Practical Thoughts on Training and Diet

Last week’s blog had more of a philosophical and “change your thinking” sort of feel to it, so I thought that it would be helpful to follow up with a more practical post. So here you have it.

Master the basics in strength training before making things complicated. Above all, be confident in squatting and hinging. You’ll set yourself for success by building a strong foundation first.

If the movement doesn’t look good while doing only bodyweight, it won’t get any better by adding weight to it.

Strength is built in the gym and fat loss is achieved in the kitchen. But you knew this already.

Add one or two sessions a week of what Dan John calls “inefficient exercise”. Good examples are kettlebell swings, battling ropes, rower and prowler. These will get you heart rate up like nobody’s business. Keep the sessions short but intense.

Learn to auto-regulate your training. Some days you will feel great so do more and go harder. Other days you will feel like crap and will do less. Over time things will even out.

Do you feel better with fewer training days but more training volume per session? Or do you strive on more frequent training but less volume per session? Do some movements make your body ache and feel like crap and others great? Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean that it is right for you. Study what works for you.

Alternate between exercises that are on the ground and standing up. Heart rate sky rockets when you have to constantly change positions.

Move well before moving a lot.

Don’t train in pain and don’t chase soreness. It’s not a battlefield. It’s just training.

Think training as a game. Every time you step in the gym ask yourself what will make this session a success?

Stand up at least every hour and reach your arms to the ceiling. Your back will thank you.

When watching TV do so by sitting on the floor. It’s hard to stay in one position for too long.

Food has no morals. It’s not “bad” or “good”. It’s just food that either gets you closer to you goals or away from them.

Just because you ate ice cream doesn’t mean that you’ve fallen “off the wagon”. It’s called life and life would suck without ice cream. Also, there’s no wagon to fall off from.

You don’t have to “earn your food” by doing exercise.

Feel hunger for 30-60 minutes before eating. You’ll end up eating because of hunger and not just because of the “feeling” of eating.

Don’t feel hunger for more than 60 minutes unless you are a seasoned expert with your body. You will end up overeating or eating everything in sight once you get a hold of a fork.

Take at least 15 minutes with each meal. Put your fork down between each bite and focus on chewing. Taste every bite and savour it.

Find your Just Enough with each meal. Stop eating when you feel awesome. Not unsatisfied nor stuffed. Neither of those feels awesome. Just Enough feels awesome. ₁

Learn to cook. You don’t need the mad skills of Anthony Bourdain but it’s worth knowing the difference between a frying pan and a salad spinner. Know how to chop, fry, steam, boil, bake and bbq.
Failing the above, be like Kramer: he knew the location of every public toilet in New York City. But substitute public toilet with restaurant serving foods that makes me feel good for the long-term. Also, it’s wise to substitute New York City for the city that you live in.

Simplest foods are usually the tastiest. Less is more in ingredients. Most of the time.

Never cook a single portion. Cook enough to have the next day and ideally a few more. If you don’t like having the same thing on back to back days, you have two options: 
a) freeze the rest in portions so all you have to do is take a meal out of the freezer and add vegetables.
b) get used to having the same meal on back to back days. Seriously.

Do you feel better with higher carb and lower fat meals or lower carb and higher fat? Do you feel better with three larger meals a day or do you prefer more frequent but smaller meals?

Learn to adjust. If you feel better with five meals each day but only have time for three, you have a problem. Either adjust your schedule or your eating frequency. Optimal is worthless if it’s impossible to do.

Have a list of ten meals that you enjoy. Meals that make you feel good in the long-term and are simple to make in bigger quantities. Master them so you can prepare a meal without thinking.

When you eat, eat. No TV, smartphones or other distractions.

Have a list when shopping so you know exactly what to get. And never shop hungry.

There is not a one diet structure for everyone. Keep learning what works for you instead of jumping from a popular diet to another. Find your baseline that you can always fall back on when in doubt.

Every sensible diet advice out there has at least some similarities. Usually it’s “priorities protein and vegetables”. Then the gurus add their own take for the rest and make millions because it works for a certain set of people who then sell it in infomercials and other reputable sources. So priorities protein and vegetables and ignore the rest. And what to do with the rest of your diet? Just do what works for you.

To put the above in two sentences: Eat protein and vegetables first with every meal. If you are still hungry, eat the rest.

Not every meal has to be over the top healthy.

Change the environment. If you struggle with constant snacking, don’t keep snackable foods in your possession.

₁ from Lean Habits by Georgie Fear


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