Here we go with another round of five coaching insights from the past week.

1. Exercise doesn’t burn that many calories, and… it’s fine.

I’m really big on re-framing things, whether it’s seeing fat loss plateaus as victories or using silly nutrition rules like “don’t eat after 7pm” to work in someone’s favor.

Here’s another. People relatively new to the fat loss process, especially cardio types, feel defeated when they realize how few calories exercise (especially steady state cardio) burns, and that trying to “work off” high calorie binges through treadmill pounding is a losing proposition.

And then you tell them the “calories out” predictors on treadmills or your watch are gross estimates (i.e. bullshit) and they really fly off the handle.

However, I think it’s a great thing.

It finally drives a stake into the heart of the “I exercise so I can eat shitty” loser mindset.

You can’t out-run an In-and-Out burger addiction. Unless you are a genetic freak training like it’s your job then its a non-starter. It’s bullshit. So forget about it.

Focus instead on seeing exercise as a means of addition, not subtraction.

With weights we “add” muscle. And with all exercise the add is improvement in blood pressure and cholesterol, better sleep, and enhanced mood.

Diet is how we “subtract” — eat for the body composition you want, but train to get stronger, healthier, and better.

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2. Most whey proteins on the store shelf contain more fillers than Tom Cruise’s face.

Here’s a tip: if the label has more than four or five ingredients (including protein and sweeteners) then you can do better.

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3. “I start every morning with a greens supplement combined with a fiber supplement, mixed in about 20 oz of water.”

When I see stuff like this I always nod in approval. Not because greens or fiber supplements are so wonderful (though starting your day with plenty of water is a great idea) but that it shows a few crucial fat loss tenets:

– routine.
– consistency.
– owning the morning.

I constantly harp on my clients about the power of the pattern.

The more repetition in your day, the more automatic it becomes, and the less you gotta think.

And the less thinking and decision making required of you — especially in the morning when the bullets are flying, or right before bed when you have decision fatigue — the less likely you’ll screw something up.

I don’t care what rituals you use to start and end your day — as long as you do it consistently.

Yeah, yeah. Insert your sophomoric sex joke here. You can’t make me blush.

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4. Please STOP being afraid of gaining weight on vacation.

Provided you are relatively weight stable (not constantly yo-yoing) the weight you pack on very fast in a week or two tends to fly off just as fast once you return to your regular eating plan.

This is how you win, for life.

Scott Abel’s writings turned me onto this many years ago and it completely changed the way I approach the “marriage” between being lean and enjoying a balanced lifestyle.

When I started my last vacation I arrived very lean by most standards. By day four or five, after a few too many fish taco and margarita benders, I looked 6 months pregnant with triplets.

It certainly wasn’t comfortable and it was a mistake to go from eating vapor straight to eating EVERYTHING (a transition period would’ve been advised but hey, my world doesn’t revolve around me) but I didn’t get depressed because I understand how metabolism works.

I knew I’d bounce most of the weight off within a week of returning home to my regular food, training, and sleep schedule (not to mention my own bed).

And I actually got to baseline (not where I was at the end of my diet but within striking distance) in 5 days. I attribute the speediness to not being stressed about it.

Ebb and Flow. #brokenrecord

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5. This point will seem to contradict the above but I’ll explain the difference.

Certainly other coaches reading will appreciate it.

I love running into someone new to the process that’s near the end of a very long, extremely hard contest-type diet, as they always say the same thing:

“I’m exhausted and super tired but I love being this lean. Next I just wanna maintain THIS.”  *Insert gesture to their abs and veins or sunken cheek bones.*

These are ALWAYS the folks who blow up like the Michelin Man and then get depressed as heck about it.

Here’s the deal.

Dieting to get beach lean (like what I was doing) is one thing— it’s a healthy place to be and one you can stay quite close to with relative ease. The body might “want” to gain some fat back, but the food cravings are more psychological than anything.

However, getting really lean — as in contest lean — ain’t supposed to be for life. Nobody can maintain “that” — the body won’t allow it. Which is why it’s called a peak.

Those that get it and are prepared to accept a little fat gain usually avoid blowing up post-show or post photos. Those that don’t just wind up fighting against their bodies drive to survive.

And the body always wins. Unless you consider a wardrobe separated as “dieting” and “fat” as some sort of victory.

– Bryan