get heavy to lose weight

[On the heels of this post about how I train, here's an entry about how I eat. People question that about half as often. Thankfully.]

At around the age of six I discovered my grandfather eating Penrose sausages. We polished off a jar of them babies in no time. I requested that mom add them to our grocery list, and for a few weeks I was eating a lot of Penrose.

That happened to coincide with a time when I was learning to read. At one point, while sitting down to more smoked and processed, ready-to-eat bliss, I read the ingredients on the back of the jar.

...chicken, pork, salt, beef lips,...

"WHAT? MOOOM. Does this say really say BEEF LIPS???" 

I couldn't get the image out of my head. I never thought about the lips of a cow, but now I went to bed and woke up thinking about how many lips I had eaten. I haven't since had a single Penrose and the number of hot dogs I've eaten can be counted on both hands. 

I'm no dietitian or nutritionist or finicky food nazi. To this day I can and will eat certain things at McDonalds or wherever else typical Healthfitnessdiet People (usually with a sales agenda) bastardize.

So here they are, without further beef lips, the three rules that I live by.

1. Read the ingredients. 

This is the first rule I learned to follow far before I knew about the relationship between how you eat and how you feel and function.

You don't need a PhD as a dietitian or chemist or biologist to know that putting too many ingredients like yellow coloring no. 6 and partially hydrogenated oils and propylene glycols into your system is probably not good for you. Beef lips, while high on the gross factor, are ironically low on the list of things we should be concerned about.

I'm not suggesting that you (or I) never eat foods with such ingredients. Personally, I'm okay with taking in a little high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, and sodium nitrate. But I don't want to over do it. Merely reading the ingredients of the foods and beverages you often eat ensures you're not the one setting a new record for Lamb Fries.

This summarized exactly how I felt after reading beef lips:

2. No deep fried foods.

Simple as that. There are too many other healthy and unhealthy options that are measurable less toxic on your system. 

3. Get heavy. 

Losing weight and looking lean and fit are not the same thing. At around 200 pounds, I carry 15 to 25 pounds more than my frame would naturally carry without all the resistance training. Because of this, my energy furnace is pretty huge. Functional and lean mass provide plenty of margin for a non-precision diet. The mind and body do not pay for occasional treats or hogging out or even eating like a normal person without time for dishes that require an hour to prepare.

If you want to look good without dieting hard, lift heavy. Seriously, put on some weight. I've rehabbed and trained and simply observed what's going on with a lot of people. Being lean and fit is highly challenging when you have little muscle to support your efforts.

Further observation:

Maintaining fitness and leanness is MUCH easier than achieving it. Things are easy once you get the ball rolling with a regular training routine. You lose the taste for a lot of junk (but probably not all junk).

Diets are good and necessary but they are always hard to sustain. Keep in mind that MUCH of their effectiveness comes by the fact that they are restrictive. Most of the bazillion food products that you normally have easy access to are now simply off limits. You have fewer options and get bored. So you simply end up eating less.

If you're underwhelmed at all the diet/fitness information overload here and on all the innernets, I recommend the Paleo Diet. If you ain't even got time fodat, take 10 minutes to read the two chapters on diet in The Four Hour Body. Timothy Ferris is no scientist, but he's a great writer and summarizes all you need to know.

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Also, for further reading, here's the strict regimen I maintain in my personal diet plan:

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repping out in circuits with twice your 1-rep max

I'm going to apologize up front for sounding like a chief here.

It's approximately 5 times per week that someone asks what I'm doing to stay in shape, what, how, or how often I train. My entries here often touch on different aspects of this. I strive to inform and inspire without being that trainer guy who thinks his is THE way and really just wants to show you his package. [Package in every sense of the word.] 

I do little personal training. The hardcore weightlifting and conditioning is more of a hobby that gets me through the days as an employee and otherwise responsible citizen. My day-to-day work grants some opportunity to train athletes, but the far majority of my time involves assisting people to where they can get on with their everyday life and work and training to be awesome.

Maybe they expect some grand secret, complex and cutting-edge. Most shrug and seem fairly disappointed when I say that I lift pretty hard twice per week with just a handful of the "big"moves.

So here is exactly what I did last Saturday. I began with some light warm-ups then 4 sets of this circuit:

Chin-ups with 125 extra lbs around my waist for 5 reps, to
"Lawn Mower" row with barbell loaded to 150 lbs for 5 reps on each side, to
Single arm clean to overhead press using 85 lb dumbbell, 5 reps each arm, to
Push up/row combo holding long plank position over 50 lb dumbbells, 5 reps each arm.

I finished up with a few sets of barbell shoulder presses before finishing the workout with a brutal set of squats (455 lbs X 20 reps).

I refrained from posting video footage, but I have it.The relevant points here are:

1. I've gradually built to handle awfully heavy resistance (for me) on total body movements.
2. It does not take a lot of time or equipment to be in shape or what-have-you.
3. Working hard at a few of the big moves that are suited for your body and goals are far more important than many other technical details that bog people down.
4. If there's anything special about my body or physiology or whatever, it's only that I show up consistently and (these days) do a decent job of allowing my body to adapt and recover.

Maybe I should take a different strategy the next time someone asks how I train. I'll strike a front double biceps (pose), lean in close and say "THE secret is this."

While you were screwing around with high tech machines and training schedule algorithms, exercise intensifiers and muscle confusion and changing it up every two weeks, I was repping out in circuits with twice your 1 rep max.