The Training Corner
Mountain Grit: Training for the Long Haul
Q: Hi Pat! I recently started training again, (yeah, again) at a local gym in a small-group setting with a coach. The first day, the coach welcomed me, then asked about my training experience, and any muscle-joint, MEDs or issues that she should be aware of. Next, she popped THREE big questions: Why are you here? What do you like to do for fun? What do you hope to accomplish?’ My immediate response was “Look at me, I need to lose about 40 lbs.” And she said, “Training will get you healthier, stronger, faster and fitter. Food and drink will get you healthier and LEANER. Fat loss takes place in the kitchen, at the table, the grocery store, the restaurant/ bar and take-out.” I knew that, but she bluntly reinforced it with a smile.
I proceeded to tell her that I love to eat REAL food, that I am not a junk-food junkie, but love BQ, grilling ribs, steaks, fish and poultry. Veggies and fruits? Not my favorite, but I force them in. I’m definitely not a bread, rice, pasta or dessert guy. But I do enjoy my beer.
A little Hx here … I quit smoking 20 years ago. That’s when the weight started piling on. Over the last two decades, I have dropped hundreds of pounds, but sadly, put them all back on. I’ve done keto, paleo, lo-carb, hi-fat, and every other diet known to man. I was miserable, and couldn’t wait for the deprivation to be over, despite the weight loss. Just this past week, my Doc gave me the royal head-slap. “Sean, if you don’t clean up your act, plan to spend 30-40 years medicated, and dealing with complications that arise from neglect and abuse. Meds and procedures will keep you alive, but not living your life. You love to ski, hunt, fish, hike and bike, and have ranching aspirations. You have a wonderful wife, three great kids, and grandkids in your future. If your vision is to fully participate vs. spectate, then take charge of your health NOW.” According to Doc, I have a nasty cluster of risk factors, high blood pressure, a hard gut, high blood sugar, and lousy cholesterol, known as Metabolic Syndrome [MetS]. The good news is that it is reversible.
My business survived COVID. Now, I work hybrid, and own my schedule. As for training, I actually enjoy it, and have a decent base from high school and college sports. FOOD and beer are my issues, not training!
No shortcuts or hacks, I’ve got that. It’s getting my head wrapped around health for the long haul. Please advise.
A: Ok, Sean. This is the last time you will ‘diet’ or exercise for the purpose of losing weight. The WORST reason to join a gym or to exercise is fat loss. Yup, that’s right! To exercise ‘just to burn calories’ is a self-defeating prophecy.
As for DIET, it is the SUM total of everything that we eat and drink. It is a style and pattern of eating-drinking. It is NOT something that we go on or off. It is a rhythm of daily practices and habits, in place 80-90% of the time.
Let’s build on what you’ve got going for you. You enjoy training and have a solid training history. You don’t eat highly processed food. You have aspirations to be physically active, engaged and productive for decades to come. You have a Doc that knows you and cares. You have control over your work schedule. You enjoy grilling and food prep.
Now, let’s get a handle on the challenges.
The MINDSET: Flip that switch … from diets and programs ... to DAILY rhythmical habits, patterns and practices … for life. It’s never too late to make changes that stick. Start with the easiest DOABLE daily tweak, like, brush and floss immediately after your dinner, or get off the screen every hour on the hour, and take a 2:00 walk.
Sean, the Movement Pillar has three BIG Rocks, Training, Daily steps and PA, and Play [recreation]. So…
1. TRAIN for life.
• 2X/week: strength + power training to preserve + build muscle, to rev up your metabolic engine.
• 1X/week: HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training, to boost endurance and rev your engine.
• Off-Days: walk, run, hike, bike or XC ski for cardiovascular, respiratory, brain and metabolic health.
2. Be PHYSICALLY active DAILY.
• Shoot for 5-10K steps per day, any way that you can get them.
• Do your own chores, maintenance and projects, if possible.
• Break up the sitting every half hour.
3. PLAY weekly, and TRAIN so you CAN!
The Diet Pillar has FIVE BIG Rocks, the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and WHY you eat and drink. Take this bull by the horns, Sean.
• You prefer REAL food, but you need to shift some things around. Check out the Mediterranean, MIND, DASH or PEGAN styles of eating. ALL of them can beat back MetS.
• Be creative with your grilling skills. Expand your repertoire of fish, veggies, sauces and rubs.
• Drink water throughout the day, and at meals.
• Keep tabs on the beer; 0-1 on weekdays before or with dinner; 0-2 on weekend days.
• Reset your perception of portions. Go to www.precisionnutrition.com , their Calculator, for guidelines specific to YOU.
2. WHEN: Spread out your food evenly over 2-3 meals within an 8-12 hour window. No snacks. Stick to a schedule 90% of the time.
3. WHERE: Eat at the table or kitchen counter, not the desk, car, or couch.
4. HOW: Pre-set, serve or order the entire meal with portion size in mind; no seconds. Eat SLOWLY, chew thoroughly and savor each bite until 80% full. No one will steal your food.
5. WHY: Eat the staples for health and fuel. Enjoy treats on special occasions.
PERMANENT fat loss takes time. Within three months, MetS is in retreat. In 6-12 months, you will have beat it, and be fitter, leaner, happier and more positive towards the future. You will keep the weight at bay, because you have reset the rhythms of your day, with habits and practices that nurture the Pillars of Hardiness. Go Sean!
Need some coaching? Contact Pat through https://www.activeandagile.com. See previous editions of Mountain Grit for more training tips from Pat.