I have a story

I’ve been listening to some ManOwaR the past few days as I’m getting ready to go train. It’s great stuff to get you fired up and ready to go.

My goal physique and ideal pre-training mood music.
My goal physique and ideal pre-training mood music.

All of a sudden I remembered that I was actually wearing a ManOwaR shirt when I first joined a gym, about 20 years ago. Yep I’m that old.

Now a bit of background people so far haven’t heard about. At this time I was 19 years old, and I’m pretty sure I weighed 50kg. That’s BMI 17 for those of you who are keeping score. I’d lost a lot of weight due to recently spending about a week and a half in hospital for some kind of asthma & bronchitis related lung failure.

So I would have been skinny at the best of times, which still wasn’t as uncommon in the early – mid 90s as it is today, but having just gotten out of hospital I was actually underweight and I’d been told in no uncertain terms that I needed to start exercising to get healthier and stronger or else I’d be seeing a lot more of the inside of a hospital ward. In case anyone out there needed another “skinny does not necessarily = healthy” story, you just got one.

So I signed up at a local gym and I remember I was wearing my ManOwaR shirt as pictured above, and when asked my goals I pointed to the faceless warrior on the shirt and said “I want to look like this”. I already had the hair believe it or not. So the trainer laughs, makes the obligatory steroid joke and then goes on to ask me about my nutrition.

Boom. Here’s the problem. I can’t even remember the conversation as I would have just switched off right away. I didn’t eat healthy. I didn’t eat any meat. I didn’t really eat any vegetables either. I’d heard it all before and knew there was no way I was going to change my eating habits and start eating a traditional bodybuilding diet or whatever else. Not because I didn’t want to… well… I didn’t want to eat meat, but not because I didn’t want to eat healthier or was stubborn or whatever else. It just wasn’t a possibility to me. Why? Who knows.

SO I can’t even remember that conversation but I do remember the one with the hospital’s dietitian however many days or weeks earlier. Something like this:

So you don’t eat any meat?
Couldn’t you try some?
What about chicken, would you eat chicken?
How about fish? You don’t eat fish?
Well what about lamb? Would you try lamb? Lamb is nice!

At which point the guy just throws up his hands in frustration, tells me “LOOK YOU’RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO EAT MEAT” and storms off.

Now some of you out there no doubt can relate to this. Maybe it’s not because you’re vegetarian, but you don’t eat the text book “healthy” diet and aren’t good at trying new things. And when you get a trainer or a dietitian who is SHIT AT THEIR JOB… I’m actually get mad right now thinking about it. Like it was going to be a revelation to me that how I’d been eating wasn’t healthy, or like I’d never been told “just eat it, it’s good for you” before and was going to suddenly go “oh ok, if you say so” and start eating like a normal person as if by magic or spiritual awakening.

What someone actually good at their job might have done is talk to me about vegetarian protein sources, and how to put together the best balanced diet out of the limited choices available to me. Or perhaps even sent the psychologist to speak to me instead. Instead though, when you’re dealing with someone who is SHIT AT THEIR JOB they just think “well I eat like this, why can’t you? You’re just going to have to”.

20 years later I’d like to say things have changed and we have a better understanding of such issues… but we don’t. I still see trainers making comments like ” I feel like shaking them and saying why don’t you just grow up!” …. that’s a cut n paste direct quote from a conversation the other day. Worse, so many trainers out there promote such restrictive diets backed by fear mongering that even if you don’t have issues with food to start with, you’re sure to develop them before long.

Anyway… I can’t remember exactly when I quit training again, but by age 25 a similar thing happened again. Back in hospital and this time it was to get half my thyroid removed due to a tumor. Except this time I was fat. So out of hospital and I join a different gym, but still with that “don’t even talk to me about nutrition, just give me the exercise program and I’ll get stuck into it” mindset. Now… this is really what most people are doing in the gym, right? It’s just damage control. I knew I couldn’t eat healthy enough to ever really be in shape, but I figured I could do enough to not get any fatter or any more unhealthy.

Now at this point things went better than expected. Perhaps due to sheer perseverance and consistency, I actually made some progress. At some point I believe around age 28 I actually started introducing a few new foods, for example lentils and rice. By my 30s I’d added tofu and other soy products, and by mid 30s even some vegetables like capsicum and spinach. At this point I started to think about becoming a PT on the grounds that so many people would ask my advice and ask why I wasn’t one already. Ironically if you click around the internet a bit, you’ll read a lot of stuff about soy, legumes and even rice being deal breakers because they don’t fit into some fad diet protocol or other. Not to mention all the bread and cereal I still eat. And the fruit. Bullshit.

Age 36. BMI 25. "Shit diet".
Age 36. BMI 25. Shit diet.

SO… mid 30s I finally go out and get qualified as a PT. I can’t even remember if I learned how to do calorie targets as part of my qualification or elsewhere, but I decided to prove myself by getting back down to BMI 25, or 68kg which I could remember weighing in at in my early 20s.

Well… I did that, but decided it was too skinny and I’ve been gaining ever since, a little at a time. Currently sitting at about 80kg or about BMI 28 if you prefer.

Now the moral to all of this… that’s a 20 year story and of the past 5 years or so I’ve known and increasingly understood how calorie intake and macronutrient ratios influence body weight and composition. Also I know to make sure I’m getting enough fiber, and enough vitamins and minerals from cereals, fruits…. and I’m still not very good with my vegetables but I’m getting better. Imagine if someone who wasn’t SHIT AT THEIR JOB had have let me know this was possible 20 years ago, instead of just telling me “eat like everyone else” and making me feel like I could never be healthy, strong or in athletic shape because there was something wrong with me?

Maybe that’s something a lot of you can relate to.

I had no choice but to believe in Flexible Dieting. Fortunately, it does work. If anything it is a MORE strategic approach than traditional dieting, as you are actually determining targets that correspond to your nutritional requirements, and you’re coming up with a plan to hit them with the appropriate amounts of foods you enjoy. How is that not a more sound strategy than just eating random amounts of “allowed” foods, and assuming that by eating those foods you automatically end up at appropriate intake?

Any coach or self appointed health expert who tries to tell you that flexible dieting can’t work and you need to just take their cookie cutter meal plan the same as they give to every one else as if we weren’t all individuals with our own preferences and unique idiosyncrasies is full of it.

Don’t allow their laziness and incompetence to hold you back.

DaveHPT Custom Flexible Dieting Guidelines: Testimonial

Here’s a nice video testimonial from a great supporter and customer of mine, who was smart enough to follow the Custom Flexible Dieting Guidelines I produced for her a while back.

As you can hear for yourself, the benefits of Flexible Dieting, and in particular MY approach to Flexible Dieting are many and varied. The benefits of being aware of and focussed upon exceeding your minimum requirements, rather than on restricting to some arbitrary “very low calorie” target should almost go without saying. Let’s run through some of them in random order all the same:

  • You’re actually fuelling your body properly, enabling good health and great results from training.
  • You quickly learn to build your own plan, consisting of more of the foods you like to eat, including some purely for enjoyment.
  • As you learn the macronutrional value of different foods and train your appetite to be more in tune with your requirements, you will be far less likely to over or under fuel when eating intuitively.
  • Understanding just how much fuel their bodies will utilise to fuel, recover from and adapt to training, and with no restrictions on what food choices are included in meeting those requirements, my clients soon feel like they are just “eating whatever they want”, and still seeing better results than ever before.

Vegetarian & Vegan Bodybuilding, Weight Loss and General Health And Fitness

Let’s talk vegetarian and vegan body building, and general health and fitness.

Now, over the past year or two as far as my online presence and business focus goes, I’ve been talking a lot about weight loss. Since becoming more involved in the fitness related social networks, micro blogging and so forth, I became more aware of the amount of misinformation (or perhaps, disinformation) being spread, ranging from just over complicated or inaccurate advice all the way through to the promotion of dangerous and damaging unhealthy approaches.

The line between what is just inaccurate or unhelpful and what is dangerous and damaging is vague and blurry. There are any number of different dieting strategies people could adopt and be successful with, but whenever the message is “you must cut out these foods, and you cannot do it without these other foods” we’re straight into inaccurate territory. For people who think “well that’s easy enough, I can do that” it’s all well and good.

More often though, people already doubt themselves and their ability to succeed. You throw a lot of rules and restrictions at them and they doubt their ability to stick to them. They try to force themselves to stick to them, inevitably fail, and then things get messy as people start to associate feelings of guilt or inadequacy with eating and before you know it… actually I double the general public really has any idea how rife this is and what a serious health and mental health issue it has become. If you’re active in or have browsed the supposed “health and fitness” or weight loss tags of the various blogging platforms, you’ll know what I’m talking about already. It is most concerning.

I digress a little especially as I’m supposed to be talking about vegetarian fitness and body building or body sculpting, but my point is that all these rules and restrictions aren’t at all necessary and the responsible message that people in the business (or anyone else) should be promoting is that as long as you know your nutritional requirements (and limits) you really can meet them with your choice of foods and nothing needs to be off limits entirely.

Now watch how smoothly I tie all this together and turn it into a post about vegetarian fitness.

So like I said earlier, I talk and write a lot about weight loss and I’ve become very successful in using Flexible Dieting principles (aka IIFYM) combined with strategic and methodical training to produce some truly amazing results in weight loss, body sculpting and re-composition with clients all around the world. For myself though, my interest is in getting bigger, stronger and more symmetrically proportioned while still remaining relatively lean; known to the general public as “body building” although truth be told I do not really take this anywhere near to the level required to get on stage and compete.

Also, I happen to be a vegetarian at least 99% of the time.

Now, talking earlier about all these unnecessary rules and restrictions, who out there would possibly get told “you can’t do it that way” more than someone trying to get big and strong on a vegetarian diet? Well… you’ve got your vegans I suppose, that’s about it. The point remains the same though. Regardless of the goal, if you know your nutritional requirements you can build your own plan to meet them with your choice of foods. You do need to know those requirements, and you do need to plan and ensure that you meet them… it requires some effort but it is entirely doable for anyone who is serious about trying.

Of course… you also need an awesome training program.

But protein though?

All you vegetarians and vegans out there are already sick of being asked this annoying question by people who suddenly think they’re a nutritionist as soon as they find out you don’t like chewing on animals. Right? Back in my corporate days, as soon as I got a sniffle some joker would instantly chime in with the old “it’s because you don’t get enough protein” line. I’ve ranted about this so many times in the past already. Really though? Because I could tell them exactly how much protein I was getting on a daily basis, due to actually having a nutrition plan I’d created to meet my needs. Also I could probably lift them up over my head and throw them across the room, or tear their arm off and beat them with the wet end if they keep trying to lecture me about things they know nothing about.

If you’re a lacto-ovo vegetarian… no problem at all, because that means you’ve got your eggs and dairy as protein sources. You can always supplement with whey, soy or other forms of protein shakes if you need to bring up your protein intake. Vegans, you’ve still got your pulses, nuts and seeds and there are now some pretty nice tasting plant based protein supplements available as well.

Something I have been reading up on a little bit lately and trying to get an even better understanding of is the way the human body can actually synthesise protein for itself. What this means is that as long as you’re getting your 9 Essential Amino Acids, your body can synthesise whatever else it needs to produce a complete protein. There is no scarcity of plant based sources for these Essential Amino Acids, and as a vegan these sources will make up the majority of your total daily calorific intake.

In other words you have very little to worry about, if anything at all.

A good, varied vegetarian or vegan diet will also mean an excellent micronutrition (that means vitamins and minerals) profile, as well. One could safely bet, much better than those of the average misinformed meat eater lecturing you about protein as if it is the only important aspect of nutrition.

Women In The Weight Room

Here’s a post I’ve been meaning to write up for a while now, for all the ladies out there who are doing my program, or any other weights based program, or maybe aren’t doing it just yet but would like to start.

Possibly the most common concern I hear from women is that they feel intimidated about heading into the free weights section, because typically that’s male dominated territory and they feel like the gym bros might be offended by their presence,or something. I’m gonna hit you over the head with some truth and logic in the next few paragraphs. First up and perhaps most importantly, this is about YOU, not them. You’re paying your membership fees the same as anyone else, and going in there to put in your best effort and do what it takes, to take what you want from life. That means getting healthy, sculpting your goal body, boosting your confidence and being a happier person. If anyone has a problem with that they can go fuck themselves! That’s what I think.

Now, it’s unlikely to be an issue anyway. Serious people in the gym are either focussed on their own session to the point where they barely notice other people, OR they’re happily enjoying training and pleased to see other people sharing the same interest. If you feel like the experienced lifters have noticed your presence in the weight room, it’s more likely that they’re trying to decide if (as a beginner) you’d be pleased to have them offer some advice, or not. PRO TIP, if someone looks like they probably know what they’re taking about, take whatever advice they offer on board. There’s a million strategies that will get results so you don’t necessarily have to change everything you’re doing every time someone makes a suggestion, but if they look like they know their stuff at least hear them out and consider it.

SO your choices are… earplugs in blasting some heavy metal (other music is not an acceptable option haha) into your brain, focus on training, mind your business and others will do the same, OR be approachable, listen to advice from people who seem experienced and knowledgeable (unless it goes against anything you’ve learned here!). Either way, get stuck into a serious training program like Power, Precision & Pump and you will EARN RESPECT. You’re not in their just wasting your time with some nonsense “workout” and getting in the way of the serious people… you ARE one of the serious people. Regardless of your current size,weight or ability level… you’re in there putting a serious effort into a serious program to get serious results. People will respect that, and if they don’t… who cares what they think? What sort of insecure,immature people would they have to be to think “this is just for us, we don’t want other people here doing what we do”. Remember the saying, a lion does not care about the opinions of sheep!

Ok. Enough talk. Tomorrow you storm into the weight room, claim it as your territory (shared with everyone else, of course!) and take what you want out of life. And anyone who doesn’t like it can step out of the way or get stepped all over!

And this right here is what it looks like.