Ladies, you are looking lovely this evening. Your Certified Gentleman is back to escort you through the fitness filth.
Guys, hows it hanging? Small, with significant shrinkage? Well, the weather is starting to get colder. That’s the excuse I use.
I know I’ve been away for a while, not posting, not answering questions, etc. Part of that, as most of you already know, is that both my mom and dad passed away in the last 6 months. Yes its true, the Japanese Ron Burgundy and the Irish Mad Woman had enough of their 7 kids, and decided it was time to move on. I do not blame them, and I will be writing a post in their honor in the near future.
But for now, the more positive news of why I’ve been away. During that time, I was obviously reminded of just how short life is. And I thought hard about what I am truly passionate about. It certainly wasn’t trying to learn everything about digital publishing, online marketing, and sales. It was writing, creating content, and being Da People’s Nutrition Educator…
So instead of continuing to try to do everything myself, I teamed up with a publishing company called Shapeshifter Media. They can do what they love to do, I can do what I love to do, and we can both be happy. Man, I’m glad I did. Over the last couple of months, their awesome team has truly helped me focus, and brought out the best in me as a writer and coach. I’m proud to announce our co-produced product is now available:
They’ve given me permission here to post up the section both Kalai and I wrote about our own fitness journeys, and how this book was ultimately born. It’s really more than just a book man. Its close to 15 years of research, experience, trial and error, successes and mistakes, etc. You can read about where we screwed up in the past, and hopefully avoid some of the same mistakes. As you’ll notice, they kept my foul language and 6th-grade humor style, hahahaha. I wouldn’t have it any other way my friend. Hope you enjoy
*Warning. This is a long post, so get your popcorn ready.
*The following is an excerpt from the book Feast Your Fat Away: The New Rules for Fast, Permanent Weight Loss
*The actual layout in the book is way nicer and more pro. This is just my own copy and paste, add a few photos, shitty do-it-yourself version.
ABOUT NATE MIYAKI
Sometimes the best way to help those around you is just by being an open book and authentically sharing your own personal journey and experiences – the good and the bad, the triumphs and the setbacks, the answers and the questions, the valuable lessons and the mistakes.
I promise I’m not one of the fitness celebrities who loves to listen to myself talk, or I guess, read myself write. I grow tired of myself often. And I don’t think you really give a damn about Tweets and Facebook posts about my bathroom routine.
I only hope that sharing my story with you accomplishes 3 things:
1. It shortens your learning curve.
If I can help you avoid some of the frustration I’ve experienced, I’m all for it man. Parts of my journey just completely sucked, and I hope I can help you avoid some of the same mistakes I’ve made – as an athlete, physique enthusiast, and coach.
2. It gives you confidence that regardless of failed attempts in the past, you can reach all of your health and fitness goals.
I can only laugh when people suggest that I was born to be in great shape. If only they knew how many times I failed and doubted whether it was even possible for me to succeed. Trust me, I’m nothing special. If I can find a way to do it, you can too.
3. It shows the authenticity of this book, why I take a no bullshit approach, and my sincere desire in wanting to help you reach your goals.
As you’ll see, Feast Your Fat Away is more than just a book. It’s the culmination of over 15 years of researching, testing, assessing, and constantly refining in order to find what works in the real world – not just for the genetically elite, but also for an average dude like me.
I’d love to tell you that creating this approach was purely out of the goodness of my heart and for the benefit of the world. But I’d be lying. A lot of the motivation to get it right came from my own personal obsession and selfish goals.
But that’s the best type of teacher to learn from – the one who has something personally at stake in the matter and is fighting right alongside you to achieve the same goals. This world is full of too many people who talk one way but live another.
No one – other than maybe Ron Burgundy – is more passionate about building glorious physiques than I am. It’s not only my career; it’s been my sport, my hobby, and my life.
I may be the one or two people in your life that truly understands how important health, fitness, and building a beach-ready physique can become. I know how it can turn into a top priority… a borderline obsession (*warning – please don’t fall off the cliff and become a crazy fitness person – they’re annoying as hell).
I consider myself a lifelong student, which means I’m a consumer just like you. I know how good it feels when sincere educators and good advice bring you closer to your goals. Unfortunately, I also know how terrible it feels when scams and bad advice disappoint, wasting your time and money.
You’ll not get any bullshit from me, my friends. You’re going to get what I honestly believe is the most efficient route to health enhancement and physique development. It’s what I’ve used to achieve results with my family, my friends, my clients, and myself. It’s what I truly believe can help you.
Shall I tell you more about my journey and how Feast Your Fat Away was born?
THE EARLY YEARS
I grew up with 5 older brothers and an older sister. They were all skinny, and I came out of the womb looking like a big, dimply potato. My brothers were ruthless. Hey fat boy, get over here. Are you ticklish? They joked that our mom must have had a fling with the mailman who kind of looked like Santa Clause. She’s Irish and drinks a lot, so you never know…
The nickname they gave me, Baby Sumo, dominated my childhood.
What do you think that does to a young kid in his formative years? I’ll tell you what it does. It scars him for life. It forces him to seek answers and make fitness his whole damn career. Thanks bros. I’m a semi-smart dude and good at math. I could have been an investment banker…
My fitness journey started in a variety of performance-based sports. I trained and competed in football, track, and martial arts. Later I added in acrobatics, stunts, and pro wrestling. I achieved good levels of success in each sport, but I didn’t look the part like I wanted to.
My less than impressive physique developed into what would be my natural, adult genetic predisposition – a skinny-fat guy.
Basically, when I was wearing clothes my coaches told me I needed to gain some weight. When I took my shirt off, they told me I needed to lose some flab. That was a frustrating time. Here I was doing all of this intense, consistent training, but I looked like I’d never stepped foot inside a gym.
And thus I learned a hard, but valuable lesson right off the bat – training and eating to improve sport performance is much different than training and eating to change body composition and physical appearance.
The results of my early training clients mirrored my own personal experience. My formal education included Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology, and Biomechanics. I came out of college a cocky kid, knowing I had more knowledge than most gym trainers and could design some of the best training programs on the planet.
Although my clients got stronger, became more athletic, improved times, and got better at performing exercises and drills, etc., their physique results were mediocre at best. It’s only when I started focusing on their nutrition plans that results took off.
If you retain only one piece of information from my experiences, I hope it’s this: your nutritional habits will have a far greater impact on your body composition, physique goals, and overall health than any other fitness component.
Since those early failures, I’ve been in the fitness industry for 15 years now, have personally trained hundreds of people, and have advised thousands more. I’ve worked with pro athletes, natural bodybuilders, bikini girls, fitness models, busy professionals, entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, moms, strippers, and crazy people alike…
…and there has been only one universal theme:
The clients who used diet as their primary weapon to improve their body composition and overall health profile were the ones who obtained the best results. They won – swiftly and quickly.
In fact, for some of the busy professionals I’ve worked with as a consultant to corporate health and wellness programs, diet was all they used to make dramatic changes. Here’s the truth many trainers don’t want to hear – most people could reach a healthy bodyweight and good biomarkers of health with diet alone…no formal exercise sessions needed.
Conversely, the clients who tried to use exercise to offset a poor diet or who thought they could eat whatever they wanted because they were exercising, obtained mediocre results at best. They tried to out-train a poor diet and they’re still fighting a battle they will never win.
In other words: behind every great body composition transformation, there is a good diet plan.
That’s why all of my subsequent continuing education (various nutrition courses and certifications) and self-education (reading books and research) over the past decade has been focused on nutrition.
THE NATURAL BODYBUILDING YEARS
As injuries ended my formal athletic career, I decided I was going to shift gears, lose flab, and finally build the body of my dreams.
I was never really into the cartoonish, juiced up, steroid bodybuilding look. But as a fat boy chasing that elusive 6-pack, I remember watching action movies with Bruce and Brandon Lee, Jean Claude Van Damme, Stallone, etc., and wanting to look like that so bad – a lean machine, Baby!
I read whatever fitness magazines and books I could get my hands on (which is why I popped a boner when I was first published in Men’s Fitness – pathetic, I know). I also studied the diet protocols of successful fitness competitors and athletes across the globe.
As I’ve become a professional in the field, I’ve learned that some of the more highly credentialed scientists frown upon learning from successful athletes. That makes no sense to me. I believe in learning from any resource you can. Why wouldn’t you try and learn a thing or two from people who get results in the real world and have achieved what you want to achieve?
You shouldn’t learn everything from them, because genetics and drugs sometimes play a part, but real world success always leaves a few useful strategies you can pick up and apply.
Besides, I wasn’t just interested in discussing theory in a classroom or lab or sounding smart to clients or in fitness forums. I was desperate to learn what actually worked in the real world. Natural bodybuilding had become my new sport, and I had to put up or shut up. I needed to put concepts to the test and gain practical experience in the real world.
Over the next few years I successfully competed in several natural bodybuilding shows. At different events, I also got to pick the brains of fellow competitors and coaches – people who were, or worked with, the most ripped people on the planet.
Here’s the most valuable lesson I learned while studying and applying natural bodybuilding and fitness nutrition principles – targeted numbers (the right amounts and ratios of calories, protein, carbs, and fats) can be used to achieve any higherlevel physique goal you desire – building muscle, burning fat, and looking awesome.
But it wasn’t all flowers and sunshine for me. I also experienced some of the negative drawbacks of traditional fitness and bodybuilding nutrition approaches.
1. Food sensitivities.
Some common foods recommended in traditional fitness diets – sugar-based workout drinks, gluten-based carbs, whole grains, dairy, artificial sweeteners, and chemical-loaded protein bars, etc., – can be problematic for overall health. At least, they were for me.
Over time, these dietary staples led to chronic inflammation, nagging joint pain, low energy, fatigue (maybe that’s why bodybuilders always tell you to take multiple naps a day – ain’t nobody with a real life got time for that, Man), and severe gastrointestinal distress.
The bowl became my best friend, and I could clear out a room with a backside shotgun blast. Who’s cooking eggs? That’s all fun and games when you’re with your buddies. It’s not so fun when you’re holding it in at the office in front of your boss or out on a date with your soul mate.
And all kidding aside, it’s a sign you’re not eating the right foods or that your body isn’t digesting certain foods properly.
2. Extreme bulking/cutting phases, weight fluctuations, and health implications.
I didn’t like the months of “garbage disposal-ing” food and bulking up, followed by the months of extreme calorie deficits, overtraining, and cutting down – all just to look good a few days out of the year. I almost felt like the ripped version of Nate Miyaki was just a Halloween costume.
“Hey Nate, you compete right? Take off your shirt and let me see.”
“Dude let me do a 4-month pre-competition diet first, then I’ll show you. I’m in offseason mode right now.”
I learned quickly that I’d rather find a less extreme, more reasonable approach where I could look good and be healthy year-round.
I remember one bulking phase I convinced myself I was getting huge, but I was really just getting fat and – more importantly – unhealthy. I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without sucking wind, my knees ached constantly, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels skyrocketed, and my doctor threatened to put me on several medications.
No physique is worth compromising your overall health. If you’re in your teens or 20’s, just trust me on that one. If you’re in your 30’s or above, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.
Then there were the pre-competition cutting phases where I had to put my life on hold for months. Cutting calories and carbs to the extreme, never being able to go out and eat or socialize, walking around like a zombie wanting to gnaw off people’s arms, and going to bed starving at night and thinking of food yet suffering from insomnia and not being able to sleep. “Quick,what is 2+2?” “Uh, give me a minute. I think I know this one…”
That’s all fine and good if your life revolves around the gym, but I was getting older and trying to build a career of writing, speaking, educating, etc. You can’t do that if you have the brain function of a gnat.
I had proven to myself I could get in really good shape if I wanted. But given some of the drawbacks, I knew it was time to continue my educational journey if I was to reach my ultimate goal — finding a diet plan that allowed me to be in good shape year-round without compromising my health or career goals.
The above was just my personal, relatively mild negative experience with some of the potential drawbacks of competition diets.
I have had numerous former competitors, fitness models, and internet fitness celebrities contact me for coaching with straight-up horror stories. You see their great physiques in the magazines and online, but you rarely hear some of the heartbreaking stories behind the pictures.
Due to a lack of an informed approach, many competitors will use extreme drug, diet, and training protocols to get in competition shape, unknowingly (or sometimes knowingly) damaging their metabolism, natural hormone production, and long-term physical and psychological health.
They will yo-yo from extreme competition shape to clinically obese in just a few months. It’s madness, Man. You can only push your body so far before it fights back. Many end up with lifelong health, body weight, and body image struggles.
I have, and I hope you have, no interest in pursuing that route. Learn from the mistakes of these competitors – don’t ever compromise your health or happiness for a 6-pack. Find a better, more informed way.
THE PALEO YEARS
In looking to solve some of my own health issues, I dove into Paleo Diet theory and research. The basic summary is to cut out modern processed foods, including ADA proclaimed “health” foods, and eat how our ancestors ate – real, natural, whole foods.
In many ways, this was both the best and worst part of my fitness journey. Let’s start with the good.
Paleo cleared up a lot of the confusion and misconceptions I had about optimal food choices for overall health. It pointed out the political and financial biases of mainstream nutrition standards. By breaking out of myths engrained in me since I was a kid, I experienced several benefits.
My inflammatory issues and gastrointestinal stress went away, acne cleared up, blood pressure normalized, and other biomarkers of health improved.
In the initial phases, everything was great. Then, disaster struck. My mistake was trying to combine this dietary approach with consistent, high-intensity, anaerobic exercise.
You see, most versions of the Paleo Diet are considered low carbohydrate diets. While I believe this is the best approach for sedentary populations (you don’t burn many carbs sitting in a chair all day), I learned the hard way that it’s not a great match for athletes, regular exercisers, or more active demographics.
What was my own personal experience with this mismatch?
You read more of the technical aspects in the book, but combining low-carb eating with frequent, high-intensity training sessions can have severe negative physiological, metabolic, and hormonal consequences. It is like trying to drive a car around on an empty gas tank. Here’s what that looked like for me:
- I lost a lot of lean muscle mass because my body was in a constant broken down state and I wasn’t properly fueling and supporting my exercise routine.
- Because of this muscle loss, I was back to being flabby and skinny-fat despite all of the exercise I was doing.
- I caught every cold and virus that came around and was getting sick all of the time (carbs support the immune system in response to training).
- My metabolism slowed down and I wasn’t losing fat despite eating in a calorie deficit (carbs support thyroid levels and metabolic rate).
- My energy levels sucked and my mood was even worse – I was easily irritated and depressed when I’m normally a laid-back, happy beach dude.
- The worst of the worst – I suffered the dreaded non-functioning wiener. That’s right, I had no sex drive and my natural testosterone levels were shot. Sure enough I had them checked, and in my late 20’s I had the testosterone levels of a 70 year old. No diet or 6-pack is worth having a lifeless noodle hanging between your legs.
Things were so bad that honestly, I contemplated giving up – both as an athlete and coach – and changing careers. Seriously, I applied and was accepted into business school.
But the funny thing about passion is that once you truly find yours, it constantly pulls on your heartstrings and never lets you leave it behind.
And I hate failing. I wasn’t going to move on until I accomplished what I had set out to do. So it was back to the drawing board.
The Paleo approach was nothing short of a miracle for the majority of my predominantly sedentary clients. Most who adopted this approach lost weight, improved biomarkers of health, got off prescription medications, and had better energy, mood, and cognitive function.
However, as I opened up about my own struggles combining the diet with anaerobic training, emails poured in from athletes around the world sharing stories of similar experiences – poor performance, muscle loss, slow metabolism, low sex drive, and impaired thyroid and testosterone production.
In short, the Paleo approach seemed to work great for sedentary demographics but seemed to have severe drawbacks for athletes and regular anaerobic exercisers. This distinction was just too consistent to be a coincidence.
What was the main lesson I learned from the Paleo Years? It’s probably the most important lesson that has allowed me to succeed as a coach – there is no one, Universal diet that works for everyone everywhere. Your diet must be matched to your activity levels and physique goals.
THE SPORTS NUTRITION YEARS
Knowing I needed to better match my diet to my training protocol, I returned to my formal education roots to find the answers. I had studied Kinesiology and Exercise Physiology in college, but I had lost some of this basic scientific foundation while getting wrapped up in Paleo/low-carb dogma.
So I pulled out some of my old textbook and added in a new obsession – Sports Nutrition textbooks and research. I don’t want to bore you with the nerd stuff, but the basic summary is this:
There are unique physiological, metabolic, hormonal, and immune system responses to intense exercise, and these change the way your body processes nutrients for up to 48 hours following a hard training session. This means the nutritional needs of athletes and regular exercisers are completely different than that of sedentary populations.
I knew I needed to re-integrate some carbohydrates back into my diet to properly fuel and recover from my intense training sessions, but I didn’t want to go back to the traditional fitness nutrition food choices that were causing me so much digestive stress – sugar, whole grain, and gluten-based carbs.
I wanted to keep some of the main benefits of Paleo nutrition while integrating a few sports nutrition principles to better support my athletic lifestyle. So I re-introduced a few low sugar, gluten-free, starchy carbs into my diet.
What I ended up with is a diet template similar to a traditional Japanese diet – fish, meats, eggs, vegetables, whole fruit, and starchy carbs coming from sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and white rice.
When I finally came to this Paleo meets Sports Nutrition Hybrid, or Fitness Nutrition diet with better food choices, I knew I was on to something special. My results took off. I put on muscle and dropped fat at the same time, testosterone levels increased back to normal, my wiener came out of hibernation and didn’t see its (small) shadow, my energy levels were through the roof, and I was back to being a laid-back, happy beach dude.
I even got back onto the competition stage and won my weight class at the Musclemania Natural Bodybuilding World Championships. But this time standing on stage, I was a lot healthier and happier.
Since I started writing about this hybrid approach in my magazine columns and blogs, I can’t even tell you how many athletes and regular exercisers I’ve helped get on a more targeted, effective, and properly matched eating plan.
Many physique enthusiasts have switched to better food choices, and as a result, have removed food allergens, gastrointestinal distress, joint pain, gotten rid of bloating and water retention, reached their lowest body fat percentage, and achieved their best physical condition ever.
Many MMA fighters, Cross-fitters and cross-trainers, and other performance athletes (like professional bar-hoppers) that were Carbophobic and stuck in the Low Carb Era started reintegrating a select few starchy carbs back into their diets and getting amazing benefits – increased energy and performance, better body composition, reversal of metabolic and hormonal damage, etc.
As an athlete and a coach, I was rocking and rolling man. I was so close to hitting a home run with my nutrition approach. Just one minor issue lingered…
Being a perfectionist, my journey had one final hurdle to overcome – the long-term practicality and sustainability of my nutrition plan.
THE INTERMITTENT FASTING & FEASTING YEARS
As my career started to progress with writing opportunities, speaking engagements, consulting gigs, and continuing to run my private training business, I wanted to find a more flexible and practical diet plan that could still yield good physique results.
The food choice and diet number riddles had been solved. But at that point in time, I was still stuck in the fitness myths of the need to eat 6 small meals, pack containers of food all of the time, never eat out, cut calories and starve at night, etc., to get in great shape.
I was definitely borderline obsessive compulsive, always watching the clock and panicking if I had gone more than 2.5 hours without food.
That’s fine when you’re in your 20’s and your only responsibilities in life are looking good and getting laid, but it’s not the most efficient approach when you’re trying to build a career, maybe start a family, travel, and have a social life.
I knew this approach worked as a short-term competition plan. I had successfully used it. But I also knew that it was very hard to sustain as a year-round lifestyle plan. Following a competition, as other goals in life took priority, my weight would always rebound and I would get somewhat soft and out of shape.
This would no longer do, because as part of my career, I started getting more opportunities to represent different fitness products and companies. I needed to be in shape year round for any photo shoots, as opposed to going through months of offseason and preparation phases for single day competitions.
I needed a plan that made it possible, and relatively easy, to stay in good shape year-round. Traditional fitness and bodybuilding nutrition was not it, at least for me.
As I was studying different cultural diets to finalize my food choice templates, I also began to notice something about the diet structures of some of the healthiest and fittest cultures in the world – Okinawan, Kitavan, Mediterranean. None of them were slaves to the 6 small meals a day fitness approach.
Most ate 2-3 meals a day, with the biggest one at night. Maybe I had been brainwashed and misled by the fitness industry all along. If I was going to eat more natural foods, why not eat in a more natural way?
My curiosity continued as I came across the diet plans of two bodybuilders from the Golden Era of the 60’s and 70’s – before performance enhancing drugs took over the sport and ran rampant – Vince Gironda and Serge Nubret. To this day, I still believe they had the greatest physiques of all time. Both shunned traditional fitness nutrition and ate 2 meals a day. Aha, real world proof.
But being a science guy, anthropological and anecdotal evidence was not enough. I needed some hard scientific data to be confident enough to give this approach a try. Since I had come so far in my journey and education, I wasn’t about to get caught up in some kind of diet fad.
Sure enough, more and more research studies started popping up supporting the intermittent fasting and feasting approach to nutrition. Most showed that as long as you ate the same foods and calories, you could get equally good fat loss and physique results eating 6, 3, or even 2 main meals a day.
In fact, some studies even showed that reducing meal frequency to 2-3 meals a day, going longer periods without food, and eating a big, satiating meal at night was not only a viable alternative, it was actually the optimal way to lose fat and shape up. Earlier in this book, you saw the same studies that convinced me to give it a try.
If the fasting feasting data was true, I could make my diet fit my life and career demands, as opposed to the other way around.
Again, because of the progression of my career and the need to be in shape year-round (which I couldn’t pull off with traditional fitness nutrition approaches), I had no other choice but to give it a shot.
And it worked like a charm, Man! I couldn’t believe how convenient this plan was to follow, and how easy it made it to get into and stay in great shape. What was once a constant struggle was now a breeze.
I mean, c’mon, eat a light lunch based on whole foods and then come home (or go out) and eat a nice, big, complete dinner which ended the day feeling satiated and satisfied? How awesome is that? I can tell you one thing: I’ll never go back to any other way of eating again. This is just too easy.
The Feast Your Fat Away diet structure was the final piece to the puzzle. I got to live like Baby Sumo when it was time to feast but didn’t have to look like him walking the streets.
My clients always loved the idea of traditional fitness diets, and they sounded great in theory while reading about them in the magazines. However, the majority that had careers outside of fitness could maybe follow it for a few weeks but then gave it up as impossible.
“Well, it’s your job, Nate.”
“I can’t give up my career to be a fitness model.”
“It’s too impractical.”
“I have a life.”
“Maybe I’ll get in shape when I retire.”
And so it was, back to the crap. Nothing is more useless than writing a plan for someone that you know they can’t follow.
But when I started teaching people about the Feast Your Fat Away approach, their eyes lit up with hope. For the first time, they were hearing about a plan that deep down they knew they had a real shot at following as a sustainable lifestyle plan.
“Wait, you’re telling me all I have to do is worry about eating a solid lunch and a big dinner, and I can get in good shape? The fitness freaks are full of shit?”
Well, they’re not full of shit. That approach works well, too. It’s just that this one is a whole lot easier, and more enjoyable to follow, especially for a busy professional.
As soon as I switched clients over to this approach, adherence rates and results took off. Clients who could never get in shape before, or were constantly yo-yo’ing, were finally getting fantastic, permanent results.
FEAST YOUR FAT AWAY
I had finally accomplished my personal and career goal of creating a diet approach that satisfied four main requirements, simultaneously:
1. Optimize overall health: It allowed me to achieve and maintain good biomarkers of health, energy levels and mood, cognitive function, and self-confidence.
2. Look awesome: It helped me lose fat, build muscle, and look good with my shirt off, pants off, or walking around naked (hey now!).
3. Lifestyle plan: It worked as a long-term, sustainable lifestyle plan – not just as a short-term, quick fix, or competition diet.
4. Success as a coach: It was something I could share with others in order to help them achieve similar goals.
As you can see, I’ve been in the game for a long time and have seen it all. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help you avoid some of the same mistakes my wife, my friends, my colleagues, my clients, fellow competitors, and I have made.
Fifteen years of studying, researching, applying, testing, failing, refining, and trial and error as an athlete and coach went into reaching an approach that works ideally for me. And I am 100% confident in recommending and teaching it to you.
It’s not just a plan that looks good on a paper; it’s a plan that works in the real world. I hope it helps you reach all of your health and fitness goals.
ABOUT KALAI DIAMOND
Don’t judge a book by its cover…
Q: Are you a fitness professional?
Some see photos of me online and presume that I make my living as a fitness professional, competitor, or personal trainer.
I married a fitness professional, but I am not one. I have a Master’s degree in psychology, a career in higher education, and have a regular, 9-5 (or more often 7-7) job.
In other words, like many of you reading this, I sit at a desk for most of the day. I truly understand how difficult it can be to eat well at the office surrounded by the corporate culture of fast food, vending machine snacks, and cupcakes and candy bowls sitting outside of your office door every day.
I also know how hard it can be to make it to the gym consistently when you have a busy career and family life, with never-ending deadlines and demands.
I have competed in fitness competitions as a personal challenge and for fun. Every once in a while I get asked to do fitness photo shoots, but it’s not part of what I do for a living. Nor is it something I’m willing to give up my career for, or become obsessive and compulsive over.
I enjoyed the process of dieting and training for competitions, but I know that for most of the year I need a diet and exercise plan that allows for more freedom and flexibility.
So although I’m not a fitness professional, I do enjoy sharing what has helped me survive in the modern work environment that is willing to sacrifice health, wellness, balance, longevity, and maybe even sanity, for productivity and profits.
My family and friends are busy, non-fitness career professionals as well. I enjoy trying to motivate, educate, and help them make a positive difference in their lives.
I’m happy to give you my perspective on taking care of yourself as best you can while living a crazy-busy life.
And trust me, you’re going to need an informed AND flexible plan to have any shot at success.
Q: Are you genetically gifted?
Some may think that I’m genetically gifted, can do whatever I want, eat whatever I want, and stay in shape.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I suffered the Freshmen 15 just like everyone else and there have been various points in my life where I battled weight and body image issues.
My father was always a stocky lad whose mother and grandmother encouraged him to eat. Little did he know that all that eating would lead to obesity and disease. He spent most of his adult life near 400 lbs. Others in my family have suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol – all as a result of a poor diet and lack of exercise.
Today I know that these diseases are somewhat preventable, and maybe even reversible.
I want to do all I can to take care of the body I have and help it thrive; I want to live life and feel good! While more convenient, I’m not interested in taking medications to control unhealthy conditions and diseases. It’s my body and to the extent that I can, I’m willing to put forth an honest effort to care for it by eating well and getting moderate exercise.
Q: But you’re in your 20’s right? Any chic can do what she wants in her 20’s and be in shape.
Wow, lighting, make-up, and smaller digital screens can do wonders I guess, but thanks for making me feel good about myself.
I’m now 6 weeks away from my 41st birthday. So I know how it feels to watch your metabolism slow…and the road get harder with each successive month, let alone year.
But I’m in better shape than I was in high school, I weigh less than when I was a college NCAA athlete, and have better health biomarkers to boot! Last summer I was asked to represent a fitness app company demonstrating home bodyweight workouts.
How is this possible? Habits. It’s your lifestyle habits, not your age, that have the biggest impact.
Q: But you’ve always probably been fit and healthy? You don’t know how hard it is to make these lifestyle changes.
Actually this whole health, fitness, and taking care of myself business is a relatively new thing in my life.
I grew up in a culture that regards food as a gift, as the provider of life. Food is given as a token of thanks and shared during times of celebration and mourning, as well as a gesture of compassion or appreciation.
And of course, there is just the influence of growing up in the highly refined, typical American lifestyle.
My dietary habits have had various stages of mediocrity:
Age 13: McDonald’s for breakfast, Doritos and Pepsi for lunch, (volleyball after school), typical American dinner
Age 18: Cereal for breakfast, college dining hall buffet for lunch and dinner (with the periodic Chicago deep-dish pizza or cup-o-noodles for mid-evening snack), Rice Krispy treats or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for dessert.
Age 24: Bagel for breakfast, Tootsie Rolls midday, pizza for lunch, late dinner of huge bowl of pasta (or soda crackers dipped in marinara sauce).
Age 30: White chocolate mocha for breakfast, parmesan Goldfish and Mt. Dew for lunch, Snickers and Snapple for a snack, pasta or cereal for dinner.
My exercise habits over the years were either those of a performance athlete (competitive volleyball) or trying to out-train a bad diet with excessive cardio (AIDS ride, marathon, 2-hour gym workouts, etc.).
Let’s just say I didn’t look – or feel – the way I do now. Like I said, I’m in better shape now than when I was a competitive college athlete or chronic over-trainer.
Only after I learned the following two lessons did my body and life truly transform:
1. The majority of fat loss and improvements in health come through dietary change.
2. You can’t out-train a bad diet.
I learned about eating real food and exercising effectively and efficiently. Instead of spending 2 hours at the gym 6 days a week, I spend 45 minutes there, just 3 days a week. Instead of trying to out-exercise bad habits, I use diet as my primary means to lose fat.
It hasn’t been easy. In fact, I failed the first couple of times I tried (on some of the more impractical and less flexible fitness nutrition plans). But it has been educational, enlightening, and life changing.
My point is not to bore you with my story. It’s to let you know that for the majority of my life, I had some of the worst health and fitness habits you can follow.
If I can change, you can change!
Q: But you’re probably just starving yourself and not eating like other fitness models.
Last night I ate a 1/2lb steak with mixed greens, carrots, and onions, and a cup of white rice. It was delicious.
My dietary habits today are pretty much what Nate calls a Japanese-Village style diet…
Morning post-workout snack: a variety of fresh fruit or a homemade smoothie using whole fruit and greens, black coffee or tea.
Lunch: Meat or fish, fruit or small serving of sweet potatoes or rice, a variety of veggies. Dinner: Larger serving of meat or fish, rice or potatoes, veggies. I use a lot of Asian-style recipes like stir-fries, rice bowls, and soups to keep it interesting.
As Nate showed me more of his anthropological research on historical diets (Japanese, Okinawan, Kitavan), I was excited to learn that this is very similar to the Native Hawaiian Diet of fish, pork, poultry, tropical fruits, coconut, vegetables, and starches like taro and poi.
How ironic. As I write this, a familiar song plays, reminding me of my home.
I like my fish and poi, I’m a big boy
Lomi salmon, pipikaula, extra large lilikoi
Squid or chicken lu’au, don’t forget the laulau
Beef or tripe stew, just to name a few
Growing up in Hawaii I know that the Hawaiian diet can either be one of the healthiest or unhealthiest diets on the planet. You can get fresh fish from the sea, a variety of tropical fruits, poi, rice, and island-grown Kona coffee.
You can also get a ton of fast food, gravy smothered plate lunches, Spam, malasadas (doughnuts), aisles of refined snack foods, and Starbucks triple mochas.
Ultimately, like no matter where you live in the world, it comes down to choice.
I get that it’s not always easy. It hasn’t always been easy for me. I’ve tried many variations of meal timing and structure, in search of what is reasonable and sustainable for me.
What I’ve learned in the process is that the only constant is change. Meaning that I have a baseline template, and depending on the day, I know what can change (and how) to stay within my optimal meal plan.
Work out or hungry in the morning? Have some fruit. Hungrier at lunch or dinner? Have some extra protein or veggies. If it was a training day, maybe have a little extra starch.
But I’m no robot, I’m human, and I won’t be perfect all the time. I’m not a professional athlete or competitor, so my requirements are modest; I just have to stick to them. And the more I do, the easier it becomes. The temptation to stray is always there, but if you create a system to allow for indulgences or treats, it’s all quite reasonable.
Since I wasn’t blessed with “skinny genes,” and I’m getting older, if I want to look fit and stay healthy, I can no longer shove piles of crap food in my face whenever I feel like it. Natural foods, a practical diet structure (Feast Your Fat Away), and periodic, planned “cheat meals” are now the foundation of my diet regimen.
I believe it can work well for you too.
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