Learn to love the PROCESS

There are two views we can take on our goals. One is a process orientation, and the other is an outcome orientation. Naturally most of us tend use the latter, but the former is a much more productive view.

We spend so much of our lives focused on a future outcome that we are unable to enjoy the moments that go by until we get there. This is true of any aspiration you may have in your life whether it be fitness, financial, relationship, or any other type of goal. The first problem with this is; what a waste of part of your life! However long it takes you to lose that 10 pounds or make that six-figure income is time spent so focused on a future achievement that the present moment is wasted.

The other major issue with an outcome focus is that the accomplishment of the goal often does not bring the satisfaction we were hoping for. Our goals are always a moving target. Once we make 50k we want 100k, once we hit that we want 200k. There is nothing wrong with continually striving for more, except that if you will “only be happy when” you get to a certain outcome you will never be happy. Staking our happiness on the destination is setting us up for a pretty disappointing life.

Instead learn to love the process. Enjoy every minute of work put into the goal. Be proud of yourself for the effort you exert every day. Appreciate the continual growth you see in yourself as you chase your dream. Fall in love with the daily grind. When you take this outlook you will enjoy the days, months and years leading up to the goal. And, more importantly, it won’t really matter whether you get there.

I have huge, daunting goals I have set for myself in fitness, career, and life. These goals are going to take YEARS of work to get anywhere near accomplishing. If I hated what I was doing each day, and was waiting to be happy for this end result, I would waste years of my life exhausted and miserable. And potentially never even getting to that illusive “happy place.” Instead I use these goals as a motivator and a guide for my daily pursuits, but I enjoy all of the blood sweat and tears I put in along the way.

This means you have a couple options. You either learn to love what you’re doing, or change it. If you hate the job you’re doing, but it will lead to a comfortable retirement, is it really worth the decades you spend miserable? If you hate dieting and cardio do you really want to be a bodybuilder? Sometimes we learn to love things as we spend more time with them, but we also need to realize when this just won’t be the case. If something makes you miserable leave it behind!

So no more “I’ll be happy whens”. Don’t wait for retirement to enjoy this life. Love it every day.

 

Using Caloric Density of Food for Weight Management

The caloric density of food is something that has a huge effect on our body weight, yet very few people understand what it is, much less the importance of it. I want to teach you how to use caloric density as a tool to control your bodyweight much more easily.

Caloric density is the number of calories per gram of a food. Foods with a high caloric density contain a lot of calories in a very small volume of food. Examples of this would be meat (850 calories per pound) and oil (4,000 calories per pound). Foods with a low caloric density have very few calories in a higher volume of food. The prime example of this would be vegetables which contain somewhere between 60 and 200 calories per pound. All other foods fall somewhere in between. You can see that this is a pretty extreme difference from one end of the scale to the other.

Now you should know that the most important contributor to whether you gain, maintain, or lose weight is your net calories.


Net Calorie Equation:

Calories Consumed- Calories Expended= Net Calories


If your net calories consistently comes out to a positive number you will gain weight, and if it is negative you will lose weight. So if this is the case does it matter where you get your calories so long as you eat the right number? Well, no. Technically you could get all of your calories from oil, and so long as it was less calories than you are burning you will, in fact, lose weight. But how awful does that sound? Like I said earlier, it is a tool to help make weight management much easier.

So how does it work? Well look at the example in the previous paragraph. If you want to lose weight and are burning 2,000 calories per day, you would have to consume less than that. If you don’t take caloric density into account you may eat 1,500 calories of oil every day. This would equate to drinking around 8 cups of oil (gross). Do you think you would be satisfied at the end of the day, or go to bed starving? On the other hand, if you ate 1,500 calories of broccoli, you would have to eat 50 cups. If you were even able to finish that in a day, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be hungry after.

Our bodies react to volumes of food much more than calories. Our stomach is full when we eat a large quantity of food, regardless of if it contained a lot or very few calories. We can use this idea to eat the right foods to hit both our calorie goal and feel satisfied at the end of the day. When trying to lose weight, it is extremely beneficial to eat foods with a low caloric density such as fruits and vegetables. These foods will fill you up quickly without racking up a ton of calories. This will allow you to eat in a caloric deficit without feeling miserably hungry. On the other hand, if you are trying to gain weight, you may want to opt for foods with a higher caloric density. This will allow you to get all of the calories you need to eat in a surplus, without feel uncomfortably full all of the time.

Now of course I’m not recommending you eat all veggies or all oil. You should definitely be eating a variety of foods, and be making sure you hit your macros. What I am recommending, though, is when you are hitting the proper calories and macros, if you are still feeling hungry opt for less calorically dense foods, and if you’re feeling too full choose more calorically dense foods. Making these adjustments will make for a much less miserable time cutting or bulking.

 

For help dialing in your nutrition for your goals check out our nutrition guide or nutrition coaching HERE !

Keys to Making Progress in the Gym

I see so many people at the gym sabotaging their gains because they either don’t do nearly enough, or do way too much. Some people don’t want to get huge or are afraid of injury so they don’t use enough weight, or only train a couple times a week. It is nearly impossible to make any gains without consistent training and decent volume. Others of us have a more is better mindset and push our bodies to the limit every day. Training in this constant state of fatigue is just as detrimental to progress as not training enough.

So how much volume and intensity should you be doing? This is an extremely difficult question to answer, as it is very different for each person based on genetics, gender, training experience, etc. For example, women can generally handle more volume than men. Also, the more trained you are, the more volume you can handle. It will take time for you to figure out for yourself, but I will give you a few ideas to start you out.

#1. You must work, and you must work hard.

In order to see progress, whether is be in gaining muscle, strength, or endurance, you must provide enough stimulus to the body in order for it to adapt. This includes volume and intensity. If you go to the gym and only do a couple sets, barely breaking a sweat you will not see results. If on the other hand, you do a lot of sets, but do not use heavy enough weights to cause damage to the muscle you will also not see results. The same can be said for endurance training. If you want to improve your 10k time you will not do this by running short distances once in a while (not enough volume) or by walking 10 miles every day (not enough intensity). You have to push your body in order for it to change. Working out should be hard.

#2. You must progress your workouts as you progress.

This is probably where I see the most people go wrong. In order to keep improving you have to keep progressing your volume, your intensity, or both. Many of us start out on our workout journey, see some gains, and continue to do the same workouts with the same weights over and over again. Our bodies adapt to the stimulus we put on them, so progress will come to a halt if you are not consistently increasing the stimulus. If you squat 100lb for 5 sets of 5 your body adapts and gets stronger. So in a couple months of doing this workout it will be easy for you, and you will have to lift more weight in order to keep getting stronger.

#3. Recovery is king.

Something that many of us don’t realize is that gains don’t happen in the gym, they happen when you’re recovering from the gym. When you hit a hard workout you cause damage to the muscles. Then when you are relaxing or sleeping your body repairs the muscles, and this is when they grow. This means that if you train too hard too often your body will not have the time to repair itself before your next sessions. If you never allow your body the time and give it the resources (proper nutrition) to recover, you will never see any progress. The more recovery you allow, the harder you can train. If you are unable to get proper sleep, nutrition, or have too much stress, you will need to reduce your training volume accordingly. Recovery is just as important as training, so don’t ignore it.

 

It all comes down to finding the balance of pushing yourself hard enough to make gains, but not so hard that you are unable to recover. Finding that balance is tricky, as it is different for everyone, and is a constantly moving target. (The fitter you are, the more volume you will be able to handle). What you really have to do is learn to listen to your body. Start by making sure your workouts are hard. They should hurt, the weight should feel heavy, you should feel tired, and you should get sore. BUT it should be possible. Don’t go so far that you can’t finish the reps without extremely long breaks, or that you can’t move the next day. Then make sure you do everything you can to recover. This includes eating plenty of healthy food, sleeping, and relaxing. The best way to determine if you have recovered properly is how your next workout goes. For example, if you do 5 sets of 10 squats at 100lb on Monday, then on Thursday, your next leg day, you struggle to do 100lb for a set of 6, you are not recovered from Mondays workout. In general, if you are struggling to accomplish something that is typically doable for you, you likely need more time to recover.

It will take some trial and error to find the amount of volume that your body can handle, but once you find that sweet spot you will see great progress. The secret to all the gains: train really hard, but not too hard 😉

 

Cutting on a Vegan Diet

I just finished up a cutting phase, as I had to lose 4 pounds to make weight for my powerlifting competition last weekend. I thought this would be a good time to talk about some important points about how to cut in general, and how to apply these points as a vegan athlete. Whether you are cutting to make weight, for a bodybuilding show, or just want to get leaner, this should help you figure out how to get there.

Check out our latest video  to see what I ate on my cut!

Cutting, on a basic level, consists of eating fewer calories than you are expending. So when you start a cutting phase, you will reduce the amount of calories you consume, increase the calories you burn, or a combination of both.

One super important point to keep in mind is protein consumption. When you are cutting, you will have to cut your calories, but you don’t want to cut protein much, or at all. (Unless you were eating an extreme surplus of protein.) I recommend staying around .8g of protein per pound of bodyweight. Keeping your protein high will help maintain your muscle mass through the cutting phase. When it comes to protein, especially when cutting, you should spread your protein consumption out throughout the day. Getting some protein in every 3-5 hours is ideal.

So if your protein remains the same that leaves carbs and fats to cut. Fats are essential to our diet, so cannot be eliminated completely. The minimum fat intake should be 10% of your body weight in grams. For example, a 150-pound person should not cut fats below 15 grams. This is a pretty low number, and should be easy to fit into your diet throughout a cut.

Carbs, on the other hand, don’t necessarily have a minimum intake requirement, but they are extremely important for fueling our bodies the best possible way. If you are working out, you want to use carbs to fuel your workouts. This is especially important if you are cutting for a sport. Carbs are also important for maintaining muscle while cutting. For these reasons I recommend keeping carbs as high as possible while consuming a caloric deficit and fats above their essential level.

Because carbs will have to be lowered during a cutting phase, timing them appropriately becomes even more important. In order to best fuel your workouts and prevent muscle loss you should consume the majority (or all) of your carbs in your pre and post workout meals. If you don’t do this you will likely see a decrease in performance, and increase your risk of catabolism.

Now what makes cutting on a vegan diet a little trickier is the fact that our protein sources are not pure protein. Eating chicken or fish allows you to add as much as you need for protein without affecting the other macronutrients. Plant-based protein sources will all have some fats or carbs that come along with them. For example, almonds have 14g of fat for every 6g of protein. Black beans have 18g of carbs for every 7g of protein. These are great sources of protein, but if you can’t afford the extra fat or carbs they may not fit your diet.

This means that you need to be conscious of your protein sources, and they may need to change as you progress with your cut. If you are looking to cut fats you can move to beans and legumes, which tend to be more carb heavy. If you are looking to cut carbs you can move to more nuts and seeds, which tend to be more fat heavy. Foods like tofu, edamame, and seitan are really great options, as they have more protein and less carbs and fats per serving. Plant-based protein shakes can also help increase protein without much affect on the other macros, but try to get the majority from food!

To sum up, make sure you are firstly controlling your total calories. You will not lose weight if you are not in a caloric deficit. Next, make sure you are getting enough protein, and spacing it throughout the day. Then figure out fats and carbs with however many calories you have left to spare. And finally, as a vegan, pay attention to the macronutrient make-up of your protein sources, and adjust them accordingly.

 

Join our email list to receive a free plant-based macronutrient breakdown document to help you choose your foods appropriately!

 

 

If you want help with your plant-based cut check out our one-on-one Nutrition Coaching

How should you train?

I think one mistake that a lot of us make is pigeon holing ourselves into one specific style of training. I’ve seen so many people get stuck doing bodybuilding style training day after day, year after year, never getting any different results. I see the same thing with cardio queens, who do tons of cardio every day, and their progress has stalled out, but they just push harder. When we learn a training style, and see results (which you inevitably will at the beginning of any program) we convince ourselves that this specific training style is best. We never even think about trying anything else

One major problem with this is that it is likely that whatever style training you began with is no longer optimal for your goals. This could be because your goals have changed, or your body has adapted and is ready to progress. For example, if you start out training each body part one day per week, you will very likely see gains at the beginning. This is because you have gone from zero to one. As you get bigger and stronger, though, gains become much harder to come by. For this reason, you should progress your training as you progress. When one day per week becomes easy, add a second day. Also, if your goals have changed from wanting to get big to wanting to get strong your training must change accordingly. Different goals require different training methodologies to obtain.

Another problem is staleness, both physically and mentally. I don’t know about you, but I get really bored going into the gym and doing the same thing every week. If you are bored with your training you are unlikely to push yourself, and will tend to just go through the motions. If you are not putting effort into your training you will not see improvements. Our bodies also develop adaptive resistance. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the first time you do a new exercise you get extremely soar, and a little less sore each time after, eventually not getting sore at all. This is because our bodies get used to a certain stimulus, and will see little to no progress with that same movement. It is important to switch things up to avoid this issue.

Something else that I have found in trying out numerous different training styles along my fitness journey, is that they all tend to be lacking somewhere. If you want to be the best overall athlete that you can be, I don’t think any one type of training will get you there. Specifically, bodybuilders tend to look good, but not be extremely strong. Powerlifters are incredibly strong, but are usually pretty out of shape in cardiovascular fitness. Crossfitters are very fit, but have imbalances due to a lack of accessory work. If you get stuck in one training style you are likely missing out on the benefits of others. I think that even if you are competing in a sport it is beneficial to draw from other sports to enhance your performance, especially in the off-season or further from a competition.

So what’s my advice?

  • Make sure your training is appropriate for your current goals
  • Make sure your training progresses as you progress
  • Make sure you at least switch up exercises or rep ranges when your body (or mind) adapts
  • Make sure your training program isn’t missing an important link

Ultimately I think that the best training program is a combination of many other programs. This is how I program for myself as well as my clients. I think that every training style has benefits that can all be utilized to create one well-rounded program. You can be strong, fit, and look good all at the same time. So try everything! This doesn’t mean you have to ditch your current training style completely, but try switching it up every once in a while. You might find something you love, while getting better results along the way.

 

If you want to try out our training techniques sign up for phase one of the Herb-A-Warrior training systems Here!