Monday, September 09, 2013

More Tales from The Cycle Diet

I had to smile and laugh at the irony of the situation. There I was reading the comments on FB on a recent ad my marketers formulated for my Cycle Diet. Comments say a lot about people. Putting the complete ignoramuses aside for now, the comments regarding the Cycle Diet made me smile and laugh – ESPECIALLY considering where I was and what I was doing at the time. But I’ll get to that.

I signed with a marketing team a year or so ago and being marketers they market products by presenting the most appealing elements of said products – whatever that may be. For The Cycle Diet – they presented pictures of brownies and cheesecake and lots of other goodies and comments from me and many of my clients regarding being able to eat foods like this on a regular basis, and still control weight and cosmetically-enhance their bodies. The comments went from skeptical, to rude to ridiculous. One lady claimed eating a whole cheesecake “can’t possibly be healthy.” Another guy wrote, “Anyone who buys into this nonsense is a moron. Everyone knows you can’t eat foods like that and look like these models.”

It made me smile to myself. I’ve been hearing that about my Cycle Diet for more than two decades now. I’ll be grocery shopping for my calories spike day and cashiers will say things like “You really eat that kind of food?”  Or when I’m out in restaurants I get comments about drinking beer and eating dessert. All this just makes me smile to myself over how blinded and twisted people are in their North American diet-mentality and corresponding food phobia. The Cycle Diet is a diet of “inclusion” not “exclusion.” The Cycle Diet is for people who love food – all food. It’s not for people who are afraid of food or have negative emotional connections to food or are orthorexic. The Cycle Diet is the diet for emotional freedom and indulgence to be able to “enjoy” food. But there’s way more to it than just eating cheesecake and donuts. The Cycle Diet is a diet that trains and supports metabolism. And it trains metabolism in a way that there are positive metabolic benefits from spiking calories. People don’t seem to understand that, at all. They find it “gimmicky.” Whatever.

But The Cycle Diet doesn’t just allow for a spike meal here and there, or a whole day off once every 7-10 days. Once the metabolism is trained and adapted then extended periods “off the diet” are also recommended precisely to aid and optimize metabolic function. It’s all about a healthy mindset as well. Most “dieters” would be scared to death to eat indulgently and indiscriminately for several days at a time. They would perceive this as “failure” and “diet suicide.” But people following The Cycle Diet are not “diet-mentality-oriented.” We look forward to these planned off times of diet. And here is the irony of my reading all these comments on how and why The Cycle Diet “won’t work” and all the other negative comments.

You see, I recently had to travel back east for business and to see my folks. It had been 27 weeks since I had taken a break from both diet and training at the same time. Biofeedback told me it was time for a break. I was going to be gone for 5 days. As part of The Cycle Diet I decided to take a break from diet and training for the duration of my trip. It was also my birthday during the trip as well – so this was also good timing. I had to drive from one city to another for a business meeting. I recalled that there was Krispy Kreme donuts nearby. We don’t have a Krispy Kreme donuts where I live. I thought it would be a great treat for me that morning before my meeting. So I’m checking my emails at Krispy Kreme and I’m reading all the comments of people who say no way this “Cycle Diet” thing can work. I’m smiling as I enjoyed a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts – guilt-free – and then moved on to my meeting. Later that night I met some friend for a few beers and a steak and lobster dinner. I remember thinking to myself about all those negative comments from people regarding The Cycle Diet. I remember thinking how glad I am that I will never be so paranoid and obsessed and worried about food. I’m glad that food indulgence is just another benefit of the modern world that I can enjoy on regular basis: And that because of The Cycle Diet – my metabolism is better off for it.  It’s a win/win situation.

So after 5 days of total indulgence I returned home. I gained a whopping 3 lbs. By the following weekend I dropped 6 lbs. This left me THREE POUNDS LIGHTER than when I left: once again proving the benefits of knowing how to manipulate metabolism with proper diet-orientation and strategy – and of course being able to properly read biofeedback. It’s nice to have a metabolism work for you – rather than you being a slave to metabolism.

But not all the comments were negative that day I sat at Krispy Kreme donuts. There were also emails from my clients that happened to be related to The Cycle Diet as well. A good client of mine just got married and was back from his honeymoon. He was happy to report how much he enjoyed the food as part of his honeymoon – and that his wife was also happy that there was “food-freedom” for both of them as they spent this special time together. No ‘dietus-interuptus’ on their honeymoon.

Two other lady clients of mine were also reporting in after a summer vacation. They too had been following The Cycle Diet for a time. But both of these ladies were previous “dieters” and still suffering from the diet-mentality. When I instructed them to take their vacation time “off” any diet regimen, they were both skeptical, but willing to try to finally let go and not feel so guilty over enjoying food indulgence. They were both really wanting to believe that enjoying food could be part of a vacation experience – rather than thinking a vacation experience was going to “ruin” their diet efforts. (Such is the thinking behind the North American diet-mentality.) But I knew their metabolisms were ready. And they followed my advice and took the time off diet and enjoyed their vacations with no food restrictions.

One wrote me that she was initially “worried” over having a Coach’s “permission” to take that much time off her diet regimen. I just advised her to trust the process. She reported that her history used to be she would try hard to diet while on vacation – return home and feel like she missed out and deprived herself and then ended up blowing her diet and bingeing alone anyway. (This is what the “guilt” mindset leads to.) Now however she said she understands. By indulging her whole vacation, she feels like never before. There is nothing deprived from her, so she feels invigorated and motivated to get back to her normal Cycle Diet rhythm. But what convinced her most was that seven days after returning home her weight was right back to where it was before she left. And that had never been her experience before.  

The other one wrote me still in disbelief. She came home from her vacation and 10 days later when she wrote me she was now 2 lbs. lighter than the day she left for vacation. She still can’t believe it compared to the ways she used to struggle mentally and emotionally with ‘what to eat’ while on vacation. And she recalled listening to other ladies at the buffet line making comments about guilt and weight – and she was so glad to be finally free of living that way.

And so, as I enjoyed my Krispy Kremes that morning I smiled and laughed to myself at the same time over the comments I was reading. The skeptics who have never done the diet – being negative about it – mostly out of ignorance and fear... And then Cycle Diet followers like myself and those two clients who wrote me that morning – not only enjoying atypical foods guilt-free, but benefitting metabolically in doing so.

As usual – some of you will get it – some of you will not – some of you won’t want to!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tales From the Cycle Diet

One of the things I always liked about developing The Cycle Diet is the way it was born. Unlike most modern diet approaches, The Cycle Diet didn’t come from research and theory and then the suggestion that therefore this “should” work. The Cycle Diet was born from experience. I was already doing The Cycle Diet with great success – even before it had a name; I was doing it even before I knew the science behind why and how it was working. (That stuff came later.) This is one reason I still remain so enamored with it. It was already working in the real world AND THEN followed the science and research that explained it. 

So many diets these days come with research, science and speculation first – and then a proposal as to why a certain approach based on all this supposition ‘should’ work. I didn’t have to ‘propose’ the Cycle Diet ‘should’ work. It was already working excellently thank you. But the reaction to the Cycle Diet approach in the early days showed me just how different I was in terms of my diet psychology than most other people in the industry. And this diet-psychology formed the ground work for my later books like “Beyond Metabolism: Understanding Your Modern Diet Dilemma”, “Food Issues and You: Finally Facing Your Phantom Menace” and my latest book dealing with diet-psychology, “The Anti-Diet Approach to Weight-Loss and Weight-Control.” 
 So, in short, I can say that is wasn’t just the science behind the Cycle Diet that informed my later work. It was the psychology behind it as well. I just didn’t understand how and why people were  so afraid of food! 

So, with that said, here is one of the tales of the early days of The Cycle Diet. I still laugh AND scratch my head when I think about it.
I was attending a pro show where I had a few to several clients competing. I had already made quite a name for myself locally, so lots of people were looking for me in the audience. But this was also an International show, so there were many people less aware of my reputation for helping people with physique enhancement and making champions. And I should point out that at the same time, there was no question I had a world-class physique myself. People were always stopping me to ask for pictures and what not. During this time I was also following The Cycle Diet, even though it didn’t really have a name at the time. But what I observed around me just didn’t make much sense. People were either out of shape or in shape with no in-between – and no one staying in shape. That just didn’t make sense to me – to balloon up in weight after a diet, only to have to starve and deny yourself back into shape again. And then with the starvation this scenario created – to go back to gaining a ton of weight off-season again. None of that made sense to me. So I developed The Cycle Diet as a way to stay at or near contest-conditioning year round. And I was forging quite a reputation for myself by doing so. But I digress:
So here I am sitting in the audience of this pro show. Everyone starts pulling out their Tupperware of canned tuna, or dry chicken and whatever. I pull out this huge family size bag of red licorice. It was really fresh, which is why I bought it and the smell permeated the room. To my surprise everyone started talking about it and pointing at me etc. There was a look of puzzlement and bewilderment in their eyes as if to ask either, “Is this guy crazy?” – or more like – “How can he eat that and look the way he does?”
Soon one person approached me to ask about my eating the licorice – then another. Then some people actually wanted to take a picture with me eating the licorice because “otherwise no one would believe it.” I found all this reaction very strange. People were asking why I would blow all my hard work eating that food. Others would say something lame like they wished they had a metabolism that allowed them to eat some food like that. Here I was just going about my day, following The Cycle Diet cheat day, and what I was eating was blowing people’s minds. I couldn’t believe all the fervor and confusion. It would be years later before I realized that what was at the center of all this was the difference between a healthy diet-psychology and the typical North American diet-mentality and it’s component ‘fear of food.’
I ended up giving this impromptu on the spot lecture. I had to explain to them how they all focused on getting lean, but never focused on supporting their metabolisms at the same time. I had to ask them if they really though they could get fat in a meal, or in a day? I explained to them that BECAUSE I indulged in food at the right time, my metabolism was always optimized to burn excess calories, and not store them. It became clear to me that people really did not, and do not have a very good understanding of metabolism. They just see food as either good or bad. My explanations were making sense to some of them. Some just looked at me like a deer in headlights – and others were just salivating over my licorice. But I remember leaving that day being struck with curiosity that these people were so afraid of food the way they were. None of them were as lean as I was at the time either – not even close. And yet most of them considered themselves to be “in fitness” – but their diet-mentalities were anything but fit and healthy.
I remember thinking to myself how glad I was that I could healthily and that I could happily consume food – and that I was so grateful that food would never consume me, in the way I witnessed that day. Years, later in my research I uncovered that we are indeed “cerebrally wired” to enjoy food and be emotionally invested in the act of eating. To this day when people see me enjoying eating something indulgent they make comments like “I didn’t think you would eat anything like that.” Comments like that these days just show me how trapped people are in their diet-mentalities. One of the pleasures in life is to be able to enjoy food – all food. And what the Cycle Diet delivers is the emotional connection that food is meant to be pleasurable and indulgent – and not schizophrenically ‘special but forbidden.’ That is what I always liked about the Cycle Diet – to be able to enjoy food “guilt-free” as you/we are meant to – as we were evolved to do. In fact in the early days I named The Cycle Diet – the “have your cake and eat it too, diet.” And so much has changed since then – but sadly, so much hasn’t either.
And this is just one of many of my tales from my days and experiences in the industry.
And when it comes to healthy vs. unhealthy diet psychology unfortunately as I always say:
Some of you will get it; some of you will not.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Manifesto for Effective Coaching

This should be considered Part 2 of my series on what real coaching is or should be – whether on-line or in person.  We need to think more thoroughly about the role of Big “C” coach in the on-line fitness industry. (see my book, The Abel Approach) What passes as “coaching” right now – is in fact, a travesty. And I will keep repeating this until I see any signs that it is getting better.
We need to outline the parameters by which a real coach is supposed to add value to a client’s experience – and then we need to ensure that as coaches, we fulfill our side of the bargain in satisfying that responsibility. There are too many weak, unskilled and talentless people out there “appointing” themselves as coaches without nary any due consideration of the true requirements of the role. You think because you won a physique contest or have a few certifications that this is somehow “qualification” for coaching others. It’s not even close.  A real “Big C” coach must live and be that role. It is not because his ego wants to dictate to people, but because his spirit is called to serve people. And there is a fundamental difference between these two perspectives. Below are some the main essential ingredients and pre-requisites of the craft of coaching. Let’s look at some of them. The real Coach must be able to -
  • Act and live by the principles that you advocate
  • “Be” a role model, don’t “act” like one
  • Be of noticeable integrity, don’t just talk about it in others
  •  Impose principled values
  • Be part of someone else’s solution, not detached and separated, like some kind of “boss”
  • Help someone establish reasonable and achievable performance goals, not absolute ones
  • Be truly concerned with long-term client-progress and growth, not just short term profits for yourself
  • Provide useful and constructive feedback within the triangle of awareness (physical, mental, emotional)
  • Emphasize cooperation and interaction, not a one-way dictatorship
  • Keep the client engaged, and focusing on what they need to do and know, not on what you as coach, do and know
  • Be encouraging in sincere and individual terms
  • When being encouraging or critical, be fair and understood in both
  • Don’t use negative emotional “tactics” ever to try to coach someone – e.g. don’t try to scare potential clients about how demanding you are as a coach. Treat others professionally in the ways and means you would expect to be treated if roles were reversed – in other words, as an adult!
  •  Realize that often what you are seeking from the client as a coach is insight, not just constant evaluation
  • Keep interaction real – personal methods of obtaining client-feedback will always yield deeper and more meaningful insights than some questionnaire-type approach. There is no substitute for real interaction. 

But along with the above - are the character traits required of good coaches as well. And I will get into that in another article.  And you cannot “learn” these as you go. A real coach has to be honourable, genuine, noble, have high standards for himself not just others, be of high integrity, be sincere, have it known what he stands for without having to announce it all the time. He must be enthusiastic for clients in a mature way, not because it looks good to be so. And the coach must have domain knowledge mastery beyond “certification levels.” He must have good instincts for knowledge, information, and diplomacy in interaction.
The unfortunate thing about the character trait requirements of a real Big “C” coach – is that these elements are easy to fake on-line, and easy to manipulate people of lesser skills and intelligence to believe. There is no way around it that the consumer needs to also become more educated about what real coaching is or is not. I know complete morons with a pro card and a bucket full of pharmaceutical enhancements that makes them think they are somehow equipped to “help and service” others. Does that even remotely make sense?
Real coaching is about developed and enhanced interpersonal, psychological, emotional, sociological and evaluative, communication skills. You don’t acquire these things in a weekend certification but in a life-long career experience devoted to the cause - not of your own self-interest - but for helping someone else. You also don’t receive these skills all of a sudden, because you won a high-level physique contest at some time. Neither of these things translates into coaching skills or prowess. But until consumers understand this, the lowest common denominator will prevail. And coaching will continue to be little more than a joke – its current state.
 But more to the point – the real Big “C” coach who does possess these skills and has honed them over years of practice should indeed warrant a premium price for it. There is a reason motivational speakers make hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars speaking to corporate heads each year. And that is because they produce intangible value. And real Big “C” coaching works the exact same way.
Real coaching requires a complex mix of social, interpersonal, psychological emotional and relational skills, ON TOP OF higher intelligence and the domain knowledge and technical skills within any field or practice. Only all of these things together will create Big “C” coaching value that rises to the top of the hierarchy of what coaching is supposed to be.
The most effective coaching mandate boils down to this – passion, people, principles, and professionalism.
Real coaching should never encourage room for coaches who want to play Boss-Cop or use the role of coach to enhance some personal sense of status of glory. Real coaching is service-oriented not ego-driven. The job is to help other people achieve, succeed, or otherwise enhance their life-experience in a positive way. A real coach does not pat himself on the back for that. That just illustrates selfish motivations. And these websites need to stop “glorifying” coaches who seek that very thing!
As a coach, if you are going to hold people accountable for their behaviour and performance then you must surrender yourself to that same level of accountability – and not because you feel you have to – but because this is just how you live your life. I have no respect for so-called coaches whose lives are a mess – and yet they have no tolerance for clients who are having troubles with application and process.
In real Big “C” coaching - understanding people – one by one – and one on one – and how they react and respond to you as an individual – is not an optional skill – it is an essential requirement.
I think this is enough to absorb for one article. And let’s call this The Manifesto for Effective Coaching
As usual, some of you will get it – some of you will not.
For those of you who sincerely want to become better “Big C” real coaches, I suggest you also read and do all the homework assignments in my book, “The Coach Whisperer.”
And I think we also need to look at the consumer side of this equation as well in future articles.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Adhering to Real World Principles: Understanding Max Load Training

Some time ago Aristotle made the salient point that although methods are many, principles are few. What a seminal point. But what I see is that these “methods’ are so varied that they are violating key fundamental principles. The result is that you the trainee are not getting results from your gym time by following questionable methods that fly in the face of real world principles. And this is the frustrating thing for me. I train people in the real world. I’m not sure what is being taught at certification courses these days, but what is interpreted as “principles” is faulty at best. In this article I want to use a real world example for those of you training to gain size, muscle, and thickness, and have the mistaken belief that this is accomplished with “max weights.” This is another term I have trouble with as it is quite misleading, as we will see.

The other day I received an e-mail from a client who was a little confused. While training, a personal trainer walked by and advised that my client lighten the load substantially, and do 4/4/1 tempo "to get more out of it." Say what? My client was confused because I had advised to lift explosively, regardless of rep range. So, who is right?

Well, let me pose a theoretical situation and some questions. I lift 100 lbs for 5 reps, and you lift 100 lbs for 5 reps. I do 5 reps in about 5 seconds, and you use the tempo above and take about 30 seconds to lift it. Here are the questions: Who demanded more power from that set? Who had more metabolic demand from that set? The answer to both is me. Power, folks, is a rudimentary principle expressed in many ways, but is essential to training for size, strength, thickness, etc. The simple basic premise is that it takes more power to move a weight in one second than it does to move it in two seconds. Over the course of a workout this is seen as an expression of more work in the same amount of time, or the same amount of work in less time. These are all expressions of the principle of power. Notice the above “method” of tempo violates that principle. Simple.

Next question. In the above example which one of us achieved the most overload? The answer is that it is a trick question. If that 100 lbs is a weight we are used to performing, then neither of us achieved overload for that set. Therefore, the advice of lightening a load you can already do explosively, and take 4 times as long to do it, is faulty logic that does not follow basic principles. It means negating max load, and therefore negating the overload principle in general. This is just one example of a “method” being faulty at best.

Now if you follow this so far then you may be thinking that max load is therefore the way to abiding in the Overload Principle. Well yes, and no. Max load is not max weight!!!! This is the fault of the industry that details external cues as the be all and end all of performance. How much you “can” lift is not the deciding factor. The deciding factor is how much stress a muscle endures as overload. These are entirely different things, as I will explain below and use a real world example.
First, let’s understand these basic principles in more concrete terms. Power is an expression of force with speed. There are several types of power. Of concern to us here are Explosive Power, and the Power Expression itself. Explosive Power can be defined simply as force over time. It can also be defined as the time it takes to get to max force output. Or it can be expressed as recruiting fibers for strength performance in a context of speed. So simple explosive power is expressed as f/t. Force is defined as load or strength within this context. This is where all the confusion on the gym floor begins. Inexperienced trainers and trainees seem to think that the above solution means to use a “max load” as in weight, and be explosive. This is untrue for forcing an adaptive response. The example below illustrates my point and I’m sure if you look around your gym you will see many people making this same mistake.

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