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Oh No! Thanksgiving makes you fat!

There are many different schools of thought when it comes to holiday eating.

And I’ve written about these different schools just about every holiday.

Let’s face it…You can either diet or binge eat on Thanksgiving.

And in my opinion, neither will make you fat.

What makes you fat is the fact that you decide to eat unhealthy foods from Halloween until New Years.

That is what makes you fat.

A single day of indulgement (I can’t figure out if I made this word up or not) during the holidays isn’t the problem. It is the fact that you don’t just get right back on track once the day is over.

Yes there are leftovers. But you can make healthy dishes out of them. Or you can give them away to other people.

You don’t have to CHOOSE to continue to eat crap all the way until the New Year.

So stop freaking out about Thanksgiving! It is ONE DAY.

Worry about the fact that you’ve been stuffing your face since Halloween. Or the fact that if you don’t get back on track after Thanksgiving that you will start packing on the pounds!

So enjoy tomorrow! I know I will be!

Purists

So I’ve found it interesting to both watch the evolution of Paleo, but also people’s resistance to any sort of change.

We now have Paleo breads and people who consider themselves Paleo but occasionally have dairy, potatoes or rice.

But then we have other people who RAIL against anything not TRADITIONALLY Paleo.

Can I just point out right now that NOTHING is actually traditionally Paleo!!!

Anyway, I find this “purist” mentality – or this resistance to change INCREDIBLY ANNOYING!

NOTHING STAYS THE SAME!

This is slightly extreme…but “adapt or die.”

If you get stuck in your ways and aren’t willing to change with the times, you will probably, at some point, fail.

Change is essential. Nothing ever stays the same.

So why would you ever believe that the diet you have currently couldn’t in some way become better?

I mean why not test out how a little rice or potatoes affects you? Why not eat a little bit of cheese if you love it?

If you never change, if you never experiment, you won’t ever know if there isn’t something better out there.

While sticking perfectly to a diet can help you see if it will work for you, being a purist in the long run probably will prevent you from finding something that works even better and is even more enjoyable.

So start thinking for yourself. Experiment!

Don’t just get stuck being a purist for a diet that you didn’t create FOR YOURSELF!

Sorry, but I’m not Paleo

I’m sort of sick of being called Paleo with a negative connotation attached. I’m sick of having my diet dismissed because of a term someone else attached to it.

So while I’ve discussed the great components of both the Primal and Paleo diet, but I’m really not either.

I mean let’s face it, no one really eats Paleolithic food so no one is really Paleo.

It is just a name. A way to describe a “philosophy.”

The name has either become a source of pride or something to mock. People either blindly follow the name or won’t give the diet a second look because of it.

BUT, even though I wouldn’t define myself as perfectly Paleo or Primal, I respect the message of both of the diets – EAT WHOLE NATURAL FOODS!

All diets THAT ARE ACTUALLY HEALTHY, no matter what you call them, should follow that basic rule – Eat whole, natural foods. Get plenty of healthy fats, proteins and vegetables and avoid process crap and gluten.

I personally believe that if you avoid gluten and vegetable oil, you will avoid the two leading causes of inflammation, which can cause serious health problems.

I also believe thought that it doesn’t mean you can just eat a ton of gluten-free products.

You also need to avoid as much processed food as possible because frankly, it is CRAP.

But whether or not corn or dairy or peanuts or beans are bad is all up to you. Certain diets say they are bad, but honestly, I think it comes down to how you feel when you eat them and the studies you choose to believe. Because, let’s face it, you can find studies to basically support anything.

At some point you have to make an educated decision about what studies to believe. And then you experiment to find what works for you.

I’ve found that corn tortillas are something I really enjoy. And they can be all natural with no crap. I find that they help me get the perfect amount of carbs to perform well and feel great.

The Primal diet doesn’t promote eating corn, but it works for me.

I also like to include full-fat cheeses and minimal cream in moderation. I don’t have a problem with dairy SO I EAT IT.

Of course, if you have a problem with dairy or follow strict Paleo, you probably won’t.

Then the amount of fat and types of fat you choose to consume are also up to you.

I’m not afraid of some saturated fat. NATURAL products contain it.

HOWEVER, I’m going to choose grass-fed or naturally raised animal products because they have a natural, appropriate ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s. Just because I’m not afraid of some saturated fat doesn’t mean I’m going to eat grain-fed, conventionally raised animals.

They do not contain the same healthy ratio of fats!

But again, it is up to you and HOW YOU FEEL! Maybe you are still a bit more fat-o-phobic even though you eat whole natural foods.

Anyway, stop worrying about the name of your diet.

Whatever you call it, if you eat whole natural foods, you are on the right track! Then it just comes down to exactly what foods you choose to include.

Also, this leads me to a quick fasting update….I used to do intermittent fasting almost every day. Now I’ve varied it up more and I’ve found I’ve gotten even better results. I train fasted still, but only in the mornings. At night, I generally train after eating a small meal.

I’ve found that I get the best results training in this way. I also find that I’m listening to my body more by not forcing myself to fast till a certain time every day.

Again though….it is up to you to find what works! You can find a bazillion suggestions, articles that tell you to never fast and articles that promote fasting for 24 hours at a time. But it comes down to what works for you – to self-experimentation (which I’ve written about so many times!).

Oh she’s healthy – She’s a vegan

WARNING: I will be insulting vegetarian and vegans in this post. If you can’t handle it, don’t read it.

I hear this statement all of the time, “She eats so healthy. She’s a vegan.” They say it as if I’m also going to believe that being vegan is the epitome of health – that everyone believes that being vegan is healthy.

It annoys the crap out of me.

I even sometimes have a hard time not saying, “ICK!”

Well frankly I don’t agree. Maybe it works for you, but based on the research I’ve chosen to follow, vegan DOES NOT equal healthy.

Why is it that it seems like only vegetarians or vegans make that comment (or the people who seem to worship that diet)?

Is it the fact that this diet seems to symbolize extreme self-control because the person doing the diet is able to cut out an entire food group?

I mean seriously, what is this attraction to a diet that can cause serious health problems and cuts out an essential food group!?!

People rail…I mean RAIL against low-carb diets because they claim that you are being too restrictive with a whole food group.

BUT mainstream media promotes being a vegetarian or vegan and they are even more restrictive eliminating almost all sources of complete protein from their diet!

While there are way more consequences to cutting out all animal protein sources like iron deficiency, lowered immune functioning and more than there are too eliminating many carbs, that isn’t even what annoys me the most about the statement that assumes a vegetarian or vegan diet is therefore healthy.

What gets me the most is the fact that MOST vegetarians and vegans eat so much processed crap – more so than most of the people who I know that switch to a more Primal style diet.

I mean just look at all the freaking processed crap created and marketed to the vegetarian market.

Soy nuggets. Pre-frozen veggie patties (that aren’t made out of whole natural ingredients).

FAKE MEAT!

Like that is good for you!?!

Also, chips are vegetarian. Chocolate is vegetarian. There are even baked goods made for vegetarians.

In other words….YOU CAN EAT CRAP AND STILL BE A VEGETARIAN OR A VEGAN!

So just because you are “Vegetarian” or “Vegan” doesn’t mean you are healthy.

Yea sure…If you eat all locally grown fruits and veggies and such, sure that is pretty healthy.

But honestly…I probably know only one vegetarian who actually spent the time to cook all fresh produce meals.

And I don’t see how anyone can claim that their “soy nugget” is better for them than my local, grass-fed, NATURALLY RAISED beef!

Oh and please don’t comment on this post and say something about “environmental impact.” We aren’t discussing environmental impact here. We are talking about health. Trust me…don’t even get me started on environmental impact.

(And yes…I do realize that vegetarianism and veganism are two different diets…but heck…they both stink…Sorry)

Narrow-mindedness

narrow-minded – lacking tolerance or flexibility or breadth of view; “a brilliant but narrow-minded judge”; “narrow opinions”

So in a comment a little bit ago, I was called narrow-minded.

It kind of made me laugh because that isn’t something I’d ever considered myself to be.

I mean yes…am I arguing in support of MY viewpoint on this site….OF COURSE!

Anyone writing anything is basically supporting THEIR VIEWPOINT.

But while I may support one very specific viewpoint in terms of what I believe to be the BEST diet and exercise programs on this site, I would argue that I’m not narrow-minded.

First and foremost I tell people to constantly learn, experiment and evolve their diet and workout program. As I’ve said before, one size doesn’t fit all!

You have to find out what works for YOU and you only do that through research or learning, self-experimentation and constantly being open to evolving your beliefs and programs.

I have clients that don’t hold near the same diet beliefs that I do. And I have clients that LOVE running. I don’t try to change their diet views and I don’t tell them to stop running.

I will question their diet beliefs just like I hope people question mine. The only way we can make sure we are constantly learning and getting better is by questioning. I never just want to accept something as truth….I want to know WHY it is truth.

So I question them. If they are going to be eating a certain diet, I want them to know WHY they are eating that way.

And I help guide them to become more educated. I don’t say they are wrong or that they should follow my diet. I help them find their own way.

Because as I said before, it doesn’t matter what works for me. It matters what works for you.

And that client that loves to run…Do I force them to become a powerlifter?

HECK NO!

Am I completely dumbfounded as to why they love running? OF COURSE! 😛

BUT I don’t tell them to stop doing what they love. Instead I show them exercises and/or lifts to help them become fitter, stronger runners.

You have to do what you love. If you don’t love your workouts, you probably won’t stick to them for very long.

If you love running, do it. If you love lifting, do it.

But that doesn’t mean you can just ignore the rest of your fitness. You need strength training to make you a better runner. And you need cardio to help make you a better lifter. You need to give your body some variety in training and plenty of recovery or you won’t see the results you want in the activity that you love!

So maybe I am narrow-minded. I believe I’ve found something that works for me and I want to share it…hence the birth of Man Bicep. I respectfully disagree that I am not, but it is really up to you to decide.

All I can say is I hope that you find the diet and exercise program that works for you and if you need any coaching along the way, I’m always here…Even if you are a vegetarian runner and my arch nemesis….

Do I cheat?

Holidays are usually full of partying and bad food. The question is, “Do you cheat or do you stick to your diet?”

Both can work. And frankly what I do depends on the holiday.

On holidays where BBQ is common, like Memorial Day, the fourth of July and Labor Day, I find it very easy to stick to my diet.

So I do.

BUT on holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Ryan or my birthday, I find it much harder to eat well.

I don’t believe in all of those tips to keep the fat off during the winter holiday seasons. I mean seriously…get a smaller plate so you don’t eat as much?!?!

I would much rather just eat badly with family on those days and then go right back to my diet afterwards. I would much rather eat super clean before the holidays and super clean afterwards than deprive myself of food in a social environment that has so much meaning for me.

I don’t like having feelings of deprivation. That is why I eat the diet that I do!

So if I think I’ll feel like I missed out, I indulge. A little indulgence one day could keep me from binge eating for the next week or so.

But it is really up to you. The question I always ask myself way in advance is, “Will I feel like I missed out enough to make me want to cheat for the entire week after or will I be satisfied eating well?”

The good, the bad and the simply stupid

When I was doing my low-fat diet a few years ago, Ryan and I would watch Man vs. Food and plan out our next cheat. Our meals simply weren’t satisfying. We actually watched a ton of food shows or “food porn” as many of us call them.

Right now Jamie, Tucker, and baby Cooper! are watching Man vs. Food. They just showed a huge Cinnamon Roll and I have to say, my belly started hurting just looking at the 3 pound monstrosity. WOW! What a difference between my current diet and my previous low-fat one! I’m pretty much ALWAYS satisfied!

Welcome home baby Cooper! Congrats Jamie and Tucker!

The Good

  • You CAN eat pretty healthily even if you eat out. Here are a few of our quick and easy meals out since coming to Cali.

    Homemade corn tortilla tacos (steak shrimp, carnitas) and a protein style hamburger. LETTUCE BUN!

  • See I’m not the only one that claims you can eat healthy on a budget!
  • I also thought it was cool to see a number of recent articles and posts against vegetable oils and in favor of cooking with natural fats!
  • An interesting article especially for any trainers out there – what and how we can motivate people to exercise!

The Bad

  • Uhm seriously!?! We need to adopt a vegetarian diet or we will face a food shortage crisis!?! HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHA!
  • So Statins really don’t have any benefit…Yet half of our nation is taking them….(This article is good…the whole fact that it even needs to be written is bad.)

The Simply Stupid

  • So Sunday night Ryan and I ate pizza for the first time in over two months. Right now we are living with cats and I’ve had problems with allergies and cats in the past. I haven’t had any trouble with allergies while I’ve eaten Primally. BUT Monday after the pizza, not only did I feel swollen, dehydrated and sick, I also had ALLERGIES. Of course a return to my version of Primal got rid of them quickly, but still the whole experience was eye-opening. The reason this whole story is under stupid is because many people are too lazy or stupid to go without gluten for any extended period of time and see if they feel better without it. I guarantee they will! Health issues they just accepted before, like allergies, may just go away!!!
  • READ THE INGREDIENT LABELS PEOPLE!!!!! Soybean oil and other crap is hidden in random products. You may have gone Primal, but if you are still eating some of these products laden with hidden gluten and vegetable oil, you may not be reaping all of the benefits! Check your spices even! Some may not be simply the herb or spice!

Macro THEN Micro-Managing

Today I saw a guy in about his early 60s walk out of 24 Hour Fitness. He had a beer belly hanging out from beneath his nice tight spandex Nike shirt.

And while this picture made me shake my head what made my jaw drop was the fact that this overweight guy, with relatively little muscle, in his 60s was carrying a huge jar of N.O.-Xplode in his hand.

N.O.-Xplode is a nitric oxide booster and dilates your blood vessels to supposedly help deliver all of the extra CRAP the supplement has in it to your tissues quicker.

Some people say it enhances their workouts. Others just feel ill from the rapid heart beat that can follow a dose of N.O.-Xplode.

Really though it is one of those supplements that the average Joe shouldn’t even be worrying about. (I mean I don’t think even the fitness models and athletes should take it, but that is a totally different discussion).

But that is what average people do. They buy supplements and diet stuff that the super in shape models use instead of working on their base program first.

They overcomplicate things instead of focusing on a few solid basics.

This 60-year-old man didn’t need a diet supplement. He needed a new workout program and a solid diet of whole, natural foods.

But the diet supplement was a simpler solution. An easier solution.

One that won’t work.

He is focusing on micromanaging his diet. Supplements are for those people who have a solid diet and workout program and may be looking to get off that last 1% of body fat (of course I don’t think even these people need them, BUT if anyone does they do).

Everyone besides these fitness models and elite athletes shouldn’t even go near any supplements. First, they need to focus on the macronutrient proportions in their diets. They need to focus on eating only nutrient dense carbs, whole, natural sources of protein and lots of good fat. WHOLE NATURAL FOODS!

Build a solid base and then once you have seen results from that, then start getting closer to micro-managing every last thing.

Because if you don’t, you’ll be that 60-year-old man walking out of the gym with your belly hanging out and the latest supplement in your hand.

And in three years, if he hasn’t given up by then, he will be three years older and still walking out of 24 Hour Fitness with the newest supplement. His beer belly still hanging out from below his tight Nike spandex shirt.

Has your diet evolved?

I think the sign of a good diet is whether or not it has evolved, even just a little bit, from when you started it.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other!

When you first start a diet, you should stick to the guidelines laid out as strictly as possible because that way you know if the principles work.

But most of the time the guidelines laid out by that other person, aren’t perfect for you. So either you end up giving up on the diet OR you start evolving the diet to better work for you.

I started out doing the Primal diet as Mark had it laid out. But slowly I made my own changes.

At first apples and almond butter were a staple snack to replace the apples and peanut butter I had been eating. Now….I can’t even remember the last time I ate them as a snack.

At first I also didn’t eat rice and potatoes. I ate nuts and fruit and vegetables as my only carbs. But then when I wanted to really cut body fat, I stopped eating as many nuts (actually I basically only eat macadamia nuts now) and started carb cycling with rice and potatoes.

Recently though, I haven’t eaten any potatoes. Instead I’ve had a very little bit of white rice and homemade corn tortillas. Although corn isn’t recommended in Primal, I’ve found that having tacos with corn tortillas as kept me from really cheating otherwise. And my energy levels have felt great, my workouts have been intense and my body composition has actually improved.

I also used to eat a lot more cheese when I first started Primal. Slowly cheese became more of a treat and less of a staple. I no longer need the cheese each day to keep me sane.

That is really what experimenting with your diet is all about – staying sane while being healthy.

You don’t want to deprive yourself of something you love to the extent that you complete give up on a healthy lifestyle. Remember the 80/20 rule – perfection is only required 80% of the time to reach your goals.

You need to find what works for you.

How many carbs do you need? Do you crave sweets or can you not live without your cheese?

All diets can and SHOULD be adjusted to fit YOUR needs.

How has your healthy diet evolved since you started it? What changes have you made to keep yourself dedicated to an overall healthy lifestyle? What do you allow in your 20%?

Carbs

Carbs – To eat or not to eat…

Isn’t really the question.

What you should actually ask yourself is, “Where should I be getting my carbs from?” and “And how many should I eat on any given day?”

You need some carbs. How many you need exactly is dependent upon the activities you are doing.

Especially when I was lifting and doing very little cardio, I found that I felt best when eating relatively no carbs.

Now that my workouts are more cardiovascular, I find that I need to eat more carbs than before.

BUT that doesn’t mean that I’m gorging myself and pasta and stuffing myself with all of those simple sugar power gels and drinks. You don’t need to “carbo-load” they way that people often do.

Anytime I need to fill up or replenish my glycogen stores, I eat whole,natural, unprocessed and unrefined carbohydrates.

I’ve always gotten a large portion of my carbs from veggies. Now that my body is craving more carbs with the increase of aerobic exercise in my circuit training, I’m finding that I’m craving more fruits and even occasionally some white rice and potatoes.

I’m sure some of you will be surprised by the fact that I said WHITE RICE over BROWN RICE, but my stance on “whole grains” is an issue for another post.

The point of this post is that you do NEED CARBS. You just don’t need to eat pasta, oatmeal and bread to get what you need.

Honestly, depending on your level of activity, your body may be satisfied if you just eat some nuts and veggies. If you workouts are intense and you are doing more cardiovascular activities, you may find that you deplete your glycogen stores more and that you crave more carbs after your workout. Fruit is a great way to get some extra carbs because fruit also contains essential vitamins and minerals.

And if you need quick acting carbs to replenish your depleted stores, potatoes and white rice, yes white rice, are a great way to get the carbs you need.

How many carbs you need exactly is dependent on YOUR level of activity. Not what your friend or neighbor or trainer eats.

Too many carbs can lead to fat retention and the “carb belly.”

BUT consuming too few carbs can also hinder your progress. Sometimes you need to eat a few more carbs or “carb cycle” (high carb and low carb days) to get off that last little bit of fat or to enhance your performance.

So experiment. Take a look at your diet. Have you been severely restricting carbs but are struggling to get off that last little bit of fat? Has your performance lagged? Have you failed to lose any fat?

Your carb intake, or the types of carbs you are consuming, may have something to do with it.

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