Monday, December 22, 2014

200 Calories of Food

A while back, an article in The Atlantic went around with pictures of 200 calories of various types of food. It linked back to an app called "Calorific" that contains, apparently, a full database of these images.

There was some talk about food shaming surrounding this post, which I think is absurd. I could go on a whole diatribe about how annoying I find it that, recently it seems, just making someone aware of decisions and consequences and telling the truth (if you over eat, you're going to gain weight) is now seen as shaming. It's facts. Just don't be a dick about it (hey, lard-o, you really gonna eat that?). 

Anyway....
It's easy to put this much cheese and mayonnaise on a sandwich. 
So I really liked this imagery. Let's say you want a 600 calorie dinner: based on the few images on the page I could have half an avocado, most of a bagel, and presumably some meat. Not bad. Oh, notice how you would need to take a larger chunk out of the donut than the bagel to skim it down to 200 calories. That's useful to know. 

I love a good donut, but you can generally eat more of the bagel for the same calorie punch.
Just watch how much mayo you put on either.

But then another Atlantic article recently came out, same idea, this time of Christmas foods

This one makes me sad. 

There is only one holiday time of year that gets this intense with festivities and breaks from school and work. And let's face it, many times when family gets together, it's around food. Food is the natural ice breakers for interacting with family that you don't see often. 

You know what? Eat the food if you want to. 

I'll be having AT LEAST something like this around the holidays.
Multiple times.
If you've been eating bad all year, this one week won't move the needle either way, through deprivation or over indulgence. The holiday season is stressful enough, with expectation from family, friends, work. Travel, vacation, gifts, the whole nine yards. 

It's okay, eat the food. 

Don't beat yourself up. Don't crash diet afterwards. And please, please, please, don't do a detox or cleanse

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bulletproof? Eating Shouldn't Be That Hard!

That doensn't mean it's EASY per se, because anytime you have to change a habit (or when we talk about eating it's usually multiple habits and triggers) we generally have a tough go at it.

That is a conversation for another time, though.

What I take beef with (mmm.... beef) is the whole Bulletproof THING that has been gaining more and more notoriety. I credit The Bulletproof Executive for stopping me with my whole Paleo journey.

You see, about three or four years ago when I was just starting out on this whole coaching journey, I figure I should start walking the walk a little more and decided to go Paleo/Primal. I cut out gluten and legumes, I only had dairy in the form of cheese, no more soy, no more sugar or artificial anything. ManFriend and I even hired a cook to prep our meals for the week so that we wouldn't fall off the wagon in a hungry, nothing-in-the-fridge situation.

That lasted for at least 8 months. I looked great at USAW Nationals. But I lifted like shit.

So skinny. And so weak. (That's 93 kg)
I felt like I was missing something. I did WellnessFX testing and got recommendations about what supplements I should be taking. I was told that maybe I had adrenal fatigue. My searching eventually led me to The Bulletproof Executive. That's when  fuse blew. I was reading about all these RULES to being optimal. It was like.... if Methodists are Paleo, then the Bulletproof Executive are Orthodox Catholic.

I grew up in Texas, okay? Leave me alone.

That ended it. Fuck Paleo! This is stupid! Eating shouldn't be this HARD!!!


The Bulletproof Diet has seemed to come more mainstream now. And even I'll admit, butter coffee is delicious. It's got a nice frothiness to it and keeps you humming. But I never bought into the whole mycotoxin fear-mongering, or the need to buy special MCT oils. And in the end, it was too much work to blend my coffee in the morning when I have about 20 minutes to wake up and get out of the house. (extra sleep >>> making fancy coffee)

Lately I came across this article from the website posted to Facebook, as a way to help people start their Bulletproof journey. I'm just going to take issue with a few points:

1) Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks that contain HFCS, honey, and agave) .


So apparently we have a "sugar is toxic" person here. I can get behind removing liquid calories for some people because they end up taking in too many calories this way and never feeling satiated. But frankly, that goes for Bulletproof coffee, too. Butter vs sugar? It's all calories and how you psychologically respond to it.

2) Replace the sugar calories with healthy fats from the Bulletproof Diet such as grass-fed butter, ghee,Brain Octane™,  Upgraded™ MCT oil, or coconut oil.


See #1

3) Eliminate gluten in any shape or form.  This includes bread, cereal, and pasta.  Do not make the mistake of resorting to gluten free junk food, which can be almost as bad.
4) 
Remove grains, grain derived oils, and vegetable oils such as corn, soy, and canola.  Also remove unstable polyunsaturated oils such as walnut, flax, and peanut oil.

Look, I don't care if you eliminate gluten. Just like I don't care if you eliminate meat. But don't try to tell me that it's universally healthier for humanity. It just isn't true. I've had people tell me to eliminate it for a month or two and see who awful I feel when I put it back in my diet. The funny thing is, I've done exactly that, with no difference! 


9) Switch to grass-fed meat and wild caught seafood.  Eat pastured eggs and some pork, chickens, turkeys, and ducks.10) Switch to organic fruits and vegetables.  This is more important for some plants than others.  See thissite for details.


Let's all go broke just to be some false sense of optimal. 

11) Cook your food gently, if at all.  Incorporate water into your cooking whenever possible and use low temperatures.  Do not use a microwave or fry.


Anyone with any understanding of evolution knows that cooking meats (and some vegetables) allowed us to access their nutrients and evolve to the (cough cough) highly intelligent creatures we are now. 

Also, this bullet point at the end:

  • High healthy fat intake is optimal.  General ranges are 50-80 percent fat, 5-30 percent carbohydrate, and 10-30 percent protein.
Which, dammit all to hell, is so wrong on so many levels. If' you've read my recent blogs, you know why I take issue with this. 

I get it when people try to say that science moves forward and teaches us things that we once thought were right are now wrong. But that new learning is usually in the nuances of how our biochemistry works. 

At one point people vilified fat because, well, it seemed obvious that putting fat in our system would make us fat. We eventually found that to be a false story line. Really, eating a lot of fat just packed calories into our diet easier. But rather than take this easy moderate approach, people with an agenda are trying to say we had to completely backwards. We didn't. We just didn't have the details. 

I'd like to leave you with an article that explains much better than I could why the Bulletproof diet is such a sham: 



Monday, December 15, 2014

Nutrition Resources

As I mentioned in my last post, many people have come to ask me about my nutrition coaching, how I like it, how I feel, and ask if they should also look into nutrition coaching.

My answer is usually along the lines of:

I'm doing this because I'm older now and trying to squeeze a few more competitive years out of myself. I think I have my training dialed in pretty well, and the only stumbling block left is my nutrition. And much like programming, it's so much easier to have someone else just tell you what to do and hold you accountable rather than try to figure it out yourself and cheat yourself.

That said, if you're a casual exerciser, not competitive, you probably don't need to drop the money on a nutrition coach just like you probably don't need to drop the money on a sport specific coach. So, here are the resources I think everyone should look into:

1) Eat To Perform

At eattoperform.com, there is a blog, a forum for people to bounce ideas around, a members-only area, and (this is important) a calorie and macros calculator to help you get started on your If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) journey.

They also have an e-book out that I think is really good and can help you get the information down in a concise manner, rather than digging through all the blog posts and forums. If you join as a member, there are admins in the forums that can help you get started with macros calculations and tweaks based on your data and experiences.

They are definitely more Paleo driven than my other resources, which makes some people very happy, and people like me kind of roll my eyes. Irregardless of your stance on Paleo and "clean eating", it's a good place to start.


2) Renaissance Periodization

I've actually not followed their blog, but I know a few people who have been working with them and have gotten great results. I've started reading their e-book (got side tracked) and everything so far is super solid. The book isn't on their website, but you can get it through JTS by clicking here.

Dr. Mike Israetel, who I think is the head honcho at RP, has a lecture series on YouTube that I think is just great, click here to watch.

The only possible downside is that the one athlete I've talked to about her diet specifics says she is FUCKING SICK OF RICE, but I don't know if they are of the "clean eating" camp or if that is part of her personalized plan. Either way, it's basically IIFYM, and they will break up to what your macros should looks like for each meal.


3) Alan Aragon's Research Review

If you enjoy the science behind nutrition and training research (and I mean real research, not just Googling something), this review is a great introduction to the science behind it and how it's all progressing. It's $10 a month, a new review is posted every month, and with membership you also get access to all of the back issues.

You can find a free sample of the AARR HERE.

Each review has a comprehensive over view of new research that has come out, noting the results, strengths, and weaknesses of each study, also pointing out how results to translate to real world use. There are also guest authors who write about training, diet protocols, or more basic health things such as "What celebrities do and don't understand about nutrition."


4) Get Coached! 

Okay, so you've looked at all the resources here. You've laid out your macros according to various calculators, but you can't seem to get yourself to stick to it. Or maybe you sabotage yourself when doing the calculations because of inherent biases you hold. Go ahead and get a coach!

Obviously I'm a big fan of Joy Victoria, as I've been working with her for close to two months now and feel great for it! You can access her contact information HERE.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Nutrition Coaching Update

I've had a hard time getting myself to write blogs lately. As evidenced by the dearth of entries in the past month. However, I've had many people come up and ask me about how my nutritional coaching is going and would I recommend them doing something similar.

So here is my update on working with Joy Victoria.

We've been working for closing in on two months now. For the first five weeks we did a maintenance diet where I would get used to tracking my food in a different manner and making sure my body was truly at maintenance and used to the new food ratios. You can read about that HERE.

This is the change in physique before starting the calorie cycling.
Carbs for the win!


Now we've been doing a calorie cycling program for about two weeks. Three days at a lower calorie level, small deficit, and then one day at maintenance. This has been a particularly interesting process because at first I didn't think much was happening. For the first ten days or so, my weight didn't change, it stayed fluctuating between 179 and 181 lbs.

Then, I was scheduled to have a high calorie day on a Tuesday. That morning I weighed in at 180.6 lbs, the higher end of my natural oscillation. I thought, "well, I can't stay at a deficit for forever, that will ruin my lifting, so whatever. Eat more cereal and trust the process."

The next morning I weighed in at 178.2 lbs. After a day of eating an "extra"100 g of carbs.
The following morning I weighed in at 177.6 lbs.
The following morning (today) I weighed in at 176.7 lbs.
Ummm... so much for it not working. I guess I just needed a bit of time for my body to adjust.

I'm actually not thrilled to suddenly be 4 lbs lighter. My mentality is one of "OMG, I'm wasting away and might lose my gainz!" I'm trying very hard to reserve judgement on this until I've trained today and see how I perform on Sunday. So far, this weight loss and calorie cycling hasn't adversely affected me:



Who knows why I suddenly dropped weight over the past 3-4 days, despite not doing anything different from when my weight was stable. The body is kind of weird when it comes to change. Weird as in, it doesn't like it much and behaves accordingly.

Next up: Resources for people who want guidance themselves.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Adrenal Fatigue: Fact or Fiction

Two articles poo-pooing on "adrenal fatigue":

Glenn Beck: Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue and Starvation

I'd rather not take a side on it. I just don't know enough. But here is my experience:

Back when I was new to being a trainer and coach, I was also doing the WellnessFX testing. My first test went smashingly, I learned a lot of interesting information about what my body was missing and how I could eat to fix it. Actually, I learned that my lifestyle had me doing a lot of things right.

We (me and the ManFriend) used this as a baseline to then start on our Paleo/Primal eating journey. We even hired a chef to cook our food for the week to make sure there was no chance of slipping.

I was also limiting my carbs at the time because I was trying to stay at 165lbs for weightlifting, and then I just knew that it was about limiting "bad calories". Bad calories were high glycemic index carbs and anything Robb Wolf called bad.

Then the second WellnessFX testing showed me as basically healthy, except for some markers of stress and potentially high cortisol.

"Well, I have been feeling anxious lately. And I don't sleep well," I told the nutritional counselor.

"It looks like your diet here is really good. But you might be suffering from adrenal fatigue. Here are some suggestions and supplements I would have you take to treat that."

So I listened and tried and told myself things were getting better.
--------------------

They weren't really getting better. Once I stopped the whole Paleo thing, the random anxiety and feelings of panic definitely subsided. But I was still being restrictive in my eating because I, again, just knew that certain things were "good" and certain things were "bad."

When I decided that I should stop trying to be 165 lbs for weightlifting and just get up to 180 lbs (the top of the middle weight class for strongwoman) I had more good effects. But, again, I was still being super selective about my food (particularly my carbs) because I just knew that carbs would make the bloat and inflammation come on.

Then I got tired of having a meh physique, and hired a nutrition coach to help me out. First thing? Up the carbs A LOT. Double what I was doing (160g/day to 299g/day). And in the first two weeks I lost two inches around my waist without losing any weight. Why? As she explained, when you restrict carbs too much, especially for people who train hard, you're going to see an increase in cortisol, which is a culprit for water retention and fat accumulation

(See also: lack of sleep, cortisol, and body fat.)

I would say that those experiences that led to a "diagnosis" of adrenal fatigue are mostly gone (constant sleepiness, needs for naps, random panic or anxiety). I still have anxiety around waking up when I set my alarm and get poor sleep on those nights, but now I fall asleep faster and wake up later in the night. I don't feel the need for midday naps like I did from earlier in the year. I even try to nap and I get antsy.

So is adrenal fatigue a thing? I don't know. But I'm pretty sure I didn't have it, and like many self diagnoses, is probably way over blown from what actually occurs.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Training Shift to Prepare for the Arnold

I haven't talked much about what's been going on in my own training as the realization that I'm actually going to The Arnold sets in. What also sinks in is that I have a huge discrepancy between what I'm good at (plant my feet and pick something up over and over and....) and what I'm bad at (pick something up and move my feet as fast as I can).

Also, I want to concurrently train my ass off and hide under a rock.

Now I'm trying to juggle not letting my Olympic lifts go to shit, while I get better at the strength and speed necessary to be competitive in Strongman. And it's certainly changed my approach to my event days on Sunday.

First thing I have to do is get my upper body stronger. So I've started a real basic linear progression with my strict press. I've learned through powerlifting that I have the bench multiple times a week if I'm going to make any progress on my upper body (Westside did not work so well for me there). So I do a progression where in one week at one weight I'll do 5x3, 4x4, and 3x5. If I make all my reps, I get to go up in weight the next week. I've moved my working weight slowly from 95lbs to a whopping 110 lbs so far.

I haven't talked much about what's been going on in my own training as the realization that I'm actually going to The Arnold sets in. What also sinks in is that I have a huge discrepancy between what I'm good at (plant my feet and pick something up over and over and....) and what I'm bad at (pick something up and move my feet as fast as I can). Also, I want to concurrently train my ass off and hide under a rock. Now I'm trying to juggle not letting my Olympic lifts go to shit, while I get better at the strength and speed necessary to be competitive in Strongman. And it's certainly changed my approach to my event days on Sunday. First thing I have to do is get my upper body stronger. So I've started a real basic linear progression with my strict press. I've learned through powerlifting that I have the bench multiple times a week if I'm going to make any progress on my upper body (Westside did not work so well for me there). So I do a progression where in one week at one weight I'll do 5x3, 4x4, and 3x5. If I make all my reps, I get to go up in weight the next week. I've moved my working weight slowly from 95lbs to a whopping 110 lbs so far. A video posted by Kristin Newman (@strength_geek) on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:28pm PST Yes, I can barely press 110lbs for a set of 5, but I can jerk more than 230lbs. Just add legs. Other than adding strict pressing, I'm doing a lot more deadlifting, mostly adding in the trap bar to practice a more upright position. I think I am more upright with a trap bar deadlift than I am with my squats. Fucking femurs. On event day, I'm being a little more "reckless" with my work. By that I mean, I'm not playing it safe anymore. Like I said, moving events are my worst, and on event day training I would be super careful and mindful about my positions, steps, grip, set up, etc. I wanted to make sure I got everything JUST right. But that also meant that I moved more cautiously and slower than I normally would. So now, I just grab the fucking handles/yoke/keg and take off. As long as the implement is on my body, I'm trying to accelerate. This means I drop stuff more often right now, but I'm getting a much better sense of where that edge is.
I haven't talked much about what's been going on in my own training as the realization that I'm actually going to The Arnold sets in. What also sinks in is that I have a huge discrepancy between what I'm good at (plant my feet and pick something up over and over and....) and what I'm bad at (pick something up and move my feet as fast as I can). Also, I want to concurrently train my ass off and hide under a rock. Now I'm trying to juggle not letting my Olympic lifts go to shit, while I get better at the strength and speed necessary to be competitive in Strongman. And it's certainly changed my approach to my event days on Sunday. First thing I have to do is get my upper body stronger. So I've started a real basic linear progression with my strict press. I've learned through powerlifting that I have the bench multiple times a week if I'm going to make any progress on my upper body (Westside did not work so well for me there). So I do a progression where in one week at one weight I'll do 5x3, 4x4, and 3x5. If I make all my reps, I get to go up in weight the next week. I've moved my working weight slowly from 95lbs to a whopping 110 lbs so far. A video posted by Kristin Newman (@strength_geek) on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:28pm PST Yes, I can barely press 110lbs for a set of 5, but I can jerk more than 230lbs. Just add legs. Other than adding strict pressing, I'm doing a lot more deadlifting, mostly adding in the trap bar to practice a more upright position. I think I am more upright with a trap bar deadlift than I am with my squats. Fucking femurs. On event day, I'm being a little more "reckless" with my work. By that I mean, I'm not playing it safe anymore. Like I said, moving events are my worst, and on event day training I would be super careful and mindful about my positions, steps, grip, set up, etc. I wanted to make sure I got everything JUST right. But that also meant that I moved more cautiously and slower than I normally would. So now, I just grab the fucking handles/yoke/keg and take off. As long as the implement is on my body, I'm trying to accelerate. This means I drop stuff more often right now, but I'm getting a much better sense of where that edge is.

Yes, I can barely press 110lbs for a set of 5, but I can jerk more than 230lbs. Just add legs.

Other than adding strict pressing, I'm doing a lot more deadlifting, mostly adding in the trap bar to practice a more upright position. I think I am more upright with a trap bar deadlift than I am with my squats. Fucking femurs.

On event day, I'm being a little more "reckless" with my work. By that I mean, I'm not playing it safe anymore. Like I said, moving events are my worst, and on event day training I would be super careful and mindful about my positions, steps, grip, set up, etc. I wanted to make sure I got everything JUST right. But that also meant that I moved more cautiously and slower than I normally would.

So now, I just grab the fucking handles/yoke/keg and take off. As long as the implement is on my body, I'm trying to accelerate. This means I drop stuff more often right now, but I'm getting a much better sense of where that edge is.

More updates and videos to come as the months progress!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Three Week Update: Nutrition Coaching with Joy Victoria

Even coaches need coaches, and I hired a nutrition coach. You can read about my introduction to it all HERE.

So now I'm looking at about week 3. Two and a half, kind of, since I got the macros on a Monday and it wasn't until mid-week that I was actually getting anywhere close to hitting the right proportions. But it's been a couple of full weeks now, and the numbers, logic, and intuition are getting easier and easier.
A sampling of macros from the last week. Mon-Thurs

Progress

My goal was to stay around 183 lbs and work towards recomposition. We all know that calories in and and calories out is the main key to weight changes, but to get started she put me on a maintenance diet to get me used to following rules. Since I would just eat when I was hungry, and therefore usually make not the best choices, this part was all about getting my habits to line up with my goals.

What surprised me was that things seemed to be changing even though I'm on a maintenance level diet. This is around 2650 calories divided up to 45% carbs, 35% fat, and 25% protein. My scale weight hasn't budged, which was expected, but my waist is down 2 inches, my thigh down 1 inch, and my butt and chest/back haven't changed.

It's like my body is thanking me for the surge of carbs.

Changes I've Had to Make

Protein
This one wasn't hard. At 166 g a day (0.9 g/lb body weight), I was already getting about that much anyway. Eggs, chicken, fish, milk, protein powder to fill it in. The hard part was how much of my preferred protein sources (salmon, steak, eggs) also come attached to significant quantities of fat....

Fat
This is where I had to make some changes I never thought I'd make. For instance, I drink a lot of coffee. And in every cup of coffee I usually put in about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. THAT ADDS UP TO A LOT OF FAT! So now I use a fat free half and half. It's not quite as tasty, but I'm not cutting back my morning coffee runs. After all, I'm stopping at noon.

Out of the question.
Other changes I never thought I'd make and did:
 - Skim milk instead of whole milk
 - Low fat cheese
 - Removed nightly avocado
 - Using a combo of whole eggs and egg whites for quiche

Carbs
 This one was a big change, too. Since I was told to put the bulk of my carbs in the evening, I was trying to shove something around 250 grams of carbs into my facehole before bed. This didn't work. I decided to add potato to my morning quiche to make the number a little more attainable.

Even still, I'm having about 1.5 cups of white rice with my dinner, then finishing the night off with 2 cups of blueberry frosted mini wheats with skim milk for dessert. Dessert. I'm eating "dessert" of sorts!
A BIG part of my diet right now! 

The hardest part of all this is that you don't really get any one macro in isolation of another. My cereal has a little protein and fat in it. My protein powder has a little fat. My skim milk is carbs and protein. So I have to really plan my day out ahead of time and fiddle with the proportions to get it as close as I can. Then I have to commit to eating both ALL of this and ONLY this.

I had one off binge, and that was last night.

After a particularly heavy session at strongman training that both went really well and felt really really draining. I had other things I had to do on Saturday so I still had to cook on Sunday. ManFriend comes home and I get him to help me out with the food prep, but still. I'm exhausted and want to bask on the couch in my happy exhaustion.

So I think... "I've barely had any drink since I started this meal plan, I'm having a freakin' glass of wine as I cook!"

Which led to.... "WINE IS DELICIOUS! I'M DRINKING ALL THE WINE!"

Which then led to... "I'M DRINKING THE WHOLE BOTTLE OF WINE AND EATING THIS HANDFUL OF CHEESE!"

Classic story of feeling deserving of a "treat" and then things snowballing from there.