Saturday, June 28, 2008

2 secrets to effortless fat loss

Brought to you by Tom Venuto


At the age of 42, my friend John Bartlett transformed himself from what he described as a “240 pound physical mess” with 41% body fat, into a 175 pound bodybuilder with mounds of muscle and six pack abs.

The most surprising part is, he never did “cardio” in a gym. John lives in the red, rocky hills of Arizona. In addition to his weight lifting, John mountain biked, sometimes for an hour or two a day. Was he burning a lot of calories? You bet. Was he “working hard?” I suppose that depends on your definition of “work.”

Sometimes recreation and “fun hobbies” can become your biggest calorie burners. If you believe fat loss can only occur by doing a certain mode or type of exercise, such as cardio machines in a gym, (even if you hate it), then you haven’t grasped the importance of the energy balance equation yet and you’e limiting your choices, which can easily lead to boredom and dropout. Your body doesn’t care HOW you burn the calories, you just have to burn them.

A program can be highly effective and efficient, but if it doesn’t suit your disposition or if it’s too extreme (or boring) to adopt as part of your lifestyle, then it will fail you in the end. Hard work is always necessary for success, but for some people, the line between work and play has been blurred because they enjoy their training so much. In some cases, the enjoyment even turns into passion.

Here’s a good question: What could you do to burn a lot of calories and have fun in the process? Your choices are virtually unlimited. martial arts, ballroom dancing, team sports, hiking, beach volleyball? There is no magic fat burning workout, so stop looking for “the one.” If it burns a lot of calories, it will help you get leaner. Start thinking out of the box.


If you think that fat loss requires a diet consisting of bland rabbit food that tastes like sawdust, you couldn’t be more mistaken. Fat burning food can taste absolutely delicious! I should know better than anyone because for years, not only did I believe you had to eat 100% “clean” to get lean, I also believed that you had to eat plain, bland food to the point of self-sacrifice and self-punishment. (I was wrong.)

Truth be told, I do actually prefer a fairly plain and very simple meal plan, at least compared to most people’s standards. As a bodybuilder, it’s just the way I’ve gotten accustomed to eating. But contrary to rumors which say I’m some kind of cyborg and not a regular dude from jersey, (I’m a regular dude, I swear!), I do like tasty food and I enjoy a good meal as much as anyone.

What’s more, I recognize that most people demand tasty food and nutritional variety more than I do and that any diet that requires foods tasting like dirt is not going to last...

If you choose a diet that offers no variety or forces you to eat food that tastes like sawdust, it doesn’t matter how effective that diet is for burning fat in the short term, it won’t be very conducive for helping you to stick with your program over the long haul.

Make your training fun and make your food taste good - you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Think Yourself Thin

Non-dieting treatments can prevent overweight and obese women from gaining more weight, according to Otago University researchers. A group of 225 women took part in a 10-week study using non-diet techniques such as relaxation, focusing on hunger rather than wieght loss, and reconizing the stress-related triggers for overeating. The study helped the women avoid gaining more weight over the following year, and reduced anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue and insomnia. The researchers say many people who lose weight through dieting tend to regain the lost weight within five years, as well as developing "very unhealty" attitudes towards food.

Reproduced from p53 of the New Zealand Listener, May 24-30 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Going Home

See you in a week.

Achieving Elusive Fitness Goals

There are 7 lessons from my story that I want to share with you because even if you have a different personal history than I do, these 7 lessons are the keys to achieving any previously elusive fitness goal for the first time and I think they apply to everyone.

1. Set the big goal and go for it. If your goal doesn’t excite you and scare you at the same time, your goal is too small. If you don’t feel fear or uncertainty, you’re inside your comfort zone. Puny goals aren’t motivating. Sometimes it takes a competition or a big challenge of some kind to get your blood boiling.

2. Align your values with your goals. I understood my values and made a decision to be congruent with who I really was and who I wanted to be. When you know your values, get your priorities straight and align your goals with your values, then doing what it takes is easy.

3. Do the math. Stop looking for magic. A lean body does not come from any particular type of exercise or foods per se, it’s the calories burned vs calories consumed that determines fat loss or fat gain. You might do better by decreasing the calories consumed, whereas I depended more on increasing the calories burned, but either way, it’s still a math equation. Deny it at your own risk.

4. Get social support. Support and encouragement from your friends can help get you through anything. Real time accountability to a training partner or trainer can make all the difference.

5. Be consistent. Nothing will ever work if you don’t work at it every day. Sporadic efforts don’t just produce sporadic results, sometimes they produce zero results.

6. Persist through difficulty and self doubt. If you think it’s going to be smooth sailing all the way with no ups and downs, you’re fooling yourself.. For every sunny day, there’s going to be a storm. If you can’t weather the storms, you’ll never reach new shores.

7. Redeem yourself. Non-achievers sit on the couch and wallow in past failures. Winners use past failures as motivational rocket fuel. It always feels good to achieve a goal, but nothing feels as good as achieving a goal with redemption.

Read Tom Venuto's full article here

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Journey

In the end it boils down to this. You are either a Wagon Rider or Pedestrian.

A Wagon Rider can fall off, they may let it pass by them on the street, they may get scared of the ride and the journey over and over again, but they care. They spend more time on the wagon than walking. They will get to their destination faster.

The Pedestrian just keeps walking and aren’t ready to make any changes. They don’t care and it doesn’t matter to them right now. This may have been you, it may be your now. It can be a lonely and a selfish life being the pedestrian but the choice, as always…

is yours.

Leigh Peele

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Muscle Fiber Types

There are three types of muscle fibers, Type I (or slow twitch fibers), Type II (or fast twitch fibers) and Type III (or intermediate fibers). The slow twitch fibers provide endurance and aerobic capacity and are best built with high repetition, low resistance forms of exercise. The fast twitch fibers allow for more explosive powerful activities and develop with lower repetition, higher resistance training. Research suggests that the intermediate fibers have the capacity to become either Type I or Type II fibers depending on how they are stimulated. (Erin Boyton, MD, FRCSC)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Artificial Sweetners Cause Weight Gain

From Dr Johhny Bowden

In a new study published in the February issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, rats that were fed artificially sweetened yogurt in addition to their regular rat chow wound up eating more and gaining more weight than rats that ate yogurt with real sugar. Psychiatrist Guido Frank at the University of Colorado in Denver says about this, "There is good evidence that the brain responds differently to artificial sweeteners and you should take this into account when designing weight-loss programs".

So why would you eat more calories when you're consuming artificial sweeteners?

We don't know for sure but three possible reasons have been suggested.

I've speculated before that artificial sweeteners might cause a blood sugar or insulin response simply via the mechanism of classical conditioning- much like Pavlov's dogs salivating at the sound of a bell simply because the bell had been associated with a steak. A second reason might be that exposure to artificial sweeteners in some way undermines the brain's ability to track calories and to determine when to stop eating.

Finally there's the possibility that diet soda drinkers do an eating version of what economists call "risk compensation"- they think they're significantly cutting back on calories so they subconsciously "allow" themselves to eat more, usually way more than the number of calories they've "saved" by drinking diet soda!

Anyway you look at it, and whatever the reason turns out to be, most chemical artificial sweeteners aren't doing you any good.

And if you want further reason not to believe everything you read about nutrition in the popular press, a recent publication which shall remain nameless, "reported" on the recent artificial sweetener study, concluding that since artificial sweeteners were clearly bad, "you're better off eating real sugar".

Excuse me, how about a reality check young yeoman journalist: You're better off eating neither! Just because Marlboro lights have less nicotine than Marlboro's doesn't mean Marlboro's are a good thing!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Leg Circuit 3

On Saturday I did my third leg workout for the week.

For the first half I did a couple of rounds of an Alwyn Cosgrove style leg circuit:
Squats: 24 reps, going to parallel with every rep.
Alternating lunges: 12 reps each leg, maximal range of motion.
Alternating lunge jumps: 12 reps per leg, getting as high as possible and switching legs in the air.
Squat jumps: 24 reps, getting below parallel and then getting off the floor as high as possible.

The first two exercises were no problem. The last two were killers! I didn't quite make the required reps.

Followed that up with three rounds of the following circuit, 12-15 reps per exercise:
Single leg Romanian deadlift
Swiss ball leg curls
Swiss ball reverse hyperextensions
Swiss ball hip bridges

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Study: Cereal Aids Recovery After Exercise - Breakfast Cereal And Milk May Be Better Than Sports Drink

A whole grain cereal, in combination with skim milk, provides a complete post-workout recovery snack. Cereal and milk provide ample carbs for glycogen replacement. On top of that, dairy products are naturally high in the essential amino acid leucine, which has special muscle-building properties. Leucine actually helps "turn on" the reading of genes that eventually lead to synthesis of structural muscle proteins. read more

Friday, June 6, 2008

Doing My Head In

I love muesli and fruit bread but am afraid to buy them because I know that once I start eating them I can't stop. I can (and have) eaten a box of cereal in a day, and can do the same with a loaf of fruit bread.

What if I included these foods in my diet on a regular basis? Would I be less likely to feel that they are 'forbidden foods' and therefore less likely to binge on them? I was prompted to think about this after having about a thousand calories' worth of cereal, milk, protein powder and fruit before going to bed last night.

I'm going to try and include these carbs after my workout, when my body can best utilise them. Hopefully I will be able to conquer the muesli monster.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Managing Stress

get yourself a golden retriever, listen to relaxing music in the car, hang a boxing bag in the garage, spend time in nature, roll around on the floor with your kids, paint your office a more relaxing colour, invest in a weekly massage from Sven, express yourself creatively, get your toes in some sand, feel the sea breeze on your face, meditate in your special chair, buy yourself a kaftan and some slip on yellow shoes, burn some lavender oil, keep a diary, get yourself a lover, express your emotions more and watch re-runs of your favourite comedy... read more

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Food sources of calcium
The best food source of calcium is actually Kelp (a seaweed). It contains 1093mg of calcium per 100g! Below are some of the main sources of calcium. Please note the comparison between cow's milk (listed first) and other calcium-rich alternatives.

Food Calcium level
Cow's milk 291mg/cup
Almonds 332mg/cup
Hazelnuts 282mg/cup
Black strap molasses 137mg/cup
Chickpeas 150mg/cup
Tofu 100mg/3.5oz
Kombu 80mg/10g (1 stick)
Tahini 64mg/teaspoon
Sardines 380mg/100g
Salmon (with bones) 335mg/100g
Goat's milk 326mg/cup
Dried figs 269mg/10 figs
Rhubarb 105mg/cup
Perch 91mg/84g
Chinese Cabbage 74mg/cup
Soy milk 74.5mg/cup
Green leafy vegetables Contain high amounts of calcium and other great nutrients

Leah Hechtman, Naturopath

Leg Circuit 2

Did Leg Circuit 1 on Monday evening and by Tuesday evening I started to get good DOMs, mostly through quads. Legs also hardened up a bit, but that could also be because I've recently changed my diet (I experimented with lower carb, higher fat and have now gone back to higher carbs, lower fat).

Quads were still a bit sore today so did a different circuit with a bit more emphasis on hamstrings:

Leg Circuit 2
(10 reps each side)
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Double lunge (would probably do walking lunge with pump if I did this again)
Squat jump
Step ups
Stationary lateral lunge
Single leg hip extension
rest (quad stretch, hamstring stretch) and repeat for a total of three times
Followed by incline treadmill walk for 20 minutes

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Leg Circuit 1

Since I can't grasp anything with my right hand at the moment, training has become a little tricky. I thought that I could probably manage machine and bodyweight leg exercises and cardio, so Liz suggested that I make up a leg circuit. Here's what I did tonight:

Leg Circuit 1
(10-15 reps per exercise)
Ski Jumps
Machine Leg Press
Bulgarian Split Squat
Step Box Jump
Leg Extension
Pilates 'clam'
Pulsing Squat
Lying Leg Curl
Ian King Single Leg Deadlift (back foot on bench)
Pilates side lying double leg lifts
Machine Squat
Raised Squat (one foot on step, other foot on floor)
Rest briefly then repeat for a total of three times through.
Follow with 20 minutes incline treadmill walk

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Postcomp Strategy

Thought I would post this in case anyone finds it useful. I have used it following my last two shows.

Saturday night: go out for a treat (I usually have some sort of cake, coffee and a glass of celebratory champagne)
Sunday: go out for brunch and eat whatever I want. If I do the shopping on this day I try to remind myself that all the food I want will still be there the next time I go, and the next...

Monday: resume clean eating, except for a treat meal once per week (usually in the weekend). For this first week, I try to eat exactly what I was eating the week before the week of the show in terms of macros (bear in mind that the week of the show I have usually carb depleted, which is why I use the macros for the week before that instead), but I add back in things I didn't eat before the show: dairy, fruit etc.
I then back out slowly, increasing my grams per day/per week by 10g protein, 10g carb and 2g fat (about 100 cals). So if I was on 1200 per day for the first week, I'd increase to 1300 per day for the second week, and then another 100 cals on top of that for another 7 days etc.
Is this hard? Yes! I am constantly hungry and I no longer have the thought of getting up on a stage in front of a bunch of strangers to keep me on track. But I know that by keeping fairly close to my 'plan', I will add weight back on gradually, and this will make it easier for me to stay within 5kg of my competition weight so I don't have so much of a battle when it comes to my next show.

I try and avoid my 'trigger foods' as much as possible during this period. My triggers are white rice, white pasta, bread, and cereal containing dried fruit), so I don't keep these things in the house post comp. I can go through muesli by the boxful (I did this after my first show). Instead I have it if I go out for breakfast. That way, when I'm finished what's in my bowl, that's it - it's not calling my name for the rest of the day, tempting me to finish what's in the packet and then start on something else. Yes it's better for me than junk food, but eating huge quantities of anything straight after a comp isn't great for my waistline or my mental health. I'd rather gradually increase the quantities of carbs that I don't go bananas on (brown rice, wholemeal pasta, rice cakes, oats, sweet potatoes, potatoes, pulses) so I can feel OK about having a treat when I need one.

I still haven't worked out a strategy for exercise yet. I usually get straight back into the gym but then come crashing down a week or two later. I'm contemplating having a week off after my next show, while my cals are still low, then gradually increasing my exercise intensity as my calories increase.

Does anyone else have any strategies they'd like to share?