No time like the present to focus on you

There are more than 100 days left in 2020.

That gives you plenty of time to set some goals and make big strides towards them. But in order to do that, you’ll need to take this magical “F” word to heart.

I’m talking about… FOCUS! Focus is knowing what to do, what to cut, where to double-down and when to say no so you can say yes to what matters.

Focus is a powerful thing. Imagine if you focused all of your energy on one diet and exercise plan for the last 100 or so days of 2020.

Follow One Course Until Successful. That’s the acronym, and that’s how you get to the promised land.

Because it’s too easy to turn “I’ll start on Monday” into “I’ll start Jan. 1” and keep putting things off or jumping from quick fix to magic pill.

So let’s take a look into your future, shall we? It’s Jan. 15, 2021. You sheepishly step on the scale to see the damage you did, and realize you’ve put on more weight than you thought over the last few months, especially during the holidays.

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 made some changes now and found balance?

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 for a second helping of dessert.)

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

Frankly, there’s no shame in saying now isn’t the right time. That’s your prerogative and it’s cool either way. There’s 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 author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn some years ago and was reminded of it recently in a conversation with a prospective client.

He 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 he ended the conversation with “I think I’ll wait for January when I can give it more attention.”

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 away from your goal.

Let’s say you currently have 25 pounds to lose. And let’s assume you say now’s the time and you do everything right and lose it just in time for Christmas.

Now, let’s say you delay starting until the new year and gain an extra five pounds between then and now — you now have more pounds to lose. You’ve now increased both the time and difficulty of your weight-loss journey.

Because, let’s be honest, if you wait for the stars to align you’ll be waiting a long time.

There is never, ever going to be a perfect time to start.

I’ll start after my holidays this month… then it’s Thanksgiving… then it’s Christmas… then once the kids are out of school for spring break.

See where I’m going here?

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

Nail the basics like a football team that practises blocking and tackling day after day. Limit your calories. Move your body. Sleep a bit more.

Start there and keep it simple.

Case in point, I had a few amazing testimonials come in this past week and checked out their history of activity. Time and again they were at least 80 per cent consistent in eating under their calorie limit, completing workouts and checking in with me on Mondays. The basics. Simple. But not easy.

Comparison is the thief of joy

Comparison can make or break you (and it’s often the latter if you only view things through a social media lens).

It’s one of the leading causes of why focus is such a lost art these days. On social media we only see the highlight reel. We celebrate success. The “after” photo.

But we should celebrate the process, which makes all the difference. I’ve come to realize that a person’s success is directly correlated to the amount of setbacks they can tolerate before throwing in the towel.

You might be surprised to find there are days I totally want to quit coaching and go back to the nine-to-five life. I have bad days where someone does something that triggers all those old insecurities that lie under the surface.

What you don’t see on social media is the full story. What you don’t see is the years of self-doubt, pain, setbacks, insecurity and criticism that were necessary parts of the process along the way to get here.

My only secret is that I kept going, first in losing 60 pounds and then in building a coaching practice from scratch.

Why am I telling you this? Progress is hard, but if you stay the course, success is inevitable with the right plan and persistence.

Weight loss. Business. Whatever. But if you don’t stay the course and get caught up comparing your Chapter 2 to someone’s Chapter 20, you’ll always be jumping from one quick fix to the next, never getting traction.

So, next time you hit a snag, look at the problem, understand it and see if there’s an obvious solution.

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavy set in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life. Need help getting back into the swing of things? Email him directly at mitch@mitchcalvert.com if interested in losing up to 20 pounds in his next Drop 2 Sizes coaching program.

How To Balance Fun and Fitness This Summer

Summer weekends are upon us, and you know what that means… you hit pause on your fitness goals and try to undo the damage when the leaves start to fall in September.

Wrong. It doesn’t have to be that way.

You can enjoy a summer of fun and still make progress on your fitness goals with the strategy I’m about to share.

But, first, let’s face facts. This may not be breaking news to you, but losing fat is hard. It goes slower than you want (bet on it). Sometimes it feels like it isn’t happening (it isn’t just you!). It happens gradually over months, not weeks, and requires diligence to succeed.

But, here’s the thing: You can’t mess this up as long as you don’t throw in the towel completely and do nothing over the next couple months. Because it’s your cumulative habits that change you over time, not ‘being perfect’ every day or every week. Fitness is full of plenty of grey areas.

So, here’s how you’re going to do it, starting with an analogy (or is it a metaphor? I lift weights for a living, cut me some slack)

Picture this: You’re digging a calorie ditch all week only to over-fill it on the weekend. Then you have to start digging it from the top down again on Monday. Same hole, dug no deeper than it was last week despite your efforts some of the week.

But there is some good news…

That moderation you’re looking for, where you can go out to eat and order something fun or have a few drinks with friends?

You can do that in the middle of a diet with some forward thinking. I’ve been experimenting with a unique way of manipulating food intake during the week so I can have flexible weekends of fun.

First, though, a disclaimer. I’m not claiming this is the optimal, healthiest way to lose weight. But the point is to prove that when it comes to weight loss, calories over time matter most. Weight loss happens gradually over time, and it’s near impossible to lose or gain pounds of fat over-night.

You don’t have to cut carbs to zero, buy a detox supplement or cardio your face off. It starts with one thing: how much you’re eating over the course of a day, week and month relative to how much calories your body needs to maintain its weight.

According to a review on Examine.com, “A negative energy balance (consuming fewer calories than your body needs) is responsible for weight loss.”

The scientist who survived on Twinkies

In case you don’t believe me or the fine folks at Examine, take it from Mark Haub, a professor of nutrition at Kansas State University.

Haub limited himself to 1,800 calories a day, eating Twinkies or another treat every three hours instead of meals, while consuming a protein shake and some vegetables over the course of the day.

Haub not only lost weight but improved all biomarkers of health along with it. His LDL, considered the bad cholesterol, decreased, while his HDL, or good cholesterol, increased by 30 per cent. And he reduced his triglycerides by 39 per cent.

Yes, an extreme example, and I think you know there should be some balance considered to make any diet successful over the long haul, but the point should be clear. Calories matter most.

Introducing Calorie Cycling

Here’s the nuts and bolts of this approach if you haven’t angrily closed out your browser thinking I’m off my rocker.

Let’s say you’re 200 pounds and don’t want to gain any more weight this summer, but you have a full social calendar now that restrictions are lifting and want to enjoy life.

I’d tell you to aim to eat between 1,600 and 2,000 calories a day (start by multiplying your body weight by 8-10) during the work week and to hit a minimum of 160 grams of protein each day (0.8 to one gram per pound of body weight in protein).

That is a fairly sizable calorie deficit which will elicit weight loss for most at that size. Then you can bump up your calories on weekends, to as much as 2,400-3,000 per day (that’s simply bodyweight x 12-15), allowing for more flexibility.

Some Ground Rules To Make This Work:

  • Keep Moving

Don’t pair your weekend eating with inactivity. That’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, commit to getting in some activity every day. If you’re out at the lake, swim every morning. Go for long walks. Take a bik ride.

Too often people associate weekends with downtime, choosing sedentary activities that involve food and drink. But activity can give you a little fail-safe in the event calories do exceed your planned intake.

  • Plan Around Parties

If you have a special event you know will tempt you, your calorie intake in the early part of the day should be modest at best. Two food choices that always fill you up nicely without being too high in calories are lean protein and fibrous veggies.

On the day of your party, keep your protein choices lean and fill up on cooked veggies for breakfast and lunch.

It’s the ditch analogy I mentioned earlier. Eat light leading up to the party so you have a “buffer” going in. Even if things go off the rails, you shouldn’t be in too bad of shape at the end of the day.

When your weekend fun is finished, get to the grocery store and prepare to get some solid, home-cooked, nutritious meals in you the next day so your healthy habits resume.

And, don’t, whatever you do, weigh yourself the morning after. Wait a few days. The excess stomach content, water weight from additional carbs and possibly whatever sorcery travelling and stress does to your body can falsely skew your scale weight.

It’s temporary – if you follow the rules above and get back on the horse the next day. After all, weight gain is caused by eating like crap all summer long, not just a few nights here and there.

Here’s to finding the balance fun and fitness this summer.

For reading this far, I want to reward you with a bonus training that ties it all together.

I’m inviting you to a free training called…

How You Can Lose Stubborn Belly Fat, Increase Energy and Destroy The Dad or Mom Bod WITHOUT Cardio or Crash Dieting This Summer (yes, it’s a mouthful)

In it, I’m going to show you a few things:

  • Unique WEEKDAY versus WEEKEND training & nutrition to promote simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain (or at the very least, muscle maintenance).
  • How to workout less and for shorter time with better results
  • How getting called THIS in high school led to where I am today
  • Finding the right motivation (has something to do with burning buildings)
  • How Twinkies can fit into a diet plan that shreds fat
  • & Much More…

The link you need is below…

>> Watch it NOW

During the training, these secrets will be revealed:

  • Secret #1 – How I got fat eating chicken and broccoli, and instead got lean with a weekly 5 Guys burger and fries
  • Secret #2 – How ditching Crossfit and training less led to MORE muscle and LESS fat
  • Secret #3 – How I overcame ‘fat kid’ genes and can now maintain/diet on 3,000 calories

>> Watch it NOW

 

 

Fact vs. Fiction: How To Boost Your Immune System The Right Way

COVID-19 put the microscope on the need for a robust immune system, but the desire to hack our way to health has been around for centuries. Let’s separate fact from fiction and help you fatten up your immune defences without thinning your wallet.

From cold remedies to Vitamin C gummies, there’s a pill for that (whatever that is).

But a burst of placebo notwithstanding, most of the over-the-counter stuff simply doesn’t reliably boost your immune system.

With a few exceptions, most vitamins and minerals won’t do anything unless you’re in an extremely susceptible state, and even then, are no substitute for lifestyle and diet modifications.

One Pill To Consider …

With that said, there is one vitamin that may be worth investigating based on recent findings.

More research is still needed, but a lot of emerging data — especially since the COVID-19 pandemic first struck — has found a direct link between Vitamin D deficiency and a compromised immune system.

One study found higher levels of vitamin D (in older individuals) led to a 40 per cent decrease in respiratory infections.

Plus, unlike many vitamins and minerals which can be produced by your body naturally or found easily in food, Vitamin D is harder to come by and deficiency is widespread in many populations (The sun isn’t strong enough during Winnipeg winters to synthesize Vitamin D).

To support your body naturally, try to get about 15-20 minutes of sun per day right now (of course, don’t overstay your welcome and burn yourself).

If that’s not a reliable option, look towards natural food sources fatty fish such as salmon, eggs, muchrooms and dairy products fortified with Vitamin D.

You can supplement if needed as well. I recommend getting a blood test to see where your levels are prior to going that route.

Too much stress can compromise your T cells (which keep you healthy)

How To Stress Less

If popping a pill (or three) likely isn’t the answer, what is?

If you really want to help your immune system, start by addressing your stress levels.

Look, I get it. Modern life is busy and you have responsibilities.

My wife and I have been without child care for 10 weeks and our self-care routine has taken a big hit. Stress is a fact of life.

But research has discovered that your T-cells (the fighters that protect you against everything from viruses to life-threatening diseases like cancer) decrease in the face of stress.

So how do you combat stress in the easiest way possible?

Meditation is great, whatever that looks like for you, but let’s make it even easier.

The act of deliberate breathing is my easiest, actionable tip to combat stress.

Box breathing involves controlling both parts of your breath (breathing in and out) as well as holding your breath. It’s called “box” breathing because you do each part of the breath for an equal amount of time (four counts), as if you are breathing around a square.

You exhale through your mouth for a total of four counts, then hold your breath for four counts, and then gently and slowly breathe in through your nose for four counts. And then hold your breath again, for four counts.

For a full session of box breathing, you simply repeat the cycle for a total of four times through.

Sleep – Long & Deep

Our culture too often devalues rest and leisure time, but taking time to get a good night’s sleep should be prioritized.

One way to do that is setting a reverse alarm on your phone 60 minutes before bedtime.

An hour before bed, you should shut off all devices (i.e. no more screen time – I’ll tell you the reason why below).

This routine will, over time, cue your body to start feeling tired. That’s exactly what you want.

TVs and cellphones produce blue light and “trick” your brain into thinking it’s daytime.

This, in turn, reduces the production of the hormone melatonin in the brain, which signals bedtime and gives you that sleepy feeling before bed.

The easiest and most effective way to avoid blue light is to wear amber-coloured glasses a few hours before bed.

They look ridiculous (OK, they’ve gotten better designs on the market in recent years) and your children will mercilessly make fun of you, but you’ll feel better for it.

These glasses effectively block blue light, so your brain doesn’t get the signal that it’s supposed to stay awake and suppress melatonin production.

Studies show that when people use blue-blocking glasses, they produce just as much melatonin as if it were dark. That said, many devices now come equipped with a night light feature to dim the screen as well.

Chronically bad sleep slathers on body fat, screws up your hormones, ages you faster, and suppresses your immune system.

One study by Prather et al showed sleeping six hours per night makes you four times more likely to catch a cold compared to sleeping seven hours per night.

Lastly, if you need help improving your sleep, stick to the same bedtime seven days a week.

Consistently going to bed and waking up at the same time throughout the week (and weekend) will do wonders for your stress levels.

Your body craves routine. If you’re constantly in a state of flux competing against your circadian rhythms, you’ll never be at peak performance and you’ll be exasperating your response to stress.

Maybe you could get away with it at 20, but eventually a lifestyle predicated on burning the candle at both ends catches up to you.

Do everything possible to stick to a routine. Boring? Sure. But very effective.

Move More

Recent research has found regular exercise helps the overall health of your immune system and decreases your risk factors for illness and disease.

It is widely agreed that regular moderate intensity exercise can help the immune system find and deal with pathogens.

In the long term, it slows down changes that happen to the immune system with ageing, therefore reducing the risk of infections and disease.

Some findings suggest too much of a good thing can be bad when it comes to exercise, but illness risk is typically only increased in athletes during periods of intense training and competition (think ultramarathons here).

You May Want To Skip The Night Cap

Debbie Downer section left for the end here, but despite the increase in alcohol sales during this pandemic, the research is strong linking drinking to poor immune function.

Too much drinking – too often – leaves you more susceptible to everything from upper respiratory infections to slower recovery from injuries and illness.

If you’ve found it harder trying to moderate your alcohol intake right now, you’re not alone.

Your best defense is to minimize the temptations by putting up figurative walls between you and the bottle.

Just like you shouldn’t have your kryptonite food in the pantry while on a diet, nor should you have your favourite beer chilled and at the ready in the fridge.

Designate a day to indulge but fight the urge to habitually reach for a brew (or three) after dinner.

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based weight loss coach. His last group intake of the “Healthy @ Home 30-Day Challenge” gets underway next week, helping you reverse the Quarantine 15, all from the comfort of your own home. Visit www.workwithmitch.ca or email mitch@mitchcalvert.com with the word “HOME” in the subject to get more details.

 

Kenny rediscovered himself on the way to losing 20 pounds

I want to introduce you to Kenny.

Kenny was a busy family man who worked an erratic schedule (often nights) and slowly saw his weight climb as he got older.

He never had much trouble keeping the weight off in his younger days, but the challenges of balancing a career and family commitments caught up to him and he realized he needed to make a change.

That’s when he reached out to me.

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 but with the strategic cheat day protocol clients get to enjoy every week, he still managed to lose 20+ pounds and a couple pant sizes in less than 12 weeks. He’s now in maintenance mode (a necessary step) before making another push on his own here soon.

I feel the best I have in years, and with hard work and your help, I have reached this point.  Thanks for the motivation and resources to get to where I am and to keep me going with my goals.

Why might you have been skeptical of joining at first? 

Did not know if it was what I wanted with the online part I’m a face to face person

What was your BIG breakthrough from the coaching? 

Seeing the person I could be and have never been. I lost weight and had more definition then ever before

How much weight did you lose? 

Over 20 lbs

How did your measurements change? 

I lost about 2 pant sizes

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

Clothes I have not fit in for a long time we’re loose. Definition throughout my body.

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

Do it, he is a great coach.

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.

I’m opening my doors to work with 10 people who are ready RIGHT NOW to reduce stress, skyrocket their energy levels and come out the other side of this pandemic in the best shape of their life in my “Corona Quarantine Transformation Challenge”

I’ll give you the exact custom nutrition and exercise blueprint built for your “new normal” at home.

I’ll show up for you on weekly virtual sessions to keep you honest and accountable and motivated.

I’ll give you my best Belly Blast Blueprint™ tools to predictably and consistently lose inches where it matters.

Ultimately, this is the best way I can help you maintain your health and sanity and set you up for massive success during this pandemic and beyond.

But let me be VERY CLEAR about who this is and is not for

This invitation is ONLY for you if:

1. You are ready to drop a pant size or two and NOT use this pandemic to put on the “Quarantine 15”

2. You have tried many diets/programs without lasting results

3. You are open to trying something new and have 30 minutes per day to commit to this (all done at home for obvious reasons!)

4. You are friendly and coachable

5. You can keep a secret

Now here’s the guarantee: We’re going to set a goal together and if you don’t reach it, I’ll refund your investment.

Send an email to me at mitch@mitchcalvert.com with ‘CRAZY’ in the subject line if you meet my criteria above and you’re ready to get started right now. I’ll send you the next steps as soon as I get your email.

Coping with COVID-19: The Ultimate Fitness Guide

You’re probably hunkered down at home with no clear end of this in sight.

And you’re likely wondering how on earth you can make it to the end of your quarantine with your sanity and health in tact.

I know I am.

I’ve befriended one of my dumbbells – let’s call him Weider – who has kept me company when I need a break from the kids.

He calls me out if I don’t lift him enough. I tossed him outside after he got on my nerves and immediately regretted it.

Here’s how it went down from my recollection:

Weider! WEIDER I’m sorry! Weider, I’m sorry! I’m sorry! WILSON! I mean… Weider. I CAN’T! WEIDER! WEIDER!”

Long story short, I’m never watching Cast Away while in my own isolation again.

While you may be feeling stressed and anxious about what the future holds, there is always a silver lining.

I’m going to give you your “silver linings playbook” so none of those dumbbells in your basement collect dust (don’t worry, you don’t have to give any of them a pet name). Easily the No. 1 complaint I get from clients is the amount of social and work functions that lead to hard-to-track calories and poor food and drink choices.

Dining out, work lunches and events, social functions.

Well, guess what? Those are currently off the table. This is a “forced” boot camp where you control what you eat. You have a serious opportunity (once you figure out a routine with the kitchen three steps away and the kids at home) to make a lot of progress.

Diet Tips Under Quarantine

You’ll need to control your food environment to make this work. I’m still figuring this out.

Normally I work from home but I’m in “work mode” until the kids come home and I don’t spend much time in the kitchen.

Now I’m preparing their meals and snacks at all hours of the day, and it’s the little bites I’m taking that add up.

Here’s how to setup your environment:

If it’s not immediately in your environment, you’re probably not going to eat it: So keep it out.

Yes, you may need to stock up on snacks for the kids.

But limit your exposure to your kryptonite foods. For example, I have a hard time moderating red velvet cake, so the rule is if it doesn’t come home with me it won’t get in my mouth and lead to weight gain. Problem solved.

If it has to be in the house, put up “walls” in front of it. Make it harder to indulge. Keep the junk food in less visible and less convenient locations.

For example, if you need it in the house for your kids, keep ice cream in the downstairs freezer and hide it under a stash of frozen vegetables if necessary.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, take down the “walls” in front of making healthy food choices.

For example, keep a fruit bowl out on the counter, not a bowl of candies.

Keep refrigerated vegetables on the front and middle shelves of your refrigerator, and keep more “off plan” refrigerated items near the back (or perhaps in the drawers).

Keep to a schedule of planned dinners you prepare and food prep some lunch essentials ahead of time (particularly proteins and starchy carbs, which can’t really be figured out on the fly).

Exercise Tips Under Quarantine

Just as muscle mass is not gained quickly, it is not lost quickly either. It takes a prolonged period of inactivity to lose a noticeable amount of muscle mass. So if you can’t hit the gym as regularly, it’s not doomsday here.

You can get moving by walking around your neighbourhood (if you avoid crowded spaces, don’t touch things and wash your hands before and after).

Then, if time allows, you can do a lot with limited equipment or simply your own body at home.

The six movement patterns to focus on are:

  • Vertical Push
  • Vertical Pull
  • Horizontal Push
  • Horizontal Pull
  • Hip Hinge
  • Squat

A pair of dumbbells will allow you to accomplish all of these movements in some fashion.

Here’s a quick example dumbbell only workout.

Circuit 1:

A1. DB Presses Overhead – 15-20 reps (Vertical Push)

A2. Pull up (or assisted pull up using bands or a chair) – 10-12 reps (Vertical Pull)

A3. Goblet squat – 12-15 reps (Squat)

Go through the entire circuit once and rest for two minutes before repeating the circuit again for a few more rounds.

Once you’ve completed all the rounds, rest for two minutes before moving onto circuit two below.

Circuit 2:

A1. DB floor press – 12-15 reps (Horizontal Push)

A2. DB Single Arm Rows – 12-5 reps per arm (Horizontal Pull)

A3. DB Romanian deadlift – 12-15 reps (Hip Hinge)

Go through the entire circuit once and rest for two minutes before repeating the circuit again for a few more rounds.

No dumbbells? No problem.

There are a variety of bodyweight-only exercises you can do to perform these movement patterns, just consider increasing the rep range to up the degree of difficulty if necessary.

A1. Push up – as many reps as you can (Horizontal Push)

A1. Bodyweight Squats or Archer Squats– 15 reps (Squat)

A3. Inverted Rows (using towel or bed sheet) – 12-15 (Horizontal Pull)

A4. Pike Push Up – as many reps as you can (Vertical Push)

A5. Chin Up (or assisted chin up using band or chair) – 6-10 reps (Vertical Pull)

A6. Single leg or dual leg Hip Thrusts – as many reps as you can (Hip Hinge)

An easy way to do this circuit is to set a timer for 10-15 minutes and do as many rounds as possible before the buzzer sounds.

Lifestyle/Immune Boosting Tips During Quarantine

There is no food, diet, or supplement that will prevent you from catching the virus or curing it if you’ve caught it despite what the hucksters are pedaling on social media.

However, you can help ‘maintain’ your immune system. Aadam Ali shared these guidelines from The International Society of Immunonutrition:

The general advice is to eat a diverse and well-balanced diet rich in coloured fruit and vegetables (to increase the intake of antioxidant and associated nutrients) to support immune function.

Specific advice in relation to the elderly is to increase the intake of Vitamin E (134 mg – 800 mg/day), Zinc (30 mg – 220 mg/day), Vitamin C (200 mg – 2 g/day) and particularly for those people with low serum vitamin D status, Vitamin D (10 μg – 100 μg/day).

These nutrients have been shown to enhance T cell and B cell (antibody) immunity in human studies including in the elderly.

There is no specific evidence these nutritional measures can help protect against, or even lessen the effects, of, COVID-19 infection.

Stating the obvious, but intelligent weight training and regular cardiovascular exercise will take you far here. However, there is a point of diminishing returns.

Just as too little movement has a negative effect, so too does too much. Taken to extremes (ultra endurance training) may compromise your immune system for days afterwards.

In the end, do not give into the temptation to eat junk, binge-watch TV, get into social media fights, go to bed late and skip out on exercise.

You must control what you can (your physical and mental diet and daily habits), you must cope with what you can’t control (take the right precautions to deal with the outbreak), and you must concentrate on what counts (your family, your future).

Go to bed on time. Get up on time. Walk. Continue to work (read, study, think).

In my client coaching groups, we’re doing a daily five-minute “body” workout (physical) and a daily five-minute “mind” workout (meditation, reaching out to a friend in need, gratitude) over the next 30 days.

Sticking to these daily habits will get you through these moments stronger, safer, and saner than anything else.

Just as your muscles need daily work to prevent atrophy, your mind needs the same. It defaults to negativity if you let it. Plant good things early.

Read or listen to positive information in the morning, move your body, do things that bring you joy.

Get out in nature with sunshine – socially distanced, of course – when possible. Twenty minutes a day of fresh air makes a significant difference.

Breathing work is the most overlooked wellness “secret” in the world.

You can control your body’s physiology and feeling simply through how you take in air through your nose and exhale from your lungs.

Slow things down for at least five minutes. Something like inhaling for four seconds through your nose, seven-second hold, eight-second exhale, rinse and repeat.

It’s a good idea to find little things to be grateful for, too. It’ll help your mental state. Every day list 5-10 things that make you thankful. A roof over your head. A healthy family.

You can choose to see the worst of this or find a silver lining and make the best of it.

You have a real chance here if you look at this with the proper mindset and framework.

While your friends will come out of this with the “Quarantine 15” (you can send them my way when we’re back to normal) you’ll be going the other, positive direction. A positive outcome amidst the chaos and disruption.

Some will do this. Some will not. Those who do will be rewarded.

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based weight loss coach. He’s a regular contributor to Men’s Health and Muscle & Fitness, among others. If you’re ready to work directly with him, he’s running a “Coronavirus Quarantine Challenge” coaching program for those stuck at home who want to reduce stress and stay fit (physically and mentally) without leaving the house. Email mitch@mitchcalvert.com with the word “Interested” in the subject line to get more information.

 

Celebrity Weight Loss Secrets (Not What You Think)

Since the Super Bowl half-time show aired, I’ve been getting questions about Shakira and J-Lo’s abs and buns.

Lots of these questions came with caveats like “I wish I could afford a live-in chef and personal trainer like they can”

Sure, they do have advantages you and I don’t, but there are lots of articles freely available on the internet that go into their daily routines and fitness regimens, and this is a short-list of the common threads posted by my colleague Derek Stanley:

  1. They both stay active daily and have been dancing for 30+ years.
  2. They both eat a lot of vegetables and lean protein.
  3. They both drink a lot of water — and they don’t drink alcohol (even socially).
  4. They both prioritize sleep despite demanding schedules and having kids.
  5. They both do a combination of cardio and strength training
  6. They both minimize sugar consumption.
  7. They both focus on their mental wellbeing.

So, sure, it’s not fair to compare yourself to them because being rich and having incredible genetics gives them a leg up.

But, at the end of the day, the biggest key to their success is the habits they’ve developed over the years.

In this article, I’m not going to give you J-Lo or Shakira’s workout routine to try to duplicate, because that’d be setting you up for failure.

Instead, we’re going to focus on the foundation of change. That’s where the battle is won and lost, and it has nothing to do with your diet or exercise plan.

Be Kinder To Yourself

First of all, I’m going to tell you something super important.

Move in closer.

Closer still.

OK, it’s just me and you now.

You need to stop being your own worst critic.

Easier said than done, I get that. I have a tendency to be very critical of myself. Far worse than any anonymous internet troll could be.

But, please stop stressing so much about the scale… the pace of change… the desperation to get “there” (wherever there is) and cut yourself some slack.

I’m reading a great book called Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. It’s not about ego or delusional self-belief, but rather understanding the process of change and growth in any area is only possible when you love yourself.

When you don’t love yourself, negative emotions lead to negative outcomes. Most of the time our reality is self-constructed.

We create one, long negative feedback loop on repeat in our head. Your job today is to develop new “loops.” Rewire your subconscious for good through positive belief, and the outcomes you want will become easier to achieve.

I know this is a bit “woo woo” and guru sounding, but hear me out. Imagine a thought loop as a pathway laid down by constant use. Visualize a downtrodden path through the field.

If you have a thought once, it has no power over you. The field looks unchanged, almost like no one walked through it.

But repeat these negative thoughts over and over again and the path becomes so downtrodden that it becomes your reality and controls you.

My old loop on repeat was “I’m an introvert and I can never talk on stage in front of people”

Squashed that.

Many years before that it was “I’m destined to be the fat guy forever”

Squashed that a long time ago, too.

But everything is a learnable skill, and you can change any aspect of your life with belief and effort. But it starts between the ears. For better or worse.

Any of the following are negative loops stuck on repeat.

“I know I’ll never be skinny”

“Ugh I hate working out, it’s so hard”

Instead try this:

“I’m on my way to being in better shape because I know I’m worth it”

“I used to hate working out but I found a way to enjoy the process and the benefits of doing it”

Always phrase things in a positive light.

When you look in the mirror each day, do you dissect your imperfections? If you do, even the slight day-to-day changes won’t register for you and you’ll miss the signs of progress.

The funny thing is, when you accept yourself now for where you’re at, the whole process of change becomes easier.

It’s less pushing to see a number on the scale and more naturally doing the things that lead to better health (and a leaner body as a by-product).

Because, let’s face it, the more we desire something, the further out of reach it becomes.

(Think of the needy ex texting you every few minutes…)

So embrace the process, cut yourself some slack and love yourself for who you are. You damn well deserve it.

The Domino Effect

OK, hopefully, you now understand the mental state you need to be in to create lasting change.

Now, you have to follow belief with action, and it starts with small changes.

One workout has zero effect. You intuitively know this. However, working out 150 times in the next year will.

Visualize a line of dominos, where each sequential domino gets progressively larger.

Get a small win today and knock over the first little domino. Maybe that’s a quick walk before work. Opting for a side salad instead of fries. Finding time for the gym.

These are all little dominos, but when you add it all up, they have a major impact on your health.

When you start your weight loss journey, the very first domino knocked over is tiny. When it drops, nothing is felt or heard. You see no change in the mirror.

However, its velocity is enough to knock over the next, slightly larger domino. As the dominos get bigger and fall, suddenly you start hearing and feeling their impact.

You notice your pants are fitting differently. You look and feel younger. That snooze button isn’t getting near the same workout every morning.

The process continues until the last domino tumbles over, a gigantic domino symbolizing your goal— and it started with a tiny, insignificant domino.

It’s the little things that cause the big things, so start by doing something today. And be kind to yourself in the process. It’s truly the magic formula to success. You’ve got this.

Mitch Calvert is a weight loss coach and regular contributor to Men’s Health and Muscle & Fitness, among others. If you’re ready to get direct mentorship from Mitch, his next intake of the Drop 2 Sizes pilot program opens Mar. 3.  Send him an email mitch@mitchcalvert.com with the word “Interested” in the subject line to get more information.

How to stop self sabotage by eliminating debt

Do you ever stay up late and curse yourself the next morning when your alarm clock goes off?

Is it often paired with a box of Oreo’s and tall glass of wine? It’s a far too common problem I see clients make.

But you seem unable to see the big picture in the moment, right?

Fittingly enough, watching the Netflix documentary Jerry Before Seinfeld past my bedtime, he addressed this failure of adulthood.

(Paraphrasing Jerry’s words)

“I’m Night Guy. I stay up as late as I want.

“Just one more episode, another sleeve of Oreos”

‘What about getting up after five hours sleep?’ Oh, that’s Morning Guy’s problem. That’s not my problem.

…Then you get up in the morning, the alarm rings, you’re exhausted, groggy… Oh, I hate that Night Guy!

See, Night Guy always screws Morning Guy. There’s nothing Morning Guy can do.”

Research shows that when we think about ourselves in the future, it’s like we’re thinking about another person.

So Night Guy goes out drinking with his friends and Morning Guy gets stuck with the hangover.

There’s Hungry Guy who leaves Heavy Guy with a beer gut, Young Guy who doesn’t save enough money for Old Guy to retire and so on.

What can you do? How do you become more investment-minded, able to put off immediate gratification for your own best interests?

That’s what this article aims to help you with, so let’s get right to it.

Responsibility Debt

I first heard the concept of responsibility debt from Aadam Ali and it immediately resonated not just with me but for a lot of the people I work with.

Basically, it’s when your past/present self deflects responsibility to your future self.

But your future self already has pre-existing responsibilities and now you’ve just thrown a ton more onto him or her.

For example: Let’s say you decide that you’re not going to the gym today because it’s been a tough day mentally. You promise yourself you’ll go tomorrow and pass on responsibility to the future you.

But then tomorrow rolls around and your boss says you need to work late, so the gym session gets passed on again. You see where this is going, right?

It’s hard to be empathetic to something like your future self.

It’s similar to trying to motivate yourself to lose weight to prevent heart disease or diabetes.

Basing your efforts on what-ifs and hypotheticals don’t tend to drive us like hard, more immediate reasons do (like losing pounds to fit that new dress just right or trimming the belly so it stops over-hanging our favourite jeans etc.)

So, how do you become more self-aware and empathetic to your future self?

Because that’s the thing about weight loss.

The longer you wait to make a change, the more difficult you’re making the process on your future self when you do pull the trigger.

How To Empathize With Your Future Self

Researchers suggest you can change your thinking on this by introducing yourself to your future self.

One clever way they have done this is to show people pictures of themselves that have been digitally aged (you know the Russian-based app that took the world by storm a few months ago?)

To take this further – use pictures of yourself with a few extra pounds added digitally. (I’m sure there’s an app for that).

When you see older/heavier versions of yourself you’re more likely to see your current and future selves as the same person.

As the researchers said, “these types of interventions help people realize that their future selves are ultimately dependent on the choices that they make today.”

If that doesn’t work, you can imagine your future self as a close friend. Would it be fair to put all your responsibilities on this person?

“Oh, right, I have a dinner appointment tomorrow which means I’ll have an even harder time getting in a workout. I should go today.”

Start confronting the ramifications of your choices in real-time, and become more self-aware – and leaner – as a result.

Make Health A Priority

Every Sunday I put my personal workouts into my Google Calendar along with all my other non-negotiables. If you don’t schedule the important things into your week, you won’t do them. When I don’t do this, I’m reactive to the day and workout adherence drops.

So, identify the area of greatest need and start scheduling it in with equal importance to your work meetings.

If it’s food prep, block off a half-hour on Sundays to prepare some lunches and map out your dinners for the week.

If it’s general inactivity, block off a few short windows of time to go for a walk.

If it’s limited sleep, set a ‘reverse alarm’ to go off every night at 10 that reminds you to put the phone away and turn off the TV.

Eat The Frog

As Mark Twain once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

The frog is that one thing you have on your to-do list that you have absolutely no motivation to do and that you’re most likely to procrastinate on. Eating the frog means to just do it, otherwise the frog will eat you meaning that you’ll end up procrastinating it the whole day.

Once that one task is done, the rest of the day will be an easier ride and you will get both momentum and a sense of accomplishment at the beginning of your day.

Think Less, Act More

Whenever you begin to talk yourself out of doing something, that’s the time to do it.

“Folding this laundry can wait.” Do it now. “I’ll exercise after I finish watching this documentary.” Do it now. “I’ll write this article tomorrow.” Do it now.

Take action despite that inner voice in your head telling you not to bother.

As Mark Manson writes, most have this backwards. Action isn’t the effect of motivation, but the cause of it. Take a little step forward, gain momentum and inspiration, and be motivated to do more.

If you’re waiting for the right time or motivation to spark on its own, you’ll be sitting around a lot.

Are you talking yourself out of exercising every morning?

Do this. Lay out your gym clothes the night before and make sure they’re staring at you when you wake up tomorrow.

Step 1 – Instead of your work clothes, put on the gym clothes.

Step 2 – Get in 15 minutes of exercise. If that snowballs into more, cool, but it doesn’t have to.

In the end, every our choices today shape your future – good or bad.

Every choice you make is either moving you closer or further from the healthy, fit version of your future self.

Start confronting the ramifications of your choices in real time, and become more self-aware – and leaner – as a result.

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 pilot program coaching intake, visit workwithmitch.ca 

 

Mitch’s Super Duper Dining Out Guide

Let me know if this sounds familiar.

After a good week of eating and exercising, Friday rolls around. You get invited to happy hour, which leads to a big dinner out and more drinks.

Then you wake up Saturday feeling rough and use comfort food to recover, only to do it all again that night. Rinse and repeat.

“Oh well, I’ll just start again on Monday”

I mean, it’s not your fault, you tried. Maybe it’s just not meant to be when everything is against you, right?

This weekend is Super Bowl, so you’ll be presented with even more challenges.

So, let me ask you this: Do you actually want to be like everyone else?

Because everyone else is carrying around a few too many pounds with rock bottom energy and bloodwork that makes their doctor prescribe more and more pills with each visit.

Or do you want something better?

Because, deep down, I’m sure you want a fit, athletic body, more energy, unlimited confidence and the motivation to crush everything life throws your way.

But when we fall into this weekend cycle of self-sabotage, it just adds time and effort to the process and we start to lose momentum and belief.

I’m a big fan of creating a bigger calorie deficit Monday-Friday and “breaking even” on the weekend.

That’s not a bad strategy.

But I challenge you to weigh-in Friday and again on Monday or Tuesday.

If the number is consistently up on the second weigh-in (yes, we account for water weight by waiting for Tuesday), you’re only really giving yourself three days to lose fat each week.

My client Sean knew weekends were sabotaging his efforts.

So now he messages me a pic of his scale weight on Friday and again on Tuesday. If the number is even or up, there are consequences.

So, with that little rant out of the way, this article is about finding that middle ground. Having your fun without the fat so to speak.

First, The Grim Statistics

The average number of calories in one meal at non-chain restaurants is 1,200, according to research conducted in the U.S. and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Three of the most popular cuisines (American, Italian, and Chinese) had the highest calorie averages (1,495 calories/meal).

That number doesn’t include appetizers, drinks or desserts. The three poisons that really push calories up.

When you include those, you could easily be consuming 2,000 calories in one sitting.

So, if you’re a person who requires 2,000 calories to lose weight, the average meal out could contain the majority of your day’s calorie budget.

But, I bring good news in today’s article.

You can go out to eat, enjoy yourself, and still lose weight. It just takes a bit of planning.

Most make the mistake of going out to eat and then trying to make a healthy food decision while staring at a menu full of mouth-watering photos of burgers and deep-fried delights.

With the Work-Backward Method first introduced by Carter Good, you fix this issue once and for all with a couple simple steps.

Step 1: Pick Your Meal Ahead of Time

To the best of your ability, go in with a plan.

Every restaurant posts their menu online. Many include the nutritional information.

Your job is to google the restaurant and find an option that fits your fancy and your diet.

If it doesn’t include the calorie count, look up a similar meal from a chain restaurant and assume you’ll be in the ballpark.
⠀⠀
Step 2: Make Your Other Meals Fit

The “work-backward” part comes in now.

If you’ve chosen something a bit hefty in calories off the menu, you’ll just need to create a bigger buffer the rest of the day by eating light before. Think lean protein and vegetables.

I’d advise against going to the restaurant starving. Even a big glass of water and a protein shake an hour before can help.

10 Bonus Dining Out Swaps

Here are 10 swaps you can make to reduce your calorie consumption further.

Pick your poison. Choose one of the 3 poisons mentioned earlier, drinks, dessert or appetizers (that dreaded bread bowl). You either get two drinks, a serving of dessert (better if you share with a loved one), or a couple slices of bread, but you can’t have all three. Pick your one poison and enjoy it.

Always order sauce/dressing on the side. These add a lot of calories and are typically used in excess. You can better control intake by asking for them on the side. Dip your fork in with each bite rather than free pouring.

Always opt for the side salad. You often have the choice of fries or salad. Choose wisely.

Request low-fat cooking methods. You can get your meat grilled or broiled (ask without oil) rather than deep-fried, battered or breaded.

Ask for a double order of mixed vegetables instead of a full serving of pasta or rice.

You can ask for side protein. You can pay a bit extra and get a side of grilled protein (chicken, salmon, etc.) with just salt and pepper to fill you up.

For breakfast, instead of hashbrowns, ask for sliced tomatoes or a side of fruit.

Ask for a lettuce wrap instead of bread or a bun.

Go Halfers. Split an appetizer and entrée with your dinner partner. Save calories and cash.

Eat slowly. Enjoy your company and conversation. Slow eaters are generally leaner than their fast-eating counterparts.

BONUS: Super Bowl Game Plan

1) Get your day off to the healthiest start possible with a quick protein-rich smoothie.

2) Next, hit the gas on your fat burning metabolism with this quick workout…

Superbowl Survival 10-Minute Pre-Game Workout
– Go through as many rounds of each exercise for 30 seconds each

  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Thrusters (or squats if you don’t have dumbbells)
  3. Plank
  4. Wall Sit

3) Your meals in the early part of the day should be both high protein and high-fiber.

According to research, when you consume protein and fiber at breakfast, you end up being LESS hungry for the rest of the day. That means you’ll eat less at lunch and you’ll have fewer cravings at dinner, making it so much easier to pass on another plate of wings or pizza.

Later on, have a late lunch. And make sure this is high protein and high fiber, too. You’re better off not going to the party ravenous.

4) Have a plan going in

And now it’s time to start getting your “game face” on. Time for you to treat it like the players and have a game plan.

Pick your poison (1 treat to enjoy), decide on what you’re willing to indulge with and what you aren’t and you’ll have no problems limiting your SuperBowl supper and snacking to under 1,500 calories.

If you do that, you’ll keep your SuperBowl Sunday calorie intake at 2,500. Yes, you may be up a bit in weight on Monday, but it’s short-lived.

Final tip: Don’t drink alcohol after half time. That will interfere with your sleep. And if you get a good sleep then you can expect to get right back to your diet the next day.

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.