It’s All Bullshit

If you’re new to the fitness industry, you’re fucked. Plain and simple. There are thousands of fat cats in the tall grass waiting to gnaw on your cute, little mouse ears. Tread with caution or get eaten alive by fitness industry scams.

You must be thinking “Are you on pain meds and delirious, Mitch? What’s this cat and mouse analogy you speak of?” Sorry, it’s the best I can do, and I’m drug-free at the moment. Maybe I’d come up with something better if I was looped right now, but I know for sure I’d resort to stiff drugs if I had to endure what you’re about to if starting a healthy lifestyle is on your list of resolutions. Yes, the clock struck midnight on January 1 and you vowed to get your butt in shape.

A noble cause to be sure, but sadly you’re in for a world of hurt. You logically start your search on Google and instantly get mind fucked. One site tells you to eat carbs. Another says to avoid them entirely and just eat fats. Eat gluten. Don’t eat gluten. Only buy organic vegetables harvested in the far northern plains of the Shire. Buy soy. Oh, wait, no, avoid soy, it’ll give you man boobs.

GMO corn wrapped in bacon infused with extra nitrites.
GMO corn wrapped in bacon infused with extra nitrites.

“Is that only 85% cocao dark chocolate? Dude, that’s not going to improve your heart health. Eat this rock-hard square of 99% cocao, it tastes like cardboard, and you’ll have to sit it on your tongue for a half hour to absorb the bitterness, but it sure works! My heart has never been stronger” – Signed, Crossfit-Paleo-Caveman Warrior.

You end up leaving the Google search exercise more confused than ever. And it’s not your fault. There is so much information available at your fingertips, that trimming the fat and separating the useful from the useless is an impossible task.

The fitness industry loves extremes – going to the extremes sells shit really well. But try being honest, telling people it’ll be at least 16 weeks of dedicated eating and training before they’ll see any drastic changes, and they’ll head somewhere else.

This is a lifestyle you need to buy into long-term to see results. If you don’t make a habit of it, the weight loss will revert to weight gain as soon as your motivation falls off.

Secret revealed: Most contestants on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” gain back a lot of the weight they lose on the show within a year or so, a fact that one of the show’s former trainers, Jillian Michaels, admitted to The Nashville Tennessean news agency.

Working out for five or six hours a day – day after day – leads to drastic weight loss, and that makes for good TV, but it’s clearly not sustainable. Just like dropping your calories to less than 1,000 a day will do the same, but nor is it sustainable.

“Fat is good and carbs are bad? Cool, let me guzzle mayo by the gallon and lather my bacon with pounds of butter every morning. I’ll then wash it down with a coffee blended with 6 cups of butter and 14 tablespoons of MCT (coconut) oil. I’m in a fat burning zone!” – Signed, “Bulletproof” Coffee Guru

No, sorry, bud. Your calories are ridiculously high (fat has 9 calories per gram!) in relation to your daily expenditure, and eating fat to those extremes is neither good for you, or part of a healthy, balanced diet.

And that’s really the point here. Moderation is not such a bad thing. Permanently banning foods from your diet is going to make you crave them even more. Do you know why your little one loves candy so much? Because you make it desirable for them by limiting it. The law of scarcity in full view.

You shouldn’t bar yourself from the odd treat (hell, eat a fucking pizza dipped in ice cream one night if it suits your fancy) unless you’ve got a legitimate allergy or are the type who can finish an entire jar of peanut butter in one sitting (Mitch, you’ve got a problem).

If that’s the case, don’t keep the temptations in the house. Fuck, Costco-sized Boom Chicka Pop, by the way. Your deceptively low calorie count justifies binging. My wife and I can’t control ourselves around you, so you will not enter our premises ever again unless I’m on my death bed and it’s one of those “last meal” enjoyments. Boom Chicka Pow in the toilet after consuming the entire bag (fiber in moderation, folks).

What’s this rambling trying to tell you?

If you’ve been completely sedentary up to this point, simplify your approach before adopting the diet and training methods the industry experts preach about. Those advanced training and diets are for guys and gals who’ve been in the game for 5-10 years-plus and need to strategize more to see results.

If you’re completely new to the game, read the next few paragraphs and then revisit these programs six months to a year down the line.

In the beginning, just focus on the basics. Eat less sugar and processed foods, add in more lean protein and vegetables instead.

Eat on a schedule that’s convenient for you. If you try to completely revamp your lifestyle on Day 1, the likelihood of sticking to it diminishes greatly. Habits take time to develop, and if it’s too much change too soon you won’t get where you need to go.

After the eating is a little more polished, try to get in the gym on a consistent schedule and stick to a program. Any fucking program. Write it down and follow it for a while to gauge results, but anything will work initially. At this stage of the game, the minute details matter little – it’s more about getting in the gym and working as hard as you can for your level of development.

Then manage your stress (hint: avoid gawking at the ripped chicks on your Instagram feed every night – self confidence diminishes on a bell curve in relation to time spent there), sleep as much as you need to feel rested the next day and make smart dietary choices most of the time.

Don’t ignore a food group because some food-deprived, fake-tittied fitness model tells you it’s the only way to get to where she’s got. It’s not. You don’t need permission to indulge once in a while, but the important point is don’t let it cascade into a week and/or months’ worth of poor decisions. Everyone has their breaking point, and that’s OK.

Focus on eating mostly healthy foods, with some indulgences sprinkled in there. But when you get over the hump and adhering to this lifestyle becomes easy (and it will), please don’t forget where you came from and become one of those snobby, vegan-organic-pesticide-hormone-GMO-free types.

Making smart food choices matter – there’s no denying that – I opt for grass-fed and organic as much as possible, but don’t get on your soap box and force it down others’ throats. Let them see the light on their own.

Happy fitnessin’ in 2015, peeps.

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Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.