Wednesday, May 18, 2011


You work so hard daily, eat well, count calories, sleep well and yet are not losing any fat. Results have slowed to a crawl, if that. You are starting to get discouraged. What has changed?

Homeostasis has happened. This is also called a plateau, where you keep going and going and going but you see no better results. They are extremely frustrating. I have lost a fair amount of weight (30lbs) so the amount of calories below my maintenance number has changed from about 1000 to 700-800 and my metabolism has (probably) slowed a bit due to the lack of caloric intake. I myself had started to get onto that plane of existence which is a plateau.

Thankfully I realized quickly enough so I didn’t get (too) discouraged, and luckily enough I knew how to fix this, though it meant MORE hard work. I am not opposed to it though!

If you are stuck on a plateau, there are a couple things you can do. Well, many, but these are the easiest I think!

Zig-zag/Calorie-Cycling: The whole point of zig-zag dieting is to get your metabolism going again. When you are on a reduced calorie diet for a long time, your metabolism slows down – even with high intensity exercise, yes. Your body will realize it doesn’t need to have a ramped up digestion because it is getting fewer calories, so it will slow it down to conserve energy. We do not want this to happen! Zig-zag dieting is when you increase your daily caloric intake for 1 day to just below maintenance or maintenance then go back to your regular reduced calorie diet. This will trick your body into thinking “Oh crap! I’ve got tons of food coming in I better speed up my metabolism!” and when you drop your intake down for 3 days, your metabolism stays high. You go back up after 3 days so your body doesn’t have time to realize it has been fed less, and keeps you innards racing!

High Intensity Interval Training: HIIT is when you alternate between 30-240 seconds of 85-100% intensity drills then either rest for 30-60 seconds or do a recovery motion for 30-120 seconds. The difference between HIIT and regular aerobic exercise is that with regular exercise your metabolism only stays high for a short period of time after the workout whereas with HIIT your metabolism is increased for the entire DAY! It also signals your fat cells to start releasing more energy and therefore burning more fat!

Weight Training: This is fairly simple. If you have more lean muscle on your body you will burn more calories – while you sit, while you sleep, while you’re watching TV, while you’re at work… More calories burnt means it’s easier to create that deficit between calories in = calories out!

More Cardio: Depending on your body type (I, myself, am partially and endomorph) you may want to do cardio more than 6-7 times a week. I just doubled my cardio to twice a day at 2-2.5 hours per day. This is another easy one: you expend more energy doing more cardio and if you eat the same, you will have more of a deficit at the end of the day. Simple!

Morning Cardio: Doing cardio in the morning has TONS of benefits! You have very little glucose from fasting for 8 hours (hopefully!) while you sleep so because your brain can only use glucose as energy, it stops your muscles from using it pretty quick. Your body then starts to use glycogen stores in your muscles, but even these are tapped out quickly so your body then switches to fat for energy. You might feel more sluggish in the morning because of this, but keep your intensity high and you will see a definite difference!

So how am I trying to break through my plateau? I am doing all but weight training (there are only so many hours in the day). I am zig zagging my diet, doing HIIT (though I was doing this all along) but have recently doubled my cardio and started doing one round of it in the morning right when I wake up! I can see a difference in 1 week already, so it’s time to keep on keepin’ on until I get my desired results – or hit another plateau!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Insanity: Round 2 - COMPLETE!

I'm DONE! Not for my entire life of course, but just for today ;)

I finished my second round of Insanity (adding on top of it P90X resistance training, yoga and a hell of a lot more ab workouts than is probably useful) and am, still, in the best shape of my life. Not even when I was playing sports as a teenager have I been in this good of shape.

Insanity changed my life, and I am never going back! Going forward is the only way I can continue to live my life in the best way possible.

It started out as a journey to look better, but in the past 4 months I have reached that goal (and set new ones). I look better, FEEL better, eat healthier, have more confidence, more energy and an entirely different outlook on life.

The change was so simple that I don't know if I can explain it to anyone properly. Simple but hard, of course - as is anything that is worth having.

I can never go back to the way I was. It is not a choice, a habit I can break or a routine I have an option of denying. It is now a lifestyle!

Thank you Shaun T, Tony Horton, Tom Venuto, and all the people who supported me along the way!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm Healthy!!!

I got some tests done at work today and it looks like I am doing pretty damn well for myself! Still need to get my bodyfat percentage down by about 2-4% but I'm on the way!! My blood pressure is low, yes, but that's genetic. The nurse actually told me to eat more salt and caffeine to raise it, weird eh?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Eating Non-Organic Meat More Dangerous Than HIV/AIDS

So, you might think this title is absolutely ridiculous, but it was meant to get your attention first and be explained second. Since I now (hopefully) have your attention I will get to the latter part!

How could eating non-organic meat be more dangerous than HIV/AIDS you must be asking yourself? Well, firstly, HIV/AIDS is preventable. Either abstain from having sex (hah!) or at least use protection and get screened with your partner for communicable diseases – it’s just the mature thing to do folks. But that still doesn’t tell me how eating non-organic meat is more dangerous than a horrible & well publicized illness, does it now? What if I told you that eating regular meat/dairy from your grocery store is daily making you more susceptible to diseases that kill more per year in the US than HIV/AIDS – and is very hard to prevent or let alone detect?

A single strain of antibiotic resistant called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, kills more people in the US than HIV/AIDS. You can pick up this strain from anywhere or anyone and 20% of the population are actually long-term carriers of Staphylococcus aureus (though not all Staphylococcus aureus is methicillin-resistant/antibiotic resistant). The best defense you have against MRSA is to wash your hands often, scary eh?

That’s all well and good, but where does non-organic meat fall into the equation? It is a little known (yet increasing in common knowledge) fact that 70-80% of antibiotics are used on farm animals: cows, pigs, chickens, etc. Not to cure disease of course, but thanks to big business they use antibiotics to increase the size and growth rate of their livestock. What this does is creates a HUGE place for bacteria to mutate into penicillin-resistant variations. This bacteria ridden, steroid pumped food arrives at your supermarket and you ingest it at home, handle it while you’re preparing it and serve it to your kids.

Let me sum it up: You are serving yourself and your kids something more dangerous than HIV/AIDS every time you put a piece of non-organic chicken/pork/beef/etc. on their plate for supper.

Here are a couple random links, the one's that got me thinking today. Google it if you don't believe me ;)

Huffington Post

Huffington Post

Huffington Post


Monday, May 9, 2011


My Abs Hurt.

I know this is usually a good thing, but my abs hurt so much that it was making me almost throw up while I was working out. This is never a good thing, especially when you are doing it for multiple hours a day haha!

For the past month I have been doing ab or core work every day whether it be specifically targeted ab work (5/7 days) or just passive core work (7/7 days) and it finally got to me. My lower abs were so fatigued and for some reason were flexing so hard that it was making me sick.

This is my first foray into the world of overtraining and I definitely do not like it.

After taking a couple days (read: three) specifically targeted ab work it seems to have improved. I have slowed my secondary ab workouts down to once every second day instead of every day minus my rest/recovery days so I am hoping this works better. It is the first time my body has let me down since January 6th when I started to better myself!

Getting deeper into the realm of fitness you and I are bound to hit walls, plateaus, and (mental) road blocks but you need to remember that tomorrow is another day and going forward is what REALLY matters, and not what is in the past. Did this really slow down my progress? Maybe a little, but for my overall goals it was just a hiccup along the way. Don't let these small problems knock you off the wagon, you've gotta keep on truckin!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Portion & Fiscal Control When Dining Out

I was out on a date last night and we decided we were going to have some appetizers and drinks at a nice restaurant. The date went great (and then some, but that's not what this blog is about =]), had a good time, and when I finished the app I was neither full nor hungry. A side note: you should never be full after you finish a meal, especially dinner (and especially if it is late) since you should be tapering your meals.

Anyways, this morning when I was thinking back to the night I realized something: appetizers are more along the lines of the portion you SHOULD be eating. Plus they're cheaper - bonus! I have come to the conclusion that I am going to do this from now on when I eat out: only eat appetizers. Why would I order a full meal that is 5x the size of what I should be eating when I 1) won't finish it (or if I do finish it feel guilty that I did) and 2) an appetizer is more than enough to satisfy me for dinner. Just a little brainwave on a Wednesday morning ;)

Post Script: This by no means is supposed to come across that I am cheap - far from it. It just so happens that the healthy thing to do is the fiscally responsible thing to do as well!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Listening To Your Body

To preface this, this isn't a cop out or an explanation to people as to why I have quit fitness, so don't worry ;)

I recently took a 'step down' in intensity level of my workouts. Perhaps that is a bad way of putting it... I actually cut 3 hours a week of working out (down to about 10 now so ~10-12 workouts a week from 15). I had been feeling for a while that my physical endurance has been suffering due to lack of recovery time for my muscles but I kept pushing myself mentally to keep going - I was (and, well, still am) scared that I will plateau.

But this week the physical exhaustion spilled over to my psychological exhaustion and I began feeling tired when I would usually feel energized and, for the first time in months, began dreading working out. This change in my mentality surprised me (especially seeing as endorphins give you a high well after you stop exercising) but I was not willing to just all out stop. If you're interested in my workout schedule there is a picture of it below. Anyhow, I decided to just back off from my P90X workouts and still continue with my Insanity workouts (as the P90X workouts were just added to prevent plateauing anyways, though it wasn't likely that it was going to happen).

After two days I seriously cannot believe the change in my outlook! The sun is brighter, air more fresh and even the concrete in Toronto looks cleaner! It seems I had started to run into overtraining my body, and it is a good thing I was listening to my body telling me to slow down. Comparing my energy levels from last week to this week, it seems that they have doubled, even though I have the same caloric intake every day! I'm not sure if it had something with the increased amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) that I would produce during my second or third workout of the day, I can only guess, but I am glad that it has stopped for now =)

Moral of the story is: Listen to your body! Make sure you take rest when you need it, eat enough calories to reduce or eliminate muscle loss while training, sleep 7-8 hours a night and just remember that if you overtrain for a long period of time it can take MONTHS to recover!