The Unbearable Lightness of Not Giving a Fuck: Why Caring Less Helps You Live More

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Close your eyes, pause for a second and listen.

Do you hear that?

Somewhere very near, nestled between your left and right ears, is the sound of a never-ending cacophony of fucks bouncing off the walls of your skull, slowly driving you mad.

And unbeknownst to you, it’s holding you back from going all-in. From choosing a goal and showing it what you’re made of. From grabbing hold of life and making the most out of your short time on this spinning rock.

Heart disease? Sugar? Ninjas? Nah, giving too many fucks – that’s the real silent killer.

The Anatomy of a Fuck

It’s completely natural to care about the opinions of others; we’re social creatures and we’ve been doing it all of our lives.

No one is immune to this, nor should we be.

Allow me to share a few shinning examples from my past.

At some point in early grade school (or yesterday), I remember having to pee. Bad. Cartoonishly bad. Michael Jackson bad. I raised my hand to go to the toilet and the teacher told me to hold it. So I did, all while recalling the horror stories of those who dared tempt fate before me and paid the price. In their pants.

Then came the critical fork-in-the-road moment. I was either going to sit there and soil my adorable Dockers shorts in front of all my friends, or challenge authority and fight my way to porcelain freedom. Thankfully my mom gave me enough good sense, and I ran out of that classroom and down the hallway like I scored the winning goal in the World Cup.

Then there was the time when I gave a public speech and got way too close to the microphone when I spoke, causing epic feedback and giving the audience an excuse to erupt in laughter. To this day, the thought of speaking to more than one person fills me with debilitating levels of anxiety.

I could go on, but you don’t have the time and I’m quickly running out of tears.

These are my stories – what are yours?

I see it all the time when working with clients.

Busy men an women who put themselves dead last after a long list of duties, stressing because they’re running around trying to be everything to everyone.

And we’re not even talking about what can start to happen once you choose to do something differently.

Put on weight? Nobody says a word.

Adopt new habits, start to feel empowered about the direction of your life, and maybe lose a little weight in the process? All of a sudden you’ve changed. You’re in the gym too much. You’re obsessed. You’re too muscular. You’re looking unhealthy. You’re no fun.

The Sea of Fucks is vast and wide; navigating it can be treacherous, and if we’re not careful it will swallow us whole.

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The problem isn’t that we care about what others think; we’re not robots. The real danger appears when begin to value their opinion more than the combination of our own knowledge, instincts and sense of self-worth, and changing our actions because of them.

Giving too many unnecessary fucks  fills our lives with so much noise that true clarity becomes damn near impossible. It forces us to dull our edges, and because we’re too busy worrying about what other might think about us we become stifled, unable to express who we truly are.

Here are three practices that you can begin to use in the war for your mental sanity.

Get Clear On What You Want

This step is critical in creating an anti-fuck shield deep within your soul. Your goals are you goals, so own them completely.

The less clear we are in terms of what our aim is, the more likely we are to fall victim to the whims and fancies of others.

One week you want to build a back that’s large enough to block out the Sun, then the next you’re switching it all up, devoting your energy towards becoming an ultra marathon runner because someone told you that it’s the best way to get a six-pack.

Like dandelion fluff on a breezy summer day, just as you start to head in one direction and gain traction, you’re quickly blown in another, stuck in this seemingly endless loop of having your course of action determined by external forces.

Remember The Golden Mantra

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Ready? Here it is: Just because someone can talk to you doesn’t mean you should listen.

Imagine if I waltzed into where they house the Large Hadron Collider, with my little shorts and shaker cup filled with protein powder, and started lecturing all of these brilliant scientists on what they were doing wrong, how I thought they could make improvements, and that putting a piece of cake inside the machine would probably accelerate results due to its delicious nature.

These people are at the top of their field, with years or rigorous study and practical experience to back them up.

Me? I know less about physics than I do about how planes work (AKA nothing at all). I’m just there, throwing unsubstantiated fucks into the air for no reason other than I can. They have every right to smile and nod, while secretly trying to make me disappear with their mind.

There’s a different between acknowledging that someone is saying something versus actually absorbing what’s said and having it influence your behaviour.

Create Your Power Team

It’s easy for us to be deterred or hurt by comments that people make about us or what we’re doing, but author Brenè Brown has a simple tactic to help us filer and reduce the amount of people we let into our inner circle: make a list.

Brown suggests that we take a small piece of paper (think smaller than you’re already imagining) and write down the names of people whose opinions and feedback we actually value and will ever think about considering.

This list will clearly different depending on the context of the situation.

Did you hire a coach to help you achieve your fitness goals? They should be on your list of people to listen to.

You know who isn’t on your list? The guy behind the deli counter who is telling you all about the newest plan he’s on that lets you eat as many cookies and raw bacon slices as you want while only working out once a month.

Are you putting your work out there for people? Perfect. Then you may want to listen to the feedback from the people who’ve invested their money in you by buying your product.

You know who doesn’t get a say? YouTube comment trolls and people who haven’t spent a dime supporting your work.

It’s hard to focus on anything but the one negative comment amongst a sea of positive praise and feedback, but you can strive towards this ideal and refine your approach over time.

At the end of the day, you make the final calls. It’s your job to filter all the feedback you receive, choose to accept, ignore, an then decide on a course of action. You are the gate keeper through which all fucks must pass – take this job seriously.

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There’s Only One Choice

To quote my friend Julien Smith, those who don’t give a fuck change the world. The rest do not.

But what if you’re setting your sights a bit lower? What if you don’t want to change the world, but just your world?

Then, oddly enough, after rallying for hoarding all the fucks and not giving any, giving them is exactly what needs to happen.

Give them to yourself. Give yourself permission to fail horribly, succeed wildly and everything in between.

Give them to those you serve. Your clients, community, friends and loved ones and protect them fiercely. This will fill you with more energy than you’ve ever had before.

The feeling of lightness that you experience once you realise how simple this can all be if you allow it is almost unbearable at first, then it transforms into something incredibly freeing.

We’re here for a brief moment in time. Don’t become so buried beneath the weight of the fucks that other people hoist upon your shoulders that you become a passive observer instead of an active participant in your own life.

Further Resources

Julien Smith – The Complete Guide To Not Giving A Fuck

Mark Manson – Fuck Yes or  No

Johnny B. Truant – The Universe Doesn’t Give A Flying Fuck About You

6 Tips From The Hulk to Help You Smash Diet Anxiety For Good

Dietary debauchery.

Accidental calorie overload.

Hand-to-mouth malfunction.

These all fall under the umbrella of Hulking Out, that moment where you throw your metaphorical papers into the air, say to hell with it and go on an unexpected roaring rampage of food.

That time when you ate half the birthday cake (and it wasn’t even your birthday)? That’s Hulking Out.

When you intend to eat just one serving of ice cream, but before you know it your head is stuck in the container because you tried to lick the last drop out of the corner? The Hulk strikes again.

You didn’t mean to, he just came out.

Instead of throwing in the towel and resigning yourself to a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and constant setbacks, it’s time to fight fire with fire and learn what Earth’s mightiest hero himself can teach you about overcoming diet anxiety once and for all.

1. Use A Less Severe Deficit

Let’s face it: when we’re hungry, our proclivity for making food related blunders increases by a bajillion percent. Dieting isn’t something that our bodies necessarily enjoy – we’re tapping into fat stores that it has grown accustomed to having – so the bigger the energy deficit we create, and the longer we do so, the more inclined our bodies are to sound the “FEED ME!” alarm.

This is why crash diets don’t work in the long run. They impose severe calorie restrictions in an all-out blitz on the fluff, with your body using all the tricks in the book to try and get you to eat more. Once the diet is over, the sense of freedom can be overwhelming and the the Hulking Out process begins, often leading right back to where you were (or worse) over the course of uncontrolled weeks or months.

To combat this, more is more.

To start, begin with a conservative deficit of anywhere between 500 and 700 calories, holding this level steady for as long as you can before adjusting variables. When the time comes, think of adding more activity instead of cutting calories further – save that as an option of last resort. When doing so, adjust downward slowly in the neighborhood of 100-150 calories, letting your results dictate when to make this executive decision.

The goal of a diet is to eat as much food as you can while still making sustainable progress, not cutting as many calories as possible in a mad dash for the fat loss finish line. Eating more calories, while still remaining in an overall weekly deficit, leads to more compliance and less Hulking Out, allowing you to enjoy the process as much as possible along the way.

2. Hug It Out

You’re human. You’re going to slip up at some point – let’s just hope your mistake don’t involve busting out of your shirt and causing millions of dollars of damage to an unsuspecting city. It’s not what happens that will define you, but how you respond.

A typical Hulking Out scenario looks something like this:

  1. Person eats something they didn’t intend to or a larger quantity of something than planned.
  2. Person beats themselves up mentally about it (I knew better, why am I so stupid, it’s always going to be like this, etc)
  3. Person punishes themselves physically on top of this, restricting food severely or super charging their activity as a way to try and recover.
  4. They can’t sustain this level of restriction and deprivation and the Hulk comes out. The cycle continues, becoming harder to break the more it happens.

So, what’s the answer? Chill out!

I know, it’s hard to do in the moment, especially with so many emotions running through you head at the time. I’ve been there many times myself. Nothing positive comes from wearing yourself out physically and mentally as a form of punishment. In fact, it just increases the likelihood of it occurring again as you constantly reinforce this pattern.

Instead, get in the habit of being more forgiving of yourself. looking to find the lessons in each setback so that you can act differently the next time.

Ok, so you goofed up. You made a minor error on one of the thousands of days that you’ll likely live; a dribble in the bucket of life that won’t mean a thing to your results in the grand scheme of things. This is a lifestyle, baby. Keeping a long term perspective instead of boxing yourself rigid and sometimes unrealistic short-term deadlines will go along way towards keeping the Hulk at bay.

3. Don’t Demonize ANY Food

When we restrict ourselves, putting certain foods onto an untouchable pedestal, it’s only natural for us to want them more than ever before.

Want to ensure that you’ll Hulk Out in a remarkably horrible fashion? Tell yourself that a food you love is completely off or restrict it severely. The naughtier you make the food, the higher the chances of you losing your damn mind when you actually decide to indulge because you’ve hyped it up so much.

The apple pie that was an occasional thought before might as well sprout legs and embark on the epic journey directly for your mouth.

The only foods that are “bad” are those that you can’t tolerate, can’t control once you start, or hate the taste of. Approach your diet with the mindset that there are no off-limit foods and that everything is on the table. Once you know that you can have anything you want, the desire to actually have it diminishes.

Yeah, it’s pretty Zen.

4. Don’t Eat Horrible Food

This belief is deeply embedded in my soul, more a part of me than Wolverine’s Adamantium.

Have you ever wanted to have something but thought it was too unhealthy, fattening or whatever reason you used to justify not smashing it into your face, only to get upset when the lame substitute you settled on left you feeling cold and unsatisfied?

On top of wasting calories on something that sucked, a common response is to end up getting your hand on what you originally wanted in the first place and devouring it with reckless abandon, almost as if to spite your sub par treat. This is called Reverse Hulking Out and it happens to the best of us.

Don’t settle for mediocre food. If you want some chips, then portion them out (the epitome of strength) and have some. Make sure they’re the kind that you really want and enjoy every last bite of it. Don’t try to compromise and choke down some veggie chips because it sounds like a good idea.

As an example, if I’m going to eat a cinnamon roll, you can bet all your money that it’ll be a Cinnabon. I’ve been burned far too many times with other copycats and know that they just won’t compare, so why bother?

Friends don’t let friends waste calories.

5. Have A Release Valve

I call these the “break glass in case of emergency” foods. For some, it’s a single doughnut, a little Skinny Cow ice cream, or a nice glass of wine before bed. Whatever your thing is, the goal is to incorporate it into your diet often enough so that it doesn’t interfere with your results yet helps keep you sane and compliance.

When you feel the Hulk pressure building, have your emergency food. You’ll likely find that this alone takes the edge off to the point where you’re ready to jump back into the game again, often for days or weeks on end without need anything release. You decide the frequency that works best for you.

6. Own It

Owning your decisions fully is empowering and brings a certain sense of calm to you life, fitness or not. Instead of things happening to you, you’re in the driver’s seat. You control how you act and respond to the reality of things, no longer being a victim of your circumstances. The optimal choice may not be available in every scenario, but believing that you’re capable of making the best decision given your situating and trusting yourself to do so is key.

“That’s my secret, Captain, I’m always angry.” – Dr. Banner

The more in control you feel, the less anxiety you’ll potentially have about any situation because you know you have it under control. As you prove this to yourself through your actions, small and Hulk-sized, it will feel less like a cheesy Hallmark feel-good statement and more of an ingrained belief that makes you feel unstoppable.

What are some ways that you keep yourself from Hulking out or help keep diet anxiety to a minimum? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

The Best Life and Training Advice I Received From a Homeless Man

The night was filled with an air of uncertainty.

Bodies were all over the place. Some were curled up on the ground sleeping. Others were on their respective corners panhandling. A select few wandered the pavement aimlessly, yelling obscenities into the night or at whomever was brave enough to get too close.

It was a scene that I was all too familiar with. I had several ways to respond.

A) Give some money (not an option with only credit cards).

B) Fake the funk and act like I’m talking on the phone.

C) Temporarily lose any sense of hearing and peripheral vision, becoming Robot Rog and walking right by without a word.

Standard protocol.

Ahead of me I hear one of the homeless men ask someone for money. He brushes him off, saying that he wishes he could help him, which prompts the homeless man to yell the wildest, most insightful response I’ve heard to anything in the history of the world.

 “Fuck a wish!”

I stayed up that night laughing with my friends at what he said, mainly because of how shocking and raw it was, but a week later I still couldn’t shake the statement, and here’s why.

Why Wishing Sucks & What To Do Instead

It’s natural to wish, to want, to desire. We all do this to some extent.

Some men and women see someone with a well-developed physique walk down the street and wish they could be like them.

Many aspiring authors read an amazing piece of writing and wish they could create something similar.

Every time I watch Bill Burr, Patrice O’Neal, Louis C.K.,or any other amazing stand-up comedian perform, I wish that I could do what they did.

Wishing, however, is a dangerous trap that we can catch ourselves in that does more harm than good.

We’re problem solvers by nature. When we wish something, our brain goes to work, searching through our mental Google database to find a way to turn that wish into a reality.

It wants us to take action.

What happens when we don’t, though?

It confuses our mind and body. It causes friction and conflict, dissonance between our desires and our behaviors. It’s like the student who knows the answer to the teacher’s question yet doesn’t get called on, despite raising their hand and waving it in the air like a psychopath.

Wishes can also serve as a false release valve, a “press in case of emergency” button. We can want something so badly that the act of wishing releases the pressure, taking it from something that could happen and turning it into an impossible task that’s outside of ourselves and our capabilities. At this point we may as well wait for a genie or Christina Aguilera to come out of a bottle, because that’s the only way what we wish is going to happen.

We can become addicted to wishing, conditioning ourselves to believe that wanting alone is just as good, if not better than, striving towards and attaining.

So, what to do instead?

Ask Better Questions

This alone leads to more productive answers, increasing the likelihood of taking better action. When you find yourself wishing, chances are you’re on the right track. Instead of letting the thread end there, take yourself deeper down the rabbit hole.

Ask yourself what are some steps that you can take to bring yourself closer to where you want to be. Don’t just keep them in your head. Write them down, big and small ideas alike. Put them in the notepad app on your phone, or tattoo them on your body like in Momento if that you’re feeling extra sassy.

As an example, for the last few months every time I saw someone with a Bane-esque looking back, I found myself wishing that I too could increase the jacktitude of my back muscles. I took my own advice and made the following list of things that I could act on.

- Do more heavy rows
– Get better at pull ups
– Do more back exercises in the higher rep ranges
– Train my upper back more frequently
– Eat more food and gain a bit more body fat while chasing muscle gains

This list got my mind going and gave me something to go off of. After using this is as a rough outline, I got out of my own head, sat down and put together a training program based on the above musings and I’m loving it more than this dog loves his owner.

Be as general or specific as you want to be, as long as you feed the wish instead of letting it float around in the realm of fantasy.

Scale Back

Don’t expect to jump right to the end goal the first time you’re attempting something. That’s similar to trying to face and defeat the final boss of a video game within 5 minutes of picking up the controller. It sounds good in theory, but in reality you’ll get smashed like a warm cookie you forgot was in your back pocket before sitting down, making you less likely to try again in the future.

Start as small as possible. Make the barrier for winning so low that you can’t help but crush it. As you rack up those wins, improve and become more confident, push yourself further away from your comfort zone in doses that you can handle. If you’re still a bit scared then that’s good –you’re right where you need to be

This isn’t meant to dampen your enthusiasm or a kind way of saying that you’re not capable, but a pre-preemptive strike to make sure that you only push forward when your experience have prepared you for it.

Embrace The Suck

You know that sinking feeling you get in the depths of your stomach when you’re trying something new, different and out of your norm? I won’t promise that it will go away, but I will promise that you’ll get better at handling it the more you take action.

Expect to be weaker than you want to be on certain exercises.

Expect for your writing to be a bit lame when compared to the ideal in your head.

Expect to have a few less than spectacular days as far as eating goes as you begin to get your diet together.

It might not be the absolute worst feeling in the world, but no matter what your goals are, there’s no way around this step. You have to be willing to go to that dark and sometimes terrifying place where the gap between the current you and where you want to be is larger than Godzilla’s pants (if he wore them).

This is the same place Frodo goes when he puts on the One Ring, the place of doubt any hero goes as he sets off on his quest – and that’s ok.

You will stumble, you will feel like you messed up and you will want to call it quits at some point.

Do not let this stop you. Be kind and forgiving of yourself as you move forward, always remembering this: where you are is just that, a starting point, not where you’re destined to end up.

Feedback is your homie

Aim for progress in ways that are measurable, apply specifically to your situation, and get you excited to continue moving forward. Keeping it as fun as possible along the way (here are training and dietary ways to funify your life) helps, too.

Let both your experience and results guide you. If you need to stay at a certain level while you figure out your next move, then so be it. Don’t limit yourself to what you’ve always done – be open trying new techniques, tactics and experimenting with different ways of thinking as you move forward.

Speaking of thinking differently, my friend and fellow trainer David Dellanave has based his entire business on helping people break out of the typical strength training mold. To find out more, check out his free book detailing how he does just that while getting you to trust yourself more in the process.

Act

All of this is useless without action. We’re either going to wish, dream and hope that the things we want will magically appear in our lives, or we’re going to decide to work for them.

Below is one of my online training clients after he decided to stop wishing and start taking tangible steps towards his goal.

After all the planning, plotting and pontificating is done, action is the only thing that can save you. Always has been and always will be.

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As my friend and mentor Alan Aragon so eloquently put it, a life spent chasing dreams that never come true is better than a life spent running away from dreams that could have.

3 Powerful Exercises To Keep Your Chest Swole, Triceps Terrifying & Shoulders Pain Free

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In the land of the chest the bench press is king, and many would rather fight a horde of rabid bears with a spoon before they had to stop benching. Unfortunately for some, the perfect storm of shoulder issues and improper form makes the bench press and some of its variations (i.e. barbell floor press, incline bench press, etc) a no-go.

If this perfectly describes you – I’m also part of the “can’t bench because my shoulders feel like death” club – then have no fear. I’m going to keep this short and sweet like a cinnamon roll and give you three pressing variations that you can use in place of or alongside bench pressing to ensure that your strength and sexy levels don’t plummet precipitously without sacrificing shoulder health.

Weighted Push Up

In terms of strength development, the loaded push up is a mighty tool to have in your arsenal. Most people can do a ton of push ups, but sooner or later loading them in order to keep progressing becomes a huge issue. Weight vests and chains are cool but can become cumbersome or simply aren’t available, but by using a dip belt, something most commercials gyms have, we can side-step this issue completely.

For this variation, make sure that you set the bench far enough away from the bar so that you’re hips aren’t hiked high into the air (I could have pushed the bench back a bit further in this video). As you can see with the booty wiggle, the placement of the belt is important. Try to set it as high as you can on your torso without it interfering with the movement in order to minimize lower back discomfort. The further down the belt is placed on your lower back, the more you risk going into hyper extension which can lead to low back discomfort.

Keep your glutes squeezed mega tight throughout the entire exercise. Make sure that you place the bar high enough so that the weights don’t hit the floor at the bottom of the push up.

I’ve loaded up to 200lbs on this variation without any problem, so needless to say it can be used both for low rep strength sets of 5-8 as well as high rep pump stuff, ranging anywhere from 15-20 and beyond. To increase chest activation, actively try to push the bar together as you push up.

Band Push Up

Bands are a fantastic way to crush your chest and triceps no matter where you are in the world. For a greater challenge, simply use thicker bands.

Band Prayer Press

If you’re in the mood to hate your life while completely scorching your chest and tricepticons in the fires of Hades, this exercise is for you.

High reps sets ranging anywhere from 20-50 work best here. Make sure to keep your hands clasped together the entire time, squeezing your chest together and exploding forcefully outwards with each rep. For an even more sinister pump, control the “lowering” portion of the exercise for 3-5 seconds on each rep. You can also use an incomplete range of motion, pulsing the end range of the exercise and going for a glorious set of 100 reps, although I only recommend doing this if you’ve completed a will and are prepared to lose your life in the pursuit of hypertrophy.

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Be warned that it’s impossible to look normal while doing this exercise.

May your chest inspire the hopes and dreams of millions.
May your arm girth frighten the elderly, slow moving adults and very small children.
May your gains be plentiful.
Go forth and prosper.

Sexification Note: For a great band distributor, check out this site. I have no association with them and get no financial kickback. These are the only bands I’ve used and their awesomeness is the only brand that I can attest to.

For light resistance: EFS Pro Mini and Pro  Monster Mini Bands (red and black respectively)

For greater resistance: EFS Pro Light, Average & Strong bands (orange, gray and blue respectively).

 

Achieving and Maintaining Your Sexy With Alternate Day Fasting

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Sexification Note: This post won’t be heavy on the science front and will be filled mainly with notes from my personal experience. I’m happy to answer any questions that you have in the comment section, and all I ask is that you keep an open mind while reading this.

If you’re new to fasting in general, I recommend reading this aaaaaand this to quickly educate yourself on what it’s all about before diving in.

After a year of shorter duration daily fasts, I began experimenting with longer fasts, ranging anywhere from 24 to 62 hours (known loosely as Alternate Day Fasting) without eating during my longest stretch, essentially only eating on the days that I strength trained. The details of that experiment can be found here, but a quick summary is that I dropped 7lbs in 2 weeks (losing 4 more over the course of the trial), while either maintaining or increasing my strength.

My results were near effortless and I was able to maintain them with ease. Stepping back from this extreme style of fasting and going back to something more conservative (Leangains styles or simple 24 hours fasts), I want to share with you what some of the benefits were and how you use it in the pursuit of your own fat loss and maintenance goals.

But…..WHY?!

Gigantic benefits such as lack of hunger while dieting, increased focus and improved mood from fasting are all discussed here, but my reasons for experimenting went beyond these reasons and I hope that you can glean something from these experiences.

The main benefit for me was purely psychological. For the majority of my adult life, I’ve struggled with food. If I’m sad, I’m eating a ton of food. If I’m happy, I’m eating a cave full of the delicious nom noms. I wanted to use this an opportunity to explore my own habits and see what I could learn from them.

With actual physical hunger taken out of the equation, I found that I ate primarily when I was under stress, bored or simply looking for a distraction from something that I was supposed to be doing. By setting a hard fasting deadline (i.e. not eating for 24-36 hours) for myself, I was forced to sit with the uncomfortable feeling and resolve it instead of using food as medicine. Sometimes I broke and ate early, but I didn’t beat myself up about it, learned from the experience and simply hopped back on.

On the actual fat loss & maintenance side of things, fasting creates a large deficit with minimal effort. It’s easy to get OCD about dieting and keeping track of your macros, so I used it as a tool to free up my mental real estate to focus on more important things while simultaneously worrying less about the eating side. Plus it allowed me to not have to even worry about stressing at social gatherings, which is a huge plus because I love food & good company.

Less food prep. Less dishes. Less money spent.

Preparing For Battle

A good relationship with food

I can’t overstate the importance of this step, both from personal experience and from that of my clients.

When I first started fasting, it exposed a major flaw within myself: I was a binger. I LURVE to eat – my mom called me a bottomless pit as a kid – and if I’m not careful I can cause dietary destruction with even the most restrictive feeding window (I went from 16/8 to 20/4 before going back to a conventional style of eating until I got a handle on things).

For some, fasting tends to intensify issues that people have with food and bring them bubbling up to the surface in a big, bad way, especially during longer periods of fasting. It’s extremely difficult to tame the beast while you’re inside it, so if you find yourself running into the same issues over and over again, take a step back and resolve them before writing fasting off completely. If it works for you, cool. If it doesn’t, then that’s cool, too. You learned something new about yourself and you can apply it to whatever you decided to do going forward.

The mindset of a boss

A boss does what needs to be done.

Let me preface this by saying that I know where you’re coming from. Having been a 6-7 (up to 8 if i was feeling particularly sassy) meals a per day dude in the past, I’ve been through periods of ravenous hunger to the point where I would actually get angry if I couldn’t eat my next preciously scheduled meal on time.

You’re the owner of the most adaptable machine in the universe – act accordingly.

You will not die if you don’t eat in the short term. If that were the case, it would’ve been game over for the human race a long time ago. You’re a lot more flexible than you give yourself credit for. Hunger is a real thing, but how we respond to it mentally plays a huge role as well. When we come face to face with hunger, more often than not we give in right away, stomping it out with food (usually way more than we actually need).

While adapting your body to go for longer periods of time without eating, expect hunger. Some will have more than others, but learn what you can from it during your transition. Each successful encounter where you power through those hunger spikes like the boss you are, the more you empower yourself. Hunger doesn’t control you, you control your hunger.

Chill out!

Long fasts can be a big stressor on the body, and when you throw that into the mix of an already stress-filled lifestyle you have  a recipe for disaster. Before giving this an honest go, make sure you’re getting adequate sleep (fasting on little sleep can make fasting extremely difficult) while also doing your best to reduce stress in all other areas of your life – it will make the process a lot easier.

Getting Started

1) Choose your fasting window

For those just starting out in the world of extended fasts, 24 hours (‘ala Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat style) is a good place to start. Depending on your lifestyle, here are some examples of how that would look.

  • Finish your last meal at lunch and fast until lunch time the next day.
  • Finish your last meal at dinner and fast until dinner time the next day.

For someone with a family, dinner time with them is probably pretty important so dinner to dinner may be the best option. On the other hand, someone who is single and has a large degree of autonomy has more wiggle room. I’ve found that going to bed on a full stomach helps myself & my clients with compliance, but the strategy you choose is completely up to you.

To extend the fast to 36-48 hours, simply adjust and plan accordingly. Here are some examples.

  • Finish your last meal at dinner on Monday and fast until breakfast on Wednesday (36 hours).
  • Finish your last meal at lunch on Monday and fast until dinner on Wednesday (36 hours).
  • Finish your last meal at dinner on Monday and fast until dinner on Wednesday (48 hours)
  • Finish your last meal at lunch on Monday and fast until lunch on Wednesday (48 hours)

Fasting for this long is not necessary at all, but can be done and by doing so you afford yourself the opportunity to eat more when you do eat. Depending on your personality, this can be a powerful motivator.

For me, training 3x a week, I only ate on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and single meal on Friday or Saturday depending on social outings/hunger levels. This allowed me to eat essentially whatever I liked on training days without keeping track of my macros because the the large deficit that I was creating on the other days of the week.

2) Choose your feeding window

This may seem complicated, but it’s actually the easiest, and most delicious, part of the process.

All you do here is decide how long your eating window is going to be (I’ve found 4-8 hours to be best, but this isn’t set in stone by any means) and plan accordingly.

The number of meals you eat is entirely up to you, but I recommend at 2 to 3 depending on if you’re in fat loss or maintenance mode as the gastric stress from trying to fit an entire day’s worth of calories in one may leave you with a broken toilet and no friends – you have been warned!

3) Fit your training into the equation

You have a couple of options here.

  • Fasted training.
  • Beginning your feeding window with a small meal prior to training.

For fasted training, consume 10g of Branch Chain Amino Acids 15-30 minutes prior to training. After training, you can begin eating or if that isn’t possible, consume 10g of Branch Chain Amino Acids for every 2 hours that you go without eating until you start your feeding window. Here’s an example of this.

8:30am – 10g BCAAs
9-10am – Train
10am – 10g BCAA
12pm – Begin feeding window

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I eat ?

That all depends.

For fat loss, I recommend that you start by eating at maintenance on your training days and 10-15% below maintenance on your off days, adjust according to your results.

If you’re following more of a 48 hour fast approach, you can eat at maintenance on training days if you’re a brave soul or 10% more than that to help stave off hunger, letting the deficit created on your off days handle the rest.

For maintaining your physique once you’ve achieved it, you can obviously get away with eating more as long as you make sure to adjust according to your results.

Again, the number of meals you eat is up to you, but I recommend at least 2 meals.

What should I eat?

For most people, the main benefit of fasting is that you can eat larger, satiating meals while dieting or maintaining. Of course this means that some junk food (any eating plan devoid of a Cinnabon now and then has no place in this world) will sneak in there from time to time, but make sure that the majority of your food intake comes from whole, unprocessed foods.

Here are some specifics.

  • Protein – Eat between 0.8 – 1 gram of protein protein per pound of body weight (the fluffier you are, the less protein you’ll need to stave off muscle loss) regardless of the day. Bump this number up slightly if you’re having issues with feeling full – I’d rather have you get slightly more protein than too little.
  • Carbohydrates – Eat 1 gram per pound of body weight (adjust this number down if you have a significant amount of weight to lose) on training days, and for the sake of simplicity cut them down to as low as you can handle on your off days. Play around with this number and adjust according to your results.
  • Fat – Fill the remainder of your calories with this delicious macronutrient. A general rule of thumb to start by is consume less on the days that you train (because of increased carbs) and more on the days that you don’t (because of decreased carbs)

For those following the 48 hour fast, maintain protein levels for sure, but you can be a bit more flexible what you’re taking in, increasing protein, fats and carbs as long as you don’t let your overall caloric intake get out of control.

What about muscle loss?

I haven’t found this to be an issue at all as long as you’re training progressively with a combination of the big lifts (squat, bench variations, chin ups, dips, deadlift variations, overhead press, leg press). Cover your bases with these exercises, training in the 4-8 rep range. Make sure to include some fun pump work as well with your accessory work – lunges, curls, rows, dumbbell bench variations, and machine work has its place, just get your heavy stuff out of the way first.

If you find your strength levels dropping, increase your calories slightly and reassess as necessary.

From a general standpoint, the leaner you are, the more that you have to worry about muscle loss during extended periods of fasting. The more fat you have to lose, the less at risk you are for muscle loss with your fat acting as essentially the sacrificial preferred energy source before the body starts looking to break down lean body mass.

With that said, if you lose a little bit of muscle along the way and you look amazingly awesome as an end result, would you be upset? As long as you’re following the above advice most of the time, muscle loss is a bit over exaggerated and doesn’t happen all at once at any rate. Don’t let optimal stand in the way of good enough.

For more fasting myths, check this in-depth post out.

How do I deal with hunger?

  • Stay busy. Go for a walk, hang out with friends, dance like a foolish mortal while listening to music. Pretty much do anything you can to distract yourself from a hunger spike. Hunger is like a bully – it pops up and demands your attention momentarily, but if you confront it proactively it goes away quick, fast and in a hurry. They usually last for 15-20 minutes in duration.
  • Supplement. Caffeine has an appetite suppressing properties  which goes a long way towards quieting the hunger beast – coffee & tea fiends, rejoice! I’ve also found that 5-10g of BCAAs taken during a hunger spike does a very good job of telling your stomach rumblings to “shhhhhh”.
  • Sleep. If you can just make it to bed and go to sleep (or even a nap whenever you can fit one in), it acts as a bit of a reset button for your hunger.
  • Eat. Sometimes you’ve just gotta eat, and the good thing is that rarely do you need as much food as your brain may try to convince you in order to take the edge off your hunger and return your sanity. Try to have on hand an “in case of emergency” scenario. This could be a protein bar in your car, a few pieces of fruit, or just a cooked meal waiting in your fridge. If you’e finding that your hunger is mainly from not eating enough prior to ending your fast, experiment with making your last meal of the day the largest and made largely of protein.

What happens if I mess up?

It’s all good! There is no “messing up”. Some days you’ll fast for long periods of time and on other days barely at all. This isn’t something that you have to do on a daily basis, although the longer that you do, the better you get at it, recognizing and dealing with patterns that may act as road blocks.

Don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself to extend the fast beyond the point where you feel comfortable, especially if it begins to interfere with your life and defeats the purpose of this being more or less a relaxed way of eating. Remember, at the end of the day fasting is just another tool in your Batman utility belt to get the job done – no more and no less.

 

Don’t associate any magical properties with fasting or any other protocol. Demystify it as much as possible. If it helps with compliance then use it to your advantage, but the moment it becomes a hindrance to your success, abandon it without a second thought for something more appropriate for your circumstances.

Above all else, I hope that you’re open to experimenting with your body. You’re a lot less fragile than many have convince you to believe.