Guest Blog: The Fork is Mightier than the Dumbbell

Read Part 1 here…

I figured the next entry in my blog is long overdue and the timing seems very appropriate. Since my last update, I had lost an additional 4% body fat (down to ~18%), but have gained some of it back. Success and then some failure… what happened? Read on…

The month of April was a very good month for me – I had successfully finished the 14-day no carb challenge, my workouts were thriving, and friends/family had started noticing a physical change in me. My biosigs were showing consistent progress, my eating habits were down to a formula…and then things took a different turn: I bought a new place (stress levels increased), I got swamped at the office (sleep and food started to struggle), and I had a big family reunion/wedding (food, sleep and stress trifecta), all back to back. Needless to say the month of May was a crappy one; I even had to take a few weeks off from coming to my training sessions.

What I’ve learned in the last month or so is that stress impacts my sleeping patterns, and forces me to run towards comfort food. What I’ve also gained is a new appreciation for the fork…yes, the fork. It’s as simple as garbage in/garbage out. Feed your body clean, healthy food and it will react very positively. Conversely, feeding your body garbage will not only show in your bio-sigs and training floor, but also impact the rest of your daily life. In my case, recently I have been feeling tired and lethargic.
Here are a few tips on making sure that your next bio-sig is a great one:

1. Don’t fool yourself – In a previous life I used to tell myself: “Come Monday, I will start eating extreme healthy.”…by Wednesday, I would be craving some crap meal and by Thursday I would have given in. Changing your eating habits takes time. Even after falling off the wagon the last few weeks, I gave myself one full week to get back to a healthy plate. Start off with eating three healthy meals and allowing your fourth to be a “regular” meal. Don’t set yourself up for failure and add unnecessary stress.

2. Do the 14-day no carb challenge – I dropped somewhere between 2-3% body fat in two weeks. It’s not THAT hard. You can do it.

3. Start your day with the meat/nut breakfast – It takes a few days of getting used to, and you feel energetic the rest of the day. I personally prefer ground beef with spices and a handful of raw cashews.

4. Look forward towards your meals: Make mealtime a happy, enjoyable process. If you go into it with a negative attitude, you WILL fail. Make meals that are Paleo approved, but also excite you on a personal level.

5. Be prepared – Go to the grocery store at a time when you are not rushed, and cook for the week during the weekend. Place everything in Ziploc/Tupperware so it’s easy to grab-n-go when the week gets busy.

6. Water, Water Water….drink lots of it. I try to drink about 3-4 liters a day.

Guest Blog: The First Month – Stick Your Butt Out!!!

Zach has been kind enough to allow me to write a monthly blog on the website. If you haven’t had a chance to meet me yet, I joined AST the day after Valentine’s Day – February 15th, 2012. There is no real significance to this date besides me wanting to come in as soon as possible (which happened to be Valentine’s Day eve), but Zach asking me to reschedule to the following day – smart man. So who am I, why are you reading this, and what the hell does the title of this article mean? Keep reading…

I had always been the “chubby” one the family. I have two older brothers, who surprisingly got the great family genes and yours truly was left with the not-so-great genes. After ballooning to 230lbs (at a very average height of 5’6) in 2006, I decided enough was enough. Like most people, I joined a franchised gym wanting to become the greatest hunk of muscle in the Chicagoland area. Not surprisingly, the weight started to come off…and slowly but surely I was obsessed with the gym. I got to my leanest point at 165lbs in the summer of 2007. I didn’t have a flat stomach or chiseled abs and it took me almost a year and a half, but I did it…by myself…without guidance…possibly the worst way I could get in “shape”. You see, I was working out like a mad man – 6 days a week (sometimes twice a day), 1 hour at the gym lifting weights, lots of cardio outside the gym, no real regimented diet…and most importantly I was obsessed with the weight scale. I had a big chest, big arms (the “glamour muscles”), and a big smile thinking that I am going to keep up with this schedule the rest of my life… I was wrong.

Now let’s fast forward to November 2011: Back to 206lbs, a few years older, and disheartened that the only way to get back to 165lbs was by following the same ridiculous aforementioned schedule. How does one get motivated to do so? Well, I tried…again…for three months…and it wasn’t working this time around.

A lucky Google search landed me at the AST website, and very quickly I made my first appointment. I had my reservations, but Zach told me I didn’t have to do cardio to get back in shape – SOLD! Then he showed me a before and after picture of a client – DOUBLE SOLD! Before signing up, I made the following comment to Zach: “Just like your client, I want to be to on the wall too”; and he very calmly responded: “If you want it, we will get you there, but compliance is key.”

So now it’s been a little over the month of coming to AST – five weeks to be exact (but we can discount the first week of assessments), and what have we accomplished so far? My body fat has dropped 4.1%, I’ve lost about 11.6lbs while keeping my lean mass fairly stable (meaning the weight loss has pretty much been all fat), I’ve notched my belt once, and the burning desire to be in the best shape possible has come back. This time though, the difference is that I am doing things the “right” way. Things I’ve learnt the last few weeks:

Eating the Right Way

I’m no expert on this matter, but I stick with the basics Zach tells me and it’s actually not that hard. Sure, temptations are all around, but at the end of the day it’s “mind over matter”. Put down the pizza, and pick up a chicken breast (and avocadoes)! Write EVERYTHING in your food journal, and carry it everywhere (I even have a pen affixed to my journal so I don’t have any excuses). Enjoy your cheat meal.

Stretching/Warming Up

I try to come to sessions about 30-40 minutes ahead of time. I don’t like being rushed in life (I come straight from work), so this gives me ample time to stretch and warm up properly. Plus, it also helps me get in the zone before the “Sergio Hell” about to follow. Is it weird to warm up for 40 minutes for a 30 minute workout? Sure. Do I care? Nope.

How to PROPERLY Do a Squat

Sergio yelled at me the first few sessions: “Stick your butt out!” and I quietly thought to myself: “What the hell does this guy mean?? I don’t understand the words that are coming out of his mouth!!” Well, every time I heard that comment, I went home and practiced sticking my butt out in front of the mirror…and I’m proud to publicly share this information. My squats have become better (again, not an expert yet), and I’ve definitely noticed myself going deeper every time the coaches make me do a squat. The point I’m trying to make is that if you don’t understand something, just ask. I tend to ask a lot of questions and Zach, Sergio, Christine and Julie always have a detailed answer.

Cardio

A mistake from a previous life.

Sure, it requires focus and mental strength (I’ve found myself watching Sergio’s “Alpha Male” video, as well as some other favorites of mine, over and over again), but the real credit goes to the staff: they are experts in their field. Listen to them, follow their guidance and the results will be in your next bio-sig.

See you at the workout station!