I go on social media (mostly Instagram) way too much, I’ll be the first to admit it. The funny thing is, half the time I don’t even realize I have the app open. It’s like Will Ferrell blacking out during the big college debate in Old School- somehow I’m aimlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed and I don’t even remember unlocking my phone and clicking on the app icon. Social media is not going anywhere and has a place in our lives, just in smaller doses.
We know why we shouldn’t be spending so much time on our phones- it distorts our view of the world and we become less present in our real lives to name a few reasons. I saw this commercial earlier in the year that was really eye opening. This guy and girl were walking down the street in some city and literally bumped into each other. They get to chatting and next thing you know they are dating and in love, engaged, having children, and eventually growing old together as happy as can be. The original walking scene replays but this time they are both head down on their iPhones. The guy and girl walk right past each other, completely unaware that the other even existed. That is some sad stuff!
So what do we do? This is still a work in progress for me as it’s realllllyyyy hard to break away but I’ve been testing something that’s been working well. While in Europe over the summer I decided to take a social media break and give up Instagram for a few months. I made it about one whole week and couldn’t help but to check my feed. At that point I decided that complete abstinence wasn’t the answer like how we shouldn’t completely restrict foods we like from our diet. OK, back to what I do that works.
What can be measured can be managed. I spent a day tallying the number of times I checked Instagram and am embarrassed to say it was over 30. I also noticed that, much like snacking, I was just checking it out of habit and really wasn’t “hungry". So- I eliminated snacking.
This is how I arrived at The Social Media Food Rule- only checking social media while eating meals. So depending on your meal frequency, this will be 1 to 6 times a day. Once the plate is empty, the app gets closed.
It’s not perfect and I break this rule a lot but even 6 times a day is a big improvement on 30 times a day. As long as I check social media only at meal times most days a week, that’s a win in my book.
What are you supposed to do with all the free time? This is up to you but I read books, take walks, do puzzles, and write- you know, all the stuff we did before Instagram...
For those that don’t know me, I’ve spent my entire post college working career (9 years) as a sales consultant for a major insurance company selling group insurance to businesses. Most would look at what I had going on as a dream job - more money than I could ever reasonably spend, working for a top company in the industry, incentive trips to 5 star resorts all over the world, incredible work life balance, great coworkers, and a boss who understood me/allowed complete autonomy (well, as long as I hit my goals!).
So what gives? Why would I walk away from something that most people would kill for?
Since I was a little kid, I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. I’ve always been the happiest and felt most comfortable doing what I wanted to do, not what everyone else was telling me I should do. Yes, this got me into trouble a lot but that’s just who I was. From making thousands of dollars selling throwback jerseys in high school to launching my own nutrition and lifestyle blog, I shine most using my creativity and self-motivation to build things of my own. That is where I get fulfillment in life.
I guess you can see where this is going now. It’s kind of hard to build something that’s yours as an employee of a major corporation. So why did I go there in the first place? Coming out of college, you are wired to go look for a job at a company. Investment banking, pharma sales, you know the deal. Also, I didn’t truly know what I wanted to do in life and needed money. Enter the corporate world. For a while, probably the first 6 years, my goal was to be an executive of a company one day. I became entrenched in corporate life and it wasn’t bad at all. When you are in your mid 20’s making the kind of money most people never get to make, life is good.
Fast forward a few years to my late 20’s. Although I was still hitting my goals and doing really well, I started getting this anxiety that something was missing in my life but wasn’t exactly sure what. This feeling kept getting stronger and stronger and was getting to the point of becoming unhealthy. I don’t exactly remember the moment but one day I just woke up and decided that I needed to be out on my own. Again, that is what has always made me happiest and life is all about doing what makes you happy. My philosophy is that as long as you are not harming yourself or others, knock yourself out doing what you love no matter what. So at that moment, I knew I had to leave. Money became secondary to fulfillment. Yes, going out on your own is risky but so is driving a metal deathtrap 80 miles an hour next to other metal deathtraps going 80 miles an hour (who invented roads anyway?). Besides, anything in life I’ve put my mind to has worked out so I had no concerns.
Only problem was I didn’t know WHAT I wanted to do. I knew I loved nutrition and fitness more than anything else. How did I know I loved it? There were many nights I couldn’t sleep because of the excitement of working out in the morning (this still happens). So, I started the process of building out the next big thing in the industry. My expertise was going to be helping people who worked grueling corporate jobs like me, achieve results. I had figured it out and wanted to share that with people. As I started working with some clients and making contacts I realized that I disliked the fitness industry for so many reasons. I will write another post about why but after a year or so I realized that I truly loved nutrition and fitness but more so for myself and outside of work. Once I started blending it in with making money, my passion for it started to fade. OK, so cross that off the list.
At this point it’s December 2015 and I’m still at my job. A good friend in my industry had been talking to me for a few years about partnering up with him. Up until this point, I never took him seriously because I was just making too much money at my job to leave (looking back at it now, that was a terrible excuse not to pursue a dream). However, he was doing exactly what I needed to be doing- running and building his own business.
We met in January like we did from time to time to catch up but it was different now. Money was no longer my primary motivator so it was a pretty easy decision to join forces with him. Even though I knew I was leaving, I did not tell anyone until July because I had a lot of unfinished business to take care of and truly loved my company/felt I owed it to them to finish what I had started. Those 6 months felt like time was literally not moving. Staying focused at a job you know you are leaving is beyond difficult but I made it a personal challenge to continue performing at a high level. During this time, some of the best sales of my career went down and things were going great. Isn’t that how it works? I thought of these successes as the universe challenging me. Was I going to take the short term solution and stay or stick to my guns? It wasn’t surprising that my decision to leave never wavered. Validation.
Leaving the only real job I’ve ever known was difficult, I’m not going to lie. It felt like breaking up with a girl that is still in love with you. Sometimes the toughest decisions are the ones you know you have to make.
It’s been a few months now out on my own. While there are still stressful moments and challenges, I feel completely content knowing I’m doing what I was meant to do. I don’t have any regrets about the path I’ve taken to get here. Working for such an amazing company for 9 years gave me valuable experience, relationships, and the financial stability to make this jump possible. Dipping my toes into the fitness industry showed me that I still love it, just not as a means to an end. Also, I rekindled my love for writing by doing this blog.
I didn’t write this to encourage people to leave their corporate job. That seems to be the “in” thing right now but most people are not built for self-employment. If you have never had a high level of self-motivation, starting your own business is not going to all of a sudden give you that trait. It’s also a straight up grind, people seem to forget that in this instant gratification world we live in. You can be completely happy and fulfilled working for a company; that was just never going to work for me.
Wow, that was a long one but something I needed to get out. I haven’t been able to write for a few months because transitioning into this new role has been my number one priority. If you are considering taking a leap like this and have questions, let me know. Thanks for listening!
Has anyone ever thought about how the months where want to look the best just happen to be the same months where we drink and eat the most? The majority of people diet over the summer months while simultaneously going to more barbecues and social gatherings than any other time of the year. How cruel is that? That's like putting an iPad in front of a kid with ADHD and telling him not to touch it.
You have two choices- be a social hermit all summer and not go to anything OR do a little planning and fully enjoy the company, food, and drink that events like barbecues have to offer.
I have several tactics to tap into depending on the situation but want to focus on a very important one here- Using Alcohol As a Weapon. And by this I mean Drink More Alcohol. How can this possibly be helpful? Let me explain.
First off, this will not work or apply to everyone. If alcohol triggers hunger and uninhibited or mindless eating than you need to drink less (sorry). For others, like me, alcohol has a significant hunger blunting effect.
Let’s think about why we drink alcohol at parties in the first place- it’s a fantastic social lubricant. With that said, I am not even thinking about food at the beginning of a BBQ. I grab a drink and SLOWLY consume it. I focus on it’s taste, temperature, and the effect it has on me. I become completely present at that moment. Throwing food into the mix will dilute the effect of the alcohol which defeats the purpose of drinking in the first place- chasing that buzz. It’s amazing how different drinking with little food in your stomach versus a full stomach is. This is why at restaurants I will stop drinking when the food comes out. At that point, the alcohol loses it’s potency so taste becomes the priority. Since alcohol tastes like shit (in my opinion!) I’ll switch to something that has a pleasant taste like Coke Zero or Iced Tea.
Back to the BBQ- by the time one or two drinks are down and I’ve had some quality conversations with friends/family, the appetizers (which tend to be the highest calorie options) are done and my hunger has simultaneously subsided. I didn’t gorge on the Doritos or buffalo dip. Yes those drinks have calories too, but a couple hundred of alcohol calories compared to what can be thousands of appetizer calories is a big difference.
When the main course rolls out, I have a ton of calories to play with. Burgers, hotdogs, potato salad, you name it. Even some dessert if I am feeling that.
There you have it- drink more to eat less!
I want to start a business but what if it fails? I want to go to Europe but what if a terror attack happens? I want to start lifting weights but what if I hurt my back?
Here's some food for thought- WHAT IF IT DOESN'T?
Taking risks is one of the scariest things to think about, I get that. But nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone.
Think about it. Do you think John D. Rockefeller built his empire by sitting around worrying about all of the bad things that could happen? While I'm sure they were in the back of his mind, he focused the vast majority of his mental capacity on the positives of risk taking and leaving his comfort zone. He was a "What If It Doesn't Happen" guy.
OK, so you try something and it fails. So what? Failure is just a part of the process. Most great entrepreneurs say they learned their biggest lessons and had the most growth from their failures.
I know quitting your job to start your own tech start up is scary. But if it fails you can always go back, right? You won't just curl up and live in obscurity the rest of your life. Just a stop in the journey.
Get uncomfortable and go get what you want! Failure is an option!
I slept like shit the other night. It was weird though because my day had been a normal rest day from a work, food, and lifestyle perspective. The only difference was that I had an extra coffee in the early afternoon which is not something I usually do. Still, it was at 1pm so it's not like that would have affect 8 hours later.
I decided to look up the caffeine content of the drinks I had. Saying that I was surprised with the findings would be an understatement. Each of the 24oz Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffees I drank had 295 milligrams of caffeine in them!
This is what my caffeine consumption looked like for the day:
That's 736mg of caffeine in one day, no wonder why I didn't sleep! For the majority of people, 400-500mg per day is the upper limit of caffeine intake.
- 8a: Keurig hot coffee 120 mg
- 11a: DD Iced Coffee 295 mg
- 1p: DD Iced Coffee 295 mg
- 7p: Diet Dr. Pepper 26 mg
Anything more than that and you'll start experiencing negative effects (sleep quality being the biggest offender). Caffeine is a great drug (yes, it's a drug) with many benefits but overconsumption can be an issue. Just like calories, over consuming caffeine doesn't take much effort. I spent some time on the following website looking up caffeine in a bunch of drinks.http://www.caffeineinformer.com/the-caffeine-databaseThe amount of caffeine in our favorite Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts drinks is mind boggling. A Venti (20oz) Starbucks hot coffee has 415mg of caffeine in it.
You pop two of those and you are in some trouble. There's just no way that won't affect your sleep, even if consumed earlier in the day.The biggest surprise to me was the amount of caffeine in Dunkin Donuts "DECAF" coffee- about 100mg in a 20oz hot coffee and a 24oz iced coffee.
The word decaf is inaccurate/misleading and should be renamed "less caffeine" instead. So someone like my Dad who is sensitive to caffeine therefore drinks decaf, would be unknowingly consuming a significant amount of caffeine. Yikes.
This was definitely eye opening for me and has changed the way I am going to drink coffee moving forward. For example, in the summer I will get decaf iced coffees from Dunkin instead of regular which will cut out 400mg of caffeine, putting me in a safe range.
Pre workout drinks get a bad rap for having 300-400mg of caffeine in them but it's things like coffee that we are consuming much more of that we need to worry about. No wonder why we are all addicted to Dunkin. Again, caffeine is a drug!
Does this cliche fitness statement hold true? Like pretty much everything in this world, it depends and is highly contextual. So, picking a set percentage doesn't make much sense.
Losing weight simply requires an individual to be in a calorie deficit and can be achieved through diet manipulation, exercise, or a combination of both. Nutrition's importance also depends on the goal at hand- pure weight loss or improved body composition (increasing muscle mass). Let's examine both scenarios.
Pure weight loss
If this is your goal, it is possible to get results without any exercise at all. Example- Donald Trump requires 2,000 calories per day to maintain his body weight based on a sedentary lifestyle with no exercise (hypothetically). By simply dropping calories to 1,500 per day (500 calorie daily deficit needed to lose roughly one pound per week), Mr. Trump will lose weight. No elliptical, no running, no lifting weights, nothing. So in this situation nutrition would be considered to be 100% of the equation.
However, adding in 3 to 5 hours of exercise per week will increase your calorie expenditure by a few hundred per day making it easier to diet because more food can be consumed. So, if Trump walked for an hour each day after his campaign speeches were over, he could probably get away with eating 1,800 calories instead of 1,500 calories and still lose a pound per week. Now, nutrition and exercise are blended (probably 70-90% nutrition, 10-30% exercise).
On the flip side, if Trump decided to ignore tracking his calories and just increase exercise frequency in an attempt to drop weight, it probably won't work. It doesn't matter how much you exercise if you are still in a calorie surplus. You see this a lot with people looking to lose weight- first instinct is to ramp up the cardio with no awareness of how many calories they are actually consuming.
Improved body composition
If your goal is to lean out but increase muscle mass, exercise (weightlifting specifically) plays a much larger role than in pure weight loss. Muscle tissue simply cannot grow without an appropriate stimulus. Lifting weights provides the stress muscles need to break down, repair, and ultimately grow. So, in this case nutrition is still important but you can argue that exercise (weightlifting) is just as important (50% nutrition and 50% exercise).
I'd advise most people, guys in particular, to prioritize body composition over just losing weight. If you are a guy and drop 50 pounds with no foundational base of muscle, it's not going to look good (think skinny fat). Fortunately, it's very easy to put a base of muscle on by just incorporating some full body weight training into your schedule 2-3 days per week.
What's the verdict?
Again, it's hard to say that nutrition is 80% of the equation in all cases. You can see from the above examples that the percentage swings based on the individual. However, for the general population just looking to lose some weight, nutrition is going to provide the best bang for your buck. And that's great news! You know why? Because eating food is something we already do everyday and not additive like starting to workout. So, instead of saying I HAVE TO do more cardio to lose weight, start saying I HAVE TO be more responsible and aware of the amount of calories I consume each day. The body fat will start peeling off with much less effort and stress!
Check out more cool insight on instagram @theshreddedsalesman
The human mind has incredible powers. Unfortunately those powers can, and often are used to our detriment to impede progress or growth. Our mind spends so much time worrying about the future. Think about where your stress comes from...hitting a sales goal, an upcoming wedding, or fear of growing old without finding "The One" are just a few examples.
I think fretting about the future causes such a high level of anxiety because it's indefinite, open ended stress. Worrying about something every day that may be 20-30 years away is maddening. That's like dying a slow, painful death.
But the crazy part is that most of that perceived future stress is completely fabricated by our minds! So chances are it's not real, why stress about it?
Why not instead focus on the present and take action when you have control? Think about the time wasted worrying about something like having enough money to pay your mortgage (future stress). Use that time instead doing something in the present like working towards a job promotion or starting an on-line business for additional revenue.
A great read or audio book to listen to is "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. He talks about spending the majority of your time in the present and not in the future. I found that listening to this a few times a week for 10 minute clips did wonders on my mindset adjustment/stress reduction.
Stress is the enemy of happiness and a life without maximal happiness sucks.
Kind of a random post but it's what's on my mind right now. Don't Worry, Be Happy!
Last summer my wife and I went to Italy for our 1 year wedding anniversary. Naturally, a trip like that includes overindulging on pizza, pasta, gelato, and wine. I probably challenged a world record for most pizza consumed in a 10 day period and my wife got the nickname "The Polisher" because of the way she polished off so much gelato (I still call her that). I did not really track my calorie intake while abroad like I normally do. Neither of us really cared if we put on a few pounds if it meant enjoying everything Italy had to offer.
To our surprise, when we got home both of us had lost 2-3 pounds! How could this be? Let me explain.
It may sound counterintuitive but there's a good chance you are more active on vacation than in your normal everyday life. The average American is pretty damn sedentary. If you work a desk job/white collar job, you aren't burning many calories other than the 3-6 times you may workout per week. I average about 1-2 miles of walking or 2,000-4,000 steps just going about my normal day which is pathetic. For some context, we burn about 100 cals per mile walked on average. So an extra 100-200 calories burned per day is nothing.
Now think about all that is involved on vacation- walking through airports, excursions and tours, walking around your resort, exploring/walking the city you are in. The common theme is increased walking which equates to more calories burned.
Check this out:
Miles/day Walking Calories Burned Walking
My Normal Week 1.5 150
My Italy Vacation 9 900
My Cali Vacation 5 500
So, while in Italy I was burning an extra 750 calories/day! That explains the weight loss.
I think this is pretty eye opening. There is a common misconception out there that we have to be actively exercising to burn calories but what we do outside of the gym is more impactful than what we do while working out.
Move more = burn more calories = lose more fat. Simple equation.
So I am writing this only because I've had an influx of questions around detox/cleanses, which makes sense given summer is right around the corner. I did not write this to shit on these methods; if it works for you, more power to you. In fact, I know people that have had great success using cleanses.
Personally, I am not a fan of these diets but also understand that my nutritional philosophies are not the only ways to get results.
I don't like detoxes/cleanses because they are 1) extreme 2) short term thinking in nature and 3) based on unsubstantiated scientific principles. Sounds like my thought process during college. Here are the details.
But won't I lose weight on a detox? (Extreme)
The short answer is yes, you will lose weight. To lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit, ie. take in less calories than your body needs to burn for energy. A cleanse is just disguised as a calorie deficit, albeit an EXTREME calorie deficit. From the research I did, most detoxes have people consuming anywhere from 500-1,000 calories/day. That is ridiculous!
We have something called a basal metabolic rate (BMR) which in a nutshell is the amount of calories our body needs to carry out its everyday processes at rest (think pumping blood throughout the body). To figure out your BMR, take bodyweight and multiply it by 8 or 9. For example, I am 190 pounds so my BMR is roughly 1,700 calories. A cleanse would have me eating significantly less calories than my body needs to FUNCTION PROPERLY. Just think about that. This is potentially dangerous and there's just no way you won't feel the effects of your body fighting back if this goes on for more than a few days. I wouldn't be surprised if someone has dizzy spells and cognitive impairment as a result. Having a foggy mind is not a good thing if you have something like say, a job. So, the moral of the story is don't eat below your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) for an extended period of time.
But it's only for X days, how bad can it be? (Short term thinking)
And then what? This would be the equivalent of a CEO taking over a struggling company but having no plan on increasing sales and reducing expenses. "Sorry guys, I'm just here for the big paycheck." Fat loss needs to be looked at in the long term. OK, so you lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Super, I truly am happy for you. But what's the game plan for the next several years to ensure you don't gain that weight back? I've seen it too many times- someone loses 20 pounds from an extreme, short duration diet and gains all the weight back, and then some. What's the point of losing the weight in the first place?
Short term thinking at its finest. We are too good for this. It amazes me how well thought out other areas of our lives are but we don't do the same for something as important as our health.
A good question to ask- can I see myself doing this in five years? If the answer is no, it's probably not going to work.
But don't I need to cleanse my body from toxins? (Unsubstantiated scientific principles)
Sure. Toxins are not good for the body and should be eliminated. Guess what? You have a built in detox system, mainly your liver and digestive tract, that eliminate these toxins everyday! Do you really think toxins and junk food residue (as one detox website so eloquently put it) have been hanging out in your body all your life waiting for a juice diet to come along and save it? If we truly were flush with toxins and poisonous chemicals, we'd all be bed ridden or dead. Not to get all Bill Nye the Science Guy on you, but here's a quick overview of the phenomenal job our body does to "cleanse" each and every day. Our liver either burns off hazardous toxins on site or turns them into waste that can be sent out out by doing #1 or #2. Our digestive tract contains hydrochloric acid (HCL). Do you know what HCL does to you if you come in contact with it? It is highly dangerous and can burn the skin on contact. Yes, we have that in our stomach specifically to break down food during digestion and to eliminate any harmful pathogens contained in the food we just consumed.
We need to give our bodies more credit, they are incredibly powerful machines.
So, doing a detox for it's "cleansing powers" is the equivalent of doing 1,000 biceps curls in a workout because "it will get you jacked bro!" Complete bro science with no scientific backing.
So what do I do?
We don't need extreme calorie deficits to lose weight and we certainly don't need to give up the foods we love to eat. A more moderate deficit of 500 calorie/day will result in fat loss of roughly 1 pound/week, a safe and normal rate of fat loss. To figure out how many calories are right for you, first find your maintenance level (the amount of calories where you will neither lose or gain weight). To do, this multiply bodyweight by 13. From there, simply take that number and subtract 500 calories from it. That is your daily calorie target to put yourself in a healthy calorie deficit. This is just a rough estimate to get started on so track your weight week to week and make adjustments. For example, if you find that your weight isn't changing after a few weeks then drop calories by 100-200 as your actual maintenance level is probably lower than the estimate. As far as food choice goes, knock yourself out eating what you want to get to your calorie goal. Think of it as a calorie "budget" that you have to spend each day. Life is too short to not eat the food you love.
The last thing I'll leave you with is a simple statement to keep in mind when evaluating diet plans to follow- the more extreme the methods, the more extreme the rebound.
I am going to start a new series of articles called "On the Road Eats," which is my top picks for finding healthier food options away from home. Being in outside sales for 9 years, I have eaten thousands of meals at restaurants so I have a large sample size to pull from. What I've found is that no matter where you eat, you can make it work. The key is to first understand the foundations of how food works in the body (hint- calories in vs. energy expended). Then, you can apply those principles to any situation.CHIPOTLE aka #godsgift, takes the top spot in my "On the Road Eats" power rankings. What Is There to Like About It?
- Satiating, whole foods. You hear me preach it all the time but I don't chase "clean" food, I chase food that keeps me full for a long time. Whole, unprocessed food choices are the best at that. Think lean meat, veggies, rice.
- High food volume to calorie ratio. You've heard of Time Under Tension (TUT) in weightlifting. Well in food talk, I judge meals by Time Under Chewing (TUC). The longer the better! Not to pick on McDonald's (because I eat there too), but 500 calories at Chipotle gets you a massive, overflowing burrito bowl that takes 20+ minutes to eat while Mickey D's gives you small fries and 6 McNuggets which can be eaten in the blink of an eye. Tip- other than meat or guac, there is no charge for doubling or tripling pretty much anything else so ask for more veggies, salsa, etc. to increase food volume.
What Should I Order?*Classification system borrowed from the homies at www.eatcleanbro.comLean. 6 pack food
- Completely customizable menu to fit any goal. Having the ability to get meals ranging from 200 calories to thousands of calories means that Chipotle is "season proof" and can be eaten at anytime of the year. The choice factor can be slightly overwhelming for Chipotle first timers (it's hilarious to watch them order), but once you go a few times you'll develop Go To's.
Clean. Maintaining food
- Salad bowl with meat of choice, fajita veggies, and salsa
- Calories: 230 / Macros: 7.5g Fat, 6g Carb, 33g Protein
Mean. #bulklife food
- Burrito bowl with meat of choice, rice or beans, fajita veggies, cheese, and salsa
- Calories: 545 / Macros: 20g Fat, 46g Carb, 43g Protein
- Burrito with flour tortilla, double meat of choice, rice, beans, fajita veggies, cheese, and salsa
- Calories: 1,145 / Macros: 37g Fat, 116g Carb, 87g Protein
What Should I Watch Out For (W2W4)?
- Guacamole. The servers have a heavy hand and tend to scoop 2-3 serving sizes instead of 1. If you are going to order it, ask for it in a to go container which ends up being the exact serving size.
- Chips. To me, they are just not worth it for 570 calories, 27g fat, and 73g carbs. I'd rather eat Tostitos with a single serve Wholly Guacamole at home later for much less calories.
- The Mexican specialty aka high carb meals. This goes back to understanding how food works. Flour tortillas, rice, and beans are all carbohydrate sources. If you get all 3 at once, that is easily over 600 calories right there. Pick one carb source per meal if you are trying to lose or maintain weight.
Let me know what you think of this article series guys. That will determine how often I write these. Thanks!- @theshreddedsalesman