X Gym members, clients and friends come to me all the time with continued struggles about eating “bad” foods at home. I first ask them why it’s still in their cupboards or fridge at all. The usual reply is, “Well, my spouse and or kid eats that stuff and when I see it, it’s easy and convenient, so I just grab it because I’m hungry.” Then my advice is to first get the support of that family member, starting with writing up a contract for them to sign that commits them to helping you get healthy. Next, put all that stuff in a lockable box somewhere, with a key that only those family members have access to, so you simply can’t get to it.
My next piece of advice is to clean out the fridge and cupboards of all the foods that do not contribute to your health and fitness Typically, the next comment that comes up is, okay, as soon as I finish all the food in there, I will restock those cupboards and fridge with the foods I should be eating, so I don’t waste that food or the money I spent on it.”
I then reply, “Okay, then how bad do you really want results? Let me know when you are truly ready to do these first two steps and we can continue this conversation then.”
They usually reply, “Okay, you’re right. I’m ready.”
Then I give then the following 3 step pantry purge plan:
1.) Go through the pantry, cupboards, fridge, freezer, garage and anywhere else you keep food, snacks or candy. Put everything that won’t make you healthier into a box or bag. This includes all grains, sugar, starches and processed foods with more than two ingredients, or ingredients that can’t be pronounced or recognized as food. While you’re at it, check for expiration dates and read nutrition facts on everything. This forces you to consider each item in your pantry, not just the obvious junk food. If it’s expired, purge it.
2.) Get rid of it. Obviously, it’s expired, trash it. Then donate non-perishable items to your local food bank. If you aren’t willing to take it to a food bank, just throw it out.
3.) After you’ve purged your home, make sure to change your shopping list so that food doesn’t make it back into your home. The side benefit of purging your home is that your shelves and fridge will be much cleaner, and you have the opportunity to better organize everything. All the expired food and junk will be gone, leaving you with a great foundation to eat healthier and make your new habits stick. Plus, now it will be so much harder to eat those unhealthy foods of the past because if you do, you’ll have to go get in the car and drive somewhere to do it and since that is such an opposite action of your goals and new habits you are forming, the likelihood of that happening is quite low.
P.S. I searched for a “healthy pantry/cupboard” picture on the internet and I couldn’t find ONE SINGLE IMAGE that I would want to use as an example here, so I just took one of my own cupboard. Wow, if that’s not a good example of why healthy, fit and lean people are so rare nowadays, I don’t know what is!
Did you have a faster metabolism when you were younger? Do you know people who seem to be able to “eat anything” and never gain weight? Would you like to crank up your metabolism or turn back your metabolic clock? Here are my 7 favorite personal methods that keep my body fat percentage in the single digits 24/7/365.
1.) Detox/Eat clean. Eating clean is actually a detox of sorts, but even clean eating, militant Nazis like me still need to detox from time to time. There are simply too many environmental toxins nowadays and the body’s natural detox ability just can’t keep up with all of them. There are some effective, organic detox kits you can get at your local supplement store, but that’s only the half of it. The other half is getting those toxins out of you, once the detox kit has released them from your cells.
The best way to do that is through colon hydrotherapy, but most people would rather not go down that road, so the next best way is through sweating it out. Just make sure you are doing both at the same time, because using a detox kit without a way to get those toxins out will just make you feel crappy and then those toxins will mostly get reabsorbed back into the tissues they came from. Eating clean is the biggest part though because most people think they can detox and then get away with the standard American diet, but that’s just not the case because the standard American diet introduces even more toxins into your body than the environment.
2.) Drink enough filtered water. How much is enough? Just take your body weight in pounds, divide that by two and that’s how many ounces you should be drinking per day (as long as you weigh between 100 – 250 lbs.). The liver has over 500 huge metabolic functions, so it has to be happy and healthy in order to do all of those huge metabolic jobs for you. When you’re dehydrated, it’s not happy or healthy because it has to help out your kidneys, which is an even bigger job, so while it’s doing that, guess what it’s not doing?
The reason for drinking filtered water is to avoid drinking tap water, which can be fattening, due to all the chemicals and toxins it contains. The best filters I have found are the Zero brand filter and the Berkey filter. I actually have both because I use the Berkey filter first (with the fluoride filter canisters) and then I pour that water through the Zero filter in my fridge for the taste I enjoy.
3.) Mind your mitochondria. The more mitochondria you have, the higher your metabolism will be. The mitochondria are the little energy engines and your cells and the best way to increase their number is with exercise, namely HIT like we do at the X Gym.
4.) Get up off your butt. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that, “sitting is the new smoking” as far as your health is concerned, but it’s also true in regards to your metabolic rate. Just changing from a sitting desk to a standing desk can raise your metabolism by at least 10%, so you would be remiss to not consider a stand up desk! I have one at home and both X Gyms. I even have a treadmill underneath my standup desk at the Alki X Gym, so I can walk at 1 mph while I work, which can boost my metabolism another 30%!
5.) Eat your fat, veggies and protein (in that order). If you’re eating clean, organic food, you won’t really have to worry much about what kind of fat, veggies and protein you’re eating, just that you do and that you eat enough – especially fat. If you’re still eating a low fat diet, you’re still misinformed and that’s why you’re having a hard time with your metabolism. 70% of my calories every day come from fat, mostly in the form of coconut oil, butter from grass fed cows and avocados. Most of the coconut oil I eat is from my fitness chocolate recipe, as I eat about half a pound every day!
6.) Check your attitude. If you believe you can and will increase your metabolism, you will be more likely to make the big and small changes necessary to make that happen (conscious and unconscious). If you don’t, or your are doubtful, your subconscious will sabotage you and make failure your reality instead. It’s actually this simple: If you can’t believe it, you won’t achieve it!
The quickest way to improving your attitude is to practice gratitude. This also helps get you out of chronic stress states, which when left unchecked, increase levels of a hormone called cortisol. That hormone is just too powerful to fight and it’s the primary fat-storing hormone, so reducing its levels in your body will go a long way towards boosting your metabolism and increasing your ability to burn body fat.
7.) Get quality sleep. Sleep deprivation, or simply just not getting enough sleep (because of poor lifestyle habits or choices) will sabotage your metabolism every time because of the buildup of cortisol in your system. Other fattening hormones and chemicals will also contribute to reducing your metabolic rate as you deprive yourself of valuable sleep, but cortisol is certainly the biggest problem. Most people need 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night. Getting a sleep app to track the quality of sleep can also be quite helpful because that will show you the effect of adjusting factors like light, EMFs, etc. to maximize your sleep time and quality.
If part of your body seem to be “hanging out” of places more than usual, it could be your weekend that is the cause. Many people tend to relax their healthy habits on the weekends as their routines are disrupted from the normal weekly schedules.
Research shows that “lazy weekends” may boost body fat and reduce overall health even faster than sedentary habits during the week. “We know that, on average, people consume less or eat healthier diets on weekdays,” explained study author Clemens Drenowatz, an assistant professor of exercise science at University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. “So, they may be able to get by with less activity on weekdays because their diet makes up for it. On weekends, they’re eating more, which requires more activity or less sedentary behavior to offset,” Drenowatz said.
Researchers found that adding just 20 minutes of activity to the weekend has significant benefits to body fat and health, as well as inspiration for more activity beyond that 20 minutes. It seems that once the “lazy weekend” cycle has started, it tends to snowball unless interrupted with some purposeful activity.
When your blood sugar drops, your brain is hard-wired to eat the nearest, quickest thing and that usually means something processed.
Thinking you can use willpower to wait until you can find something healthy contradicts how your brain is wired.
Willpower is a high energy resource, coming from the highest energy part of the brain – the prefrontal cortex (PFC) – so when your brain senses that it is low on fuel (blood sugar), it does two things immediately:
Bye bye willpower. Hello crummy (and sugary) food choices.
Then, about 15 minutes after you have eaten your crummy food choices, hello guilt and shame. The reason for this is because that crummy food did indeed give you some quick fuel, which enables your PFC and willpower to come back online and say, “Wow, I step out for a minute and look what you go and do!”
Then the cycle repeats (even as soon as an hour later) and you find yourself automatically overeating, bingeing or just eating whatever happens to be in front of you again, without even “thinking” about it (seemingly anyway, but now you know why).
This is what I call the crummy crisis cycle circle. I used to fall prey to it too, but not anymore because I’m “fat adapted” (more on that below), but there are very few of us who are nowadays. 5,000 years ago, we all were, but since the agricultural revolution and especially in the last 50 years, thanks to the sugar explosion, 99.4% of people now are sugar burners. So, since I’m most likely talking to a sugar burner here, below is a 4 step strategy to prevent the crummy crisis cycle circle.
1.) Be sure to have a crisis food pack handy at home and on the go.
Here are some of my favorite snacks I have on hand at home and/or with me at all times:
2.) When you do eat, eat slowly and mindfully. Your hunger/satiety mechanism takes 20 to 30 minutes to register that you are full, so when you eat slowly, you will have eaten less food during that 20 to 30 minutes, making overeating much less likely. Also, studies show that when you eat mindfully (taking time to chew thoroughly, savor the food, sense the taste, texture, etc.), your brain becomes more satisfied, which brings on feelings of satiety faster.
3.) Use the Hunger Scale technique, so you don’t let yourself get to the “frantic” point. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being on the verge of passing out from intense hunger and 1 being stuffed so full you think you might barf, rate your hunger at the moment. If it’s an eight or higher, you’re frantic. If it’s a three or lower, you just overate. I eat when I’m at a six or seven and then stop eating when I’m at a four (which is still a little bit hungry, but 10-15 minutes later, I’m at a three, which is satisfied, comfortable and content). When I do get to a seven, I tend to top out there and can stay there for hours without any mood changes or frantic feelings. How? Because I’m “fat adapted,” which leads me to the next step below.
4.) Become “Fat Adapted.” Once you are fat adapted. Your brain won’t get frantic anymore from sensing blood sugar drops, because it will have learned that it doesn’t need sugar as a fuel anymore. It’s learned that it needs fat instead and even an extremely lean person like me has days worth of fuel on my body sufficient to power my brain and physiology. Sugar on the other hand, has limited storage potential in the body, so the brain is always trying to replenish it quickly whenever it senses it doesn’t have enough. Fat adapted people are no longer slaves to the blood sugar cycle and can always think clearly, with plenty of willpower because they always have access to their PFC. Since fat stores are plentiful, the brain doesn’t go through the shutdown process of the high-energy areas like the PFC. When fat adapted, your hunger hormones like leptin and ghrelin are also in balance and working properly, so that is the best long term solution by far!
Thanks to Dr. Hyman for his great post on this subject and inspiration to me for writing my own. Also, be sure to get his amazing book Eat Fat, Get Thin! I’m not getting anything from him to plug his stuff either. I’m just a big fan!
I’m done with Xcuses! I keep claiming I’m too busy to work out as much as I know I should, so I’m finding ways to make it happen. Check out the video below for more on this and maybe even some ideas that might be of use to you too: