What do you get when dinner time hits with a group of 140 fitness professionals, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts?
This question was answered this past weekend in Kansas City, Missouri, at The Fitness Summit, a national conference for trainers, nutritionists, doctors, and weightlifters. It was my first time – I had heard stories of the piles of pulled pork, brisket, and rib slabs. And from Thursday through Sunday, I was able to witness it first-hand.
It’s impressive. Seriously. Impressive.
It helps that Kansas City barbecue is world renowned. From American institutions such as Arthur Bryants’ and Oklahoma Joe’s to the newer, hip locations such as Q39, “KCBBQ” did not disappoint. I ate five meals during my time in Missouri. Barbecue, barbecue, barbecue, barbecue……………….and chicken. And the only reason for the last one is we had a catered dinner paid for.
So what you have is a strange conundrum. Every fitness fanatic has a different goal. Some chase strength, others hypertrophy, others cardiovascular endurance, and some simply chase aesthetics – the ability to look good naked. After glancing around the presentation room, it was quite clear: Most people were in very good shape. This was not a “slice of life” situation. A look around most public places – airports, amusement parks, shopping malls, etc. – will tell you a sad story about the relative fitness of the general population.
Being in shape requires a rather conscious effort to meld regular activity and a sane, moderate diet. And at The Fitness Summit, “moderation” was a dirty word. We ordered our meals by the pound – and easily averaged over 2 pounds of pork at each meal. Not to mention sauces, buns, pickles, and sodas to wash all the piggy down.
After the meals? Most looked for a bit of a sweet treat to finish off the meal. A candy bar or perhaps a small ice cream cone.
You might also think fitness coaches drink rather sparingly. For this weekend, at least, you would be very, very wrong. It will take me until about Thursday to feel fully normal again. By the final night, people were calling me “Jameson” instead of Jason. I think. I’m not sure, though, the details are still a bit hazy.
What skills give fitness fans the ability to eat gluttonously and drink like a lush while throwing caution to the wind? Why did the attendees of The Fitness Summit consume themselves into oblivion? How come around 150 of the best fitness minds on the planet gave exactly zero fucks about the food orgy which commenced?
Here’s a few reasons……………..
1. Fitness coaches show dietary consistency.
Consistency is preached ad nauseum as a massive factor in your ability to control your bulging belly. Whether you count calories, macros, or you use other non-counting fat loss strategies, if you can show consistency with your intake and intelligently make adjustments, you’re going to find maintaining a healthy weight a breeze.
The Fitness Summit was a massive pig-out, literally and figuratively. But I’d be willing to guess most attendees were on point, diet wise for a significant amount of time before the event. That consistency is likely to continue once their respective planes touched down in their home towns as well.
If you can show consistency like that, you can eat 10 pounds of meat in a weekend without adverse effects, too.
2. Fitness coaches have relatively high caloric maintenances.
It was a total catch-22, a convention for those who love training and exercise, and we spent most of each day sitting in a chair listening to others talk. In reality, it was not a very accurate reflection of the lifestyle of the audience members.
Fitness coaches like to be active. They tend to lift – heavy. They often times have more lean body mass/muscle than your average man or woman walking down the street. And all of these factors create a situation where the fitness coach can simply consume more calories than other civilians.
When I first got into fitness, I had a calculated, working TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) of ~2,800 calories. And after 4 years of lifting hard and eating smartly, it’s now north of 3,200 calories. I can lose fat on more calories and simply eat higher quantities in general.
And from the looks of the dinner plates this past weekend, I’m not the only one in that boat.
3. Fitness coaches are in it for the “long haul”.
Sure, there are always a few coaches who are trying to drop a powerlifting weight class, or prep for a stage. But most are simply maintaining their health and wellness.
But a fitness coach understands the mental fortitude required to stay into training and nutrition forever. They never train for today, or diet in a rush. They have learned how to “let go” and live well, seamlessly integrating fitness into their lives.
One weekend? Who cares? We have the rest of our lives to weigh our bananas and optimize our anabolic windows. We’ll get back at it come Monday. Right now? It’s feeding time.
4. Fitness coaches can “right the ship” very quickly.
You need to have a short memory when it comes to your fuck-ups and your short comings. Fitness coaches fully understand that your body composition is not a function of your self worth. They are able to detach from the emotional constraints which often accompany food. They can eat and feel no guilt. They can simply enjoy the delicious taste, the feeling of a full belly, and the laughter of those around them. They don’t wake up in the morning hating themselves, either. They may wake up hung-over, but that’s a different story entirely.
If you allow one weekend to turn into a week, or a month, pretty soon fat is accumulating in ill-advised places. All around the country, for dinner on Sunday, attendees likely consumed a bit of lean meat, a shit-ton of veggies and fiber, and a large quantity of water. This way, they started to feel a bit more like themselves and are able to atone for the massive splurge of the previous weekend. And by Monday? Turn the page, it’s back to business.
Side note: Did you notice the lack of “detoxes” or “cleanses”? Your best detox is veggies, water, and time. Your liver will handle the best.
5. Fitness coaches live for experiences.
It’s remarkable how many coaches in the room were current or previous clients of each other. You would think a fitness professional wouldn’t need the help or assistance of another fitness professional. But that would be 100% false.
So, why does this happen? For the experience, first and foremost. And this past weekend was an experience for all. Loads of people who interact via social media and emails for 362 days out of the calendar year meet up – and have an absolute blast doing it.
The Fitness Summit experience – and the experience of eating top-quality smoked Porky Pig in general – is not something to pass up.
You can’t take your things with you at the end of the day. But an experience lives inside of you and improves your life as a result.
Here’s a few pictures and some of my favorite quotes from the experience:
“You should spend 10% of your energy on diet, 10% on training and 80% on having a fucking life,”
“Initial weight loss is a huge success factor for long-term viability,”
“If you wanna be a caveman, so be it. But that’s enough of this driving to Whole Foods in your Prius, self-righteous bullshit,”
-Alan Aragon during his presentation on dietary fads.
“Statins save lives for high risk patients, but are unnecessary for low risk patients,”
“Why discuss cholesterol? Because there’s some bullshit out there,”
-Dr. Spencer Nadolsky during his presentation on lipids and cholesterol.
“Ketogenic diets do not properly fuel training,”
“300-400 calories under maintenance each day is better than 500 calories under maintenance for the female trainee,”
“People who are depression prone should not be on ketogenic/low-carbohydrate diets,”
-Susan Kleiner during her presentation on carbohydrate considerations in various fat loss protocols.
“Technology never progresses as we predict. It’s 2015. Where’s my hovercraft?”
-Dr. Mike T. Nelson during his presentation on technology in fitness.
“Weight lifting isn’t supposed to ‘tickle’,”
“Everyone on the internet squats 405, ass-to-grass,”
-Tony Gentilcore during his presentation on squat mobility.
“If it’s in a book, there’s a 50/50 chance the author made it up,”
-Convention emcee Lou Schuler
See you next year, KC!
Yours in true health,