Browse Tag: caffeine

“HOW SHOULD I EAT?!” (HINT: DON’T DIET)

EATING CONFUSION

When I was younger, I wanted to go to school to become a nutritionist.

I believed nutrition was everything and that if we could just change someone’s eating habits, then we could get them on a path of health and wellness.

During this nutrition-centric time, I experimenting with multiple diets and read about a million books  on the topic of nutrition alone.

Here’s more-or-less what I learned:

  • Diets are bullshit and those that push them are even more-so (and yes, I used to be one of them).
  • The whole “eating clean” thing isn’t as important as we think and that intentionally cutting calories to lose weight may actually be one of the hardest ways to attain the body we desire.
  • Focusing on our diet takes energy away from other areas of our life that we could be improving.
  • The more holes we dig in other areas of your life (sleep, exercise, emotional), the more strict we will need to be with nutrition to achieve our goals. Still, however, the focus should be filling in those holes first.
  • Nutritionists and dietitians are often fat (red flag much?).
  • Eating is an emotional, intuitive, and a right-brained experience but diets are often left-brained, scheduled, and full of numbers. See the clash?
  • Selling diets and foods is a lucrative business. Selling just as important things such sleep and meditation is not.
  • And perhaps, most importantly: The more we restrict foods, nutrients, and calories – the more our body and mind will work its magic to get us to consume them.

I guess you can say that I am no longer impressed with nutrition. Yes, I believe it’s still important but just not as important as everyone (your doc + media) is telling us.

And as far as getting someone on a path of health and wellness, there is no greater habit to create than that of exercise. This is why I am a trainer and not a nutritionist.

Now a while back I wrote a short piece that summed up my philosophy on eating which I will re-state again here: Eat in a manner that gives you energy and satisfies you, both in the short-term and long-term.

This vagueness comes with good and bad news.

The bad: This means you are responsible for creating your own diet.
The good: This means you are responsible for creating your own diet.

This will not be a quick fix type of thing, but rather a trial-and-error experiment that, in the end, will produce a way of eating you can actually follow indefinitely.

To get you started (and hopefully inspire you), here is a list of 21 facts and reasons on why I eat the way I do.

HOW I EAT

  1. My key to productivity ==> I naturally fast to start my day. Usually for 14 – 16 hours. Coffee, half n half, stevia, and sometimes MCT oil / coconut oil is about all I consume during this period. Read more: Coconut Oil, Coffee, and The Best Morning Ever
  2. When I consume caffeine, I almost always exercise (even if for 5 minutes). This means my workouts are [99% of the time] in the AM. Read more: Got Coffee Belly?
  3. No caffeine after 1 pm. Cannot risk screwing with sleep.
  4. I tend to break my fast after exercise and I do this with an easily digestible meal (see: carbs). Honey, oatmeal, and creamer is a favorite here.
  5. I don’t use protein powder. Seem to be doing fine without it.
  6. I usually nap after my first meal (sometime around 1 – 3 pm). When I miss my nap, I seem to eat more.
  7. I wake up and I eat again. Usually another carby meal.
  8. I can (and should) consume a rather high carbohydrate diet for 2 reasons: 1) I have lots of muscle and 2) I am quite active. Read more: Carbs: Where Your Diet Journey Begins
  9. How I lose fat ==> I don’t diet nor do I do extreme workouts. I eat to sustain performance and performance for me means both mental and physical strength. So instead of cutting calories or restricting myself, I create a caloric deficit by walking more. Read more: How I Lose Fat
  10. In the evening, I’ll have my biggest meal (usually high-fiber). Right now, this means roasted red kidney beans in ghee with a stir fry mix. I’ll eat enough servings to feed a small family.
  11. Before this meal, it is typical for myself to drink 2 – 4 cups of boxed wine or cider. Read more: Getting Drunk Tonight?
  12. I love dairy but I realize my body responds unfavorably to it (tongue turns to a white coat). Because of this, I only stick to my favorite sources: Creamer, chocolate, and ice cream. We seem to go through about 2 cartons of ice cream a week.
  13. Same story with wheat. I have a wheat allowance and I am not going to waste it on silly bread. Usually pizza, nachos, and chinese food buffets is what I spend it on. Try to do at least one of these a week.
  14. I have very little emotional stressors in my life. As a result, reward-eating is not an issue. When I do eat  “junk” it is more for the experience rather than an attempt to fill in a hole.
  15. One thing I despise: Trans fat (also known as hydrogenated oils). I’m pretty lax when it comes to processed food, but I refuse to buy products that have this “brain-numbing” chemical.
  16. I rarely eat meat. No or little beef, chicken, fish, or eggs. Once again, seem to be doing fine without it.
  17. Most of my protein comes for lentils and other beans.
  18. Because legumes contains a substance that impairs zinc absorption (and becomes my activity requires a crap load of magnesium to prevent a deficiency), I supplement with ZMA. Read more: The Best Supplement For Athletes
  19. I typically eat right up until bed. Having a feel stomach not only helps me sleep, but ensures that I am able to rock a wicked fast in the morning.
  20. More important than food ==>I try to be in bed by 10 pm and shoot for at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This is the biggest factor of what I can and cannot eat. Failing to get enough sleep changes the way my body responds to certain nutrients. Read more: How To Go The F*ck To Sleep
  21. How I know if I am eating the right foods ==> The next morning, the answer will be in my poo. If I am eating something that I am allergic to or doing something else that is stressful (like being Negative Nancy), my poo will tell me. Read more: You Are What You Poop

 

HOW YOU SHOULD EAT

Once again, you will have to follow your [own] energy. The reality is, different genetics with different environments will require different sustenance. To find out what that is, I suggest you experiment. A lot. Take notes and eventually you’ll find out what that is.

With time, you’ll be your own authority (nutritionist).

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN, FIGHT THE PAIN

how to train your brain to fight pain

[TAKING BACK YOUR MIND]

Initially, we don’t want pain.

When we are first starting out in this game, the cultivation of the habit requires us that we make it easy and comfortable and do-able (take note Resolutioners). We don’t want our brain to get freaked out and run away so we keep pain to a minimal.

Eventually, however, we will need more. Past a certain  level of experience, we must learn how to make our sessions better (i.e. a higher quality). Often, this entails learning how to push through pain (the good kind of course) and going toe-to-toe with the naysayers in our head.

If you are playing within the realm of the mind, you will need weapons.

This post is a tribute to ours.

 

THE TOP 11 WAYS TO PERSEVERE

Fight The Pain

1. PROPERLY WARM UP

When the right muscles are working, joints are doing their job, and the brain has had a chance to prepare for the fight – exercise is made infinitely easier. Still think 5 minutes on a treadmill is a good warmup? Read this.

2. DO IT IN THE MORNING

Willpower is greatest in the morning. While not everyone will able to rock an AM session, there are still things you can do to keep this “fuel reserve” from depleting.

3. DRINK COFFEE

Caffeine not only goes well with those morning workouts, but it is tremendously helpful at blunting pain.

4. DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH MUSIC

Music that is inherently stressful (such as dubstep and rock) will help you “get up”.  Aside from that obvious reason, it is also a great way to distract yourself. This inappropriate song has distracted my “worry thoughts” long enough to break multiple personal records in olympic lifting (where the risk of dropping a weight on my head is a real concern).

5. FIND OUT WHAT’S POSSIBLE

If we do not know how others have fared with a particular workout or exercise, it’s likely that we will give in a lot sooner. Because of this, having “benchmarks” are essential and a great place to find them is on Youtube or being apart of fitness communities.

6. INVOLVE PEOPLE

Even for the non-competitive person,  adding in more eyeballs will help them to work harder. If you cannot recruit a training partner or exercise around people, your next best bet is to move online for accountability (like through coaching).

7. USE POSITIVE LANGUAGE

From a survival perspective, it doesn’t make much sense to our body to do things that we hate and that hurt us. So like I discuss in The Non-Gym Mindset, we must learn how to lie to ourselves (or at the very least, modify our language). With time, these lies turn into truths and we start to enjoy that which we used to hate. To say this is a powerful tool is an understatement.

8. OVERSHOOT THE WORKOUT

Our mind has a peculiar way of sabotaging us when we are so close to the finish line. To make sure we achieve what we want (and then some), we must aim audaciously high.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” – Bruce Lee

9.  THINK WITH THE END IN MIND

Whether we are doing this for our self or others, thinking about what we will attain afterwards is our fuel. The more powerful reason we can create here (like becoming healthier for our kids or how we can use this to become a better person) and the more reasons we have (try combining feels, looks, and performance), the stronger this fuel will be. If you are struggling to find a good reason, this might help.

10. KEEP IT SHORT(ER)

It’s hard to be intense for long periods of time simply because of this reason: We are not meant to be. Like a car, we switch gears after a certain amount of reps or mileage. To stay in the gear that will yield the most beneficial results for us, we will want our workout to be between 20  to 45 minutes (not including warmup). If you’re looking for some examples, take a look at these.

11. USE PERSPECTIVE

If you think your exercise is painful, think back to pregnancy. If you don’t have that kind of reference, think of life in Africa. Or think of life a thousand years ago. Thought experiments such as these along us to overcome our current states because, well, we see it’s not that bad (and that we have much likely done harder things before). If that’s not enough, then let’s remember this “burning sensation” type pain goes away rather quickly (not as true for the mental variety).

 

non gym mindset Train Your Brain, Fight The Pain

That’s it.

With experience in this game (and as the habit is built), you will find that you’ll rely on these tips less and less.  Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you will experience “states of flow”  as your actions become automatic and the mind goes dark. Until then, however,  I suggest you work on what you can achieve within it (and you can start here for that).

THE 4 KEYS TO WINNING RACES (WITHOUT RUNNING)

She was ahead of me for 99.9% of the race.

It was a 5k and despite only having one run under my belt in the past 6 months, I was sitting in second place and 1 minute behind her at the half-way point.

I am not really a competitive person but I felt the urge to win. Not because I wanted to be put up on an altar, but so I could have a platform to say this:

We don’t have to run to be a great runner.

So with that fuel,  I passed her 50 feet before the finish line.

It wasn’t a stellar time by any means (21:36), but I have done this before. I have purposely chose not to train in the conventional way and placed high in races (best time in 5k is 19 flat).

I don’t train this way to be different.

I train this way because conventional distant training will beat you up. With enough miles, running eats up your muscle and testosterone while paving the way for muscle imbalances and inflammation (from cortisol release).

For many people, running is antagonistic to their goals (of looking awesome and being strong).

Still, however, it has its place. For some, it supplies a “high” like no other, and for others, their sport or job relies on it.

This is for them.

HOW TO BECOME A GREAT RUNNER

1. THE MIND COMES FIRST

Anyone who has ever ran will know how big a part the mind plays. Usually, when people slow down (or never get going in the first place) it is the mind that fails first.

The thing is, the mind will tell us some crazy stuff in an effort to get us a quit and the only way to silence the sewage that it will be producing is to learn how to coach yourselves. This mainly entails what we should say to ourselves and how we should think about what we are experiencing. There are plenty of psychology books out there that can help you with this and I will be dropping my own flavor some time in the Fall.

2. TRAIN THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM

I said it once and I’ll say it again: We Do Not Have To Run To Get In Shape.

I’ll make it easy on you and summarize that link in one sentence: Instead of running, do other things that make breathing tougher.

For myself, this means lift heavy(ish) weight with little rest in-between and/or for high reps. The demand that this will put on our cardiovascular system will be much higher than a 1 – 3 mile run ever could produce (Don’t believe? Test it with a heart rate monitor).

Still, however, this will not be enough. For most people, they will first have to work inside-out. They will need to clean up inflammation (from a combination of sleeping more and slightly better eating) and they will to need to clear up any deficiencies. The big deficiency that will wreak havoc on our breathing (which I have personally experienced many times) is that of the magnesium deficiency (read about that here).

Other than that, if you want your system primed to go, try supplementing with caffeine/coffee. Any stimulant will activate the fight-or-flight mechanism and in doing so, open up the air passages.

One last thing, please learn how to breathe. Mouth should be wide, movement should be seen in stomach and not chest, and you should literally sound like an air machine. Below is a video of me running a hill last year with a 60 lb vest on.

 

3. DEVELOP THE POSTERIOR CHAIN

Most runners already have decent quads and calves, but their posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes) tend to be lacking.

This posterior chain, when developed, is what allows us to go fast. When it’s not, however, than it can be tough to “get up and go” no matter how much juice we put in to it.

If you look at the picture at the top of this post, note the difference in our form. We were both running as fast as we can, but she is still in “quad mode”.  Her back leg is bent and there is no push from her backside. Now look at me. My back leg is almost fully extended and I am getting a huge push from the all-mighty gluteus maximus and glorious hamstrings.

This is how animals such as cheetahs and tigers cover a lot of ground in such a short amount of time and this is how we should finish races.

To be able to do this, we must make sure we are doing not only doing glute activation exercises (discussed here) but utilizing loaded squats, deadlifts, and lunges in our program as well.

4. WORK ON YOUR SPRINT FORM

Remember when I said we wouldn’t have to run?  I lied. The truth is, we have to run a little (but it’s not as far as you think).

If we can improve our 50 meter dash time, than we can improve our 1 mile (and longer) run time as well. This is because all races (yes, even marathons) have some aspect of the race that we have to (or at least should) sprint. In fact, most runs look like this: Run fast, cruise, and then ran as fast as our body allows. The shorter the race, the more we will be relying on this.

Now I am not saying we should run the whole race like a sprinter (it’s very energy costly ), but we should at least learn how. And if you are new to running, this should be your first stop.

While I am a hardly a sprint coach and would rather direct you to youtube, here are some pointers:

  • Be on the balls (the toes) of your feet and lean forward.
  • Hands should be like closed scissors.
  • The more we get pump our arms (elbow joint close to 90 degrees), the more power we can generate with our legs

When you start off, you are going to look ugly. That’s just how it is.

I see so many people refuse to sprint, not because it’s hard but more-so because they care what other people think.

If you are able to drop that thinking, with time and diligence, you’ll nail it.

HOW TO USE THIS

If your track and weight room are very close, here is what’s optimal:

  1. Drink some coffee or another pre-workout before hand.
  2. Start with dynamic warmup emphasizing skips, bounds, and form running. (15 minutes)
  3. 20-30 m acceleration starts (10 or so) and/or vertical jump maxes.
  4. Deadlifts. (5 sets of very heavy weight should work)
  5. High intensity interval training. (no more than 15 minutes)
  6. Go home, carb up (to replace lost glycogen), and maybe pop some ZMA.

When I was serious about training, this is what I did. Now it is more lax and I don’t feel the need to combine weight lifting with cardio. Whatever the case, this is how I do “the impossible” (stay strong and run long distances fast) and I do not see why it wouldn’t work for you.