How To Reach Your 2020 Fitness Goals (The D.A.D. Method)

I’ve probably talked to people about food — and heard their struggles with diet — more than anything else in 2019.

Enough times to see a few trends among those who succeed at this diet stuff and those who don’t.

So what have I seen work amongst my most successful transformations? It’s simple. You just need a roadmap (your diet and lifestyle blueprint with a goal in mind), a determined mountain climber (that’s you), and a Sherpa (a coach or accountability buddy to guide you). ⁠

Of course, you must first believe it will work. If you’ve failed a lot at this stuff in the past, you’re going to have some mindset barriers to overcome.

But once you believe, it boils down to working at the stuff I preach about often in this space.

Manage calories.

Eat more protein and vegetables.

Move more.

Strength train relative to your abilities.

Have patience and dust yourself off when you fall off.

If you can nail the basics for a long while, like many of my most successful clients, you’re going to change your identity, change your relationship with food and understand how it works at the most basic level.

That’s how you get results that last.

For those who never make any permanent progress, it’s usually because they hit a little snag, see an ad for some magic pill and start over.

You probably just need to stick to something long enough for a change.

When you commit, you’ll see progress because you’ll have no choice but to be patient.

You’ll quit self sabotaging.

You won’t overreact after a holiday where you’re up a few pounds of water because you get how the body works.

But it can’t be a side hobby in the early stages if you have plenty of weight to lose. Maintenance comes later.

It’ll be forced at times and you may curse my name (luckily it rhymes well with bad words).

But pretend you have no other choice but to succeed here.

When you prioritize health like you would going to work, results magically happen.

Because consistency is the only way. You’ve seen success in other areas of your life by doing the work when you didn’t feel like it. It’ll take the same effort with fitness some days. You won’t always be motivated.

But it’s worth it. And here’s why I say that, because I’ve been there. Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.

“Too heavy to ride”

That’s what I figured he was thinking as the “carny” tried to push the guard down over my belly.

I was probably too old to ride the “Dumbo Flying Elephant” anyway. But too heavy to ride? That stung. Rock bottom, or so I thought.

But there were a few more rock bottom moments that came after (like that time in senior year gym class when I had the worst bodyfat among the guys in the class).

You see, at this point in my life, back in the early 2000s, I had tried losing weight a number of ways.

I wasn’t blind to the fact I was overweight. It consumed my thoughts every day.​

I starved myself, only to binge and repeat each week. I ran for miles, only to look skinny fat and put all the weight back on after I stopped running.

So what changed that last attempt? The one that made it all easier from here on out?

I fell in love with lifting weights, and it changed my genetic blueprint. Muscle was the X factor.

You see, that’s the problem with relying only on cardio or calorie-cutting to lose. You can’t continually add more and more cardio and take away more and more food forever.

Most get so fixated on the scale that they sacrifice that metabolism-preserving muscle in the process.

But you want to maintain muscle as you diet down, otherwise, you’ll be in a world of hurt when you end the diet with a skinny-fat bod.

Yes, “scale weight” will drop slower with this approach, but you’ll look and feel better during and after the diet and maintaining your results will come easier.

This is the shift I made that led to my success.

It took emphasizing weight training first and foremost.

It took a diet with sufficient protein and carbs to fuel the workouts.

You need to build up the good stuff in the gym and burn off the bad through diet.

 The D.A.D. Method To Reach Your Goals

Now that you know what to do in a general sense, it’s another thing to actually do the right things consistently.

You can’t leave things to chance and hope it works out.

Your challenge is to set a fitness goal you will accomplish in 2020 and tell the world about it.

And in so doing, you will demonstrate to yourself and to those around you that you are in it for real this time.

What does that goal look like? Well, that’s up to you.

What do you most need to change?

Losing 30 pounds?

Adding 100 pounds to your squat?

Getting your blood pressure or blood sugar down to a healthy range?

Any kind of fitness or health goal will do. But whatever it is, just make sure it is something specific—and something you are slightly skeptical about achieving.

The point of this exercise is to become a person who commits to themselves. Big goals take big actions.

The idea of losing a lot of weight can be daunting.

I’ve been there.

But it’s a hell of a lot better than staying where you are, and that’s what it ultimately comes down to.

From The Daily Stoic blog:

“Don’t be surprised if so great a goal costs you many a sacrifice.”

But when you get to the point where it no longer feels like a sacrifice, you’ve won. When your identity changes to someone who makes good choices on autopilot, weight re-gain is unlikely.

So here’s how I suggest you map this plan of action out in 2020 using the D.A.D. Method.

Deadline

The first D is the deadline. If you give yourself all the time in the world to do the thing, guess what?

That stupid human trick of procrastination will rear its head early and often and you’ll go in circles.

So set a hard deadline around the primary fitness goal you came up earlier: “By Dec. 2020 I want X”

Then break it down into 90-day target goals along the way to keep the hills to climb manageable.

Last year, I set a goal to help 150 new clients lose 10-30 pounds and my coach knew about it. Guess what happened? (176 clients to be exact)

But had I left it to chance and only had myself to hold me accountable to a goal I didn’t set, what do you think would’ve happened?

Accountability

Next comes accountability. This is why I encourage you to tell others about your goal.

If it’s only shared in secret, it’s very easy to quit on yourself.

But if there’s someone involved who you don’t want to disappoint, you’re more likely to see it through.

In the end, who cares if you don’t quite reach your goal in the end?

The fact you committed to try will get you a lot further along the racetrack than if you didn’t set a target in the first place.

Direction

Direction is the final D and this just means having a blueprint to follow.

While your goal and the deadline are the macro targets, this one focuses on the micro targets, like the things you can do today to move you forward.

Your attention must shift to implementing the daily and weekly actions to achieve your goal.

Simple things like setting up a schedule and putting workouts in the calendar as reoccurring appointments.

Committing to a diet that aids your performance in the gym.

Prep a lunch instead of grabbing on the go.

Stick to a drink limit when you go out.

Don’t have your kryptonite food in the pantry.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

The “process” action steps are ultimately most important, but it needs to be fuelled by a driving force (your reasons for wanting to change and the end goal you’ve set).

All the best in 2020!

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fat loss coach for men and women like his former self. Obese in his 20s, he now helps clients find their spark and lose weight the right way and keep it off for life. To inquire about his all new 2020 coaching intake, visit workwithmitch.ca or email him directly at mitch@mitchcalvert.com.

Five things to do less of in 2020 (and get better results)

After a holiday season full of indulgence, you are motivated to start 2020 off on the right foot.

Regardless of all that enthusiasm, most New Year’s resolutions fall off by mid-February.

The statistics are grim — according to U.S. News & World Report, 80 per cent of New Year’s resolutions fail before Valentine’s Day.

I have worked with hundreds of men and women, many of whom have shared similar stories of setting goals to improve their fitness, failing to reach them and being left to blame their lack of willpower.

Your willpower is not the reason you’re not achieving your goals. The problem is the unrealistic plan of action.

Luckily, this year you’re going to do things differently with a better approach.

This is the year you make sweeping changes and love the way you look, feel and perform.

Toss aside the pink dumbbells, scrap the fad diets and let’s do this thing right. And it starts with lifting heavy weights.

Thanks to the popularity of Crossfit and celebrities such as Kate Upton adopting weight training, it’s becoming more commonplace as a means to lose weight.

But there’s still many who won’t step foot in a weight room for fear of putting on too much muscle.

So, let’s dispel that myth right off the bat.

Muscle is very hard to put on.

You could deliberately make every effort to bulk up and end up getting toned instead.

(Yes, the changes you want would come fastest if you attempted to put on muscle, funny enough).

Any muscle you do gain is gradual so there will always be plenty of time to adjust the plan if you’re fearing size gain.

But don’t confuse the burn in the gym and the pump that follows with actual muscle gain. It’s not that immediate.

But here’s why you should make building muscle a focus in 2020.

Muscle helps get (and keeps) you lean.

As Charles Staley wrote in an article for T-Nation, there are a host of benefits to working to put on muscle.

The training required to build additional muscle requires calories and carbs, both to perform, and also to recover from.

Once put on, this new muscle requires you to expend additional energy on a daily basis simply to maintain it.

When you have more muscle, all activities are easier to perform, making it likely that you’ll do more of these activities, which of course, requires additional energy.

Gaining as much muscle as possible has a powerful impact on metabolic rate. Do it for the carbs if nothing else (lol).

With that theme of 2020 in mind, here are five things to do less of this year and get better results.

1 – Don’t Be Scared Of Getting Bulky (Hint: It’s not that easy to do)

I’ve worked really hard over the years to get women to focus on getting strong, but a lot of them still fear lifting weights because of this myth they’ll end up looking like a steroid-filled bodybuilder. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

Heck, look around your commercial gym and see all the men actively trying to bulk up who aren’t getting anyway (they should get a coach ;)). It takes a lot of time, effort and food to add appreciable size.

You won’t get “toned and tightened” (for lack of better words) if you’re using super light weights and never challenging yourself.

You will see those changes over time when you lift weights relatively heavy for you.

Use weights that allow you to do between 8 and 15 reps per set on average, ending up close to failure on the last set.

2 – Stop Focusing Only On Weight Loss

If your goal is weight loss, you’d actually benefit from focusing on fat loss, and the way to do that is a good diet paired with weight training and less fixation on the scale itself.

The optimal way is to lose MOSTLY fat and MAINTAIN (or even gain) muscle. This sets you up with a higher BMR than if you’d just starved yourself to reach a number, and you’re less likely to rebound that way.

You do this by pairing a calorie deficit with strength training and a side dish of cardio. Plus, weight training can double as cardio if done in a way that challenges you.

When you’re lifting heavy (relative to your own strength again) and moving your body through space, your heart has to work just as hard as it does on the treadmill.

That isn’t to say that cardio doesn’t deserve a place in your workout routine. But it shouldn’t be the only focus.

3 – Stop Obsessing Over Your Abs

Breaking news: everyone has a six-pack; you just have to whittle away enough fat to uncover it, and that’s typically driven by diet.

With heavy strength training, your abs get a ton of work as it is. Try squatting without bracing your abs (actually, don’t, because you’ll fall flat on your face).

If you want to train them to improve your core strength, simply finish your workout with an exercise or two for a handful of sets in the 15 to 20 rep range a few times a week. No need to dedicate an entire day to abs.

Take caution when training your abs with weights, too.  Oddly, I see a lot of this in the gym. But the waist is comprised of muscles and muscles respond to heavy weights by getting bigger gradually over time, so you may be hurting your cause if a thin waist is the goal.

Stick with bodyweight ab exercises or machines that allow you to do 15-30 reps per set at a moderate weight.

4 – Spend Less Time in Group Fitness Classes

Remember, you want muscle in 2020 for the reasons listed above, and excessive aerobic exercise isn’t building you up in that fashion unless there’s a weight component.

By all means, keep doing it for the cardio and social element, but you’d benefit from spending a bigger chunk of your time lifting weights and walking.

This is particularly relevant for women in menopause who have lowered progesterone and estrogen. Your body can’t handle the stressors of high intensity exercise classes for long durations like it may have been able to in your 20s and 30s. You need to manage stress and take a “less is more” approach to exercise.

For more on the approach I’d recommend for women in menopause, watch this video

5 – Don’t Punish Yourself With Exercise

Exercise shouldn’t be used as a tool to burn calories alone.

In fact, even if you track how many calories were burned during a workout, it’s often wrong.

A study at Stanford University took a look at seven different devices to check their accuracy. The results showed that the most accurate of them was off by an average of 27 per cent and the least accurate by 93 per cent.

The bigger issue? Many users think they can “eat back” the calories burned from exercise. Do you see the problem with that? The number isn’t accurate to begin with, and that’s now how metabolism works anyway. It’s not a simple input:output mathematical machine. The human body is complicated and no one is the same as another.

The point here is this – exercise to better your day-to-day life, not as a punishment tool to lose weight.

There’s a mountain of evidence linking weight training to improvements in strength, mood, anti-aging and metabolism.

There’s no better example of this misguided viewpoint of exercise than the recent backlash over Peloton’s holiday ad—depicting an already fit-looking mom who is just a little too excited to get a stationary bike for Christmas.

Optics being what they are, I think the ad is completely misunderstood. Many have cast the husband as an abusive partner who forces his thin wife to exercise obsessively in order to shed a few pounds.

Photo courtesy retailmenot.com

Seriously? That is how limiting people’s view of exercise is – it is seen as a vehicle to lose weight and nothing more. But an active lifestyle is about so much more than that.

It’s about reducing stress and increasing productivity. It’s about respecting the body we live in to treat it right. It’s about mental and physical health.

The actor, so far as I could tell, was enjoying the bike for her own reasons, to feel strong, gain energy and confidence. It’s not about weight loss – or at least, it doesn’t have to be forever.

Maybe that’s what gets you started – shedding weight to lose some pounds and fit your old pair of jeans – but the “promised land” of fitness is something completely different.

The promised land is where exercise becomes a part of your identity – where you can take on any challenge life throws at you.

Exercise is the launching pad to a life fulfilled in many ways.

The majority of my clients are committing to fitness for themselves, because of its health benefits, allowing them to get off pharmaceutical drugs, reducing blood pressure and anxiety, and lowering the risk of disease.

The nice thing is, when you approach fitness in this way, the weight loss takes care of itself and you end up loving the way you look.

So, this year, go lift more weights and thank me later.

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fat loss coach for men and women like his former self. Obese in his 20s, he now helps clients find their spark and lose weight the right way and keep it off for life. To inquire about his all-new Beach Vacay Belly Blast coaching intake this month, visit workwithmitch.ca

 

 

 

 

5 Simple Rules To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

You need another holiday survival guide like I need another trip to the mall (not very much).

What you need is someone to tell you it’s going to be OK if you slip a little over the next couple weeks.

I’m sure you’re facing all sorts of diet landmines these days.

Christmas parties, work events, insufferable nights at the in-laws.

I get it. Think about when it makes sense to restrict and when it makes sense to give in.

I caution against going completely off the rails though.

For one reason: most of the weight adults gain in a year happens in the next few weeks, and this added weight seems to stick around and accumulate year after year, according to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine reported by Examine.com

See this study reported on by Examine.com that shows yearly weight gain spikes around new year’s and never fully comes off.

Now, one feast isn’t going to make you gain five pounds — there’s a limit to the amount of fat you can gain in one sitting.

What your body cannot process for storage during that time, it tries to burn (your temperature rises) and excrete (you end fighting with your uncle for the next available bathroom).

When you binge, a lot of the immediate weight you gain isn’t fat, but water, especially if your binge is high in salt and carbs. So, don’t, whatever you do, weigh yourself the morning after.

The excess stomach content and water weight from the additional carbs will drastically skew the number. It’s temporary – if you follow the rules I’m about to share.

The problem isn’t one big meal, but the quick succession of multiple meals, leftovers and time spent planted on the couch this time of year.

If you follow these six rules, you can have fun and avoid holiday weight gain.

Rule #1:  Eat sparingly leading up to the party.

To give you a visual, the “calorie” ditch is dug deeper so you can overcompensate later and still break even at the end of the day.

Start with a coffee and delay your first meal. Now, I wouldn’t fast all day right into the party or you’ll be ravenous when you get there and probably over-eat.

Instead, eat something filling but low in calories a few hours before you go out. Think a big salad with a chicken breast on top or something.

Two food choices which always fill you up but are low in calories are lean protein and fibrous veggies.

Rule #2: Don’t abandon exercise

Don’t pair your holiday calorie binge with inactivity all week long. That’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, commit to working out on the day of your holiday party.

It doesn’t have to be a trip to the gym or a big-time commitment. Move your body hard for 10 minutes.

Here’s a circuit that requires no fancy equipment at all.

The 7 Circuit
Do the following circuit three times, resting only long enough to go to the next exercise. Rest 1-2 minutes between rounds.

1A Bodyweight Squat (15 reps)
1B Push Ups (15 reps)
1C Seal Jacks or Jumping Jacks (15 reps)
1D Close Grip Push Ups (15 reps)
1E Glute Bridges (20 reps)
1F Step Ups on a ottoman(10 reps)
1G Plank (30 secs)

Rule #3:  Give yourself some (loose) parameters to follow at dinner 

Nobody wants to pack a chicken breast for the party. But you need to set some limitations or “rules” to follow.

The 3D rule is from my personal playbook. You can have any combination of drinks and desserts as long as it is limited to three.

Pick your favourites and only eat a reasonable portion of each. Seeing the party as a free-for-all can lead to physical and mental suffering later.

Rule #4 Watch The Fat

When you eat fat, your body has only two options: burn it for energy in the absence of carbohydrates or protein (which is what keto aims to achieve) or store it as fat.

Whereas when you eat carbs, your body can use them for energy, store it as glycogen in your liver or muscle for later use, burn them off as heat, or, as its very last choice, converted to fat and stored that way.

When you eat protein, your body can use it for protein synthesis (i.e. muscle gain), burn it for energy, or, rarely because it’s not easy to do, turn it into glucose or fat.

Of the three macronutrients, protein requires the most energy to digest, relative to the energy it provides.

Protein provides four calories per gram, but its thermic effect (i.e. the calories burned to digest it) is 20–30 per cent. So 100 calories of protein roughly translates to 70-80 calories. Fat provides nine calories per gram, and its TEF is a lowly 0–3 per cent, meaning majority of the calories are absorbed. Carbohydrate provides four calories per gram, and its TEF is 5–10 per cent.

So, if you’re going over-eat, start with the turkey. Load up on the roast.

Not only does this have the greatest likelihood of minimizing fat gain during overeating itself, but protein’s well-known for filling you up and might help reduce overeating to begin with.

As a bonus, if you are looking to manage blood sugar levels, eating protein before starchy carbohydrates has been shown to reduce post-meal blood glucose and insulin responses.

Total calorie intake as a whole is the overriding factor in whether you’ll gain weight or not, with macronutrients secondary, but the little tweaks in where those calories come from can help.

Rule #5:  Choose your alcohol… in moderation.

Remember the 3D rule. It forces you to prioritize either dessert or drinks.

If you go the drinking route, think rum and diet coke, dry red wines and low carb beers, not egg nog and vodka or sugar laden mixes.

Alcohol itself has 7 calories per gram, second only to fat, so don’t pile on needless calories by adding mixed drinks to the mix (i.e. egg nog, which by the way is the candy corn of holiday foods — not worth the calorie cost).

Alcohol is problematic when combined with a lot of food. The more alcohol you drink, the less food your body will burn effectively when eating to excess, and so the more it’ll store. This explains in part the “beer gut” phenomenon. Not to mention, alcohol increases appetite and loosens inhibitions around foods you know you should avoid. Sorry for being a Debbie Downer, but it’s a fact.

It’s the big picture that matters

Holiday weight gain is caused by eating like crap all holiday long, not just a few dinners here and there.

When your party is finished, pass on leftovers to the family and get to the grocery store and prepare to eat well the rest of the week apart from your special events.  Don’t let a Christmas Eve binge translate into a Christmas Week binge.

Happy holidaying.

 

The Cost of “Waiting Until January”

December is a fun time of year, but it can also massively set you back on your goals if you go about it the wrong way.

It’s too easy to turn “I’ll start on Monday” into “I’ll start January 1” this month and come completely unraveled.

So let’s fast forward to Jan. 15, 2020 with the help of the ghost of Christmas future, shall we?

(The ghost is now taking over this column temporarily)

It’s Jan. 15 and the holidays are finally over. You sheepishly step on the scale to see the damage you did, and realize you’ve put on five pounds. Gulp.

It’s going to take a monstrous effort to reverse the damage. But what if instead of being dejected and upset in January, you had simply enjoyed some holiday food while staying mostly on track?

And instead of gaining five pounds, you lost five pounds or at worst broke even.

What will your friends think when you show up at New Year’s Eve in that perfect outfit that fits just right?

What will their reaction be when you tell them you don’t have any special “off limit” foods and you aren’t on keto?

(They’ll probably ask that question after you go up for a second helping of dessert)

You’ll be so proud of what you’ve accomplished. You’re going to look at that scale and smile.

Delay Kills Dreams

Hey, it’s Mitch again, back in the present.

Frankly, it’s OK if start on your fitness goals in January. That’s your prerogative and it’s cool either way. No judgment here.

But there’s a real risk in putting things off for another day at any time of the year. More than you may realize. I first came across the concept of diminishing intent from Jim Rohn some years ago and was reminded of it recently in a conversation with a prospective client.

We’ll call the prospective client George for confidentiality purposes. George told me how badly he wants to change, how much the weight is costing him in his day-to-day life, and how he knows it may cost him his life if he doesn’t do something. But then George ended the conversation with “I think I’ll wait for January”

This is the trigger for the law of diminishing intent. The law basically states that there is an optimal and critical moment of readiness to take action.

As time passes from that critical moment your motivation diminishes and you move further and further away from your goal.

Let’s say you currently have 20 pounds to lose. And let’s assume you do everything right, and it takes you three months to lose those 20 pounds.

Now, let’s say you delay starting until the new year and gain an extra five pounds over the holidays–you now have a total of 25 pounds to lose. You’ve now increased both the time and difficulty of your weight loss journey.

Let’s imagine another scenario. You start making changes now because the perfect time to be the person you want to become is to act like that person would act today.

Ask yourself: “How does the ideal version of myself behave through the holidays?”

Don’t let December set you back, make it the set-up for an amazing 2020.

Imagine what life will look like on Jan. 1 if you are already headed in the right direction?

You lose five of those 20 pounds, and by the new year when everyone else is dreading looking in the mirror and procrastinating on getting started–you’re well on the way.

The Missing Ingredient To Change

I’ll tell you a story that most people gloss over when it comes to accomplishing goals.

I just dumped another five figures into my mindset and business coach for another year.

Seems like a lot on paper, but don’t you think I’ll implement and work extra hard again, just like I did last year?

When you pay, you pay attention.

It creates urgency to take action and not procrastinate.

I had to ask myself “If I didn’t have a coach these past 12 months, would I have worked with the same urgency and created the same impact?” No.

“Would I have gotten up early on Saturday (like now) to write this message?” Not likely.

“Would I have helped 150 people lose 15+ pounds this year alone?” No chance.

That investment led to two speaking gigs in 2019, over 175 clients (a goal I set because of him) and generated a healthy return in knowledge and opportunities that were priceless.

I likely wouldn’t have gotten my message in front of you to help you change your life.

So, you need to ask yourself where would you be on your own?

If you could do it on your own, you would’ve done it by now.

You can continue to talk about doing it someday, but often someday never comes without an investment in accountability.

Accountability needs a sprinkling of this

If I don’t weigh less than 200 pounds by Jan. 1, 2020, I’m not going to watch another Winnipeg Jets game the rest of the year.

I love the Jets, which is why I’ll reach my goal. The threat of not watching another game this season motivates me to act.

We all need accountability, but it should be tied to either a reward or consequence, especially this time of year.

So I’m putting something on the line to help me stay the course. If you find yourself stopping programs early, cheating on your diet when convenient or losing the same few pounds only to gain them back, odds are you’re missing these key ingredients.

There really is nothing like having someone else keeping you accountable for what you say you want to do and putting something on the line.

Maybe you’re motivated by rewards and booking a massage at the end of the month when you log your 10th workout will do the trick.

Or maybe you’re motivated more by the threat of losing something. This could be a financial consequence (where you have to donate money to a political party you don’t support if you fail to meet your targets) or something like my Jets example above.

Make sure there’s someone involved to hold you to that commitment or it’s unlikely you’ll follow through.

Here’s the process again if you want to get a jump start on your 2020 goals this month:

1) Set a hard deadline for one fitness goal you want to accomplish in December. Maybe it’s process-based like completing 10 workouts or maybe it’s more outcome-based such as losing 5 pounds (the former is more within your control). Track your progress on a calendar or app.

2) Set up a reward or consequence for yourself. For example, once you complete your 10th workout, schedule a massage or go out for a nice dinner.

3) Enlist some accountability to follow through and hold you to it (publicly share it with friends and family or join a program).

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based weight loss coach for men and women like his former self. Obese in his 20s, he now helps clients find their spark and lose weight the right way and keep it off for life. To inquire about coaching or grab a free diet-secrets cheat sheet, visit mitchcalvert.com.

 

 

Meat vs. Plant Based Diet: Who Wins?

The Netflix documentary, The Game Changers, may have you reconsidering your diet, but the truth isn’t that cut and dry.

You’ve probably seen or at least heard of the Netflix documentary, The Game Changers.

Maybe you watched it already and immediately dumped all the meat from your freezer into the garbage.

But I’m here to present the facts from both sides, and documentaries like this one are meant to entertain and support their position, not present all the facts in an objective way.

Here’s what I do know, first and foremost:

You can lose fat on a plant-based diet. You can lose fat on a meat-based diet. You can be unhealthy on a plant-based diet. You can be unhealthy on a meat-based diet.

This should not be a yelling match between vegan/vegetarian advocates and meat eaters. This should be a discussion about what the current consensus is in the research and determining what works best for you.

The Game Changers is well-produced and uses lots of celebrity endorsements to support its central message that plant-based proteins are better for athletic performance.

Bear in mind this statement has little to do with you, the average person, just trying to lose a bit of weight and be a bit healthier while still eating foods you enjoy.

(Not to mention its Executive Producer, James Cameron, is CEO of Verdiant Foods, an organic pea protein company with the goal of becoming “the largest pea protein fractionation facility in North America.” That might factor into why he made a movie to encourage you to eat more plant-based, but I may be in the wrong there.)

In this article, I’ll stick with the science to answer the question of whether plant protein is indeed better for our health, physique and physical performance than meat proteins. I won’t go into ethical or environmental concerns.

Should you eliminate meat from your diet?

The Game Changers claims meat causes cancer, inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

In an article by Menno Henselmans, he shared a review done by The Annals of Internal Medicine on the health effects of red meat, which concluded there’s insufficient evidence to reduce red meat intake.

Further still, a meta-analysis, reported on by Examine.com, based on 24 randomized controlled trials in adults, compared red meat eaters to those who didn’t consume red meat.

Compared with eating less than an ounce of red meat per day, consuming more does not appear to have a significant influence on blood cholesterol, triglycerides, or blood pressure, according to the research.

Examine.com also notes that red meat is likely to be more harmful when prepared in certain ways.

Harsher cooking methods such as frying, broiling, BBQ grilling, and roasting consistently led to higher levels of toxic compounds than gentler cooking methods such as boiling, poaching, stewing, and steaming.

It would be quite the stretch to state that a charbroiled burger patty, bacon or sausage are the same as a medium-rare sirloin steak or ground grass-fed beef.

The Game Changers, like many documentaries that came before it (remember What The Health?), only presents cherry-picked studies to support the filmmaker’s views.

First off, know this: Eating bacon on Saturday mornings will not cause you to instantly drop dead, face down in your frying pan.

The dose makes the poison. If you make a habit of eating bacon for breakfast, chargrilled BBQ hot dogs for lunch, and processed deli meats for dinner, day in and out, yes, you may, in fact, be increasing your risk for colorectal cancer.

But regularly swapping those processed meats for grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, and lean chicken is a completely different story.

It’s the processed kind that is more likely to cause colorectal cancer, according to the World Health Organization’s 2015 review of the link between processed meat and cancer.

The other problem? Your average vegetarian is typically more health-conscious than the typical North American who follows a western diet with meat included. Someone on a vegetarian diet is much more self-aware of what they eat, so they’re generally more health-conscious and invested in their diet than the average person.

The best comparison to make would be health-conscious meat-eaters (who choose minimally processed foods, exercise regularly and consume a calorie-controlled diet) vs non-meat eaters who follow a similar lifestyle, but I don’t know if such a study exists.

In one 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegetarians and meat eaters studied in the UK had similar life expectancies.

Both Meat and Plants Offer Health Benefits

While plants offer certain health benefits and nutrients, animal foods do too. While plants shine in terms of vitamins, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals, animal foods have a higher protein quality and are typically richer in bioavailable minerals, especially iron, beneficial fatty acids like omega-3s and B-vitamins.

Animal proteins (particularly red meat) supply vitamin B12, which helps make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy, and zinc, which keeps the immune system working properly, and protein, to build and repair muscle.

One thing the research seems very clear on is to eat more vegetables and fruits. So maybe the answer is a ‘flexitarian’ diet where you add meat strategically to a predominantly plant-based approach.

What About Fat Loss?

My goal as a coach is to offer the simplest, most effective way for typically busy clients to reach their fat loss and fitness goals. The evidence supports higher protein intake to accomplish this task, and it’s easier to meet your protein needs if you have meat as an option to do so.

Daly et al. (2014) studied what happens when elderly strength training women add 160 g cooked meat to their diet 6 days a week. Compared to the control group who stuck to their regular diet, the meat-eating women gained more muscle and more strength with a greater reduction in measured inflammation and no adverse effects on blood lipids or blood pressure.

This is always hotly contested by those who believe Netflix documentaries, but the research consistently supports protein intake to preserve muscle and increase satiety on a diet.

So, with that all away, how about I give you a much simpler solution? Something I call the 4 Pillars of Perfect Fat Loss…

The 4 Pillars of Perfect Fat Loss

That all said, if you’re looking for a simple solution, I like to break it the perfect fat loss plan down to these four pillars.

Because it’s easy to get confused by all the noise. Heck, a search for the “best diet” on google will send you down a never-ending rabbit hole. Same goes for the “best workout plan.”

So, scratch all that and don’t let paralysis by analysis stop you from moving forward. I’m going to show you the simple formula here in this article.

Pillar 1: Calorie Control

You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat.

If you’re a naturally chubby person who puts on fat easily, start by multiplying your bodyweight x 10 in total calories. I.E. 200 pound man would eat 2,000 calories.

Keep in mind this is just a starting point, and you may need to adjust your totals up or down depending on how you respond in the weeks ahead.

It’s probably a good idea to get a good portion of those calories from protein and fibrous veggies, as you’ll feel full on less calories and be less likely to cave into cravings.

Pillar 2: Resistance Training

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to use weights, but strength training does the body good. If you’re a newbie, your body can generate plenty of resistance just fine.

It depends on your level of development and limitations, but find efficient activities that push you and also involve a fun factor, so you stay consistent with it.

Pillar 3: NEAT

NEAT is number three. That’s non-exercise activity thermogenesis. That is simply the deliberate act of walking more, standing more, and going out of your way to move your body. But when you do this, your fat loss is better. Studies have shown this time and time again. The higher your NEAT, the higher your percentage of fat loss.

The Mayo Clinic designed a study to look at the mechanisms that hinder fat gain. They studied 16 subjects (12 males and four females), ranging in age from 25 to 36 years.

The subjects volunteered to eat 1,000 excess calories a day (above what they needed to maintain weight) for eight weeks.

Some of the subjects gained 10 times more fat than others, ranging from 0.8 to nine pounds. The overall weight gain ranged from three to 12 pounds, some of which was additional muscle.

NEAT explained the big variation in weight gain. The subjects who rated high in daily expenditure from NEAT were among those who gained the least.

Pillar 4: Sleep/Self Care/Stress Management

I lumped a few things in here, the 3 S’s, but they all support one another. If you’re getting four disrupted hours of sleep every night, your results will be sub-optimal. If you’re stressed out and burning the candle at both ends, your results will be sub-optimal. You get my drift here.

In one extensive review by the Sleep Research Society, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89 per cent and 55 per cent more likely to become obese, respectively.

I don’t care how old you are, the research says enough sleep is in the seven to nine hours a night for the vast majority of us.

In the end, it’s best you throw away the complicated formulas, fad diets and black-and-white approaches and focus on building your lifestyle around those four key pillars.

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based weight loss coach for men and women like his former self. Obese in his 20s, he now helps clients find their spark and lose weight the right way and keep it off for life. To inquire about coaching or to download a free diet secrets cheat sheet, visit mitchcalvert.com.

 

 

Five (ish) Strategies To Stick To Your Diet

Raise your hand if you’ve tried more than a dozen diets in your lifetime.

Now keep your hand raised if you saw some early success with most of them, only to see that weight come back once you returned to old habits.

You are in the majority if that sounds familiar. Frankly, sticking to a weight loss diet can sometimes feel like a never-ending barrage of plateaus, frustration, disappointment and, if you’re lucky, sustainable success eventually.

But the best thing you can do is take ownership of your past failures and learn from them.

Here’s a quick synopsis of a conversation I had last week that’ll illustrate this.

Me: Well, let’s go through what you ate yesterday.

Potential Client: Muffin and double-double coffee, I brought a salad for lunch but wasn’t hungry after eating fruit and a donut at a lunch meeting, and pizza and a small pint of ice cream for dinner. Oh, plus a glass of wine. Or was it two?

Me: Well, what do you think is causing you to gain weight?

Potential Client: I think my metabolism is broken. I barely eat.

Me: <Blank stare>

I’m being a bit facetious here, but you get my point. All of us need a wake-up call sometimes.

Fat loss is simple, once you accept how hard it is. Sometimes the best thing we can do is point the finger directly at the person staring back at us in the mirror every morning.

Because like a lot of things that are good for us, it’ll be tough to swallow at first, but you’ll be better off for it. Here’s the secret: Most don’t stick it out long enough or consistently enough to change for good.

They think 6 or 12 weeks or even half a year of effort is enough, and it’s simply not.

You need to have at least one foot in at all times, no matter what is going on in your life.

With that said, make it easier on yourself the next time you attempt a diet by implementing these five strategies.

1. Make it A Lifestyle, Not A Quick Fix

I’ve been treading water for a month since dieting down for my birthday. But I never get too out of hand during these downtimes because I’ve built foundational habits into my lifestyle.

Those habits are:

  • I never take more than a week off from the gym… (for 17 years and counting)
  • I always make protein a focal point of my diet, with at least 200 grams every day.
  • I never drink alcohol apart from special occasions.
  • I always delay breakfast (some call this Intermittent Fasting so we’ll go with that)

Just those four things allow me to maintain my weight without a setback.

If you’re the type to lose weight only to put it back on, it’s because you haven’t built foundational habits in your life.

Your turn: What are your foundational habits?

Again, the key here is to identify the most important habits and activities that will have a positive effect on your fitness goals.

For example, your list of habits might look fairly simple to start, such as:

  • You will take a 30-minute walk every morning
  • You will go to the gym three times a week
  • You will always prepare a homemade lunch to bring and avoid takeout at work

Now, it’s all well and good to get these down in writing, but if they aren’t front of mind every day and you aren’t accountable for following through, they won’t stick.

2. Enlist Support & Accountability

There really is nothing like having someone else keeping you accountable for what you say you want to do.

Case in point, I’m in San Diego this weekend for The Perfect Life Retreat put on by Craig Ballantyne.

Craig is a mentor of mine, and for being one of his top mentees (is that a word?), I’m being flown down to sit on a round table and take in a few days of learning.

Frankly, I need a shot in the arm in general. It’s been an off couple of weeks and I need to get clear on my vision and priorities again.

Yes, even coaches need coaches.

Whether that’s growing a business, getting in shape, or improving another aspect of your life, finding someone who has “been there and done that” and can help you get there is the fast lane.

I learned that the hard way when I first attempted to lose weight, going in circles for several years before biting the bullet with an online fitness coach before its time.

3. Weigh Yourself Daily

This next suggestion to sustain your diet effort may not go over well with many, but it’s one of my favourite methods to ensure consistency and daily motivation.

By weighing yourself first thing in the morning, you’ll get an initial reminder of what you’ve already achieved (or will achieve) while setting your intentions for the day ahead.

One study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that participants who weighed themselves daily for six months lost 13 more pounds, on average, than those who weighed themselves less frequently.

When I wake up in the morning and weigh myself, it provides an additional reminder that unless effort is put in, I won’t achieve my goals.

Not to mention, the simple act of weighing myself every morning provides me with a simple reminder that I’m on a plan right now and need to make good choices. You will have to accept daily fluctuations are a part of the process and not let the number get in your head though.

4. Plan Out Your Week

You’re an adult with a lot of competing priorities. If something isn’t on your calendar, it’s more than likely going to be done sporadically if at all.

By putting your workouts and other fitness priorities in the calendar and checking them off as you go, it not only improves adherence by gives you little victories along the way.

Often you won’t be validated each and every week with measurable progress, but by focusing on what you can control day-to-day, you’ll build momentum and find enjoyment in the process.

5. Track Your Calories

Keeping a daily food journal is very similar to the act of weighing yourself daily.

Consider keeping a food journal or using a food tracking app to ensure consistent reminders, while staying on track with your nutrition.

Controlling calories is the biggest driver of weight loss, but unless you physically track what you eat in real-time, diet amnesia kicks in.

Our brains do a real good job of encouraging us to over-eat and forget the slip-ups. In a now-famous study by the New England Journal of Medicine in the ‘90s, researchers investigated energy intake in self-proclaimed ‘diet-resistant’ individuals who failed to lose weight despite claiming to eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day.

The mean self-reported intake was 1,028 calories but the groups’ actual average intake was 2,081 calories per day. The participants underreported their energy intake by 47 per cent!

(Bonus!) 6. Give Yourself Periodic Rewards

Say one of your goals is to complete 12 workouts in November. When you check off that last one, reward yourself by booking a massage or mani/pedi. Anything that’ll incentivize you to see them through.

I hazard against rewarding yourself with junk food, but a nice night out to a restaurant works too. Providing yourself with real, concrete incentives for hitting goals (don’t just tie it to weight loss benchmarks) can really provide the level of motivation you need to push through sticking points.

Now, maybe a reward doesn’t do it for you. Some people are motivated through pain. This is known as “the carrot or the stick.” The carrot means you get a significant reward for accomplishing your goal, while the stick means you get a significant punishment.

The latter could be a financial consequence (where you have to donate money to a political party you don’t support if you fail to meet your targets).

Think about which one better motivates you and put a plan in place focused around your reward or consequences along the way.

The Fat Loss Formula “Golden Ticket” In Summary

In the end, the diet itself is not enough.

What most gloss over is “The Grind” of getting in shape. It’s going to have as much tough days as good ones. The inability to press through when the going gets tough is what keeps many stuck in that cycle of losing and gaining back the same 10 pounds.

You must accept struggles, setbacks, discomfort, delayed gratification and failure as part of the process. You can’t have success without struggle.

That would be like having kids and not expecting any rough nights of sleep or days you’d just like to ship them off to boarding school (is that still a thing?). But kids are worth the struggle, and getting healthy and fit is worth it too.

Expect to wake up and say, “Are you kidding me? This scale must be broken!”

Reframe these obstacles as stepping stones to the promised land that awaits. Even a 2-month plateau can be a win if you don’t trend the wrong direction.

Flexing your resiliency muscle along the way tests how much you want to change. That’s a more important muscle than your biceps if you expect to succeed at this.

You owe it to your future self and your family to keep persisting.

So here’s what I suggest you do if you want to reach a goal before the calendar turns to 2020 and another year is lost.

1) Set a hard 60-day deadline around your primary goal right now. If it’s weight loss, something like “lose 8 pounds by Dec. 31.”

2) Enlist some accountability to follow through (publicly share it with friends and family or join a program).

3) Set up a reward or consequence for yourself at specific intervals and at the end.

4) Implement ongoing strategies such as food tracking, weighing yourself daily and weekly planning to keep you on track.

Of course, in the end, your body may not co-operate and you may fall short, but by pursuing it with urgency around a hard deadline, you’re more likely to succeed than if you just tried to “eat healthier and exercise” with no clear direction.

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based weight-loss coach for men and women like his former self. Obese in his 20s, he now helps clients find their spark and lose weight for life. To get direct mentorship as one of his new program case studies, email him at mitch@mitchcalvert.com with “Interested” 

 

 

Electing The Right Diet For You

You’ve probably had your fill of elections over the last few months.

But, don’t worry, this article isn’t trying to convince you of one diet over another.

But since all of them claim to be superior, it can be hard to know which ones are worth trying.

The truth is that no one diet is best for everyone — and what works for you may not work for someone else.

So, with that said, let’s look at the pros and cons of popular diets so you can make an informed decision for yourself.

Low-Carb Diets (Think Keto)

Low carb diets have been popular for decades — especially for weight loss – and the best known one right now is the keto diet.

Here’s the lowdown in brief: eat foods high in fat, with moderate protein and cut carbs completely.

A real keto diet is high fat (75 per cent of calories) with an extremely low carbohydrate intake (less than five per cent of calories) and low-ish protein intake (15-20 per cent).

The primary aim of the diet is to force your body to use more fats for fuel instead of carbs as a main source of energy.

Pros

Numerous studies have shown low-carb diets as an effective method for weight loss, especially in overweight and obese individuals.

They also tend to reduce your appetite and reduce cravings in some, leading to an automatic reduction in calorie intake.

There’s also some research indicating positive outcomes on many major disease risk factors, such as blood triglycerides, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, insulin levels, and blood pressure.

Cons

It’s highly restrictive. You can’t eat carbs to any great degree. Studies show the average dieter spends about six weeks following keto or paleo protocols — followed by 14 weeks off the plan. Often, they end up gaining more weight after the diet than where they started.

If you can live without carbs, this is a viable option. Even striving to limit your carb intake and slipping up here and there could still work due to a reduction in overall calorie intake, but it could create an unhealthy relationship with food.

The Vegan Diet

This one restricts all animal products for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. Ethical reasons aside, this article will focus on its role in weight loss.

(Veganism is also different from vegetarianism, as it eliminates dairy, eggs, and animal-derived products, such as whey, while the latter does not).

Pros

A vegan diet seems to be very effective at helping people lose weight — often without counting calories — because its low fat and high fiber content lead to reduced calorie intake.

One 18-week study showed that people on a vegan diet lost 9.3 pounds more than those on a control diet. The vegan group was allowed to eat until fullness, but the control group had to restrict calories ( Source).

However, calorie for calorie, vegan diets are not more effective for weight loss than other diets (Source). You’ll notice a theme here with most of these diets: weight loss is driven by a reduction in overall calorie intake.

Cons

Because vegan diets eliminate animal foods completely, you may have to supplement  a new micronutrients typically derived from meat, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, iodine, iron, calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Similar to the keto diet, it’s also restrictive by eliminating an entire food group. This may make it hard to adhere to the diet, though the food industry has taken strides to adapt and offer more meat alternatives for non-meat eaters.

It’s also challenging with this diet – albeit not impossible – to meet your protein needs. Why does that matter? Because the vast majority of weight loss studies show that as much as 20-30 per cent of the weight lost during dieting is from lean body mass, including muscle mass. That’s not good. Maintenance of muscle mass is important for everyone who wants to tone and tighten along the way and maintain a healthy basal metabolic rate (BMR) in the end so weight maintenance becomes easier. Strictly from a weight loss perspective, diets high in protein consistently perform best for fat loss (not just weight loss).

The Paleo Diet

The “caveman diet” as it were, this one appears to have fallen a bit out of favour in recent years.

While it’s debatable whether this diet really provides the same foods of our ancestors, the general premise is a good one: eat whole foods and limit processed junk.

It may take it one step too far by restricting sugar, dairy and starchy grains entirely, which are fine to eat if you have no pre-existing intolerances.

Pros

A number of studies have shown significant weight loss and reduced waist size by following a paleo diet.

Following a paleo diet automatically leads to reduced carb and calorie intake with more protein to compensate. That’s a winning formula. Much like the aforementioned diets, it can improve health markers over time.

Cons

The paleo diet also tells you what you can and cannot eat, and that typically isn’t condusive to strong adherence over the long haul, unless you can live without indulging in your favourite ice cream.

The Carnivore Diet

The Carnivore Diet is in polar opposition to the vegan diet, requiring its followers to only eat meat, fish and other animal-based products like eggs and dairy. Everything else must go.

According to an article on Heathline, the Carnivore Diet stems from the controversial belief that human ancestral populations ate mostly meat and fish and that high-carb diets are to blame for today’s high rates of chronic disease.

Popularized by Shawn Baker, a former American orthopedic doctor, the diet has you aim to eat zero carbs, and proponents claim it can lead to weight loss and a host of health benefits.

Pros

If you’re a big meat eater who never bores of steak, then you may have found your diet.

Cons

It has not been researched in depth in the medical community to prove the validity of its claims. Baker’s medical license was also revoked by the New Mexico Medical Board due to concerns about his competency.

Tracking Macros/Counting Calories

The term “tracking macros” simply means logging the foods you eat on a website, app or food journal.

Once an arduous task, apps now exist that calculate your macros as you log your food. There’s a learning curve in the early going, and a digital food scale may be necessary until you get to a point where you can guesstimate your portions.

When a client signs up with me, one of the first things we do is start by tracking food intake. This helps us quickly identify the little tweaks needed that make a big difference.

Pros

The real magic is in empowering you with the know-how to understand the nutritional makeup of your food, how to read nutrition labels and take control of your food choices.

As long as you stay within your calorie budget each day, no food is necessarily off limits.

Now, if your goal is weight loss, you probably understand you can’t eat your favourite dessert every night and expect to make progress, especially if it’s something you binge eat. But at least it’s an option when you plan for it once in awhile. That gives you something to look forward to.

Cons

It can be time consuming at first. There’s also been some recent research suggesting food tracking apps exasperate eating disorders. If you have a history of eating disorders, a balanced approach around portion control without counting may suit you better.

The Best Diet Is The One You Can Stick To

All the approaches above tend to boil down to a couple guiding principles: eat less calories, eat more lean proteins and/or greens and eat less processed foods.

According to a review on Examine.com, “Independent of your diet’s macronutrient ratios, a negative energy balance (consuming fewer calories than your body needs) is responsible for weight loss.”

In summary, provided you get your calorie intake right, eat protein and exercise, you’ll have the foundations in place.

In a perfect world, you can start by sticking to a similar diet to the one you are already doing, but find a way to eat calories overall.

In the end, you do you. Elect the diet you think suits your lifestyle best and allows you to stick to it long enough to see permanent results.

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based weight-loss coach. Want his help finding the best approach for you? He’s got a brand new case study coaching opportunity starting Nov. 1 for at least 5 committed people ready to get a jump on the new year. If you want to lose 1-2 pant sizes and up to 20 pounds in 8 weeks, email him with the subject “Interested” to mitch@mitchcalvert.com.

 

 

 

Jamie Burned The Belly Without Giving Up Beer

I want to introduce you to Jamie today.

He had an affection for beer, but wanted to get rid of the beer belly without sacrificing throwing back a few (or many) cold ones over the summer.

We took him through our system to decipher what foods work best for him so he could sleep well, have great digestion, good energy, and lose weight along the way.

He still enjoyed a few cold ones (and a lot of cold ones on special occasions) but with the strategic cheat day protocol clients get to enjoy every week, he still managed to lose 26 pounds and 12.5 inches in roughly 10.5 weeks!

Here’s my Q&A with Jamie

Where you were before working with Mitch?

With a belly that prevented me from seeing my toes, yeah toes …. when standing upright. Eating crap food and lots of it.

Why might you have been skeptical of joining at first?

I wasn’t skeptical at all. I watched lots of Mitch’s videos and saw the client spotlights and progress pics. I knew if someone else could do it I could too, I just had to commit!

What was your BIG breakthrough from the coaching?

Finding out that I didn’t have to starve myself to lose weight. It’s all about portion control and just healthier food choices and habits.

How much weight did you lose working with Mitch?

26 lbs

How did your waist measurements change working with Mitch?

Shrunk considerably. (Note from Mitch: just over 6 inches lost)

What were 2 non-scale victories you experienced working with Mitch (compliments, pants fitting etc.)

I had to punch new belt holes in my belt. I started with mitch on the first hole and quickly made it to the last.

If someone is thinking of joining up with Mitch, what would you tell them?

If you’re ready to commit to looking and feeling better then give mitch a call. He will work with you and help you through it all step by step. I couldn’t have got to the place I am now without his help. I’ve had a gym membership for 4 years and did nothing with it. I have reached my weight goal with mitch’s help in 3 months!

P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you lose fat without sacrificing family time or going through the same frustrating cycle of weight loss followed by weight gain.

Apply for the next BYOB (Burn Your Own Belly) Coaching Intake

If you would like to fast track your fat loss and get the daily accountability you need to follow through on what you know you need to do, this is the solution for you.

The next BYOB (Burn Your Own Belly) program is looking for five people who want to lose 20 pounds and two pant sizes before Christmas.

And, when you join, you’ll be gifted my best belly burning recipes and guides (I have guides for everything from improving skin quality to sleep to fat loss) to help you succeed even faster.

Just email mitch@mitchcalvert.com “Interested” now to secure your spot. We get started next week but it closes to apps in 48 hours.