How many of us have heard “try this diet, it’s the fastest way to get abs” only we don’t get the abs as promised. I drank the Kool-aide and lost. Here’s my story of how I still came out on top despite failing and how you can too.
Picture it…Central Massachusetts February 2016. There’s this guy running a fitness blog coming off the high of adding 37lb to his bench in a month and knuckle deep in Deadlift Everyday. Strength wise he’s good (for now), but he’s a little soft around the middle. He’s got a Greek vacation coming up at the end of April and his wife is dying to go to the beach in Santorini. I need to find the fastest way to get abs.
Santorini is where the beautiful people go to the beach. He can’t be the eye sore on the beach. For crying out loud he runs a fitness blog called Aesthetic Physiques, there should be a certain level of aesthetic in his physique. Thus, his quest for Greek Abs began.
With roughly 8 weeks until the vacation, he steps out of his comfort zone and tries the newest trend in the fitness world…Anabolic Fasting. It has all the appeal he is looking for…
Get stronger (Yeah!)
Get ripped (Yeah! Yeah!)
All while eating for only 8 hours a day (Yeah more time to do other stuff besides eating!)
The premise of the diet sounds legit. Eat according to the anabolic diet (high fat, low carb) for muscle gain while using intermittent fasting (16 hour fast, 8 hour feeding) for fat loss. It was dubbed the “Unicorn Program”. How could he possibly go wrong? Unicorns are lovely.
People on twitter are coming out of the woodwork praising the diet and showing their results. This has to work for him right?
What ensued was 3 weeks of great results followed by nothing. How could this be? He did everything according the plan layed out for him.
He did tweak the diet a little by removing some of the fat for more protein. But that couldn’t be it right? He was just getting sick of 80% lean beef.
Then the self doubt rolled in.
Am I too old to have abs?
Will I ever have them again?
Did I indulge too much in the fall?
No one will ever take me seriously if I can’t live up to the Aesthetic Physique ideal.
What asshole would name their website Aesthetic Physiques anyway? Dave’s Fitness would have been a suitable name.
Well the one factor that he didn’t account for is how his body uses food. Seems like a pretty big factor in hindsight.
Any of this sound like your life at all? Or am I the only one that is this neurotic?
Greece came and this is how I left the States. Defeated by anabolic fasting with no abs in sight (I sweat they are in there).
While on the plane I started thinking about how I would turn this into a win for me and how I can gain from this. That’s when this post was born.
There was many of conversations in my head on the trip and the months after that went sort of like this:
Optimistic Me (OM): I’m going to write the post. It will help people.
Pessimistic Me (PM): Are you crazy? That will tank your blog and kiss any creditability you have good bye.
OM: But people can relate. Everyone has failed at one point or another.
PM: You’re an idiot. The pros don’t fail.
OM: They do, they just don’t broadcast it to everyone. I’m not them, I’m transparent with my friends. Right, wrong or indifferent that’s how I roll.
So instead of this being one big bitch fest, my goal with this post is to show you that even a person with knowledge about dieting can get it wrong. But most importantly, I want you to to take your failures, not as losses, but as wins.
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford
LEARNING FROM FAILURE
TAKE THE BEST PARTS AND DISCARD THE REST
You will fail at one point in your life again hopefully. If you don’t I feel sorry for you because that means you aren’t challenging yourself enough. The key to failing and still winning is to take the lesson you learned (I’ll get into mine later) and discard the rest. Sitting and dwelling on the fact that you failed and all the “pain” it produced is a complete waste of time. People always say that great players have short memories. That’s not a sign of Alzheimer’s, it’s the fact that they learn from their mistakes and move on. How many passes did Jerry Rice drop in his career? Doesn’t see to have bothered him at all.
How many last second shots did Michael Jordan or Kobe miss? Lots (I’m not digging for those stats). Did bother either of those guys when the game was on the line.
When shit hits the fan or when something really pisses me off I ask myself “Is this going to matter in 6 months? A year? 2 years?” This is a good way to temper your anger/frustration and realize that things will get better.
Screw up, fess up, learn and move on.
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“Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I have found several thousand things that won’t work.” Thomas Edison
WHAT I LEARNED
“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” John Wooden
NOT EVERY DIET WILL WORK FOR YOU
My body chemistry is different from yours and yours is different from the next person. Suffice it to say, there is no one right diet for everyone. Personally, I get really good results with carb cycling. I got hooked on the whole anabolic fasting craze because it was sold to me well. Much like the Adkins or South Beach diets or detoxes and cleanses.
Truth be told, I had the answer to my Greek abs all along. All I had to do was look at the first time I prepped for a bodybuilding competition. Like a good scientist I recorded everything. Food, workout bathroom selfies and weight. Thank you iphone. I am able to calculate the exact calorie per pound of bodyweight I need to succeed, the general time frame it take for me to see results and what foods to eat.
Next time I need Greek abs or beach abs I know exactly how to get there for myself.
FYI, I’m currently ~6 weeks into carb cycling and looking forward to my abs to be rippling soon. I’ll do a post on this in a few weeks, maybe you can benefit from my neurosis with recording everything.
Lesson Learned: Stick to what you know works in a time crunch. Leave the experimentation when you don’t have a deadline.
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INTERMITTENT FASTING IS GOOD WITH HIGH FAT
While doing Anabolic Fasting, I switched up the 80% lean ground beef I was eating at nausea to ground turkey and chicken. I just was sick of eating high fat and feeling like a greasy teenager. Don’t get me wrong, at first it was great. Food had so much flavor, spices popped and I felt like I was spitting in the face of everything I had learned about getting lean.
When I switched to leaner cuts of protein the volume of food went up to compensate for the lack of fat calories. Pretty soon I was eating almost a pound of chicken per meal plus trying to shove down veggies. Sometimes it would take me an hour to eat my lunch. I suffered for 3 weeks because I thought this program would get me Greek abs.
I lost muscle because I wasn’t getting the calories I needed due to the volume of food I had to shove down my throat.
Lesson Learned: When doing IF; go high fat, high protein. Otherwise buy stock in Perdue.
[Tweet “When doing IF; go high fat, high protein. Otherwise buy stock in Perdue.”]
I CANNOT OUT WORK A BAD DIET
Leading up to Greece, I was working out like a madman. Crushing every gym session, 6 days a week. The result? A lot of sleep, sore muscles and a lack of abs. Was it worth it? Honestly no. I was trying to outwork my bad diet and that got me nowhere.
The excess workouts put me in more of a calorie deficit which lead to me losing muscle. Muscle is expensive to maintain, so if there is an excess of calories needed guess where they come from. A calorie deficit of 500 calories is good to maintain muscle while losing fat. More than that I’ve found is counter productive. Hell there is visual proof to that point above.
Lesson Learned: Focus on a good diet with the right amount of calories then worry about the workouts. I am not smarter than my body.
[Tweet “Focus on a good diet with the right amount of calories then worry about the workouts. I am not smarter than my body. “]
ANABOLIC WINDOW IS NOT CRUCIAL TO MUSCLE GAINS
The research is there, saying that you need to consume protein and carbs in the anabolic window or the “window of gainz”. This was not my problem when I lost muscle. Overall protein and calorie intake was. I was still able to put on muscle eating at noon when my workout finished at 6:30 am. My problem came when I was trying to eat a pound of chicken at lunch.
Lesson Learned: Overall protein during the day is more important than making sure you hit the window of gainz.
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I AM NOT THE SAME PERSON I WAS 2 YEARS AGO
Old me would have kept this post to myself to prevent me looking like an idiot. Old me would have thought I was a failure for not reaching my goal. Old me wouldn’t have started this blog. I’d be too busy playing video games and masturbating (sorry for anyone in my family reading this).
The person I became is a product of small changes I’ve put into place over the last few years. I’ve developed the habit of reading every morning, being more productive at work and in my personal ventures (this blog and other side businesses) and to be happier more often. All this came from having back surgery and finding things to do that didn’t involve sitting in front of the TV all day. How’s that for finding the silver lining of a shitty situation.
Lesson Learned: Small changes over time can totally reinvent a person. And reflect back every once in a while to truly appreciate the process.
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I will fail again it’s inevitable.
[Tweet “I will fail again it’s inevitable. “]
I will fail at times to get stronger. I will fail at times with fat loss. I will fail at times with this blog. I will fail at times in business. And eventually I will fail at times as a father. I want to fail so I can keep learning, growing and teaching people. I will turn those failures into a benefit for me, keep the silver lining and move on so I can fail again.
Right now I’m dabbling with a few ideas and the “Four Hour Workweek”. Passive income for this guy! I plan on taking this blog and making it popular (Please tell your friends about it), not Facebook popular, but like a Nerd Fitness popular. Fitness wise, I want to get abs then maintain them over the year. I also would like to deadlift 500 lbs. Just for the fact that I can tell people I can deadlift 500 lbs.
If you have any suggestions for me, send them over. I love new ideas.
In the spirt of trying new things, I was thinking of setting up challenge through this blog. I’m not hard and fast on a length of time, maybe a month or 6-week challenge. Something like biggest increase in weight lifted, or most weight lost in X weeks. Something to get people together, talking, competing and trying to better themselves. If there is enough interest, I’ll set up a message board and get a little challenge going. If you’re interested comment below.
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