Why The Notorious Plateau Is A Good Thing And How To Move Past It

The plateau isn’t just a river in Egypt.

That’s how that phrase goes right?

The plateau might be the most well known geological metaphor in fitness.

And we hate that metaphor.

We hate that things were going so smooth, we were losing weight, we were getting stronger, our clothes were fitting better, we were feeling super awesome and confident, we were feeling steadfast and determined.

Then everything came to a screeching halt.

It sucks. Everything was going so well.

Now we begin to question our methods. Because we are inquisitive and adventurous, we start exploring different fitness strategies. This can be a great thing. However, the plateau makes us impatient. This means we bounce around from method to method too quickly. We don’t give each one an honest try.

It’s frustrating, especially when we compare this plateau period to how quickly progress was happening before.

The plateau is actually a good thing.

Maybe even a great thing. In fact, the end goal is to plateau.

The enemy of all dieters is the yoyo and the instability that brings. The plateau is the opposite of this.

yoyo

It might feel like stagnation. And there’s no denying the frustration.

That shit is valid.

That said, the plateau can be necessary.

People plateau for different reasons. Sometimes it’s because they hit that “10 lbs to go!” mark where the game gets a little trickier. Sometimes it’s because work got insane so they don’t have as much time or energy to devote to fat loss. These are the most common reasons I encounter in my Online Coaching Groups. However, I’m sure there are many more.

Either way the plateau IS progress.

Weight loss isn’t actually the problem. We are actually really fucking good at weight loss. We just aren’t good at weight maintenance.

So if we can hold our position without yoyoing, that’s YUGE.

When we plateau, we’re solidifying our new, healthy habits rather than reverting to old ones. Each day we continue to fortify a foundation that will make it easier to build habits that will help us move past this plateau.

Progress doesn’t always look like forward movement. When we drive somewhere, rarely can we drive along the hypotenuse to get there. Pythagoras Motherfucker! Told you that shit would be useful one day!

pythagoras-theorem

I know it’s frustrating. Immensely so.

And saying just to be patient is pretty nebulous advice. So I’ll give some actionable advice you can implement today.

Either way, remember to have the courage to be patient. This isn’t a “quick fix” or a replacement for patience. It’s a recommendation in concordance with patience.

Change your focus. Work towards different goals for a time.

If you’ve been focusing on weight loss, focus on strength, or learning a skill or a sport etc. Rather than doing the different things with the same focus and same mentality, try focusing on something different that has overlap with your original goal.

An example of this is the goal of learning a chin-up. While not explicitly dependent on weight loss, losing weight will certainly make getting that first chin-up easier.

The point is, shake things up a bit.

REALLY focus on something different for a while. Often times the “fix” for the plateau happens without us even realizing it.

Life’s funny that way.

 

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Weekly Fitness Reads: 5/2/16

http://breakingmuscle.com/family-kids/quit-dieting-your-kids-are-watching

Children are little sponges. They are paying attention to EVERYTHING you do. I don’t see any reason why setting a good example shouldn’t extend to our relationship with food.

https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-make-the-pull-through-even-better

The Pull Through Exercise is probably my favorite way to teach the hip hinge in preparation for deadlifting. Full disclosure, I haven’t tried this tip yet but it seems to make sense. I’m looking forward to experimenting with it.

http://spotmegirl.com/body-love-really-means/

If we can escape from this idea of exercise as punishment, we will go far. We will be healthier, live longer, and love our bodies more. My addition to this piece would be that if somebody simply isn’t ready to start making moves towards getting healthier, that’s a different discussion. And I agree with her that we shouldn’t judge or shame regardless of what somebody is doing or not doing in regards to their health.

“It’s not about fitting into a smaller dress size or molding your body into a different shape. It’s about taking the stairs over the elevator without feeling like you’re about to die of a heart attack. It’s about not having to get hip and knee replacements because of being too overweight for your joints to function.”

 

Did you like this post? Do you hate my guts and want to tell me personally? Either way, you should opt in at http://mortontrainingsystems.com/ and get my free ebook “Insanity Free Fat Loss” 🙂

Do I Need To Be Hungry To Lose Weight?

What exactly do we mean by hunger?

Let’s lay down a few terms.

Level 1: Sort of hungry: I could eat a little something, but I’m not ravenous.

Level 2: Hungry: If I don’t eat something in an hour I’m going to be really hungry.

Level 3: Really Hungry: Thanksgiving sounds perfect.

Level 4: Hangry: When did you turn into a hot dog? Also, why do I HATE EVERYONE ALL OF THE SUDDEN!?!

Level 5: Hangry Like the Wolf: My stomach is about to implode in on itself. I’m too famished to be pissy. I’m in physical pain. Carry me up the mountain Sam!

samwise

You don’t need to be Level 3 hungry all the time to lose weight. Maybe if you’re cutting weight for a fight or a photoshoot or something like that, maybe. I just don’t know. That’s not my field of expertise. That’s not who I speak to when I write.

Phew! Glad that’s out of the way!

Who am I speaking to?

People who want a reasonable level of leanness. They want some muscular definition. They want to feel hot when they’re nekkid. They’re not trying to get to -3% body fat or whatever. They just don’t want to feel flabby.

You don’t need to starve yourself and be miserable to make your thighs and stomach feel tighter.

However, it is necessary to deal with hunger in it’s many forms. For instance, we shouldn’t panic when hunger hits. That’s a signal that it’s time to eat.

So in this sense yes, we do need to feel hungry…sometimes. However, we don’t need to be hungry.

Depending on how lean you’re trying to get and how lean you are presently, the relationship with hunger is going to be slightly different.

And in some cases it will be required that we feel Level 1 hunger often. However, being perpetually Level 2 hungry or higher, isn’t necessary or productive in any case. 

Let’s take two scenarios and discuss how hunger relates to fat loss with each.

I feel like I have a lot of weight to lose

If you do your nutrition right you don’t need to feel chronic hunger.

We can balance satiety with a caloric deficit by getting most (80-90%) of our calories from things like lean proteins and colorful plants. If you’re eating like this, even if you go a little overboard on portions, you’ll still probably end up dropping weight.

You can technically lose weight eating hamburgers and french fries all the time, but then we have to worry about portion control and shit. And honestly, that’s just more effort than I’m willing to put in. But if that works for you, if that’s an easier habit to change, awesome 🙂

At this point in the fat loss journey, we have a bit of wiggle room. We can maintain a large caloric deficit without adverse health effects. As you lean out, you won’t be able to cut calories this drastically. This is because you won’t have as many calories to cut out!

The less you weigh, the less calories are required to maintain that weight. The heavier you are, the more calories your body needs to sustain itself.

Cutting 1,000 calories means very different things to a 100 lbs individual vs. a 200 lbs individual.

I’m on the last leg of my fat loss journey. Do I need to be Level 2 hungry all the time?

No.

Level 1? Maybe?

Level 2? Probably not.

People often hit a plateau at this point. The game changes a little bit.

Because you have less calories to spare there’s a greater chance that losing additional weight will require being Level 1 hungry often.

This also depends on how fast you’re trying to lose weight. If you’re willing to be patient, we don’t need to feel hungry as often. This is what I recommend in my Online Fat Loss Groups. However, my clients goals are their own, so I help them with whatever they want help with.

I recommend using portion control as a last resort because it’s hard and often unnecessary. Improving food quality and listening to hunger cues is usually enough.

Only after a client has their food quality dialed in (lean proteins and veggies=90% of diet) will we look at portion sizes.

Smaller portions may result in feeling Level 1 hunger more often, at least until you reach your goal weight.

Sometimes we’re not actually as hungry as we think. It takes time to adjust to smaller portions, physically and mentally.

And we still want to limit feelings of deprivation. This will take some experimentation to find a happy medium between enjoyment, sustainability, and results

We still want fat loss to be as easy as we can make it. That said, pushing through a plateau is challenging. That’s why it’s a plateau.

If you’ve hit this plateau and don’t know what to do, measurements can be helpful. That said, if taking measurements can make you feel crazy and/or upset, it’s not a good idea for the time being.

Measurements are a tool to assess gaps in your strategy. Only take measurements if you can analyze them objectively, with zero emotion. This means don’t look at the scale unless it gives you no feelz whatsoever. Not one single feel.

In any case, feeling really hungry occasionally isn’t the end of the world.

Hanger makes choosing healthy foods more difficult psychologically. However, it’s just an unpleasant feeling, not unlike being exhausted or having to pee really bad (totally stole this comparison from an interview with Georgie Fear btw).

We have to deal with unpleasant feelings from time to time because life.

The big takeaway here is that learning to listen to our hunger cues is important and takes time to master.

Listening to hunger cues entails 3 main tenets

  1. Eating when we’re hungry.
  2. Stopping when we’re satisfied.
  3. Not deliberately making ourselves ravenous in an effort to cut calories.

We want to moderate hanger so that making healthier choices is easier. However, we also want to be OK with the feeling of hunger as that’s our body telling us it’s time to eat.

On that note, I’m getting pretty hungry. Bagel time!

 

Did you like this post? Do you hate my guts and want to tell me personally? Either way, you should opt in at http://mortontrainingsystems.com/ and get my free ebook “Insanity Free Fat Loss” 🙂

 

How To Minimize Gym Time And Make Room For The Rest Of Life

Lifting is one of my favorite activities.

That said, I don’t want to spend all my time in the damn gym. As much as I love picking up heavy things and putting them down, I need balance. Gym-ing all the time doesn’t make me feel happy, balanced, or grounded

More isn’t always better. Sometimes it is though.

If someone only does the elliptical, more lifting is a plus. Now, if hypothetically someone hypothetically was training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai twice a day, 6 days a week, in addition lifting 3 times a week, this hypothetical person probably doesn’t need more exercise.

In case you didn’t pick up what I was putting down, I was the “hypothetical” person bt-dubs.

We don’t need to spend all of our life-force on our fat loss pursuits to get that line of definition on the back of our arms that makes wearing a tank top feel more awesome.

Now, creating lasting healthy nutrition habits with minimal mental energy and time is a different discussion. And I would be more than happy to write about it in the near future.

If you’re interested in this topic email me at jeff@mortontrainingsystems.com with the subject line: Write the damn thing already!

Today, for clarity’s sake I want to focus on cutting down gym time. For now, I’ll give you some tactics you can start implementing today to minimize your gym time and still get as sexy as you wanna be.

You don’t need to lift everyday

In fact, I wrote an entire other blog post on why 3 or 4 days of lifting is usually optimal. Check it out here: How Many Times A Week Should I Workout?

Focus on the Big Rocks

Devote the majority of your gym time to practicing bang-for-your-buck exercises. This means you’ll only be doing 5 or 6 exercises per session.

bigrocks

Compound, Multi-joint exercises are where the money’s at. Our gym sessions should revolve around the 5 fundamental movements (Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Carry) which all happen to be compound exercises.

We can explain the term Compound (multi-joint) by comparing it to Isolation (Single Joint) movements.

An example of this comparison would be Squats (Compound) vs. Machine Leg Extensions (Isolation). Squats involve movement at the ankles, knees, and hips in addition to a shitload of spinal stability. Leg Extensions involve movement solely at the knee.

More examples of compound lifts include: Bench Press (Push), Bent Over Row (Pull), Lunge (Squat), Sumo Deadlift (Hinge), and Farmer Walk (Carry).

Compound movements win because they’re efficient. You can work more muscle groups in less time. Furthermore, because many muscles are working together in compound lifts, you can hit each muscle involved harder than you could with an isolation move. A boat with many rowers is more powerful than a boat with one rower.

Let’s look at the deadlift. We can break it down into the muscles involved, and we will, but it doesn’t really do the lift justice in describing its benefits.

bobpeoples

The deadlift works the entire back, thighs, butt, deep abs, forearms, shoulders, calves, some arms i.e. everything.

Using every muscle in your body at once means you can lift a lot of weight. Each of those muscles is being loaded with much more weight than it could handle on it’s own. Go team!

It’s an instance of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Like you! 🙂

The result is a greater training effect in less time with less exercises. Yeah Buddy!

If you absolutely need to throw in some curls or whatever, set a timer for 15 minutes at the end of your session. This is your cut off time. After that timer goes off, you’re done! Get out of the gym and go have a few laughs with some friends.

Last Point

Stop doing cardio if it makes you associate the gym with masochism. Cardio can be great. Some people love it. It makes them feel as good as hitting the devil’s lettuce. That said, if it ain’t doing anything for you, scrap it.

Use that time and energy for something that’s important to you–something you feel like you never have enough time for.

 

Did you like this post? Do you hate my guts and want to tell me personally? Either way, you should opt in at http://mortontrainingsystems.com/ and get my free ebook 🙂

 

How To Make Salads Not Suck And Leave Lunch Not Hungry

My DNA might be part garbage disposal.

I have a reputation among friends for my ability to eat. This is one of the advantages to being on the taller side. Not fitting into some cars is a disadvantage.

I fancy a good salad (emphasis on “good”). And as the personification of the Sarlacc, I can say anecdotally that salads can be really filling.

Sarlacc

Now, lest you think I’m recommending a salad only diet, here’s a thing I wrote: 4 Healthy Things On The Menu That Aren’t Fucking Salad

My point is that if you think salads can’t be filling, you’re doing salads wrong.

This begs the question:

How do I make my salad not suck?

Eat like brontosaur not a bunnysaur

A 5 ounce bowl of greens isn’t as much food as a 5 ounce bowl of tuna. Those leaves have lots of air in between them. If you removed all the air from the bowl of greens you’d have very little actual food. Per gram, greens are actually really filling. Fibrous, along with proteinous, foods are the most satiating things we can eat.

Greens have tons of fiber. They also have tons of air.

The solution? Eat salad out of a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot. Yes, it’s a lot of food. That’s the point.

The interplay between satiety and caloric intake is important to form healthy sustainable habits. Healthy foods, like vegetables, tend to make us full in less calories than something like bacon or chocolate.

This is precisely why lean proteins and vegetables are where we want to get 80-90%ish of our calories if we’re looking to turn more heads come summer.

What about the other 10-20% of our calories? Bacon and/or chocolate.

The big takeaway here is that eating to fullness isn’t a bad thing. We want to feel satisfied after each meal, especially with something that’s mainly veggies and lean proteins. We want to fill up on all that stuff.

Put more stuff in your salad

The only reason salads are great for fat loss is because of all of the veggies. Throw whatever veggies you like in there.

There’s no reason to eat a giant bowl of nothing but spinach and dressing, unless you’re into that. I’d be miserable eating that too.

Make your salad hearty with whatever stuff you like: mushrooms, artichoke hearts, kidney and garbanzo beans come to mind. That’s just my preference.

Adding lots of lean protein to your salads is important too. If you don’t like greens that much, make the greens the opener rather than the headliner.

Chicken, steak, tuna– I dunno dude. Whatever you’re into, throw that shit in.

The Caveat

Fats.

Fats play an important role in making salads enjoyable and filling. There’s nothing wrong with sprinkling some bacon on your salad to make it tasty. That said, it’s easy to overdo it with fats. Fats have twice as many calories per gram as the other marconutrients (protein and carbs).

They digest a bit slower than carbs or protein. This means they help us stay satisfied for longer. While protein and veggies might help us fill up immediately, adding some fats to a meal means it will take longer for us to get hungry again. We don’t get hangry 2 hours before dinner.

Again, there’s no need to eat salads if you simply hate them. There’s no one size fits all way to lose fat. This is why we let the client decide how they want to adjust their habits in my Online Fat Loss Groups. People are more successful when they eat healthy foods they like, not the ones they feel they MUST eat.

That said, salads can be awesome if you turn them into a legit, filling meal. That 5 leaf bullshit they give you at some places isn’t a salad, it’s an insult.

 

Did you like this post? Do you hate my guts and want to tell me personally? Either way, you should opt in at http://mortontrainingsystems.com/ and get my free ebook 🙂

Finding Your Knight In Shining Lululemon: 3 Traits To Look For In A Workout Partner

Everything is better with a buddy– going out to eat, hiking, orgasms. You name it. Pretty much everything is better when you have somebody to do it with.

This is ESPECIALLY true with fitness goals.

Enter the accountabili-buddy. This person is someone who helps keep you accountable. You do the same for them because you’re a good person.

We grow and change our behaviors most effectively in groups. Just look at how well Crossfit(ers) is/are doing.

That said, not just any group will do. Finding the right person(s) to join forces with can be a silver bullet for sustainable fat loss.

silver bullet bill

For that wonderful life-changing growth to happen, your buddy needs to needs to meet some criteria.

1. We ought to have similar goals

Losing 20 lbs of fat and gaining 20 lbs of muscle are two completely different pursuits.

While the workouts for each goal have some overlap, the nutritional part i.e.the HARD part, is vastly different. That’s not to say a buddy with different goals won’t ever be helpful. However, it’s better when your buddy shares the exact same arduous adventure with you–minutia and all.

2. We ought to be at a similar point in the journey

Maybe they’re a little better at some things. Maybe you’re a little better at other things.

This is ideal.

We don’t want someone who is so advanced we feel intimidated or awkward. We don’t want to feel like we can’t keep up.

We don’t want to be on the other end of that dynamic either. We don’t want to wait for someone to catch up before we can move forward as a team.

It works better when both of us are at the same point in our journey. That way, we can work through the same struggles feeling like equals. We feel safe enough to have some friendly competition.

3. We ought to have something else in common besides fitness goals

Awkward silences aren’t great for building accountability.

We should have something to talk about besides fitness. The stronger the human connection, the more successful we will be.

An important side effect of a good accountabili-buddy is that you start looking forward to going to the gym, hanging with your buddy, and lifting some stuff.

Boring and uncomfortable social situations aren’t exactly conducive to enthusiasm.

 

Did you like this post? Do you hate my guts and want to tell me personally? Either way, you should opt in at http://mortontrainingsystems.com/ and get my free ebook 🙂
P.S. if you want to join an army of accountabili-buddies for maximum results, I have 5 slots open in my Online Fat Loss Coaching Group for those looking to lose between 10-20 lbs.

Weekly Fitness Reads: 4/25/16

Five myths about our habits

This one nails it. Our problems often aren’t what we think they are.

A Stanford professor says eliminating 2 phrases from your vocabulary can make you more successful

These things can be a bit corny, but what we say to ourselves does, in fact, matter. Like, a lot. Granted, a difference in self talk won’t necessarily change everything, but every piece of the puzzle is important.

Is it better to eat 5-6 small meals or a few big meals if I want to burn fat?

There are many great questions every human must face at some point in their lives: Why are we here? Why are people such raging dick-wads to each other? Team Edward or Team Jacob?

This post doesn’t deal with any of those. However, it does deal with a different important question: How many meals a day should we eat? The answer might surprise you. Oh god, did I just turn into an Upworthy article? WHAT HAVE I BECOME!?!?

 

Did you like this post? Do you hate my guts and want to tell me personally? Either way, you should opt in at http://mortontrainingsystems.com/ and get my free ebook 🙂