“This program is a game-changer. It’s completely flipped all of my thoughts on nutrition and fitness on its head. It’s so simple and easy, yet extremely effective. Women, especially, can benefit from this type of a program.”
-Quote from a former client.
This got me thinking.
Why, exactly, would women benefit from this program more than men would? What makes women so different?
How are they misguided?
How would an emphasis over the right amounts of food and the proper way to train effectively have more of a profound impact than the same type of advice on men?
I’ve been mulling this over for awhile now.
As we’ve launched from a modest blog to a modest online consulting start up, lots of ideas are swarming around as to how to spread the word.
The program, while in its infancy, is solid.
Advice which is simple, yet straightforward.
Ideas which should be solidified as new, permanent ways of viewing dieting.
Simple staples of any fitness program, which should never change over time.
And the tools with which to implement them into your daily lives almost seamlessly and effortlessly.
Should men be interested? I hope so.
I like to call this program a “Life Hack”.
While that might be a lofty statement, ponder this: This program can easily be run forever.
It can be used to simplify and clarify your approach to your well being. Any food under the sun can be consumed, all while accomplishing whatever your personal goals are.
Want to lose fat? No problem.
Interested in changing your body composition? Gladly.
Intrigued by the possibility of gaining muscle mass? Easy. Got that, too.
Looking to maximize your hormones?
Have more energy?
Improve your immune system?
Lose weight without hunger?
Lose your unsightly bulge?
Stop being self conscious about your appearance?
Increase your longevity?
Lower your blood pressure?
Improve your lipid profile?
Increase your bone density?
All of that, and then some.
So, why women? The question remains. What are women doing that is so wrong? Why are they so vulnerable to all of the bullshit out there?
Warning: Stereotypes forthcoming. If you don’t fall into these categories, my apologies.
1. The emphasis of cardiovascular activities over strength training.
When hitting the gym, women are suckers for the cardio path to weight loss.
While this is admirable, it’s often misguided.
Don’t believe me? Take the “cardio-look challenge”.
Go to your gym. Look at the people in each section.
No, seriously, stop for a second and really LOOK.
Check out the physiques of the people on the treadmills, the ellipticals, the stationary bikes, and the stair-steppers.
What do you see?
Now, head over to the free weights section. No, not the machines, but the actual barbells and dumbbells.
Even better, check out the physiques of those doing the big “3” exercises: Deadlifts, squats, and bench presses. Now, what do you see?
Generally speaking, those who are doing heavy, compound movements are the people with lean, strong, muscular bodies.
And you know what? It doesn’t matter if they are male or female.
Every female in my gym who loads up a bar to do a deadlift, or isn’t intimidated by the squat rack, seems to have a lean, muscular, and FEMININE physique.
Worried about getting too “bulky”?
Ponder this: A male, in his prime, with a PERFECT diet and training routine for one solid year can only hope to put around 20 pounds of muscle on his body. And that’s with around twenty times more testosterone in his body. And you think lifting will do that for you? Think again.
So, what will lifting hard and heavy do for women? Squatting and deadlifting?
It’ll shape up your thighs, glutes, and hips. Quickly, too. Those are the “problem areas”, right?
Bench presses and shoulder presses?
It’ll give a more “toned” appearance to your upper body. Especially when combined with the right nutritional approach.
Now, keep in mind, there’s really no such thing as “toning”.
“Toning” is another way of saying you have more muscular definition due to fat loss. But the word seems to fit.
And the best part? Lifting heavy for a woman will completely change your psychological edge.
It’ll make you start thinking, “F*#@ YOU! I can do this, too, a$$hole!”
There’s no reason to be self-conscious. Let out a primal grunt and pull that bar off the floor. It’s a rewarding feeling, regardless of your gender.
Cardiovascular activities are an ineffective means of weight loss.
They don’t burn nearly the calories you think they do. And they can be easily unsustainable.
Unless you’re a SERIOUS runner, and you can really keep up mile after mile, year after year, eventually, you’ll burn out.
When a prospective female client sits down with me for a consultation, they will often ask, “Do I really have to stop running?”
No, of course not.
But I always ask this question back: “Do you really love running?”
I make them stop and think.
Do you really, really, REALLY love running mile after mile?
Do you look forward to hitting the pavement?
Are you bursting at the seams to get a 6-mile jog in?
Or spend an hour on the elliptical?
If the answer is “Yes”, then by all means, continue. I would never tell a client to stop doing what they love.
But for the vast majority, the answer is no. Most people feel this is the most effective way to lose fat and get healthy. And quite frankly, it’s not.
And the biggest issue I have with performing cardio? The physical and mental change you feel directly afterwards.
Ever say to yourself, “I can eat this piece of cake. I ran 5 miles today,”?
That sort of a mindset will often cause you to overeat above whatever calorie amount you just burned. And you dig deeper into the hole.
After doing cardio work, you’re often ravenous.
If the cardio had never been done in the first place, those feelings would subside. And the fat loss would be greater as a result.
2. The “Dr. Oz Syndrome”.
I do have to admit, I watch Dr. Oz from time to time.
Generally to figure out what not to do.
It’s not that I think he’s a bad guy.
He’s made quite a name for himself doling out advice to the millions on his talk show. And I think he has a genuinely invested interest in improving our health as a whole.
But he’s so wrong in his approach.
Watch any Dr. Oz show. What do you see?
“The Top 10 Foods To Make You Lose Weight!”
“Eat This and Your Cholesterol Will Go Down!”
“Eat According To Your Blood Type!” and
“The Magic Foods That Improve Your Immune System!”
Dr. Oz makes his living as a talk show host.
His team takes various studies and observations, takes the associations and correlations they find, and turn them into subjects.
There are people I run across who are eating something new they “heard about on Dr. Oz” every other week.
Goji berries, flaxseed, coconut oil, kale, the list goes on and on.
Now, is there anything wrong with eating these foods? No, of course not.
But have there been any nutritional studies done where individuals are eating the EXACT SAME FOODS IN THE EXACT SAME QUANTITIES except for the “healthy foods” in question? Not a chance in hell.
If that were done, maybe, just maybe, you could prove that those foods do, in fact, cause weight loss.
But they haven’t been done.
Questionnaires have been handed out and surveys have been done. They’ve asked individuals to fill out their food intake, and then health markers are examined.
When they find a trend, they report it as being a “health conscious decision”.
Example: If people with good health markers have a higher intake of pomegranates than those with poor health markers, the headline might read, “Pomegranates lead to a 30% decrease in blood pressure, study suggests“. Such crap.
Now, do generally healthy people tend to eat food deemed “healthier” on a regular basis? Of course.
But that food intake doesn’t cause it to be healthy.
The general lifestyles of the healthy individuals have everything to do with their current level of fitness and well being.
And since they are probably more in tune to their bodies and health, they are way more likely to consume boatloads of radishes over boatloads of Twinkies.
Just for shits ‘n giggles, I saw Dr. Oz on a copy of “For Women First” (nice magazine title….) at the checkout line at the grocery store.
On a whim, I bought it. Dr. Oz, of course, was touting his new miracle foods. Among the claims:
-Women who added safflower oil to their diets reduced their blood sugar, lost 6.3% of their belly fat, improved their HDL counts, and increased their muscle mass.
-Coconut oil is “a miracle food for weight loss”, increasing your calorie-burning power by 50%.
-Rice bran oil fights fat on your belly, hips, and thighs and reduces your cholesterol by 61%.
Dr. Oz was pointing to a study at Ohio State to prove these claims. I looked up the study to see what it actually said.
The study in question was a thesis paper by an undergraduate student.
Not only that, but the student didn’t directly perform a study on these items.
The student took a different study which did not focus on these foods, plugged the numbers into a computer program and looked for links.
Basically, the study was crap. And women everywhere will add these foods to their diets, change nothing else, and expect weight loss magic.
See what I mean?
3. Blind belief of the saturated fat myth.
Next time you’re in front of the tube, and the commercials come on, don’t turn the channel. Stay tuned in. There’s a really good chance you’ll see a trend:
At least one commercial with a slender, fit woman seemingly done with her “run” or “yoga session” (see example #1) going to the fridge for some low-fat yogurt. Or a Special K bar. Or a piece of fruit.
Again, is there anything wrong with those foods? Not really.
I don’t eat them often. But there’s nothing wrong with consuming them.
But what does this do psychologically to the viewer?
They begin to think,
“If I want to look slim and trim like her, I need to run and then do yoga, and then get into a “spinning class”, and when I’m done, I need to find some low fat food. That way, I’ll start to improve my body.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with eating carbs.
But the fact remains: of the three macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat), carbohydrates are far and away the least filling.
And the blood sugar rush they give you wears off quickly. When the blood sugar drops, you will FEEL hungry and ravenous.
And it’s totally misguided. You’re not really hungry.
But your hormones are out of whack and they give you the sensation that you need food NOW, or you will go into a diabetic coma.
So, drowsily, you head into the fridge for another “Light and Fit”.
There’s got to be a better way.
Consuming fat does not cause weight gain. At all.
Only eating above your maintenance calories causes weight gain.
If we can learn to maximize our fat and protein intake while staying below our maintenance calories, guess what will happen?
Weight will be lost.
Hunger will subside.
Hormones will be maximized.
Satiety and fullness will prevail.
Protein is easily the most filling macronutrient. Most women fall woefully short on its intake.
And when you combine adequate protein and fat and consume them with green, fibrous veggies?
You have a steady flow of energy which will make you feel alive, invigorated, satisfied, and strong. And you’ll lose weight on top of it.
4. The “grazing” syndrome.
Ask a man what his favorite meal of the year is.
A vast majority of men will answer with the same thing: Thanksgiving Dinner.
The best excuse of the year to eat like a hog, veg out on the couch in a coma, and watch the Lions get beaten all over the football field.
Ask a woman what their favorite meal of the year is, and I’d be willing to guess they can’t answer.
The sheer act of filling your belly to capacity is extremely rewarding.
It’s a satisfaction that cannot be denied. But the association of fullness can lead to feelings of guilt. Pangs of depression. Thoughts of overeating and fat gain. Even though this might not entirely be the case.
We’ve been told forever to eat small meals daily, even though meal frequency has no bearing on fat gain or body composition whatsoever. But females especially buy into this myth full-bore, hook, line and sinker.
So, how does this lead to fat gain?
Instead of eating two or three larger, satisfying, and fulfilling meals, the day might look something like this:
A light breakfast,
a mid-morning snack,
a muffin in the breakroom,
a light lunch.
Followed by an after-lunch snack,
grazing while preparing dinner,
a light dinner,
and another snack before bed.
This sort of a meal plan creates the illusion of “healthy eating”.
All small meals, never feeling fullness or satiety.
When in reality, the total calorie content could easily be higher than simply enjoying two large, filling, satisfying meals.
Sometimes, less is more.
So, how does one avoid these pitfalls and traps?
By rationally looking at your maintenance calories and creating meal plans that will create a deficit easily and efficiently.
By focusing on the macronutrients which will fill you up more effectively and ridding your diet of empty calories.
By training hard at the right things, and focusing on properly building up your body in the correct manner.
Be rational and intelligent and your approach. Go against the norm. Besides, if the “norm” worked, I doubt we would be where ae are as a society…..