How To Gauge Fat Loss Progress Accurately

First off, we ought to be focusing on the process based goals rather than results based goals.

Why?

  1. It keeps us sane
  2. It keeps us honest
  3. It keeps us moving forward consistently, and consistency trumps everything.

We have zero control over how fast results happen. This means focusing solely on outcomes is inherently problematic and inaccurate.

That said, some folks work really well with periodic result analysis. Furthermore, it’s not an either/or situation. You can focus on the process, while still using measurements to analyze the efficacy your fat loss strategy.

The point of measurements is to find the gaps in your game–to discover the way forward. The goal is to get information, not validation.

We should only take measurements, and I’m more or less quoting Coach Stevo here, “if we can look at them with the same objectivity as if we were counting the white cars in the parking lot”.

There needs to be zero emotional investment in the outcomes of the measurements for them to be an effective tool.

Now in my last post, I discussed the infamous fat loss plateau. I even gave some general tips on how to break through a plateau.

Today is about figuring out what to change specifically to conquer a plateau. Keep in mind, there isn’t one single way to take good measurements. This is just the way that makes sense for me and the awesome people I work with in my Online Fat Loss Groups.

Here we go

Pick 3 types of measurements. Every measurement method has a degree of uncertainty to it. We can lessen this degree of uncertainty by taking multiple measurements.

Here are my recommendations. These are based on the information they can yield but also convenience and accessibility.

Measuring Tape

Why: When my clients ask how to gauge results I often recommend paying attention to how their clothes fit. That’s what we want anyways, right? For our clothes to fit better? To be able to fit into the jeans we wore in college? This method is working on that same principal, except with numbers.

How: Wrap the tape around the belly button, belt-line, upper arm, and mid thigh. Or even just pick one of them. Record your measurements.

The grain of salt: The tricky part here is taking the measurement in the exact same spot. Do your best to measure the same point every time.

The Scale

I’ve talked a lot of shit on the scale in the past. I still do. However, it’s a tool that can be useful. A hammer is great if I don’t drop it on my foot.

Just to be clear, don’t take these measurements if they make you feel crazy.

Why/The grain of salt: The scale tells us whether or not we’re eating for weight gain, weight loss, or maintenance. That’s it.

Regardless of our body composition, consuming more calories than we burn causes weight gain. Note that I didn’t say FAT gain. The scale tells us nothing about body composition–whether the weight is fat or muscle.

The scale tells us if we’re eating too many calories or not enough.

Weight fluctuates for an insane amount of different reasons. Try to be mindful of this. For example, weighing yourself on your period will yield zero useful information for your fat loss goals.

How: First thing in the morning before you have consumed ANYTHING. For more accurate readings, weigh yourself 3 days in a row and take the average.

Calipers/Skin-Fold Measurements:

Why: Here we’re dealing with the muscle to fat ratio. This is what fat loss really boils down to. I’ve had many clients confess they don’t care what the scale says if they looked and felt leaner. So that’s what happens.

How: Make a C with your thumb and index finger. Pinch a piece of skin and pull it out a little. Clamp the calipers onto the fold of skin. Record your measurements.

My recommendations for locations to test are on the stomach (one inch to the right of the belly button), the front of the mid-thigh, and the bicep.

The grain of salt: You’re not going to be pinching the EXACT same spot each time you take these measurements. Just do the best you can.

When to take measurements and what to do with your findings

Take measurements every 3 weeks. 3 weeks is enough time for stuff to happen. It’s enough time to know if what we’re doing is working.

If at least 2 out of 3 tests say we’re getting results, we’re good. Stay the course. If we get 1 out of 3 or less we need to reassess.

Next week, in Part 2, I’ll show you what to do if our measurements tell us we need to reassess our fat loss strategy.

The first time you take measurements serves a unique purpose. The first test only serves as something to compare your other measurements with.

But remember, no emotion. None. Be a robot.

1a 

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 Loss” 🙂

P.S. For further reading on this topic, check out Josh Hillis and Dan John’s book Fat Loss Happens on Monday. Full disclosure, I don’t get a cent from this. It’s just really good information.

I borrowed, and by “borrowed” I mean shamelessly stole, a lot from this book for this post. Gotta give credit where credit is due.

The Answer Is Always David Bowie

When I lived in Oakland, I would do pub trivia with a few friends every Tuesday.

We never won.

We got pretty damn close though. At one point we were getting 3rd place semi-regularly.

The music round was always fun. We had to guess the artist for the song blaring on the loudspeaker. When we didn’t know the answer I would shout “DAVID BOWIE! DAVID BOWIE!!!!!” with earth shattering consistency. Then one fateful day, “The Width of a Circle” played. I lost my shit and a hearty guffaw was had by all.

bowie-2

There’s nothing wrong with wrong answers. In this case, the wrong answers were right in their own way. Not objectively, of course. But I’d rather contribute to a running gag than have all the right answers.

We can’t know all the answers all the time, to anything. Is there any benefit in beating ourselves up about it? Nah.

I had no way of knowing which songs were worth knowing. Getting pissed at myself for not listening to music I don’t listen to? Where would that get me?

Nowhere. And I wouldn’t be laughing.

We might as well make light of this inevitable condition, the inescapable dynamic of life:

We can’t know what we don’t know yet.

And if we’re doing something different, something outside our comfort zone, there’s A LOT we can’t possibly know. Every new pursuit is like learning a new language– Not knowing comes with the territory. In fact, not knowing IS the territory.

That’s not to say that I can just laugh off any mistake I make. Far from it. I’m just as susceptible, if not more so, to being really fucking hard on myself. Consciously, I realize it’s silly to beat myself up for things I have no control over, subconsciously is another matter.

We will never know what the awaits us on the path ahead. We have no choice but to figure things out as we go. This is the culture my online coaching groups operate on: Progress is all one big experiment and we’re all figuring things out as we go.

Next time you feel bad about a mistake, I encourage you to look in the mirror and say “David Bowie”.

Sometimes the wrong answer is the right answer, if for no reason other than a good laugh.

 

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 🙂

Canned Fish and Individuality

My friend hates sardines.

He completely abhors them. I don’t get it. I love the little fishies. I think they taste great. Plus, they’re cheap and healthy. Beyond that, they’re insanely convenient.

That said, my buddy reels at the thought. He still gives me shit about recommending them.

“Jeff made me eat sardines. I shall never forgive him”, he says with the utmost disdain. I have to watch my back around him now.

Soon-horse

I forced him to do no such thing. I simply said they were cheap, healthy, and delicious. However, only 2 of those things were true for him.

When we read articles that say “10 foods to do this or that”, and we try them and they don’t jive, that doesn’t necessarily mean the article provided bad information. Maybe it just wasn’t a good fit.

This fitness stuff is all new. It’s all a big experiment. If we knew how to do it we would have done it already. Not everything we try will click.

Putting effort into a new behavior and “failing” is frustrating. It’s especially frustrating if we’ve tried millions of different things, and consequently feel stagnant.

A tactic can be still objectively effective, even if it doesn’t work for us.

Is it my friends “fault” that sardines weren’t a good option for him? Does his hatred for sardines(and now myself), and thus the failure to build a habit around them, mean that he’s a failure incapable of eating healthier?

Of course not.

Sardines just weren’t a good recommendation. Sardines didn’t meet his particular needs. Of course I had no way of knowing that.

The internet is full of good ideas. Some of them don’t work for us. Does that mean they don’t work? Does that mean they’re bad ideas? Or that we don’t work?

Hell. Freaking. No!

Fitness can be complicated, especially when considering how complicated life is.

The fact that it’s hard and you’re trying things that don’t work means you’re learning. This is all one big experiment. I repeat myself here because this is important.

The nature of experimentation is that we don’t know what will happen. We’re all figuring this life thing out as we go along.

No one said this was easy. If they did, they’re full of shit.

No one can tell us what will work for us. This can be hard to reconcile.

No one can possibly know what will jive with your lifestyle except you. And even then, there are only educated guesses. There’s no penalty for guessing incorrectly; it’s not wasted time.

Now you know one thing that didn’t work for you at this point in your life.

You’re one step closer.

 

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Weekly Fitness Reads: 4/4/16

Social Sabotage: How to Respond to Criticism About Your Food and Exercise

Everyone on a fitness journey has experienced this to some degree. This a fantastic write up on the social hurdles that make fitness even harder than it already is. Unsupportive (often unintentionally so) social situations present the biggest detriment to success. The flip side of this is that the right group, the right community, has the biggest positive impact on success. I’m not saying to ditch your friends if they don’t know how to help you. I’m simply recommending you seek out people who are going through the same journey as you. That’s a different discussion though 🙂

Building Core Control with “The Bear”

I’m mortally terrified of bears. Any physical form of defense, outside of using tools, a bear can do better than a human. Think about it. They’re better evolved for running, swimming, climbing, you name it. And they’re certainly stronger. And they have claws and teeth. When I heard the name of this exercise I did have a moment of dread. Upon further exploration I came to realize this bear was not something to be feared, but to be celebrated.

5 Fat Loss Mistakes That Most People Miss

Most of the problems we have with fat loss are a matter of implementation. And implementation is a balance between strategy and perspective. I know that sounds vague and unexciting. This is because what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. We’re different people, with different lives. That said, there are some strategies and tips that work often and are worth a try. Just remember that this is all an experiment.

 

Learn more about sustainable, non-obsessive, no bullshit fat loss at http://mortontrainingsystems.com/

Nutrition and Gravity: Two Peas in a Pod

Nutrition is complicated. So is gravity.

We don’t need to know exactly how gravity works. Not most of us anyways.

For our purposes (surviving) we, the non-physicists, need not know too much about intricacies of gravity.

gravity

Do I really need to know how to calculate how much force I’ll hit the ground with if I fall off a two story building? Not really. I only need to understand the outcome.

Nutrition is the same.

Biology, like any hard science, is damn complicated. We don’t know everything about it yet, and probably never will.

To improve our health, we can get really really far with this statement:

Eat more vegetables.

Most people navigate gravity well enough without a physics degree.

Nobody trips and falls and is then surprised they don’t start floating.

falling up

See where I’m going with this? I know I ought to eat more vegetables. You know this too, so don’t act like you don’t. You’re smarter than that.

We can go pretty deep down the rabbit hole of nutrition. We can pour over minutia and every teency little detail. And there are times where small details can be helpful. However, if we just want to fit into an old pair of jeans again, such specificity is unnecessary.

A skateboarder does not need to understand quantum mechanics to do shit like this.

Conan Knows Best

What is best in life?

I don’t agree with the last bit, but I think Arnie might be onto something with the first two points.

“Crush your enemies. See them driven before you.”

Now, to crush our enemies, we must know who they are!

conan the barb

What are our biggest obstacles? What is the BIGGEST thing that is getting in the way of reaching our definition of “being fit”?

We all struggle with fitness at times, myself included. Usually there is one major hurdle that holds us back. We’re complex creatures; it’s never just one thing. However, there is often one obstacle that stands out.

Today I’d like to help you crush a few common enemies.

Here are some examples common enemies and the habits that can help us crush them.

I’m too busy!!

A busy work life doesn’t just take up time. It consumes energy and drains our willpower reserves. This makes building new behaviors tough. However, we can work with this hand we’ve been dealt.

One way to deal with this is do shorter workouts. A solid workout can be done in 15 minutes. Hell, a 5 minute workout is better than nothing. Even a 1 minute workout is amazing relative to a 0 minute workout!

If you don’t have 5 minutes a day, stop dicking around on Facebook. A few minutes here and there adds up. There are plenty of apps that tell you how much time you spend on your phone. I haven’t tried any of these myself so I unfortunately can’t recommend any specifically. Yes, I understand the irony of using an app to learn how much time we waste on our phone.

It’s a hassle to get to the gym

This one’s fairly straightforward. Sign up for a gym that is more convenient, one that you can walk or bike to. The gym that’s far away might be cheaper. However, if we never go because it’s inconvenient, then we’re throwing money away.

Another option is to exercise at home or in a park.

I need someone to keep me accountable

A good accountabili-buddy is an immensely powerful component for fat loss. It might be the most important external factor in determining success. You’re onto something big in recognizing this obstacle.

Humans grow in groups. Always have. That’s why Crossfit is so huge. Say what you will about Crossfit, but they’ve done an amazing job of building community and getting people excited about lifting heavy things.

Now, finding a tribe that lines up with our values and goals isn’t always easy.

How do we find a group of like-minded, supportive individuals to help guide us and hold us accountable?

Luckily some spaces have opened up in my Tribe of Badassery online coaching group. It works like this:

  1. Join Tribe of Badassery
  2. Foster the most awesome version of yourself
  3. Feel confident as fuck in a swimsuit

Spots are extremely limited and I’m only looking for 5 who are ready to make a change today.

To apply, fill out the form and I’ll be in touch if there is space available

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1urzzCutYCekPsdKrUxzTtA9rhkOQQ3iMBliFljcnbLQ/viewform

What Works in Street Fighter Works in Fat Loss

In college I had a crippling addiction to Street Fighter IV.

Oh, how many hours I wasted playing that game! Granted many of those hours were enjoyable. That said, the implication of an addiction is that you do something even when you don’t want to, and to your detriment.

For those of you reading this who aren’t video game nerds as I am. Street Fighter is this game:

sf2_2

The game play really has 3 main skill brackets: button mashing, complex, and really fucking complex.

That’s to say there’s a large learning curve. On the other hand, the barrier to playing the game is extremely low. Pick up a controller and press buttons. After an hour(or a month, in my case) of frustration you can learn to throw a fireball, called a hadouken.

Anybody who played the original as a youth knows the strategy of spamming hadoukens.

  1. Incessantly throw hadoukens
  2. ?
  3. Profit

 

 

As annoying as it is, this strategy is damn effective.

This strategy also works for fat loss. Repeating the same basic thing in large quantities gets results.

Once you have some experience under your belt, some more complex combos might be needed. However, we can get pretty far by perpetually throwing hadoukens.

We don’t need anything fancy for fat loss. We need vegetables.

Veggies are fireballs. We also need to lift. That’s the uppercut. Uppercuts are necessary for fat loss but we don’t need them as often as fireballs.

 

 

To summarize, we need repetition and consistency. We need to spam fireballs obnoxiously with the occasional uppercut.

As in fat loss, the complicated part lies in implementation.

The button combination and timing to throw fireballs takes a long time to master. Like, a really long time. The poor TV received an absurd amount of swear words in my quest to master hadoukens.

We might know the button combination for vegetables, but it still takes tons of practice to master. But once we figure it out, we simply need to hit down+down-forward+forward+punch over and over and over again.

fireball.jpg

Sometimes the hadouken lands. Sometimes it doesn’t. However, even when your opponent blocks, you still do some damage.

Persistence is key.

Persistently be a spammy a-hole. It’s not the most exciting way to play, but it’s the easiest way to win.