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Sunday
Apr012012

Interview with @FitnessChamp

 

I’m obviously no celebrity athlete or fitness model, but I do get lots of questions around my own eating habits, workout patterns, and which fitness sources have taught me the most. 

This is the only time that I’ll ever “self-interview”, so here you go…

What’s your athletic background?

I was a basketball player growing up, and that’s my first love.  GOD had other plans for my body type and picked up football my freshman year of high school.  I went on to play running back in college, and also ran track for three years, competing in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.

 

What are you currently training for?

I ran two half-marathons within a month between October and November 2011, but am done with endurance events for the time being.  I trained hard but realized that endurance sports are just not what I am cut out for, both physically and psychologically. Several friends are avid CrossFitters and have been giving me the hard sales job to get me involved. The competitive-but-positive plus testosterone-fuled vibe keeps drawing me in little by little.

 

What does an average week’s workout look like?

I don’t get as much time as I’d like to dedicate toward my own workouts, but I do what I can with the time I have.  I try to go for intensity over duration, so I’m usually hitting some form of HIIT intervals or  tabatas on the bike or rowing machine for cardio.  I’m a big fan of Olympic-style lifts, so each week I try to hit some hang cleans, power cleans, push press, and dead lifts.  I’ll mix in some pull ups, heavy rope  work, and box jumps if available.  

As I mentioned,  I have several friends who are CrossFit addicts and have been giving me the hard sales pitch to join them soon, so this workout approach will keep me in close enough shape to hang with the group (hopefully anyways).  Once or twice each week I also add in some typical standard bodybuilding work, as well as some sprint work (100s, 200s, 400’s, court gassers) to maintain my capacity in that area as well.

 

Describe your fitness classes.

The best way to describe my classes would be 45-55 minutes of multi-faceted intervals and running drills, very similar to what you might see on infomercials for “Insanity” and “P90X”.  I try to model the workouts for a demographic that used to play sports in high school or college, and desire that style of training as adults compared to simply running on the treadmill, lifting weights alone, or logging repetitive sessions on the elliptical. I also try to make sure the playlist is continually up-to-date because if the women in class don’t like the music, they will turn on you quickly.

 

What does an average day’s eating look like?

It’s not inaccurate to say that I’ve tried almost every nutritional philosophy out there.  Currently (and perhaps for the foreseeable future) I’m sticking fairly close to a Paleo eating style.  Like I said, I work out in the mornings, so it’s either an empty stomach workout, or possibly a scoop of whey protein in water before heading out the door.  I used to down a banana, Gatorade Prime, and/or a gel before hitting the gym but while this was great for my performance, this was surely killing any fat loss goals I was after (due to the over-reliance on Simple Sugars).

Post-workout is usually another scoop of whey in water, then 3-4 scrambled eggs with some spinach, and a couple slices of lean turkey tossed in.  I’ll usually eat that with half a sweet potato (3-4oz).  Mid-morning snack is a protein shake with almonds or sunflower seeds,  then lunch is usually a few turkey meatballs with some green source like asparagus.  Depending on whether or not I have class in the evening, I may eat the second half of the sweet potato here.

Late afternoon might be some turkey jerky and sunflower seeds, with perhaps a tablespoon or two of almond or peanut butter.  If I’m teaching a class in the evening I’ll either repeat lunch, or go with a tuna pack and an apple. 

Dinner lately has been white fish (tilapia, cod) with steamed shredded cabbage (seasoned with oil & vinegar, lemon pepper seasoning, and mustard). “Dessert” is a blended smoothie with carrot juice, acai juice, whey protein, blackberries, almond butter, half an avocado, and 2-3 handfuls of spinach.  Sometimes I'll swap out the avocado for coconut milk as an alternative healthy fat source.

 

Must-have vitamins and supplements?

Standard: multi-vitamin, fish oil, vitamin B, vitamin D. 

Nice to have: vitamin A, BCAA (Scivation Xtend), chia seeds

 

What’s your favorite cheat food?

There is a local smoothie shop across the street from where I live, they make a Green Tea Smoothie with non-fat frozen yogurt that is my biggest guilty pleasure. I used to go 5-6 days a week, but chopped that down to once a week on Saturdays in an effort to tighten up my diet for fat loss goals.

If I am REALLY, legitimately cheating, I love French fries, pizza, and burritos. The funny thing however, is that once your diet really gets in-tune, these foods stop being as fun once you see them as set-backs from ultimately having the body you want.  You can eat almost anything once or twice a week, but the saying is true – nothing tastes as good as being lean feels.

 

Who are your favorite fitness follows on Twitter?

@JadeTeta, @JillFit, @RobRiches, @cutandjacked, @SPNetwork

Who are your other fitness inspirations?

The Rock (obviously), Greg Plitt (#1 male fitness model in the world), Mario Lopez, Georges St. Pierre, Pauline Nordin (creator of “Fighter Diet”, her dietary discipline is a tremendous motivator) and “normal” people like my friends Demi, Philip, Brendan, and Lyndsey.

 

What’s your biggest motivation?

Aside from the standard stuff like wanting to fit well in my clothes and like what I see in the mirror, long term health is very important.  I had a close relative battling colon cancer several years ago, and a few others with high blood pressure issues.  My eating habits were terrible in graduate school during my early 20’s, and I spend every day trying to undo the fat, unhealthy condition I was creating for myself.

 

What’s the one thing you wish you could share with others at the gym?

I'd tell them that More isn’t necessarily better

I see so many people (often the same faces) logging away hour after hour on the stairmaster or elliptical every week and their bodies never change.  People training for specific  events like a half-marathon or 5K certainly need to get their mileage in, but others wanting to shed pounds, or look good for the beach really need to learn that you can meet your goals in less time, by working smarter. 

For fat loss goals, intensity trumps time spent.  The body is not like a calculator, fat loss is more complex than eating 500 fewer calories and burning 500 calories more per day.  Things like stress hormones and insulin manipulation play a big role in whether or not one’s body will give up stubborn fat.  This is usually sad to see, because I see lots of effort and “want to” from people in the gym (or even jogging down the street), they just don’t have the proper tools and information to accomplish what they are working so hard to achieve.

Will you ever grant yourself another interview like this?

No way. This was an obnoxious thing to do and I'm ready to go back to interviewing other people.

Thursday
Nov242011

Black Friday - Time to Fix Your Diet

I highly doubt I need to delve into what "Black Friday" is in the U.S.  Many of you (by the time you read this) will have gotten up before dawn to stand in-line at Wal-Mart or Best Buy or Macy's or the shopping destination of your choice.  Understandably, there will be tons of great sales and many people (some in my own family) will make a mad dash to get their Christmas shopping finished by sundown tomorrow.

But I believe "Black Friday" has another purpose that is greatly overlooked.

"Black Friday" is the single best day of the year to clean up your diet.

As our culture embraces, many people will stuff themselves to the point of food coma with turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and other family-made dishes.  Most of those same people face looming guilt the following few days after they see all the damage they've done at the dining table (and on the bathroom scale). But the Day-After-Thanksgiving also marks one of the best times to refocus and clean up your eating habits for the rest of 2011.

This is not meant to point fingers at anyone else but myself.  After training for, and completing two half-marathons in the past month, my diet has gotten way out-of-wack.  Not compared to the average person, or those around my office, but by my own personal standards.  When logging heavy miles and lots of hours of endurance training, it becomes very easy to allow dietary standards to relax by rationalizing things such as "I ran 5 miles this morning, I can have this cupcake that so-and-so brought into the office"  or "These fries from Chick-Fil-A won't kill me, I did 8 miles yesterday, I need the carbs."  Even someone like me who is heavily concerned with proper diet and nutritional function can rationalize eating junk, just because it tastes good.

One of the fitness experts I follow on Twitter, Jade Teta said it well in a recent article (he frequently drops Tweet knowledge), that there's no point in claiming you are "Eating Right" if your diet isn't giving you the results you're after.  As usual, he is spot-on, and might as well have been speaking to me directly.

Many people, myself included often have a single "tipping point" (credit: Malcolm Gladwell) that causes them to (figuratively) jump off the couch and decide to clean up their diet.  In-addition to finishing my endurance event calendar for 2011, my recent tipping point was seeing The Rock come back on WWE Raw last week (confession: we are potentially entering Man Crush territory). 

The People's Champ looked great, he was more ripped and defined than ever.  Some of his tweets while on-set shooting the movie "G.I. Joe 2" mention his diet, and Rocky eats clean even while busy.  The Rock trains hard, and he eats clean, it's not a magic formula.  It works for him, it works for Jade Teta and his wife Jill Coleman, it works for another of my fitness heroes Rob Riches, it works for Jamie Eason, it works for ironman triathlete Nell Stephenson, I think we're seeing a pattern develop.

I'm not "done" with running, I'll still work in 2-3 solid runs per week (one tempo/speedwork, one long run) but after close to six months away from regular resistance training, it's time to ditch some of the superfluous cycle classes and jogs, and get back to throwing some weight around. 

As for the rest of you, hopefully you enjoy your Thanksgiving dinners, and take time to enjoy the company of your family and friends and reflect on whatever it is that makes you thankful these days.  Even those with many problems in life have blessings for which to still be thankful.  Be sure to mix in some football games on the couch as well.

Then, come "Black Friday" take a detour from Best Buy or Nordstrom or the mall, and head to the grocery store and get a head start on eating clean for the rest of 2011.  Not only will your body will thank you, but bathing suit/bikini season will be here before you know it.