficient in out diets (think about supplementing) –
Zinc / Magnesium / D3 / EPA and DHA / E /
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to go get some blood tests done and see if you are deficient in anything. It could be the one missing piece of the puzzle!
YOU ARE WHAT YOU ABSORB
Speaking of tests, it should be mandatory for everyone to do food intolerance tests every few years. It is crazy how simple the tests are and what kind of dramatic effect it can have on our well being. Our ability to digest food changes over time so what one test said 7-8 years ago may no longer apply.
If you are consistently eating one or a few things that you have an intolerance to than you can expect inflammation build up. Once this happens, your digestion, immune function and cognition can all go out the window. Plus you’ll probably be in pain and you’re gonna be a fart machine – no fun for you or your friends and coworkers.
Glucose tests can also give you an ideas as to how your body processes certain foods. You may need to change your carb intake in order to level out your glucose and insulin levels.
Your ability to absorb nutrients and pass them on to help build cells and muscle tissue, fight infections, remove waste and metabolize fat all require a healthy gut. One moderate food intolerance can, over time, impede your digestive health. So get yer gut checked, and save us all from your gassy assault.
On a similar note – while on a body re-composition phase you want to eat easily digestible foods. Once you are on more of a maintenance phase, you can reintroduce certain foods that may be more difficult to digest but hold a decent amount of nutrients. For this reason, I tend to suggest a reduction or temporary elimination of legumes, soy products and most seeds from people diets.
If you avoid the harder to digest foods but maintain as much variety, you will keep a diet going that is sustainable. Paleo diet is close to what we are looking for with its focus on easily digestible foods but its fairly extreme restrictions make it hard to sustain. The Mediterranean diet is also quite close but doesn’t take into account G-Flux and so we need to take those principles (minus the hard to digest foods) and adapt it for your purposes. Limit but do not eliminate unless it is something you are intolerant or allergic to.
- NOTE – An example as to how finding out how your body is able to digest and metabolize food can drastically change your life. Women with Polycystic Ovarian syndrome have an increased insulin response to many foods. With a simple fasting glucose test (fasting being the important term here), you can determine whether this is something you need to pay attention to, it can also pinpoint for some women, who may or may not be trying to get pregnant, what the problem may be. With a change in diet to foods that illicit less of an insulin response, many of the symptoms of PCOS can be reversed or downgraded. Going blindly into any diet without this information will most likely cause further problems.
The term intermittent fasting (IF) is spreading like wildfire these days. Maybe for good reason, maybe not. Most of the research done is on animals and so we need to take the conclusions with a grain of salt. But what little science we do have on IF has demonstrated surprising results with regards to weight management, gut health, mood/motivation enhancement, cardiovascular health and preventing cognitive decline, cancer and neurodegenerative disease. So what is intermittent fasting? Just like it sounds, it is sporadic phases of calorie reduction. There are several different ways to practice IF, one way that has shown improvements in weight loss and insulin sensitivity is the 5-2 protocol. Where 2 days of the week, calorie restriction is practiced and the other 5 days are normal. The amount of restriction is up to you but most of the benefits seem to occur after the 16 hour mark.
I don’t always suggest 2 days a week of a strict reduction but you can try adding 1 day each week. Lets say you stop eating at 8pm on a training day and the following day is a rest day. If you go to bed at 11pm, you still need at least 13 hours of no eating. So if you sleep for 7 hours, then you can’t eat for the first 6 hours of the day. Typically I get my clients to reduce their calorie intake by about 1000 calories. If you go up to 20 hours for the fasting period then the calories restriction will most likely be even more intense. You may have another rest day for the week and on that day you can try limiting your calorie intake but taking them in throughout the day the way you normally would.
If the fasting protocol works well for you and you don’t experience any energy dip, cognitive decline, or mood imbalance, then give it a few weeks and see where you are at with your measurements.
I know we’re talking about nutrition here but one of the best things you can do for body composition goals is to get 8 hours of sleep. How to do so is for another post but if you are a good sleeper and are just going to bed later than you should…try going to bed earlier for 4 weeks and see what happens.
EXAMPLE PLAN – calorie count of 2500 – P/C/F = 40/40/20 = 1000c/1000c/500c – These are numbers based on a client of mine. You would have to calculate your own.
Training day —> Strength Training —> 2500 calories
Training day —> Strength Training —> 2500 calories
Rest day ——–> Stretching/yoga —–> IF/500-1000 calories
Training day —> Interval Training —–> 2500 calories
Training day —> Strength Training —-> 2500 calories
Rest day ——-> Total Rest/walking —-> 1500 calories
Training day —> Interval Training ——> 2500 calories
Proteins – Lean meats/fish/eggs (no legumes or soy products unless vegan/vegetarian)
Fats – Coconut oil, grass fed butter, avocados, nuts, fatty fish
Carbs – yams/sweet potatoes, rice, fruit, vegetables. Make sure to cook your mushrooms and cruciferous vegetables. You may want to avoid peas, corn, tomatoes, coconut and pineapple as those can all be difficult to digest.
Keeping with the G-Flux strategy, 2500 calories may be a surplus of calories for someone who was not training as much beforehand. But given the increase in training, we want to fuel the body and maximize efficiency within our systems. Fat loss will be slower but muscle mass will not be in jeopardy, metabolic rate will increase and so any weight that is lost will be less likely to return.
So what can you try out that we have gone over?
- Commit to going slowly. Consistency and patience will extend your life
- eat more/move more – don’t cut calories all willy-nilly, try fueling for action
- organize your macronutrients/calorie count – use the “do it once” method
- add protein and fats and be choosy with carbs
- do a blood test to check for vitamin deficiencies
- get a food intolerance/allergy test done and avoid hard to digest foods
- a glucose test can tell you if you are prediabetic or if you have PCOS
- try fasting or intermittent fasting
- get 8 hours of sleep
For help with your own customized workout and meal plan contact Joey. Online coaching available for everyone and personal training/coaching available to Montreal residents.
WE ARE CURRENTLY ACCEPTING NEW CLIENTS.
One on one training works for a reason. A few reasons, actually
The biggest challenge in maintaining a fitness routine is holding on to motivation. We all have moments that spark our interest and get us started but keeping the drive going is a bigger challenge than the physical work itself.
Accountability is one thing: when we have someone to answer to other than ourselves, it can help keep you dedicated to your routine. We are not our own best coach because we are susceptible to every other moment of the day that may wear down our ability to keep focus on goals. This is normal, we are all at the mercy of the chaos that can be our lives.
Even more important than simple accountability though, is the relationship that you develop with the person you are accountable to. Inherent motivation is learned, and a good partnership between trainee and trainer should help cultivate motivation from accountability. Motivation and consistency are born from reasonable challenge and dedication but also from joy. The right trainer and the right program can help you find this in your workouts.
Monthly payment – 199$
- This pays for the first month – evaluation, detailed questionnaire, photo analysis, medical records assessment (if necessary), as well as the first months training program(s) and weekly monitoring.
- This pays for the monthly program design, journal and progress assessment as well as occasional skype sessions.. Joey is available any time for questions and will respond via e-mail within 24 hours. This is very much a hands on training program. The monthly fee will is auto-billed to your credit card and can be cancelled at anytime via email request.
Nutritional program – OPTIONAL
- If you choose to add a nutritional program component to your training, we will add 100$ to your first months payment and 50$ for any additional monthly payment.
If you would like to begin Online Personal Training with Joey, please contact us for any questions you may have and let us know a bit about what your goals are and what kind of routine you are currently following, if any.
What to expect from our programs –
The number of programs you receive depends on your goals and time commitment we decide on but you may get upwards of 5 different workouts a week. The workouts are designed around your personal evaluation and goals. We also take into consideration the equipment you have access to. If need be we can work around no/limited equipment.
You will have detailed explanations of each exercise with links to video instruction to make sure each one is completed properly.
Nutritional plans will include a daily meal plan that is in tune with your goals, matched your training program and takes into consideration any dietary restrictions. we have designed meal plans for vegans, pescatarians, vegetarians and carnivores. Supplement suggestions are also included.
Weekly check-ins are included. So we suggest you begin a food/mood/sleep and training journal so that we can monitor anything that may change throughout the week including energy levels, sleeping patterns and mood fluctuations. Every piece of information is important!
To sign up or if you have any questions contact us at email@example.com
A word from Joey – The single most important thing I have learned as a fitness trainer and martial arts instructor over the last 15 years is that every training program has a psychological element to it. Every individual reacts to challenges in different ways and understanding this is the key to helping people realize goals and learn to self motivate.
“I started training with Joey about a year and a half ago after being told by several doctors that I would have to struggle with back and knee pain for the rest of my life and there was not much that could be done. We started extremely slowly with very low impact exercises. Today I exercise 7-9 times a week and have never felt better. I have seen slow but constant improvements and am now able to do things I never dreamt I could. I could not have done this without his guidance and support and my progress is a true testament to his skills and experience. I highly recommend him!”
I am lucky enough to have clients who have been with me for almost 10 years, not because they are not capable of training themselves at this point but because the relationship that builds makes us both stronger and even more dedicated to our goals. Whether someone trains with me for a month or for a decade, I always strive to build a trusting bond between myself and each client.
Another big challenge to maintaining a fitness routine is the amount of time it can take in researching good programs, and figuring out how a program should evolve to keep challenging yourself. The sheer amount of information you need to sift through, a lot of which is garbage, is enough to let the gym membership card collect dust in your drawer. The solution is to let someone do this work for you.
Joey devotes a lot of time to each client, through the evaluation process, program design, weekly monitoring and consistent reevaluations and program evolution. Due to the acute attention to detail, he is limited to how many people he can take on at once. See the top of the page for notices of openings or waiting list registry.
The last blog post on cumulative training garnered quite the response and I have had a number of requests for an example of a program that we have used in the past. There are a number of ways that you can break up a traditional workout into sections throughout the day, most of which will be effective. But over the years I have found that we can cater to natural hormone, energy, eating patterns to increase the efficiency and benefits of this kind of training. This is a highly individualized process and does involve some data crunching and trial and error. When it comes to the analysis side of things we’re the ones doing the heavy lifting, so to speak.
Down to the nitty gritty. The example I will be sharing here is a high intensity program built for someone who has been doing moderately intense workouts for some time already. In this case, my client suddenly found themselves working upwards of 60 hours/week and had less time to come train in the studio for a few months. Rather than lose the progress we had accomplished over the last year we decided to break up the workouts into 5 mini sessions of 5 minutes each. This is a full body workout and involves the use of some equipment but could very easily be altered for a complete body weight program.
Program needs –
Time – 25 minutes – in 5 bouts of 5 minutes each
Space required – 7″x5″
Equipment used – 2×20 lb. dumbbells, towel
1st 5min. Bout – – Interval training – – 40 seconds on / 20 seconds off
Back lunge to high knee jump – Take a step back into a full lunge (knee inch from the ground) then spring back up, bringing your back leg up, trying to tuck your knee in as you hop on the stable leg. When you land go directly back into the lunge. The lunge should be long enough so that your front knee is behind your toes – this activates the glute more than the quad. REST 20 SECONDS THEN SWITCH SIDES
Push up / knee tuck – Place your feet on the towel, hip width apart (need a wood floor). Perform a full push up (nose to floor -> back up all the way) then tuck your knees in towards your chest and push them back out to your starting position. Keep your shoulders over your hands to maintain a “light” bottom half, this will make the tucks quicker and smoother. Its murder on the shoulders and gets the quads burning too – hence why we want the long lunge in the previous exercise. REST 20 SECONDS
Burpee – Regular burpee minus the push up. REST 20 SECONDS
Weighted jump squat / punch out – Holding 1 dumbbell at clavicle level – one end in each hand – squat low. You should squat at least low enough so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then burst upwards into a jump. The jump should be small, just enough to get your feet off of the floor. When you land, go directly into another squat. This time when you come back up, don’t jump just punch the weight outwards as you stand up. When you punch, the motion should be quick but controlled. You want a short and explosive activation of your arms, shoulders, chest, back and abdominals. The following squat should be a jump…keep alternating between the jump squat and the punch squat.
2nd 5min Bout – Strength Training / Push & Pull
Bench press – using your two dumbbells you have a few options. If you have access to a bench or a stability ball you can use this to lay down on and allow for more range of motion on the downwards portion of the movement. If not, just do them on the floor and go until you hit the floor. TEMPO – use the 4-0-1-0 pace = 4 seconds for the downwards motion, no rest at bottom, 1 second to push back up, no rest at top position. 20 SECOND REST
Renegade Row – This is a row from a push up position. You can hold the weights in each hand or have them resting next to your hands. Pull one weight in towards the outside of your ribs while trying to maintain core stability. Minimize the twisting of your waist when you row. Alternate sides. 20 SECOND REST – REPEAT BOTH EXERCISES 3 TIMES
3rd 5min Bout – Core Progression
Scissors 10x / Single leg raises 10x / bicycle 20x / hollow hold 10 seconds – repeat this circuit non stop for 80 seconds then rest 20 seconds. REPEAT 3X
4th 5min Bout – Repeat of 1st Bout
5th 5min Bout – 1 Exercise for Endurance
Single arm Dumbbell snatch – Better to watch a demonstration of this exercise rather than read a description. This is a complex movement and is best done at this pace only when you have learned it properly. Here is a link to a good demo.
– Perform 50 reps total. 25 on each side. Try and do 5 reps each side every minute on the minute. This will start out easy and get more difficult. You can increase the total reps if the weight you are using is light.
Remember this is an example of a fairly high intensity version of one of our cumulative training programs. Its only 5 minutes but its a pretty brutal 5 minutes. I tend to get more “i hate you”, “you’e the devil” and “whyyyyyyy” texts throughout the day than I normally do.
Some of these exercises are quite complex and so you may want to find a simpler progression. Never sacrifice quality for quantity…or anything else. Begin slow and use exercises that you can keep good form with but are still challenging. For the interval sessions, including the core progression you are supposed to go all out for the 40 seconds. Give it everything you’ve got. And remember, I do this with love!
The number of repetitions for the strength training depends on the weight you are using and the difficulty level. You shouldn’t be going to failure but it should be quite difficult for the last 2 or so reps.
I would normally mix this program with 1 or 2 other programs to be followed throughout the week. Variety improves engagement and maintains motivation. If this is a long term scenario, or when it is an online client I offer some new programs every 4-5 weeks (training and nutrition journals are kept and reviewed every week. There is still a small time commitment involved but now you will still be able to do things like hug your family, finish writing your novel, eat a proper meal and maybe even look for a new job that doesn’t make you work so much!
Most of our fitness goals are fairly simple, reasonable and achievable. Not too many of us need to look like Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool, or Green lantern or X-men….or Blade (that guy must really love to work out).
If you fall in the moderate category of fitness goals – lose some weight, build some muscle, work on general fitness, focus on mobility, stability and longevity, then I have some good news for you. It all counts. I’ll expand further on this in a minute…
I basically live in a gym and so its pretty easy for me to find time to get a solid workout in on most days. Having said that, some days are so busy training clients, researching for personal growth, designing nutritional/exercise programs that all I have time for is eating and pooping. yeah yeah, we all poop, don’t judge me. I eat a lot of beans and veggies so its pretty, um, regular. TMI?
Some of my clients work upwards of 60 or more hours per week and so they are only able to come in for 1 session each week, sometimes only every other week! I bet some of you reading this are, like them, workaholics. You start early and finish late and simply can’t find 45-60 minutes (or more) in a row where you can workout. Others may technically have enough time to workout but the added time it takes to get to and from the gym brings on anxiety and pushes other important things like, eating, family time (and pooping – last time I promise) to the wayside. But over the years I have found ways to get/keep my busy clients in tip top shape. And the way is cumulative training.
The investment in time, in a sense is replaced with an increase of intensity and sometimes a small financial investment in 2-3 pieces of equipment that allow for maximizing efficiency in a small amount of space – we’re talking living room, office space, park, elevator (for the more obnoxious) washroom stall, etc..
It all counts – If you are looking to go from zero to hero in a short period of time then the cumulative approach is not only helpful but necessary. The only thing is now we’re talking about multiple (usually 2) long sessions per day, 6 days a week. This is now your job. Most people don’t realize the effort and compromise it takes to look like a superhero or fitness model or Instagram fitness “guru”. Ask most fitness models and actors if they walk around looking like that all the time and you will get a “hell no” from many of them. So lets shoot for the moon rather than the stars and keep our goals reasonable!
The science is wanting for well designed strength programs and the effects it can have when you break up the workouts into shorter bouts throughout the day. But several studies have shown that the cumulative effect for aerobic exercise is equal to if not better than performing the exercise all at once. One study at The American College of Sports Medicine concluded that splitting up a 30 minute workout into three 10 minute bouts improved arterial pliability for longer after each successive session.
Several studies have come out in recent years touting the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The high intensity exercise in itself limits the length at which we can keep it up. Yet we are seeing significant improvements all around when looking at markers for fitness (for a more in depth look at the science and a full body program you can read this NY Times article). In my opinion the logic seems sound that if you can see some kind of metabolic, cardiovascular and strength improvements from one 7, 5 or even 1 minute workout, then we can multiply these throughout the day and compound the benefits into something that looks more like a serious 45-60 minute strength/sprint program.
So, now you’re asking yourself, if there is benefits in a one 7 minute workout, why do I need to do more than that. Here is where I split from those who tend to push the idea of short workouts. Anything is better than nothing and you will definitely be fitter for the 7 minutes of movement. But fittER isn’t necessarily fit and the one goal which I hold on to for each of my clients and readers is that of longevity – good mobility, stability and strength throughout your entire life. The reality of things is that most of us spend about 23 hours of a day completely sedentary and maybe 1-2 hours walking around, moving about the house, completing chores, etc.. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but 10 000 steps is kind of the bare minimum to keep you living…but barely so. Walking is the easiest way to go from point A to point B. Its not exercise its just the minimum amount of functional movement needed to survive.
Modern medicine has kept the average life span increasing for the past several decades… until now. It is suggested that for the first time since we began documenting these trends, we are going to witness the first generation of children who will not live as long as their parents. Medicine, for the time being has reached its capacity to overcome our kamikaze like approach to living.
Given this dire situation, it is in my opinion that we need to raise the bar for what is considered adequate amount and intensity of movement. What I am suggesting in this post isn’t a reduction of exercise (don’t hate me, keep reading) but that maybe we can think differently about needing to join a gym and set aside an entire hour or so to meet the requirements to keep you mobile and strong into your 80’s.
For several years I have performed what I call “practice” sets throughout the day. If I’m short on time for a prolonged workout, I’ll try and get in 3-5 sets of one exercise. If I’m lucky I’ll repeat this with 5-8 exercises at different points in the day. I’ve given this same type of plan to some of my busier clients and we’ve seen similar progress as I have with my clients who come 4-5x/week. The types of exercises can be strength based or sprint based. These are the 2 most effective and efficient ways to see progress. No 5-10 minute bouts of steady state cardio, and walking doesn’t count. Using highly effective body weight exercises and/or investing in as little as one dumbbell/kettlebell, and you can complete your practice sets at work, on your way to work, at home or at a park. No excuses.
In certain circumstances, myself as well as some clients have had “emergency exercises” to complete throughout the day to supplement our usual programs. For example, I’ve used the “300 squats in a day” protocol. Doesn’t matter how many you do in a row or how many sets you do it in. Just get them all done. Seems like a lot but you can bang out 30 squats pretty quickly. Got to go to the bathroom? 30 squats. Taking a call? put it on speaker – 30 squats. At the bust stop? 30 squats. And you can always find time for 5 squats here and there. It all counts.
Along with the regular benefits of consistent exercise comes another significant perk. No more midday crash. What we have noticed is that the sporadic short sessions has improved cognitive function, focus and energy levels throughout the day. I’m not a scientist and this is in no way, no how, a study of any sort. All I can say is that it has had similar effects for everyone who has tried it. More productive days, better mood and a sudden disappearance of the 3 o’clock wall.
Strength training helps with insulin sensitivity. It also helps regulate hormones and can increase metabolic rate for prolonged periods of time. Given this, I’m not surprised that these effects are being seen within our small group of busy-bee trainees.
So fret not my pets, for it can be done. Every single one of us has time to get some movement into our day (and if you don’t, you need to read this). With a bit of planning you can finagle a routine together that makes sense with your time constraints. Using effective and efficient exercises, you can expect the same progress as someone who can manage to spend an hour or so at the gym. You may even reap some of the cognitive rewards I spoke of above! Just keep your objectives in line with what you are able to do without losing site of the golden goal: longevity. Remember, it all counts.
Want to join our rag tag team of trainees? In-studio and online training is available. Contact us at – firstname.lastname@example.org or call 514-730-6764. We can’t wait to work with you!
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