Read This BEFORE Hiring Your Next Health Coach Or Personal Trainer
Debunking Common Myths in Health and Fitness#debunk
Why Your Current Program is Probably Ruining Your Health
Time Frame Issues
Is your program built for short term gain or long term success. The majority of programs are built for the former: Great abs in 6 weeks, Lose 10 kilos in 30 days. Why? Because that’s what the consumer wants. Quick and easy results. What you have to realise is that short term success in health and fitness often comes at the EXPENSE of long term success. A quick look at the legend that is Ronnie Coleman one time world champion bodybuilder who can now barely walk shows you this mentality taken to the nth degree.
Optimal vs Maximal
One of the first questions I ask clients when they tell me they want to be stronger is “What for?” most at them look at me as if I’m a bit weird, as they’ve been told all their life that stronger is better. Without knowing what you need that strength for, how can you know when enough is enough? As soon as you go past optimal strength for whatever it is you want that strength for, you are by definition sub optimal. As a simple example, muscle requires a lot of energy to build and to maintain, which requires you to eat more, and eating is the main driver of cell cycle progression, more commonly known as ageing. So just piling on muscle for the sake of it, is not a great long term plan.
The Longer, Harder Model
Our current model of exercise is based very much on elite athletes with the ethos of, “if it works for Hary Kane it’ll work for the common person.” The difference is that Harry has a team of professionals around him; a masseuse a nutritionalist, a chef, a coach. He also finishes training and heads to the jacuzzi for a few hours and then leads a relatively stress free life. To compare him to a busy executive who scrambles to the gym on their lunch break and then dashes back to a stressful desk job and has 2 kids that need looking after when they get home, is not comparing like for like and we cannot apply the same principles to them.
Exercise is is a Stress
Stress is public enemy #1 when it comes to weight gain and health. The more of it you have in any form the less healthy you are and the harder you are going to find it to drop fat. Exercise is a stress, so if you lead a stressful life and then throw a hard workout routine on top of it, without allowing adequate recovery time, you are simply adding more fuel to a fire which is already raging out of control.
Why Most Online Programs Fail – And How to Choose the Right One
The Startling Truth
A staggering 5% of people who enroll in online courses actually complete them, and even fewer achieve the desired results. Knowing why this happens can help you steer clear of failure-prone programs and opt for the ones that genuinely work.
The crux of the issue is individual differences. Online courses, by their nature, target a general audience, often reflecting the creator’s profile. If you differ from the target demographic, you’re at risk of falling through the gaps. Make sure the program you choose is adaptable to your unique needs.
The No-Contact Zone
The absence of continuous personal contact with an experienced coach is a major obstacle. You’ll likely have questions and concerns that need immediate attention. Without timely, personalised responses, doubt sets in—your biggest enemy when navigating an online course in isolation.
Self-Starters vs. The Majority
While self-starters or data hungry individuals might relish the challenge of adapting a generic program to their specifc needs, this approach isn’t feasible for most people. Those familiar with the course subject can make the necessary tweaks, but that’s not a universal solution.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. The program must offer a way to track your progress and achievements, giving both you and your coach a clear overview to guide further action.
Where’s the Accountability?
The lack of accountability in online courses is a glaring issue. While some programs tout their community forums as a solution, experience shows these rarely work. Direct interaction with a real coach especially when combined with a date driven process which gives both you and your coach access to your actual progress as shown by the measurements you’ve taken along the way, instills a sense of responsibility, motivating you to put the program into practice.
Instant Feedback Is Essential
A quick feedback loop is crucial for effective learning and behaviour change, in fact as the time between cause and effect gets longer, humans become worse and worse at assigning cause to effect on an emotional level. As an example of this: if we got a hangover the moment we took a sip of beer, how many of us would ever drink?. From a quick thumbs-up on your healthy lunch picture to an instant analysis of your tennis swing, timely feedback in any program creates the cause-and-effect connection needed for progress.
Adapting to Change
Your life will change during your time on the program (we all have those moment when life just goes crazy and your free time drops to zero). Also, if the program is doing its job, you as a person will evolve over the course of the program. The program must evolve with you. Someone must monitor your progress and adjust the program based on your evolving needs and life circumstances.
The Overwhelm Factor
Many programs cram in endless “bonuses” to add perceived value to the offer, or drown participants in content under the mistaken idea that more equals better. While this might appear generous, it can overwhelm participants right from the start. What most program creators fail to realise is that the participant just wants to get results and often the easier, simpler and quicker those results can be got the better. So the optimal approach is a simplified starting point, followed by incremental learning tailored to your lifestyle all aimed at the specific change you want to make.
Impersonal and Isolating
Despite even the most vibrant online communities, the digital nature of online programs inherently lacks personal touch and can be isolating. One effective solution is to integrate offline experiences, perhaps in the form of occasional in-person meet ups, to lend more authenticity to online interactions.
Why Most Body Transformation Programs Fail
Misunderstanding the Skill of Health
Imagine if you turned up to your first ever surfing lesson and the instructor handed you the board, pointed at the sea and told you to knock yourself out. I doubt you’d be that impressed. But that’s exactly what we do in the health and fitness industry all the time.
You rock up at the gym, have an hour induction and are left to figure it out. You sign up to a weight loss program, are given a few recipes and are told to get on with it. No wonder so many people fail. Exercise and weight loss, just like surfing, are SKILLS, and they’re very complex skills which will inevitably take time to learn and you’ll suffer many setbacks (failures) along the way.
That’s normal and it’s OK!
The Real-World Struggle
In an ideal scenario, you’d have ample time for meal prep and workouts. But let’s be honest, life is often chaotic. There will be weeks, if not months, when free time evaporates. Traditional diets claim that willpower and prioritising will save the day. That’s nonsense. A realistic nutrition program needs to accommodate those hectic life moments and spontaneous Friday nights out with friends.
The Fallacy of Willpower
Hold your breath until you pass out…go on. What’s that, you can’t? No neither can I. Why because breathing is a survival instinct. Guess what so is eating. So trying to use will power to resist eating is not going to work long term.
Besides, scientific evidence shows that willpower is a finite resource. It depletes throughout the day with every decision you make. A robust program should have a strategy to navigate this reality.
The notion that everyone can dedicate hours to meal prep and the gym is laughable. Real-world schedules are often packed, leaving no room for elaborate health plans. A practical program should seamlessly integrate into your daily life without demanding unreasonable time commitments.
The Personalisation Gap
Individual responses to foods vary; some people thrive on carbs, while others require more fats. A one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t cut it. Your program should be adaptable enough to meet your unique biochemical needs.
“Don’t mix this with that, only eat these on specific days.” Such a labyrinth of rules is not just hard to remember, but also uninviting. Simplicity is key for any plan aiming for long-term success.
Lack of Flavourful Foods
Flavour is important Really important. The foods you’re eating must be satiating and taste really good! Otherwise, you’ll soon find yourself daydreaming about the snacks you’re trying to avoid.
Constant Hunger Pangs
If the program leaves you feeling hungry, you’re more likely to raid the cookie jar. A successful plan keeps you satiated, making it easier to resist temptations.
Social Life Sacrifices
A good program should not make you choose between health and a fulfilling social life. You shouldn’t feel like you’re missing out because of your dietary choices.
Overemphasis on Counting
No one wants to spend their days obsessing over calories, macros, or points. While these factors have their place, a well-rounded program focuses on them only as part of a broader, holistic strategy.
Neglecting Overall Health
Many programs are solely weight-loss-centric, often to the detriment of overall well-being. True success comes from putting your health at the forefront and viewing weight loss as a natural byproduct.
Ignoring the Post-Diet Rebound
Human biology has evolved to regain lost fat quickly, a survival mechanism from our hunter-gatherer days. Any program that fails to account for this post-weight loss ‘bounce-back’ phase is setting you up for future failure.
8 Questions To Ask BEFORE You Choose Your Next Health & Fitness Program
Is The Program Tailored To Me?
While a one-size-fits-all program may not be tailored to your specific needs, that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. However, this approach does require that you either have a good understanding of the subject matter or are willing to acquire the knowledge needed to adapt the program when discrepancies arise between its guidance and your unique needs.
What Data Do You Use To Customise The Program?
When a program is customised for you, it’s important to understand what drives that personalisation. Is it based solely on your subjective feedback, or does it incorporate concrete data? Neither approach is necessarily superior, but being aware of this from the start can give you an idea of how comprehensive the program is likely to be.
Why can’t I just ask Chat GPT for a program, what extra value do you offer?
In today’s world, simply asking a chatbot for a workout or diet plan can yield good results. However, as information becomes increasingly accessible, the value of programs shifts from delivering information to focusing on implementation and experience—something that AI, like Chat GPT, may struggle to provide. Here’s where the benefit of human intervention becomes evident. A program should, therefore, focus as much on experience and implementation as it does on delivering information.
How much time do I need to dedicate to get results?
Time is your most valuable asset. Understanding the time commitment required by a program before diving in is crucial. While some plans will demand more of your time than others, it’s vital to know this in advance so you can determine whether the program is compatible with your lifestyle.
How much contact time do I get?
One area where human coaches still outperform AI is in their ability to inspire and drive change in others. The amount and quality of contact time you get with your coach could very well be the catalyst that keeps you committed. Knowing how much face-to-face or virtual interaction you’ll get, and through what medium, is increasingly important for long-term success.
Does The Program Include Accountability?
How does the program ensure you are following through with your commitments? This is crucial especially if the program has a focus on implementation. Giving you motivation to stay the course
Do I Get Community Support?
Often the best person to give you advise isn’t an expert but someone who’s just been through what you’re going through. This is where communities shine. Does the program offer a community aspect, like a group chat or forums, where you can share experiences and tips?
Is The Program Adaptable?
You change, your goals change, your life changes and we all have those weeks where life just goes crazy. In these periods it’s important to have a program which can be adjusted to your needs. How easy is it to adjust the program based on your performance or any hurdles you may face?
Debunking Common Myths in Health and Fitness
Running from a Bad Diet is Futile
Your body is a homeostatic system, not unlike the boiler in your home. Exercise alone won’t cut it; if you increase your physical activity, you’re likely to eat more to compensate. The real game-changer is the quality of your diet. If your diet consists mainly of junk food, your muscles will be weak and easily damaged. On the flip side, a diet rich in quality nutrients can result in strong and resilient muscles.
The Yo-Yo Effect of Weight Loss
Many are familiar with the ups and downs of dieting, but few realize that this yo-yo effect is a natural body response to weight loss. Our bodies are hardwired to think that they’re still on the savannah, where fat is a valuable resource. Lose weight, and your body will fight tooth and nail to put it back on, employing hundreds of potent mechanisms to ensure it.
Caloric Intake Isn’t Everything
While cutting calories may seem like a straightforward solution, it’s a method that essentially starves the body. The body reacts by increasing hunger and lowering metabolic rate, also making you feel miserable and grumpy in the process. Once you stop counting calories, the weight you lost usually comes back, often with some extra.
The Importance of Recovery
Exercise is fantastic, but the real magic happens during recovery. Exercise induces stress, and excessive stress can wreck your health and thwart your weight loss goals. While stressing your body through exercise is necessary for growth, it’s during the recovery period that you reap most of the benefits.
Toning: A Nutritional Concern
You might think that spending hours in the gym will get you that toned look, but if you have a layer of fat obscuring your muscles, all your hard work will be for naught. Toning up is less about endless exercise and more about proper nutrition.
Most People Aren’t Exercise-Ready
If you’re over 25 and haven’t put in the work to align your body correctly, chances are you’re not ready for serious exercise. You’re likely to get injured unless you first focus on joint alignment, muscle activation, and good posture. Ensure these are in place before diving into a new exercise regimen.
The Lifestyle Challenge
Failure often stems from not tailoring your lifestyle to your goals. Starting a weight loss program without knowing how to cook or setting aside time for meal prep is a recipe for disaster. Similarly, embarking on an exercise plan without considering recovery time is a mistake. Once the initial excitement fades, the time crunch catches up, and the newly adopted routines are the first to go.
The BIGGEST Opponants You Will Face
Is from your friends! Of course they don’t mean it, but the social contracts around health are weird. As soon as you start eating healthy your friends will constantly be trying to tempt you to eat something you shouldn’t. “Just one wont hurt”, “go on you deserve it”, they’ll tell you. The reasons for this are many and varied but rest assured we’ve all been through it. The solution? You need to train them. Once they get the message you wont be swayed they’ll stop and go back to accepting you as you are.
Ultimately the myths surrounding health and fitness are often microcosms of larger societal beliefs that may or may not be true. These broader myths can indirectly impact our approach to well-being, creating a loop that can be difficult to break out of.
For instance, the societal notion that “success equals busy-ness” can lead you to ignore health, skip meals, or choose fast food because you think you don’t have time for anything else. This mentality can negate any efforts you make to live a healthier lifestyle, reinforcing the myth that one can’t achieve both success and health.
Or consider how the concepts of “work hard, play hard” or “no pain, no gain” have been internalised. Many people believe that they should grind away in the gym to ‘earn’ their indulgences, or have to push it at the gym really hard if they are to get any benefits. This kind of thinking can create an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, rather than promoting a balanced lifestyle.
Similarly, the myth that “youth is the epitome of health and beauty” might drive people to extreme diets or workout routines aimed at anti-aging, potentially causing more harm than good.
Breaking down these societal myths in your own head is as crucial as busting the health and fitness myths discussed above. By addressing these overarching beliefs, you can take a more holistic approach to health that’s in sync with your lifestyle and long-term goals.
A Program Which Works in the REAL World
For years Arnold Schwarzenegger was the golden boy of the health and fitness industry. His techniques were copied across literally 100’s of different health and fitness programs and became the benchmark for how to look and feel great across the world.
In 2002 the movie “Collateral Damage” came out, Arnie looked great and at 55 really seemed to be beating the game, he looked incredible.
Then Arnold got a job.
He moved from a world where his job was to look great and look after his body and could spend as long as he wanted dedicated to this pursuit. To a world where his job was to govern, and his time to look after himself went to pretty much zero. A world very similar to the one which most “normal” people find themselves in every day.
In just 2 years he went from pin up boy for the Health and Fitness industry to Governor of California with a dad bod.
If Arnolds own system didn’t work for him when it came into contact with the real world what hope do the rest of us have??
But Why Didn’t It Work?
To answer that we need to understand one fact.
Following a fitness lifestyle is effective, as Arnold found right up to getting a job, but…
It’s not very efficient.
Meaning we need to dedicate a HUGE amount of time to it if it is to work properly, even more so as we pass 35 and the natural role of ageing starts to have an effect.
The truth is, as Arnie discovered, as soon as we don’t have that time, this system fails us.
So comparing a pro athlete, movie star or even an Instagram influencer to a busy CEO or a stay at home mum with kids to look after, who often simply doesn’t have ANY time to hit the gym, to meal prep, to go to the sauna, is not comparing like for like.
What we need instead is a system which works:
- When life gets in the way and your time is reduced to zero.
- When you simply don’t have the time to think about preparing another healthy meal,.
- When you don’t have time to go to the gym.
- When you don’t have the time to spend hours at the masseuse.
- When you’re no longer in your 20’s and your body simply does not respond to exercise in the same way, does not respond to peak nutrition in the same way.
The Bodies Hierarchy
The body has a hierarchy of needs. A hierarchy of things without which it will die.
A lot of these we know about from birth.
- We can go for years without exercise.
- We can go for months without food.
- We can go for about a week without sleep.
- We can go for a few days without water.
- We can go for a few minutes without oxygen.
Now there are others even higher in the chain (for example you can last for a few seconds without ATP) but for our purposes today we don’t need to worry about them.
If we want to affect a system, the higher up the hierarchy we go the more control we can exert over that system. (Think about a river, the closer to the source you can divert it, the easier it is to divert and the greater effect you can have on its route)
Most people, when they are looking at health look at diet and exercise, and diet and exercise are hugely important parts of the chain. However in the list of priorities we have just built we can see they are the LEAST important.
Sleep, water and oxygen are all MUCH higher up in the hierarchy and so have MUCH more power to affect human health if we can harness their power.
And as I said there are systems even higher than these in the hierarchy, systems such as immune function and ATP production. And if we can control those systems we never really need to worry about anything else.
Do We Count Calories?
Thomas, a client of mine, came to me after failing to lose weight counting calories. He’d lost weight initially, then stalled and so cut even more calories. This had caused him to start piling weight on. So he’d gone to the gym and things had only got worse.
He was confused and at his wits end…
“What the hell was going on!?”
I told him to stop going to the gym and put him on a diet where he could eat as many calories as he liked..I told him if he was ever hungry he was doing it wrong!
You can imagine his reaction…
But (after a few weeks of convincing) he gave it a try…
He lost 12 kilos in the next 6 weeks, looked amazing and never felt better.
Let’s delve into what was going on a bit deeper…
Ok so we all understand the basic model of dieting.
Eat less calories than we burn…
- Easy to remember…
- Easy to calculate…
And for most people TOTALLY INEFFECTIVE to the point of being down right wrong.
(there are some people it works for especially if this is your first time losing weight but I’ll talk about that later)
Ok before I dive into this I have to clear up a few fundamentals.
The first of these is that fat is a system. It isn’t just comprised of fat cells, but of stem cells, endothelial precursor cells, TREGS, Macrophages, smooth muscle cells, FAULKS, pericytes, preadipocytes and an Extra Cellular Matrix (think of this like a scaffold to hold your fat cells in place made of collagens). In short it is a system.
Like any system it can have different configurations. So just like a car may have different configurations for its suspension so your fat can have different configurations.
The configuration of your fat system changes as you age. So trying to lose weight when your 20 is very different to losing weight when you are 50 as you are dealing with a fundamentally different system (or at least a system which is configured entirely differently).
Here’s the other thing (sit up and take notes!)
Your fat configuration changes (almost) IRREVERSIBLY when you lose weight.
So losing weight the first time when you are relatively young and your fat is in “young/healthy” configuration is easy…losing weight when you are older and have already cycled your weight up and down a few times and so changed the configuration of your fat to something entirely different is really, really hard!
In fact this is why most of the diet books out there are, for most of the population, total garbage.
Why? Because they were written by someone who, at a relatively young age, decided to turn it all around and lose all the weight. Having done this relatively easily they decide they have found the miracle cure and so decided to write about it, after all the world needs to know about this right?
The reality is they could have chosen any number of ways to lose weight and almost all of them would have worked as the configuration of their fat was that of a young person and it was their first time losing weight.
Whereas for someone older with a history of weight cycling, trying to follow the same diet will potentially do a lot of harm and almost certainly not work.
Why? Because the configuration of their fat system is ENTIRELY different. Of course they will be told they didn’t do it right or some similar nonsense, when the truth is the system they are working with is fundamentally different and so requires totally different techniques to fix.
Not convinced? Ok let’s take a different approach and look at the science…
Three high calorie diets were tested in a group of people between the ages of 18-35. They had a BMI of 19-30, with some people being normal weight, and others being overweight. The participants were placed on three high calorie diets with varying amounts of protein and fat.
Some had a diet higher in protein and lower in fat, others lower in protein and higher in fat and others more of a mix.
Subjects ate the same amount of calories.
So if calories are all that matter, they should all gain the same amount of weight.
The low protein group gained HALF as much as the other 2 groups.
Clearly something else is going on.
First off, could it be that different subjects in this experiment had different histories (of weight cycling vs first time weight loss) and so reacted differently? Could be, it could also be that not all calories are created equal which I talk about in a bit.
Before we get there however let’s look at this from a different point of view.
If I asked you to hold your breath until you passed out, you’d look at me as if I was crazy, and you’d be right. Now it turns out breathing is pretty important for our survival, so our body has very powerful survival mechanisms in place to ensure we keep breathing.
Eating is also governed by the same survival mechanism, so just giving up food is pretty much impossible too, as survival mechanisms kick in and force you to eat (late night refrigerator raid anyone!?). So when someone tells you weight loss is all down to willpower they don’t know what they are talking about. Weight loss is about overcoming the most powerful instinct mankind has…survival.
No mean feat.
Let’s look a bit closer at some of these survival mechanisms.
The problem with fad diets, which generally cause you to lose a lot of weight in a very short time simply by eating less, is as you are restricting calories to such an excessive degree your body literally thinks it’s starving. It thinks an ice age must be coming where food is scarce and so starts to make adaptions to enable you to survive long term in a food scarce environment.
The first thing it does is drop your base metabolic rate. This means you are using less energy (read calories) just to stay alive on a day to day basis.
So whereas before you might burn 2000 calories even if you simply sat on the sofa all day long and didn’t move, after your fad, calories restricted diet you now burn only 1800.
That’s 200 calories less you are burning each day.
This means once you go back to eating normally again it’s MUCH easier to pile weight back on.
Enter the dreaded yo yo diet effect.
“Ok, no problem” you may think, “now I’m slimmer and my body has less energy demands I’ll be less hungry and so eat less naturally.”
If only it were that simple.
Leptin is the hormone which tells you you’re satiated, that you’re full after eating.
As you calorie restrict the levels of leptin in the body decrease, meaning you never feel satiated.
Instead you constantly feel famished despite not really needing to eat.
And it makes perfect sense. If you’re heading into an ice age you want to make sure you eat anything which crosses your path. So your body ensures you’re constantly hungry so that beetle in front of you suddenly looks like a rib eye steak.
All this means, as soon as you stop calorie restricting… (as let’s face it, who can live like this forever?)
You gain more weight than you were originally trying to lose.
And that’s just one of these survival mechanisms, the body has literally hundreds, including changing your genetic expression to promote weight regain!
So can counting calories be totally discounted? No, of course not.
If civilisation were to end tomorrow and we went back to being hunter gatherers, in a very short time EVERYONE would be lean. Environmental and survival pressures would ensure you lost weight as you would simply be expending a LOT more calories than you could take in. Under these circumstances weight loss in almost all cases would be inevitable.
The problem is, in many cases it is impossible in the modern world to expose ourselves to these extreme levels of exercise and calorific restriction, so we have to take other measures into account and use other tools to circumvent the environment we live in
So the answer is we may count calories depending on the configuration of your fat and your goals, we may not. The configuration of your fat, your age, your medical background will all determine what tools we need to use to get the job done.
Why All Calories Are NOT Created Equal
Calorie counting assumes that food is simply energy, the reality is that food is much more than that.
As an example a calorie from an Oreo is not the same as a calorie from broccoli.
Sure when it comes to the energy they release when burned maybe but in terms of downstream effects on the body they are totally different.
Take any of the following:
- Blood Sugar
- Toxic Load
- Hormonal Cascade
- Nutrient Value
And Broccoli Wins (I’m sorry to say!)
Let’s take just two of these and show you why this is such a huge deal.
Contrary to popular belief the main purpose of fat isn’t to store energy but to act as a storage place for toxins which the liver cannot deal with. So if you’re eating a high toxin diet the liver becomes overwhelmed. At which point rather than have an overload of toxins rampaging round the body causing all sorts of carnage, the body decides to encase the toxins in fat somewhere they can’t do any harm, until such a point in the future when the liver has cleared its backlog and can go to work clearing them out. At which point the body gets rid of the fat, releasing the toxins and allowing the liver to do its job.
So the higher toxic load the food you’re eating has, the more fat you are going to store.
When you eat something which spikes your blood sugar the body releases insulin, which tells the body to store any energy from what you’ve just eaten as fat.
So if you’re eating something which spikes blood sugar, you’re literally telling your body to store fat.
And so now you can see why all calories are not created equal.
Most people at this point ask me, “Does That Mean I Just Have To Eat Broccoli?”
Not at all, I’m just trying to show you why counting calories is a waste of your time.
But it doesn’t end there…Even between different types of broccoli, a calorie is not equal to a calorie!
I’m sure you heard the fear mongering in the newspapers… Bacon more carcinogenic than smoking…etc…etc. (Often these days related to meat products.)
What they fail to take into account is…
Broccoli grown in nutrient depleted soil and treated with pesticides its entire life will be almost a different food to broccoli grown in nutrient dense soil with the natural pesticides provided by being grown in its true habitat.
The same is true for organically raised chickens which live off the land, eating their natural diet, moving around all day in natural sunlight and as a result are highly nutritious. As opposed to battery raised birds which never see the sun, live in terrible overcrowded conditions, are injected with all sorts of antibiotics to keep them alive in such horrendous conditions and as a result, suffer with poor health themselves.
Which would you rather eat?
Simply by understanding this key principle you can understand why it’s actually possible to eat a huge range of delicious foods which the media and many well known diet programs tell us we can’t, if we just focus on quality.
We don’t need to be afraid of our food we simply need to understand it better.
But I Can Never Keep The Weight Off
90% of all dieters will have regained any weight lost within 5 years. 90%!! I don’t know about you but that doesn’t look like sucess to me.
Why the hell would you work so hard to lose all the weight only to put it all back on again?
Turns out this is really nothing to do with you but our old friend survival again.
You see, back when humans were chasing mammoths and mastodons on the plains of Africa, fat was an extremely precious resource. It was hard to put on and even harder to keep hold of. The constant cycles of famine, combined with lots of physical exertion just to stay alive, ensured that a fat human was hard to find.
In those days energy was scarce and so the more fat the body could store the higher your chances of survival long term as you were better able to withstand inevitable periods of starvation.
So when the body dropped fat it immediately did everything it could to regain it, changing the expression of genes and making a whole host of other changes to prioritise the regaining of fat stores. These fat regain mechanisms are EXTREMELY powerful and highly effective, which in those days was a good thing as without them we wouldn’t be here to discuss this today. So it also seems logical that evolution favoured humans who were able to regain fat faster meaning most of us alive today are highly evolved and VERY efficient at putting weight back on after a period of weight loss.
Now I’m sure you’ve spotted the sting in the tail here…our body still thinks we’re living in those times. So when you drop weight those same hugely powerful mechanisms kick into place to ensure you regain the weight right back again.
And there is no other program out there which is addressing this fact, so on a traditional program you lose weight, and the minute you stop, you start putting it all right back on again, with interest.
We get you to your target weight and build in to the program techniques to over come these mechanisms, convincing your body that your new, current weight is the weight it now needs to maintain going forward, ensuring you keep the weight off for good.
Is this a Keto Plan? (or why we don’t count macros)
This absolutely is NOT a Keto Plan and I’ll tell you why.
Keto works, there is no doubt about it, I’ve tried it on myself and others and seen great results. But my reasoning for not using it as a method for weight loss comes back to our guiding principle of building health rather than focussing exclusively on weight loss.
You see my experience with Keto and that of many of many clients is that while it works great short term, it has major implications for health, long term.
And when it comes to health, long term is the ONLY way we can possibly measure it if we are being realistic.
Keto works by dropping glucose and raising base levels of ketones, this mimics the effect of fasting in the body.
But fasting’s great for me isn’t it?
Yes it is, when done in controlled short bursts, when done for extended periods of time it is a highly potent stressor for the body. So much so that long term Keto often destroys people’s adrenal systems, leading to burnout symptoms as they are under chronic stress for weeks and months (sometimes years) at a time, and while they may lose weight they will often feel awful after a few months on a Keto plan.
I have to caveat this, for some people Keto seems to work really well long term, we are all different and react differently to different diets. But in general it is not an approach which I advocate.
Why We Don’t Count Points
Again this comes back to our principle of health over weight loss. Point plans often allow you to eat or drink REALLY unhealthy foods in vast quantities. Back when my mum was doing Slimming World (a point based diet) I would regularly see her knocking back litres of Diet Coke a day.
Due to its low sugar profile it was considered a low point food and so could be consumed in vast quantities.
The fact is, diet coke is highly toxic to the body and was doing all sorts of harm to her internal systems, her hormones and her digestive tract whilst adding a lot of stress to her poor liver.
Stress, Health and Weight Loss
My first car was a boy racer red Astra 1.6TD, I loved it! But I (being a young, foolish 17 year old) wanted to impress my mates and a couple of girls by making it go even faster. So I hatched a master plan.
I went out and I found the highest octane, most powerful fuel I could possibly find…no joke this stuff was literally rocket fuel!
I filled the car up, invited some mates and some ladies over, got in, turned the key and squeezed on the pedal…
The car shot forward, bunny hopped to a stop…and NEVER moved again.
You see, no matter how good the fuel was the car simply wasn’t able to process it…
In the weight loss game so many people are repeating the same mistake I made with my car.
Focussing on the fuel and totally ignoring the engine, the chassis, the wheels.
You need to understand.
It’s not about calories, it’s not about exercise, it’s not about your macros and it’s not about how much water you drink.
Your body is exactly the weight it is supposed to be based on the signals you are sending it…
WHAT? I hear you cry…
Hang on a minute, let me explain.
I knew loads of people who are exercising all the time, counting every single calorie…are HUGELY driven, and very successful but still can’t lose weight and are often actually putting it on…
Because they haven’t got to the root cause of their weight gain…haven’t identified the signals they are sending to their body.
One such signal we’ve already talked about is stress…
Now it’s not the only signal but it’s a good starting point as it’s one we can all relate to.
Just to recap…
Stress forces the body to release cortisol which raises blood sugar, so the body releases insulin which tells the body to store fat.
Long story short, if you’re stressed and trying to lose weight…good luck.
Ok, so what’s the problem?
The problem is that in this day and age we are ALL chronically stressed.
Now some of you may be sitting there saying,
“I’m not stressed”
And while that may be true intellectually I would be hard pushed to believe that your body is not stressed.
You see we can categorise stress in 2 ways:
External stress we’re all familiar with, you get cut up in traffic, your boss or spouse yells at you, you can’t pay the rent this month.
Internal stress we are generally less aware of,
- the toxin laden meal causing stress to your liver as it works overtime to process it,
- the unnatural, man made light you sit under all day which causes your brain to work harder interpreting the signal from your eyes,
- the fact you don’t move enough which prevents your lymphatic system from doing its job properly.
It’s crucial to realise…the body only has one response to stress OF ANY FORM…
Fight or Flight (or activate red mode)
Let me show you why this is so important…
Think of your body as having 2 modes:
The Green Mode is when you are calm and relaxed. When you’re in this mode your body wants to take in nutrients from good food and make love to reproduce the species…It is also the mode in which the body repairs damage and grows new cells. In short we like being in the green mode and we are designed to spend most of our time there.
We also have Red Mode. This is when the body is under stress. For example in cave man terms when you see a tiger.
At this point the body behaves a bit like the Starship Enterprise at battle stations. It shifts all its energy away from non essential systems and sends it all to the systems crucial for escape at that moment…the muscles, the lungs, the heart.
Now the body is really smart. It knows which systems are important and which are not. In that moment do you think it cares about taking in nutrition from food….?
Because if you don’t get away from that tiger right now you’ll never eat again, this is why many people defecate themselves when scared, it’s an automated response to switch off digestion and make you lighter at the same time.
Do you think the body cares about the reproductive system and having sex…?
You guessed it…NO. Why?
Because if you don’t get away from that tiger right now you’ll never make sweet love again, so it switches all energy from the reproductive system to those it needs right now.
Now while you’re being chased your body diverts all its resources from the green systems to the red and strips any energy including raw materials from the green systems to power the red systems.
So in the time you are actually running from the tiger you are actually getting weaker as your body strips more and more resources to power the red system.
You escape but your body tells itself this can never happen again so it rebuilds stronger.
It’s only when you get away from the tiger and back in to Green Mode that you actually start to rebuild the damage done and get stronger.
Well if your body thinks it’s running away from a tiger every day as you’re exercising to the max every day, it’s constantly in Red Mode.
It’s constantly in fight or flight, it’s constantly stressed.
And the body only has one response to stress.
Release cortisol, which raises blood sugar, so insulin is released which causes fat to be stored.
Let’s look at a real world example.
Why Navy Seals Are Big Girls…Literally. (not that I’d ever tell one to his face!)
When people think of macho, Navy Seals come pretty much at the top of the list and for good reason, they are amongst the elite of the worlds warriors (not as elite as the SBS but that’s an argument for another day!)
At the end of their training Navy Seals are put through something called “Hell Week” which as it sounds is pretty miserable.
Now one year they decided to take the Navy Seals testosterone levels just after finishing Hell Week. What they discovered blew their minds.
These big macho Navy Seals averaged the testosterone levels of a 13 year old girl!
They had been in Red Mode for so long without ever going back into Green that they had totally destroyed their hormone levels. Which eventually if not rebalanced would have led to weight gain and a whole host of other problems.
But they’re Navy Seals what on earth does this have to do with us…?
Think about all these stressors in modern life…
Some of these we know about:
- Emotional angst
- Existential crisis
- Financial stress
- Work stress
- Spending too much time in our head worrying
But what about:
- Over Exercise – your body thinks it’s being chased by a tiger
- Calorie restriction – your body thinks its starving
- Lack of nutrients in the diet – again, your body thinks it’s starving
- Stress over not losing weight – this is just ironic and cruel
- Stress of missing out on one of the greatest pleasures of life – eating itself is a de stressor so when we’re denied it we get more stressed, added to which eating out is a great social activity which we often deny ourselves when dieting
- Self image stress – every time you look in a mirror or try to squeeze into those trousers
- Junk light
- 24/7 light
- Breathing or not breathing properly
- Disrupted circadian rhythms
- Not moving enough – sedentary lifestyle
- EMF – Electro Magnetic Frequencies
- Parasites/Disrupted microbiome
- Endocrine disruptors in beauty products
- Heavy metals in the air and water
- Mould & mycotoxins
- Inability to regulate temperature
- Lack of laughter
And the list goes on and on.
And every one of these is placing more stress on your body and there’s only one response to stress
Activate Red Mode and store fat.
To go back to our original point every one of these is a CAUSE, a SIGNAL, which you are sending to your body telling it to hold on to the fat.
Once we change the signal, we change the response and you drop weight effortlessly.
Why We Don’t Spend All Day In The Gym?
When I used to work in a gym there was a woman named Julie. She was the fittest person I’d ever seen. She would run for 1 hour, do 2 classes of circuit training and then hit the gym.
She was a machine.
She was also…
Constantly ill, looked about 20 years older than her actual age and was always complaining she wasn’t making any progress in her fitness, in fact she was going backwards.
Amazingly, despite all this exercise she still had a muffin top which she just could not shift.
Watching Julie’s struggles led me to a great realisation.
- If you are healthy you are by default fit.
- If you are fit you are NOT by default healthy.
Simply put, exercise wrongly done is as bad or worse than no exercise.
Studies done on competitive marathon runners show them to have serious compromises in health and lifespan.
Exercise is actually a stressor, it breaks the body down.
That’s what that aching in your muscles the day after hitting the gym is, your muscles complaining as you’ve actually ripped them apart!
In short too much exercise will send you straight into Red Mode and it’s only through adequate RECOVERY that we go back into Green Mode, actually rebuild the body stronger and gain the benefits from the exercise we do. So we need to exercise effectively and then recover like a pro if we are to get stronger and avoid being constantly in Red Mode.
How much exercise do we need to be doing? Let’s have a look at the science.
In a study at McMaster University in Canada, 2 groups were tested to see how long it took them to cycle 18.6 miles.
One group then went on to perform a high intensity workout on a stationary bike, comprising 30 seconds of intense bike riding at 250% of their VO2 max (a common marker used to determine fitness), followed by 4 minutes of rest. They repeated this 3 – 5 times until they had completed a total of 2 – 3 minutes of hard cycling.
The second group cycled at 65% of their Vo2 max for 90 to 120 minutes.
Both groups cycled for 3 consecutive days every week for 2 weeks.
Breaking it down over the 2 weeks, the first group performed a total of 12 – 18 minutes of high intensity exercise. The second group 9 – 12 hours of much lower intensity exercise.
After this 2 week period both groups were told to repeat the initial 18.6 mile test.
Both groups improved to the same degree.
Biopsies were performed and even at this level they noted the same improvements.
In short, zero additional benefit was gained by the low endurance group, but they did get a lot more wear and tear on the body…97% more!
What we can surmise and what increasingly sport scientists are coming to realise is that exercise, like a drug, has a Minimum Effective Dose (MED).
A MED in terms of frequency, concentration and dosage. Or speaking of exercise a MED in terms of number of times a week, intensity and amount of reps or sets which will give the greatest benefit. Transgress this window and do more than the MED and we do not get more benefits but more toxicity and wear and tear, don’t do enough and we don’t stimulate the adaption response.
This study seems to point towards the possibility the MED for exercise could be much lower than we ever thought, as long as the exercise is performed in a certain way.
In fact after the completion of these studies the lead scientist began investigating whether even the tiny amount of exercise performed in this study was above the MED.
He conceded that as little as 5 minutes of this form of High Intensity Exercise every 7-10 days could be enough to provoke a significant adaption response in subjects.
As long as the subject then effectively RECOVERS from the exercise. In short it’s the recovery where the magic happens. This is especially true in todays modern, super stressed world, where we rush from the gym to a high powered job, grab some lunch on the go and then head back home to act as a taxi driver for the kids all evening.
Remember most professional athletes don’t have another job, they literally spend about 20 hours a day recovering which is why they can consistently push themselves harder and harder, most of us just do not have that luxury.
Over exercising or exercising and not recovering effectively, is locking us in a downward spiral where we are adding more stress to the body, not allowing it time to deal with that stress and are actually making ourselves LESS healthy as a result.
But it doesn’t end there…
One of the big comments I hear is,
“Well I want to lose weight but I don’t want to lose so much that I look ill”
You see you have several different types of fat, for our purposes we are concerned with inflammatory fat and structural fat. Structural fat is the fat in between your joints, the fat which gives your body structure and shape.
Inflammatory fat is your muffin top.
Cortisol also puts a lock on your inflammatory fat.
When you diet and you’re stressed your cortisol has locked down the inflammatory fat so you burn the structural fat…so you end up looking haggard and ill, have aching joints and look a bit like Skeletor…
…and STILL have the damn muffin top.
Just like Julie.
But Exercise Is Included In The Program Isn’t It?
So am I saying don’t exercise?
No, no exercise is as bad as the wrong exercise…
What I am saying is that exercise isn’t the magic bullet we think it is…or that the fitness industry would have you believe it is.
Exercise and RECOVERY is where it’s at.
Without adequate recovery you have people literally exercising themselves fat. So we need to exercise the absolute minimum we can to get the benefits we are after, without provoking a stress response and then recover like a BEAST.
How do we recover? Well that’s what we cover on the rest of the program, eat great food, sleep lots, laugh lots, be with people, move lots, get outside in natural light and the list goes on.
And herein lies the problem with most personal training programs, they only focus on fitness, which ironically enough often comes at the expense of health and your waist line.
So How Do We Approach Exercise?
Most exercise science is based on the study of elite athletes. Following the ethos “if it works for Usain Bolt, it’ll work for me.”
But what isn’t taken into account is that most of these athletes are looking to be the absolute best they can be right now. They want to win the gold medal this year, they want to make the team this week.
No one’s really looking at how to ensure they still make the team in 10 – 20 years time. This leads to a huge focus on short term, high impact strategies often totally ignoring the long term effects of training this way.
At the heart of this problem is …
The LONGER, MORE MODEL.
This is the idea that the only way to get fit is to do more exercise at a higher intensity, for longer.
AND IT WORKS!
Of course it does, otherwise it wouldn’t be what every single personal trainer out there is teaching…
So what’s the problem?
The Longer, More Model is great when you’re an athlete who works out for a few hours a day, then spends hours recovering in the hot tub, with ice baths etc. Most of us however leave the gym and head straight to a stressful job with very little in built recovery time. So we constantly build up more and more stress in the system and we’ve seen what effect that has.
Without access to the advanced recovery methods, personal masseurs and physios which a professional athlete has, the Longer, More Model also causes a huge amount of strain on the body, strain which comes back to haunt us as we pass 30/35.
Leading to a massively increased risk of injury.
So instead we work to find your MED of exercise, work at that level and then focus on recovery for the rest of the time. We may at certain times of the program use exercise as a tool to achieve other aims, but this will always be focussed with intent rather than than the general, blunderbuss approach favoured by many modern programs
Why We Put Such Importance on Injury Prevention
I have a mate Dave. At 30 Dave was an amazing athlete, never got injured and was the fittest person I knew.
Now 45, he’s given up pretty much every sport he used to do, rarely leaves the sofa and has pretty much stopped. And it could have all have been easily avoided.
At about 35 Dave tripped over a paving flag in the street and damaged his knee. Nothing major, certainly nothing worth getting looked at (or so he thought at the time). But it meant that every time he did any sport his knee caused him pain.
As a result he didn’t push himself as hard, didn’t improve as much, didn’t enjoy what he was doing as much and inevitably did less and less.
As he did less his fitness declined, to the point where he struggled when he did get out. He started putting on weight which made the whole process just that little bit harder…
Until eventually he gave up all together and rather than doing the sports he loved, contented himself watching others do them on YouTube.
All Because Of A Stupid Knee Injury.
Which could have been easily dealt with.
However, injuries like this are the main reason I see people slow down and eventually stop altogether. I’m not just talking about sports, but many of the things they love. And I’m a true believer in one key thing…
We don’t stop because we get old, we get old because we STOP.
Is It Actually Possible To Rejuvenate Yourself And Slow Down Ageing?
For those of you old enough to remember, there’s a classic sketch in Only Fools and Horses where Trigger is talking about his road sweeping broom…
“I’ve had the same broom for the last 20 years, I look after it well, this old broom has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles.” says Trigger.
“How the hell can it be the same bloody broom then?” says Rodney.
In this case you’re Trigger’s Broom.
Your cells die, replicate and are replaced with new ones over a time span ranging from every few days to 7 -10 years…
Meaning in 7 – 10 years you will be an entirely new person, just like Trigger’s Broom.
This cellular replication process is not perfect. Things like toxins in the environment, exposure to sunlight, poor diet, lack of movement and a whole host of other things cause new cells to be slightly less perfect copies.
Think of it like taking photocopies of photocopies, until finally the document is unreadable.
This is the basis of ageing and declining performance which we call “growing old.”
Here’s the thing. Your body holds a copy of the original, perfect cell, the blueprint if you like.
And it’s possible, by doing some very specific things, to move your cells back towards that blueprint.
Meaning you can literally rejuvenate yourself at a cellular level and actually IMPROVE your performance as you get older.
Just like this chap…
Tom Brady, star quarterback, 7 times Super Bowl winner and greatest quarterback EVER, is the golden boy of the NFL with a career spanning more than 20 years in a sport where the average career length is just 3 years.
One more important fact…
Most of us are struggling to get out bed at 43 let alone getting hit by 250 pound plus linebackers on a daily basis.
What’s amazing about Tom is that at 26 he was ready to give up…he couldn’t break into the first team and was in constant pain from the beatings he was taking in training. Working with a team of experts, Tom decided to take the long term view, embarking upon a program very similar to the (No) Tantrum Program…
And promptly became the laughing stock of the NFL.
Tom and his “hippy” methods were ridiculed by players, coaches and doctors alike.
Tom stuck to his guns, he continued to believe in what he was doing, kept using the same techniques, kept the same methods of training.
After a few months something amazing happened…
He started to improve…at rates never before seen. Until by 35 he was getting better each year and this improvement continues to this day…he’s quite literally getting better despite the fact he’s in his 40’s.
What’s the Best Way To Get Started With The (No) Tantrum Program?
Just give me a shout by dropping me an email here letting me know what you’re looking for and I’ll point you in the right direction.