The Gym Life Email Archive: Real People Seeking Real Answers

Below is 15 email threads I’ve had with various readers of this site. I changed the names to protect identity. There’s enough gold in here to turn into a course or ebook but I decided to turn it into a post instead. I’m generous like that =D

Read through these threads and I bet you will find something that sounds familiar. If you ever want to send me your own questions, do so here.

The Gym Life Q & A

Email Question #1

John:

Colin – just found this site today and really enjoy it so far. (I’m new to fitness – after years of “traditional” workouts and HIIT.) Question, in your “50 Ways to get Better at Training” you mention that needing to eat before/during/after a workout was supplement industry BS. From experience I can tell you that pre-workout shakes, then intra workout shakes, then post workout shakes left me with some “shake” in my midsection. I’ve been going to my fitness workouts at 6:30am having not eaten since dinner the night before. I do however usually sip on a 10g amino acid + 25g carb mix during my workout. Waste of time and money?…or actually “muscle-sparing”. If that’s even a real thing!

Colin:

Hey John, – I would def recommend starting to train in fasted state. Post workout, most of the time, you can do just protein and water for recovery purposes. When you finally lean out, you can work more towards more carbs  and protein post workout. Also you should try fasting post workout sometimes for a few hours. Mark sisson has a few good articles About this.

And ya, no such thing as muscle sparing unless you are in a major calorie defect state and/or you are overtraining.

Hope that helps!

John:

Colin, – Funniest thing happened this morning during my 6:30 WOD…I drank water…no pre-workout shake…no intra workout shake…and I didn’t die!  In fact, I felt great!  Thanks for the advice.  Really enjoying your website, keep up the great work.

Colin:

Haha that’s awesome Joe! It took me awhile to realize that there were many ways to skin a cat and that i decide what’s best for my body instead of buying into everyone else’s dogma..

Keep it up!

Email Question #2

Ronald:

Hey Colin, – Big fan of your articles, I just want to know if I’m doing right; here is my routine: wake up at 5:40, eat a banana for natural carbs for energy for fitness, do my protein shake, and go walk to the box (it’s very near my home, about 1.3 km) stretch and do my wod, and do 100 sit ups regularly after the wod, then I walk back to go to a job as a gym assistant (I’m 16 tbh it’s a pain in the ass to be in that job), anyways I do a cardio WOD at home at around 5:00 o’clock. Strict diet of pure protein, veggies, spinach, no milk or bread, juice, water, and fruit. I aspire to become an athlete, and I try to do my best. (Tbh my only role models are you and Rich Froning lol). Recovery plan of 5 on 2 off, cheat meal on saturday (hell yeah). As for #9 you said that fasting is important, so I shouldn’t eat the banana for carbs? Since my protein powder doesn’t have sugar, fats, cholesterol, and just 8g of carbs. Please reply.

Colin:  

Roland, – Thanks for the email and sharing… use Rich as your performance rolemodel and me as your nutrition/food role model lol.

Ok, so in the morning I’d prefer you to wait till post-workout for the banana and shake. Start trying to train on an empty stomach… after awhile you’ll be much stronger doing so.

What are your protein sources? You probably need more quality fat intake, but what you are staying away from is good. So you are on par with that.

I would avoid doing two WODs a day or at least scale the volume back a lot. FOr your 2nd workout, you could focus on a lot of skill work, mobility and whatnot. That will help you work on your weaknesses while also avoiding over-training.

Make sure you have at least one full rest day a week and try to get another semi-rest day where you get outdoors and walk or hike or do a light jog at the beach.

I would say more fat (avocado, coconut oil, kerrygold butter, a variety of raw nuts/seeds, some olive oil, sardines, salmon, fatty fish, grass-fed beef, bison) and more skill work. As you get stronger you can slowly add a bit more in the WOD department but let your body adapt safely in time.

Ronald:

Thanks for the feedback Colin, I have a final question, if I stop taking protein powder shakes will I lose muscle? My protein sources are eggs, ham, salmon, chicken (not fried).

Colin:

Why would you stop with the shakes? Take it post workout and stick with just whey protein and water. You’ll be fine. 

Ronald:

One last question Colin, I try to cut and bulk at the same time and I know it is almost impossible to do so, I recently got silk unsweetened coconut milk, so the days that I do one fitness WOD I use water with my protein shake to reduce the amount of calories I consume to cut, and the days I do a WOD and skill work I may use the milk with the protein powder to bulk; is this right or vice versa? I am trying to play it smart because I want it to result. Thank you for replying.

Colin:

Yeah, this sounds perfect.

Email Question #3

Jane:

Hey Colin, – I hope you’re doing good, I’ve been trying to get stronger in fitness (or hoped to when I began) and cannot do so, I’ve been starting to do as a cash out after a WOD 3 sets of 5 thrusters (empty barbell), to add a strength program detail to my routine, but it’s not working. Yes, I have been eating loads of protein every day, spinach, carbs, fruit, vegetables, raw orange juice, water, chicken, coconut milk, and such. But I don’t know what I’m doing wrong? 

Colin:

More sleep. Less workouts most likely.

How many workouts and how often?

You want to lift weights 2-3 days a week. GO hard and heavy for a short period of time. then do 2-3 wods a week. That’s it.

Email Question #4

Cindy: Hello Colin, – Hope you don’t mind me emailing you but I am new to fitness and I came across your ’50 ways to get better at fitness’ article and think it is probably the best resource I’ve found so far. Lots of suggestions etc and I’m definitely going to put some into practice but I do have a question.

1″4. For the ladies: have someone spot your ankles as you perform strict pull-ups (push off the spotters hands to assist reps and go for failure). This is the best way to develop the dead hang pull-up that I have found.”

I am very keen to get improve my chin ups but I don’t understand why this is just for ladies? Are we meant to do it differently to men? I’ve probably missed something obvious about form but I’m inexperienced.

Thank you

Colin: Cindy, – It’s not just for ladies by any means. It’s just more common that ladies struggle with strict pull-ups to a point where many can’t even do one. For men, it’s often they can do at least one or two. In that instance, they just have to do LOTS of them.  But either way, if man or woman struggles, a spotter at the feet can help you development the dead hang uber-effectively!

Cindy: I see, great stuff then coz I definitely struggle and want to practice. Really do think your resources are great.

Thank you! 🙂

 

Email Question #5

Page: Hi there! First of all, I want to compliment you on providing SO much amazing information and words of wisdom in your blog. I visit it daily/weekly and have learned a great deal from your articles. I recently bought “The Art of Living” and it truly helped put so much in perspective for me… thank you for the recommendation!!

Now to my question. I am a 34-year old woman, I’m highly active (fitness 3-4 times per week plus mountain biking), and I eat clean (paleo probably 90%). When I started doing fitness religiously, I weighed 120-121… a weight that I have maintained for 10-12 years. I also was not paleo when I started doing fitness, but maintained a very health diet. Within the last several months, I have gained weight… 124.5 this morning! Clothes still fit the same (my appetite is a bit bigger…), so I’m not too concerned. My question is do people usually gain weight withfitness.. and is it just do to muscle gain? It seems like so many people loose weight! Not me… haha

Let me know your thoughts! Thanks,

Colin: Page, – Thanks for the kind words…means a lot to me!

Art of living is life changing…really. Congrats.

In short, the scale is a liar. Your weight can fluctuate as much as 3 (or more) pounds in a day. The only thing that matters is what you look like in the mirror and how you feel. Those are the only markers that matter.

Think about it, who said you have to weigh a certain amount? That is just an idea in your head that you are fixated on.

Use the mirror and the quality of your life as your gauge.

Ive heard of others gaining weight. Especially those that are leaner due to the increased muscle mass. We are all different and our body seeks homeostasis on it’s own..meaning it tries to find and maintain your natural genetic disposition. Stick with clean eating, a healthy balance of training with enough rest, and use the mirror to determine what is right for you.

Email Question #6

Stan:

Hey man, Love the site.. appreciate what you’re doing and I know many people are getting it done right!

I have a crazy schedule (law enforcement), my hours are switched up every three months and have a hard time keeping up with the diet. Right now I’m on the night shift (7p-730a), I usually get home around 8a and sleep until about 2p. I try and workout right when I wake up and then eat my meals until about 1030p and then start the fasting phase.

Should I not be fasting the entire time I’m at work? Should I be eating? Never thought too much about supplements, but taking you up on a few you suggest.

I know you’re busy man, but if you get a chance I would appreciate your feedback.

Colin:

Stan, – Thanks for the kind words!

How many meals are you eating when you break your fast and how long is your feeding window? NM, just reread it.

Your schedule sounds fine. Fasting during work is actually preferred because when we are busy its much easier to avoid food and not think about it while on the flip side when we have free time we tend to snack and think about food more. I would keep that up. That said, you have to focus on your food quality. Eat the best Paleo foods you can get with lots of fat protein and veggies, fruit and clean starches.

You should absolutely be doing tihs stack as a minimum: http://goo.gl/fI1z9N

They recently launched this and its my new fav supp stack bar none. Ive been waiting for someone to come out with these “essentials” in one line. Def get this and start taking each daily. Then, you should grab a bottle of carlson cod liver oil to get a bit more omegas in at each meal time (2-3 caps per meal).

What you are doing sounds good, keep it up.

Stan:

Damn man! Didn’t think I would hear from you so quick.

Yeh I appreciate it. I’ll check it out. So much temptation at work so reading your stuff often keeps my ass on point.

Just put the order in for some of this supps.

One last question.. Any suggestion on a multi vitamin? BCAA product?

Thanks again man,

Hey also my energy crashes after 10 hours so the last two hours of my shift are tough (falling asleep). Can you recommend anything safe for a boost? Usually go straight to bed when I get home so nothing insane.

Colin:

Stan – Ya that’s tough. Natural stacks has a Smart caffeine but that might be too much. A bit of tea or a few sips of coffee might be enough. The best thing also is to get up and do a few sets of push-ups or squats can help get blood flowing and wake you up.  I would test each of these and find what works best. Or you might just use a combination of them.

Email Question #7

Trisha:

Colin — found your site; already a fan of MDA. Been active my whole life–riding/showing horses, running marathons, teaching indoor cycle classes, some weight training. Wanted a change, so at 47 found fitness and dropped all else. Been at it for about 6 months and love it. Been Primal for longer, but not seeing results as I expected. You mention not snacking, but if I eat lunch at say noon or 1 and don’t have dinner until 6 or later, I NEED a snack in between. My downfall is almond butter. I simply cannot control it and eat too much and feel like crap. What is a better alternative so I keep my total caloric intake down? I know it’s not about calories, but for me it sort of is as I’m 5’1″ and about 110-115 lbs…want to be at 105 or lower, but can’t seem to make a dent…thanks for whatever info you can offer

Colin:

This is tough bec what I would prefer you did is fast altogether. But that takes time to get used to, especially for women.

There are a few things you should do:

Before you allow yourself to have any snack at all drink 8oz of water and let it sit for a few mins. Then have some protein first. Anything clean, just eat a small portion of 2-3oz. Then you could try Celery with almond butter. If you can load your stomach up with techniques like this, it will help you control when you dive into the almond butter. Also you should never eat out of the container. Never ever.

You should take a spoonful or two and put it on a plate and go sit at the table and eat it. This will help you mentally accept when you should be finished.

Email Question #8

Brittany:

I’m a 24 year old girl and I’ve always been underweight. No matter how much I drink, eat or consume I have never been able to gain weight. I wanted to try fitness but my ex always told me that I wouldn’t fit in so I’ve become very self-conscious to the idea. What are some ways I can start gaining weight? I don’t work out at all and I have counted calories. I eat almost 2200-3000 calories a day.

Colin:

Your ex is a douche. Everyone fits in with a fitness program. It’s a personal fitness journey not some fad group you have to join. Thats complete bullshit.

As far as gaining weight, my best advice is to get lots of paleo based calories, especially fat and protein from avocado, coconut, pastured butter, wild caught fish, grass-fed beef, etc.

It’s hard to determine issues with weight-gain. You can try huge shakes with almond butter, coconut milk, and fruit, etc.  I would seek a doctor for some help with that perhaps.

Hope that helps,

Brittany:

Dear Colin, – Thank you for the uplifting message! He was terrible; cheated on me, physically abused me in public and basically after sticking with his problems for 1.5 years he told me my skin color was too colored and found someone else. I’m an American born girl to Indian parents..

I would really like a positive lifestyle where I can move on and not judge people due to this experience. I’ll definitely look into the diet change and plan to sign up for fitness next month. I’m hoping for a new and improved me at this point.If you had to recommend a certain calorie intake for people wanting to gain weight what would you recommend? And are certain meats better than others? Is whey protein beneficial for adding body weight?

Scar tissue heals eventually I guess.

Thanks again for the reply, 

Colin:

Brittany, – Congrats on your new life. Make sure you are the type that actually takes action and not just talks about it (like many I have encountered). You only get one shot at life. Get it.

Certain meats are def better: grass-fed, humanely raised, no antibiotics, organic, from small family farms. Avoid mass-produced meat. Whey can be beneficial for weight gain. Check this brand, it;s my favorite.

For meat, try this company: US Wellness Meats Get the sugar-free pork breakfast sausage (its amazing!) and all of their animal products are great. ALl from small family farms. 

It’s hard to tell calorie amount. YOu have to test and see. Eat a lot of avocado, coconut oil, pastured butter, sweet potatoes, and some white rice if you are struggling with weight gain. 

I would eat 3 square meals a day + 1 post-workout shake. Make sure you eat until you are full each time. Then from there, you can expand calories as needed. That is a good base though to start. 

If you need any more help let me know 

Brittany:

Colin, – Thank you for all the tips. And I will definitely take this new shot at life and run with it. I will be in touch so I can prove it to you and myself. You’ll be my motivation for the time being even though I haven’t met you or know you. So you’ll hear from me every couple of months or something if that is alright with you. 

Thank you for everything,

Email #2 from Brittany

Brittany:

Hey! How are you? Just wanted to update you on my life! I have started to work out at least twice a week. I’ve been doing planks, burpees, dumbbells and squats with weights. I’ve gained four pounds and minimal muscle but its a start right. I’ve also kicked out the ex even though some days my mind wanders and I think I’m a horrible person. But I haven’t given in yet.

Hope your doing well. I am doing squats with 40 lbs hoping to raise it up in another month maybe?

Have a great week!

Colin:

This is awesome…awesome.

Be very weary of the scale..it’s a liar. Keep your twice a week, then add a third as you get more solid in that routine. Also try to do a ton of walking, even walking on a treadmill with an incline produces some great results

Always be pushing your weights and reps. I’ve learned that most of this is a mental thing for people that simply aren’t used to pushing themselves and adding weight. If you just tell yourself you are going to do it, you probably will. Muscle takes a long time to build, but fat can burn quickly. Keep it up!

Let me know if you need any help 

Brittany:

Colin, – Thanks for the recommendations. I will definitely take them into account. Why is the scale a liar?

Also I’ve been watching the Games since it started recently. 14.1 had double-unders and power snatches. I have been doing power snatches in my workout today. I can’t do the 55 lbs but I’m doing 30 lbs for the time being. Beginner status lol. But I cannot seem to get double-unders. What is the secret to double-unders?

Thanks. Hope you have a good weekend! 

PS – Your turning out to be my pseudo long distance weight trainer! Thank you 🙂

Colin:

Brittany, – I’m glad to help!  The secret to dubs is to keep elbows in and flick wrists forward/inward each spin.  Plus you need a fast speed rope and not a heavy nylon rope. Then, just focus on getting one at a time with a big jump and keep going until you can string them together.

The scale lies because your body weight isn’t an accurate determinant of your results. I’ve seen females gain a few pounds yet look like they actually lost 20. Your muscle mass will improve and you will lose bodyfat but you may not lose that much total weight. So be careful relying on that. Use the mirror + how you feel. Those are the true tests.

Email Question #9

 

Molly: I’m trying gain weight to keep up with my bf’s lifestyle. Any recommendations? I eat my fair share of every group on the food pyramid. On a side note, if my bf cheated on all his exes prob means he’ll cheat on me 2 right?

Colin: Molly, – What part of the food pyramid are you referring to? And why keep up with your BF? You should eat for a healthy life and not to appease anyone or anything else. Also, to answer your last question, yes that is likely. The odds are in the favor anyways.

Check marksdailyapple and robbwolf.com for what foods to eat. Are you eating Paleo or are you eating from the food pyramid meaning you are eating grains.

Email Question #10

Marissa:

Hi Colin! I started fitness first in June 2012 but “seriously” got into it (i.e. quit other sport hobbies) I’d say six months ago. A few months ago I went Paleo. The results have been AMAZING. I’ve lost 5 kg fat (I know I’m quite skinny now — the fact that especially my upper body does not contain fat scares a lot of people, well mainly family members, and they have started to call me Schwarzenegger… :D), I’ve gained strength, my allergies and migraine is gone, I feel great… an endless list almost. The thing is, I do not eat meat. What this means is that I eat a lot of fish and eggs. I crave fat, so a lot of salmon, which is not very ethical/sustainable. The best part of the fish for me is the parts other people throw out, because they contain most fat. My question is this: I feel that my body needs meat, but I have been without meat for 16 years (since I was 13 years old). The idea of eating meat is way scary. Do you think there are serious health benefits in adding good meat to my diet? Or do you think what I eat now is sufficient? This is a tough thing for me, but I would like to be as healthy as possible. Thanks! (BTW I am Finnish if you notice some errors in language…)

Colin:

Marissa, – If you are making sure to get enough fatty fish, you will do fine without eating meat. I would suggest you try adding just a bit to your diet to see how you feel eating it. Overall though, you dont have to eat meat to sustain a long-term healthy life. In fact, the entire PALEO diet is based on our ancestors finding access to fish and eating the omega 3 enriched fish that allowed our brains to grow. So, really, fatty fish is the most paleo thing of all! But, the caveat is the mercury in the fish. We don’t have the cleanest oceans/world anymore. I would look to try adding meat to your diet so you can have options should you need to in the future!

Keep up the great work!

Email Question #11

TJ: Hey Colin – For openers, thanks. Thanks for the healthy dose of information and inspiration you provide to me and other folks here @ agymlife.com. My question is a simple one with what I’d imagine is a fairly complex answer. Specifically, “how do you get off of a plateau”? I say this as a guy who has been at this thing for about 18 months – but over the last 90 days, my lifts, body composition, energy level — all things have been unchanged. I say that as a 205lb, 44 y.o. father of two with a full-time job and a side gig. Where do you start to get the dose response needed to make the changes that makefitness so satisfying. Nutrition? Could us some help there. Sleep? Could use some help there? Strength? Could us some strength there? Mobility — you get the picture.

I welcome your insight and input.

Colin: TJ, – Thanks for the kind words and for reaching out.  I’m going to save this answer for my next video post.  Give me a few days and probably next week ill release it. Sign up for my mailing list if you haven’t already on main page so you can get an email right when it’s released! http://agymlife.com

A few hints until then:

  • sleep way more and in pitch black room
  • go lower carb, completely eliminate sugar for a week and see what happens
  • consider a rest week/few days

planks-are-good-for-abs

Email Question #12

Visitor:

Colin! I really enjoyed reading your blog on ABS and it got me thinking. I cook every meal for myself and have my entire adult life. 7 months ago I decided to ditch my 23 years of lifting weights and decided to try fitness 3-4 days a week and 2 days of yoga. I love it, but thought it was time to ditch the breads and pasta and go PALEO. I’m pretty strict yet haven’t really seen the results I want and it’s a little frustrating.

Colin:

Thanks for the kind words…it keeps me going!

  • How long have you gone Paleo?
  • How often are you eating every day and what does an average meal look like?
  • What are your fat sources?
  • ​Are you supplementing?
  • What does your lifestyle look like, stress,sleep, etc

Well figure it out don’t worry… 

Visitor:

You’re so awesome for responding so quickly.  I’ve been on Paleo for 4 months and I’m not going to lie on Sundays I allow myself a sweet treat, but not all the time.

I’m pretty good about eating at least 3 good meals a day with snacks. So breakfast might be 2 eggs and some fruit with almond butter (unsweetened) and tea with almond milk.  Lunch is pretty much leftovers from dinner the night before.  Dinner is usually like I had tonight chicken legs roasted with veggies (no potatoes) olive oil, garlic.  No dessert…no I had a pear. I eat a lot of greens like kake. For a snack I had some dried fruit and I cut up some tomatoes with olive oil salt and pepper.  Right now on in Europe on vacation (I’m a special ed teacher so summertime is travel time) and still doing my best to keep Paleo… Not gonna lie it’s hard.  So my fats are from meat, almond products such as milk and butter, coconut oil…

I’m not supplementing, but I’m not going to lie I get hungry late at night which I’m working on with my chiropractor.

Lifestyle….well when I’m working its stressful to be a teacher and my dad has cancer so life can be overwhelming (this is my first time traveling in 2 years since he got ill).  Sleep is on and off for me which I’m really working on because I know it’s something I struggle to get enough of everyday.  I just have a difficult time falling asleep.

Sorry I know it’s a lot.  I’m a very active person with a lot going on which I know prob needs to be cut in half.

I really appreciate your advice. I just want to be healthy I don’t care about a 6 pack. Also I’m 44 years old, am 5’2″ and weigh 118. My body fat is 21.89% which I just got tested by the float tank. My goal is 19% in a year. Maybe that’s unrealistic, but 20% would be cool too.

Thanks again for the help!

Colin:

Sorry for late reply, I was in NY and a bit busy.

Here goes:

  1. Cut meals to 2 or 3 MAX a day and don’t eat between.  If you aren’t hungry skip meals. It is know as fasting and it is extremely beneficial to health, weight loss, and longevity.  It may be new to you but take my word for it…its how we are made to eat and it can be lifechanging
  2. Watch snacks with dried fruit…high in sugar. ANd avoid snacking in general. Eat balanced meals
  3. Get 8 hours of sleep a night and take naps if possible. THis is huge for weight loss. No sleep = no weight loss. Period
  4. Stick with the basics: lots of meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, little starch, little fruit, little nuts/seeds, grass-fed butter, lots of coconut oil, olive oil (good quality)

Biggest thing will be: stop snacking, eat 2-3 meals a day MAX. If you need to eat more calories at your meal increase your fat + protein intake to compensate.  Then you add sleep and you will see life changing results.

Let me know if you have anymore questions!

Email Question #13

 

Regan: Hi, my name is Regan, emailing all the way from South Africa.

I have been training hard for three years, with good results, I have lost three almost four pant sizes. I am 5ft tall, and weigh 52kg, and I have only recently started fitness, because gym just got so boring.

I am proud of what I have been able to achieve so far, however, I just can’t seem to lose weight around my arms, no matter how hard I train, how many reps I do, nothing seems to be working. Its like I have this huge layer of fat around my biceps and triceps that just does not want to go anywhere. I have spoken to people, and they keep on saying the same thing to me: “train your triceps”, “do arm exercises”, “diet” etc. and I do all of this but nothing is working. I am so self conscious about my arms, the rest of me in tiny except my arms, and I hate it because my waist is a small or extra small and my arms if like a medium, so its hard for me to buy clothes.

Do you have any advice that I can use to get rid of the arm flab?

I train and train so hard, but I get so defeated because of my arms.

Waiting for your reply.

Thank you. 

Colin:

I’ll tell you what you probably haven’t heard.  Train less.

Training your arms is only going to make your arms bigger…you are lifting weights I assume? Training a body part to lose fat is known as spot reduction and it does not work.  It usually has a reverse effect because trainees end up making the muscle bigger and thus doing the opposite effect.

You might be overtraining.  What is your training schedule look like on a weekly basis?

Diet is important btw.  Your body typically will only lose the fat in your trouble areas only after the rest of your body is lean.  That is why they are trouble areas…they seem to not leave us no matter what we do.

What does your diet look like? I recommend a primal/paleo diet that is gluten-free and lower carb.   Avoid sugar in all forms, especially drinks. And don’t eat artificial sweeteners or other processed junk food.

Rest and proper diet is how you will lose the arm fat.

 Let me know.

Regan:

Thank you for your response.

I would love to train less, but then if I do, I start feeling fat, and guilty 🙁

I do 4 days a week of fitness, and 2 days a week of pole dancing (at an advanced level). So I’m very active, and I love being active, but I guess its not a bad idea to rest cause my body aches on a regular basis.

At fitness the exercises don’t concentrate on my arms like how I used to concentrate on my arms at gym (doing 4 triceps exercises, and 3 biceps exercises a week), but I don’t gym anymore.

Well for a while my diet consisted of 6 meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner with 2 snacks.. But since I read about the primal diet, I’ve limited it to 3 meals a day..

My breakfasts usually consists of oatmeal, special K, or boiled eggs.. When I used to snack it would be low fat greek yogurt with honey and fruit / or cracker bread (low in carbs) with peanut butter and banana. Lunches would be oven baked fish or chicken schnitzels with boiled mixed veg, or whatever is leftover from home.. And dinner is whatever is at home, I’m Filipino, so we eat a lot of rice with our meals. I get home too late to make food so I eat whatever mother dear has made.. I don’t drink soda, we don’t even just juice or soda at home, just water, and I don’t drink coffee.. I have tea with honey and lemon juice, and sometimes hot chocolate (only in winter though hahaha).

I honestly don’t want to be stick thin, I’m quite happy with my body, but my damn arms (I feel like I wanna do liposuction on my arms, I can’t see any other way).

Thanks for the advise.

Colin:

You need to train less, find ways to rest. If your body is aching that is BAD. And i’m trying to help so I’m not going to sugar coat anything.  If you really want to make a chance that isn’t surgery or LIPO than you need to hear it: Your diet sucks.

Special K, Oatmeal, Peanut Butter/bananas, rice, is all BAD (rice is ok in small amounts).  This is why your arms the way they are because of the insulin resistance and spikes you are creating.

Read this post: Why You Don’t Have Abs (Specifically look at the food recommendations.)

Then go here and here and here for exact food lists.

Keep it up with 3 meals a day. Skip meals when you are not hungry. 2 meals a day is best IMO

You need to eat more fat and protein and cut the carbs and absolutely cut the grains and processed gluten-filled junk food (special K, oats, etc)

Please don’t get lipo. It isn’t necessary and it won’t make you healthier.  Your arm issue is a good thing because it’s showing you what you need to change to be healthy for the long term.  It is a calling.

Regan:

Hi Colin – Its actually so funny, because some people say one thing, and some say another.. Its just hard to figure what right and wrong? But will see how the primal diet works.

How big do the portions need to be if u eat 2 meals a day.. Would it be ok if I have a full bfast and lunch, and for dinner after fitness I have whey protein shake? 

What type of meals do u mean by slow cooked meals?

I won’t do lipo, as much as it would be the easier option, I won’t, I can’t afford it, I’m only 23 haha..

Thanks

Colin:

Trust me on the food.  There is too much evidence and I’ve personally seen too many lives transformed (as well as my own) to just KNOW that this is the natural human diet.  Just like animals have a natural diet that they thrive on, we have the same thing.

You should do 3 square meals a day, just eat slow and until you are full with protein and fat first then some carbs and veggies thrown in.  You could do a shake post workout but after you workout that is best time to consume calories. If you do do a shake make sure its just whey and water and no milk or other added junk. 

Read over those links I provided. It will literally change your life. If you have any specific questions please dont hesitate to ask!

Email Question #14

Ayad:

First off, I would like to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your blog. I wanted to thank you for putting it together and for all the great links there are in there. I’ve very recently started fitness and have fallen in love with the sport and training. My work unfortunately keeps me away from the city (I am a project coordinator for an industrial construction company) and so I find myself struggling with staying healthy eating cafeteria food and a very limited gym.

Do you have any advice for designing travel wods that will help me keep up my conditioning? I don’t have any free weights around, but there is a universal gym and I’ve invested in a 1.5 pood kettlebell. I also have a treadmill, and rower available to me along with a speed rope.

Thanks so much for your time!

Colin:

Thanks for the compliments!  I’m glad you can glean some useful information to help improve your health and fitness. 

You can get in insane shape with those tools you listed.  Follow this format each workout: 

  1. run, row, or jump rope to warm up for 3 minutes
  2. Do dynamic stretching and mobility like arm slaps, toe touches, air squats, etc
  3. Perform strength with whatever tools you have.  Squats, Presses, Deadlifts, Handstand push ups, etc.  Since you have limited weights you will have to do rep sets such as: max reps in 2 minutes of X.  Spend about 10-15 minutes on strength exercises of 3-5 sets of 5-20 reps on average. The goal here is to get to or near failure on any given movement.  You want to reset between and not make it into a WOD.
  4. Perform your WOD or conditioning and go all out for a period of time and reps. 

Make sure you hit each one super hard.  You will know when you are near failure on all of it by how much you put into your training.

This post has the same basic training template down and is geared towards weightlifting, but the format is exactly the same. http://agymlife.com/basic-weightlifting/

Hope that helps and let me know if you have any more questions!

Ayad:

Hey Colin! – Thank you for writing me back and for all of the helpful advice!

I did have some questions with regards to strength conditioning:

Perform strength with whatever tools you have. Squats, Presses, Deadlifts, Handstand push ups, etc. Since you have limited weights you will have to do rep sets such as: max reps in 2 minutes of X. Spend about 10-15 minutes on strength exercises of 3-5 sets of 5-20 reps on average. The goal here is to get to or near failure on any given movement. You want to reset between and not make it into a WOD.

So, and I am just repeating to make sure that i’ve understood correctly: strength conditioning can be either max reps in 2 mins of X OR 3-5 sets of 5-20 going as hard as I can with a certain lift? To use an example yesterday night I did 3 sets of shoulder presses and 3 of leg presses with a minute rest and then a WOD, is that what you meant? Also, do you recommend strength work before every WOD or 2-3 times a week? Also, when doing 2 min of X how do you determine the weight you want to use?

I am usually at the mine for 10 days at a time and I will workout for 8 of those days. When I am back in the city I will WOD all my days off.

Thanks again for all of your help Colin. I really appreciate your time and your advice. I’ve also started meditating and following your tips from 50 Ways to Get Better at fitness article.

Hope you had a great weekend,

Colin:

Always do strength before WOD’s.  This prevents in injury. 

You can take more times on your strength.  Have more rest between sets and do more sets. You want to really hit failure and get good muscular fatigue in.

If you are doing max rep sets of 1 min, 2 mins or even 3 minutes you can vary the weight. The key is to perform as many reps as possible with that weight so if its lighter you should be doing much more reps and if its heavier you will do less reps.  The key is to work HARD. You will know what it feels like if you get to 20 reps and your arms are dead for example.  You want to do that at least once every set and sometimes twice.  THis is training HARD.

 The reps and sets don’t matter much it just comes down to hitting that hard training fatigue/failure.  If you train to that point every workout you will be amazed at your results.  I like 3-5 sets of 7-20 reps.  If you have heavier weight you can keep it in the 5-10 range.

Make sure you rest on days also. If you really kill a workout and are sore you NEED to rest and have days where you do absolutely nothing. This is big part of growing your body.

Keep it up man!

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Email Question #15

Visitor:

Hey there! Great website! A little about myself, I have been doing fitness for just under a year now. I’m so hooked its crazy- best drug out there as far as I’m concerned. I originally started to lose weight (something I have been struggling with my whole life). I have never been terribly overweight always carrying an extra 20-30 pounds from my ideal. As I have have been doing fitness the weightless has become secondary to the way fitness makes me feel. I still want to drop some weight, I think it will help my performance etc. So, IF? 16 hours is a long time!!! Do you find that it matters what times of day you begin?? I typically am not hungry in the morning. My coach encourages me to eat as soon as I wake up. I did my WOD yesterday without eating and felt great! Long story short I think I could make it 16 hours if I could eat at night and not in the morning. Thoughts??

Thanks for having such a complete site!

Colin:

Thanks for the kind words.

A few things:

  1. Do not eat when you wake.  That is number 1 fat loss trap.  Some live by it and it works for them but for most it’s unnecessary and sometimes downright bad for specific goals.  Eating does not ‘reeve’ your metabolism as the would have you think.  Eating spikes hormones that store calories as fat. Plain and simple.
  2. Skipping breakfast and fasting during the early part of day is very common on IF.  It’s what I do, it’s what leangains.com recommends (where I found the protocol).
  3. If you aren’t hungry in the morning you have found your natural eating window.  Try this experiment for a week.  Wake up and eat when you start to feel hungry.  Don’t rush it, give it time.  Write down/remember the times you had your first meal.  YOu will find a natural average that is your ideal time to break the fast.
  4. Once you find your ideal fast breaking time you can map out the rest of your eating as long as it is within 8 hours from the time you break the fast.  You could do 3 meals in 8 hours similar to a breakfast/lunch/dinner or you could do 2 meals (like I do).

You should always listen to what your body is telling you and not what others tell you. You have to test and test and find what works for you. There are only a few truisms to health and fitness and those are rooted in the basic fitness maxims as well as the basic Paleo/IF principles.

Eat the best quality food you can, skip meals, eat slow, eat variety, and eat in seasons.  Stay low carb(ish) throughout the process depending on your body type and how you do.

If you have any more questions please let me know…

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