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skinny fat frame

One of the biggest mistakes skinny-fay guys make when trying to lose fat (or when trying to “cut,” if that’s the lingo you’re privy to) makes so little sense that you’re going to have to read it twice. Kind of like this paragraph you’re reading now.

One of the biggest mistakes skinny-fat guys make when trying to lose fat focusing too much on fat loss.

Did you read it twice? Still confused? Hopefully you are and compelled enough to continue reading. Not because your continued reading is important to my fragile psyche, but, rather, because, I’m not lying.

(This is Part 2 in a series of articles. You can read Part 1 here.)

Skinny-fat guy wants to lose fat. Skinny-fat guy does the logical thing: finds activities that burn fat the most.

It doesn’t take a long time before skinny-fat figures out that aerobic exercise uses fat for fuel. (I talked about the aerobic system a bit deeper in this (hopefully) mildly coherent thing here, so if you have your mining helmet on feel free to lower yourself down. I can’t guarantee a safe trip.)

Upper heart rate range for aerobic exercise typically falls within 120-140 beats per minute, pending your aerobic fitness. I’m out of aerobic shape to the point where my top end aerobic range is probably 84 beats per minute, which is (probably) only two beats higher than my terribly out of shape resting heart rate.

Skinny-fat dude is doing this aerobic junk to lose fat. I’m compelled to call this aerobic junk “cardio,” but that word smells worse than “tone,” meaning I’ll have to jam toothpicks into my nose to protect my senses.

Unless you’re an aerobic athlete, you can probably reach the top end of your range by jogging at a slow pace. Aerobic activity can be maintained for long time. So if you’re ever feeling the burn or using a pace you can’t maintain for a long time, you’re inching beyond your aerobic threshold.

Once you go beyond your aerobic threshold, you’re in the anaerobic energy bracket, meaning you’re no longer using fat for fuel. No bueno for skinny-fat dude that’s all about burning fat.

The first thing for skinny-fat dude to know at this point: you can do cardio for centuries, but if you’re eating too much food, you aren’t going to lose fat.

You might have to dip into your savings account for extra cash on Monday, but this momentary dip in funds will be negated when you get a cash bonus at work on Tuesday. Body composition is about trends, not fads.

But I’m going to assume skinny-fat dude has his food situation under control. If he doesn’t, he’ll buy Big Win Fat Loss. He’s not eating enough to get fat. He’s not eating so little that he’s putting his metabolism into a coma. All of this aerobic junk puts skinny-fat dude on the fast path towards fat loss, right?

Maybe. Kind of. Sort of. Other ambiguous words. Because skinny-fat guy might, instead, be on the fast path towards an even uglier skinny-fat physique.

Ask anyone how to lose fat and you’re likely to get a twofold answer: eat less (or better) food and move more. It is known. But we tend to overestimate the impact of deliberate exercise on energy balance.

I can walk on the treadmill for an hour and burn 300 calories (according to said treadmill, which is undoubtedly flawed, but good enough for this example).

Or I can collapse on the couch, watch TV, and burn 84 calories in the same hour. Because, according to some random BMR calculator I found online (undoubtedly flawed once again, but, still, good enough), my body needs around 2100 calories every day to just to keep me alive in my current state, meaning my average hourly calorie usage is around 80 calories.

Do nothing and burn 80 calories. Walk for an hour and burn 300 calories. That’s a 220 calorie difference, which isn’t a lot. That’s one good beer. Most “health” bars you find in grocery stores have more than 220 calories.

Unless you’re a professional athlete doing serious training (multiple hours), you won’t burn a lot of calories during your training. And, to make matters worse, you’re a human with a bunch of self-sabotaging brain bugs, one of which is moral justification. In other words, I did something good (go to the gym), now I can do something bad (eat cake).

It’s much easier to tip energy balance seesaw in your favor by adjusting your food intake. Substitute some of your starchy carbohydrates with non-starchy vegetables. Substitute some of your junk food with lean proteins. Suddenly you’re eating 500 less calories per day.

You can lose fat without doing deliberate exercise by modifying how much you eat, which is something usually overlooked because of the association culture has created between exercise and fat burning.

But guess what? Your body is aerobic most of the day. What we think about when we think about aerobic exercise is merely a higher intensity aerobic state.

Think of a light bulb with a dimmer switch. When you’re doing conventional aerobic exercise, you’re shining as bright as possible. But, when you stop the exercise, you don’t shut off. You just revert to a dimmer setting.

“We can fix our food intake. We can do a little more aerobic exercise. Whatever. It’s all in the name of fat loss, right? Why are you shitting on aerobic exercise?”

Skinny-fat dude is an astute fellow, and he knows one pound of fat contains around 3500 calories. So his logic is as follows: go in a 500 calorie deficit via adjusting food intake and doing aerobic exercise, lose one pound per week. Because 500 calories x 7 days per week = 3500 calories per week.

But skinny-fat dude is assuming that an energy deficit is a one way street. Meaning he’s assuming all 500 calories are guaranteed to be extracted from body fat.

But the energy balance equation is a bit too vague. You can read more about why here. A more accurate way to put the energy balance equation: an imbalance of energy intake and energy output affects your body stores.

I’ll stop beating around the bush, okay? Your body can melt away muscle tissue in order to compensate for the calorie deficit. So if you eat 500 calories less, you might take 400 calories from body fat and 100 calories from muscle mass.

Why would your body do such an unfathomable thing?

Because your body cares about survival. It’s got all these fat cells that are important because your body almost always in an aerobic state (from rest and also from the aerobic exercise you’re doing).

Fat is your aerobic fuel.

Why do we accumulate money? Because we spend money. If you live in the States, you aren’t stockpiling euros. You’re stockpiling dollars because that’s the currency you need.

You don’t need a lot of muscle to gently gallop across the plains (which is what you do during aerobic exercise, for the most part), so muscle mass becomes less important.

In one hand, you have hugely important fat globules. In the other hand, you have less important muscle tissue. Which is your body going to sacrifice first when it needs to balance the energy scale?

And, in some way, sacrificing muscle is a win-win. You get cash up front, but you also make yourself more energy efficient (because you don’t have to lunk around as much weight).

Imagine you have a house. You have regular expenses. Your savings account (body fat). A boat (muscle mass).

You enjoy the boat, but it requires constant upkeep. It’s a boat. Boats always need maintained and repaired. So you have constant cash flow to the boat.

You get a different job and you’re making less money now. You’re dipping into your savings account to cover your regular expenses. But you’re smart. You don’t want to go broke. You look for other ways to compensate for the lack of income because digging into your savings ad infinitum is stupidity on a platter.

So what do you do? You sell the boat. You make cash up front from the sale, and you no longer have its monthly expense.

But what if the boat wasn’t just a toy? What if you lived in a flood zone? What if the boat was just as important to your survival as your savings? Then the boat is no longer an expense, it’s an investment.

Meaning, when your play back the same situation, you’re less likely to sell the boat, and you’re likely to continually reach into savings.

Shall we decode this?

Living in a flood zone is doing the sort of training that bombards the body with the following information: muscle mass is important for my survival. And the best way to send said information is with progressive barbell and bodyweight training.

In other words, the second most important thing a skinny-fat guy can do (this), even when (especially when) skinny-fat guy is trying to lose fat.

But barbell and bodyweight training is often overlooked when focusing on fat loss because it’s not aerobic and thus not directly fat burning. This is both true and untrue.

It’s not heavily aerobic, no. But if you’re doing squats, presses, and pulls, your heart rate is going to rise and fall through the aerobic heart rate range as you train. Here’s a fun experiment. Put a heart rate monitor on. Do a set of heavy barbell curls for ten reps, then look at your heart rate.

It’s temping to obsess over fat burning exercise when trying to lose fat, but, remember, you can lose fat without deliberate aerobic exercise.

In order to really transform your body, you have to begin to see exercise as a stressor that contains specific information, and this information is interpreted by the body’s primitive survival software.

When you ditch (or de-prioritize) strength training, you’re telling your body that muscle mass isn’t important.

And now that you undoubtedly think aerobic exercise is Satan’s right hand man, let me try to reach some sort of equilibrium.

Aerobic exercise isn’t going to make you fat. It isn’t going to hurt you. But it shouldn’t interfere with your freshness and your recovery for strength training.

There are ways you can program for aerobic training and strength training, but the easiest way is to simply walk. Walking is great because it doesn’t stress your body, but it uses more energy than, uhhh, not walking. And the increase blood flow throughout your system will actually improve recovery.

Walk as often and as much as you want. Do progressive barbell and bodyweight strength training. Now we’re getting somewhere.

On the strength training side, I don’t recommend training like a bodybuilder out to pack on slabs of mass, doing insane volume, when you’re simultaneously in an energy deficit. But strength training should still be priority uno. You can get stronger as you lose fat, just not as quickly.

Oh. Yeah. Wait.

I just finished telling you about the second most important thing a skinny-fat guy can do.

The first thing?

Breathe.

Air is anabolic. You die almost immediately without it.

So disappoint.

tom delay disappoint

skinny fat frame

Do you plan on looking like an emaciated prisoner of war? I mean, I guess it’s not a bad idea if you’re looking for a Halloween costume with shock value. But something tells me the whole “Christian Bale in The Machinist look isn’t exactly kitsch otherwise.

(Did I really just use “kitsch” in a sentence? What is wrong with me?)

christian bale the machinist

If you don’t want to rock the I might die tomorrow look, there’s something you need to do yesterday. I consider it the second most important thing a skinny-fat dude can do to look better naked.

Doesn’t matter if you’re bulking or cutting. Although, you should know, I only use those words because they are popular lexicon. I’m not a fan of conventional bodybuilder bulk and cut strategies for skinny-fat dudes.

But I’m not here to talk about that. Maybe later. My strategies will make more sense to you after I slice through the weeds we’re about to enter anyway.

The second most important thing a skinny-fat guy can do is progressive barbell and bodyweight strength training. The combination is money in the bank if you want a lean and muscular body.

If you trust me and don’t care why I recommend barbell and bodyweight strength, then I suggest B3W, which is my program (and programming philosophy) for building an x physique. Or you can find a free program online. Whatever. Just pick something.

If you don’t trust me, then the list of objections circumventing through your cranial canals is accumulating.

  • But I use machines, which are just as good.
  • But I’m not sure if I should be bulking right now.
  • But I don’t want to be a huge bodybuilder.
  • But I just want to be toned.
  • But butts

I’ve answered enough emails to know Nietzche was onto something: those a strong why can bear almost any how. Without a why, well, fuhgetaboudit. So what follows is why barbell and bodyweight strength training is the second most important thing a skinny-fat dude can do.

If you want to know the most important thing (not the second most) a skinny-fat guy can do, you’ll have to stick around for my answer. Another cliffhanger. Wow I’m good.

But I’m warning you up front: it will absolutely, hands down, disappoint you more than Jar Jar Binks. The curiosity seed has been planted though. Information gap. Loophole. I’m winning.

The first reason barbell and bodyweight strength training is important: muscle mass.

Progressive barbell and bodyweight strength training is the quickest and most reliable way to build muscle. If you want to know why, read this mildly coherent thing I made.

But why is muscle mass in itself so important for a skinny-fat guy? I’m glad I made you ask yourself this question, but here’s the deal: you need to have thick skin to appreciate the answer.

The Truth (capitalized, fellas) is that most skinny-fat dudes drastically overestimate how much muscle they have.

Skinny-fat dude weighs 180 pounds. Skinny-fat dude decides to lose weight. Skinny-fat dude gets down to 160 pounds, only to have every family member and friend tell him he looks ghastly enough to drop dead any second because he’s about as shapely as a dry towel on a clothes line.

Aside from the small pouch of belly fat he still has, of course.

Skinny-fat dude is bummed. Skinny-fat dude worries. He wants to get rid of the rest of his fat, but he’s afraid of turning into a pile of dust.

Skinny-fat dude doesn’t want the rest of his muscle to melt away, which is ironic because, well, there was never much muscle to begin with. As the great Scotty Smalls once said, “I haven’t had anything yet, so how can I have some more of nothing?”

sandlot-smalls

Skinny-fat dude is simply revealing the Truth of his body, which is a bunch of bones that were formerly covered in fat tissue.

His ego makes him think he was more muscular at his previous weight, but he’s confusing Taking up more space with Being more muscular. Or, even worse, he’s confusing Weighing a certain amount with Looking good naked, which is insanely too common.

A lot of skinny-fat guys don’t want to drop below a certain weight, but have no rational explanation for their feelings.

“I don’t want to get below 150 pounds.”

People want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club because of the way he looked, not because of how much he weighed. I know this because 99% of the people that say, “I want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club,” will not know how much Pitt weighed when filming the movie.

Your body isn’t a number. You aren’t trying to be a number.

Most people that are cut and ripped weigh less than you’d think they would. You don’t need a lot of muscle mass if you have low body fat.

Brad Pitt was sub 10% body fat in Fight Club. I’ve only been sub 10% body fat a few times because, well, I like drinking beer. Too much beer. I should get a beer.

Pitt was 165 pounds, standing at 5′ 11″. But Pitt looked good at 165 pounds because he had muscle mass. If he didn’t have muscle mass, and he dieted to sub 10% body fat, he’d probably be 140-150 pounds.

Let’s reconnect this to skinny-fat dude. Skinny-fat dude loses fat and is way leaner, but he still doesn’t like the way he looks. Meanwhile, skinny-fat dude just did something tons of people would love to do: shed a bunch of body fat. Instead of being happy about his accomplishment, he’s sad.

He  wasn’t equipped with the right expectations, which are as follows: as a skinny-fat dude, the odds of you having (a) a lot of muscle, (b) a favorable skeletal structure is slim.

Once you lose fat, you’re going to be mostly skin and bones. And the bones of a skinny-fat dude aren’t all that attractive.

skinny fat physique a frame

Although it’s impossible to have a hip-width that exceeds your shoulder-width, a skinny-fat physique often pushes those boundaries.

Combine a lack of upper body muscle and fat storage in the lower stomach and love handle region, and you’re looking at an “A” framed upper body.

An “A” has a wide base and a narrow peak. Once you lose fat, you still have that same unfavorable body frame.

skinny fat frame

I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to beauty culture, but most females are attracted to males with a more “X” shaped body, meaning the upper body has a “V” shape, meaning it’s the exact opposite of the skinny-fat “A” frame.

Bummer.

Whether or not you want an “X” shaped body is up to you. You might want look rectangular, like a brick. I don’t care. I don’t judge. It’s your body. I’m not in the business of telling anyone what they should want.

But there’s only one way to change the “A” frame: you have to add. You can’t change your shoulder-width or hip-width. But you can add a bunch of meat to the upper chest, shoulders, and upper back to make your “A” look more like a “V” (or “H” if you’re into the brick look) over time. And the best way to add said meat is with progressive barbell and bodyweight training.

skinny fat body x physique

Some of you are now thinking, “But I just want to be toned, defined, and proportioned,” which is my cue to shove your face into hot coals.

Muscle toning is a scam. What is commonly seen as a toned muscle is better described as a defined muscle. Muscle definition comes from two things: muscle size and body fat.

Imagine buying a doggie chew bone. Now wrap a flank steak around the doggie bone. Circle one single layer of plastic wrap around the steak, adhering it to the doggie bone.

  • Steak = muscle size
  • Plastic wrap = body fat

A big steak with a lot of plastic wrap makes for a massive structure, but it won’t be all that defined (because there’s too much plastic wrap [body fat] covering the steak [muscle]).

A small steak with a little bit of plastic wrap makes for a lean appearance, but it won’t be all that defined (because there’s not enough steak [muscle] to show through the plastic wrap [body fat]).

You need to have both a big enough muscle and a low enough body fat to have what’s considered a defined muscle.

I’m not talking about becoming a bodybuilder. Ten to twenty pounds of muscle goes a long way in shaping your body, especially if you build muscle in the right places.

There are people with the insanely irrational fear of getting too bulky overnight, which slaps every non-genetic freak in the face that has scratched and clawed day in and day out (with training, eating, sleeping) in order to build an inch of muscle.

Assuming no abnormality, human biology is set up in such a way that a wild metabolic reconfiguration overnight is pretty much impossible. It takes time to convince your body to change.

All of this sounds like I’m recommending a typical bodybuilder bulk up in order to build muscle, but that’s not 100% true. Progressive barbell and bodyweight training is important if you’re trying to build muscle, yes. But it’s equally important if you’re trying to lose fat.

You can do a lot of things with your money. You can buy Chrono Trigger. You can fix your leaky roof. You can gamble at the casino.

You can also save your money. You can put it away knowing, at some point, you might not have any income and it would be nice to have some tucked away. Maybe you plan on quitting your job or finding a new one. Or maybe you plan on retiring soon.

The safest place to put excess money is in a low interest savings account. No market crash will zap away your money overnight. It’ll just slowly accumulate.

Your body can do lots of things with its income, too. Body fat is like your body’s savings account. I wish I could make this sexier, but I can’t. What follows is my rationale as to why.

It’s probably completely wrong. Who knows. But I’m giving it a shot.

Your body gets the energy it needs from the breakdown of ATP (mentioned previously here). Think of ATP as an individual firecracker. It breaks apart, energy is released, and then you’re left with “broken” and un-useable ADP.

Luckily, the body has minions that repair ADP back into ATP, and that’s what the energy systems are all about: recycling junk to sustain energy so that you don’t keel over during whatever it is that you happen to be doing…like breathing and being alive.

Not all of these minions work by the same mechanism. These “minions” are commonly known as energy systems. You have three primary energy systems: the aerobic system, the lactic-anaerobic system, and the alactic-anaerobic system.

  • The aerobic (oxidative) system sustains output for hours.
  • The lactic-anaerobic (glycolytic) system sustains output for around 60-90 seconds.
  • The alactic-anaerobic (ATP-PC) system sustains output for around 10-15 seconds.

These systems don’t exist in vacuums. As you read this, all three of the above systems are on, it’s just that they’re only on a certain percentage based on what you’re doing with your body, and how quickly you need energy.

Imagine sprinting as fast as you can.

For the first 100M or so, you’d be alactic-anaerobic and burning through phosphocreatine stores, which regenerate energy quickly. Because PC-Minions regenerate ATP quickly, you’re at near-max energy potential with every stride.

After the 100M, you’d fade into the lactic-anaerobic energy pathway and use glycogen to replenish energy. Glyco-Minions regenerate ATP slower than PC-Minions.This is why speed drops; there’s not as much free energy floating around. You’re bursting firecrackers, but, with every passing second, less and less are being restored. And with less around, you can’t perform as well.

If you’re in terrible running shape (like me), you’ll fizzle into the aerobic energy pathway before you reach the 800M mark. You’re now at a slow jog. Or, if you’re fat like me you’re walking, and one step away from putting your hands on your knees and bowing your head. The aerobic energy pathway can use glycogen or triglycerides (stored fat) in order to replenish energy.

For lower intensity longer duration work, triglycerides get the nod because (a) they take a long time to break down and get put to use, which is fine when you don’t need lots of energy, (b) they yield a lot more energy, and (c) you have a near unlimited supply of triglycerides (collectively known as body fat), so you can maintain the low output for a long period of time.

This is how the energy systems break down in a vacuum, but life is a rabbit hole.

Multiple bouts and rest intervals mess with the time stamps on each energy system. In other words, sprinting all out for ten seconds is alactic-anaerobic. But if you sprinted for ten seconds, rested for ten seconds, and then sprinted again for ten seconds, you can bet your second sprint to push into lactic-anaerobic territory.

Protein can also sneak into the story. If you’re starving and in desperate need of energy, your body can break down protein (muscle tissue) and use it to regenerate ADP back into ATP.

Are you on the toilet right now? Because I’m starting to confuse the shit out of myself. Flush me downtown, baby.

You can ignore the complex stuff above as long as you understand most of the voluntary movement you perform in a given day is aerobic, or perhaps better said: could be taken care of aerobically.

You’re using body fat to fuel most of your daily voluntary activities.

Typing, sitting, walking, sleeping, breathing — you’re able to sustain these things for a loooonnnng period of time. Don’t get confused. Walking and jogging (and the typical McFitness exercise shtick) is also aerobic, just at a higher gradient.

Now that we’ve talked about the body, let’s talk about the brain.

Your brain is a little different than your body. Your brain likes to sip on liver glycogen (stored carbohydrates) for fuel. But liver glycogen stores are finite.

A crude estimate for liver glycogen longevity is 24 hours. So if you went without food for one day, you’d be empty. No bueno. Because no fuel for the brain makes for a dead brain.

Assuming Western eating habits, no big deal though. We eat often. And we eat the types of foods that are easily stored as liver glycogen.

But humans can survive without food for longer than one day, no matter how hangry some people get six hours after their last meal. Hangriness is a pet peeve of mine. There’s nothing worse than people crying about hunger even though they’ve eaten less than twelve hours ago.

We can survive longer than one day without food because the human body is a wizard. When liver glycogen runs out, the body breaks down its body fat to produce ketones, which the brain uses when liver glycogen runs dry.

Alright. Got all that, chief? Enough of the science crap. I probably got half of it wrong anyway. (Oops.) Now we connect two and two.

Assume zombies attack and you’re stranded in your basement. Without food. You’re like a bear hibernating for the winter.

What substance is going to keep your brain alive and kicking the longest? Fat. 

What substance is going to keep your body alive and kicking in a low intensity shut down state the longest? Fat.

Body fat is your savings account because it’s your Oh Shit fund. If you ever lose your job and have no income (aren’t eating), your savings account keeps you afloat the longest, allowing you to (attempt to) find a new job.

Humans are, shall we say, fatphillic. We have an affinity for storing body fat because our evolutionary history was filled with nutrient and energy shortages. Being fatphillic meant you could better survive those shortages. Better survival rates made for better reproductive rates, meaning those fatphillic genes were passed down over time.

Unfortunately, in today’s Western world, being fatphillic is worse for survival. Type II diabetes is on the rise, which should be renamed Pizza the Hutt Syndrome.

pizza-the-hutt-spaceballs

Because, for all intents and purposes, type II diabetes is the disease of eating yourself to death. It’s when all of your fat cells are full up with nutrients and energy, meaning the junk has no where to go. So it floats around in your body (high blood sugar) and causes mayhem.

Humans want to store body fat when possible. The “when possible” being an important qualification. Don’t read this and think you’re destined to be fat (even though if you live in the Western world, well, you kind of are).

In order to put money into savings, you have to first be taking care of your immediate expenses.

You won’t put money into savings if you can’t afford your mortgage.

You won’t get gain fat if you can’t fuel your basic survival functions.

eugen sandow dost thou even hoist

If someone offered you $1,000,000 to successfully predict one book that’d still be for sale 100 years from now, what book would you pick?

  1. A book that just started selling yesterday.
  2. A book that’s been selling for 100 years.

If someone offered you $1,000,000 to accurately predict one human that’d be alive 100 years from now, what person would you pick?

  1. A baby that’s been alive for only one day.
  2. An elder that’s been alive for 100 years.

Think it over.

I’ll come back to this in a second.

I am better off putting the money into a bucket and lighting it on fire, allowing me to turn off the heat in my house for five minutes and save three cents on my electricity bill. But I don’t. I fall for it.

I sign up for a new kind of website technology called The Grid. It’s an artificially intelligent website builder that shapes itself around the type of content you create.

Well, I don’t really like my website. So this new thing has to be better. The future! Yes! It sounds fresh and exciting. Who needs that smell old stuff everyone else is using? I’ll check it out. 

Us humans have a love for the new. What’s the hippest and coolest app? What’s the latest and greatest training method? What’s the revolutionary new diet?

Nassim Taleb often refers to this love for the new as neomania, which makes it sounds like a disease. And that’s a good thing, because our love for the new often backfires.

No matter how exciting new things seem, most new things aren’t as effective as old things. Old things are old because they’ve been useful enough to stick around.

In your right hand, there are perishable things. Things that go bad. Things that die. Things with a true lifespan. Food. Humans. Animals.

In your left hand, there are non-perishable things. Things that never go bad. Things that pass through generations. Books. Beliefs. Technology.

The Lindy Effect says that, with every passing day: the perishable things in your right hand get closer to extinction, where as the non-perishables in your left hand get closer to immortality.

Predicting a book that’s going to be around 100 years from now? Choose a book that’s been around for 100 years already. 

Predicting a human that’s going to be around 100 years from now? Choose a human that hasn’t yet seen 100 days.

If you want to avoid neomania, you can run everything through Lindy. Ask yourself: has this stood the test of time?

Most of what we rely on and need to transform our minds and bodies are non-perishable things, meaning they’ve been around for a long time.

How do you live a good life? Most of the useful advice of today has roots in Stoicism and Buddhism. Even the most useful points of psychology (cognitive biases) can be seen throughout old books and stores.

How do you eat good food? Food itself is perishable, but the idea of eating certain things to sustain life isn’t. Were people eating what you’re eating 100 years ago?

lindy effect gimmicks sandow

How do you train? The ThighMaster isn’t popular anymore. That there hunk of iron? Eugen Sandow was hoisting that in 1900. Gymnastics rings. Pull-up bars. Parallel bars. All have been around for a loonnngggg time.

Supplements? I’ll let you do the mental gymnastics on this one. I can’t give you all the answers now, can I?

Wait…

I can hear it…

YOU’RE WRITING THIS ON A COMPUTER, YOU IDIOT. COMPUTERS ARE NEW! THE INTERNET! LINDY IS STUPID. YOU’RE STUPID. 

You’re right.

Not everything that withstands the test of time is useful, and not everything new will prove to be useless. And sometimes perishable things that’ve been around a while have the upper hand in lasting longer.

Someone that’s lived for 50 years might be someone you want to bet on to live another 50 years because they have proven to be a somewhat resilient and healthy human. A two day old baby doesn’t have that same track record.

But you’re also wrong.

Because you’re falling trap to the survivorship bias and overvaluing the few successors, all the while (as Taleb would say, or so I would like to think) ignoring the cemetery of evidence.

Lindy is a beginning, not an end.

But the odds are in Lindy’s favor.

So while that electronic abdominal blaster gizmo will seem cool — you’ll buy one, don’t worry; just like you’ll buy outrageous supplements — keep Lindy in mind when your internal GPS is ready to recalculate.

Here’s a thought experiment that’ll blow your mind (premise of which comes from Tony Robbins):

Instead of thinking things happen to you, think instead things happening for you.

Sitting in traffic? Girlfriend dumps you? Break a bone? Stuck in your wife’s dutch oven? These things happen for you, not to you.

…which isn’t necessarily to coast into “everything happens for a reason” fairy tale land. Things don’t always happen for a reason. But you can always learn and grow from the things that do happen.

I’d ask you make this thought experiment an actual experiement in this thing called, you know, real life. But it’s not easy. The Dark Side of your biology wants you to be a selfish sourpuss.

But if you’re able to suppress the Dark Side and walk through life this way, everything changes because the model changes.

The word model isn’t all that spicy and may seem a bit foreign, but you use hundreds of models every second of every day. They anchor your expectations, help you make decisions, and serve as your compass when navigating the world.

I’ll steal the fancy pants definition of a model from from Peter Bevelin’s book, Seeking Wisdom, which is one of those books you tell yourself you’re going to re-read every year. But when you crack it open, you wonder what kind of mischief is going down in Lee Child’s seven millionth Jack Reacher book, even though you really don’t want to read another Jack Reacher book.

You decide to read one page of Seeking Wisdom per day, all the while thinking that maybe, just maybe, there’s a series of satirical stories that can be written about the same information, making it easier to digest than the current bowl of sawdust you’re shoving into your mouth.

But then you remember the difference between EQ and IQ and, oh snap!, realize you’re the finest producer of sawdust in the galaxy.

Ahem…

A model is an idea that helps us better understand how the world works. Models illustrate consequences and answer questions like ‘why’ and ‘how’.

Models help us avoid problems. Assume that we are told that the earth consists of infinite resources. By knowing the idea about limits, we know the statement is false. Someone gives us an investment proposal about a project that contradicts the laws of physics. How much misery can be avoided by staying away from whatever doesn’t make scientific sense?

-Peter Bevelin, Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger

Perhaps a more practical definition: a belief system of how something is supposed to work that shapes how you interpret (and react to) events and solve (and approach) problems.

My farts smell like a dead animal. Whatever. Farts smell bad. If my farts smelled like peaches, you’d be all sorts of confused because the models around flatulence you have don’t allow for fruity farting.

When talking flatulence, models seem silly. But the greatest breakthroughs throughout human history are nothing more than model makeovers.

The earth is round, not flat. Sail around the world!  Time and space aren’t constant. Wormholes and time travel! All people are pink and squishy on the inside. Slavery might not have been a great idea after all!

Should I have used an exclamation point for that last sentence! I know I shouldn’t have for the last one, it was a question, which makes this paragraph terribly confusing! My ego is running amok! What’s happening! All your base are belong to me!

Everything changes when the model changes, which is why models are a bigger deal than Ron Burgundy. As Charlie Munger said in his famous USC Business School speech, they are the key to worldly wisdom.

You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.

-Charlie Munger, USC Business School speech

Given that everything is at the mercy of models, what I’m about to say is particularly problematic:

Most of the models we have about the process of physical transformations are busted. And the models somewhat intact are still crooked enough to cause concern…sort of like the taste buds of the folks that drink IPAs.

Here’s a story to show you the mayhem that (potentially) ensues when you’re guided by models that are muy malo.

…..

I am sixteen years old. I am eating breakfast. Two eggs over medium, home fries, three pieces of bacon, wheat toast, and pancakes.

I wonder why I am skinny-fat. Fuck. At least Sunday morning breakfast replaced Sunday morning church. I don’t sit through an hour of existential mayhem anymore, I develop body image issues on account of grandiose breakfast feasts. Is it worth? You betcha.

I take a sip of my chocolate milk. And then I realize something.

You poop out your body fat.

The solid mass of fat stays solid. It oozes out of the belly pouch and love handles. It slithers through the body. It’s gone with the rest of my waste.

It makes so much sense. It has to be true.

Luckily, when I reached this Nobel Prize realization, I was sitting high on the philosophologist’s throne. (SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE, LOL.)

Because if I would have ran with my idea, I would have had the runs. Indeed, nothing would have said Success! quite like me shitting out my intestines.

Given my miraculous scientific discovery, I could have outlined my strategy. Alright, poop is the key. So I need to poop more. Cool. And then my tactics would have followed. Chug TurboLax in coffee. Sprinkle psyllium husk on everything. Schedule routine enemas.

And I could have made this list right after I bought invisibility pills, played the lottery, and bowed my head in prayer.

Strategies and tactics are at the mercy of the the model. So bad models make for bad strategies make for bad tactics. This is why models are high food chain thinking, where as tactics are low food chain thinking.

Too bad you’re (usually) suckered into creaming over the tactics, tips, tricks, hacks, shortcuts, next low food chain thinking buzzword of the month without considering the model.

A tactics first focus sounds good. Your time is valuable. A most precious commodity. Keeping Up with the Kardashians is one of the most popular shows on TV. Makes total sense.

So don’t tell me to paint no fence or wax no car. Don’t nobody gat time fo ‘dat filosofikal drivel, Mr. Miyagi. 

But when you plop this atop a bad model, you’re in for a world of hurt. And if pooping out your body fat seems a little far fetched, did you know, well, that, perhaps, just, maybe you’re not fat, MAYBE YOU’RE JUST BLOATED!

Bad tactics aren’t Mewtwo rare when you’re stomping through the McFitness PlayPlace. Ahem. P90X. Toning. Jillian Fucking Michaels. All the pre and post-workout supplement garbage. The ShakeWeight.

Jim: I got an idea, guys. What if we make a plastic dumbbell you have to shake like this?

shakeweight mcfitness

Bob: I don’t know Jim. That looks a lot like how a guy masturbates. Don’t you think guys will have enough experience to know doing this every day won’t make them ripped because, if it did, they’d already be ripped?

Jim: No, Bob. You don’t understand. These idiots don’t think in models. And apparently you don’t either. You’re fired.

I wanted one of those blue ab wheel contraptions so bad when I was in middle school. I wanted it to melt the fat off my belly. But I also thought supersetting sets of mechanized ab wheel rollouts with eating stuffed crust DiGiorno pepperoni pizza was my golden ticket.

My model of fat loss didn’t include food because, uhh, the commercial didn’t say anything about food. Or maybe it did in one pixel font at the bottom of the screen.

McFitness often implores you to gaze into the yonder at the beautiful foliage, the setting sun, and the pot of gold at the end of the glistening rainbow.

“You need to take the first step forward, and all of it can be yours,” they say.

Sounds good, until you realize you’re standing on the edge of the Empire State building, where the first step forward puts you on the human silly putty express.

Ready for the double whammy? If you continue on the low food chain tactical scavenger hunt, you’ll forego the high food chain thinking needed to fix the sinking ship.

As long as my models tell me that pooping is the magic fat loss solution, I’m going to look for ways to poop more.

TurboLax doesn’t work? Well. I mean. It works. My butthole is one fire. But it didn’t melt my body fat. Alright. What else can make my poop more? Habanero peppers? Psyllium husk? Colonoscopy? What’s the magic tactic?

The triple whammy…?

Humans are storytelling machines. You see people doing x, y, z on the television. You try x, y, z. You don’t get the same results. You conclude you’re broken, different, damaged, deranged, and other d words with negative connotations because alliteration is fun.

All because of the model.

But don’t let me fool you. I’m a walking contradiction. (My new job title?) I don’t always have hemorrhoids, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Wait. No. That’s not what was supposed to come out.

If I had hemorrhoids, I wouldn’t want someone to drag me through a Mr. Miyagi inspired “paint the fence” cure. Just give me the salve, mandingo.

Thanks to modern day beauty culture, the body is just another hemorrhoid. It’s unsightly. It’s uncomfortable. It’s embarrassing. It’s a problem that needs fixed as quickly as possible.

Biology doesn’t help. Humans are conservation machines. Why drown yourself in a river of philosophy when you can just take a pill?

kaneda pill jacket

We’re wired to gobble up low food chain thinking, and it’s not uncommon to fight fire with fire.

“Do this, not that.”

But that’s a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Because even with Good tactics, you still might not do well without a robust model in your back pocket. But the reason why I’ll save for another time. I already want to stab my eyes out.

So the real answer? To avoid tactical-go-round, and, instead, evaluate the model upon which the tactics stick.

To use better models so that the right tactics become undeniable and the wrong tactics become sensible only if you’re an Oompa Loompa living in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

To which now you’re surely wondering how we’ve come so far without mentioning one single Good model.

Do I just I love spitting sawdust into the ether to test your attention span (or maybe I just suck at communicating)? Partly. But I really do want to give you the One Model to Rule Them All and be done with this model business (trust me, I’ve rewritten this like twelve billion times).

But there is no such thing as the One Model to Rule Them All.

As Munger said in the same speech referenced above, you need to have a variety of models.

Well, the first rule is that you’ve got to have multiple models—because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you’ll think it does. You become the equivalent of a chiropractor who, of course, is the great boob in medicine.

-Charlie Munger, USC Business School speech

If you stick around my website long enough (and survive the sawdust) you’ll learn many of the models I use because that’s my modus operandi.

Imagine not believing in gravity and getting upset when things fall to the ground. You’d live life as a frustrated and confused mess. Most people trying to look better (naked) and move better (athletically) are, in some sense, walking around as if gravity didn’t exist.

When you fix models, the world becomes less mysterious and more predictable. Decisions become self-evident. You trust the process. You cope with situations. <Insert another vague sentence that goes down smooth, yet has no substance here.>

So although I can’t give you the One Model to Rule Them All, the high food chain thinking toolbox I gave you is more valuable than any one single model.

You just can’t be afraid to open it up and get to work. As Daniel Kahneman said in Thinking, Fast and Slow:

Questioning what we believe and want is difficult at the best of times, and especially difficult when we most need to do it…

-Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

 

Imagine you die.

Suddenly.

But you’re lucky.

Your friend has phoenix down. Revives you.

(If you’re unlucky, you don’t know what a phoenix down is so you die and this conversation is over.)

Next day you die again.

Friend has second phoenix down. Revives you again.

Next day you die again.

See…

Phoenix down brings you back. But doesn’t fix WHY you’re dying.

phoenix down injuries

If you have clogged artery, you come back…but just clogs again.

To fully heal, you need to dissect. Fix real problem.

Injuries are similar.

Pain is manifestation, result, of an injury.

Pain isn’t the problem. It’s your body telling you there’s a problem…somewhere.

You can fix pain (phoenix down) without fixing the reason for pain.

This is what most people do when they rest injuries.

Feels nice to do. Sit back. Relax. Pain goes away. You feel good.

But there’s a 96.4% chance you’ll ram right into pain again because you didn’t fix the reason you were in pain. (All statistics are taken from the National Journal of National Journals.)

So bed rest fixes pain, but doesn’t fix reason for pain. Meaning bed rest is fine if you plan on resting in bed until you die.

If you don’t?

Dissect. Find the cause, fix the cause, and sacrifice for the cause…even if it means regressing in certain areas.

Pain is just a symptom.

To fully heal doesn’t mean just being pain free.

When you’re dealing with an injury, ask yourself:

Are you fixing the pain? Or are you fixing the problem that’s causing the pain?

Assuming the injury isn’t random (sometimes injuries are random), look for the reason. Deal with the pain, yeah, but don’t stop there. Dig. Dig. Dig.

Where there is smoke, there’s fire. Putting out the fire is lovely. But the more attention you give to the fire itself, the less you give to the arsonist sprinting out of the back door and into the woods.

And as long as the arsonist is alive, your house is in danger.

 

 

It’s 12AM. You’ve been drinking for a few hours. You feel good. The party isn’t stopping anytime soon. Neither are you.

It’s 4AM. You look at your pyramid of empty beer cans and the empty bottles of tequila. You think to yourself, “Geez. I drank a lot. But I’m sill feeling good. Awesome.”

anthony mychal tequila

Yet as soon as you flop down into bed, the entire room twists around you. You feel like you’re being sucked into a void. You have, what my good friend Bobby calls, the whirlies.

Do whatever it takes to stay awake when you have the whirlies. Get up. Walk around. Tell someone to punch you in the face. These strategies only work 33% of the time though. The other 66% of the time, you’re so drunk you can’t even feel the cold touch of a Sharpie on your cheek.

You wake up with a hangover and think, “This is awful. I need to do something. Slam down fatty breakfast foods? Chuck back a bottle of painkillers? Something. Anything.

The logic is as follows…

First, there’s a problem. Something you want fixed. Something you want changed.

Second, you think, “What do I need to ADD in order to solve the problem?”

This logic isn’t isolated.

  • Fat? What supplements should I take?
  • Sick? What medicine should I take? 
  • Weak? What exercise should I do?
  • Bad posture? What stretches should I do?
  • Sad? What kind of alcohol should I drink?
  • Injured? What kind of brace should I wear?
  • Tired? What form of caffeine should I consume?

Maybe there’s some deep biological wiring pushing us towards solution by addition. Maybe it’s consumerist beauty culture and the idea that, well, you aren’t enough and, with our product, you can feel whole.

But what if there was a better way?

What if solution by addition only made the problem worse?

You might know of the n-body problem. If not, don’t wet yourself. It’s simple. The n-body problem goes like this: problems with two variables are simple, but once you add a third you might as well shove a toenail in your eye.

Adding variables makes things more confusing, and more confusing things tend to lead to more problems. Perhaps the scariest examples being forms of iatrogenics, which are problems caused by medical interventions.

Get surgery, get a sponge left inside of your body. Get prescribed sixteen drugs, six of which conflict with each other. Go to a chiropractor and listen any single word that comes out of his or her mouth.

It’s one thing to absolutely need medical attention, like, Oh no there’s a toenail stuck in my eye. The upsides of the situation outweighing the potential iatrogenic downsides.

But a lot of medical interventions aren’t emergency situations. A lot of surgery is elective. A lot of surgery is avoidable. Back surgeries? Hip replacements? Liposuction?

Culture says little about prevention, which usually requires via negativa, otherwise said: living by way of denial.

A lot of problems can be solved by eliminating rather than adding.

…..

Body fat?

Instead of thinking about what exercises to start doing, think about which foods to stop eating.

Bad posture?

Instead of thinking about what mobility drills to start doing, think about what positions you’re in that are killing your posture to begin with.

Tired?

Instead of thinking about what form of caffeine to consume, think about what you can stop doing that’s preventing a good night’s sleep.

Overwhelmed?

Instead of thinking about the next planner app, think about the ability to eliminating thoughts from your brain (meditate).

Injured?

Instead of thinking about what brace to wear, think about eliminating the movements casing you pain. (But don’t just cast a phoenix down.)

…..

We should expand the definition of iatrogenics: an unnecessary addition, especially when a subtraction would be safer (and potentially more effective).

Now, this isn’t to say all addition is evil. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to exercise if you’re trying to build a better body. It’s necessary if you want any semblance of muscle mass.

But when you add things to your life, you’re going to add complications. Strength training? Oh yeah. Time. Injuries. Motivation. Blah.

Think instead about the behaviors you already have and what you can do with them.

Shampooed and conditioned my hair, as you can tell. You gotta’ condition your hair cause…everyone else does.

Someone told me the reason we’re supposed to condition our hair is ’cause we shampoo our hair too often. So instead of using one product less often, we just added another product.

Yah my wife didn’t like me drinking beer every night and so make her feel better I started drinking beer and whiskey. Maybe that’ll get her off my back.

-Jim Gaffigan, Obsessed

It’s 12:05PM. I was supposed to train at 12:00PM. I don’t know when I’ll drag myself downstairs to my home gym. I will. Eventually.

But one thing is for sure:

I’m not jumping out of my seat with a head and heart full of motivation. And I’m not expecting to, either. Because motivation is one of the biggest McFitness mythologies.

You look in the mirror and hate what you see. Your discontent seeps into every aspect of your life. You know you want to lose fat and build muscle. But you can never stay motivated.

Talk about a psychological disconnect. Your brain wants something more than anything else in the world, but it closes the motivational flood gates as soon as you start working towards the goal.

A lot of people struggle with motivation. Me included. Don’t feel lonely or broken. Everyone wants to know how to get motivated (or get more motivation), but here’s the Truth:

Getting (and creating) motivation isn’t the hard part. It’s super easy to create a lot of motivation in a short amount of time. The hard part is sustaining the motivation.

You tell yourself, “I’ll start Monday!” And you do. Hardcore. You feel fresh. You feel good. Tuesday comes, and you hang on. Wednesday comes and you feel a little…off. Your grip starts to fail. Thursday, well, uhh, you see, something came up, and, uhh, well, I just couldn’t.

“I’ll start Monday!”

But you can only start so many Mondays full of motivation. Before long, even if you’re consciously ready to (finally) be consistent and do work, your subconscious identifies the charade.

“Oh, great. You’re doing this song and dance again. I know what this is all about. You’re going to quit two days later. No need to get excited. It’s just a passing phase.”

Consciously fooling your subconscious isn’t easy.

This series of articles is going to help you break the pattern and resolve your motivational cognitive dissonance. You’re not necessarily going to learn how to create motivation so much as you’re going to learn how to sustain behavior.

See what I did there?

Behavior.

Most of us have things about us we want to change. We don’t like the way we look. We don’t like the fat around our belly. We don’t like how shirts fit over our chest. We think we need more muscle.

So we have goals:

Look better naked, lose weight, build muscle.

Most of us seek refuge in diets and training programs. Whether or not you realize it, these all say, in some way or another:

“This is what you need to start doing and stop doing in order achieve x, y, z. If you keep living the way you’re living, nothing will change.”

A lot of people don’t connect the dots and realize something super important: when you say, “I want to lose fat,” what you’re really saying is…

“I want to change my behaviors. I want to start doing things that’ll make me lean, I want to stop doing things that’ll make me fat.”

And this is why change is so dang hard.

Think about it for a second…

For most things in life, if you want to do something, you’re just do it. If you want a beer, you’re going to drink a beer. If you want new clothes, you buy clothes.

Millions of people want to look better naked…

…yet can’t get themselves to do what it takes to look better naked.

This is because they want to look good naked, but they don’t necessarily want to adopt the behaviors needed to look good naked.

So let’s frame it behaviorally.

I want to look good naked = I want to stop eating cake.

Is the behavior part True? Have no fear. Be honest with yourself. You don’t have to kid around with me. I’m real.

I’m not afraid to admit that, most days, I wonder why I do what I do. I think about giving up, drinking beer, and shoving my face with muck until I die (happily and well fed) of diabetes.

I don’t want to face the behavioral reality most days, which is probably why I bounce back and forth between muscle jacked and fat sacked. I’ll do anything for a rhyme, haven’t you figured that out yet?

motivation anthony mychal

Being honest about how you feel is important because (as mentioned), you can’t fool your subconscious.

People with low confidence crash and burn when they use positive reinforcement. You tell yourself I’m awesome! but deep down you don’t believe it to be true. The cognitive dissonance is too heavy to handle.

Once you open up the behavioral reality, you can see why you aren’t overflowing with motivation. We want the result, but we don’t necessarily want the behavior.

This can be physiological as well as psychological. Most alcoholics want to stop drinking, but they don’t because they crave the physiological effect of alcohol.

A lot of behaviors have deep physiological roots that are often pawned off on psychological inadequacies.

For instance, you get upset that you’re unable to resist eating the whole pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner, yet humans have this inkling to consume different flavor foods because flavors hint of nutrient composition. Or you get upset that you’re overeating, yet you’re also under sleeping — a trigger for craving certain foods.

Already motivation is getting confusing, but let’s hop down the rabbit hole and spiral into further mayhem in order to make the (eventual) resolution sweeter.

Interest

You’re scouring the Internet for information. You’re letting me abuse your eyeballs. You’re interested. You probably aren’t going to lawn care websites and signing up for fertilizing tips. Or maybe you are, I don’t know. The more interested you are, the more motivated you’ll be.

Feelings

What are your overt attitude towards the behavior? Do you see the behavior as a pain or pleasure? Do you see the outcome of performing said behavior as a reward or as punishment?

We’re smelly moist machines with ancient software programming us to be risk averse. We avoid punishment and pain, we seek pleasure and reward.

The more pain, punishment, and discomfort you associate towards a behavior (the act or the outcome), the less motivated you’ll be to perform said behavior.

Ability

Are you able to perform the behavior? It’s easier to do something you already know how to do. There’s less cognitive strain.

Expectancy

Do you expect said behavior to make some kind of a difference? If you’ve yoyo dieted twelve times in the past year, you’ll have a low expectancy. Remember?

“Oh, great. You’re doing this song and dance again. I know what this is all about. You’re going to quit two days later. No need to get excited. It’s just a passing phase.”

Also, the more pressure you attach to the end of the loop (result you’re expecting from performing said behavior), the less motivation you might have. Seems counter intuitive.

You’d think a big payoff would make you more motivated. But big payoffs usually have high stakes. And high stakes tap into that whole risk aversion gig mentioned before.

Timeliness

The longer it takes to see the result, the less motivation you’ll have. Our brain gets hooked easier on things with immediate feedback. In the Land of Bod, things don’t happen quickly…save for injuries.

I’m sure there are more facets to motivation. But these are some of the broad strokes, and they’re all you need in order to see why most people aren’t motivated to train regularly and eat better.

For some strange reason, I want to be a better trickster (freestyle acrobat). I’m not that good. It gnaws at me. It taunts me. If you were worth a salt as a human being, you’d be able to do x, y, and z. This reflects on you as a human being, you failure you. 

#cheatgainer #tricking #acrobatics #movement

A video posted by Anthony Mychal (@anthonymychal) on

 

It’s 100% irrational. I could stop tricking tomorrow and my life would go on just fine. I wouldn’t lose friends. I wouldn’t combust.

You’re probably in the same situation. Shit isn’t a matter of life and death. You aren’t going to lose your job. The burden is psychologically heavy, but not life threateningly heavy.

And when you consider the idea of finding more motivation (or being struck with more motivation by some divine intervention), what you’re really asking for is a complete perceptual rewiring.

In other words, you want to have an epiphany.

Epiphanies require a deep perceptual shift. A behavior formerly seen as positive, happy, or safe (or even neutral) becomes something very very very very very negative. Remember: humans are pain and punishment averse. If a behavior is suddenly associated with pain and punishment, we’re less likely to engage.

Ever heard of someone that decided seemingly overnight that meat was evil and being a vegetarian was the right thing to do? Happens all the time.

I had an epiphany when I was eighteen. I was eating a second bag of brown sugar (no icing, please) Pop-Tarts, right after eating a bunch of pizza (in my college’s cafeteria). As I cracked open the bag I thought to myself, “What the hell am I doing? This isn’t going to get me the body I want. Something has to change.” I never acted the same way since.

Epiphanies sound awesome, and they are. But they’re impossible to consciously trigger. Meaning you can wait around for years, waiting for one to happen. But it’s not guaranteed to happen.

True, if you maintain interest in certain things long enough, you’re more likely to have an epiphany. Someone that’s been scouring the Internet (and books) for ten years straight years, immersing themselves in health and fitness, is more likely to have an epiphany than someone that’s only held interest for one day.

I suppose you could float around in a purgatory and cross your fingers and hope for an epiphany to strike. But, for the most part, conscious epiphanies are for suckers, as is the idea of one day finding more motivation.

Good news for all: you can stop trying to “find motivation” in faux pseudo-inspirational Instagram pictures posted by people with lives 100% opposite of yours.

They might make you feel warm and fuzzy for one millisecond, but they do nothing positive for you in the end. They’re more likely to do something negative: make you feel bad about yourself for not being motivated.

But imagine if your income and livelihood hinged on whether or not the last row of your abdominal muscles popped out. All of those chunks that make up motivation — interest, attitudes, feelings, expectancy, etc. — change, meaning your levels of motivation also change.

And if you’re comparing your motivation situation to that of a professional athletes’s, you might as well compare your jambalaya to Emeril Lagasse’s.

Throw your ambitions down the toilet. All hope is lost.

Just kidding. That’s not what I am saying. What I am saying is this: the model of motivation you have as it relates to behavior change is toxic.

Motivation isn’t some static entity you either have, or don’t have. It ebbs and flows because it’s connected to your mood and thoughts.

The quickest way for me to lose all motivation is to watch the news, because it’s all about death, destruction, and sadness.

You’re all ready to get started on a new diet, and then you catch a glimpse of the main headline: Child Dies From Parental Neglect. And then comes one of those awful Sarah McLachlan dog commercials.

I WILLLL REEMMMMEMMBBEERRRR YOUUUUU.

Suddenly your head is filled with self-defeating negative thoughts.

I’m going to die anyway. Who cares what I look like. It doesn’t matter. Just inject bacon grease into my intravenously. Get it over with quicker. I hate everything.

Sure, you can (should) stop watching the news. Reduce your depressing input. But you can’t hide from everything. Maybe work upsets you. Or someone at work. Or someone you interact with during your day on the way to work. Even family can crawl under your fingernails at times.

Most of us aren’t Chris Traeger, permanently positive. Despite the world being filled with beauty for miles in each direction, it only takes is one tiny input to crumble a castle of resolve that takes days (years!) to build.

If you’re trying to change your behaviors, you shouldn’t rely on motivation. It’s like relying on a wobble board to keep stable.

There’s a better way.

You can rewire yourself. On your own terms.

Take the bull by the horns (or whatever the cool kid say these days).

But you have to do it right.

…..

There is a Part 2 to this article in the works. If you want to be the first to know when it drops, signup to my private email list (form below). 

It was just another day of algebra before “the incident.” I was looking at the chalkboard. Trying to FOIL. Two girls sitting to my right broke my focus when they started giggling.

I looked over at them. They looked over at me. It was one of those awkward I’m pretty sure you’re laughing at me and looking at me because you want me to know you’re laughing at me but I can’t say anything to you because if you aren’t laughing at me then it makes me look bad because it hints that I feel like I’m worthy enough to be talked about moments.

I broke through my introverted nature (somehow) and asked, “What’s up?”

The alpha female went in close and whispered to her servant. The servant pigeoned her head in my direction. She covered half of her mouth with her hand. She knew the devastation she was about drop was huge. She was doing me a favor. Keeping the blast radius small. Limiting public consumption.

“You have girl boobs,” she said.

Game, set, match. Ego defeated. Walls up. That whole being able to break through introversion and talk to girls? Nope. Gone. Forever. Bye.

anthony mychal skinny-fat

But the girl boob thing wasn’t much of a surprise. I wore an undershirt on gym class days so I didn’t have to show my soft and flabby stomach. I couldn’t do one push-up, let alone one pull-up. I had cheerio sized wrists. Chunky love handles. String bean arms. A sunken upper chest. And, uhhh, oh, yeah, moobs.

It was a combination so elegantly unique that only Emeril Lagasse could have cooked up such a magnificent blend of lanky and muffin top.

I remember watching Comedy Central’s The Man Show. Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Corolla were talking about a dude’s physique. They say he’s one of those dudes that looks decent with a shirt on, but, without a shirt, things change.

I couldn’t help but think to myself…oh man, that’s me. I didn’t hear the term “skinny-fat” until I saw an article written for skinny-fat ectomorphs on Kelly Baggett’s website (Higher Faster Sports).

I didn’t know what being a skinny-fat ectomorph entailed, but I immediately identified with the term. I didn’t have much muscle, hence skinny. I had a bunch of fat, hence fat. Made sense to me.

The ectomorph bit comes from the somatotypes, which loosely categorizes people into three distinct body structures.

Somatotypes and Skinny-Fat Syndrome

Endomorphs (leftmost) live on one side of the spectrum. They gain weight easily and have a difficult time staying lean. They are usually short. Just think Wario.

Mesomorphs (center) split the middle and can usually put on muscle fairly well while also staying lean. Just think Mario. Well, the new age cool Mario. Not the old and fat version.

Ectomorphs (rightmost) live on the other side. They are usually thin with longer limbs and have difficulty gaining weight. Just think Luigi.

McFitness loovooovoveesss the somatotypes. People are quick to categorize themselves, too. I’m an ecto! I’m a meso! I’m an alien! 

But the somatotypes weren’t even created for physique or performance purposes, and the vast majority of people don’t fall cleanly into one category.

Categories are man made buckets that don’t really exist. A lot of times, categorization kills, but, well, us humans love to categorize, so let’s pander.

Skinny-fat guys are a cross between ectomorphs and endomorphs, which means skinny-fat dudes have the worst of both worlds.

Even though endomorphs get fat easily, they can usually build muscle. Even though ectomorphs have trouble gaining muscle, at least they are lean. The rich get richer is the appropriate thought to have.

But, all in all, I don’t find much use in the somatotypes. Not only because of that categorization thing, but also because they add no additional color to the picture.

If you’re skinny, you probably have some ectomorphic traits. That is, if your conception of an ectomorph is someone with a smaller bone structure without a lot of muscle. And if you’re fat, you probably have some endomorphic traits. That is, if your conception of an endomorph is someone with a decent amount of body fat.

Skinny-fat ectomorph? Nah. Just skinny-fat.

The reason why people gravitate towards the somatotypes, methinks, is because it provides a rationale as to why they are the way they are, hinting at some sort of genetic predisposition.

But the vast majority of skinny-fat dudes don’t have genetic abnormalities. The use of the word “syndrome” isn’t medically rooted.

Klinefelter syndrome is the closest thing to skinny-fat syndrome, which is when males have extra X chromosome material. After puberty, a skinny-fat body blossoms.

klinefelter syndrome skinny fat

photo: source

Common symptoms of Klinefelter syndrome:

  • Tall stature
  • Feminized physique
  • More breast tissue than normal
  • Wide hips
  • Poor beard growth

Only a professional can diagnose Klinefelter syndrome. From my random musings on the Internet, most parents are recommended to talk to their children about the diagnosis. If you haven’t had said talk, I’m in the dark here otherwise. If you think you might have it, talk to your parents and talk to your doctor. Don’t make up a story in your head.

Because, uhh, I’m almost thirty years old. I still can’t grow a full beard. I’m 6’4″. I have narrow shoulders and wide hips. I had girl boobs. Fuck. Looks like I have to go the doctor.

Another genetic condition that has ties with (but isn’t elusive to or indicative of) skinny-fat syndrome is gynecomastia, which is often shortened to “gyno.”

gynecomastia skinny-fat

photo: source

Lots of guys think they have gyno. But having a bit of fat around the nipple area isn’t exactly gyno. For instance, below is a picture I took from very early on in my own transformation, alongside a picture of Georges St-Pierre.

I show these pictures for two reasons. First, on Georges you can see “puffy nipples” despite an absurdly low body fat. (Some might attribute this look to performance enhancing drugs, of which puffy nipples are  side effect.) Second, on me, you can see how my body fat funneled to the lower chest.

Neither are gyno. Lots of kids get puffier nipples during puberty, but the problem goes away with time. True gyno can only be removed with surgery. Once again, visit a trusted doctor.

skinny fat puffy nipples

So there are some genetic conditions that can be associated with skinny-fat syndrome, but most dudes aren’t skinny-fat because of their genetics.

But if skinny-fat syndrome isn’t genetic, why is it such a unique and identifiable body type? Because your physique is a reflection of how your genes have interacted with your environment.

Our primitive software combined with the first world environment is a perfect stew for skinny-fat syndrome.

Now, I realize we’ve come a long way and I still haven’t really answered the question at hand: how do you know if you’re skinny-fat?

If you identify with anything I’ve written to this point, you can consider yourself skinny-fat. A mile high view of skinny-fat syndrome: a body that’s chosen to get fat instead of muscular. There are many reasons why this decision was made, but it’s useless to think about the past.

A more Anthony Mychal view of skinny-fat syndrome: a body that has a specific body fat problem and a specific muscle mass problem.

Most skinny-fat guys carry their body fat around their lower belly, lower chest, and love handle region. And most skinny-fat guys have a wider hips, narrower shoulders, and a smaller bone structure (think thin wrists).

skinny fat physique a frame

This frame and bone structure lends itself to an “A” frame. Not a lot of muscle in the halo area (shoulders, upper chest, upper back) combined with the narrow shoulders leads to a smaller upper torso. The wider hip and fat distribution in the lower chest, lower belly, and love handles leads to a wider bottom torso.

In other words, perhaps the ultimate test as to whether or not you’re skinny-fat is if you notice some similarities between E.T. and you. That was a mean one, yes, I know. But I can say deliver the blow because I’m not only here to help you turn the wheel in the opposite direction, but also E.T.‘s cousin.

Identifying with the “skinny-fat” idea is one thing. But it’s kind of like saying I’m a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Who cares? It doesn’t matter. You’re still pink on the inside.

This is why you have to dig deeper. Now that you know you’re skinny-fat, what’s next…?

…..

There is a Part 2 to this article in the works. If you want to be the first to know when it drops, signup to my private email list (form below). 

anthony mychal fries cooked

I eat potatoes. A lot of potatoes. It doesn’t stop me from losing fat or building muscle. I used to be afraid of potatoes. Insulin! Something. I don’t know. Whatever.

My favorite way to eat potatoes: as french fries or home fries. I make them at least three times per week with burgers and omelettes.

Here’s the recipe. The difference between french fries and home fries is how to cut the potato. Everything is the same otherwise.

anthony mychal fries oven 540

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Don’t flake on the preheat. It’s not like you’re taking a frozen pizza out of the freezer and throwing it in the oven. These fries require some prep, which means you can give your oven the foreplay it needs to get all hot and bothered while you prep the potatoes.

anthony mychal fries wash potatoes

Gather and wash your potatoes. I like using redskin potatoes. Regular baking potatoes work, too. Experiment. Redskin potatoes have more flavor, which is why I use them.

You can use sweet potatoes, but they won’t finish as crisp. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll almost cut your finger off six times because sweet potatoes aren’t as soft as white potatoes. They’re tougher to cut.

anthony mychal fries cut edges

I cut the east and west edges off the potato first. To the left, I’m making home fries, so I attack the potato horizontally. To the right, I’m making french fries, so I attack the potato vertically.

I cut the edges off because they bulge, and if you leave them on your edge cuts will be twice the thickness as the middle cuts. Make the fries around the same, otherwise some will end up burnt to a crisp, while others will barely be cooked. Even size makes for even cooking.

anthony mychal french fries cut

For french fries, cut the potato vertically every half inch or so. You can make them thicker, but thick things take longer to cook. Don’t make ’em thinner, else they’ll just burn up. For home fries, cut the potato vertically every inch or so.

anthony mychal home fries cut

If you’re a cutting newb, you might want to cut one of the other edges off the potato and then lay the potato on the flat surface created by the cut. The potato won’t roll around while you cut. If you’re not experienced with knives, having things roll around while you’re in charge of a sharp object is no bueno.

But I’m all about speed, so, uhh, I’ll leave that decision up to you. (Hint: if I’m cutting sweet potatoes, I’ll use the flat surface technique.)

anthony mychal fries cut

You’ll end up with circular discs that are around the same width. It’s your call as to how you cut them from here. I usually stack the discs of the same width and cut them together.

anthony mychal french fries and home fries cut

Once your potato is cut, throw the homies or frenchies into a large bowl. (You need a bowl big enough for tossing.) Add the seasoning. You can get creative here. I usually use garlic salt (or regular sea salt). A bigger granule salt works better.

anthony mychal fries seasoning

Then comes chili powder. I consider chili powder to be an essential add. For those that can’t handle spicy foods, know that chili powder is not spicy. I use a lot of chili powder. I finish things off with cayenne pepper. If you like spicy things, go. If you don’t, don’t.

anthony mychal fries seasoned

Sometimes I’ll add some dried parsley and other spices. If I’m making sweet potatoes, sometimes I’ll add cinnamon or nutmeg (even with the cayenne). Play around. Be creative. Experiment.

A lot of people want to know exactly how much salt and spice I use, but that’s a fool’s question. It depends on your own tastes.

anthony mychal fries oil

Drizzle olive oil on top of the spiced potatoes. I’d go one tablespoon per every three or four potatoes, but this will vary depending the size of the potatoes you use. Always start with less because you can add more if needed. As my art teacher used you say: you can always shade darker, so start light.

You can use other forms of lube if you don’t want to use olive oil, just make sure it’s a liquid. So, if you use cow butter or coconut butter, melt the butter first.

Toss your potatoes in the big bowl. Flip the potatoes around the bowl and up into the air. You might lose a soldier or two during this process. Wash him off and throw him back into battle.

The spices should coat every potato, and there shouldn’t be oil left in the bottom of the bowl.

anthony mychal fries baking sheet

Spread the potatoes onto a baking sheet. Avoid overlap between the potatoes as much as possible. This part is a pain, but they cook a lot better this way. Potatoes on top of others will get soggy.

Cook them for around thirty minutes. If you have more than one batch in the oven, it’ll require more time. Less, less time. But for the first time you cook them, check them at 20 minutes and then again at 25 minutes.

You’ll know they are done when the outside gets nice and crispy, but the inside stays soft.

anthony mychal fries cooked

If you have mild overlap of potatoes on the baking sheet, take them out at thirty minutes. The ones on the bottom will be done. Flip the potatoes around a bit with a spatula and cook for another two minutes.

Here’s a recap of the recipe.

  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • Wash and cut potatoes.
  • Put potatoes into a large bowl.
  • Add spices, like salt, chili powder, and cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Add one teaspoon of olive oil (or melted butter or coconut oil) per every 3-4 potatoes. Start with less, add more if needed.
  • Toss the potatoes so that the spice coats.
  • Spread potatoes out on baking sheet.
  • Put in oven for about 30 minutes.
  • Omnonommmononononmooommm.

If you came all this way to know how I eat potatoes without it hurting my physique, it’s easy: I put these fries in my mouth and chew.

Potatoes aren’t the wretched hive of scum and villany people make them out to be. You mustn’t be cautious.

So, if you give these taters a go. Oost ’em up on Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. Give me a shutout. Bonus points for biceps in the background.

anthony mychal fries biceps

The year is 1945. Winter arrives early in the Netherlands. The weather is unusually severe. Combined with the Nazi blockade, food is in short order.

Some Dutch folk walk ten kilometer to trade their valuables for tulip bulbs. And not because they just finished reading Better Homes magazine and want their front yard to look delish. They’re buying tulip bulbs to eat them.

Nothing tastes as good as dying of starvation feels.

Trying to eat healthier? Complaining about how something tastes? How about you go outside and eat some flowers. How’s that for perspective?

(I typed the sentence as I complained about my hotel’s Internet connection. #domaindependence)

Food rations are down to 580 calories per day. That’s two regular sized Snickers bars. If I do no physical activity save for lying in bed, I need more than 580 calories per day to survive (even sans porn which would potentially possibly maybe might considerably drastically increase my energy expenditure).

Images of children growing up during this time period are haunting. Many people die. Miraculously, some pregnant women survive.

The babies of said pregnant women are studied years later by scientists. They find some interesting links between what’s now known as the Hongerwinter (Hunger Winter) and health.

Turns out, if you were a third trimester fetus during the Hongerwinter, you had increased odds of suffering from obesity and the litany of obesity related dysfunctions, like type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Rerun the tape. Something happening to you a fetus can have a huge effect on you later in life? That’s gotta’ be something genetic right?

It’s about as genetic as your house getting torn apart by a tornado. Because the scientists concluded that these metabolic problems were a direct result of the starvation, and food quality and food quantity are products of the environment. 

So the moral of the Hongerwinter phenomenon, in some way, is that eating less made a bunch of people gain weight. Sounds scary, right? Because 99.9% of fat loss strategies tell you to eat less.

So let’s deconstruct the Hongerwinter phenomenon piece by piece to make sure you don’t end up with a metabolism that functions like Charlie Sheen on a Saturday night.

Envision a car. There’s an immediate fuel tank, but there’s also a bunch of those red fuel canisters in the trunk. Spoiler alert: those red canisters are your fat cells.

You want to empty those red canisters? Alright. Fill up the tank with less fuel, and drive around more. This is how the mechanical model goes, right? Eat less, move more.

But machines don’t care whether or not they run out of fuel. They aren’t living and breathing biological entities, which absolutely do care about their fuel situation. So let’s add a human element to this analogy.

You get kidnapped. Blindfolded. With a gun tickling your temple, a thick Russian accent tells you that your family has been kidnapped. In order to free them you have to drive on a one way road to a certain destination.

You have no idea how long the road is. You have no idea if there are any gas stations on the road. Are you going to be doing donuts and peeling tire? Are you going to let the car idle when you take naps in order to keep the AC on?

The car may have a relatively steady miles per gallon output, but focusing on the logistics ignores adjustments the driver can make in light of the situation at hand.

This fuel is important, so I can’t be wasteful.

Your body (not necessarily your consciousness) is fully aware of its fuel situation. From a biological fitness perspective, no fuel means no life. Do not pass go, do not collect two-hundred dollars.

Oh, would you look at that? I mentioned money. What a fantastic segue because here’s where we begin to replace the mechanical model with the money model (even though I nailed my car analogy).

Your metabolism is less like a machine and more like a financially savvy human handling money. Remember Claire? From accounting? She doesn’t want to go broke. Neither does your body.

So you can relate your conscious financial behaviors to your body’s unconscious resource behaviors. This helps from both a physiological standpoint, and a psychological standpoint.

We’re not here to talk psychology, but just to whet your appetite: everyone knows it’s better to save money, yet everyone buys the new flat screen TV; everyone knows it’s better to eat the broccoli, yet everyone eats the cake. Similarities? Absolutely.

You have an income. Your income is your food intake, which consists of both nutrients and energy. You have expenses. Your expenses are, uhh, vast, to say the least. You beat your heart almost every second. You renew your skin almost every month. Your brain never stops. These aren’t pro bono jobs.

So you have income. You need to spend the money on the stuff that’s going to keep you alive and kicking. But what happens if you have a good paying job and are in good financial standings?

Where do you put extra money? The safest place = your savings account. You could invest it. But there’s a chance of going bust if you invest.

 

Body fat is your human savings account. If you want to know why my instincts tell me so, you can read this thing I wrote.

Now that we’ve established body fat as a savings account, we can plug back into the Hongerwinter phenomenon.

As a fetus, you’re asking questions about the world you’re about to be squeezed into. During the third trimester, one of the questions you’re asking is: what’s the deal with nutrients and energy on the outside?

If Mom is starving, then you’re starving. So the sensible conclusion: nutrients and energy will be hard to come by. Given you’re biologically programmed to survive, you’re ‘lil fetal self takes this information to heart.

Not a lot of nutrients and energy out there? Then I have to get reallllllyyy efficient with what comes my way. Nothing can be wasted.

In other words, the Hongerwinter phenomenon hints that our body undergoes metabolic adjustments to better survive a nutrient and energy crisis.

Imagine making $50,000 per year. That’s your income. Your expenses add up to $45,000. That’s your mortgage, car payment, utilities, and all of the other things you do for fun to keep you sane (like binge drink on the weekends).

You lose your job. You get a new one. Now you make $10,000 per year. You’re now missing $40,000.

The mechanical model says you maintain your previous lifestyle and automatically cover the full $40,000 with your savings account, but this doesn’t happen because your savings are muy importante. 

You can’t assume your body is going to reach into its savings account (body fat) to cover an income shortage.

You’re going to balance the seesaw as much as possible before you absolve your most precious resource.

Cancel the cable. Turn off the lights. If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down. Sell all the shit in the attic. Unsubscribe to RealityKings. 

Your body wants to maintain a semblance of stasis, but there isn’t one singular nob turned to stop the physiological seesaw from wobbling. (If I wanted to sound smart, I’d mention something about allostasis.

But I already want to punch myself in the face. I’m not a scientist, but I’m sure as hell am doing a good job sounding like one. Maybe. Probably not. Okay. Right. I’m not. Shit. Time to eat some Fruity Pebbles and cry myself to sleep.

You’re doing all this shit to reduce your expenses because, for all intents and purposes, there’s no reason to believe you’re ever going to be making more money. And if you bank roll the missing $40,000 you’re going to run out of savings quick.

There are ways you can adjust your income and expenses in the event of a financial threat. Your body can do the same in the event of a metabolic threat.

Your body can absorb more calories from the food you eat.

Ever bake brownies? You throw a bunch of ingredients into a bowl, mix everything up, and then dump the sludge into a baking pan. But you never really get all of the sludge out of the bowl, do you? Sitting there and using one of those plastic spatulas to scrap the bowl down isn’t worth your time. Unless, of course, you’re starving.

Just because you eat 2000 calories doesn’t mean your body absorbs 2000 calories. Lots of things (gut bacteria, type of macronutrient, quality) influence how much energy you scrape out of the bowl. If you’re starving, you’re going to absorb more energy from the food you eat.

Your body can adjust your unconscious activity levels. 

Your body is replenishing energy throughout the day during non-deliberate exercise (and life) situations. You move and fidget unconsciously. When the temperature outside rises and falls, you sweat and shiver. If you eat less, your body can use less energy but adjusting all of the factors that make up your unconscious non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

You tell your wife to get you another beer instead of walking to the fridge yourself. You get chilly more often because your body isn’t spending the cash to maintain your body temperature.

Your body can sabotage your conscious activity levels. 

A big part of training regularly is having the haunches to train, regardless of whether or not you feel motivation. Because, as anyone in the game will admit, even though there are times when motivation is sky high, there are also times when motivation is drop dead low.

Your body can make you tired, lethargic, and groggy in an attempt to sabotage your voluntary activity levels. And if you aren’t getting energy and nutrients to recover, you’ll feel beat down anyway.

Your body can sabotage your eating behaviors. 

When you eat less, your brain can adjust your satiety mechanism (meaning you don’t feel full as quickly and unconsciously eat more) and hunger mechanism (meaning you feel hungry more often).

As someone that grew up eating whatever whenever with a big appetite, I’ve found that when I maintain a lean physique, I can eat a lot more food in one sitting.

Your body can get rid of metabolically expensive muscle tissue. 

Say you surf through all of the muck above. There comes a point in time when the seesaw will tip, no matter what kind of metabolic adjustments your body is making. In other words, there will come a point when your body won’t be able to compensate downward further.

You will turn into a skeleton and die if you don’t eat…or you will die earlier from some kind of nutrient deficiency or illness.

So say you get your expenses down to $15,000. You’re making $10,000. You’re winning, right?

Maybe. Or maybe not. Because your body doesn’t have to dip into its savings account. Your body can break down muscle tissue (instead of body fat) to cover for the expense.

Breaking down muscle tissue is a win win. Not only does your body get energy from the breakdown, but your body also becomes more energy efficient. First, because bigger creatures need more energy (and you’re becoming smaller). Second, because muscle mass is more metabolically costly than body fat (and you’re losing muscle).

So it’s not that eating less causes weight gain. But eating less (a lot less) triggers metabolic adaptations to better your chance of surviving a world without lots of nutrients and energy.

Which, quite frankly, makes an insane amount of sense. The okie-doke being that Hongerwinter wasn’t permanent. And neither are most diets. The winter season ended, as did the Nazi blockade. Food rations returned to normal.

So a bunch of babies triggered metabolic adaptations towards frugality, which is a fine characteristic to have if you’re trying to make good in a world without lots of resources. In fact, if these kids would have continued to grow in said nutrient deprived world, they probably would have been skinny. But they grew up in a nutrient and energy plentiful world.

So go back to the financial example. You spent the last six months getting your expenses down to $15,000 from $45,000. But whadayaknow, you get your old job back.

So your expenses are still at $15,000 and your income is back at $50,000, meaning you’re ahead $30,000. And, since you’re a fatphillic human, you’re wired to store your excess in your savings account. So what happens? You put a lot of shit into savings.

The metabolic adaptations triggered by an energy crisis can increase the likelihood of you getting fat upon returning to a nutrient plentiful environment.

Most diets fail. It’s a depressing statistic I first head from my nutrition professor in college. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I want to say 90% (or more) of weight loss interventions fail.

But you can dig even deeper and find an even more depressing facet of this statistic: most people that diet and lose weight end up gaining all of their weight back…and more.

You playing Connect Four in your head right now? Because you should now be able to rationalize why most dieters actually get fatter in the long run.

At which point those of you with my level of self-confidence (zero on a scale of one to ten) are playing the following cassette on loop in your head:

“Your body wants to get fat? What? Your body doesn’t want to be lean? Fat loss seems fucking impossible, I quit. This is Shitty McShitpants. Give me the tub of Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Buttah Cookie Core. I need to numb myself with an insulin coma.”

And, if that’s the case, I have some good news that goes beyond complimenting you on your ice cream selection because Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Buttah Cookie Core is fire.

You’re right in that the body isn’t keen on losing body fat, but your body accumulates savings under the assumption that it probably will come in handy one day. So your body can and will make it rain under the right circumstances.

The Hongerwinter is an extreme example of what can happen during genuine starvation. So I overplayed the situation a tad. I’m sorry I’m not sorry. The exaggeration is important because most people diet in such a bass ackwards way that the deck is ever not in their favor because they forego the fundamental Truth of weight loss.

Your body doesn’t know the difference between I’m dieting to look sexy and ohmigod I’m starving to death.

Fitness is a survival characteristic. The body gives zero fucks about what modern beauty culture says a fit body is supposed to look like.

There’s a big difference between making $50,000 and then making $10,000 versus making $50,000 and then making $40,000. You know this intuitively from a financial standpoint. You can envision the situation; parallel it to your physiology.

And, unlike Hongerwinter and “shit happening,” there is no genuine starvation. You’re in control of the situation with a more robust physiological blueprint in hand.

So, if you have your wits about you, you can minimize metabolic damage and stack the deck in your favor.

Now’s about the time where you’re expecting said wits, but this is more of the philosophical thought piece. You can read a similar article I referenced heavily from Precision Nutrition for some of their thoughts, but mine differ, naturally, else I would have just linked you to this article and saved you my nonsense.

The point of this article (and the previous one) was simply to peel back a layer on how a distorted perception of how the body works — a broken model — can sabotage good intentions.

I’m sure people that go on very low calorie diets (VLCDs), juice leanses, and detoxes have good intentions. I’m sure those that switch to a bulking phase immediately after a cut are only trying their best.

I’m sure those that drop calories insanely low after hitting a fat loss plateau because teh numbers!!11!1!1 aren’t adding up.

Yoyo dieting stints.

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This human software of yours was built to work without your consciousness. It works fantastically. It keeps us alive. The Hongerwinter is a great example. The world is shitty, your body does whatever it can to survive.

I’m sure all of those people don’t want to whack out their metabolism like Charlie Sheen. But shit like that bound to happen when you’re opening up hood of a car and thrashing without any idea who or why or whatever…essentially trying to fix a car with the wrong (or no) instructions.

As usual, when you appreciate body for smart biological thingie, with sphincters, you’re in a better place. Fat loss may seem daunting, deck stacked against, but don’t compare yourself to the schmucks that don’t know what they are doing.

You’re flirting against biology. No one said this shit ain’t easy. Smooth seas never make for skilled sailors. Cliche/

Imagine rocketing a dog into the vacuum of Space towards inevitable doom. Awesome. Dogs are gross. Cats are better.

But we’ll give Laika revenge now. Ghost Laika crams a human into a space shuttle and rockets it towards the Eagle Nebula.

I wouldn’t mind going to the Pillars of Creation. I’m tempted to let Ghost Laika shove me into the rocket. But I’m not ready for the inevitable physical meltdown that happens when a human lives in zero gravity.

Ever see astronauts return from long Space mission? They need a wheel chair to move around. The zero gravity environment melts their body like fondue. Even if you’re minimally active on earth, you don’t need no stinkin’ wheelchair. 

You’re a solid hunk of havarti (such a good cheese). Pair you with some 90% (or higher) dark chocolate and glass of merlot and I’ll never leave you, baby.

There’s an enemy on earth that doesn’t exist in Space: gravity.

Gravity is easy for us to ignore because it’s a constant medium. I’d imagine it’s like water to a fish, but I can’t say for sure. My meeting with Princess Ruto inside of Jabu-Jabu’s belly was cancelled. Haven’t talked to any other fish since.

Let’s make gravity less easy to ignore by giving it a face.

Imagine being a weird reverse marionette doll. Imagine drilling ropes into every one of your joints, and then having those ropes attach to the ground. Now imagine having your sadistic friends tug downward on those strings.

The downward tug = gravity.

There was a Criminal Minds episode where a wacko guy turned a girl into a marionette doll, drilling holes into her joints. Video games are making kids violent, I forgot.

Earth’s gravity is relatively mild. Head to Jupiter and you’ll be hit with seriously sadistic friends, pulling downward with a force 2.4 times greater than the weirdos on Earth.

Gravity is important, but your body can still become fondue on earth.

Ever broken a bone? Been in a cast? Or known someone in a cast? Then not only have you inhaled one of the worst smells known to the human race, the accumulation of humid dead rotting human skin, but you’ve also witnessed the terrifying obliteration of muscle mass that rides shotgun to inactivity.

The more inactive you become, the quicker the muscle melts.

  1. Want to lose leg muscle mass? Use crutches.
  2. Want to lose muscle mass faster? Use a wheelchair.
  3. Want to lose muscle mass fastest? Put your entire lower body in a cast so there’s absolutely no way it can be moved.

As Andy Stitzer, the character played by Steve Carell in The 40-Year Old Virgin, would ask: is it true that if you don’t *use* it, you *lose* it?

Apparently so. Crazy. My parents have fine china they never used when I was growing up. But it’s still there. Ah, the beauty of being a living, breathing, biological entity.

You need to oppose gravity. You need to push against the marionette strings. If the marionette strings staple you down without a fight, you’re no better off than an astronaut in Space.

Resisting gravity is a physiological trigger. It tells your body, “Hey, uhh, see what I’m doing here? Me being able to move around is important. So if you can keep up with the mechanisms, gears, and levers allowing me to move, that’d be grrrreeeaattt. Also, I need those TPS reports on my desk by tomorrow.”

bill-lumbergh-gary-cole-office-space

You need this trigger because keeping up with said mechanisms (especially muscle mass) isn’t cheap, and your body is a frugal bitch accountant jerk face.

Without the trigger? Why would your body spend the money? Spin the wheel of optionality.

The flip side of optionality requires me to reach into my bag of shameful and offensive examples.

Look at prisoners of war during WWII. You won’t see much muscle mass. But you will see a bunch of guys swinging around axes and shovels. They’re certainly opposing gravity, yet they have little in the way of muscle mass.

I’m guessing you’re using your eyeballs to read this. Your eyes are capable of seeing 500 shades of gray (not 50, EL James). They’re capable of processing 36,000 pieces of information in an hour.

Take those eyeballs and use them to look down at your hand. Your hand is a structure made up of close to thirty bones and over one hundred ligaments controlled by nearly fifty electrical wires that can fire with choking violence or tickling tenderness.

It’s easy to forget about the amazingly complex biomachinery underneath your skin. None of it works pro bono.

You need resources. If you aren’t getting a lot of resources, your body prioritizes things that are more essential to survival. Beating your heart is more important than having big muscles.

You need to trigger the need for muscle mass. But you also need to have enough resources around so that your body feels comfortable justifying the expense of muscle tissue.

Building muscle is kind of like buying a boat. You need to be in a financially secure enough spot to know (a) you have enough money for the upfront investment, and (b) you have enough money for the continued investment. Because boats suck and always need maintenance work.

This is why people go on bulks to build muscle. They eat a ton of food to convince the body it has the resources it needs. But most people screw up their bulks.

And by “most people,” I mean, Anthony. Because I used to eat Kansas, build next to no muscle, and add a lot of body fat.  But let’s just say delivering enough resources isn’t the same as winning the lottery.

But that’s a story for another day, alongside why people get confused when I say strength training is important even when cutting. Why strength train if you aren’t going to have the raw materials around to build muscle? I’ll let you think it over. We have to move on.

So now you’re now probably wondering (and if you weren’t, you are now): I’m a human. I move. I eat. Why don’t I have a lot of muscle?

If you’re skinny and lean like Toothpick Timmy, maybe you aren’t eating enough. Common. But there’s also my neck of the woods, which is where guys like Skinny-Fat Sal live.

If you have a decent amount of body fat, then you most certainly have been eating enough. Granted, you might not be enough of the right things, and too much of the wrong things. But what’s more likely (and most likely for both Toothpick Timmy and Skinny-Fat Sal) is that your body doesn’t feel like it needs more muscle.

You might not have a lot of muscle mass compared to the standard swirling in your head, but you probably have more than Gertrude withering away in hospice care.

Your body only builds the muscle it needs. Muscle is a risky investment and your body is frugal. So building excess muscle tissue without the need for excess muscle tissue is kind of like buying a six story house when you’re quadriplegic.

The muscle mass you have helps you tolerate gravity, but the stress of gravity never scales upward. It’s kind of like going from zero to one cups of coffee per day. You get a good buzz from the one cup. But your body adapts to the caffeine, at which point you need to have two cups.

But gravity is always “one cup.” It’s always 9.8 meters per second squared. So you get all of the goodness that comes from adapting to one cup, but you can’t bump up to two cups.

You can find ways to make things interesting within the one cup confines (like drinking it faster), but it’s not quite the same as bumping up to two cups. The stress isn’t the same.

“Stress” doesn’t mean “psychological distress,” which what most of us think when we hear “stress.” Stress is more than being stuck in traffic and gnawing on your steering wheel as blood floods down your face from your eye sockets.

In physics, stress means, “force per unit area applied to the material.” This definition doesn’t help us at all, but I sound smarter if I pretend to understand physics.

Your body strives to maintain stasis. Stress is strain on your level of stasis, which sounds bad. Strain parts of your car and they break down. Broken cars make you spend money, and spending money on cars is lame. High school kids tricking out Honda Civics are the perfect population for for eugenic experimentation.

But humans aren’t mechanical like cars. Humans are biomechanical. We’re able to maintain ourselves, fix ourselves, and upgrade ourselves. One of the ways we know what to maintain, fix, and upgrade is via stress.

You get new breaks on a car when the breaks are all stressed and worn out. Stress is biological information.

Climb on top of your car. Jump off and absorb the impact from the landing. Your body will be exposed to a stress much higher than gravity, but the information coded within that sort of stress rarely triggers for more muscle mass.

We foolishly reduce the complex phenomenon of movement into muscle because (a) it’s the visible manifestation of something non-visible: a bunch of junk inside of you working together to allow you to accomplish a physical task, and because (b) we’ve been exposed to decades of bodybuilder split routine logic.

But muscle is just a middle man. Muscles funnel into tendons, which funnel into bones, which articulate with other bones, which are reinforced with ligaments, which are all at the mercy of the nervous system, which has ties with the endocrine system, which…

Your ability to move is a little more complex than what high school anatomy taught you. (Abstinence is the key, folks!)

Let’s look, instead, from a movement perspective.

You can contract. You can relax. Those are your extremes. Any macromovement is a combination of the two. Total relaxation, you can’t move. Total contraction, you can’t move.

And, for some extraterrestrial reason, us humans have this musculoskeletal system thingy with elastic properties that allows us to move with some fluidity.

Think of a robot. It moves in segments. It’s clunky. Still modulated by contraction and relaxation. But there’s no grace.

Movements more machine-like are steeped in contraction, which are best described as sticky. Grindy. Friction. In order to be sticky, you have to contract.

Movements more fluid-like are steeped in relaxation, which are best described as springy. Bouncy. Ballistic. In order to be springy, you have to relax.

For reasons I can’t explain (but will try to because I like sounding smarter than I am), muscle mass is more of a sticky stress adaptation. And most of the things you do aren’t sticky from an absolute max effort standpoint.

Meaning you could walk up steps slowly like a robot, but you also could leap and bound up those same steps.

If you can spring with control and power, you have stickiness. Babies and kids spring all over the place, but don’t have much control because they lack the stickiness.

But all of this might be easier to understand if we look at the upper body. We take our lower body for granted because it already carries us through the stress of earth’s gravity.

But what if we started to use our hands as feet?

If you were able to get into a handstand, you probably wouldn’t be able to do clapping handstand push-ups right away. You’d have to work through lots of sticky training (holding the handstand, handstand push-ups) before you’d be able to tap into your springs.

How wonderful to have elastic bits to help us save energy. But think about this for a second. Only able to tap into elastic and spring because we’re comfortable from a stick standpoint.

So a good marker for whether or not the movement you’re doing is going to trigger for more muscle mass is this: can you be springy or leave the surface of the earth during the movement in question?

If you can be ballistic or leave the surface of the earth to a great degree, chances are you aren’t going to build muscle doing whatever you’re doing. You probably have the pre-requisite stickiness, meaning you have an amount of muscle your body deems to be “enough.”

If you’re lifting a two pound dumbbell slowly, the motion might look sticky…but if you tried hard, you could throw the dumbbell across the room. So guess what? Not gonna’ build muscle.

So all of the high rep, low weight toning lure? I’ll let you connect the dots on that one.

Scaling springiness isn’t a good trigger for muscle probably because nature says big creatures don’t handle shocks well. An elephant won’t survive a fall of half it’s height. An ant can survive a fall from the moon. The biggest cats are the most nimble cats. Cheetahs aren’t yoked.

So it’s kind of like having bad shocks on your car, taking it to a mechanic, and being told, “Yeah your shocks are ruined. But here’s how we’re going to handle this: we’re going to build a bigger, heavier engine. Meaning the shocks will have to do even more work!”

There’s a sweet spot between muscle mass and explosive-springy-elastic performances. You need enough sticky-muscle to support the springiness, but not so much that it becomes a hindrance.

So how do you build more muscle? Get in a supergravity environment that forces you to move with all sorts of stickiness.

You can walk up the steps sticky and slow right now, but you also could leap and bound up the steps. The stress to trigger for muscle mass needs to be an honest I couldn’t move faster even if I tried stickiness.

There are ways many ways to apply this sort of stress. You can use bands. You can swim. You can use machines.

All valid options…if you want to end up skinny-fat. Or, at least, skinny.

Because…

→ Click here to read Part 2

You can feel the burn on machines, man! So much safer than circular hunks of iron! Right? So if you can feel your muscles work, why do (unsafe) barbell thingy?

(This is Part 2 of an article series. You can read Part 1 here.)

Too often we are victims of reductionism. Take something big and complex. Reduce to pieces. Example always used = clock.

Want to understand how clock works? Take apart. Look at bits and pieces. Understand how they work in isolation. Then you’ll know how they work together. Boom.

But can you take apart a cloud? Can you understand a cloud based on behavior of its smaller components in isolation? No. This = emergence. Aristotle even knew…whole greater than the sum of the parts.

This = why machine training is bologna. Especially for skinny-fat dude. Or dude not on favorable side of muscle building genetics.

Training = stressor. Two factions…

Local stress. Strain on the immediate structures. Flexing your biceps as hard as you can. Lots of local stress.

Global stress is strain on you…as an organism. The nervous system that contracts your biceps is the same nervous system that controls your hand when using a pencil.

Every movement delivers a local hit (to the muscles and structures directly involved) as well as a global hit (to the entire organism).

Flu. Entire body goes out of whack (fever-global), but there’s also a specific response to the thing that’s doing the damage (antibodies-local).

Or, better yet, when someone touches an ice cube to the small of your back. You don’t just sit there and say, “The small of my back is cold.” The cold causes a widespread bodily freako response. You flinch. You get goosebumbs all over your body from the cold. You breathe quicker.

Global response runs deeper than any of us (including me) realize. As Buddy Morris, former mentor of mine, once said:

The stress of training is greater than that of a broken bone because it encompasses the entire system. It encompasses the cardiac, cardiopulmonary, detoxification, hormonal, metabolic, central nervous system, neuromuscular, and […] immune system.

That’s all affected by training. And those systems do not recover at the same time.

Crossover effect: if you have an injured limb, training the uninjured limb also strengthens (or retains strength within) the injured limb.

Pavel Tsatsouline recommends training midsection and your grip if you’re taking a trip and don’t have lots of equipment available to retain your overall strength.

Charlie Francis had his sprinters do heavy bench pressing a few days prior to a sprinting competition to keep legs strong without stressing them directly.

All examples of how training affects your entire body globally, as an organism.

Machine training…? Eliminates global stress. Something special about moving and controlling your body through gravity and spacetime.

Earth existence = barbell training. Stand up from toilet. Work against gravity. But could be a barbell on another planet. Imagine on Jupiter, standing up from the same toilet. You weigh 220-pounds here, you’d weigh 529-pounds on Jupiter.

Sit on the Earthly toilet, load up a barbell with 309-pounds, and then put the barbell on your back. Jupiter living conditions. Now stand up.

Crushing force imposed on your body from head to toe every second of every day. Barbell training delivers that same crushing force, only under supergravity conditions. Instead of standing up and opposing just gravity, you stand up and oppose gravity plus. Hyperbolic Time Chamber, you say?

You often hear people call exercises “the king of ___,” meaning the exercise is Super Effective! and delivers the best bang for your buck.

Squat is the king of the lower body lifts. The king of the upper body lifts waivers between the weighted chin-up and the weighted dip. Why?

Chin-up and dip are unique. Normally, your arms aren’t supporting structures. Simply dangle from shoulder-blades. Don’t support your bodyweight like your legs do.

But when you do chin-ups and dips? They become the lone contact point for your entire body. They become the support structures. They become more like your lower body. And your lower body has stronger bones and bigger muscles than you upper body because they have to deal with the constant demand of gravity.

All these are loaded with gravity.

  • Gravity = vertical.
  • In a squat, gravity + barbell = vertical.
  • In a chin-up, gravity + weight = vertical.
  • In a dip, gravity + weight = vertical.

Structures you want stressed are responsible for handling the crushing stress.

Not saying other exercises useless. But not same.

Deadlift is useful. But barbell held in arms. Meaning grip important factor. And if legs are meant to be stressed most, can’t be bottle necked by grip.

Machines don’t load the body with this same crushing force. Machines often loaded horizontally, so the high stress crushing environment is gone.

Machines also guide your body through space for you. Stand up. Close your eyes. Now lift one leg in the air and balance on the other. Feel how your entire body fires to maintain balance and keep things stable.

Now do the same, only hold onto a door nob. I’ll let you figure out the differences between the two.

Machines are usually advertised as a safer alternative. It’s True…for the most part. Sometimes logistics screwy, like fact that I’m 6’4″ and using the same machine pathway as someone 5’2″.

But it’s kind of like advertising a skydiving video game as a safer alternative to skydiving itself. The safeness defeats the point. In some respect, good precisely because dangerous.

Machine training is like having a fly buzz around your face. It’s annoying. You might mobilize a bit. Try to swat the thing. But that’s about all.

Compare to having a wasp buzz around your face. It’s scarier. You mobilize a bit more. Leave your seat if its swarming close.

Compare to a black bear bursting through the clear and sprinting towards you. You poop your pants. Yell, “Yeehaw!” as you break for a clearing if for no other reason than to have you last words be “Yeehaw!

Would make for a good news headline at least. “Man killed by black bear, yells ‘Yeehaw!’ before death.”

As stress scales up, body does more to deal with threat. More threatening = more adaptation.

Upgrades are expensive. In order for your body to feel justified in investing in more muscle tissue (or a better movement system), it has to think, “If I don’t invest, my survival will be compromised.”

A strong (yet controlled) threat = justification.

McFitness ploys strip movements and exercises from the global response because they try to be “safer.”

Machines are popular because they are easy. You can read directions and use them. So don’t have to pay $$$ for coaches. Also don’t lose time where coaches teach you. People can move in and out of the gym with speed, and when more people move in and out you make more money.

Just like McDonald’s. Machines are food for those that just trying to get by, not food for those that want…more.

In general, exercises that have low global impact are for the birds. This is why methods like dynamic tension by Charles Atlas didn’t quite prove effective.

Machines aren’t totally useless though. Retracting my thesis like a boss! Their global drawback can be a positive. Bodybuilder want to focus a ton on muscle contraction. Can do because less global strain.

So, in my broad spectrum, machines are side dish. Not main course. Typically need global catalyst for adaptation. Beyond, there’s wiggle room.

But useful to qualify: in my system, the purpose of barbell training is to load the body with supergravity stress.

Ways to do this with just bodyweight training at first.

If you stand on one leg, then the leg you’re standing is dealing with more gravitational stress than its used to. Probably build a little bit of muscle working through.

But the lower body generally has enough muscle. Can already jump (spring). The upper body has much more potential for bodyweight growth.

Pull-ups, chin-ups, push-ups, dips, handstand push-ups…all of these will be sticky for most people at first because arms aren’t naturally weight bearing structures.

But there will come a point when scaling these bodyweight movements is tricksy, precious.

One-arm chin-ups need to follow progression. Easier to roll into weighted chin-ups for quicker (muscular) results. One-arm push-ups rarely held back by arm strength, more like torso strength.

Gymnastics strength training fun and good, but veers away from supergravity flavor. Straight-arm strength exercises (levers and planches) at the mercy of torque. Torque is lethal.

Not saying these are worthless pursuits. I love them. But not same effect as barbell training. Qualify ethos (load the body with supergravity stress) because barbell not the end all be all.

There are no Capsule Corp. inspired supergravity chambers to apply constant supergravity stress across entire body. Have to use some kind of external resistance. The barbell makes this happen.

But barbell confines movement by nature of application, have to contort self to this linear straight object. Being stuck in a linear plane is fine…if you’re only out to build muscle.

Body can move lots of ways beyond barbell. Wrist, ankles — need work from many different positions. Mobility also important.

Now, go any further would take us into weeds of my training and programming philosophy. Not the point of this, even though it may be (will be) necessary…in the future.

Questions still may linger –

  • Toning
  • Rest between sets
  • Tempo

But I’ve already went on so long even I want to stab myself in the eye with a fork. And need/want to start clean w/ programming.

Point for past two articles = importance of supergravity stress for muscle mass and improving system as a whole.

And, when you see through fluff, muscle mass merely a side effect of moving your body through space and overcoming certain flavor of stress. Don’t really train for muscle growth. Move body certain way, muscle mass is byproduct.

Now…

I also realize this is incomplete. Without the right hormones, muscle building tough even with supergravity stress. But good enough…

And general idea being…

As skinny-fat guy (or skinny guy for that matter), body not convinced it needs much muscle. So you have to use powerful ways of convincing.

Barbell and bodyweight do better job.

On any given Sunday night, you’ll find me shoving junk food down my esophagus to ignite an insulin induced coma.

All of my #firstworldproblems fade as my body shunts blood flow to my intestines and away from my brain in an attempt to prioritize digestion and (feebly) deal with the bolus of food crashing it’s way towards my colon.

A nutrition professor at Kansas State University named Mark Haub ate nothing but junk food for ten weeks, but for an entirely different (and even more outlandish) reason: to lose weight.

And he did.

Haub lost a total of 27 pounds over those 10 weeks.

His specific strategy went something like this:

Eat assorted Hostess and Little Debbie pre-packaged cream filled somehow stay fresh forever snack cakes every three hours. He mixed in Doritos and other junk food. Because, variety.

Haub was out to prove that weight gain and weight loss wasn’t about eating healthy. It wasn’t about how many meals you ate, or how frequently you ate. Nor was it about when you ate what.

It was about one thing.

Energy balance.

The energy balance model of body composition is now commonplace. You won’t get far without seeing some mention of calories — the protagonist of the energy balance model — or the energy balance rally cry: just eat less and move more!

If you don’t know what calories are, don’t worry. You will soon enough, because I gots beef that needs acookin’ with the energy balance model. (I’m sure the OG Pirates crossing the Atlantic got somethin’ to say about it, too.)

The energy balance model is…meh.

For instance, you might have heard body fat is a result of an energy surplus. You might also have heard muscle mass requires an energy surplus. So, uhh, what’s the deal?

Likewise, you might have heard losing fat requires an energy deficit. A common recommendation is to eat 500 calories less than you burn on a daily basis. But why? Why not eat 1000 calories less? Or 1500 calories less?

Your body is a smart adaptive creature. Trying to understand a complex phenomenon like body composition solely with numbers is…lol. And, no surprise, the numerical approach usually ends up sabotaging those wielding it as their main weapon as they walk into battle.

You’ll understand why soon enough. But I might as well start by keeping my original promise.

Let’s find out how to eat Doritos, Twinkies, and other assorted junk food in order to lose weight.

Think of a car. A car parked in your driveway is energy. All matter is energy. Haven’t you taken physics? A car’s parts and whatnot can (and will) be broken down and transformed into other sorts of energy by Mother Nature and Father Time.

Us humans are no different. We’re strange flesh covered moist machines, but, really, we’re really just an organized packet of energy. When we die, our skin, bones, and reproductive organs (!) will undergo a magnificent feat of cosmic recycling.

How wonderful of you to be so environmentally friendly! You must feel proud to do the universe such a favor! You must drive a Prius!

Your eyeball could very well be recycled cosmic matter from Plato’s penis. Likewise, your penis could very well be recycled cosmic matter from Plato’s brain, meaning you’re one smart dickhead.

Now…

It’s one thing to be energy.

It’s another thing to need energy.

A parked car is energy, but it doesn’t need energy…until you turn the key in the ignition. The car needs a certain amount of energy to turn on and stay on.

Humans, once again, are no different. But our relationship with energy input and energy output is broken because it’s informed by McFitness propaganda.

A lot of people think that when we’re in the gym huffing and puffing (or doing any kind of exercise) our engine is on, but when we aren’t doing those things our engine is off. Exercise, on. Non-exercise, off.

BzzzZzzZzzzZ.

Gringo buzz.

According to Dr. Peter Attia, if your body stops recycling energy for just one second, you die. So humans are always using and recycling energy…unless they’re dead.

You’re obviously not dead. At least, I hope you aren’t dead. Because then I’m dead, too. Is this a parallel universe? Mom…? Dad…? They’re here.

poltergeist girl with scary clownYou’re using energy when you sit on the couch and watch TV…even if you sit for so long the fabric of the couch melts into your biology and becomes another body part.

Our body does things we don’t have to think about. But now I’m asking you to think about those things your body does that you don’t have to think about. (I’m more confused now than when I tried to read Gödel, Escher, Bach.)

  • Your heart beating.
  • Your brain thinking.
  • Your kidneys filtering.
  • Your intestines digesting.

These processes aren’t free. Your brain churns through 20–25% of the energy you use at rest. Digesting food? Another 10–15% of your energy use.

Meaning if you burn 2000 calories in one day, your brain and intestines account for 600 of those calories (as a conservative estimate).

Not only do these processes require energy, but they’re also essential processes. Meaning, without them, you die.

You may not be macromoving, which is to say: moving to the visible eye. But you are very much micromoving. Take a look at yourself under a microscope. You cells are partying like it’s 1999.

…..

From a macromovement standpoint, there are different gradients.

Being sedentary is like idling in the driveway. You need energy, but not a lot. Being mildly active is like taking a relaxing joyride. Being really active is like hopping on the Autobahn. The higher your output, the more energy you need.

And that’s what it’s all about: output. Sometimes we output more. Sometimes we output less. But we always output. And output demands intake. Doesn’t matter if we’re parking in a driveway or driving on a parkway.

Something needs to support our output, otherwise we run out of energy, die, and become food for the raccoon living in the backyard.

For millions of years, humans knew they had to eat. They probably didn’t understand much about the who, what, when, or why. But they were smart enough to listen to their gut.

Or maybe they weren’t. Maybe they thought they were Birddddddmmmaaan. And so they sat in the sun to satisfy their hunger. And then they died. Natural selection at its finest.

Most of us living through our #firstworldproblems don’t connect our consciousness to the psychedelic reality: if you don’t eat, you die.

Hungry? Then you should probably find something to eat. Not hungry? Then history says you will be hungry soon. So you still should probably find something to eat.

It seems bonkers, but guess what?

Humans were fine.

They were able to handle the relationship between input and output by using wonderful internal feedback mechanisms we still have to this day, like hunger pangs, food cravings, and satiety loops.

But science has given us the insight to move beyond the [eat-live | starve-die] reality. Food isn’t magic anymore. Food is a number. Food is calories.

Calories are the main character of the energy balance story, and they’re used to measure and quantify intake and output.

Many people think calories are “fattening” or “sugar” or so it would appear based on those hidden camera TV shows.

Guy asks, “Do you count calories?” Person replies, “Absolutely.” Guy asks, “What’s a calorie?” Person replies, “Me like for you to cheese unicorn turtle.” (Kind of like how most people handle gluten these days.)

But calories are measurement of energy, much like a degree is a measurement of temperature.

Calories weaseled their way into the food industry when some totally (in)sane person put food inside of a contraption known as a bomb calorimeter.

The calorimeter lit the food on fire (or something), which allowed said (in)sane person to calculate the energy content within foods.

Standardized energy values for food were born for the three primary macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. One gram of each of these macronutrients always had a certain caloric value.

  • Protein = 4 calories per gram.
  • Carbohydrate = 4 calories per gram.
  • Fat = 9 calories per gram.

You can also factor alcohol in the mix, as one gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. And if you’re in the paleo crowd, I’m sure there’s something worth mentioning about exogenous ketones, but I’m not going there because I’m not so sure I know how to go there.

I should mention the difference between “calories” and “Calories” to prevent trolls from coming of their troll hole and asking for the troll toll so they are able to pay their way into the boy’s soul.

The “calories” you’re familiar with are big c Calories. Technically big c Calories are kilocalories, or 1000 small c calories.

For practical purposes, you can ignore everything written in the last paragraph. And if you’re not American, you might measure food energy in joules. I’m going to do the American thing and pretend like the world revolves around me.

Knowing the calorie value of food brings on the idea that we can calculate our energy input, so let’s get to calculating our energy output.

Say you do nothing but breathe. You lie in bed and breathe. That’s all. The amount of energy your body needs to make this happen is known as basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Resting metabolic rate (RMR) comes next. RMR is less restrictive than BMR. It includes thing you do daily, like getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, and getting dressed.

Beyond RMR is daily energy expenditure (DEE). DEE is me shoving a fork in my eye because this shit is starting to get confusing.

Point being: there are calculators that we can use to find our output, which means we now have both input and output available to us.

Enter the Haub-ian inspired fat loss strategy: balance your energy intake with your energy output.

  • Energy intake > Energy output = Surplus, gain and store energy
  • Energy output > Energy intake = Deficit, loss and use stored energy

These are the rules.

And I hate them.

Okay. You got me. Hate might be an overly aggressive word, but the energy balance story is, I have to imagine, like herpes. You want to pretend like it doesn’t exist, even though, deep down, you know its not going away anytime soon.

I’m not stupid enough (thankfully) to argue against the laws of thermodynamics. I’m also not stupid enough (thankfully) to believe the energy balance story is of much use.

Errr…

I should say: I’m not stupid enough to believe our interpretation of the energy balance story is of much use. Because it’s not long before the logic above is combined with a little factoid; one pound of body fat contains 3500 calories.

Enter the strategy.

You have a certain metabolic rate. You calculate output.

You eat a certain amount energy. You calculate intake.

You tip the energy balance scale in your favor, being in a deficit of whatever amount of calories daily. If you need 2500 calories and you eat 1500 calories, then you’re at a daily deficit of 1000 calories.

Time passes and you lose fat at identical perfect increments because, by all numerical logic, there’s no rationale for any scenario otherwise.

The interpretation of the energy balance model is very straight and mechanical. We understand this kind of logic, which why most minds are already twisting around the idea.

Simplicity is beauty, right? Steve Jobs said so. And it he did everything in his life picture perfect, including being an absent father.

Unfortunately, the mechanical interpretation of the energy balance story fails because humans are biomechanical, which already sound scary enough to stop reading. I prefer the term wiggly as inspired by Alan Watts.

The physical world is wiggly. Clouds, mountains, trees, people, are all wiggly. And only when human beings get at working things, they build buildings in straight lines and try and make out that the world isn’t really wiggly. But here are we, sitting in this room all built on straight lines, but each one of us is as wiggly as all get-out.

-Alan Watts

The most efficient way to get from one point to another is a straight line…in a mechanical world. But, in a biomechanical world, sometimes wiggly lines are more efficient than straight lines.

The behind the neck pull-up and the behind the neck press are both straight line lifts compared to their more wiggly bar path in front of the neck versions. But the wiggly versions are more efficient.

There are no straight lines in your body. Your bones, your muscles, your organs. All wiggly. And the energy balance story is no different.

The implementation of the energy balance model described above is flawed from the start. Calculating your intake and output is a guessing game most people fail. And as much as I’d like to dive into that now, I’m going to take the indirect route.

Hop on a P-Wing with me to the year 1945.

→ Click here to read Part 2

Flat bench press is popular. Macho. Compare penis size.

How much ya bench?

But popular doesn’t mean effective…or most effective

Illusory effect: more we see, more we believe True…even if not True.

Bench popular because powerlifting.

For clarity’s sake…

Powerlifting: a sport where athletes compete in the (a) bench press, (b) squat, and (c) deadlift to see who can lift the most weight across all three lifts.

Are you powerlifter?

If no…

Why flat benching? Or bench pressing at all? For aesthetics?

Most dudes want (and lack) upper boobies.

Angle of press relative to torso changes chest activation. Consider a press at 90 degrees relative to torso (perpendicular) to be tare.

press angle upper chest muscle activation

Go above 90 degrees, you’re more upper chest…for a bit. But then you reach point where shoulders take most load. Go below 90 degrees, you’re more lower chest.

People get confused…

Flat bench press with back arch (common technique) is NOT pressing at 90 degrees. More like pressing below 90 degrees, which shifts emphasis to lower boobies.

bench press angle upper chest

Most dudes want (and lack) upper boobies. So why flat bench press?

Stop comparing penis size. Swallow ego. Stop all flat benching.

Unnecessary and counter productive.

Instead, do incline presses. Best angle for upper boobies is thirty degrees. Higher is okay, but will be more shoulders.

Don’t arch lower back too much. Try keeping neutral spine.

Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to subtract whatever is contributing to the problem.

A lot of people know me as the former skinny-fat guy man dude person human thing that was able to build a respectable looking and moving body.

Which is cool…

…and beats being made fun of for having girl boobs (which has happened to me before).

But I’m also self-taught. Because, uhh, introverted nerds unite! I didn’t have the cojones for a public gym. I taught myself the basics of barbell and bodyweight strength training in my garage. I taught myself the basics of freestyle acrobatics in my backyard.

But now’s not the time to spill my emotional baggage on the floor…

I know what it’s like to have zero accountability, save for you, yourself and, uhh, you again.

And if you’re a self-taught solider in arms, chances are you’ve faced this demon: you (a) know what you need to do, and (b) know you want the results, it’s (c) hard to get up and take action.

And it’s not long before a story forms in your head:

I need to find motivation.

But this is story is poison.

Motivation isn’t something you find.

Motivation is something you cultivate.

I can show you how.

I made a free email course on mastering motivation and your behaviors.

I like making these email courses to test out ideas. There’s less baggage. Not as much worry for headlines. Not as much worry for pictures and needing to be super visual.

Just words. Effective words…(hopefully).

There’s a good chance this course will be up on this site in full sometime soon. But it’s all email right now.

Take it or leave it.

You can signup below.

Last week a friend of mine texted me. He asked me about back pain. Said his friend was having lower back pain that crept into the hamstrings. Also said his nutsack felt weird.

As with any injury, the logical thing to do = see a doctor to make sure you don’t have cancer or meningitis or AIDS.

I’m not qualified to diagnose anyone with much of anything, aside from stupidity…something I diagnose myself with on the reg.

But referring someone to a doctor and leaving it at that is a cheap way out. I’d like to think I know a few things about actual injuries than most some a few doctors…because I’ve recovered and experienced so many. (Probably more than the docs themselves.)

In the past six months, I’ve had…

  • A broken finger
  • A dislocated finger
  • A separated shoulder

I shouldn’t necessarily be proud of how broken I’ve been, but, whatever…

So aside from seeing a doctor (which is always a good idea to make sure your body isn’t going to combust right now tomorrow), here’s what I said…

I don’t know about the nutsack pain. But if you have pain connected from the lower back into the hamstring, I’d guess it’s something neural. Sounds like a sciatica kind of thing. 

And I feared his reply because I knew what it was going to be.

So what should he do?

Another crisis of ethics. I’m really not in the business of telling random people what to do. But I can tell others what I’d do if I were in the same situation. Because said neural issue could stem from many many many many many many different things.

And now that I’ve cleared enough of the legal and ethical hurdles in my head, let’s get onto the meat and potatoes.

For a little context, this guy is in the car a lot.

A LOT.

Already the wheels are churning.

Because a personal philosophy = a lot of back pain stems from a lack of mobility throughout the spine. As Frank Forenrich explains in Exuberant Animal:

Unfortunately, many back pain sufferers take a strictly structural approach to the problem. We feel pain and jump to the conclusion that a disc or ligament has a structural flaw of some sort — a bulge, a tear or a herniation. So we ask the doctor for a series of diagnistic images (X-rays, MRI, etc.) to give us a closer look at the offending tissue.

But in a sedentary population, back pain is unlikely to stem from any structural injury. After all, most Americans are scarcely using their bodies in the first place. Instead, common back pain is more likely to stem from poor use of the spine and reduced sensitivity to position and motion. Your physician wouldn’t be so coarse as to put it this way, but here is what he’d like to say: ‘The reason your back hurts is because you never use it. Because you don’t use it, your spine has grown dull and insensitive. You have a stupid spine and a stupid torso. It’s time to wise up and get moving.’

We can’t forget that the spine is essentially a series of joints strung together consisting of twenty six bones. That’s like nine fingers put together.

One of the quickest ways to kill a joint, let alone a series of successive joints in a chain = restrict movement about a joint.

From a daily environment standpoint, we’re living through a time when we rarely move our spine. We wear shoes, which effects on spine. We sit a lot, which effects our spine.

TL;DR = our lives, for the most part, aren’t helping our spine.

From a traditional fitness (McFitness) standpoint, we’re living through the neural spine Nazi regime.

We protect our spine as if get taken through any sort of range of motion another World War would start.

I don’t have anything against keeping a neutral spine. It’s useful for lots of things, like optimal transfer of force for barbell and freeweight exercise. But you need to have a more capable spine if you want to be a decent moving and decent feeling human being.

TL;DR = McFitness isn’t helping our spine.

But I’m veering off the path…

Warp tunnel = what I’d do for back pain with someone that sits a lot would be twofold.

First, I’d get the spine moving different ways.

Second, I’d do my best to undo the time spent sitting down.

The specifics, you ask?

OK.

But I’m now effectively ignoring the dude at the start of this, and I’m turning this into: if I had back pain of any sorts, here are some easy things you can start doing tomorrow to take matters into your own hands. Because, uhh, you DO own your body.

So maybe leaving your body 100% in the hands of others, you should start to take control.

ANYWAYS…

#1 – Undo butt in seat time with these…

Imagine if you threw a cast around your elbow or knee for ten hours every day. What would happen? What would you feel when you removed the cast? Sitting is essentially a cast for the spine and the musculature around the spine.

Structural adaptations start to take place as the days of this casting go on and on if they aren’t “undone.”

They usually aren’t undone. We sit in the car on the way to work. We sit at work. We sit even after we’ve sat for hours.

Ever been in the car for eight hours and want nothing more than to stand…only to want nothing more than to sit once you’ve stood for, oh, I don’t know, five seconds?

The first line of defense = fight against the sitting position as often as possible when you aren’t sitting. How? Hammer the opposite position.

1a. The couch stretch 

anthony mychal couch stretch

Get something soft for underneath your knee if you’re on a hard surface. Put your knee on the ground close to a wall, then slap your foot up on the wall above your knee. Set the front foot out as if you’re in a lunge position. Your goal is threefold: (1) have the knee touch the wall, (2) have your butt touch your heel, (3) have your butt of the rear leg squeezed.

You want to AVOID a huge back arch in order to properly stretch the hips. And you want to AVOID improperly aligning your knee, hip, and shoulder because you’re avoiding the reality of the situation: your quadriceps feel like they are going to tear from the bone.

So let’s tackle these one at a time…

Avoid a back arch by thinking about your hip structure like a bowl. The front of the bowl = the front of your hips = your pelvic. The back of the bowl = the back of your hips = your sacrum. You want to tip the bowl so water flows out backwards. One of the simplest ways to make sure you’re kinda sorta doing this = squeeze your butt.

Ideally, you want your hips to be level. Look at the picture above. My hips aren’t level because I’ve been ignoring this stretch for decades = this is the red line. The yellow line = hips more level.

Avoid improper alignment (that makes the stretch easier) by rotating towards the lunge leg. When your left leg is lunging forward, take your right shoulder and rotate it across the leg. Do the opposite for the, uhh, opposite leg.

anthony mychal couch stretch alignment

Back to my criteria…

If you haven’t done this before, you won’t even get close before you start tearing up. It’s going to hurt. Don’t necessarily push yourself and tear your rectus femoris, but don’t expect this stretch to feel green eggs and ham.

Once you’ve stopped wiping the tears from your eyes, you can add a back arch. BUT MAKE SURE YOU KEEP YOUR REAR LEG BUTT SEQUEEZED. This position = the opposite of sitting.

couch2

How long do you hold the position?

Until you pass out.

Maybe.

No.

Don’t pass out. Don’t sue me. Hold it for as long and often as you can. I recommend humans (yes, humans) hold this position for two minutes every day. I need to take my own advice sometimes. If you’re a human that sits a lot, you probably want to hold it more.

If you want a “lite” version, you can do it from a lunge positon. Same rules apply. Squeeze butt. Don’t arch back. Get foot to butt.

pretzelhip

#2 – Elongate and decompress the spine

Humans are built backwards. Cats, bears, dogs, apes…all of them carry their weight across all fours. Their spine is horizontal, gravity is vertical. Our spine is vertical, gravity is vertical. Meaning our spine is almost always getting squashed. Sitting doesn’t help, so…

2a. Hang as often as possible

Grab something. Let your body relax. Hold for as long as you can.

You want to hang from something that allows your hips to relax (you can bend your knees), so it has to be high enough. But you can get creative. My house has an little stairwell nook that lets me hang. I’ve hung off first story hotel balconies (the ones you can reach from the ground floor…I’m not James Bond). I’ve hung from hotel stairwells. Monkey bars.

You can find lots of places to hang. You might even want to install a pull-up bar somewhere in your house that lets you hang. Every house should have a place for you to hang. It’s as humane as having somewhere for you to bathe.

2b. Squat as often as possible

squat

Squatting seems counter intuitive because it’s similar to the sitting position. But the sitting position is really just one stop on the way down to a rock bottom squat. Imagine if your arm was in a cast at 90 degrees. Now you get out of the cast. What’s the first thing you do? You flex and extend your arm to lubricate the extreme ranges of motion.

Working through the full range of motion smooths out the kinks.

The full squat smooths out the kinks of sitting.

I said lubricate.

Besides, your spine funnels into your hips. Having a good set of hips will go a long way in fixing and preventing back pain. The deep rock bottom squat hold is one way to build solid hips.

So let’s clarify…

I’m not talking about weighted squats. I’m not talking about doing squats for reps. I’m talking about just getting into a rock bottom squat and amassing as much time as possible down there.

I brush and floss my teeth in a squat every night.

You want to make sure you’re using decent technique. Weight over tripod, not on the toes. Don’t compensate through a collapsed foot or ankle. The full details of squatting are within Z2B, as is a progression for moving into the deep squat.

#3 – Snake

Let’s stick with the cast idea. The first thing you want to do when you’re free of a cast = move. (I think I’ve said this enough times.) The suggestions above move the spine here and there, but in minimal patterns. You want to start moving it in different planes.

Enter: the snake.

Ever seen a snake’s spine? Pretty crazy. And yet they slither as if they were liquid.

You can break this snaking into two actions.

Stand upright. Keep your hips static. Now bring one shoulder down to the same side of your hip. This is snaking from the shoulder.

snakes

Stand upright. Keep your shoulders static. Now bring one hip up to the same side of your shoulder. This is snaking from the hip. It’s a little trickier to understand, but you’re basically sucking your hip up into the socket. It’s called pelvic listing. Here’s a video of Katy Bowman demonstrating pelvic listing.

Now here’s what we do.

Head on down to the ground and face the ground. Do a mild archbody hold by lifting your chest and legs off the floor. You can keep your arms grasped onto your boobies for good measure. Now “snake” your spine. Start with the left shoulder. Then right shoulder.

snake3

This shoulder variation is the easier variation to pick up on visually. The hip one is more subtle, which is shown below.

snakehip

Keep the movements slow and deliberate for starters, doing double the number of repetitions for the hips than you do for the shoulders because the hips’ll need more.

So watz teh program dewd…?

Everyone wants to know about programs. My program for stuff like this = the meow method, which is something I talk about in Z2B. Think of a cat. The cat sleeps for a while. Gets up. Stretches. Goes about it’s day.

Use the meow method. Do these things as often as as much as you can. In the car? Maybe if you’re the passenger, you can do some pelvic listing. When you get out of the car, you can hold the squat. When you pass something you can hang on, you can hang.

For starters…

  • Hold the couch stretch for two minutes daily per leg.
  • Hold the squat for one minute daily.
  • Hang for one minute daily.
  • Do twenty reps of snakes daily.

And you can even use these as qualifiers as sorts. If your couch stretch sucks, then you should expect to have back pain. If you don’t hang often, then you should expect to have back pain. If you can’t reach the bottom of a squat correctly (heels stay glued to floor), then you should expect to have back pain. If you don’t move you spine like a snake often, then you should expect to have back pain.

And a last tip for people deadlifting and squatting: if you have massive back pain centralized primarily in the back to the point of it being absolutely awful when bending over (rounding the spine) and picking even a pencil up off the ground, I’d look into resetting the SI joint.

But maybe I’ll talk about SI joint junk another time.

(Like how every time I try to do hip thrusts, I get SI joint problems.)

OR maybe I’ll beef this up more and make this more of a…

If you have back pain and can’t do x, y, and z, then you know why you have back pain. 

We’ll see.

I’m out.

And love.

♡ to Ido Portal. He’s the one that got me to hang and squat more. My body feels better because of it.
♡ to Dan John. He’s the one that gave me the bowl visual for the couch stretch.

 

Yo yo yo. 

I never was a multiple “yo” guy. One is fine. I like one. But I’m useless stringing together more. What about you? 

Anywho…

Ant here.

Below is a snippet of second version of Big Win Fat Loss I’m working on. This is smack dab in a discussion about meal timing and meal frequency. 

I like the idea. I think it’s an important idea. So sucking it out from behind the pay wall and into the free world. As Mario would say…hewegoo ~

#####

Imagine a world where everyone acted immediately upon their sexual impulses.

You see someone you’re attracted to. You either (a) sexually assault the person, or (b) masturbate in public.

Not a very fun world.

But think about it…

We have sexual impulses and sexual desires hardwired into our DNA. If we didn’t, we’d be Emo Sapiens. So depressed about life we’d just cry in a corner.

Emo Sapiens would go extinct. And quick. No desire for sex = no babies = no human proliferation.

So why not act immediately on sexual impulse…?

Well…

There may have been a day when humans did such a thing. After all, the majority of human evolution occurred in a world that looks nothing like today’s world.

So us humans were gently shaped with certain traits advantageous for survival…in a world that looks nothing like today’s world. Meaning those same traits aren’t exactly lamb to today’s world’s tuna fish.

b4ij1xtl

Humans work on a different frequency than the one broadcast by the modern world.

Females are sent a Victoria’s Secret catalog every second. There are billboards. TV commercials. Radio commercials. Crowded cities filled with way more people than humans are used to being around.

(And porn is a click away. Don’t know if you were aware. I wouldn’t know though. My friend told me. That’s how I know. So I’m just spreading the word.)

The input we digest now is staggering.

And said sexual impulse happens (probably) a lot more because of the volume of sexual input in the world today is a lot higher than what it used to be.

So we don’t give in to our immediate sexual impulse. It would be nearly impossible to function as a modern society if we did. And we know passing on the urge won’t ruin our chances of reproducing in the future.

Now…

Being hungry is similar to being horny.

We get hungry for the same reason we get horny. Imagine never being hungry. You wouldn’t care about food. Another trait of Emo Sapiens.

Ever had an elderly family member lose his or her appetite? Happened to my grandma. Doctors recommend pounding milkshakes spiked with protein powder.

Without the energy and nutrients, humans become frail and fragile.

No food = no energy and nutrients = no human.

So the impulse is there…

And the huger story is quite the same as the horny story: 

The world us humans spent the majority of their time evolving within is a lot different than today’s world. Things we have were great for the old world. Maybe not so much for the new world.

There are billboards. TV commercials. Radio commercials. Crowded cities filled with way more food than humans are used to being around.

(And food porn is a click away. Don’t know if you were aware. I wouldn’t know though. My friend told me. That’s how I know. So I’m just spreading the word. My Instagram page? No. No food porn there. Nope. No beer either. It’s the pleats. Some kind of optical illusion.)

Our hunger mechanism isn’t fit for today’s world. Just like our horny mechanism.

The difference?

Where we (decently) regulate our sexual desires, we TERRIBLY regulate our hunger desires.

OHMAHGERD I’M HOOONGGRY. IF I DON’T EAT I’LL DIEEE.

Hunger is SUPPOSED to reflect a state of TRUE biological hunger. And maybe it did a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

But a lot of cultural customs have taken us away from truly communicating with our bodies.

We hardwire hunger into us with habits. Like Pavlov’s dog. Ring the bell, the dog drools. Without the bell, no drool. This is the world around us dictating when we are hungry. 

Same thing happens when the clock strikes 12:00PM for lunch…or whatever eating habits you’re used to rolling with.

And even worse? If you try to ignore these external cues (remember those?), you fall trap to pink elephant syndrome.

Try to NOT think about a pink elephant…and all you can do is think about a pink elephant. Try to NOT think about food…and all you can do is think about food.

A willpower killer = trying to IGNORE something. Much better to acknowledge, accept, and surf the emotions.

(It’s worth pondering: how many “bells” are in your life?)

And this circles us back to what Wansink warned: we are slave to external cues.

You can be sitting in your office, head down working, with no thought about sex. But if you happen to look out your window for a split second and see a naked woman streaking down the street, suddenly that’s all you think about.

Same goes for the truck driving past with the billboard on its side advertising for a quarter pounder with cheese.

So although hunger is this great evolutionary thing we have, the thing that differentiates us from Emo Sapiens, it’s worth understanding: 

The world our hunger mechanism was cultivated within is not the same world that’s now abusing our hunger mechanism.

Point of this talk =

If you absolve any cultural barriers attached to meal timing and meal frequency, you could say that humans have a built in mechanism to tell them when to eat: when hunger strikes.

But this is also like saying you should have sex when you’re horny. 

It’s true…kind of…

…but you need to wait for the right time and place to satisfy your urges.

And we’re good about doing this sexually.

Not so much with hunger.

We hate hunger because we’ve been culturally indoctrinated to hate hunger. But what if I told you hunger wasn’t bad? And what if I told you hunger was actually good? Necessary? Perhaps a cure for cancer?

What then?

Because it all might all be true.

#####

And that’s the end of the lesson, which leaves a marvelous cliffhanger for the next lesson. Because storytelling told me it was a good idea. Especially because most sport and fitness resources are drier than the Mojave. 

Anywho…

Next week, I hope to have episode one of #ASKANT up and running. There is still time to submit a question. Most of the work I’ve done to this point = logistics.

Until next week…

 

Ant, out ~

 

P.S. If you’re a Z2B owner, the hinge unit hath been unlocked! Official email will be sent to you on Wednesday. I’m going to comb it over tomorrow.

P.P.S. Some exciting things are happening. I can’t wait to share them with you. 

This is a ‘lil thing about muscle-ups, but it’s not really about muscle-ups. You don’t have to be able to do muscle-ups to suckle the lesson outta’ this teet.

Incentive to suckle: I’m attaching my current training program. The one I built in lieu of my now somewhat normal finger.

You’ll also learn the first answer I give people that ask how to do a muscle-up.

Let’s begin…

I used to love muscle-ups. Here’s a vid from a while ago. Trying to be smooth and controlled.

Used to do them for reps. Could do around five or six consecutive ones. Used to do them for ring combinations. Like this. Used to do them every training session.

But I’m not doing them anymore.

Here’s why.

(Small backstory.)

I couldn’t use my rings for a while because I broke and dislocated my finger (see past letters).

Err.

I could use my rings. But I decided to forego above the ring work. Because, every once in a while, I’d have a neural fart. All would be going according to plan, but outta’ no where I’d spasm and lose good position.

Didn’t happen a lot. But it happened.

I didn’t want to have to drive to the hospital with a crooked finger again on account of a neural fart, so above the ring work was out.

No surprise: my ring abilities leveled down. Hard.

Rings are finicky. You need to be on the rings in order to get better on the rings.

Standard linear straight barbell exercise won’t help.

When I first got my rings, I could do dips with 100+ pounds attached to my waist. But I couldn’t hold the top position of a dip on rings for more than, uhh, two seconds.

Make that one second.

Alright, alright. You know how to tease the truth outta’ me.

Make that none seconds.

This is why rings are fun and invigorating.

In the nice and neat straight and linear world, you can do an exercise pretty well. Then you (try to) do the identical exercise on rings and get your face kicked in.

784eaa8a62387642f0b10b29d15605c9

It’s kind of like getting one of those metal puzzles…all of the rings and gadgets intertwined, your goal is to separate them. You look at the thing and think, Psssh…this is gonna’ be so easy.

And then it’s not. And then you throw the metal puzzle against the wall.

The gap between how you think things should be and how they actualy are somehow makes the situation simultaneously frustrating and invigorating.

It’s hard to hold yourself back from diving into the rings because you want to prove (to yourself) that you aren’t a piece of glass.

And that’s what happened in my situation. When I got my rings, I didn’t prepare. I just dove in. I had fun.

I don’t regret it.

James Clear wrote here about successful people starting before they feel ready.

You’d be a fool to waste momentum.

Momentum allowed me to fall in love with the rings. If someone told me to work on foundation moves for one year before ever trying a muscle-up, ring training probably would have become labor…not love.

But then there’s the other side of the story…

Sometimes riding momentum and having fun isn’t in the best interest of long term development.

Diving right into ring training cost me.

I got a funky wrist injury that lasted about six months because I didn’t properly train false grip strength.

Muscle-up tip number one million: use the false grip. If you can’t muscle-up and want to muscle-up and you aren’t using the false grip, this is where you begin. 

false grip muscle up

Muscle-up tip number two million: train the false grip. Start from an inverted row position. Just grab the rings and dangle. Once you can hold this for one minute, you’re ready for more intense action. Take it to the pull-up position. Just hang.

falsehangs

I always battled elbow pain. And, perhaps most importantly, my progress was scatterbrained.

Such is the nature of being self-taught, but even after I found a system I could comprehend,  I didn’t want to regress to build the proper foundation…so I never did.

Hubris for the win!

I had nicks and bruises. But nothing bucked me off the saddle.

Breaking and dislocating my finger unintentionally bucked me to the Moon.

Now I’ve landed back on Earth.

It’s incredibly tempting to hop back on the rings and do what I was previously doing. Maybe flirt with some elbow pain. Maybe another wrist injury.

A cocktail I’m all too fond of embracing into the esophagus.

OK.

Geez.

You know me all too good.

did shoot the cocktail. I hurt my wrist a little bit. My elbows hated me. Yaddah yaddah yaddah. So I’ve decided to take a step back and work on the basics. Because I don’t want to be the same mediocre goober I was before.

I had the fun times.

Now I can be an adult.

There’s almost always a more “adult” path.

But I know, for a self-taught goober like myself, the adult path is like being forced to sit in public school when you’re inkling is to go alone and wander Hyrule.

lost woods

Sometimes you have to head into the Lost Woods, take the beating, and then realize, “Hmm…maybe there is something that there rigid classroom thingy offers after all.”

So I’m now doing false grip hangs. I’m doing ring push-up variations. I’m doing inverted row variations.

I’m doing the basics.

I’m swallowing my pride.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, there’s something you should know.

What often separates the best Pros from the average Joes: beating the basics into your bones.

At Spartak, the Moscow tennis club, there is a rule that young players must wait years before entering competitive tournaments. “Technique is everything,” said a coach, Larisa Preobrazhenskaya. “If you begin playing without technique it is big mistake.”

You might be surprised to learn that many top performers place great importance on practicing the same skills they practiced as beginners. The cellist Yo-Yo Ma spends the first minutes of every practice playing single notes on his cello. The NFL quarterback Peyton Manning spends the first segment of every practice doing basic footwork drills—the kind they teach twelve-year-olds. These performers don’t say to themselves, “Hey, I’m one of the most talented people in the world—shouldn’t I be doing something more challenging?” They resist the temptation of complexity and work on the task of honing and maintaining their hard skills, because those form—quite literally—the foundation of everything else.

Daniel Coyle, The Little Book of Talent

 

P.S.

I know gymnasts see the muscle-up as a peon skill, akin to these “basics” I speak of. But I’m not going to ruin my confidence by acknowledging such a thing. And I think we all know gymnasts are midgets trained as sorcerers the ancient art of black magic. They aren’t real human beings.

 

P.P.S.

For those of you in Z2B, the squat unit is now unlocked. Official email coming your way tomorrow.

 

P.P.P.S.

I suppose you’re still here for the training program, eh?

SUNDAY

A1) DEADLIFT

  • 1 set @ 3r
  • Add five pounds

A2) TUCK FRONT LEVER

  • 5-10 second hold
  • Make it easier, make it more comfortable, focus on technique and position—don’t even think about “the next progression”

A3)  FEET SUPPORTED HANDSTAND PUSH-UPS

  • Do a few slow reps

B1) RING ROW MUSCLE-UP TRANSITION

  • 3 sets @ 5r
  • Do slow

B2) SHOULDER DISLOCATES + BRIDGE WORK

C1) FRONT SQUAT

  • 2 sets across @ 6r
  • Add five pounds

C2) CHIN-UPS

  • 2 sets across @ 6r
  • Add one pound

D) BLAH

  • ANY BACK SHOULDER/BACK/BICEPS PUMP WORK HERE
  • HANG FOR 60s
  • QUAD/HIP FLEXOR POSITION WORK
  • SPLITS POSITION WORK

 

MONDAY

A1) DEADLIFT

  • 1 set @ 3r
  • Add five pounds

A2) TUCK PLANCHE

  • 5-10 second hold
  • Make it easier, make it more comfortable, focus on technique and position—don’t even think about “the next progression”

A3) SCAP SHRUGS

  • On rings, do a few slow reps from the curl and row position

B1) RING PUSH-UPS

  • 3 sets @ 5s + hold support position for 10s after last rep
  • Make it easier, make it more comfortable, focus on technique and position—don’t even think about “more reps” or “the next progression”

B2) SHOULDER DISLOCATES + BRIDGE WORK

C1) GOOD MORNING

  • 2 sets @ 20r w/ 65 pounds
  • Compress as much as possible. Increase ROM with each rep.

C2) OVERHEAD PRESS

  • 2 sets across @ 6r
  • Add two pounds

D) BLAH

  • ANY FRONT SHOULDER/CHEST/TRICEPS PUMP WORK HERE
  • HANG FOR 60s
  • QUAD/HIP FLEXOR POSITION WORK
  • SPLITS POSITION WORK

 

WEDNESDAY

Repeat Sunday only do incline presses instead of overhead presses. Increase five pounds per week.
 

FRIDAY

Repeat Monday only do barbell rows instead of chin-ups. Increase two pounds per week.
 

NOTES ~

The aggressive linear progression comes from me starting from scratch on just about every barbell lift. And, in general, caring less and less about maximal strength. Lifts are done slowish with full range of motion. 

…and there you have it. Simple.