I attended the Perform Better Summit in Chicago this past weekend for the second year in a row and as expected, it was another great learning experience. I got to listen to and observe many great presenters and catch up with and meet friends and professionals from all over the country. One great presenter that I saw was John Berardi, of Precision Nutrtition. Berardi is one of the best, if not the best, nutrition experts on the planet. He put forth a very simple, yet amazingly effective idea. It is the concept of focusing on one small habit or goal at a time.
Whether we are talking about exercise or nutrition, this concept can go a long way. It is something that is overlooked far too often by many. Instead of trying to accomplish a hundred things at one time, picking one or two key things is usually much more effective. With an exercise program, trying to get as strong as possible, as lean as possible, as aerobically endurable as possible, as powerful as possible and also trying to balance out the muscles around the pelvis and trunk because you have lower crossed syndrome along with a right external oblique that is not up to par with the left external oblique, all at the same time will most likely lead to less than desirable results. Can it be done? Maybe. With the right person and situation; but in most cases it will work much better to focus on a couple of key qualities at one time and progress/shift focuses when needed.
This same concept carries over to coaching exercises. When I'm coaching, I usually coach one or two key things at a time. New variables can be added in the next workout or maybe the next set depending on the situation and the person. For example, if I am teaching a beginner how to squat, it would not be very effective if I said get tall, sit back, chest up, push your knees out, push your stomach out, keep your trunk tight, back locked in, grip the floor, drive through your glutes as you stand, etc. all at one time. It would be ridiculous and overwhelming. With a beginner in this situation, I might say get tall and sit back. These are two key things that will help develop a good squat pattern. Once they are nailed in, I can add in some more detail such as pushing the knees out/spreading the floor and filling the stomach with air before descending. Keeping it simple and focusing on one aspect of technique at a time goes a long way.
When it comes to programs, many uninformed trainees constantly try the newest program that they see in a magazine or on the internet that promises to add 5 inches to their arms or 50 pounds to their bench in 5 weeks, without ever allowing ample time for their bodies to adapt and make any kind of real progress. Of course, it is important to advance to different programs after a certain amount of time (depends on the physical quality and situation) but enough time must be given on one program to allow actual progress and progression to be made. Changing programs every week will usually lead to no real progress and even regression. Keep it simple. Allow the results to come and focus on the task at hand. You aren't going to add 5 inches to your arms or a thousand pounds to your bench in 5 weeks anyway. It takes time and dedication to get real results.
This can also carry over to exercise selection. You don't need fancy machines and crazy weight/bosu ball combos to get a great and effective workout. Stick to the tried and tested basics. Do your squat variations, deadlift variations, push, pull, move heavy stuff, sprint, etc. and give your body a stimulus to make it get better. If you had to, you could make an entire workout out of a bodyweight squat. You don't need a building full of fancy crap to get an awesome workout in and make yourself better.
Berardi related this concept to nutrition. Instead of telling someone to eat protein at every meal, get 5 servings of veggies, 4 servings of fruits, take fish oils, drink more water, eat grass fed beef, eat a cup of almonds, get protein after a workout, cut down on soda and candy, etc. all at once, it can be much more effective to pick one small habit at a time. He uses this concept effectively with many many clients through his Precision Nutrition coaching program. One small and attainable habit or goal is focused on for two weeks and if that habit is successfully established after the two weeks, a new habit is introduced. If it is not, a different one might be tried.
Nutrition is often the hardest thing to get clients to be compliant with because I am not following them around all day when they aren't at the gym. During a workout, I can see technique, instruct on what to do next, etc. but I do not have direct control over what goes on the other tons of hours that they are outside of the gym on their own. For people who have had bad nutrition habits for any appreciable amount of time, it can be very hard to get things on track. Coming into the gym and busting your ass a few days a week is great but if you go and eat processed garbage the other hundred some hours that are outside of the gym, progress will be halted, straight up. So helping the client to decide on a small habit that they believe they can adapt can help tons. An example may be eating a serving of vegetables at 3 meals for the day. This would be the goal for the next two weeks. Not too hard to achieve, right? Eventually this habit will be automatic and a new one can be added in. These things will add up and the client will be much more successful. It is something that I plan on using much more often with certain clients and their nutrition habits.
This concept can also carry over to many other things in life. For me right now, I train clients during the day, have school at night and then have plenty of things to do to stay on top of these major things. Instead of trying to accomplish fifty things at once, I will pick a few select goals each day and get them done. If I have something due for school, I'll focus on getting that done. If I have a program that needs to be written for a client, I'll get that done. If you have to pay some bills, go to the bank, play with the kids, get reading done, catch up on stuff for work, etc., pick the most important things and focus on them at one time. Prioritize and keep things simple. Guess what, exercise and proper nutrition should always be at the top of the list. I always hear people complain about how they have no time to exercise. This is just not true. I don't care if its 20 minutes a few times a week. There is always a way to make time. Make that workout one of your habits or your focus for the day and it will happen.
Simple can go a long way. End of story.
Does anybody have any examples or thoughts on this concept?
This man knew a thing or two about keeping it simple
I recently read a great book called Primal Body-Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas (thank you Dan), who is a well respected nutritional therapist. It is basically all about paleolithic diets and the true way that humans were meant to eat. It covers a lot of things I already agreed with and taught me all kinds of new things I did not even realize. While I don't agree with EVERYTHING in the book, most of the ideas presented are spot on (the author is about 1000 times more knowledgeable in the depths of nutritional science than me so it probably wouldn't matter if I agreed with everything or not anyway :)). To sum up the basic idea: Only during the last 100 years or so have humans had the crazy array of diseases that have come about. Cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, add, atherosclerosis, hormone problems and the list goes on for far too long. Only during this time has a RIDICULOUS amount of processing come about when it comes to foods; especially in America. Garbage that is sold in most stores is full of man made, processed crap that our bodies are not capable of absorbing and digesting appropriately. The amount of processed carbohydrates, trans fats, unhealthy oils, artificial sweeteners, and way too many additives to even think about has gotten to an insane level and most people are completely oblivious to what they are putting into their bodies. When you put too many processed carbs, sweeteners, sugars, etc. into your body, blood glucose goes crazy and insulin production goes on hyperdrive, causing glycation and all kinds of crazy hormone activity that the body can't handle.
Damage is done to the brain, organs, joints, muscle tissue, etc, the body is depleted of minerals and cells mutate into not so friendly cells.
Our ancestors consumed a diet of grass fed meat and fat, wild game, seafood, fibrous/non starchy vegetables, fruits and berries in season, nuts and seeds, raw milk and dairy products (sometimes) and water. These are the things that our bodies are made to absorb, not fake food with an essay of ingredients that it contains. The saddest thing of all is that the USDA food pyramid is completely backwards and is largely responsible for the crazy and ever increasing obesity rate today. Grains, breads and pastas should not be a large source of food for anybody. Overconsumption of carby, starchy, sugary grains and the like is what makes people fat, not fat. The glucose and insulin spikes along with the inhibition of the master fat storage hormone Leptin will cause excess fat storage, and cause chaos throughout many levels and structures of your body. When you don't eat fat, your body will make fat because it needs it for so many bodily processes and functions. The whole low fat, low cholesterol myth is so wrong on so many levels that it is not even funny. The fact of the matter is when you eat "low fat" foods, the added sweeteners that they put in them are absolutely horrible for you and you end up much worse off even though your intentions might have been good. Your body needs fat; quality fat. Even a decent amount of saturated fat is good for you. It is the trans fats (man made fats) that you want to avoid like the plague. Getting enough quality protein, quality fatty acids, vitamins and minerals from grass fed animal sources, veggies, some fruits, nuts and free range dairy products is what needs to be done to develop a strong and healthy body. (Note: Most people need to supplement with fish oil or krill oil to get enough EPA and DHA, which are essential fatty acids that the brain needs to function optimally and also help with many other things in the body such as fat loss, heart disease, inflammation and more)
Aside from all of this (and this is one thing that goes against this book to a certain degree), people still do need SOME carbs and SOME grains in their diets, but from the right sources, not too much and for many people (depending on the situation and person) not much at all. Before and after a workout is one time carbs are important. You need some before the workout to give you fuel and you need some right after to start recovery and restore glycogen in your muscle cells. I'm a big fan of natural oats as a healthy source of carbs. For post workout, I recommend a banana or apple and a protein shake (for the protein, duh.) Make sure that any grains that are eaten are all natural and whole.
A lot of meats and dairy that you get in your average store were basically fed garbage such as prohormones, antibiotics and slop plates, which means that they are not ideal for the human body. Free range, grass fed animal sources are what the body needs to function optimally. Whole foods, Outpost, Sendix and some select stores carry some of this great stuff. Getting as close to raw milk as possible is the way to go when it comes to dairy. (Note to self, I need to get a cow) In many states, you'll have to go straight to the farm to get raw milk. Its the same thing with milk; a lot of the processing that goes on kills off many of the healthy bacteria, fats, and proteins that we need.Getting things on track can be hard to do in this day and age with drug after drug being handed out to treat every symptom people have, government wrongly regulating diet recommendations and false information constantly being given out in the media. The money is not in the cure or in making people healthy; it is in feeding people false crap and making more money off of them since they have to keep coming back.
Oh you have this problem, then take this drug. More often than not, the drugs and meds people are put on end up making the original problem worse. I understand that sometimes, medications are a necessity with certain conditions; but often times I really feel that it gets ridiculous. If people would clean up their diets and rely on naturally occurring, whole foods combined with appropriate exercise, health and disease would be so much better. Ok, so I guess I've gone into more of a rant beyond a book review but it is a great book that could be paradigm shifting and eye opening for many people. One thing I do want to mention from the book that a lot of people are mislead with is the truth about soy. Soy has been marketed as some kind of great health food. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Soy is absolutely toxic to the body. (I've done some research beyond this book and trust me, its not good). Here is a short list of some of the terrible side effects of soy that are mentioned in this book. -Phytic acid in soy reduced assimilation of many important minerals-Causes growth problems in children-Soy phytoestrogens mess with endocrine function and can cause infertility and breast cancer in adult females-Can cause hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer-Increase the body's requirement for vitamins B12 and D-Contains high levels of aluminum, which is toxic to the nervous system and kidneys-Can alter the menstrual cycle-Has been linked to alzheimers-Not a complete protein
and can deplete other proteins-Messes with testosterone levelsAnd theres about two more pages of stuff that it has been linked with. I don't know about you, but I'm not touching it.
Here is a great site that goes into some great detail about the toxicity of soy. http://soyonlineservice.co.nz/As one of my mentors once said to a client: "If it used to have a face or comes from the ground, eat it. Everything else, be cautious."
Having a great healthy body is as simple as eating natural foods and exercising effectively (notice I said effectively, not just exercising:)) Its just hard today because so many people don't have the right knowledge or mindset to do this and are not surrounded by positive and motivating people to help do this. If you try buying quality foods but live with people who put garbage in the house, it becomes even harder. Surround yourself with other positive and healthy people if you truly want to be successful.Back to the book. It covers tons on top of what I've already mentioned including chapters devoted to digestion (very important to have digestion rolling efficiently), water, protein, insulin, leptin, vitamins, minerals
, food allergies, add, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and the list goes on. Just a great all around read.Here are a few great links to some awesome sites that cover lots of great dietary information. Though I think I'm alright with strength and conditioning and fitness and know enough about nutrition to help get clients on the right track to supplement their training, I do not consider myself an expert in nutrition by any means. However, I have been digging into this stuff pretty deep lately so if you really want to dig deeper, learn some mind blowing information and possibly change your life, check out a few of these sites.
If you are feeling really ambitious, get the book. I would really recommend it to anybody who wants to get their diet on track and cares about their body.First, be sure to read this www.westonaprice.orgwww.eatwild.comwww.realmilk.comwww.paleodiet.comwww.primalbody-primalmind.comwww.nutritionaltherapy.comwww.beyondveg.comI am also rereading Stuart McGill's Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance, which is a must read for anybody who deals with other people's bodies and will now be beginning The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which I think will be a great read.
I have also been studying Trail Guide to the Body, which is required for massage therapy school, and I mustOn another note, I have recently began networking with Dr. Therese Miller, a great chiropractor and ART practitioner in the Milwaukee area. She is the absolute best around and shares a lot of the same views on the body, movement and training as me so if you have any issues, be sure to check her out.
Yes, even if you've been to chiros who didn't help you, you need to check her out. www.millerswc.com. Do it!!!Last and most importantly, my Packers are in the Super Bowl tomorrow and I'm amped up and ready to watch them bring the Lombardi Trophy back home where it belongs. GO PACK!!!!!!
I got the Woodson jersey ready baby!!!!
I can't tell you how many times a week I have to explain to people about the correct way to eat in order to speed up metabolism and lose fat. Time after time, I run into people or hear about people who think that eating almost nothing maybe once or twice a day and practically starving themselves is the way to lose weight. This is not only unhealthy, but KILLS your metabolism and slows it down to the rate of a snail.
When you eat very infrequently like this, your body doesn't expect to get more food anytime soon so it goes ahead and stores what you do eat as fat, so that it will have something to use when it needs it. Your metabolism slows down and you burn off nothing. When these people do start to eat anything in excess of their crumbs they've been getting, their bodies blow up because their metabolism has slowed so much and everything gets stored as fat.
On top of these poor eating practices, a lot of these people seem to do lots of steady state cardio. This promotes muscle wasting since they have no fuel to use and burn off; which in turn kills metabolism and fat loss even more, since muscle is so important.
What you need to do for optimal fat loss and leanness is to eat a small to moderate sized meal around every 3 hours, 5 to 6 times a day. When you do this, your body expects more so it doesn't need to store things all of the time, and is able to use more of what you give it as fuel. This speeds up your metabolism and your body ends up doing things much more efficiently. Couple this with an effective exercise program and you will be a lean, fat burning machine.
Do you want to look like this?
Or would you rather look something like this?