Monday, February 29, 2016

Ten Mistakes Women Make with Diets


Don’t be misled by the title of this article. Much of the information applies to both men and women.
I’m sharing an article written by Dani Shugart.  Dani is a published author on fitness for women, a figure athlete and Editor for T-Nation.
She’s not just an excellent author. She lives what she preaches. So women and men should pay attention!



Here's what you need to know...

  1. TV weight loss plans and "pretend" health foods keep women in the dark about sustainable healthy eating habits. It's time they take control of their own diets.
  2. Women need to train and eat to support muscle growth. Muscle and metabolism are intimately connected.
  3. Going to extremes with carbs or dietary fat means avoiding one like the plague while over-consuming the other. Athletic women need the right kinds of both.
  4. Women often attach their identity to food choices. They need to gain perspective on food in order to gain control of their eating habits.

1.  Adopting a Diet Program Advertised on TV

Marie Osmond
"Lose five pounds your first week!" To any female aching to see the scale go down, these TV gimmicks sound tempting.
You can even have pizza, pancakes, and cake! Just eat your prepackaged meals or point allotment of foods and the pounds melt right off. No critical thinking required. Too bad these plans have about a 97% failure rate over the long term.
Why the dismal results? Well, the low calorie approach these diets must take in order to guarantee fast results makes women rebound in weight once the diet is over.
Sustaining a very low calorie diet is a surefire way to lose muscle mass, slow their metabolism, and experience caloric compensation once their appetites catch up and they've run out of microwavable pasta bowls.
And since these diets are aimed mostly at women who don't weight train, they not only gain the fat back, they gain a few bonus pounds too thanks to the loss of that metabolically active weight we call "muscle."
Sure, any female who's allotted a point system or given a micromanaged selection of TV dinners will succeed, but only as long as she's paying up and being spoon-fed. Once she starts thinking for herself in the kitchen, those same vices she wrestled with before become problematic again.
The celebrity spokespersons for these programs – who never seem to stay thin despite being paid to diet – are evidence of this.
These TV plans wouldn't continue to profit if women learned how to address the behaviors that made them gain weight in the first place. They certainly wouldn't continue to profit if their clients became autonomous healthy eaters, built a bit more muscle, and stoked their metabolic furnace.
That would mean losing them as repeat customers.
Programs with point systems or premeasured foods keep women in the dark about permanent change, and by setting them up for weight fluctuations and long term failure, they increase the odds that former customers will come right back whenever they want a quick fix in weight loss.
Finally, most of these plans are nutritionally antiquated, still warning against those "evil" saturated fats while including some very questionable ingredients like corn syrup in their "approved" foods or frozen meals.


Women will have greater long-term success if they invest some time making sure their own nutritious meals are ready to go and easy to assemble.
They'll need to accept some responsibility, put in some footwork, educate themselves about nutrition, and stop being dependent on diet plans that D-list celebrities can't even stick to.

2.  Ignoring the Obvious

Dr Oz
Females will often look for an obscure missing component in their diet rather than zeroing in on the glaring behaviors causing the real problem.
Many would rather find out what Dr. Oz's secret fat loss formula is than put a stop to obvious bad food choices. Nah, can't be margarita night, sodas, or ice cream! Must be a deficiency in Amazonian koo-koo berry juice!
It's easier for some women to rationalize what they're eating because they'd rather believe there's some way around it that'll help them reach their goals.
Boozy weekends that make them uninhibited around unhealthy food; constant grazing on sweets between meals; liquid-dessert coffee drinks; and even too many semi-healthy snacks made of dried fruit and nut butter – these are all examples of blunders women overlook while searching for the secret to instant weight loss.
Most of the time women do have an idea of what their vices are, but without someone saying "stop eating that" they'll keep the junk in their diets and scale back on the portion sizes. For some reason, petite-sized servings of crappy food make women think they'll achieve a petite-sized body.


Women need to take an honest look at their eating. A food journal can help them become more introspective.
They need to become more aware of what they're eating, when, why, and how certain foods really make them feel. They'll need to find out if they're snacking, almost unconsciously, throughout the day, or eating their kids' leftovers.
A food journal or log can help them find out what seemingly innocent snacks are actually trigger-foods that lead to overeating an hour later. It may even show them that healthy foods satiate better in the long run than junk. No koo-koo berry juice required.

3.  Eating Fake Health Food

When health conscious women hear that they need more protein or fiber, many will go to the store and load up on fortified packaged foods. More often than not, these fake health foods are appetite-inducing sugar bombs.
What many women don't realize is that sugar is listed under a ton of different names and they all do about the same thing in the body, even earthy sounding ones like coconut crystals and organic agave nectar syrup. Likewise, fat free, sugar free, high fiber, organic, and gluten-free foods can still make you fat.
And because these products appear healthy, they're easier to rationalize eating in excess. I've worked with clients who've found it difficult to have just one bowl of Kashi Go Lean cereal or just one Fiber One bar. Why? Because these things generally make people crave more instead of satisfying their appetite.
They're insubstantial, and they don't serve a purpose other than giving the consumer the impression that they're being good dieters by trading Snickers for soy-filled treats.
Ensure, Boost, Slim Fast, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Special-K protein shakes and protein cereal, Kashi cereals and cookies, Kind Bars, Fiber One "protein" bars: These are the most insidious forms of junk food because they masquerade as nutritious.


Women looking for protein at the grocery store need to stick with meat and eggs, and then get their fiber from Mother Nature. Then if they want to supplement with protein or workout nutrition, they'd be wise to get it from a place that doesn't also sell motor oil and toothpaste.

4.  Obsessing Over Fat Loss and Not Eating for Hypertrophy

Some women always seem to be "on a diet." Which is strange because these same women always seem to be a little overweight. If she's been on six diets in two years, shouldn't she be lean by now?
Here's the problem: Most women who continually make fat loss a priority don't realize that they'd become more efficient at burning fat if they simply had more muscle.
Eating to weigh less will make women smaller, which will require them to eat less in order to stay smaller. Muscle is lost, metabolism is sluggish, calories have to be lowered again and again, and the downward spiral eventually spirals out of control.
Soon, these women proclaim that "dieting doesn't work!"
Unless they're dangerously overweight, most women would do better by trading the smallness and fat-loss game for muscle growth and permanent leanness. Continually chasing fat loss in unproductive ways will eat away at their muscle more than women know.
If they made hypertrophy a greater priority than fat loss, the weight loss would eventually happen – slowly at first, but steadily, healthfully, and permanently.
Sure, most fat loss strategies work at first. But then the body adapts, plateaus, and regresses as muscle is catabolized. This is bad news, especially in the midst of lots of strenuous exercise, because a loss of muscle just leads to a skinny-fat body and a handicapped metabolism.
So the best way for women to not adapt to fat loss strategies is to make their bodies more efficient at burning fat – then if they must use a diet, it will only take a small and temporary tweak to get back on track. Women who are perpetually playing the fat loss game are either doing it wrong or they're emaciated.


How can women get to a place where they don't need to diet? By building more muscle and eating as though they want more muscle on their bodies. This doesn't mean eating crap; this means fueling up for workouts in order to work harder, pump nutrients into muscle cells, and feel muscles working.
Then when they get to the gym, they'll need to actually try to build muscle. How? By lifting weights that are heavy enough to challenge them and by seeking the muscle ache and tightness that indicate work is being done.
It's a lot different than just going through the motions with pink dumbbells or running on the fumes of their 100 calorie breakfast. It requires focus and an actual desire to build.
It's true that it's tougher to gain muscle and lose body fat at the same time, but what women can do is build muscle so that their bodies eventually become better at burning fat even when they're not necessarily trying to.

5.  Having Emotional Hang-Ups and Judgment

Women attach more meaning to food than men. When most males overindulge they'll say "whoops" and move on.
But when a female overindulges, her identity and self-worth go in the toilet until she's able to punish herself and deeply regret what she did. Then her out-of-whack instincts will tell her to compensate for those dietary missteps with further dietary restriction or excess cardio, leading to overindulgence again.
Females often find themselves in a constant ebb and flow of overeating and hyper-restriction. If they just moved on in the first place and stopped the self-judgment they'd be able to find stability.
Their self-image hinges too much on their diet and they often don't even realize it. During times when they're eating less, they're happier with themselves and more confident. When they're eating more they generally don't feel good about themselves.
And there's usually a reason why they're overeating: Food is their go-to tool for taking the edge off stress, anxiety, sadness, frustration, or any other emotion.


If women stopped attaching their self-worth to their eating habits and dealt with emotions in productive ways other than "comfort food," they'd be more inclined to eat appropriately.
A long walk will clear the head better than a row of cookies. A good bonk in the sack is more stress relieving than a pint of ice cream. And going back to number 4, overindulgence wouldn't be such a big deal if they sought hypertrophy instead of fat loss.
Hypertrophy is about growth, not restriction, and that change in thinking frees women from the constant cycle of trying to eat like a supermodel and falling off the wagon.

6.  Overeating at Night

Females who eat like birds all morning, especially those who may have worked out fasted, often cap off their nights with a couple thousand extra calories because they're making up for what they didn't get earlier in the day.
Their bodies are screaming for nutrition. And those hours of lacking nutrition can lead to elevated cortisol for lengthy periods of time. This combo of high cortisol, exhaustion from an insufficiently fueled day, and any other incidental emotions become a ticking time bomb for a pig-out.
No person, male or female, wants to think about food prep when they're famished. And even fewer will want to commit to a specific allotment of macros or calories when their stomach feels like it's eating itself.


If women ate substantially during earlier meals and fueled up appropriately for workouts they wouldn't struggle so much with nighttime cravings and second helpings of dinner or dessert.

7.  Not Eating Enough Protein

Most females, even the health-conscious types, have no idea they're not getting enough protein.
Sure, they've probably heard that a gram per pound of body weight is a decent rule of thumb for lifters, but unless they've intentionally tracked their macros, they won't realize what that number looks like on their plate. And unless they're supplementing with protein, that intake is going to seem like a whole lot of meat.
If fat loss is their goal, then even more protein than the standard gram per pound of body weight would be beneficial. Why? Because protein satiates, preserves muscle, helps build muscle, and during digestion it's more calorically expensive than carbs or fat.
Protein has a higher thermic effect than the other two macronutrients. But women would rather pick at kid-sized portions of meat so that they can save room for cookies and chocolate-covered crap later on. (This is called dietary displacement.)
They don't realize that extra protein doesn't just stave off hunger, it also prevents muscle atrophy. Ladies who are trying to lose fat by eating fewer total calories and doing extra workouts are at an even greater risk of catabolizing muscle, which is the one thing that'll make their bodies more efficient at burning fat.


Women need to calculate their protein needs and track their intake for a while to make sure they're getting enough. If they're struggling with body fat, a higher protein approach might have a major impact on their appetites and waistlines.

8.  Going to Extremes with Dietary Fat

In recent years, most health conscious women have been getting over their fear of dietary fat. We've become avocado lovers, grass-fed beef and butter eaters, coconut oil connoisseurs, and heavy-cream-with-coffee drinkers. But in an effort to show disdain for fat-phobia many have let the pendulum swing too far.
No doubt, the saying "fat makes you fat" is outdated. We know there's more to gaining weight than that. But a lot of women are learning that nuts and full-fat cheeses actually do add up, and those who think their thighs are immune just because they're not spiking their insulin with "processed carbs" are misguided.
There is a point at which too much dietary fat will make a person look like they're eating too much dietary fat.
On the other end of the spectrum are the health conscious women who still have an aversion of fat. Even though the 90's taught us that you can stay fat on a fat-free diet, some women still fear butter and egg yolks (but it's saturated!).
Many don't realize that without fat and dietary cholesterol, the body will struggle to make the hormones necessary for a naturally fired up metabolism and sex life.
A traditional bodybuilding diet that appears clean and pristine with plenty of vegetables, lean protein, and oats can still be inadequate without some cholesterol-containing animal fat. And our hormones thrive when we get enough of it.
These hormones can increase the amount of muscle women are able to build, the energy they're able to expend, and the amount of playtime women want to have in the bedroom.


Women need a variety of fats, including some saturated fat, and would benefit from prioritizing omega-3 fatty acids, which are the most beneficial for decreasing inflammation and promoting fat loss.
Females also need to realize that cravings for copious amounts of fat are a red flag that they're getting inadequate amounts of one of the other macronutrients, like carbs.

9.  Going to Extremes with Carbs

Kettlebell Swing
There's no doubt that our sedentary population would benefit from dropping the dinner rolls, cereals, and aforementioned obvious junk, but countless low carb eaters who had success at first end up hitting major plateaus.
The problem with low carb plans is that many weight-training females eventually get fatter while sticking to them.
Athletic ladies who eschew starches tend to have an insatiable appetite for fat. Because their need for carbs isn't being met, they seek satiation from (excessive) fat-filled, calorie-dense foods. These high fat foods, healthy as they may be, aren't as effective as carbs at doing all the things their weight-trained bodies require.
Athletic women often don't realize the capacity a muscular body has available to store glycogen. Many carb-depleted athletic females walk around with flat muscles and assume that they're "carb intolerant" because when they eat carbs the scale goes up.
But the reality is that when weight-trained women eat carbs they're just restoring glycogen to their flattened out muscles, and in turn they're making those muscles fuller and more effective at doing work.
The more muscle a body has, the greater its capacity for storing carbs as glycogen. And when women deplete their muscle glycogen, they're not actually burning fat, even though their bodies will appear smaller. They're just draining their muscles of usable energy and water.
Muscular women can make the scale spike or plummet in a matter of days with carb manipulation. This doesn't mean they're gaining or losing fat.


Athletic females who want a lean and powerful body should make room in their diets for carbs, especially around their workouts. It'll make them more effective in the gym and better at building muscle. Sedentary women with little muscle would do well to rein carbs in.

10.  Eating Sweets to be Sweet

A lot of women get stuck eating stuff they don't really want because they haven't mastered the art of saying "no thanks." Females are often more sensitive to the feelings of others, so in an effort to be polite they'll eat food they don't want, even if doing so doesn't help them get any closer to their goals.


This one's not so easy. The solution depends on the situation.
If it's not a special treat that someone slaved over, then she'd benefit from being assertive. A female trying to change her eating patterns will need to get friends used to hearing her say, "I'll pass."
But if the food that's being offered is a treat someone special put a lot of effort into, she's got a few options.
She can say "thank you" and delight her loved one by indulging; she can say "thank you" and set it aside until she figures out what to do with it; or she can say "thank you" and lie about having a piece later on.
But if my own grandma were to make me something, I'd eat and enjoy the crap out of it. Weigh the options and take whatever action will hurt feelings and physique the least.

Related:  The Simple Diet For Athletes

Related:  Redefining the Female Bodybuilder

Related:  How Many Carbs Do You Need?


Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's Not the Years. It's the Miles: Training After 50

This article was sent to me by a reader and long time friend. It's worth sharing and reading whether you are over 50 or not. It's written by Dan John who has been coaching for over 30 years.

It's Not the Years. It's the Miles: Training After 50

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Average Girls Tone"

For the Guys on a Diet....


Guys, stop dieting like your mother.
Are you a middle-class housewife with 2.3 kids in your 30s or 40s who thinks working out means going for a walk around the block with your gal pals? No? Then why are you dieting like a yogurt commercial mommy?

"Hey, I lost 10 pounds!" Yeah, you lost 5 pounds of fat, 3 pounds of muscle, and 2 pounds of water. Congrats, you're smaller, weaker, you're producing less testosterone, and your metabolism sucks a little more now. You've just gender-reassigned yourself without having to inject estrogen or chop off any of your tender bits. Good job on the weight loss. Now go watch The View.

This is an excert from an article by Chris Shugert entitled "Tip: Guys, Stop Using Mommy Diets" Read the entire article HERE

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

No Matter How Hard You Try....

Having a Bad Day in the Gym? What's Your Plan?


I had a message from a regular reader last week that just said Had one of those neither the flesh or spirit willing workouts. Cut it off when form broke down and everything became a cheat.

We all have those days. It will vary by individual but an average percentage would probably be about 20-25% really good workouts, 50-60% Ok but not great and 20-25% where you don’t feel like you accomplished anything at all.

Sometimes you are just not in the mood. But your mood-your mental state- is one of the most important factors in your workout and your progress. Don’t ignore it. Beginners need motivation. If you’re not a beginner….

Sometimes the problem is physical. Maybe you over did it last time. Maybe you’ve started a new program and it’s kicking your butt. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep or maybe you had one beer too many. Maybe you’re coming down with a cold. Or maybe you’re stressed about something.

The conversation started me thinking about the fact that, since everyone has those bad days, what do top coaches suggest?  So I did some checking. (Charlie Francis, Al Vermeil, and Charles Poliquin, and John Paul Catanzaro)

The short answer is Maintain Quality. Reduce Quantity.

In other words, don’t cut the weight. Cut the sets if you have to. This is especially true if you are training for strength.

If your form breaks down to the point you are cheating in every rep go home (you are just asking for an injury). If you are sick go home (nobody wants your germs).

  What do you do on those days when you're not running on all cylinders? Comment below or email me at

Monday, February 22, 2016

Birthday Suits

Yet Another Scam!


An old friend contacted me yesterday about a product she had seen pushing a fiber supplement for weight loss. I did a little research and gave her the answer below.

I thought the answer might give others some clues on what to look for before you look seriously at buying any of these "miracle products".

  • If the advertising uses the words "Miracle Product" beware.
  • If it says "As seen on Dr. Oz" beware. It's no secret that I don't trust any product endorsed by Dr. Oz. But, in his defense, many scams claim to be endorsed by him when, in fact, they are not.
  • The product label says "Proprietary Blend". If they won't tell you what's in it don't buy it!
  • The photos in their ad claiming to show results of actual users turn out to be stock photos (the case in this instance) or photo -shopped.
  • The ad says the product was named "The Best Weight Loss Product of the Year" (or some other accolade) without plainly giving the source of the award or accolade. 
  • There haven't actually been any clinical trials testing the product. (We are talking about your health and safety here) If they say there have been clinical trials you want to know the results and who performed the trials.If you are not sure what to look for in any studies or trials send them or a link to me at and I'll give you the pros and cons of the trials.
  • The main ingredients have not been tested for safety and long term use.
  • The product is only sold through distributors. In other words, a pyramid structure. There are some reputable companies using multilevel marketing. But with a company you know nothing about, it's a clue.
  • Does the price make sense? In this case a 30 day supply of the "fiber product" is over $60. If you need fiber (and it can help with weight loss) get Metamucil for $7.50.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

And a Diet Coke Please...

Up For a Challenge?


So, you think you’re tough physically and mentally. Prove it.

Jim Wendler came up with this challenge. Jim played football at the University of Arizona, was strength and conditioning coach at the University of Kentucky. He has a 1000 pound squat and a 2375 pound total. He’s now part of Elite Fitness Systems.

There’s no long term plan in this challenge to increase your dead lift by fifty pounds or add 3 inches to your biceps. Though the challenge is excellent for hypertrophy and for increasing muscle stamina, the main purpose is to test you mentally.

Sooner or later you’re going to have to reach the understanding that to get stronger or bigger or fitter you are going to have to face some discomfort. To accomplish anything at all in your workout you have to push yourself to get those two extra reps that count. Every set you do has to be very near, at, or even past muscle failure. If you can’t do that you are not going to reach your goal. If you are going to succeed you are going to have to learn to live with some discomfort.

The quicker you learn to handle the discomfort the quicker you’ll see gains. To learn to handle the discomfort you have to practice it. Do you think Navy Seals train in freezing water just for the entertainment of the drill sergeant? They train in harsh conditions because that’s where they usually have to perform their duties. Bad conditions are where they work.

Remember two-a-day practices in high school athletics or college athletics? Remember running the bleachers or hills for hours? As far as I know there isn’t a sport where the winner is determined by how many times they can run up and down the bleachers. But that exercise made you physically and mentally stronger. Mainly, you learned that you were physically and mentally equipped to do what needed to be done to be competitive at your sport.

That’s what challenges are about. Learning to do what you need to do to reach your goal- And to do it safely.

The exercises you’ll do in this challenge are simple. The weights you’ll use are light. But you will be tested both physically and mentally. You will be sore and you will learn what it means to be uncomfortable. And you’ll find a way to handle both.

Jim’s challenge programming is a bit more complicated than what I’ve outlined here. But for the average gym rat I think starting with something simpler is the way to go in the beginning.


You can use any exercise you choose but extremely high reps with the big compound movements are not a safe choice. If you choose to substitute something other than those I suggest below I’d choose exercises that focus on any lagging body parts.

·        Pick at least 4 different exercises. Two upper body and two lower body.
·        Do one upper body and one lower body exercise per day on non-consecutive days (Tuesday and Thursday for example)
·        Do the challenge exercises after your regular routine
·        Do 100 reps of each exercise.
·        Shoot for 50 reps on your first set, 25 reps on each of the second and third sets.
·        Try to increase the number of reps on the first set by at least 10 on each of the subsequent weeks for six weeks. At the end of six weeks your goal should be to do all 100 reps in one set. 

As I mentioned earlier, the exercises I’ve chosen are based on working muscles that are lagging and/or hard to train for most people. With single joint movements and light weights the only risk is from overuse. So don’t continue the same exercises for more than six weeks. Change them up.

Upper Back and Shoulders-Front Plate Raise  Begin with 10 -25 pounds. See Video Here

Calves-Standing or seated calf raise. Begin with 25 to 35 pounds

Hamstrings-Lying leg curl-Begin with 35-50 pounds

Traps and shoulders-Karwoski Row. I can’t find a video for this move so I’ll try to describe it. It’s basically a shrug/row hybrid. Holding a bar at arm’s length against your thigh, shrug/row the bar straight up to your belly button. Hold for 1 count and return to the starting position.

You will grow if you can do this and your muscle stamina is going to shoot up. But the main benefit may be that you you’ll know what real discomfort feels like and those last two or three money reps you need to be doing on every set don’t seem so bad any more . And that’s where the real progress starts.

And yes, I’ve done the challenge and continue to do it doing 2 or 3 100 reps sets per week. But I change the exercises up often.

By the way, you’ll get some strange looks using such light weights. If you catch someone watching just start counting reps out loud 39,40,41,42……and ask them if they want to work in for a few sets.