Let's talk about getting ripped.
Now, in order to have that lean, chiseled look so many of us are after, we need to burn some fat.
And in order to burn fat, we need to do a few key things. The most crucial of which is eating in a caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than we burn).
It works like this:
When you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight.
If you eat roughly the same amount of calories that you burn, your weight stays the same.
And if you eat fewer calories than you burn, your body needs to make up for that lack of energy another way. Ideally, by burning up your body fat stores. And this is how you lose fat.
Simple. But there's a problem.
For some of us, a big problem.
It's called Hunger.
Your body doesn't want to burn that excess body fat. It wants to stay the same- the same amount of body fat, and the same amount of food.
So when it notices there aren't as many calories coming in, it lets you know in the form of hunger.
"Eat more food, you asshole." it says.
"I've got homeostasis to maintain ova heaa."
(I imagine your body talks with a hardcore Jersey accent)
And quite frankly, hunger can make a fool of us all. Derailing more attempts at a lean, chiseled physique than almost anything else.
But there is hope. And that hope comes in the form of two strategies that I've used successfully with my 1-1 Clients for years.
Check 'em out.
Strategy #1: Manage Your Hunger
There are a few tweaks you can make to your diet that will do a great job of snuffing out that hunger.
The first is...
Eat Plenty of Protein
0.8-1g of protein per pound of body weight (or more, if you're feeling like a rockstar).
Now, getting enough protein is a challenge, mainly because it's incredibly satiating. It fills you up and keeps you full. Which is the same reason it keeps hunger away so effectively.
Protein is the game changer.
If a lean body is your goal, and you're not getting enough protein, that's your new mission, should you choose to accept it.
Eat Plenty of Fiber
Protein keeps you full. Fiber keeps you full.
But the two of them together is an unstoppable duo.
Eat more fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, and sweet potatoes, . Better yet, include them in the same meal as your protein source (beef, poultry, pork, etc).
And one more point worth noting about veggies: you can eat a LOT of veggies without adding many calories at all. Eat them until you'e blue in the face. You'll have a full stomach, plus a host of other benefits.
Caffeine can be found in the nectar of the gods (coffee), which is reason enough to drink it.
But as an added benefit, it also suppresses your appetite (and increases your metabolic rate, and the thermogenic effect of food. Read more on that here).
So, as if you needed another reason to love coffee, there you go.
Strategy #2: Embrace the Fact that You'll Be Hungry Sometimes
There are some who can get lean, and never deal with hunger.
But that's rare.
For most of us, it's just a necessary part of the process.
You can nail all the strategies above, but sometimes you're going to deal with some hunger.
And when you do, how you view it will make all the difference.
When most people feel hunger, they see it as a problem. Something to be fixed.
"Maybe I should eat. Clearly, my body is telling me something."
But here's the funny thing about hunger. It's not great at telling you when, or how much you should eat...
...but it is good at telling you when, and how much you usually eat.
Which means, if you ate enough food to gain excess body fat, eating less than that will likely trigger a hunger response.
It doesn't mean you're starving and need food. It just means your body is letting you know you normally eat a little more.
So, let's re frame how we look at hunger.
Instead of seeing it as something wrong, embrace it, because it means you're on the road to a leaner body.
Welcome the challenge with open arms.
Enjoy any discomfort that comes with the process.
And if you happen to be one of the lucky ones who doesn't experience hunger while losing fat, embrace that too.
This past Friday, Facebook reminded me of a pivotal moment in my past by hitting me with the picture below.
Some of you know this story, but for those that don’t, here’s the summary:
In my early 20’s I was a personal trainer and self-medicating partier.
Blackout drunk 4+ nights per week, completely out of control.
This went on for a couple years. I thought I was just having fun. Hindsight tells me I was escaping reality, running from myself, ditching my responsibility as a man and a human.
It came to a head one night after a couple pieces of bad news from back home.
I got blackout drunk, got in my tiny Hyundai Tiburon, and got on the highway with the pedal to the floor.
I hit a guardrail, rolled the car over multiple times, and ended up on my roof.
Not only did I not die. I didn’t even get injured. To this day I can’t fathom how that’s possible based on the condition of the car.
The next day I got fired from my job (hey, I would have fired me too).
And I’m officially at the lowest point of my life. Any confirmation I needed that I was a screw up, I had it in spades.
I spent the next year or so floundering, going nowhere.
Then my parents had the idea that I go to firefighting academy. So, I did. I came down to Texas for the first time and did the 3 month academy.
This was exactly what I needed. The structure, the challenges, the camaraderie, the discipline that was drilled into my head. I soaked it up, as if I was starving for it.
Though I worked as a firefighter for a few years after that, I didn’t pursue it long term.
Instead, I found my way back to where I’m meant to be (in fitness).
But this training academy was one of the most pivotal and most important times of my life.
I don't know where you're at right now. Whether you're in a tough spot, or if there are just a couple things you'd like to improve.
But the truth is, it doesn't matter how many pieces your life is currently in. It's mind-blowing how much can change with a simple, but dedicated decision.
And here's where the rubber meets the road...
Everybody wants to make a positive change or two.
Very few decide to make them.
(Be one of the rare few who does)
"Man, I hate these." My early-morning client said as he finished up a set of walking lunges.
"I know man. But they're going to build you a heroic ass and quads."
He and I train at the perfect time. Halfway through his workout, the sun starts to peak up over the hills across the river and flood the studio.
"So, if you get a DWI, how long do you have to wait before you can go to Canada?" he asked.
"I'm not sure...they take them pretty seriously up there."
He has a buddy that wants to go to Quebec City for a vacation, but he isn't sure when he'll be allowed in the country, since he has a DWI on his record. A stupid mistake that will follow you around forever.
After exchanging a few thoughts on the stupid things we did when we were younger, I let him in on a fun fact about myself.
When it comes to your physical fitness, Christmas means 1 of 2 things:
1) Dread- you've been working hard to get lean and mean, and you're afraid Christmas feasting will destroy those hard-earned results.
2) Reckless Disregard- Screw it, you'll pick it up in January. For now, let's get drunk and eat a weird amount of sweets.
Whichever camp you land in, I'd like to invite you to take a different approach this year. The strategies I'm about to share with you will allow you to enjoy the holiday stress-free, but you won't need to throw away your hard-earned results to do it.
Here we go:
Tonight’s my wife’s Christmas party, which means I better get this mop on top of my head cleaned up.
But as I open the door to my usual spot, they say, “Do you have cash? Our machines down.”
What do I look like? A drug dealer? Of course I don’t have cash.
“OK, no problem” I said politely, as I turn to leave.
Half Price Books is across the street. I’ll go buy a cheap book and get some cash back for a hair cut.
I walk straight to the mythology section. This is routine, and requires no conscious thought. Within 45 seconds, I’m at the counter ready to check out.
“Do you guys do cash back?” I ask.
“No, I’m sorry we don’t.”
I’m pumped about these books, and I’ve forgotten about how badly the sides of my head need to be trimmed.
I fucking love mythology. Especially the heroic kind. And I love it for the same reason I love super heroes.
Brilliantly woven tales of great people overcoming obstacles, evil, and themselves. All for the greater good.
An ideal to strive for, never achieve, and yet, be better for it.
In stark contrast…