To Paleo or not to Paleo?

By Admin Admin,

In my opinion, diet is the single most powerful element of training to affect body composition. You won’t get “fit” from eating a specific diet and yes you need to move and lift in order to build strength and cardiovascular conditioning but diet is the key to reach your body composition goals.

Most of my students train 3x/week. Some less. Some more. But think about it, that’s only 2 to 6 hours a WEEK that I am directly impacting their lives. There are 168 hours in a week. Subtract 8 hours a night for sleep and you’re down to 112. Minus another 40 hours for work and you’re down to 72. This means that you have 66 to 70 hours a week to really make a mess of things. And the easiest way to make a mess is to eat crap. Compound that with the fact that food is often a thing people go to when depressed or tired. And I don’t know about you but when I’m in either of those states, I don’t make good choices.

There are a lot of diets out there. Vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, carnivore, primal, macrobiotic, Adkins, pescatarian, Mediterranean, and I’m sure many more. Some are plant based, others blend plant and animal sources, others are pure animal. This post has “Paleo” in the title but really a good diet is one that helps you reach your goals and is sustainable. Period. I’m not here really to convince you to eat Paleo, but I will admit that in over 10 years as a strength coach, Paleo has proven to be the easiest to explain to students and the easiest for them to sustain.

Simple to understand and simple to follow are two additional keys to success.

Anyway, I’m really not here to convince you to eat Paleo. What I am trying to do is convince you of how important a good diet is to your performance goals and overall health. Body composition is the thing that gets people to do things. If it will make them look better on the beach, chances are they’ll do it. A good diet will definitely do that. One of the reasons I’m (mostly) Paleo is because in addition to making staying lean easy, I just feel better. I sleep better and I very very very very very rarely get sick. Those are reason enough for me.

At its core, Paleo is a great diet for those reducing inflammation and that leads to the things I just listed. Plus it’s easy!

Anyway, enough about my thoughts on diet. Here’s a terrific debate from Rogan’s podcast between a vegan cardiologist named Joel Kahn and one of the best researchers out there, Chris Kresser. They both argue their points well and thankfully it never degrades into a yelling match, which is common when “discussing” diet. Check it out and see what you think.

A final suggestion: once you decide on a diet to try, do yourself a favor and stick to it for 90 days to see what happens. Use your gut and your head and your goals to help you decide which one you want to try. But once you decide. Do it. In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Stay strong, my friends.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Is it possible?

By Admin Admin,

There is probably a finite amount of wisdom accessible to humans. I mean it’s a large amount but it’s more than likely finite. I’m guessing this is why there are so many different ways of saying something. For example, my Wing Chun instructor Sifu Francis Fong has a great saying regarding fighting, “There is no right or wrong, just consequence.” He is usually smiling and smacking you upside your face while saying this, just in case you missed his point. I humbly modified his saying to, “Anything will work if you can pull it off.” Basically what you did might be technically incorrect, but if it worked, it worked!

Vince Lombardi said, “Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.”

John Wooden is one of my favorite sources of inspiration. He has so many amazing one-liners you can buy a book of them. Really. Check it out here. “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts,” is my reigning favorite right now.

But there’s another powerful saying that I like. I’m not sure who said it first, but it’s still great. “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” We are a creature of habit AND comfort. We like a soft bed, hot water and temperate climate. Who can blame you? They all feel GREAT! But comfort is where we stagnate. Not just psychologically but also physically. I attended StrongFirst’s “PlanStrong” workshop last weekend with StrongFirst CEO and Master SFG, Fabio Zonin. (Fabio is a spectacular instructor. And English isn’t even his first language!) Anyway, he reminded us that discomfort is essential for optimal training results. For example, if you are writing a program and you would be comfortable breaking 12 reps up into 4 sets of 3, you should instead do 5, 4, 3 or something less comfortable than the sets of 3 your instinct told you to do.

How do we do this? By forcing ourselves, of course. Going with what we “feeeeeeeeeeel” (emphasis added) is almost always a bad idea. It will lead us to doing things that benefit us and pretty much no one else. Go with what you KNOW to be better. Use your mind and overcome your instinct. Acting on instinct is for mere animals. We can and should do better.

You can get comfortable with being uncomfortable simply by making a decision to do so. We are not judged by our thoughts but by our actions. Make your actions the best you can. Getting out of your comfort zone is one of the surefire ways to do so.

Stay strong, my friends!

Is having Purell everywhere really that good an idea?

By Admin Admin,

No matter where you go these days there seems to be some kind of Purell (or similar product) dispenser because God forbid I get my cappuccino without eradicating every germ on my hands. My students are familiar with my “caveman filter.” No, this does not mean I’m a caveman, though that wouldn’t really bother me. It relates to how would our ancient ancestors have handled X or Y? For example, would they have needed to frequently shampoo and condition their hair? Chances are no. And I’ve proved this, at least in my non-scientific study of one (me). I had pretty annoying dandruff since I was a kid. I tried every dandruff shampoo out there. “Big Pharma” types like Head and Shouders or Selsun Blue as well as the overpriced organic offerings from Whole Foods. Nothing worked. I mean that literally. Nothing was what worked. Yes, I mean I do not shampoo my hair. And since the day I stopped I haven’t seen a flake of dandruff. I rinse in hot water, use conditioner and some jojoba oil and that’s it. Death to dandruff. Ok, maybe the caveman from whose loins I sprang thousands and thousands and thousands of years later didn’t use conditioner and jojoba oil, but you get my point. They did not clean everything in sight. And guess what, they survived and thrived in a time where survival was the biggest challenge of the day.

The same, I would surmise holds true for the ubiquitous appearance of Purell over the last 10 years or so. For those of you who can’t see gray area, I’m not suggesting you wash your hands in the toilet prior to flushing. I’m suggesting that killing all germs is probably not a great idea. It stands to reason that we are weakened when we don’t need to fight anything off because it’s already been killed for us. I’m about to start NassimTaleb’s book “Antifragile” which deals with this idea of disorder helping us improve and when everything is neat and tidy we are not as well off. It seems to me that a society which uses Purell by the metric ton would be better off getting a little dirty.