Alex Leaf returns to the show this week after a great episode he did last year, featuring wife Briana Theroux (Episode #187). This time, he’s here to talk about his new program which he has put together with Briana and Ari Whitten called “The Fat Loss Blueprint”. While there are many components to the program itself, I asked Alex specifically about a few areas that I felt don’t get enough mention on the show: circadian rhythms, hormesis, hedonic resets, and the nuance between women’s fat loss versus men’s. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
To learn more about Alex’s work and to purchase The Fat Loss Blueprint:
In my lifetime, I’ve lived in 5 different states (Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio and South Carolina) and one other country aside from the U.S. (Brasil). I was born in a small town in Tennessee (Union City) and from there, we would be transferred several times through my father’s work up until I graduated high school.
At that point, my life followed it’s own strange trajectory that led me back and forth from Tennessee to Ohio more than once.
I still have family in my hometown: my maternal grandmother and a maternal uncle. My mother is the oldest of four and she lost one of her brothers in 2008 (as well as her father in the same year).
Union City has always been “home” to me. Never mind that I haven’t actually resided there in any capacity since 2008-09 and my family and I moved from away there in 1979.
I think the fact that my grandmother still lives in the house I spent so much time in those first few years of my life still keeps me very much grounded to my hometown.
In 1975, the year I was born, the population was roughly 10,000 and today it’s approximately the same. By most accounts, my little birthplace is just that…little.
It never ceases to amaze me that every time we make the trip down from Ohio to Union City, that my own stress levels decrease the further down south we go.
It can be tough to find stress relief when you own a business. This year found industries not just struggling to get through the pandemic through grants, loans and any means of generating revenue but many simply couldn’t survive at all.
We were fortunate to be one of the survivors.
The last year of my life was fraught with stress even before I knew what a Coronavirus was. I had both personal and professional challenges I was trying to sift through and even though the business was riding a high, being busier has it’s own share of stressful circumstances.
As a result, it’s difficult for me to turn my racing mind off. I’ve grown more accustomed to using my downtime to read, exercise, or write.
While those outlets can be stress relievers for me, many times I’m so hyperfocused on the next task in the day it can be difficult to flip the switch and turn things down a notch.
These quick jaunts down to Tennessee almost invariably do that for me.
Because of our hectic work schedules (my mother is also a small business owner), we can usually only get away for a very quick weekend to see family down south. That typically looks like working a half-day on Fridays, hopping in the car for nine hours, spending the day with family on Saturday and heading back first thing Sunday. It’s a lot of travel time for not a lot of downtime.
We made a trip like that this past weekend.
And yet, there’s something strangely peaceful about it for me. Everything slows down in my hometown. There’s no frantic pace I have to adhere to. I can keep a pace that’s just as slow and calming as that southern drawl I grew up with.
If you’re like a lot of my clients, your stress relief during quarantine probably became some combination of television, food and alcohol. I’ve written a fair amount about the last two of those things over the last couple of months.
I am one of those strange people who, when stressed, can barely keep an appetite. It takes everything in me to stay well-fed because stress can do a number on my stomach, making food less appealing in general.
This week’s post is just a kind reminder to check in on your stress levels. Find the things that are holding you back, write them out on a sheet of paper if need be and see what you can temporarily remove from your list of worries.
Time with my mother, my grandmother and my uncle was much needed to recharge my batteries and come back to the madness of the Rev.
For yourself, go for a walk, a hike, play in your garden, learn a new craft, pick up an instrument, teach yourself a new type of cuisine, give your dog a bellyrub, for Christ’s sake turn off the damn television, do something that restores you, renews you, reminds you that most of life’s problems aren’t solved with a remote control or a fork.
For me, it’s some Tennessee sunshine, a good novel, and my Gram’s laughter.
For you, find the things in life where stress fades away. You need it…probably more than you know.
(Below is my Grandmother’s house. She renovated it after my Grandfather passed away in 2008. This will always feel like home to me.)
This week, I’m back to another client spotlight to share time with our very own Kimberly Young. We talk about the events that led to her starting with us two years ago, what’s kept her with us throughout that time and thoughts on improving the gym atmosphere to be more inclusive to black communities. She’s been an awesome person to work with and you’ll find out why we think so when you tune in. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
I was speaking with a female client (let’s call her Cara) recently and I wanted to share some of the conversation in hopes that it helps you. This is a lengthy post, with a lot to sift through.
Like many, she gained weight through the lockdowns. Fortunately, she’s been reading my posts and articles and listening to my podcast to hear/see that she’s not alone.
There are three areas of our conversation I wanted to detail in this week’s post: Habits/Skills, Alcohol Consumption and Accountability.
In trying to determine how to reverse the trend, Cara mentioned that her alcohol consumption had increased. She was also doing some late night snacking (going to bed, waking up to let the dog out and eating while she was awake) and just being somewhat unintentional with her eating habits. In addition, she felt that she needed to get back to calorie counting.
I asked her to pause for a moment and focus on one thing. It’s not that any of those four variables were earth shattering things to change. It’s that it’s too many things to focus on at once.
Imagine Joe Shmoe walks in to RevFit and wants to lose weight. He determines that he needs to do more cardio, lift weights, drink more water and eat less processed foods.
Sounds easy, right? It’s not. It’s too much to focus on.
I asked Cara to pick the place where she felt she could influence the most change.
In other words: What one problem can you tackle that can give you a win?
In her case, we spoke about the alcohol. She has developed a routine with her husband which sounds like it became counterproductive to her weight loss goals. I get it. I think everyone who is reading this and likes to imbibe started drinking more during quarantine.
Again, not unusual.
But for most of us, we are now out of quarantine which means, we need to get some control (momentum) built back up again.
And let’s go back to Joe Shmoe for a moment. When a potential client comes to me, with the goal of weight loss, that list is very similar:
Eat in a deficit relative to your needs
Drink more water
Do your preferred type of cardio
The list looks profoundly simple. However, every one of these things forces your life into a dramatic turn. You can’t eat the way you used to when you eat in a deficit. Portion sizes and food choices must change.
Sure, showing up to lift weights is relatively easy to do. You schedule the appointment, you show up, you lift weights and then you leave. That’s great. It also may have required you to change your schedule, perhaps go to bed earlier or wake up earlier and it’s disruptive.
How about water? If you normally don’t drink much and I ask you to drink more, it’s a chore. For some of you, it might feel like a part-time job. Drink, pee, drink, pee, drink, etc.
Oh yeah, and cardio? We have to do that too? No, you don’t have to do it, but it might help. Plus, your heart likes it even if you do mind-numbingly repetitive things like running (bleh!)
I’m going to try and tread carefully with this one because there’s almost no way to address all of this without sounding like a psychologist/psychiatrist which I am not. I’ll use both anecdotal and observational circumstances to highlight some of my points so I hope you’ll take all of what I’m saying with a grain of salt.
I will reinforce that nearly all of my clients who partake in the consumption of alcohol increased their alcohol consumption during quarantine. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s not just an alcohol thing, either. The same thing happened with food. I had very few clients who lost weight during the quarantine. Chances are, you didn’t lose weight over quarantine either. That small percentage of mine who did succeed with weight loss are unicorns and I have sent their DNA to a lab so we can replicate them and I can sprinkle their fairy dust on you…
Let’s again consider the increase of alcohol intake and food normal and par for the course since we have arguably, as a society, gone through one of the most chaotic and stressful times any of us have collectively seen.
I hope that it, at the very least, opened your eyes to the fact that you “might” need some new coping skills to handle stress. That’s not a judgment, by the way, I’m not going to judge a soul who’s reading this. As you’ll see, I’m going to go down in the sinking ship too because I wasn’t immune to the effects of the lockdown either.
As I’ve said many times in the past, I am not, nor have I ever been a particularly heavy drinker. My body doesn’t agree with it. When I had my lengthy drug problem (circa 1996-2006), I did fine with a boatload of drugs in my system but alcohol was always a completely different monster for me.
However, my alcohol intake did indeed increase during quarantine. And, as these things have a tendency to do, when you take in more, you develop a tolerance and that just leads to more…
Let’s come back to Cara.
She noticed that during the quarantine, her husband started to make and experiment with mixed drinks, cocktails, etc. I know that they also enjoy craft beers and the like as well. These are significant calorie bombs and if you’re looking for a place to cut back, what you’re consuming in the way of liquid calories is ALWAYS a place to be mindful of.
To her point, I also got a little bit creative with mixed drinks over quarantine too. Now that I have this obnoxiously large bourbon collection, what started as simply making Manhattans for my wife from time to time became Mint Juleps, or Bloody Widows or American Breakfasts on Sunday mornings.
What I found with these drinks was two-fold: 1) I drink mixed drinks way too quickly. They go down like Kool-Aid for me. Not a good thing if I were someone who needs to watch caloric intake for weight loss. 2) Without fail, alcohol in the morning makes me tired. That wasn’t a problem during quarantine when you don’t have a damn thing to do. It’s more of a problem now when there are actually things to get done on a Sunday afternoon and all I want to do is take a nap.
I also noticed some other things about alcohol consumption. The earlier in the evening I start drinking (say 5-6p), the more I’m inclined to want more than one drink. If I could push my intake to later, say, 7ish, I’m more inclined to just have one and then go to bed. That’s relative to the person. I go to bed early because I’m up early every day.
I also noticed (hence the picture posted below), that I’ll drink more slowly if I use a nosing glass than a tumbler. There’s something about the way the glass feels in my hand that I take my time with a nosing glass. If I drink bourbon in any other glass, I don’t sip it, I down it.
I referenced all of this to Cara the other day. I will never, ever tell anyone to stop drinking. It isn’t my choice to make. However, if weight loss is your goal and you like to imbibe, I can pretty much guarantee you that you’re going to have to cut back. It’s all going to be a matter of how you cut back.
Here’s where we’re going to wade into muddy waters.
One thing I have tried to share with as many people as possible is my experience in rehab. I went to rehab in 1998 and it was mandatory that we attend AA and NA meetings. Everyone, male/female, was there for a different chemical dependency and emotional set of hurdles.
The topic came up about the notion of alcoholism. One person said: “Well, I don’t drink every day. I only drink on the weekends.”
The therapist leading us reminded us, it’s not about how much or how often you drink. It’s about your emotional attachment to drinking.
This could potentially be framed up as:
-the desire to drink alone
-drinking to get drunk
-drinking to forget about your problems
-binge drinking on the weekends
-spending your day in anxious anticipation of drinking
The strange thing is that many of us have fallen into one or more of those descriptions at one point or another in our lives. It doesn’t automatically define us as alcholics.
Or does it?
I raise this question because over the last three weeks, I’ve had three different clients (1 male, 2 female) express the sentiment that they may be, indeed, alcoholics.
And here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter to me if you are or you aren’t.
What matters to me is:
Are you okay with that?
Are you happy?
Despite being (potentially) an alcoholic are you getting close to your goals?
Stepping away from alcohol for a moment, the same could loosely be applied to food. Do you have a healthy relationship with your food? If not, does it merit seeing a professional about that who has experience working with eating disorders?
Ok. Back to alcohol.
We live in a society that is socially accepting of heavy drinking. In other words, it’s normal if you drink beyond the stated 1-2 measured servings per day per person (1 for women, 2 for men).
However, your goals are important to you.
As my readers/clients know, I am all about the calorie. So, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t care whether the bulk of your caloric consumption comes from juice or from food, from alcohol or from steak, from veggies or from fruit. It all counts. It all matters. And, if you care about HOW your body looks and feels, you may want to be more discerning about the quality and variation of your intake.
One of my clients recently raised a great point. Should she have to give up drinking? No, not necessarily. However, if she hopped on the scale each week and was pissed off that the weight wasn’t going down, guess what I’m going to ask about? The drinking. Why? Because I know it happens at enough frequency that it could be holding her back.
Then, she has a decision to make: Does she cut back on alcohol and focus on quality food or does she cut back on food so she can keep drinking? That’s her call.
I will tell you, unequivocally, that what was once a 1.5/2 oz pour of bourbon has increased to closer to 3 oz for me. That’s nightly. That’s about 200 calories (I drink neat) every single night. I don’t plan on giving it up but if I needed to lose weight, I would probably either drink less frequently or measure my pours. Part of that is because when I drink (and this will be like most of you), I almost always eat more as well.
To sum all this up, if weight loss is your goal, look at every single area of your intake and decide: Where can I cut back?, Am I in control of my alcohol intake, and What is the big picture effect of my consumption? If you’re not sure how to answer these questions, perhaps involving a loved one/close friend can help with areas where you may not have as much self-awareness.
As mentioned earlier, one of Cara’s challenges was the increase of calories from having cocktails with her husband. I asked her to consider who was the person typically asking for another round of drinks?
Since quarantine, I have one liberal shot of bourbon and that’s it. My wife, on the other hand, despite drinking the same amount as me, has a higher tolerance for alcohol. While it doesn’t happen often, she will likely be the one who asks: Do you want another?
For me, it’s almost always no. For one, I hate how I feel after the second drink. It doesn’t taste as good as the first and even though the second won’t necessarily make me drunk (not my goal anyway), I hate how I feel the next day.
However, it highlights the point I want to raise about Cara.
Whether your problem is food or alcohol or food AND alcohol, if weight loss is your goal, one of those situations is absolutely YOUR challenge.
First, define who the saboteur is in the household. (Caution: I’m not trying to start a war in the household). I just want you to determine, are you the one asking for second helpings of food/drink or is someone else suggesting it?
Second, have the difficult conversation about this. This comes up so frequently for my clients and it’s a HUGE roadblock to your success if you don’t address it.
Third, you not only need to know how to use the effective words to stop or reduce this behavior but you need to know the verbiage in return that helps you stop the behavior if you are the one causing your own problems. In other words, if my wife was actively trying to lose weight right now and she had plateaued, we could look at alcohol consumption as a potential area based on what I’ve said in this post. She and I would have to have the conversation about declining the extra drinks if she wants to get to her goal faster. Since I’m not the one who typically suggests the second drink, we would have to address not only the fact that she does but how she wants me to express that to her in a way that is not nagging or discouraging to her efforts and goals of weight loss.
Lastly, and this is a touchy one because, again, it affects so many of my clients: Your goals are your goals. No one else deals with your obstacles with your perspectives and your self-talk. Otherwise known as “no one else is walking in your shoes.”
I should also mention the fact that during quarantine, many of us resorted to eating and drinking in abundance as something of a bonding experience. We were now spending more time than ever with our loved ones, who in turn were dealing with the stressful situation with us and, admittedly, were following many of the same behaviors as a way to cope with the situation.
It’s extremely easy to throw our loved ones under the bus when it comes to sabotaging and counterproductive eating/drinking behaviors. How often do you hear someone say: “Well, I’d be down in weight if she/he didn’t bring those fucking chips in the house!” That may very well be the case. You didn’t buy the chips, they did. However, you are in control of your behavior and if there is food/drink in the house that you cannot successfully navigate/moderate on your own, that’s on YOU. If you’re not taking the step to address this head-on, other people will always be the reason you don’t lose weight and you can play the victim card over and over again.
Let me take some of the steam out of that statement before I get a bunch of folks riled up about that. Relationships end because of things like this. Fundamentally, it is on a similar level as talking about finances, child-rearing, etc. How we eat is deeply personal and on a very basic level, many of us, despite our requests, don’t like being told what to do. Some people are very good rule followers but some people just like to toe the line.
I have a list of foods that I cannot successfully moderate in my home. In no particular order it can be chips, crackers, candy, and cookies. That doesn’t mean every single kind of those foods. It does mean most of them. I can’t even see them or I start thinking about them. And if I think about them, I eat them. I know myself well enough after nearly 45 years on this planet. If weight loss were the single most important goal on my plate with regards to my health, you bet your RevFit ass my wife and I would be having a discussion about those foods being in the house. They might not be her problem foods but that isn’t the point. We all have our vulnerabilities. Know yours, address them, rally the troops and get to your goal. It’s your body, no one else can control what happens to it except you and you will most likely need help (beyond mine) to get there.
As we have a fondness for saying at RevFit: Showing up and lifting weights is one of the easiest things you’ll do all day, what you do with the extra 23 hours of the day is where the biggest change will happen. And that absolutely has to do with how you interact with your fingers and your fork.
Thanks for hanging in there with me on this. I think I need a nap now…
I’m honored to be joined this week by fellow coach Chrissy King. This is her debut on the show and she has put together a timely and incredible workshop called “Anti-Racism For Wellness Professionals”. There has been a lot happening socially and I’m very grateful to Chrissy for putting together an exhaustive and comprehensive project to help others in the industry know how to better serve others at this time. This was a very eye-opening workshop to participate in and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to understand more about what’s happening with the black community and how we can all shape a more unified country to live in. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
To learn more about Chrissy’s work and to purchase the workshop:
Since my father passed in 2011, I’ve spent the last nine years measuring myself against him; this seemingly endless path to fill his shoes, a sentiment I expressed to him weeks before he left this world.
I think it can be helpful to have role models, to have people who you look up to, and people who inspire you to be better, to do better, and to live better.
I think it can also be a damning curse to live in those shadows too.
It’s these shadows that I feel can cripple us as individuals.
You are meant to be the best version of you that you can possibly be. Not a perfect you, the best you; an ever evolving and changing you.
That best version will go through peaks and valleys of being admirable and awful, beautiful and tragic, confident and scared. Sometimes, you may embody a lot of that all at once.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: on my best day, I’m a fraction of the man my father was. It’s those misgivings and shortcomings that keep me doubting myself, sometimes consciously sabotaging myself. As in, if I can’t be him, maybe I’ll be the antithesis of him.
He would have never wanted that for me.
Each year, around the anniversary of his passing, Father’s Day, his birthday, Christmas, etc. I have to remind myself of the things he taught me, or rather, the things he hoped I would learn.
When I reach those standards, it’s a sense of accomplishment. It’s something my mother and I will nudge each other to say: Dad would have been proud.
And when I fail?
Y’all when I fail, I fail big.
This is where I find that comparing myself to him, especially all these years after he’s passed feels like I’m letting him down even more.
He never taught me to be more like him. He just taught me how to get better.
He never said “Do it like I do it. It’s the best/only way.” He always said “Give it your best. That’s all I’ll ever ask of you.”
When I think about how I interact with my clients and how I interact with my boys, maybe I did learn something from him:
-Do your best.
-Don’t give up.
He never beat me over the head about it. He didn’t stand on a soapbox. He just did the best he could to lift me up and say “Look. There’s a path. There’s a way. Follow it.”
Coming off the heels of Father’s Day and still dealing with the ramifications of quarantine that I saw my clients experience, it was easy to see things go drastically off anyone’s desired path.
When you’re trying to improve your health, via diet and exercise, it can be easy to find inspiration in others. If you see someone lose 30 pounds, you tell yourself “If they can do it, I can do it.”
When you struggle, you doubt yourself and the words become “What have they got, that I don’t? More willpower, more dedication, or better genetics? Maybe I’m just unlucky…”
With my clients, I have conversations with some who compare their bodies to others: I want shoulders like hers, I want a midsection like his, I want to be as strong as they are.
I believe some of that inspiration can be a guide. In other words: this is what you must do with your training and your diet and your recovery and your priorities to achieve something close to that.
I especially feel for my clients who, despite making good progress before quarantine, seemed to lose ground during it. That insidious feeling of failure crept in and paralyzed some of my clients.
I know that feeling well.
Every time I recognize that I haven’t fulfilled the characteristics my father tried to raise me with, it’s easy to just say: Fuck it, why bother?
And nothing good comes from that question. Nothing good happens when you give up on yourself. You don’t wake up one day and are miraculously gifted a different, easier life.
The life you want, the health you want, and the body you want come from work. Sometimes tedious, tiring, and relentless work.
That’s, as they say, where magic happens.
I come out of Father’s Day each year in something of a lull; thankful for my beautiful boys and sad my Dad’s not here to enjoy them.
I know how hard my father worked to give my mother and I a good life. I do the same for my family. I’m still trying to get this parenting thing down because, quite honestly, my Dad had a gift. I’m still trying to learn how to have some of that.
To my clients: Work hard, do the tedious things, and reap the benefits. Don’t worry about the way you compare yourself to others or even your younger self. Those comparisons rarely matter. The progress you make with what you have available to you now does.
To my sons: Your Opa is looking down on you and smiling every day. Your Dad will be doing the best he can to show you what kind of love he was raised with and pass it down.
I guess that’s a good way to live anyway.
(Below is the last three years of Father’s Day celebrations with my boys. They keep getting bigger so Dad has to keep getting stronger.)
Tony Gentilcore returns after a great first episode with his wife Dr. Lisa Lewis back on Episode #157. As of the recording of this episode, he is not only recovering from an injury but still dealing with business closure in the state of Massachusetts. We talk about why studios like his CORE and my RevFit should be considered different entities from box gyms and group exercise formats in light of the pandemic. We also discuss how all of his business: speaking engagements, travel, and online programs have been affected and how he plans to move forward. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve collected things. When I was a child, it started with trading cards, then comics, then cassettes, CDs, etc.
I’ve since gotten rid of all of those things over the years. I’d move from state to state when my family would get transferred, find another thing to be fascinated with and start collecting that too.
When I started RevFit, my next collection became my books. I’m a voracious reader and while I can’t say that I have many collector’s items on my bookshelf, it’s nice to walk into my office where I keep all of them and see what I’ve read, what I’ve loved and what I have yet still to read.
Several years ago, my wife bought me a vintage turntable and that turned me into a record collector (shocker, I know!) It was with records that I chose to be more particular with the way I purchased. I’m more into limited edition versions, special colored variants, etc.
Somewhat in jest, my newest fascination I wholeheartedly blame one of my clients, Bill K., for. That would be my bourbon collection.
Last year, Bill and I were talking and I had mentioned that I liked bourbon but didn’t know much about it. Historically, I’ve never really been a heavy drinker. I don’t have the physical tolerance for it, nor is it something I’m looking to develop.
As I’ve gotten older, beer and wine don’t sit well with me as they did once before, so bourbon became the drink I could handle without feeling bloated or just wanting to fall straight to sleep as wine has a tendency to make me do.
Much like anything, you can fall down a significant (and expensive) rabbit hole with bourbon. It was this rabbit hole that inspired me to write this week’s article.
What does your health have to do with an ever growing bourbon collection in my dining room?
Well, follow me down this path for a bit.
As I mentioned, Bill was the one who I credit with really lighting this fire under me. When he found out that I had an interest in bourbon, he asked me if I had ever tried one called Blanton’s. I had not.
If you’re a bourbon drinker, you are probably already smirking at this.
Bill was kind enough to gift me my first bottle of Blanton’s. It’s a tasty one and it normally sells for around $60. There’s a caveat to that, though. Supply and demand is such that Blanton’s is not particularly easy to find in most parts of the U.S. and I’ve seen secondary market prices of upwards of $200 just to buy one bottle (thanks, but no thanks!)
Of course, once the bug bit me, I started trying to learn more about bourbon:
-What were the best kinds?
-How easily can they be found in Ohio?
-Are the more expensive ones actually better in taste?
For Christmas last year, Bill (that terribly kind soul that he is) gave me a limited edition book that helped me learn a little bit more about the making and history of bourbon along with a convenient list of bourbons that “should” be on everyone’s shelf.
That’s pretty much where I took off with it. As I was reading that book, I happened to be driving down to Tennessee (conveniently passing through Kentucky, the indisputable birthplace of bourbon) and I started looking at shops down there to see what I could find.
I learned a fair amount on that trip. I learned that each state runs their liquor sales in totally different ways. In Tennessee, for instance, liquor stores can charge whatever they want independent of one another. By comparison, in Ohio, the stores are overseen by the state board and (essentially) every store in the state has the same prices (which can be good or bad depending on the item).
Needless to say, I came home from that trip with the first inkling that collecting these bottles would be my new thing.
Curiously, I don’t have the olfactory senses that allow me to accurately pick out all of the notes in bourbon. I can’t really tell you if there’s caramel, vanilla, pepper, or butterscotch. All I know is: I like how that tastes and it’s either strong (high proof) or not. More on this later…
I’ve also discovered that while I love learning more about different bourbons and distilleries, I don’t have a huge interest in buying extremely expensive (a relative term) or very rare bottles (Pappy Van Winkle, anyone?)
Much like collecting records or books, I like seeing the collection grow but I want to be able to enjoy what I have and fulfill that obsessive nature of mine to watch shelves fill up over time.
I would say though, that my bourbon collection maybe more closely resembles the way I collect books. I don’t need the most expensive or the rarest bottle, I want something that I can simply appreciate and perhaps recommend to others (which is of course where my fascination has led me to of late).
Little by little, I’m learning more about how bourbon might pair with certain foods. I like a good rye but Heaven forbid, don’t try pairing a rye with a spicy dish. It’s not a good match! A high proof pick is the way to go if you’re going for spicier foods.
Often times, I work with clients who find themselves interested in following certain diets or diet trends. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. People need to find the way that resonates with them, their values and their lifestyles.
However, more often than not, I find clients who can regurgitate mountains of information about their diet “du jour” and for some strange reason, they can’t successfully stick with or succeed with those diets.
This where I want to start drawing something of a parallel between my approach to drinking and enjoying bourbon and your personal quest for better health.
It’s a perspective I’d like to offer you.
–Learn just enough.I’m learning a lot about bourbon because I find it genuinely interesting. However, not every facet of it isinteresting. I’m not concerned with whether or not I can sense every note in a bottle. I just want to find things I enjoy and might complement a given meal. When you decide you’re ready to take care of your health (lose fat mass, gain lean muscle, etc.) you may need to learn things like what a calorie deficit is (eating consistently less over time than what your body burns in a day) and what progressive overload is (how to get stronger over time while minimizing injury). If you go too far down the Google hole, you gain a whole lot of information but you don’t develop consistent action/execution. You end up with a head full of knowledge and no results to back it up.
-Everything in moderation.I don’t drink to get drunk and historically, I’m a one-and-done drinker. While I can’t admit to moderating the amount of bourbon I own (or records or books), I do moderate my intake. It’s why you frequently hear bourbon drinkers talk about good “sippers”. You want something that you can savor and take your time with. Anyone who has ever embarked on a diet or exercise plan knows what it’s like when they take things too far. Either the plan becomes unsustainable or an injury occurs. Then you lose ground and progress because you didn’t operate within the framework of what your body/mind can currently handle. While the middle ground might not be sexy or fancy, it is where the most reasonable and realistic results can happen over time.
–Find your society.I was recently listening to a podcast for bourbon fans and I heard a sentiment I’ll share (paraphrased) with you. If more of us could spend time sharing (sipping) a drink with one another and just talking/listening, we’d have a lot less problems in this world. Of course, if for any reason you don’t partake in alcohol, bring a glass of water or coffee to the table. If you want to have a healthier life, find people around you who “fill your cup” (pun intended), not people who tear you down and leave you worse off after each interaction. Find friends/family members who support your goals and make new friends along the way (of any color, creed, religious/sexual/political preference) who can help you broaden your understanding of others and maybe make you a better version of you. Some of the best conversations and learning experiences I’ve had in my life have come from people of different cultures and backgrounds than myself.
–Have fun.Unlike buying books or records, which can easily solve the thrill of the hunt with a quick search online and a “Buy Now” option, not all bourbon purchases are worth the online hunt. Those particular merchants may or may not have the bourbon you’re looking for at a reasonable price. Then, of course, you get gouged with shipping rates. This is where I’ve seen some merchants sell particular bottles at a decent price but then do a savage markup on others (like the aforementioned Blanton’s). I’ve learned to make friends with Mom & Pop local liquor stores and become a regular patron. When special or limited items come in stock, it keeps me top of mind if the owner wants to hold something behind the counter for me that others may not have access to. This makes bourbon collecting fun for me. Arguably, the best things you do for your health are the things you consider fun. Maybe they get you together with friends who make you laugh or you can forget about your stressful job for a while. Whether you’re teaching yourself how to cook or you’re learning how to get better at a particular lift, have fun learning the nuances of how self-improvement can put a smile on your face and not be a chronic drag because you’re chasing an arbitrary goal. Not every aspect of improving your life has to be one that makes you drag your feet.
Below is a picture of some of my collection. It’s almost displayed accurately as Top Shelf (more expensive) to Bottom Shelf (less so). With bourbon, however, a higher price doesn’t equate to better taste. Taste is subjective. Some of my very favorite ones are in the mid-range and some of the bottom shelf products are fantastic mixers if you’re into cocktails. I personally favor bourbon neat (no ice).
Your healthis far more than what you eat and how you train. It’s who you surround yourself with, how you relax and unwind, and how you recharge your batteries. Maybe you’ll never be a bourbon drinker and maybe this post will inspire you to venture out and try some. Either outcome is fine by me.
The beauty is in finding the path that works for you.
Patrick Umphrey of Eat, Train, Progress fame returns for his 4th appearance and 4th year in a row of our Father’s Day celebration (See episodes #70, #125, #195). As many know, he and I are both fathers to two children, one with special needs and one who is neuro-typical (Patrick has a son and daughter and I have two sons). In this episode we talk about what’s been happening in the lives of our children, our coaching practices and how we’ve been adapting to the pandemic and the social events happening today. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
I heard something not too long ago within my industry and it’s escaping me where the insight came from.
The belief was that, as a trainer, if you start coaching a particular client for weight loss and later their partner decides to start training with you as well, that the latter is the one who is more resistant to change.
When I read that, I had to think long and hard about that statement. There were no statistics. It was an observation.
As I tend to frequently do, I look at my sample size of clients. From the current ones to the former ones, do I see the same things that other coaches in other cities, states and countries see?
Let’s come back to that in a bit.
I do not sugarcoat the fact that dieting, when done responsibly and sustainably, as opposed to aggressively and somewhat carelessly is difficult.
That’s me being kind about it.
Yes, it’s about taking in fewer calories than you expend done consistently over time but it’s just not that easy to fit weight loss goals into the framework of our stressful, emotional and unpredictable lives.
If you were a single person, living alone, no kids, and working full-time, you would have difficulty adhering to a diet plan. However, one could argue this might be the ideal circumstance to lose weight in. There is less resistance in your life.
When you add in the dynamics of a spouse/significant other and children of any number, the resistance in your life increases.
Couple this with the fact that many people use food as a way to cope with stress, to show love and to be social. It is a necessary and vital part of our lives.
Yet, something strange tends to happen when one partner decides they want to lose weight. This is something I started to write about severalmonthsago. They upset the status quo.
Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock and you’ve never tried this whole dieting thing before, you’ll know that something has to give if you want to lose weight.
So, you start that conversation with your partner and you say something along the lines of: “You know, I really don’t feel so good about my body lately. I’ve decided I need to try and lose some weight.”
Maybe you have a weight loss goal in mind or maybe it’s to get yourself down to a certain size of pants. You may decide whether or not to share those goals with your loved one.
In our household, it went something like this:
After our son, Sebastian, was born, my wife lost a fair amount of weight initially and then she plateaued.
Eager to get back to her pre-baby weight, she asked for me to help her continue her weight loss.
Knowing her habits the way I do, it became less a conversation of “Here’s how many calories you need to eat” and more about reminding her what eating behaviors worked best for her.
In Marissa’s case, she can normally start her day with just a cup of coffee and then go several hours with little to nothing to eat. She can usually eat a small snack and then tide herself over until dinner time.
Shortly after Sebastian was born, I started cooking more at home and I knew approximately what portion sizes would work best for her. So, in her specific case, she could generally get by with one small meal/snack and then a larger dinner. That was it.
Before anyone gets carried away trying to replicate this, I will caution that Marissa’s own spin on intermittent fasting works well for her because it’s the way she’s eaten for most of her life (before she ever knew the term intermittent fasting).
I also don’t recommend this tactic for most people because I can’t replicate her results over and over again.
From what I’ve seen, most spouses will show a sign of support. That might come off as something like: “Well, I think you look beautiful/handsome as you are but if you’re going to do it, I support you. Just let me know how I can help.”
This might seem like the ideal scenario. Partner A wants to lose weight and Partner B shows support for that goal.
By comparison, a more skeptical or pessimistic spouse might ask: “How much is that going to cost?”,”Do you even have time to work out with your busy schedule?”, or “We’ve been down this road before…”
This is, obviously, where resistance can creep in right from the beginning.
I should also mention that the first example of the more supportive partner can still turn against you.
The same supportive spouse can come home after both of you have had a busy week and say “You know what, let’s not cook tonight. We’ll order takeout instead.”
And if you’re a woman, you typically don’t have a lot of calories to play around with and still be successful at weight loss. So, you can take Monday through Friday of “good eating” and literally lose all the ground you had worked towards with one average meal from a restaurant. Then you’ll hop on the scale a couple of days later thinking you had 5-6 “good days” and wonder why you didn’t lose weight…
Oh, and regarding that theory of the latter partner being more resistant to change? Yes, I’ve found the same thing to be true (usually) with my clients as well. It’s not necessarily out of malice. Sometimes, the first of the couple to come through my doors has decided they’re fed up with their circumstances and they need my help. Often, the partner is either not needing to lose weight or is not ready to tackle the challenges that come along with doing so.
Here are some tips to help make sure your significant other is a help and not a hindrance when you’re trying to lose weight:
Have The Uncomfortable Conversation. Know the verbiage that helps you get through to your loved ones. The same words that you might use to discuss finances will be similar to successful weight loss. It’s a team effort and it’s a sensitive subject. Talk about your triggers (foods and situations you don’t feel in control of) and talk about the words/phrases that shut you down or make you rebel.
Control The Food Environment. Can you eat potato chips, pretzels or crackers with reckless abandon? Think about the foods that you feel you cannot moderate successfully. Ask your significant other if they can limit the frequency of those items being in the house or not have them visible to you if they are purchased. Imagine if one of you were trying to abstain from alcohol for any particular reason but the other person always has a drink in front of you. What is your reaction to this? Can you control your diet behaviors under these circumstances?
Enlist The Help Of A Therapist. Dieting and weight loss don’t fix every problem we have. Sometimes, you need a professional to dig deeper into the emotional core of why you eat the way you do or why you use food to heal those problems. This may also require your significant other to be present so they can hear another perspective on your food relationship and how they can help at home.
Find Other Nighttime Strategies. If the routine is dinner, then television, then snacking, then bed, how can you change that? What can you and your family do that doesn’t involve food beyond dinner time? Many people are motivated to eat when they watch television so ask your significant other what other activities you can be engaged in that don’t stimulate your appetite. (HINT: This may include going to bed earlier than you’re used to).
Remember That This Is Temporary. Much like the lockdowns and quarantine most of us experienced over the last two months, fat loss, done right, is a temporary solution. You follow the plan, hit the best weight for your body and lifestyle and live at maintenance. The more your significant other stands in the way, the longer that “temporary” stands to last which only ends up frustrating and discouraging all parties involved. Make a pact to support the cause and control the necessary variables.
As of this writing, Marissa is down to a weight she was before she was pregnant with Sebastian. It didn’t come quickly and there was no race to the finish. It was steady effort from her knowing what style of eating she naturally could work with and me knowing how to help with meals when we are both home together.
It took candid conversations and it took patience.
Because the basics still work, if you work them. You just need the right support to help you get there.