Saturday, May 25, 2019

Chasing the weight loss unicorn

The best ways to lose fat for men

Eat less, increase the intensity of your training (or start doing some) and get more active during the day.  Tah-dahh.  That's it, that's all you have to do.  Thesicious I know-I'm sorry.  Of course it's not that easy.  We have a tonne of other commitments that stump our progress, our partner, kids, friends, weddings, holidays and work dos etc...The thing is, if we're serious about reaching our fat loss goals, we still have to plan around these 'obstacles'-that's life.   But it doesn't mean you can't achieve fat loss and doesn't mean you should start searching for the 'fat loss unicorn'...

Crocodile tears: Crying between 7pm-10pm

This one is completely new to me, but I got sent an article from a fellow 'fad'-loss detective. The story claimed that that "stress-induced tears remove many kinds of toxins from the body, and thus concluded that weeping is an excretory process that removes such substances that can build up during times of emotional stress".  I dug a little bit into this and there is a few 'news' sites where you can find out what the claims are.  But when I contacted one journalist directly, asking for a reference to the claimed study-I had no reply.  On one another site,  they quote 'Dr. Aaron Neufeld of Los Altos Optometric Group', who actually is a Optometrist and not really a weight loss specialist (I can only assume he was mis-quoted, as I can't believe a medical professional would put their name to such a claim, without solid research).  The third news site with the story, had a link to 'papers', but when I read through, there was no reference to fat loss or any relevance to fat loss at all.  But apparently if you want to give it a go, the best times to 'cry one out', is between 7pm and 10pm.   Let me know how you get on.  In fact don't contact me at all if you try this-idiot.

Fat freezing

The FDA (the Food & Drug Administration) cleared the marketing of the fat freezing method CoolSculpting in 2010 based on results of a study showing that six months after the treatment of love handles in 60 patients, the targeted fat was reduced by an average of 19 percent. Six-Months! Anything could've happened in that six months!
The procedure is from 35-60mins and non invasive, with 'visable' results to be seen after four weeks. I can't find much logical science behind it on the internet. But I did attempt to book myself into four different clinics in Singapore, only to be turned down by all of them, because I was male. Fat freezing must only work for gullible women then. Next...

Ab belts

I can't believe these are still around to be honest.  We see amazing sculpt torsos showing off the incredible benefits of using such devises, but where is the credible evidence?  One study did show an increase in measurable muscle strength and endurance, a reduction in trunk circumference and perceived improvement in tone and posture.  But a reduction of body fat...nahda.  Like doing just sit ups and 'plank' exercises to reduce belly fat (which Don't work), these are much the same.

Even the guy in the picture, has got his head in his hand in disbelief

Bariatric surgery

From the above diagrams you can the differences between a 'bypass' and 'band'.  The band is the cheapest option (approx $15000) with less surgery, easier reversibility and less to go wrong.  You'll be on liquids for a few weeks after the procedure and then you live a life of being able to eat smaller portions (what you need to do in healthy weight loss, without surgery anyway).
The 'Bypass' requires a bit more surgery, a bit more cash (approx $30.000) and a bit more time spent in the hospital.  Basically the procedure shrinks your stomach, so that you can't consume too much food  (a bit like healthy weight loss again really).  Patients, will lose weight (predominately from the wallet) and can go on to lead healthier lifestyles, but generally need vitamin and nutrient support.   Habits that often stick afterwards, are the regular consumption of junk food and alcohol 1. Because you can get away with it (from a weight loss perspective) and 2.  You can get pissed a lot quicker.

Gastric sleeving: Part of the stomach is removed and as well as the part that makes you feel hungry 
My opinion on the procedures are, ONLY-IN-EXTREME cases.  For a person looking to lose up 50kg, consider the healthier more beneficial alternatives, ie exercising more regularly, reducing portion sizes and eating better quality foods.  I understand there are whole host psychological issues that go with wanting surgery, but please-please-please, spend money on a good Personal Trainer and quality food first.

Best advice for fat loss for guys

Do any of these methods really work?  Honestly longterm, what do you think? I personally can't say for certain whether do or do not.  However, I do know for certain the safest, cheapest and healthiest way for men to lose weight is through a bit of hard work and some 'serious' goal setting.  In my experience, if you're only going to do one training session per week, and not change your self style, you ain't gunna see no progress.  Training x3 per week (for an hour at most, each session) and consciously making a effort with your nutrition, ie cutting down the stuff you know is 'bad' during the week and start cutting down on your portion sizes;  You can hit from 3kg+ (of fat) per month and still have a few drinks at the weekends.  Are there other strategies?  Absolutely, as everyone has different circumstances, influences, habits, food & exercise likes and dislikes aand that's where I'd love to help.

"It's not hocus-pocus that gets results.  It's focus"

Keep it real folks.


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Tuesday, May 21, 2019 / Singapore

The exercise minefield: 5 types of exercise you should be doing

An insight into the fitness industry

"According to the IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sports club Association), the $30 billion health and fitness industry in the U.S. has been growing by at least 3 - 4% annually for the last ten years" and that's just the US!  Business is booming.  With increased rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer and other metabolic issues, globally people a wanting to get healthier.  The problem is, with all of this demand comes a lot media attraction.  With studies from researchers, to celebrities and online influencers, all promoting some sort of system for getting you the results you want.   With such a bombardment of information promoting which exercises work best, it's easy to get confused, stressed out and eventually demotivated.  Below are five of the types of 'training' (I say 'training' as opposed to workout, as it implies development and progression) I personally promote to get the best out of your body.

1. Get outdoors

In modern times humanity, generally speaking, has become surrounded by infrastructure and people. I Live in Singapore now and it seems that everywhere is surrounded by high rise buildings, shelters (even on footpaths) and even underground links allow you stay inside, from one building to the next.  All very convenient, but it's almost impossible to take advantage of your natural peripheral vision (which by the way, is method of relaxation).  I'd recommend any outdoor activity for anyone looking to de-stress, 1. It gives you time to yourself. 2.  Gives you some fresh air.  3. Gives your body different stimulus, depending on the activity you're doing.*

What exercises you can do outdoors:

Low Cost                                             Medium cost                                           Highest cost
- Running                                                                                    - Cycling                      - Golf
- Walking/trekking          - Climbing                                         - Obstacle course racing (OCR)
- Racket sports                - TRX               - Surfing                                                       - Sailing 
- Volley ball                                               - Outdoor bootcamps
- Swimming (lake and sea)
- Kicking around with the kids
- Oudoor gyms and 
body weight apparatus
- Roller skating/blading
- Skipping
- Team sports 

*Take running outdoors rather than on a treadmill for example. On a treadmill, the surface is consistent ie flat, you only move in one direction-forwards.  Unless you randomly change the speed or the incline it remains the same.  Compare that to running outdoors, the surface/terrain changes constantly.  Your speed will increase and decrease naturally as you find your 'flow', or as you reach a road to cross.  Your direction will also change, if only slightly. when you're avoiding pedestrians, bikes,  curbs and potholes etc.  All these challenges provide new stimuli and feedback to the body, which will help in the long run.

2. Martial arts

Weight loss, strength, fitness and flexibility are all physiological benefits you'll get from doing martial arts.  But I believe the psychological benefits outweigh the physical benefits by far (I'm so proud my little boy is into grappling).   Martial arts makes exercise fun, as you're naturally not even thinking about it as exercise.  You're learning new skills and once you've learnt those skills, you work on making them better and 'tighter', there's always progression and development.  There's the competitive edge too, even if you decide not to go into a 'competion'.  Or you can progress through a structure, ie belts to get to the highest grade.  You'll get to train with different people, from different backgrounds, make new friends and share a common interest.   You'll boost your self confidence and it'll lay down better habits for self control. You can de-stress and vent.  I don't mean kicking the crap out of your sparring partner, but you'll at least be able to let off some steam in a completely legal way (it feels sooo good to smash the crap out of something).
Martial arts are relatively inexpensive, depending on equipment and gym costs, but for me it's pure investment and will all day, recommend Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

3. Mobility/balance/stability/posture 

This isn't just standing on one leg with your eyes closed and it's not just yoga either.  Working on mobility is to increase movement at a joint(s).. It is important because as you age or reduce movement, the joints begin to stiffen and reduce Range Of Motion,(ROM) thus leading to increase risk of injury and progressively poor posture.
If we were to take the ankle for instance (as this is the main joint of 'instability' and the foundations for the rest of the body, moving upwards) and it's 'stiff-with little flexion or extension (moving your foot upwards and downwards),  when your heel strikes the ground (when walking/running), the shin will rotate inwards, leading the knee 'dipping in' too much-leading to more inward rotation of the thigh bone-causing excessive lean forwards at the hip-meaning that the pelvis tilts one side and the spine having to compensate-then the neck has to overcompensate in the other direction-meaning the muscles in your eyes become over strained, trying to maintain even horizontal field of vision annnd breath...All that from just a jammed up ankle and then add excess weight and gravitational forces to that...
Sitting at work in a fixed position and then going to the gym and then siting down on the equipment to workout and then sitting in the car/on the train on the way home, to sit and watch #GOT, is all going to effect your joint structure and impair movement over time.
Have a go at 'one side-at-a-time' exercises, like lunges and standing 1 arm curls.  Mobilise before sessions and don't be afraid of yoga, pilates or dance.  All will help prevent the joints from 'aging'.

4. Body building

I am by no means an authority on body building, but I do weight train and know it's a crucial part of any training/lifestyle balance.  Personally I can't bare the thought of getting up on stage in my skimpys, but I do admire the commitment involved, so as a challenge for yourself, go for it.  The men in the above image are clearly bodybuilders/fitness competitors, this isn't the result of just weight training and this is the far end of the improving ones physique 'scale'.   The benefits of weight, or 'resistance' training, are:

  • Increased muscle mass
  • Increased strength
  • Increased bone strength 
  • Can help burn fat for up to 72 hours after training
  • Mental focus and intrinsically motivating (increasing weights and seeing 'gains')
  • Lowers risk of diabetes (become more insulin sensitive)
  • Improve heart health
  • And obviously, helps you look good
There's no specific formula to increase muscle mass, but you do need to lift heavy enough repeatedly. Approx 8-12 reps, for 4-6 sets, with around 60 rest in-between is the normal recommendation.  But there's a tonne of variables you can mess around with.   Another important note is, the body gets used to the same stimulus quickly, so every 4-6 weeks (or when you're bored or hit a plateau) change it up.

5. High Intensity

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become very popular in recent years, with scientists and fit pros boasting it's worth and with good reason too.  HIIT can help you increase fitness and decrease body fat, in a short period of time...buuuut.  You do have to make it intense!  People have misinterpreted this as 'as long as I'm doing an exercise for 20 seconds, I'm burning fat right?' annnd rest.  Nah!  Blowing-like literally hanging out of your arse for 20-60 seconds, 100%-balls to the wall-"I'm gunna puke"-"please make it stop" kind of intensity.
Obviously this kind of intensity isn't for the feint of heart, so it does take some building up to.  Really you should be elevating your heart rate to 85+%MHR to get the benefit and when your heart gets back down to around 65-70%MHR,  off you go again.   For me, a couple of the best exercises for that are the rower, watt bike, skillmill/treadmill and Air assault bike.  Most other exercises give you to much rest between repetitions-(yeah, that's how harsh I am).

Ultimately though, it's all down to 'whatever floats your boat'.  Whatever keeps you fit, healthy and motivated is the best exercise for you.  But have a go at something different, as you can always improve, learn and find something new.  For me I've been totally against Crossfit for years (as means of training), but I mentally need something to complete with both myself and others in.  So I'm dipping into it.  Next month I'll be back into the BJJ, I'm always weight training, running outdoors a couple of times a week and I'll throw in the occasion yoga session, when my body needs a 'chill'. That's just me.

Keep it real folks


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Sunday, May 12, 2019 / Singapore

Sticks and stones may break my bones...and halting your weight loss progress too

What's the easiest way to lose weight? 

Nearly every person knows the simple equation for weight loss, eating less + exercising more = fat loss.  On a biological and physiologic level, that's it.  It's literally that simple.  But on a sociological and psychological level, it is a very complex equation.

Are you a believer?

I had a female client that had a particularly large weight loss goal, in an unrealistic amount of time (4 stone in three months).  I asked her to give herself a number between 1-10 (1 being nowhere near and 10 being, having achieved the goal), where she thought she was on her 'weight loss journey'.  She said "1".  The next question I asked was "using the same scale, how much do you believe you can achieve the X goal?".  She said confidently "8/10". Oooo-kay.
We then went through a series of other coaching and information gathering questions and when it came to the last question "on a scale 1-10, how motivated are you now to achieving your goal?" she said  "2/3".  Whaaaa?
So what happened here?  She had a specific goal she wanted to achieve, a deadline and 'belief', but she just wasn't motivated to do it.  I asked her again on how much she believed she could achieve the target weight loss, it actually changed to 3-4/10. "Eh?"  There was clearly an internal conflict, she wanted the result but didn't actually believe she could achieve it.  We did a bit of 'digging', adjusted the weight loss goal and timeline, went through the same 'belief' and 'motivation' scale questions and they both went up - dramatically...and she actually went on to achieve 2 stone weight loss in 4 months.

Do you find yourself battling this similar internal conflict?  Are you telling yourself you 'should' be motivated, or are you saying' I am' motivated?

Language effecting your goals

You know when someone talks to us negatively, we get defensive or upset right?  But do you realise when you're talking to yourself negatively, (It's ok, we all have internal dialogue) or do you realise when you're using negatives words out loud?
When I'm chatting with my clients/team, I'm always listening out for how committed they are and I can almost certainly predict the outcome, or their objective, usually from one word in the sentence.

Below is my 'commitment word' scale and the difference between achieving a goal and not achieving a goal:


I personally hate the word 'try', it's such a flimsy, flaky, half-arsed word used to make it sound like you're invested, when really, you know you're not and just won't admit it.  You see, to try is to give yourself a third option, where you hope to 'save face' should it not go according to plan.  Look it like this, your desired outcome is either done, or it is not.  You will or you won't. You lose weight or you don't. That's the fact.
Let's use this example; You've arranged to meet up with a mate at the pub, at a specific time.   But this mate is notorious for being late or flaking out last minute (we all have that mate).  You say "I'll meet you at the Crown and half seven (7:30pm)".  He say's "ok mate, I'll try be there for then". Ahhh, right there "I'll try..."  as soon as you hear that you know-you Know he's not going to be there at 7:30pm.  He's not even going to be there at 7:35pm.  Oh no, he'll turn up at about 8:05pm if at all.  But he did 'try'.


"Yeah but no-but"

"Your work is great and we really appreciate everything you've done...but..." Is this sentence close to anything you've heard before?  Everything's good until that 'but' and then everything before that gets deleted and then you're hit with the real issue.  But, but can be used in a positive way, just the other way round.  If you were to say "I've had a rubbish day, but I'm home now and all is good again", we've basically turned the negative into a positive and spoke in the present tense (you can even future tense, if you choose) and already re-directing neuro pathways (signals in the brain) to a have a good experience.

Words are you sword

We all know the power that our words have on impacting others, so now it's time concentrate on how you're own language has been impacting your performance.  But to do so, you can choose to guarantee yourself (intrinsic motivation), you are committed and you are definitely going to change, aren't you?  Yes Phil, 'I will!'.

Keep it real folks

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