Friday Night Freestyle

I know that its technically not Friday anymore where I’m at, but lets all just pretend that it is, shall we?

I certainly have other interests aside from from fitness, and I want to take the time each Friday to share one thing I’ve come across, weither it is a piece of creative art, a book I’ve recently read, a movie I’ve seen, or something else completely random that I want to share. Without further ado, I present to you Monty Oum’s Dead Fantasy:

As someone who knows nothing about the process of making something like this, it amazes me what he was able to do. Even if I was an expert at this kind of graphic wizardry, it would still blow my mind. He basically took a few characters from the Final Fantasy and Dead or Alive series and programmed them to act in ways that they never did in their respect series. The best thing about this video is that you don’t even have to like video games to appreciate it or the message behind it – the acquisition of great things begin in the mind, and with enough hard work and stickituitivity you can bring it into reality. You are only limited by your imagination.

Calories: To Count Or Not To Count

There is a war going on outside, one that will once and for all decide the nutritional strategy of choice. Many have already chosen sides.

On one side of the battlefront, you have the calorie counters. They often look down on those who disregard the gospel of the numbers. The numbers don’t lie, and if you don’t count them then you’re lying to yourself. On the other side you have the intuitive eaters. They often look down on the calorie counters who haven’t mastered the Zen that is their body, and therefore spend day and night obsessing over food. Food is food, and treating it like it isn’t will only lead you down a dark, dark road.

Ok, so maybe it isn’t that epic, but my description is not too far from the truth, as I’ve seen enough debate on internet forums regarding this very subject to know that these e-streets can get pretty scary. I just have one question for everyone – can’t we all just get along? Both camps have something to offer, so there is no point in vilifying one strategy in order to make another appear more valid.

The calorie counters

I can’t even begin to think about considering the thought of saying that the counters don’t tend to get great results, because they do. Wanna know why? Because they respect the caloric deficit, and when it comes to fat loss this is one fundamental principle that cannot be avoided. They’re like the Navy Seals of the nutritional world – they get in, handle their business, and then get out quick fast and in a hurry.

They also take away one of the main excuses people use to justify their lack of results. When you’re in a deficit, you’re in a deficit – there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. I’m sure we all know at least one person who swears up and down that they are “eating so healthy” but still fail to lose the weight that they so desperately want to lose. I certainly commend them for cleaning up their diet, but if their goal is fat loss they first and foremost must align their food intake with their daily or weekly energy expenditure, and calorie counting is a useful strategy to achieve this end.

The intuitive eaters

As someone who ascribes to this style of eating 99% of the time, I can say that there is something liberating about not having to keep count of every little macro nutrient that goes into my mouth. Intuitive eaters as a whole tend to have a pretty healthy relationship with food – they treat it like food and not as calories. This style of eating has a pretty steep learning curve as it takes awhile to adjust portion sizes, food choices and other variables in order to line them up with with ones goals and individual responses, but once a person is dialed in it takes little effort to maintain. While intuitive eaters don’t count calories per se, through portion control and certain food choices their calories are definitely controlled.

Is there room for both?

There is certainly room for both, but many people see it as more of a battle between the two ideologies rather than two halves of the greater whole. Which one is best for you? It all depends, as there are pitfalls and benefits to both strategies. Are you a goal oriented person who likes to achieve their results in the fastest way possible, no matter the difficulty? Do you need to achieve quick results in a short amount of time? Then calorie counting could be just what the Doc ordered.  Create a menu, calculate the calories/macro nutrients and call it a day. Most restaurants these days offer caloric information online or in-house, so that works in your favor as well. Many physique athletes, models and Hollywood actors who need fat loss in a hurry, or who have to achieve a very low level of body fat have people who handle their nutrition for them, and while they themselves may not count their calories, you better believe that someone is doing it for them – when money is on the line, results can’t be left up to chance.

There are some people who, by counting calories, could do more harm than good for. If you find yourself obsessing over the numbers to the point of seriously stressing out, then I would give intuitive eating a try. Also, if you’re using calorie counting as an excuse to justify eating jelly beans, marshmallows or something equally as foolish all day as long as you stay in a caloric deficit, do yourself a favor and stop – in the end you’ll do more harm than good.

Are you the kind of person who likes to experiment and get in tune with your body? Are you more relaxed about the deadline for achieving your fat loss goals? Are you simply trying to clean up your diet and eat healthier. Then intuitive eating might be best for you. While it does take some getting used to, there are ways to tweak and adjust in order to keep you on track to hit your target. Are you eating healthy food and still not losing weight? Check your exercise intensity and frequency. Still not seeing results? Drop your food intake a bit. Rinse and repeat. Those who are successful without counting calories are doing just that. Besides, once you reach your fat loss goal, you should have learned enough to never have to count another calorie again.

If you are the kind of person who isn’t willing to put in the necessary time and effort into adjusting your portions, exercise intensity, food choices and other variables often in order to start to see results, then intuitive eating may not  be for you. If you are someone who is prone to emotional eating binges, then calorie counting may be something for you to attempt in trying to get such urges under control.

It doesn’t matter if you want to lose fat, build muscle or just maintain your current physique In the end these strategies are just two more tools in a tool box and should be treated as such. Don’t use a hammer when you need a screwdriver, and don’t use a blowtorch when a welding gun will suffice. Both work, but it all depends on your goals, commitments, and what you are willing to sacrifice.

Mail Bag – Question #1

Question: We are all bombarded with lose weight quick schemes, but how does a brother GAIN weight?

First of all, thanks for your question.

In the fitness world, we tend to lump people into three categories as far as body type is concerned: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph. Knowing you personally, the somatotype that you are referring to would be the Ectomorph.

Somatype

Here is an except from John Berardi’s Scrawny To Brawny that helps explain the Ectomorph in a nutshell:

The typical ectomorph is a person who exhibits low levels of strength and size prior to training. They’re usually tall and thin, with relatively low levels of body fat and small, narrow bones. Although their smaller joint structure often serves as an impediment in strength and power sports, they do tend to excel in endurance activities due to what is typically a higher-than-average proportion of slow twitch muscle fibers. Their fast metabolisms often make it difficult to gain weight of any type when following a more conventional dietary approach.

As for the answer to your question, I hope you have yourself a pair of eatin’ pants, because its time to eat like you’ve never eaten before! I’ve never met a weight gain problem that could’nt be fixed by throwing more food into the mix, but the problem with most Ectomorphs is that they simply don’t eat enough, or don’t eat enough consistently.

1) Keep a food log.

You don’t know how much you’re eating until you know how much you’re eating. When I was trying to put on weight, I had days when I swore I was eating like a horse, but when I checked my log for the day the truth was I just had a really big breakfast, barely anything in between, and a mediocre dinner. You also don’t want to eat big one day and then fall off hard during the rest of the week, essentially taking one step forward and six steps back. Keeping a record of what you eat will help you in this respect.

2) Set a weight goal.

The only direction you’re concerned with is up, so as long as the scale is constantly moving in that direction you’re golden. I would buy a scale and weigh yourself once a week, shooting for a 1-2lb increase a week. Don’t weigh yourself everyday as its unnecessary and the body tends to experience fluctuation throughout the course of a day, which can drive a normally sane person mad.

3) Don’t fear the food – eat the food.

This is a trap that many skinny people tend to fall into. In their attempts to gain weight, they scale back their food intake because they don’t want to get fat. This is like showing up to a 100m race in a fat suit because you’re worried about hurting yourself if you fall. The main thing you want to do is eat a lot, and eat a lot consistently.

Trap!

When your goal is to gain weight, you want to go with foods that are calorically dense – food that contains a lot of calories relative to its size. For example, it would take more than 5lbs of broccoli to equal the calories in 1 Cinnabon cinnamon roll, which weighs less than half a pound. Luckily there are natural, whole foods options that meet this requirement so you don’t have to sacrifice your health for your physique goals.

Eggs, Milk, Cheese, Chicken, Beef, Turkey, Pork, Fish, Yogurt, Walnuts, Peanut Butter, Olive Oil, Almonds, Oats, Pasta, Fruit….the list goes on and on. The main take away point here is don’t eat like a bird. Veggies are great for health reasons, but they won’t put on the size by themselves. Make sure you’re including them in your diet, but also make sure to surround them with copious amounts of other food as well. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to the occasional treat either.

4) When in doubt, drink some of your calories.

Many former skinny folk swear by drinking a gallon of milk a day on top of their normal meals, and while I wish I had an excuse to drink that much milk, I can see how some might be put off by that idea. If you’re in that camp, I urge you to check out Precision Nutrition’s Supershake Guide . Its free and it will give you ideas on how to put together your own tasty, calorie filled shake.

5) Eat 4-5 times a day.

You’re only awake a certain number of hours a day, so you want to get in all the food that you can during your waking hours. However, you don’t want to hit yourself with a calorie bomb early in the day only to spend the rest of it in a lethargic slump because you fell into a food coma. Spread the food out over the course of the day, and make sure you get in a nice big meal after your training session – your body will thank you for it.

6) Train!

You didn’t think that you were going to get away without exercising, did you? While not crucial in the grand scheme of putting on weight, a proper resistance training regimen will ensure that you don’t end up looking like a heavier, softer version of your former self.

Having reviewed the book myself, I feel like John Berardi’s Scrawny to Brawny is a great place to start for most people looking to put on size as it comes with a program specifically aimed at Ectomorphs, but there are also many other resources that will help bring your closer to your goal:

Eric Cressey’s Maximum Strength

Robert dos Remedios’ Power Training

Nate Green’s Built For Show

As a matter of fact, here is a 30% off coupon for Borders if you prefer the in store option. Its good until 9/25. Don’t ever say Rog didn’t give ya anything!

Hopefully that helped answer your question, and if not please feel free to leave a comment and I will be glad to clarify anything.

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My moment

The fear of embarrassment is a powerful motivator, especially when your embarrassment is shared with thousands of people all over the internet. With that said, I present you with Exhibit A:

If you don’t have the stomach to make it through the entire video, I’ll give you the cliffnotes version: 7 minutes of grunting, breathing really hard, falling over, and facemaking. Needless to say, I came face to face with my weakest link on Tuesday.

I always knew that my conditioning left much to be desired, but its easy to dismiss it and push to the side when there is no actually evidence of it . Sadly, once I saw the footage from my circuit I could no longer deny that I am the physical embodiment of epic fail. My movement quality is also terrible, and has been frequently compared to a hippopotamus having a seizure while on roller skates, and as an aspiring athelete these issues must be addressed before I can continue forward on the path of awesomeness. I can be as strong as I want to be, but if I gas out after 30 seconds then all that strength is useless.

As part of my plan, I am reducing my strength workouts to 1-2x a week, focusing on big movements such as chin ups, bench press, gluteham raises and rows for low sets and reps. On the other days I will focus heavily on conditioning via bodyweight cicuits, strongman implements and weighted complexes.  Mobility work for my trouble areas will be included 2-3x daily at the very least.

Take home points? Identify your weakest points, prioritize bringing them up to speed, create a plan and then work that plan until it stops working for you – you will be a much better person because of it.

Bruce Lee Moment

Most of us have weak links that are contained in one area of our lives, so as to not affect our daily lives. For instance, having horrible rhythm wouldn’t hinder your efforts in becoming a movie critic, but if you dreamed of becoming the next Lord of the Dance, then that would be something you must fix before you could move forward. We’ve all heard that we are only as strong as our weakest link, but how many of us actually address it?

Bruce Lee did.

In December of 1964, a then 24 year old Bruce Lee and another martial artist by the name of Wong Jack Man fought one another at Lee’s Oakland, California kung fu school. What follows is Linda Lee-Cadwell’s (Lee’s widow) account of how that fight changed Bruce Lee’s life from her book Bruce Lee: The Only Man I Knew:

The clash with Wong Jack Man metamorphosed his own personal expression of kung fu. Until this battle, he had largely been content to improvise and expand on his original Wing Chun style, but then he suddenly realized that although he had won comparatively easily, his performance had been neither crisp of efficient. The fight, he realized, ought to have ended within a few seconds of him striking the first blows – instead of which it had dragged on for three minutes. In addition, at the end, Bruce had felt unusually winded which proved to him he was far from perfect condition. So he began to dissect the fight, analyzing where he had gone wrong and seeking to find ways where he could have improved his performance. It did not take him long to realize that the basis of his fighting art, the Wing Chun style, was insufficient. It laid too much stress on hand techniques, had very few kicking techniques and was, essentially, partial. The Wong Jack Man fight also caused Bruce to intensify his training methods. From that date, he began to seek out more and more sophisticated and exhaustive training methods. I shall try to explain these in greater detail later, but in general the new forms of training meant that Bruce was always doing something, always training some part of his body or keeping it in condition.

Many people go through life not addressing their weak points at all, letting them lag behind while continuing on with their life. But what if your weak link stood between you and your life’s greatest ambitions? Bruce encountered such a challenge, and succeeded with flying colors. Not only did he identify his weakest physical link – his overall conditioning, but he also came face to face with the limitations of his current way of approaching combat.  The rest, as they say, is history. If it weren’t for this fight that caused Bruce Lee to run smack dab into his weakest link,  Jeet Kun Do may never have been created, and we may have been robbed of one of the most phenomenal human beings of our time.

Have you had your Bruce Lee moment, and if so how did you respond to it? If so, please share in the comments section. I will share mine tomorrow, along with videos.

http://www.eaglesdeli.com/index.htmlThe clash with Wong Jack Man metamorphosed his own personal expression of kung fu. Until this battle, he had largely been content to improvise and expand on his original Wing Chun style, but then he suddenly realized that although he had won comparatively easily, his performance had been neither crisp of efficient. The fight, he realized, ought to have ended within a few seconds of him striking the first blows – instead of which it had dragged on for three minutes. In addition, at the end, Bruce had felt unusually winded which proved to him he was far from perfect condition. So he began to dissect the fight, analyzing where he had gone wrong and seeking to find ways where he could have improved his performance. It did not take him long to realize that the basis of his fighting art, the Wing Chun style, was insufficient. It laid too much stress on hand techniques, had very few kicking techniques and was, essentially, partial.”