Tuesday, April 29, 2008

transform your body...and keep the change!

being that many of us are preparing ourselves for another 12 week journey (or maybe beginning our first), here's a great article from tom venuto of burn the fat, feed the muscle fame that puts the idea of a 12 week transformation challenge in perspective. i've already mentioned that there are so many benefits to a challenge in terms of motivation and accountability, but if you are not keeping a longer term perspective in mind then true lifestyle change will be impossible.

Health And Fitness Is Not A 12-Week Program
By Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS

Not long ago, one of the members of my health club poked her head in my office for some advice. Linda was a 46 year old mother of two, and she had been a member for over a year. She had been working out sporadically, with (not surprisingly), sporadic results. On that particular day, she seemed to have enthusiasm and a twinkle in her eye that I hadn’t seen before.

"I want to enter a before and after fitness contest called the “12 week body transformation challenge." I could win money and prizes and even get my picture in a magazine."

“I want to lose THIS”, she continued, as she grabbed the body fat on her stomach. “Do you think it’s a good idea?”

Linda was not “obese,” she just had the typical “moderate roll” of abdominal body fat and a little bit of thigh/hip fat that many forty-something females struggle with.

“I think it’s a great idea,” I reassured her. “Competitions are great for motivation. When you have a deadline and you dangle a “carrot” like that prize money in front of you, it can keep you focused and more motivated than ever.”

Linda was eager and rarin’ to go. “Will you help me? I have this enrollment kit and I need my body fat measured.”

“No problem,” I said as I pulled out my Skyndex fat caliper, which is used to measure body fat percentage with a “pinch an inch” test.

When I finished, I read the results to her from the caliper display: “Twenty-seven percent. Room for improvement, but not bad; it’s about average for your age group.”

She wasn’t overjoyed at being ‘average’. “Yeah, but it's not good either. Look at THIS,” she complained as again she grabbed a handful of stomach fat. “I want to get my body fat down to 19%, I heard that was a good body fat level.”

I agreed that 19% was a great goal, but told her it would take a lot of work because average fat loss is usually about a half a percent a week, or six percent in twelve weeks. Her goal, to lose eight percent in twelve weeks was ambitious.

She smiled and insisted, “I’m a hard worker. I can do it”

Indeed she was and indeed she did. She was a machine! Not only did she never miss a day in the gym, she trained HARD. Whenever I left my office and took a stroll through the gym, she was up there pumping away with everything she had. She told me her diet was the strictest it had ever been in her life and she didn't cheat at all. I believed her, and it started to show, quickly.

Each week she popped into my office to have her body fat measured again, and each week it went down, down, down. Consistently she lost three quarters of a percent per week – well above the average rate of fat loss – and on two separate occasions, I recall her losing a full one percent body fat in just seven days.

Someone conservative might have said she was overtraining, but when we weighed her and calculated her lean body mass, we saw that she hadn’t lost ANY muscle – only fat. Her results were simply exceptional!

She was ecstatic, and needless to say, her success bred more success and she kept after it like a hungry tiger for the full twelve weeks.

On week twelve, day seven, she showed up in my office for her final weigh-in and body fat measurement. She was wearing a pair of formerly tight blue jeans and they were FALLING OFF her!

“Look, look, look,” she repeated giddily as she tugged at her waistband, which was now several inches too large.

As I took her body fat, I have to say, I was impressed. She hadn’t just lost a little fat, she was “RIPPED!”

During week twelve she dropped from 18% to 17% body fat, for a grand total of 10% body fat lost in three months. She surpassed her goal of 19% by two percent. I was now even more impressed, because not many people lose that much body fat in three months.

You should have seen her! She started jumping up and down for joy like she was on a pogo stick! She was beaming… grinning from ear to ear! She practically knocked me over as she jumped up and gave me a hug – “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“Don’t thank me,” I said, “You did it, I just measured your body fat.”

She thanked me again anyway and then said she had to go have her “after” pictures taken.

Then something very, very strange happened. She stopped coming to the gym. Her "disappearance" was so abrupt, I was worried and I called her. She never picked up, so I just left messages.

No return phone call.

It was about four months later when I finally saw Linda again. The giddy smile was gone, replaced with a sullen face, a droopy posture and a big sigh when I said hello and asked where she’d been.

“I stopped working out after the contest... and I didn’t even win.”

“You looked like a winner to me, no matter what place you came in” I insisted, “but why did you stop, you were doing so well!”

“I don’t know, I blew my diet and then just completely lost my motivation. Now look at me, my weight is right back where I started and I don’t even want to know my body fat.”

“Well, I'm glad to see you back in here again. Write down some new goals for yourself and remember to think long term too. Twelve week goals are important, but fitness isn’t 12 week program you know, it’s a lifestyle - you have to do it every day, for the rest of your life.”

She nodded her head and finished her workout, still with a defeated look on her face. Unfortunately, she never again come anywhere near the condition she achieved for that competition, and for the rest of the time she was a member at our club, she slipped right back into the sporadic on and off workout pattern.

Linda was not an isolated case. I’ve seen the same thing happen with countless men and women of all ages and fitness levels from beginners to competitive bodybuilders. In fact, it happens to millions of people who “go on” diets, lose a lot of weight, then quickly “go off” the diet and gain the weight right back.

What causes people to burn so brightly with enthusiasm and motivation and then burn out just as quickly? Why do so many people succeed brilliantly in the short term but fail 95 out of 100 times in the long term? Why do so many people reach their fitness goals but struggle to maintain them?

The answer is simple: Health and fitness is for life, not for "12 weeks."

You can avoid the on and off, yo-yo cycle of fitness ups and downs. You can get in great shape and stay in great shape. You can even get in shape and keep getting in better and better shape year after year, but it's going to take a very different philosophy than most people subscribe to. The seven tips below will guide you.

These guidelines are quite contrary to the quick fix philosophies prevailing in the weight loss and fitness world today. Applying them will take patience, discipline and dedication and they will put you in the minority. Just remember, the only thing worse than getting no results is getting great results and losing them.

1) Don’t “go on” diets. When you “go on” a diet, the underlying assumption is that at some point you have to “go off” it. This isn’t just semantics, it’s one of the primary reasons most diets fail. By definition, a “diet” is a temporary and often drastic change in your eating behaviors and/or a severe restriction of calories or food, which is ultimately, not maintainable. If you reach your goal, the diet is officially “over” and then you "go off" (returning to the way you used to eat). Health and fitness is not temporary; it’s not a “diet.” It’s something you do every day of your life. Unless you approach nutrition from a “habits” and “lifestyle” perspective, you’re doomed from the start.

2) Eat the same healthy foods consistently, all year round. Permanent fat loss is best achieved by eating mostly the same types of foods all year round. Naturally, you should include a wide variety of healthy foods so you get the full spectrum of nutrients you need, but there should be consistency, month in, month out. When you want to lose body fat, there’s no dramatic change necessary - you don’t need to eat totally different foods - it’s a simple matter of eating less of those same healthy foods and exercising more.

3) Have a plan for easing into maintenance. Let’s face it – sometimes a nutrition program needs to be more strict than usual. For example, peaking for a bodybuilding, figure, fitness or transformation challenge contest requires an extremely strict regimen that’s different than the rest of the year. As a rule, the stricter your nutrition program, the more you must plan ahead and the more time you must allow for a slow, disciplined transition into maintenance. Failure to plan for a gradual transition will almost always result in a huge binge and a very rapid, hard fall "off the wagon."

4) Focus on changing daily behaviors and habits one or two at a time. Rather than making huge, multiple changes all at once, focus on changing one or two habits/behaviors at a time. Most psychologists agree that it takes about 21 days of consistent effort to replace an old bad habit with a new positive one. As you master each habit, and it becomes as ingrained into your daily life as brushing your teeth, then you simply move on to the next one. That would be at least 17 new habits per year. Can you imagine the impact that would have on your health and your life? This approach requires patience, but the results are a lot more permanent than if you try to change everything in one fell swoop. This is also the least intimidating way for a beginner to start making some health-improving changes to their lifestyle.

5) Make goal setting a lifelong habit. Goal setting is not a one-time event, it’s a process that never ends. For example, if you have a 12 week goal to lose 6% bodyfat, what are you going to do after you achieve it? Lose even more fat? Gain muscle? What's next? On week 13, day 1, if you have no direction and no long term goal to keep you going, you’ll have nothing to keep you from slipping back into old patterns. Every time you achieve a short term goal (daily, weekly and 12 week goals), you must set another one. Having short term goals means that you are literally setting goals continuously and never stopping.

6) Allow a reasonable time frame to reach your goal. It's important to set deadlines for your fitness and weight loss goals. It's also important to set big, ambitious goals, but you must allow a reasonable time frame for achieving them. Time pressure is often the motivating force that helps people get in the best shape of their lives. But when the deadline is unrealistic for a particular goal (like 30 pounds in 30 days), then crash dieting or other extreme measures are often taken to get there before the bell. The more rapidly you lose weight, the more likely you are to lose muscle and the faster the weight will come right back on afterwards. Start sooner. Don't wait until mid-May to think about looking good for summer.

7) Extend your time perspective. Successful people in every field always share one common character trait: Long term time perspective. Some of the most successful Japanese technology and manufacturing companies have 100 year and even 250-year business plans. If you want to be successful in maintaining high levels of fitness, you must set long term goals: One year, Ten years, Even fifty years! You also must consider what the long term consequences might be as a result of using any "radical" diet, training method or ergogenic aid. The people who had it but lost it are usually the ones who failed to think long term or acknowledge future consequences. It's easy for a 21 year old to live only for today, and it may even seem ridiculous to set 25 year goals, but consider this: I've never met a 40 or 60 year old who didn't care about his or her health and appearance, but I have met 40 or 60 year olds who regretted not caring 25 years ago.

Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM) is a fat loss program which acknowledges the simple truth that going "on diets," entering "Fitness challenges" or competing in "Transformation contests" without having long term goals and a lifestyle attitude, is a recipe for failure. Don’t let yourself be part of the latest fitness dropout statistics: visit the Burn The Fat website for more details on how to change your lifestyle... and keep the change! www.burnthefat.com

About the Author:

Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, an NSCA-certified personal trainer (CPT), certified strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best-selling e-book, "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle.” Tom has written more than 200 articles and has been featured in print magazines such as IRONMAN, Australian IRONMAN, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise, as well as on hundreds of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's Fat Loss program, visit: www.burnthefat.com

Sunday, April 27, 2008

transformation challenge rules

the second turbulence training transformation contest will be kicking off may 1st...just a few days away now. i can't wait to get started again as i find that working within the confines of the challenge really helps me to stay motivated. for more information, go here to check out contest rules and to join the contest: transformation contest rules. and if you have any questions leave me a comment and let me know!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

fasting for fat loss...my thoughts on eat stop eat

if you've been following along, you know that i decided to test drive brad pilon's eat stop eat during my transformation. i have to admit that i was a bit skeptical at first, but probably not for the typical reasons. having done several 7-14 day fasts in the past, i wasn't worried about whether i'd be able to manage not eating for a few hours. i do believe in the benefits of fasting when done properly, but all of my past fasting attempts were always subconsciously driven by a desperate attempt to lose weight. and since i was struggling with my relationship with food the fasts would inevitably set me up for binging sooner or later. i found myself in this destructive binge-fast-binge cycle and finally reached the point where i promised myself that i was not going to fast anymore and that i would find a healthy way to lose weight and get into shape. when i came across eat stop eat, i hadn't fasted for almost two years. but what brad said in eat stop eat made so much sense to me that i decided to give it a go. i think what really struck me was that brad presented eat stop eat as a solution to what he has coined "obsessive compulsive eating," which really hit home with me because i had been obsessing over food for as long as i could remember. and in my one month test drive i discovered so many reasons to love eat stop eat. let's see if i can narrow them down to my top 5:

1. it works. i switched over to eat stop eat from 6 meals a day in a caloric deficit. i continued to lose weight at the same, and sometimes even faster rate.
2. it's sooo simple. do your fasts, strength train, and eat sensibly the rest of the time. no calorie counting, no crazy foods, no complicated eating schedules.
3. it saves time. one of my favorite things about eat stop eat is all the time i save on my non-fasting days because i don't have to cook (and clean up after!) five or six meals.
4. it's flexible. if it doesn't work in your schedule to fast one day, you can do it the next. some weeks you can fast more, other weeks less. you can combine it with another healthy nutritional plan (highly recommended!) and only use it occasionally to help your results along. there are so many ways to work it into your lifestyle.
5. it's healthy. brad goes into great detail about all the different benefits that you'll get from adopting the eat stop eat lifestyle, and many of these are directly related to your health. you might be surprised to find how good it feels to give your body a break from eating.

to sum up, i've been really happy with the results of eat stop eat thus far and it seems to fit my lifestyle really well at the moment. in terms of having different tools in my fat loss arsenal, eat stop eat is a definite keeper.

Friday, April 25, 2008

breakthrough challenge!

please take note of the shiny new logo on my blog. i have joined forces with a group of other tt-ers who are also planning to join the next turbulence training transformation challenge. we plan on becoming an unstoppable fat loss force and our super mini-group will be providing added accountability and social support along the way in the form of back-patting or butt-kicking, depending on what's appropriate. there's already been a total buzz building among breakthrough challengers as we anxiously await the start date and we have been helping each other along in terms of getting prepared, deciding when to start and what programs to use, etc. i know that i will need all the support i can get as this time around i'm going to be attacking "that last bit of fat" which is infamously harder to shed than what i disposed of in the last challenge. i, like several other breakthrough challengers, am leaning towards giving the 6 month bodyweight program a go during this challenge. will be refining my plan of attack in the weeks ahead, so more details to come...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

isn't this a fitness blog?

so you might have noticed the total lack of updates about my workout and eats. somewhere around the end of my challenge i somehow managed to catch pneumonia and have been on an almost three week hiatus from the gym. for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of having pneumonia, it's not a pleasant experience. i'm one of those people who is really bad about tearing myself away from my routine once i get in my groove, so it's definitely been a test of patience to sit on my butt for so long, especially when i was making such fantastic progress. but, alas, when you've been as sick as i have the best thing you can do is sit on your butt and let your body heal. in the past week i managed a few yoga practices and yesterday was my first day to attempt a tt workout. i was finishing up on craig's 2K3 workout when i was so rudely interrupted, so i started back up with it but with only two sets and reduced weights. workout went well, but i'm definitely weaker than pre-illness. i traded in intervals for 15 minutes of steady state considering i still can't take a full deep breath. nutrition has been pretty much in line and i even got the go-ahead from mr. pilon himself to begin eat stop eating again when i finished my antibiotics. first fast was on monday and it's good to be back. i will be slowly building back up to my routine and hope to have my self in tip-top form by may 12th, my target day to start round 2 of the turbulence training transformation challenge. watch this space.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

why interval training is your friend.

here's a great article from craig that gives an overview of turbulence training and how he created this amazing system...

The Evolution of Cardio

By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

I've been meaning to write this email for a long time. Today I'm
going to give you the story of how I solved the problem of getting an efficient and effective fat loss program finished in 45 minutes. Essentially, how I invented Turbulence Training.

And then I'll end with a sample TT workout for you...

But first, let's take a trip down memory lane to the winter of
98-99. I was but a lowly grad student, studying the effects of
androstenedione (the supplement taken by the might Mark McGwire during his record-breaking home run quest in '98).

In my study (which was published in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology for any science nerds like myself out there), we had guys use the supplement and go through a couple of weight training sessions. By February of '99 I was stuck in the lab, analyzing the blood samples using some fancy radio-active isotopes.

And when I say stuck in the lab, I mean STUCK. I'd get there at
7am, and record my last data point at 11pm. Sixteen hours of
mad science. And if I wasn't there, I was downstairs in the
medical library, studying papers on testosterone and training.

Now coming from a very athletic background, this sedentary
lifestyle didn't sit well with me. But there I was, studing for a
degree in Exercise Physiology and left with no time for exercise.
Or so I thought.

Fortunately, I actually had a 50 minute window once per day of
"down-time" while the lab's gamma-counter analyzed blood samples.

That left me 50 minutes to get to the gym (5 minutes across campus) and get a workout in the remaining 40 or so minutes. I knew that if I applied my studies to the workout, I could get maximum results in minimum time.

As a former athlete, I knew that I had to find a way to stay fit
and to avoid the fat gain that comes with working long hours in a
sedentary environment. And I also had to stay true to the
high-school bodybuilder I once was, so there was no way I was
willing to sacrifice my muscle to one of those long-cardio, low
protein fat-loss plans that were popular at the time.

Instead, I had to draw on my academic studies and my experiences working with athletes as the school's Strength & Conditioning Coach.

I knew that sprint intervals were associated with more fat loss
than slow cardio, and I knew that you could also increase aerobic fitness by doing sprints (but you can't increase sprint performance by doing aerobic training).

So clearly, intervals were (and ARE!) superior to long slow cardio.

I had seen first hand the incredible results of sprint intervals in
the summer and fall, as the athletes made huge fitness improvements and shed winter fat in a short time using my interval programs. I knew that intervals had to be the next step in the evolution of cardio.

The biggest benefit of intervals? A lot of results in a short
amount of time. I knew that I only had 40 minutes to train, and
therefore I could only spend 15-20 minutes doing intervals.

Now onto the strength training portion of the workouts. I knew that a high-volume bodybuilding program wasn't going to cut it - I just didn't have time. But in the past year I had read so many lifting studies, that I knew exactly what exercises I needed to do to maximize my lifting time in the gym.

Those exercises were standing, multi-muscle, movements such as squats, presses, rows, power cleans, and plenty of other standing single-leg exercises. I knew that those exercises would bring me far more results than those people sitting on machines would ever achieve.

And I also knew that I had to lift heavier than the average Joe or Jane Gym-goer lifts. I just knew that doing lighter weights and high-reps wasn't going to cut it. And a research study from 2001 later showed that I was right - when women did 8 reps per set, they had a significantly greater increase in post-workout metabolism than if they did 15 reps per set.

So I had my plan. Bust my tail over to the gym, through the cold, dreary Canadian winter afternoon, and do a quick but thorough warmup (specific to my lifts - none of that 5 minutes on the treadmill waste of time).

Once I got through the warm-up, I did as many sets as I could in the remainder of the 20 minutes for strength training.

At that point, I knew that supersets were the only way to go if I
wanted to maximize the number of sets I could do...so the
non-competing superset of Turbulence Training was put in place.

By non-competing, I mean that the 2 exercises in the superset don't interfere with one another. So you can use upper and lower body exercises together, or pushing and pulling exercises. Just be careful not to use two grip-intensive exercises together in a superset - otherwise, one exercise will suffer, if not both.

And then I followed up the strength training with intervals, as I
knew these had to follow the lifting, otherwise it would not be the correct exercise order. Remember, intervals first leads to
premature fatigue. Lift first, cardio later. Forget that old wives
tale about doing cardio first to burn more fat. That's junk.

You know, I remember the exact day and exact workout that this all came together into the Turbulence Training program. It hit me as I was finishing my intervals. I knew I had found something that was like fat loss magic.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to put it in a pill. But I've
been able to put it down on paper in all of the TT manuals.

The exact workout I used that day went like this...

1 set of Bodyweight Squats
1 set of pushups
1 set of Squats with the empty bar
1 set of light dumbbell chest presses
1 set of moderate weight barbell squats
1 set of moderate weight dumbbell chest presses

Strength Training Superset #1
Barbell Squats paired with Dumbbell Chest Presses
3 supersets, aiming for 8 reps per side per set

Strength Training Superset #2
DB Rows paired with Barbell Forward Lunges
3 supersets, aiming for 8 reps per set

Stationary Bike Intervals
After a warmup, I did 6 intervals of 45 seconds work and 45 seconds rest, finishing with a cool-down.

And from that point in time, I've tried to share this and all the
other Turbulence Training workouts with as many men and women as possible. The same men and women that I would see day-in and day-out performing the same ineffective slow-cardio fat loss programs, and not making a darn change month after month. And every day they would see me, soaked in sweat, feeling great and looking lean, and finishing another TT workout.

Eventually I noticed these other men and women weren't around as consistently as before, and then soon enough they would drop out completely - after all, they weren't getting results with their slow cardio and aerobics classes (yep, those were still around in '99!).

And so here we are today...thousands of TT users later, with
national fitness magazines like Men's Health, Men's Fitness, and
Shape spreading the good word about Turbulence Training.

Thousands of TT users, dozens of personal trainers, and even
several national fitness magazines all agree with me, Turbulence
Training is the #1 way to fast fat loss.

Thanks for being a part of the TT Lifestyle Revolution, and for
sharing this new and improved fat loss training and cardio system with the world.

So when you see someone frustrated with their ineffective fat loss program, tell them there is a better way. It's research-based, efficient, and most of all, effective. And yes, it goes against the crowd. But it works.

And it's now better than ever,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training

PS - Don't know where to start?

If you are a beginner, start by reading Dr. Mohr's nutrition
guidelines...eating properly will be the biggest factor in your
early success.

Beginners should also start with the Introductory TT workouts to prepare their muscles for the upcoming intense training.

For others, it's best to start with the Intermediate Level TT
workouts. If those aren't enough of a challenge, you can move onto the Original TT workout and follow the 16-week advanced program right through.

If at any time you need a break, try the TT Bodyweight 4-week plan.

And then finish off with the bonus programs to cap off a full 24 weeks of Advanced TT fat loss workouts.

About the Author

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit www.TurbulenceTraining.com

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

i can't believe it...

I WON!!!! this is the part where i gloat shamelessly :). seriously, though, today has been an extremely exciting day. by finally getting closer than ever to my dream body and, more importantly, finally feeling like i've instilled the habits that will keep me in that body, i had already come away from the contest feeling like a winner. but the extra $2000 doesn't hurt either. many thanks to all who voted for me and offered their support along the way. if you want a good dose of inspiration and haven't already, check out all the finalists' stories here: www.transformationcontest.com. and i would highly encourage ANYONE who is looking to finally make some bodily/lifestyle changes to consider joining the next transformation contest, starting may 1st. go get your hands on a copy of turbulence training and start setting your goals and getting your action plan ready now! 12 weeks from now the new, fitter, healthier you will be glad you did!

random thoughts on the wild and wooly world of nutrition

okay i'm kind of a geek when it comes to nutrition. don't ask me why but reading about all sorts of different diet techniques and then trying them out on myself is kind of my thing. call it a sort of self-diagnosed diet ADD. what can i say? i get bored or am just too easily lured by the amazing health promises of the newest super-diet. let's just say i like to have lots of different tools in my nutritional arsenal so that when i feel myself getting a bit bored with my current dietary regimen, i can choose another **healthy** eating plan that will still keep me moving in the direction of my goals. my current dietary scheme is sort of a hodge-podge of different nutritional advice i've picked up from waaay too many hours of reading about this stuff (really i promise it doesn't have to be this complicated). my highly recommended sources for good nutritional advice would be burn the fat, feed the muscle, precision nutrition, and the nutrition guide that comes with turbulence training. eat stop eat also gets honorable mention as it is my most recent experiment and i have found it to be a really fun and different approach to nutrition and fat loss. these have all been fundamental in my dietary education and any one of them, when properly applied, will have you on your way to a fitter, healthier you. but, regardless of whose nutritional recommendations i happen to be following at the moment, there are some basic principles that i pretty much always try to incorporate no matter how i'm eating. call them the universal principles of dietary superiority...

1) it always comes down to calories (yes, this means portion control). you can play around with macronutrients and carb cycling and all the complex dietary tricks and techniques you want, but if you're eating more calories than you're expending, your weight is not going to budge (or it might budge in the wrong direction). period. a good way to begin to get a handle on this is to go to fitday.com and log your food for a week. this will give you a good idea of how many calories are coming in and is a real eye opener for most people. a week of dietary semi-neuroticism in the name of self-education can be a good thing :)

2) know what your eating. fresh is better...think one ingredient foods (produce, meats, fish, eggs, whole grains, legumes). the more ingredients a food has the less likely it is to be good for you, so a good rule of thumb is that if it has more than 5 ingredients it shouldn't go in shopping cart (or in your mouth).

3) eat more veggies. okay, you might have thought that this was already covered in point #2, but veggies are amazing enough that they've earned themselves their very own point as well. veggies are low in calories, very filling due to high fiber content, and come loaded with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to be happy. find more ways to incorporate veggies into your diet and you'll be well on your way to better body composition.

4) cut out (or cut way down on) refined sugars. okay, this is also related to point #2, because refined sugars are most commonly found in processed foods with a laundry list of ingredients but they easily work their way into our diet in other ways (adding sugar to coffee, for example). since things like sugar and honey are one ingredient foods, they are a bit of an exception to the above rule because they are calorie dense and nutritionally void. i have a huge sweet tooth and enjoy my sugar as much as the next gal, but if you are serious about improving your body composition (and your health!), you should be trying to seriously limit your intake of sugar.

finding the right diet for fat loss that works with your lifestyle can be a bit of a trial and error process...or if your like me an ongoing and constantly morphing one. the truth is that eating healthy is the way to get healthy and it does require some work and some planning, especially at the outset. any sort of quick fix diet plan that sounds too good to be true, definitely is. true lifestyle change takes a bit of time, but once you get into your dietary groove you'll find yourself feeling amazing and questioning why you ever ate any other way in the first place.

Monday, April 21, 2008

last day to vote!

all right guys and gals. it's officially the last day to vote in the turbulence training www.transformationcontest.com. so if you haven't done so already, head on over to the link above and cast your vote (for me maybe!?!?). we'll find out tomorrow...wish me luck!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

a tribute to social support

probably one of the biggest differences in my current body transformation effort and all the ones that came before is that this time i incorporated two fundamental aspects of the fat loss puzzle that i had always underestimated before: social support and accountability. i'm a pretty driven and independent persona and in all my past fat loss efforts, i had always tried to do it completely on my own. i think this is a very common trap for people because in many ways it's a bit embarrassing to admit that "i'm trying to lose weight." but if you just come out and make that statement to the people in your life, it will seriously increase your chances of success, especially if you can share your goals with people you know will be supportive. one of the problems i always ran into in the past was that, since i hadn't openly admitted that i was trying to lose weight, it was always easier for to cheat on my nutrition plan or skip a workout than it was to explain why i wasn't eating or drinking xyz or why i couldn't party until 5am. and it's soooo much easier to let yourself off the hook if you are the only one who knows what you are trying to do. but if you tell the people in your life your intentions beforehand, you have a pretty powerful reason to stay on track and you might just find a whole new source of support to boot. for example, it was definitely a little weird for me to admit to my roommates that i was embarking on a fat loss journey and that i planed to reach 15% body fat and do everything it took to get me there. but doing this all of a sudden made me accountable to the people with whom i share a fridge and i was actually surprised by how encouraging they were. it made my life so much easier because they knew what i was doing and so i could just be honest about my reasons for not wanting to eat dessert or for why i couldn't go out and party all night. it also allowed me to increase my personal accountability in little ways by doing things like putting a "15% by april 14th" sign on the fridge, something i never would have done if i hadn't let my roommates in on the action. but unless the people around you are working to make similar changes, sometimes just telling the people in your life isn't enough. to really take advantage of the awesome power of social support, you need to find a group of like-minded people who would like to make similar changes and are likely to face similar challenges along the way. i was able to find this amazing group of people at the ttmembers.com forum. these were people who were using the same workouts as i was, who were facing the trials and tribulations of trying to eat clean in our junk-food and temptation filled world, and who were committed to figuring out a way to have all that come together and make it work. the amazing thing about being a part of a group like this is that you have access to such a diversity of experiences and information that when you need an answer to a question you have one, you can learn from others' triumphs as well as their mistakes, when you are rocking out there are people there to cheer you on, when you stumble there are people there to kick your butt back into gear, not to mention that it's incredibly motivating to keep yourself on track when there are so many other people out there that are losing fat and inches week after week. as i mentioned before i always thought that i could do it on my own, but i think that creating added accountability and finally finding social support were truly pivotal in making my current effort a success. i think it's hard to simply explain how powerful the social support aspect can be...you really do just have to experience it for yourself.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

why goals?

so i have to admit, i'm a bit of a planner. sometimes this is counterproductive as i can get a bit too bogged down with too much planning and not enough doing. but in the case of the transformation contest, taking the time beforehand to clarify my goal and pinpoint the actions that would get me there was very instrumental to setting me up for success. i'm more concerned with my body composition than scale weight, so my goal for the contest was to achieve 15% body fat and finally see my abs. i started at 24.2%. i found out a bit later that a reasonable goal when it comes to body fat loss is .5% per week. so, although my goal was a bit ambitious, it worked in my favor in the end because having a big goal kept me motivated and on track...and i was still super pleased when i came in at 18.9% at the end of my 12 weeks. the remaining 4% goes in the next challenge, but that's a whole other story.

after you clarify what it is that you want to achieve, it's really important to figure out the reasons WHY you want it. feeling connected to these reasons why will help you to stay strong and focused when the going gets rough. for example, a few of my reasons WHY that i identified before the challenge were:

1) my relationship with food has been such a source of pain for me in my life and i don't want that pain in my life anymore.

2) i am going home in june after almost two years away (i haven't been back to the states since i've been in spain). i want to blow my friends and family away with how good i look.

3) i want to prove to myself that with hard work and discipline i can achieve the unbelievable body that i've always wanted using methods that support my health and well being instead of deteriorating them.

after identifying the reasons why, what comes next is the how. i like to call them action steps. think about the behaviors or habits you need to adopt to get you to where you want to be. figure out the ones that you are willing to commit to. a few of my daily action steps for the last contest were:

1) drink four liters of water
2) avoid all processed sugar
3) eat only whole, clean foods
4) do my TT workout or off day activity
5) get 8 hours of sleep every night

so, to recap, before you jump in to a new fat loss effort, take a bit of time to clarify what you want to achieve, why you want it, and what steps you are willing to commit to in order to get there.

if you really want to get serious about achieving your goals, check out dax moy's magic 100 program. there are several people on ttmembers.com who are using it and raving. dax takes the focus off of goal setting and puts it on goal achievement and he shows you exactly how to make progress in all areas of your life, not just with your health and fitness goals. so if you're feeling a bit stuck, this could be just the injection of inspiration and motivation you need to get moving.

Friday, April 18, 2008

five keys to fat loss success

i had tried so many times in the past to lose weight and always ended up failing miserably. what was different this time? well, this time i finally managed to integrate all five of the following components of fat loss success.

1) get really clear on what you want. sit down and write out a description of your dream body, the actions that you can take to get that body, and specific date that you plan to achieve it by. never underestimate the power of having clear and specific goals and a definite time-frame for their achievement.

2) find a social support network and create accountability. this was always a missing piece of the fat loss puzzle for me in my past attempts at weight loss. the ttmembers.com forum was my support group and the transformation contest helped to keep me accountable.

3) find a nutrition plan that works for you. nutrition is a HUGE part of the fat loss puzzle. it's commonly said that "you can't out-train a bad diet." there are tons of different nutrition plans that you can follow to lose weight. a good place to start is concentrating as much as possible on eating real foods...ie foods that don't come in a can, jar, or box (ex: fruits, veggies, meat/fish/eggs, whole grains). another great step is working to eliminate refined sugars. i also incorporated brad pilon's eat stop eat into my nutritional arsenal and found it to be a very effective fat loss tool.

4) find a strength training plan that works for you. for me this is turbulence training. there are lots of good programs out there though...the important thing is to start lifting weights!

5) incorporate interval training. this has been shown time and time again to give you more bang for your fat loss buck and is an integral part of the turbulence training system.

i will be going into more detail about each of the above points in the days that follow, but this is a good primer for fat loss success.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

i'm a finalist!!!

so the official "last day" of the turbulence training transformation contest was april 15th. on the 16th i awoke to find out that i had been chosen from the many amazing transformers as one of the 8 finalists!!! the grand prize winner will be the one among the 8 who gets the most votes before this upcoming monday. to vote for me head on over to: www.transformationcontest.com. we'll find out in just a few short days who the winner is!

the infamous "skinny jeans"

okay, let's all keep in mind that these jeans were a little tight even when i bought them. they were one of those "they'll fit great after i lose a few pounds" purchases. instead i somehow ended up going in the wrong direction and gaining weight instead of losing it. these jeans have been taunting me from the back of my closet for close to two years. i made a promise to myself at the beginning of my transformation that I WOULD FIT into these jeans by then end of 84 days. mission accomplished!

an 84 day experiment

my final thoughts on my 84 day odyssey:

The TT transformation contest has been an unbelievable journey and an incredible learning experience for me. When I began my transformation, I had been trying for years to lose weight. I was already working out, doing intervals, and eating well much of the time, but I never seemed to make any meaningful progress. I was partially being held back by the destructive cycles that I found myself falling into over and over with food. Intellectually I knew perfectly well what I needed to be eating, but I had had such a difficult and negative relationship with food for so many years that I as soon as I would begin eating healthy and making progress I would immediately sabotage myself by binging only to end up back where I started and more frustrated with myself than before.

The transformation contest finally gave me the accountability and social support that I needed to jump-start permanent change and turbulence training provided me with the fastest and most effective tool to get where I wanted to be. What I appreciate most about Craig’s system is its simplicity. I am now spending less time in the gym than before and getting my best results ever. Of course, although the TT workouts are intense, fun, and incredibly effective, they were only one of several contributing factors to my success. Besides the TT workouts themselves, having a clear goals and a plan to achieve them, eating clean food consistently, finding a diet that worked for me (ESE), and social support and accountability were the other key factors in making my transformation a success. I never realized how much of a difference social support can really make but being surrounded by the other amazing people on the ttmembers.com forum who were all working towards a similar goal and facing similar challenges was an integral part of keeping me motivated and moving towards my goal. The encouragement, advice, knowledge, and inspiration I received from the forum were truly priceless.

During my 12 week journey I lost 15.5 lbs, inches off everywhere, and 5.3% body fat. I feel healthy and strong, I have completely transformed my relationship with food so that I now find that making good food choices is no longer a struggle, I’m closer than ever to my dream body, and I was able to take “after pictures” fitting comfortably into a pair of size 27 jeans that I haven’t fit into in years! And I achieved all of this despite visits from friends, an 11 day trip to Morocco where I had much less control over my nutrition, and being hit by illness at the end of my challenge. I feel confident that the lessons I have learned about goal achievement, accountability, and social support will carry over into all other areas of my life. And with the good habits that I have established over the course of the contest, along with the endless variety of turbulence training workouts, I know that it will be easy for me to make continued progress. It is hard for me to find adequate words to sum up all the different ways that my life has been positively affected by this contest and the gratitude that I feel. I guess the only thing I can say is thanks so much to Craig for creating this incredible system and to all of my fellow transformers who were an unending source of motivation, support, and inspiration. Here’s to round 2.

the before and afters: how much can you "transform" in 84 days?

at the start of my body transformation journey i joined the first ever turbulence training transformation contest to keep myself accountable. i ended up losing 15.5 pounds, 5.3% body fat, and winning first place in the contest. what can you accomplish in just 12 weeks? well, here were my results...

"the front"

"the back"

it's just the beginning

in january of 2008 i realized that i was beginning another year in the same place as every other...feeling out of shape, unhappy about how i looked, and ready to change. the only problem is that i had tried so many times before to lose weight and get into the best shape of my life and after making a little bit of progress, i'd always ended up falling off the wagon and winding up in the same place as (or worse of than) before. but i was determined that this year would be different. and so i went looking for the key to the puzzle that would finally allow me to make some real progress. and i found it in the form of a genius workout system that is spreading like wildfire throughout the fitness world: turbulence training. there are several reasons that i think that turbulence training is such an effective system and was "the one" that is finally getting me where i want to be. these include:

1-it's fast, efficient, and effective. you only have to commit to 3 short (45 minute) workouts a week.

2-craig knows his stuff and has created a system that works for EVERYONE (who works the system) and will get you maximum results in minimum time

3-it's simple. you can do it on a boat, you can do it in a moat. you can do it at your gym or you can do it while you swim. seriously, gym, home gym, bodyweight exercises...craig's covered it all so you can do it where you're comfortable, working with whatever equipment you have or don't have, and still get amazing results.

4-the ttmembers.com forum is incredible. the support and encouragement i received throughout the contest on this forum was highly instrumental to my success so far.

for added accountability and to be sure that i kept myself on track, i joined the first ever turbulence training transformation contest. during my 12 week challenge, i used turbulence training, combined with a clean foods diet, to lose 15.5 pounds and 5.3 percent body fat.

so, now i've made this great transformation and the question is...what's next? well i've still got some personal body composition goals that i'm chasing after, including visible abs and 15% body fat, so the transformation certainly doesn't stop here. and then i'll be moving into the wooly world of maintenance, where great fun is sure to await me. this blog will be just one more way to of keeping myself accountable and on track towards my health and fitness goals. so stay tuned, the journey has really only just begun!