The Cheetara Diet

Exercise, Nutrition, Rant 1 Comment »

One of my very favorite cartoons is Thundercats.  I loved watching it as a kid and I still enjoy it now.

And gotta admit it: I kinda had a crush on Cheetara.


Who wouldn’t?  Bright orange leotard, sweet bo staff skills, and the ability to run over 120 miles per hour.

She’s based off the idea of a cheetah; Cheetara’s main attribute is her wicked fast speed.  The thing is, it takes a lot of training and nutrition to run like a cheetah.

So here’s some food for thought if you want to be a Thundercat, it’s the meal plan of the cheetah sprinters at the San Diego Zoo…

It goes on a 3 day cycle:

Day 1 – Sprint Demonstration Day

  • 1-2 x 100m @ full effort – simulates hunting in natural habitat
  • Fed 1/2 of 3 day caloric intake after running to simulate a successful hunt

Day 2 – Recovery Day

  • Easy long slow walk in the park
  • Fed 1/3 of 3 day caloric intake

Day 3 – Rest/Light Activity Day

  • Fed 1/6 of 3 day caloric intake

Pretty cool!  It mimics a hunt, then an easy day with some food left over, then a very easy day, and the next day the cycle starts over with another hunt.

This plan keeps the cheetahs lean and mean.

cheetah running

An interesting thought experiment with this is to think about how you could apply some of the same principles to your personal training and nutrition plan.

Doesn’t the cheetah plan above look a little like how a hunter might have eaten and lived during the paleolithic period?

paleo bodies

Hard sprint, hard effort to take down some big meat, then a feast with your friends and family.

The next day, since there’s still food left you hang out and play around camp, not eating as much.

Day three you scout around gathering fruits and veggies and check out where the game animals are browsing.

Day four you go for the hunt and it all starts again…

Life was probably a lot like this for hunter/gatherers.  And it’s doubtless why intermittent fasting, carb backloading, and other calorie cycling plans work so well for fitness and fat loss – it’s how our genes want us to eat.

Now, I’m not saying the cheetah plan above will turn you into Cheetara – you’d have to be a noble cleric from the planet Thundera for that.

But what can you take from this?  What about the plan would work for you?

Here’s a very simple adaptation for someone wanting to get fit (who also loves the Thundercats):

Day 1: Power And Sprint Day

This is the day you get to hunt and feast.  Rigorous effort followed with a delicious prize to follow.


Weightlifting session focusing on big exercises – Snatch, squat, deadlift, bench press, clean and jerk, and other BIG movements.

Follow this with some anaerobic sprints – Sled pulls, hill sprints, bike intervals, and other locomotive movements that will push your system to the max.

And then eating time.  You brought down the wild boar with all your hard work.  Now you get to enjoy it!

Assuming a 2500 Calorie/day diet, half of your three day average would be 3,750 Calories.  You could make this one lots of meat and organs, the best parts of your prey.  Smaller eating window, since butchering and cooking the meat would take time.

Day 2: Play And Build Day

There’s still some meat left over after yesterday’s hunt, so you stay close to home.  You play with the kids and spend some time making camp more comfortable.


“Bodybuilding” Movements – Curls, triceps extensions, chest flyes, calf raises, and other smaller movements; nothing too strenuous (this is the building and moving stuff around your camp)

Play! – Tag, slacklining, frisbee, wrestling, ping pong, or anything else fun that you would do hanging out with fit healthy people you enjoy being around.

For food, you’d still have some meat, and some easy to pick fruits and veggies that you could gather without venturing too far.  So add in some produce and have some of the leaner meat (not as prized).

At that 2,000 Calorie/day average, one third of your three day average would be… 2000 Calories.

Day 3: Light Scouting Day

Time to do some more gathering and plan your next hunt.  You don’t want to wear yourself out too much, in case you end up with an angry auroch charging you tomorrow.

Auroch Enichires

Looking around to check out the areas where game feeds and gathering more hard-to-find plants since you’re already out and about.

Walking or hiking, lots and lots.

And something to help relax you and get you ready for the hunt, like some yoga or tai chi.

You’re about out of big game meat, so you have some smaller, leaner animals for protein and fat.  But you gathered a big assortment of greens and herbs so you have a small amount of protein and some huge salads.  Based on the 2000 Calorie/day number, one sixth of your three day average would be… 1000 Calories.  Not a lot, be enough to ensure you’ll be motivated to hunt tomorrow.

Conclusion: Sight Beyond Sight

sword of omens sight beyond sight thundercats

Again, this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive plan for you to follow.  Just a little food for thought.

Too often we get caught up in a certain daily rhythm, and our sight stops extending much beyond that.  The thing is, if you want to keep your body changing, you can’t lock into a set routine.  You’ll make progress for a while, then your body will plateau with whatever you’re doing, and then finally start making negative changes.

If you want to keep progressing, you have to keep changing your stimulus.  Calorie and activity cycling plans like the cheetah-inspired one above are two ways.  I’ll write about some more in the future…

The important thing is to keep things new and fresh, so you don’t get bored and your body doesn’t stop adapting.

Oh, and…. Thundercats Hooooooooooooo!

What Muscle Does That Work?

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Oh man, the question “What bodypart does that work?” drives me bananas.

First off, “bodypart” is a word made up by the bodybuilding industry.

Seriously.  Here’s what happens when you search for it in Mirriam-Webster or

Focusing on “bodyparts” is pointless.  You hear people talking about biceps day, triceps day, shoulders day.  But you’ll never hear someone say “It’s flexor hallucis longus day!”  (Except me, and that’s because I’m a dork)

Besides bodypart being a fake word, what cheeses me off about “What does that work?” is if you’re worrying about what muscle you’re working, you’re probably not focusing on the important things… Like working freaking hard!

Look at this gymnast:

Do you think he asks his coach what muscle the pommel horse works?  Hell no!  He gets up there and busts ass to be awesome.

The key to getting results from your training program is this: Train MOVEMENTS, not MUSCLES.

There are 7 fundamental human movements.  These movements are the squat, bend/hinge, lunge, push, pull, twist, and gait/locomotion.

Take the lunge as an example.  You can perform thousands of different lunge variations.  The ValSlide Lunge works ankle mobility, foot strength, knee stability, hip extension, knee extension, hip stability, core strength, balance, proprioception, posture, metabolic conditioning, and much more.  Yet when someone asks “What bodypart does that work?” I sigh and say “Butt and Hamstrings.”

The best exercises for transforming your body won’t be done on a machine designed to isolate one muscle group.  You’ll raise your metabolism and build a tight body by focusing on those 7 fundamental human movements.

On the youtube page for the rocking chair video below, someone actually asked what muscles it develops!

Not to sound supercilious, but WHO CARES?  “Bodypart” training is geography, not physiology.

That take home message for today is: Stop worrying about what muscles each exercise work.  Instead, focus on working hard on variations of the 7 fundamental human movements and you will totally rock your body.

The Easy Guide To Coming Out As Health-Conscious

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Sometimes it can be hard to “come out” to your friends and family about your desire to live fitter and cleaner.  It can be hard to explain and you might sound judgmental about their lifestyles.

Or… they might start judging you.  Smirks, jokes, raised eyebrows, you know the drill.

When you embark on a period of change in your life, you will probably be moving away from the norms of your social circle and they will definitely notice you acting differently.  This feels like it can cause a lot of problems.

See, most people stay the same and don’t really want to improve themselves.  These people will reinforce your bad habits and bad behaviors.  (It’s like being a drug addict and hanging around other drug addicts, they will reinforce your old behaviors and not encourage you to change)

Before this starts coming off like a low-rent self-help course, here are some easy ways to “come out” to your loved ones about your desire to be fitter and healthier:

1. Tell The Truth.  Be honest about why you’re embracing a healthier lifestyle.  Examples: You want to lose weight, take up a sport, live longer

2. Focus On The Positives.  Too many people see a healthy lifestyle as a “give up/lose” proposition.  Such as, you’re giving up on delicious treats, TV time, sleeping in.  Instead, focus on the positives that you’re going to gain.  Example: You’re not giving up your morning muffin, you’re gaining a body that doesn’t have a muffin top.

3. Give Example Of Why.  Health and fitness as an abstract concept can be hard to grasp.  Instead, give a concrete example like: I’m hitting the gym four days a week on my lunch break so I’ll have the energy to actually play with my kids on the weekend.

4. Make It About You.  Telling your fat friends “because I don’t want to look like you” is not the way to tell them you are starting something new.  Instead, focus on youYour body, your health, your life.

5. Don’t Preach.  Eliminate the words “you should” from your vocabulary.  Don’t suggest that your way or your goals are in any way superior to someone else’s.  If you make people feel attacked, they will be unlikely to try to understand or embrace your choices.  (I’ve written about this before, check it out: Critical Fitness – Don’t Be A Jackass)

6. Show, Don’t Tell.  “Be the change you want to see in the world”  The sight of you being healthier, happier, leaner, and more energetic is a more powerful argument than all the words you could use.  Live you example and when everyone sees how happy you are, they’ll start accepting your changes.  (If they don’t, it’s probably because they’re jealous)

7. Ask For Company.  Recruit someone to go for a walk with you or to cook a healthy meal together.  It will give them a first-hand look at how you’re adding health into your life.  Not only will it help them to better understand your choices, it may inspire them to do the same!  (Note: Don’t have them overstep, it will have the opposite reaction.  Taking your obese father-in-law to a hot yoga class will make him feel silly and excluded.  Use your best judgement!)

8. Laugh!  When someone says “that clapping sound you hear when you run is your thighs cheering you on” just smile and laugh.  Appreciate the lighter side of things.  (Besides, you’ll have the last laugh!)

9. Share.  When you feel like you can’t explain well enough why you’re giving up grains and dairy, or why you’re swinging a kettlebell instead of jogging, just find a relevant article or video and pass it along.

10. Don’t Assume.  You might think that everyone will be negative about your new lifestyle.  But it might come as a nice surprise how many others will share in your decision to be healthier.  You’ll probably hear something along the lines of “That’s great!  I wish I could do that too!”

It’s not easy to make a big change in your life, the imagined added stress of having to deal with others’s reaction to it can stop you before you even start.

But with a little bit of tact you can help your friends and family understand the new joys you are finding in your healthier lifestyle – and maybe even inspire them to try something new, too!

So, don’t be afraid to “come out” and get the party started!

10 Tips For Parents To Get The Most Out Of Gymnastics Class

Exercise, Rant, Strategies 1 Comment »

If you want your child to get the most benefit possible from their gymnastics class, you need to optimize your day to support them.

What does this mean? A tired, cranky, hungry, distracted, or dehydrated gymnast is a gymnast who isn’t going to improve during that day’s practice.

As parents, it is our duty to prepare our children as much as possible for the day’s challenges.

Here are 10 simple changes that will help your child get the most possible out of each and every gymnastics class:

1. Drink plenty of water during the day and in the evening after practice.

This might mean supervised drinking time until it becomes an automatic habit for your child.


Being dehydrated leads to poor ability to focus, weakened muscles, and reduced endurance – a recipe for injury.

And here in Carson City we are both high and dry, increasing our athlete’s need for water.

Don’t count juices, sports drinks, milk, or – god forbid – pop as hydration. Just water. Add ice if you want to get fancy :)

2. Eat something during the day!

I used to coach school sports, and I’d have my athletes keep food journals the first week of practice. Girls were coming to a 3 o’clock practice having had nothing more than a diet soda! Guys were coming in that had had a bag of Doritos and a Mountain Dew. How the heck are athletes supposed to improve if this is the fuel they are using at practice?!? (Short answer: they don’t improve)

eat it and like it

Breakfast. Lunch. And maybe a quick small snack on the way to gymnastics class. That will ensure that our Carson City Gymnastics athletes are fueled at practice.

And afterwards RECOVERY is extremely important. During practice muscles are broken down and they need nutrients to repair themselves. A healthy dinner right after an evening class is essential, even if your athlete isn’t hungry, they need to eat something to bring them out of the breakdown state brought on by exercise.

3. Get plenty of sleep.

All of our gymnastics athletes could use more sleep. Not only does missing sleep lead to wandering attention during practice, it also limits energy and recovery.

8 hours should be the minimum for a hard-working gymnast, and 9 is even better. But.. this is important: they must be quality hours.

sleep and complain

That means a quiet dark room. No music or TV playing.

Setting a sleep schedule will help even more, routine bed and wake-up times will train the body to go ahead and get deeper sleep, without the stress of unpredictability.

Limit “screen time” before bed as well. The blue light from computer monitors, smart phones, and TVs tricks the brain into thinking that it is daytime, and slowing the release of sleep chemicals that bring forth restful sleep.

4. Stay active outside of the gym.

This doesn’t mean high-risk activities like trampolining and ice-skating. Walks, swimming, and bike rides will all raise something called work capacity that will support greater efforts during gymnastics class.

These are also a great way to do something as a family, unless you feel like strapping on a leotard and sprinting at a vault platform with your athlete.

cat crash helmet

The keys here are that the extra activities should be easy and safe. You don’t want to hike up a mountain 2 hours before gymnastics class, that isn’t easy.

And you don’t want your gymnast to get hurt either, so keep it safe.

5. Keep away from poisonous things.

Fake foods are chemical storms that degrade health and erode energy, sapping the gymnast from the inside.

As convenient as it is to pick up fast food, realize that the ingredients in that food will hurt your gymnast’s performance and can even lead to health problems.

fast food kills

Without recommending a specific eating plan, follow the simple 3 step rule: Food shouldn’t need more than 3 steps to get to your table. If it takes more than 3 steps, it probably doesn’t belong in your mouth.

Baked Chicken:

Farm -> Butcher -> Grocery Store (3 steps)

Fast Food Chicken:

Farm -> Butcher -> Processing Plant -> Fast Food Joint (4 steps, avoid!)

Healthy, natural foods will build a healthy, natural gymnast.

6. Stretch at home (to get more practice at the gym)

Most stretching improvement comes from time spent stretching. And stretching is one of the few vital areas that can be trained at home.

If Coach Dave wants the girls stretching for 30 minutes a day, the gymnasts can either do that at home, or spend 30 minutes of supervised practice time stretching instead of improving routines.

grandma splits on road sign

Flexibility is an area that the gymnast can have complete control over. You can’t control what other gymnasts will do, but when it comes to flexibility, you can improve as much as you are willing to.

7. Don’t ride the Drama Llama.

It’s natural that parents form a social group, we spend a lot of time together at practices, meets, and fundraisers. But (and this is a lesson from coaching lots of sports teams) don’t ever say anything negative about other parents (or coaches!) in front of the gymnasts.


This is incredibly distracting to young athletes who are trying to make sense of their world, and any drama involving other girls, parents, or coaches will keep them from doing their best.

You don’t have to be Miss Merry Sunshine all of the time, but realize that your attitude towards the other adults in this club will rub off on your athlete and it WILL affect their performance. When in doubt, just remember that during the next carpool the driver will hear everything you said when it was your turn :)

8. Fork over the dues on time.

Let the coaches be coaches, not bill collectors. If you’re distracting the coach with issues unrelated to coaching, they won’t be as effective during class.

So fork over the cash, moneygrip.


I’ve never heard about any rich gymnastics coaches, your dues are going to silly things like insurance, rent, heat, and lights – all things needed to train your gymnast.

Just because the coaches are cool, you shouldn’t treat the relationship casually. If you have a legitimate issue, talk to the front desk, but stay in communication. Please.

9. Be consistent.

Some gymnasts take the summer off because there are no competitions. Others miss practice all of the time. And then they and their parents are pissed that they aren’t improving as quickly as some other athlete.

Continuity is defined as an uninterrupted connection. It can also be described as persistence towards a goal over time.


When a gymnast is consistent over time, small gains will eventually equal large ones. When there are interruptions, progress will halt and your gymnast might even move backward.

By staying consistent with training, your gymnast will continually improve and be less susceptible to injury.

Consistent training also leads to lower stress as competition season approaches, as there will be less doubt.

Many gymnastics injuries occur from trying to do too much too soon for the body to adapt (especially if there is poor nutrition and lack of sleep as well). As an example, think of all the runner you know who develop shin splints because they had to rush to catch up their training.

10. Use the language of a winner.

Not the language of a loser.

a winner is you

1. A winner says, “let’s find out”; a loser says, “nobody knows”

2. When a winner makes a mistake, she says, “I was wrong”; when a loser makes a mistake, she says, “it wasn’t my fault”

3. A winner goes through a problem, a loser goes around it and never gets past it

4. A winner makes commitments and a loser makes promises

5. A winner says, “I’m good, but not as good as I ought to be”; a loser says, “I’m not as bad as a lot of other people”

6. A winner tries to learn from those that are superior to her, a loser tries to tear down those who are superior to her.

7. A winner says, “There ought to be a better way to do it”; a loser says, “That is the way I have always done it”

If a parent or gymnast speaks like a loser, progress will be slow at gymnastics class. Make corrections to language and actions, then character growth and skill improvement are sure to occur.

9 Funny Weight Loss Ads

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Just to lighten up your day – no pun intended!

Have a great day!

10 Commandments For Dating My Daughters

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I have a confession to make. My workout motivation has totally changed over the last few years. Working out these days to me is not about how my “guns” look in a t-shirt or what powerlifting competition I decide to win. It’s not about the pool party coming up at some hottie’s house. (OK, I do still care about my appearance BUT now I have a much bigger purpose to stay in shape and that’s MY KIDS).

I want to be in shape and healthy so that I can keep up with them and experience life with them. Don’t you want to do the same for your children?

I workout and eat healthy not just for me these days BUT also because I have a much bigger responsibility and that is to provide for my family and stay healthy to protect them.

Don’t you??

And just when I thought I had everything covered………

I felt this fear take over my body. I started getting very upset. I have a huge fear now: BOYS

So I thought I set some ground rules for dating my daughters…….

I even dusted off some of my old weightlifting pictures for this post (maybe I can intimidate some high school boys)

Rule One:

If you pull into my driveway and honk you’d better be delivering a package, because you sure as h*** are not picking anything up.

Rule Two:

You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body, I will remove them.

Rule Three:

I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips.

Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots.

Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object.

However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four:

I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilizing a “barrier method” of some kind can kill you.

Let me elaborate, when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.


Rule Five:

It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day.

Please do not do this.

The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is “early.”

Rule Six:

I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls.

This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter.

Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you.

If you make her cry, I will make you cry like a baby.

Rule Seven:

As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget.

If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating.

My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process that can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge.

Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight:

The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter:

Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool.

Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight.

Places where there is darkness.

Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness.

Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka – zipped up to her throat.

Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which features chain saws are okay.

Hockey games are okay.

Old folks homes are better.

Rule Nine:

Do not lie to me.

I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been.

But on issues relating to my daughters, I am the all-knowing, merciless God of your universe.

If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house.

Do not trifle with me.

Rule Ten:

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi.

When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home.

As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight.

Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car – there is no need for you to come inside.

The camouflaged face at the window is mine.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I am having a blast being a Dad. Nothing like being inducted to the “dad’s club”.

15 Funny Health Headlines

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Whenever I read what the mass media has to say about health and fitness, I have to laugh.

Our Carson City paper (the Nevada Appeal) had a health article the other day with a stock photo of a woman trying to choose between an apple and a donut.

I mean… really?

A half page article about choosing between fruit and pastries seems like it should be shockingly obvious.

Today I want to share 15 INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS health headlines:


Wow, that’s a shocker. (source:


“Try staying healthy”?  That’s GREAT advice!  Why didn’t I think of that?!? (source:


Wow, I’m glad the government funded a study about this, I had no idea! (source:


Ok guys, who blabbed?  (source:


You mean a fresh athlete outperforms a tired one?  Crazy!  (


This one’s a bummer.  I guess I’ll have to stick to eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep.  (source:


Before this article, were there any doctors recommending sloth instead? (source:


I’m glad someone finally revealed that replacing carb- and bad-fat-laden muffins with natural healthy nuts is a good idea (source:


Mind-bending. (source:


Turns out that if you eat a pound of carbs fried in trans fats, you might gain weight (source:


I’m amazed at this one!  You mean McDonalds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus candy snacks all day, will make me obese?  No way! (source:


Good to know! (source:


According to this, 100 Calories of oreos is NOT equal to 100 Calories of broccoli when it comes to losing weight.  Who knew? (source:


You mean anorexia isn’t just doctor code for “really strong willpower”? (source:


Unless you get eaten by a bear while you’re out on a hike (source:

Bust Out Of Your Routine

Exercise, Health, Nutrition, Rant No Comments »

It’s easy to start getting complacent with your health and fitness plan.

hamster wheel order

You eat breakfast at 7am, lunch at noon, protein shake at 5, and dinner at 7.

You go to the gym and do 45 minutes of cardio, 5 days a week.

You take a multivitamin and 3 fish oil capsules every morning.

You see the same people every day.

You follow a set routine, doing your best to cover all the bases.

And while I think rigid routines are the best way to lose a lot of weight (quickly and safely), does a routine really match up with our genetic programming to lead to long term health?

So, for the sake of discussion, you’re not training for a specific goal (examples: lose 40 pounds by summer, deadlift 500 pounds, run a 2:30 marathon) and just want to improve fitness, health, energy, and vitality.


Can you start mixing it up a little?

The idea for this post came when I was trying to explain my supplement program to a friend.  I take the basics most days: multivitamin, fish oil, krill oil, vitamin D, vitamin C, garlic, magnesium, zince, probiotics, etc.

But I’ve got one of those weekly pill boxes that let you set up 7 days ahead of time.

So I mix stuff up, with the thought that hunter/gatherers wouldn’t get the exact same nutrients every day.

Some days have lots of garlic, vitamin C, and cod liver oil.  Other days there’s extra magnesium, no fish oils at all, and a small bump in zinc.  A little more randomness to keep my body from getting complacent.

(If you do something like this, be smart about it – too much of a vitamin can be poisonous.  I know my body very well and understand nutritional supplementation and diet.  Work with a natural health care expert if you want to randomize your plan.)

That’s just an example.  Think about all the other things that we were exposed to as hunter/gatherers.  There were probably lots of vagarities every day.

sabertooth suprise

What irregularities can you start playing with to spur your body on to fully expressing its healthy genetic heritage?

Food?  Environment?  Sleep?  Companionship?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Energy Expenditure – In this Cheetara Diet post, the idea was to match energy intake (food) to exertion levels (exercise).  Some days, weeks, or seasons would have called for more activity than others.  And sometimes you’d have plenty of resources and would be able to kick back and relax for a while.

Tarzan climbing

Mixing this one up is easy.  Maybe for a month you lift weights every other day and hike every day, followed by a week where you lift heavy twice a day, and then for 11 days you just do some light bodyweight exercises and play.

Sleep – Sometimes people skip a workout because they didn’t get “enough” sleep.  But really, there were probably all sorts of reasons our ancestors didn’t sleep the night through and they still had to get up and move if they wanted to eat.

Even if you go to bed at dark and get up at sunrise, your sleep time would change every single day.  Now, I’m not suggesting that you force yourself into sleep deprivation in order to make your workouts more challenging, just to say that variations in sleeping patterns is another way to throw some stimulating randomness into your life.

Environments – Hot and cold.  Dry and humid.  Bright and dim.  Loud and quiet.  Windy and still.  Your ancestors had to live with all sorts of fluctuations in their environment.  No heated cars and air conditioned houses.

Someone asked an abbot at the Shaolin Temple (a martial arts school) how they dealt with training outside all year round.  His answer was great: “In summer we sweat, in winter we shiver.”

shaolin training

This is an easy one to diversify.  If you run in the winter, wear fewer layers.  Go do your kettlebell swings down by the river and get some humidity.  Turn off your air conditioner in the summer.  Listen to loud music one workout and the next play no music and try to be as quiet as possible.  The variations are endless.

Companionship – Sometimes you’re alone, sometimes you’re in a group.  Sometimes you’re guided, sometime you’re self-directed.

Taking down a mastodon sounds like something you’d want backup for.  Team sports are basically play battles with specific objectives.  Hiking with family to gather plants.  Connections and companionship are how we survived without fangs, claws, or wings.


But other times you want to climb a big rock for fun, go for a walk by yourself, maybe spend some time by yourself practicing with your bow so you can show off at home.

Workout alone.  And with a partner.  And with a team.  And with your kids.  Play and recreate alone.  And with a partner.  And with a team.  And especially with your kids.

 Food And Cooking – It’s totally understandable to have a few “go-to” meals.  You like the foods you like, you know how to cook them, you get comfortable… so why change it up?

The problem is that only eating from a narrow range of foods isn’t how our predecessors ate.  Produce is seasonal, and so are the types of game meat that are available.

Drill down into someone’s meal log now though, and you’ll see maybe 10 different foods represented.  Chicken, tuna, eggs, spinach, broccoli, and bell peppers are delicious and healthy, but they aren’t enough for total health.

Expanding the number of foods you eat limits your exposure to any toxins in the food, helps protect you from damage by lectins, reduces your likelihood of developing food allergies, gives you access to a wider variety of micronutrients and phytochemicals, and keeps you from getting bored with your diet plan.


One way to introduce a little randomness into your diet is to eat local foods.  Another is to really try new foods, new spices, and new cooking methods.

Meal Frequency And Amounts – This is a hot button topic in the health and fitness world.  It’s gone from “3 square meals a day” to “eat every 2-3 hours” to “fast 16 hours and eat for 8.”

Which one works best?  All of them.  So mix it up a little.

Occasional fasting (not eating) has been shown to improve health and accelerate fat loss.  Skipping breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a whole day of eating won’t kill you.

hunger hangry

Eating a bigger meal right after a workout is natural too – you would’ve had to exert yourself to get those calories, so eat some more.  Skipping breakfast before your workout is another option, your body will work harder in response to hunger.

Create A Little Chaos

The key to creating movement is to disrupt equilibrium.  All of the ideas above are ways to kick your body and mind out of a rut to allow new changes to happen.  This will promote health, energy, youthfulness, and – luckily – leanness.

Moreover, the stressors our hunter/gatherer ancestors ran into were varied – some once a day, some once a week, some once a year – and so our genes express themselves best when there are deviations from the accustomed.

The thing to remember is that your body is more like a computer than like an engine.  Your activities (exercise), diet, eating habits, and lifestyle all give information to your body – it’s not a passive fuel burner.  The information your body receives tells it what to do.  Keeping your body computer out of a routine keeps the good stuff happening, you keep making changes and your genes express themselves at their best.


Questions And Answers: Quinoa, Stamina, Breakfast, and “Barefoot Shoes”

Health, Nutrition, Rant, Strategies No Comments »

When I’m not writing kick-butt boot camp workouts and nutrition programs, I try to answer as many questions as I can.  I want to share some from this week.  (The answers are my actual replies, so please forgive all the grammar errors!)

Q: Quinoa, grain? I just read it is in the same family as spinach.

A: Yeah mang, it’s related to Spinach and Chard. Even though it’s not a grain, it’s still very carb-intensive and has proteins in it that act a lot like gluten.

I use it two ways:

a) As a fuel source for paleo-minded endurance athletes. Having… a tupperware of quinoa in your panniers isn’t as stylish as a power bar, but it’s a whole hell of a lot better for you.

b) As a “bridge food” for people adjusting to paleo-style eating. See, most people who want to cut out grains and processed foods severely under-eat. They don’t increase their meat and veggie intake enough to replace the calories from grains and dairy. So when they’ve cut out a thousand Calories they get hungry and tired and fall off the paleo wagon.

Adding some quinoa, lentils, or tubers in to the mix helps keep calories in satisfaction levels while eaters learn to adjust their intake of other foods to compensate for the lack of carbs.

But I recommend minimizing quinoa and going for veggies as soon as possible.

Q: Question right now is breakfast? That is when I’ve eaten whole wheat toast …. and coffee.

A: For breakfast I recommend eggs as a starting point. They are paleolithic foods, plus have plenty of fat and protein.

Studies have found that eggs for breakfast lead to greater weight loss than eating the same calories in oatmeal. And another study found women who eat eggs for breakfast have less body fat than women who don’t, even if they eat the same calories.

Eggs are a “base” like salad, you can add anything you want! I personally use eggs to mix in a whole lot of vegetables, starting my day with veggies keeps me on track the rest of the day.

Here are a few egg ideas from my blog:

And here’s a few reasons to avoid toast:

Q: right now i’m trying to work up to running 5 miles at a go, because i found a pretty good training program for runners who are at that level. any advice on how to increase my stamina?

A: I always promote the idea of diminishing rest interval training.

Basically, you set your goal time and figure out how fast you need to run to do it. Say you have a goal of 9 minutes a mile (about a 2 hour half marathon). You make all of your training runs at 9 minutes per mile or FASTER. So, 4:30 half mile, walk 2 min, 4:30 half mile, walk 2 min. Next time you do the workout, you do 4:30 half mile, walk 75 sec, 4:30 half mile, walk 75 sec, etc.

That way you are never training your body to run below your goal pace, and you don’t get the overuse injuries (knees, ankles, back) that you get when slogging along with bad form.

Here’s a post I wrote about the idea:

Also, read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. It made ME want to start running. Good motivation.

Q: what are your thoughts on the Paleo diet providing enough fuel for an active athlete to improve performance?

A: The problem most people have when switching to a paleo-style diet is that they dramatically cut calories because they don’t replace the grains, dairy, soy, etc with more meat, veggies and nuts.

It depends on the type of athlete what paleo diet to put them on. Strength and power do great on a straight paleo (no tubers, lentils, etc). There is an initial loss of strength and power the first 4-6 weeks, then it ramps back up to normal levels over the next month. From then on there is greater progress because they can use all of the nutrients for training and recovery, not for fighting off inflammation and allergies from the diet.

Hard-core endurance athletes are doing something that cave-dudes wouldn’t have done: going maximally for brutally long distances. So in their case I follow the paleo-diet base, with the addition of some higher carb as-much-paleo-as-possible foods: sweet potatoes, yams, some lentils, some quinoa. And a little more fruit.

Even with the extra “paleoish” carbs, there is an initial drop in endurance and speed, followed by a ramp up to normal levels, then better increases once the inflammation, allergens, extra weight, blah blah blah are removed.

The biggest thing I tell my athlete clients who switch to paleo is to make sure calories stay the same or even INCREASE, otherwise they’ll feel fatigued and start breaking down.

Q: What is your take on the Vibram 5 finger shoes…?

A: I think the Vibram 5 Fingers are just about the best thing ever!

You know my back got jacked up in a car accident, these are the only shoes that I can wear that don’t leave me crippled at the end of the day.

My clients who wear them swear by them. Cuts down on knee, back, and hip pain. (But when you first switch to them, be prepared for searing pain below the knees as your calves, shins, and feet muscles are forced to work) Actually, with all the beach volleyball you might have conditioned them already :)

Check out these blog posts for in-depth info:

I highly recommend getting a pair of Vibrams!


Ok, that’s it for today!  If you have any questions, the fastest and easiest way to get them answered is to post them as a comment on my facebook wall.  Here’s a link:

Talk soon!

~ Luke

Critical Fitness – Don’t Be A Jackass

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This is something I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a long time…

If you read this blog, come to my bootcamp, or have been to one of my seminars, you know more about metabolism, health, and fat loss than 95% of people.  Hell, you probably know more about it than most personal trainers at “big box” gyms!

So, when someone tells you they’ve taken up jogging or cut out fat or started skipping meals, you want to set them on the right path.

It’s only natural, the only thing more fun than knowing something cool is sharing something cool!

But the problem is that when you criticize someone’s fitness choice, they aren’t going to thank you.  They will most likely RESENT you.

When you point out a flaw in someone’s plan, they’re less likely to trust your judgment, because you just challenged theirs.

Of course lots of aerobics, low-fat high grain diets, and skipping meals will lower their metabolism and stop their weight loss.

Pointing out errors in someone’s actions will make someone think much less of you.

Their only other option is to think less of themselves – and it’s more comfortable (and more fun!) to think less of you instead.

What is far, far more effective in changing someone’s mind to the right way of fitness is to congratulate your friend on taking the best action they knew how at the time.

In fact, based on what most people know, your friend is doing EXACTLY THE RIGHT THING!

Anyone who has been with me to a party or networking function has heard this:

Mrs. Krensky: “Oh, you’re a personal trainer?  Cool!  I’ve just cut out fat and have started doing an hour of cardio every morning.”

What do I say then?:

A) “Mrs. Krensky, you moron!  Haven’t you read the studies that show aerobics are useless for fat loss and that cutting fat out of your diet is a sure-fire way to kill your metabolism?!?  What are you thinking!”


B) “That’s awesome!!  Getting up early and changing what you eat is HARD!  Let me know if I can ever help you dial those things in.”

Which will help Mrs Krensky?  Which is better?

B, of course.

Here’s the thing: I’ve heard people who know a little about fitness go with option A.

All that’s going to do is make Mrs Krensky mad at them.

Imagine you take up gardening, and Mrs Krensky is an expert.  You tell her you are starting some seeds on your windowsill so you can plant them.  Then she says, “WHAT?!? Everyone knows that the only way to start seeds is in peat pots in a greenhouse.  Why are you even bothering!?”

You’d be pissed.

What if she said this, instead: “Sweet!  You’re going to love gardening!  I have some great books that I really enjoyed that helped me get my garden growing the way I always dreamed, let me know if you ever want to borrow them!”

You’d love her.

Here’s the gist of what I want to say: Lead by example.  Be an ambassador of fitness.  Tell people how things are changing and point them to resources with the best information.

Encourage me and inspire me.  Don’t tell me I’m stupid.