1. Stop stressing about vacation weight gain to avoid… vacation weight gain

I just finished a week off at the beach and remember how I used to stress about re-gaining fat on vacation or after a diet (or both at once).

Over the years I came to better understand how metabolism works and the natural ebb & flow of hunger/cravings and the body’s drive to restore after prolonged restriction.

Then I quit stressing. Now I don’t even re-gain much. Funny how that works.

That said, booking an all-inclusive type vacation immediately after a long diet is probably not a good idea as the aforementioned drive to restore is powerful.

Eat low calories for months, then suddenly be surrounded by endless options of tasty food? Thats a strong horse to try to keep in the barn.

Better to stabilize a bit first in terms of hunger/cravings before exposing those potential floodgates.

But if you’re a week or two post-diet and “already gained back what took months to lose” just chill and remember:

In most cases, weight that “piles on” fast tends to “fly off” just as fast.

And not all weight is bodyfat.

Ebb and flow.

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2. Gremlins was a documentary.

I just told a client — a habitual 11 p.m. stress binge eater — that the movie Gremlins was a documentary and anything he ate after 8 pm (EST) will make him explode with bodyfat.

Of course that’s not how the body works. But I first gotta work with how his HEAD works. And right now we need rules, structure, and habits.

Knowledge can wait.

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3. I love lean red meat. I am… tired of lean red meat.

For me lean red meat on a diet is a game changer. Even a small portion keeps me full and I feel like I actually ate something, as opposed to just egg whites, chicken, and especially shakes.

So a few months ago I decided to eat fewer meals day (three or so) but make them more satiating by going “just red meat for protein.”

At first I felt awesome. I even sarcastically tweeted “I can’t see myself ever going back.” Though I was wise enough to hedge with “watch me absolutely hate red meat in 3 months.”

And here we are. I can’t so much as look at a steak. Even a yummy steak, not the shoe leather sirloin I was whittling away on.

Instead I’m craving all varieties of fish, fruit, and vegetables.

Obviously its simple boredom/taste fatigue. I ate the same shit every day for way too long and grew bored of it.

But I wonder if other mechanisms might be at work?

It would make sense from a survival/evolutionary perspective that the body would “seek” a variety of foods to ensure a broad intake of nutrients and mitigate possible deficiencies. Especially in a hypocaloric (dieting) context.

Anyone who’s ever gone on a diet knows the body sure don’t appreciate being “starved.”

And old habits that kept you from going extinct die hard, I suppose.

Meh. Probably just fucking bored.

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4. Bulking and the speed of muscle gain

In terms of nutrition to build muscle, NOTHING works faster than a “bulking phase” (consistent overeating).

However, just because it’s the fastest doesn’t mean it’s the right approach for everyone — or even the same person, year after year.

Bulking doesn’t work so well when you’re older, or too fat, or too out of shape, or used to be very fat, or just can’t mentally handle looking a bit soft.

There are other, slower methods you can use and make progress. Go that route.

As an aside, the lamest excuse for not being able to gain weight is “I can’t afford it.”

Stop shopping at Whole Foods (or worse 7-11) and hit a Costco/Sams Club. Buy eggs, oats, fruit, lean (cheap) red meat, canned tuna, and nuts/peanut butter.

Then cook it. And eat it. Every damn day.

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5. Genetics and muscle gain

Many recreational lifters overstate the role of genetics in building muscle, often as a way to justify their slow progress.

Not surprisingly, I usually piss all over their poor-me tiki torch parade.

I’ve seen MANY examples of guys with “poor genetics” in their teens/early 20’s (when they don’t know how to eat/train/live like an athlete, or haven’t been doing it for very long) who got their shit together and got to work… only to be dismissed for having “great genetics” 10 years later. Oh the irony.

However, genetics is still an important factor, ESPECIALLY in the competitive side of things where shape, structure, and other shit you can’t change becomes more important.

It’s kind of like Bigfoot sightings. Total bullshit, they’re just Grizzly bears or really hairy people out for a hike. No big deal. Until one day you actually run into Bigfoot and SEE great genetics, live and in full effect — and realize it’s a whole other level of human.

Some choose to hate it. I always chose to appreciate it, with a healthy side of envy.

Interestingly, the other day I shared a photo of a competitor with absolutely incredible shape and received a couple DM’s politely snarking “sure, wonder what drugs they’re on to look like that.”

Oh boy. Folks don’t get it. If I wanted to seek out the anabolic train-wrecks I wouldn’t look at those running away with first place trophies a year or two after picking up a weight.

FAR more often it’s one of us mere mortals, swinging away year after year, stubbornly trying to become something we just aren’t meant to be.