6 Week Cut Progress

NOTE: Below, is re-blogged from my newsletter 1st Feb 2019.

I’m currently in the middle point of a diet for aesthetics. I’ve cut weight for fighting numerous times, but I’ve never followed a program specifically for aesthetics before. I have several  reasons for doing this.

 I feel that as a fitness professional there is a huge difference between being in the game 10 years growing constantly, and doing the same year over ten times. If you don’t try running the programs yourself how can you confidently implement them?

Maybe most importantly, the idea of being restricted in food (for comfort or socialization) and alcohol made me a little scared, to be honest. The idea of working a thirteen-hour day and then coming home and not being able to have something delicious made me uncomfortable. So, I felt this was something I had to do, we all know growth happens outside the comfort zone. Lastly, I need six pack abs if I’m ever going to destroy my enemies in the fitness world (not hyperbole).

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I posted this photo recently on Instagram and I received a lot of positive feedback, for which I am very grateful. Also, all this encouragement I see as another layer of accountability, but even so, I felt the immediate urge to qualify it posting thIs comparison photo.

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Posting this comparison photo I felt the immediate urge to qualify it. I wanted to say “hey you can still sort of kinda see the top two abs, or mention my recent squat/deadlift PR.” I felt the need to qualify looking puffy. I don’t really like the photo. Don’t like how I look, bad lighting (#fitspo is 85% lighting) but I think it’s important to share how much change can happen in 5 weeks. Also, I think it’s important if I’m going to LEAD you in your journey you understand I’m not a robot. I feel vulnerable, weak, and unsatisfied at times also. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to help you.
 

I wanted to say “Hey, you can still sort-of kinda see the top two abs,” or mention my recent squat/deadlift PR.  I felt the need to looking looking what I saw as puffy. I don’t really like the photo. I don’t like how I look, there’s bad lighting (#fitspo is 85% lighting), but I think it’s important to share how much change can happen in 5 weeks. That was a photo after completing week one of my diet and program. Also, I think it’s important if I’m going to LEAD you in your journey you understand that I’m not a robot. I feel vulnerable, weak, and unsatisfied at times. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to help you.

 THE DIET

I received several inquires to what the diet I’m doing includes. My knee jerk reaction was to explain it’s complexity with: “well you train like a Viking and don’t eat like an asshole, repeat to desired effect.” In all seriousness, well actually in all seriousness, DO THAT! But, to be more specific I simply tracked all my food, kept protein consistent, and slowly dialed down the calories for the energy macronutrients (fat & carbs). To get slightly more detailed I try to time carbs around my workouts. No foods are off limits except alcohol (the 5th food group).

For the most part everyone already knows how to get leaner. If I showed you grilled chicken and broccoli and then a plate of pasta, you know which is better for weight loss! Eighty percent of results from a weight loss plan is hitting the appropriate number of macro nutrients and total calories. A widely excepted rule of thumb that predates the world wide web, blogger “experts,” and skinny jeans is that you should have roughly one gram per pound of bodyweight. I don’t want this to turn into a discussion of protein, if you want to delve deeper look into the material published by Renaissance Periodization.

Also, I’m not drinking. This goes back to my main point that unless you want to get bodybuilding competition shredded, you already know how to lose weight. I especially already know! So, why am I successful (at the moment)? I have layers of accountability, I know why I’m doing this, and I have confidence in the program.

THE GIGGLE TEST

 Does your diet pass the giggle test? What do I mean by that? Well, if you tell someone your new cockamamie diet plan and their first reaction is a giggle it’s probably not the best idea. “Jill I’m only eating foods in blue packaging on even numbers of the the clock.” That being said, this diet will work at least at first. Because any diet that reduces the number of calories in versus out will work (for a time). Keto, let’s just cut the shit please. You don’t actually believe it’s a good idea you just want to be able to eat bacon wrapped avocados all the time.

LAYERS OF ACCOUNTABILITY

I have a coach. Yes, coaches need coaches, especially good ones! I have a very supportive girlfriend Cara (@captainstarbuck). As far as not drinking I told my girlfriend I was going to cut out alcohol on our anniversary until the project is done. Then on Christmas numerous people gave me bottles of whiskey. Which I asked Cara what that means people think? To which she replied: “well it’s because you’re like a man’s man, or they think you’re a functioning alcoholic, or a little of both.” Also, I now have this post on IG now I’m for my half-way mark, so I need to show change once I’m at 12 weeks. Next and maybe most important I paid money for this diet, I suggest you do too. This is isn’t even a sales pitch because I can’t legally tell you specific guidelines but I’m going to let you in on a secret I learned the hard way: people don’t respect things that are unconditionally free! So, throw down some cash. Even better keep a tally of all the money you’re saving by making your own meals and not drinking. Especially if you live in New York you’ll see this add up. Then get yourself something nice.

Also, postscript for next December my brand is Talisker.

Easy Meal Prep Under 10 min and $20

Meal prep is one of the less glamorous elements of your fitness journey. Especially if you are new to taking control of your nutrition, making pounds of chicken, sautéing vegetables, while you burn rice to the bottom of the pot can seem like a kitchen destroying Sisyphean task. Instead of letting this take the spirit out of you I am going to provide some easy meal prep ideas in a series of blogs that will soon be a e-pamphlet.

First Question

“What level of coaching are you at?” Nutrition coaching is often divided into three levels of intensity and detail. Most people will never need to be at level 3, unless you plan to compete in bodybuilding or physique. Even then though most advanced athletes/dieters cannot realistically stay at level 3 without psychological and/or physical burnout. In this level everything is taken into account. You are even measuring asparagus spears, nothing is eaten that you do not measure or weigh first. Also, a level 3 trainee is most likely timing their meals around their workouts for optimized muscle growth or fat loss. An example of detail the majority of that day’s carbs would be eaten in a three hour window arounds workouts. Whey protein would be consumed following a workout because of its quick absorption rate and casein taken prior to bed because of its slow release. For most individuals you will never need to be at level 3.

Myself after about two months of  level 2  intensity and one month at  level 3.

Myself after about two months of level 2 intensity and one month at level 3.

Level 2, I will define as you are measuring calories but you are not striving for the same level of accuracy. Also, timing is not really an issue. A note on accuracy, most food labels are estimated to only be within the 20-30% accurate range to begin with. For a food item to be close to 100% accurate every item would need to be placed in a bomb calorimeter.

Level 1 is simply basic consciousness of what you are eating. At level 1 you simply use your fist to measure protein, palm for carbs & vegetables, and your thumb to estimate fat.

Three common items less than 20 dollars. Also, I recommend purchasing broccoli florets and not cuts.

Three common items less than 20 dollars. Also, I recommend purchasing broccoli florets and not cuts.

Four Meals Under Ten Minutes

For the level 3 trainee: divide the chicken into white meat and dark since you will enter them separately into your tracking app. Even if you are trying to cut I would recommend keeping the skin on at least the dark meat because of the vitamins. Next weigh four equal portions of each. Microwave the pre-packaged rice, use a spatula to divide each two serving packs into individual portions. Microwave your vegetables in a glass container and then divide those up. For the level two trainee, simply find in My Fitness Pal, or your chosen app, an entire rotisserie chicken then enter the serving as 0.25 of the whole chicken. The rice and vegetable set up is the same. If you are a level 1 trainee simply rip, shred the chicken up and use your eyeballs.

Cost Effective

This approach is not a only a great way for you to track your nutrition, but you can save considerable money. Especially if like me you live in New York City. I purchased all these items for under twenty bucks. The chicken was $7.99, two pre-cooked rice packs for $2.50 a piece, and two bags of broccoli for $2.49 a piece. I made four filling meals which in NYC would easily run $10-15 a piece. I chose not use oil on the rice and to keep the skin on the chicken for my fat calories. That being said each meal was still around 500 calories total. If you liked this article and would value more similar content please leave a comment below. Best of luck on your journey whatever your goals are. It will not happen overnight but probably will not take as long you think either. Be patient. strive to find satisfaction in the challenge and process.

Patience is not simply the ability to wait, but rather how we behave while we’re waiting.
— -Joyce Meyer

Note using the lids for each container to make it easier to measure and divide the portions, the finished product (far right).

Picking The Right Muay Thai Camp in Thailand

So you’ve saved up your money and vacation time and you’re ready to pull the trigger. If you are anything like myself and the generation of marital artist like me who grew up on Kickboxer you dreamed of training in Thailand. Well, you might not realize this but you’re not the only one. Foreigners, or farrang, training in Thailand is a huge business and you’ll be one of thousands. That’s not to say you shouldn’t, nor does it mean you won’t be on your own unique adventure, just don’t expect be going down a path that hasn’t been tread. Over the course of 5 trips spanning decade and totally over a year of time in The Kingdom I would like to give 3 tips for choosing your first Muay Thai gym to train at.

 

  1. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF: What type of experience are you looking for? If you really want to be secluded and do nothing but train, great. Also, if you are working a stressful job in your home country and this is your only chance to get a vacation in, as well as train, that’s great too. If you want to have access to other activities like SCUBA, snorkeling, trekking, maybe pick a gym in one of the more frequented spots like Chiang Mai or Phuket. It’s ok, Van Damme will forgive you.

 

  1. WHAT LEVEL ARE YOU AT: Another question where you will need to be honest with yourself. I’ve trained at gyms that were the perfect environment for foreigners coming who have already fought and are looking hone their skills and conditioning. The caveat with that is at times such gyms can be unprepared, or unwilling, to take the time to get you technically up to speed to where you’re getting the most out of your training. If you’re a beginner don’t necessarily look for a spot where the best fighters from the US & Europe go to prep, or a gym that boasts a roster of stadium champions, possibly seek out a “Mom & Pop” operation instead. A great example of that type of gym is Santai Muay Thai located in the outskirts of Chiang Mai. If you are already an experienced fighter it possibly doesn’t get better than Sitsongpeenong where I spent four months living.

 

  1. Do your research, and look for the most current information you can find. Plenty of forums exists and there are several Muay Thai gym review sites on the internet. Just keep in mind these gyms often shut down or change owners with little to no notice. If you read an awesome review of a place that sounds like it’s perfectly tailored to your needs, be sure to check the date. The Muay Thai community at large is welcoming and ready to help. Personally I’m more than happy to message back anyone on Instagram or Facebook who shoots me a question.

 

  1. Do you want to still cross-train? If you want to still keep up with your ground game or Western Style boxing there are options to do both and learn authentic Muay Thai. If you’re looking to particularly hone your stand up skills for MMA, you might be best served by one of the gyms that regularly sends fighters to promotions throughout Asia for MMA. A good location for the MMA focused trainees would be to get a hostel on the street of Chalong Phuket. You can take Traditional Muay Thai at Dragon Muay Thai, western Boxing & BJJ at Phuket Top Team, and then take MMA class at Tiger Muay thai all with in walking distance of each other.

Respect for the Beginner

 

It’s natural for us as humans to want to compare, rate and rank. Now, let’s say you’ve been boxing and training for about a year. You now crave a good training session. The next few days after class your body no longer feels like it was hit by a car and will revolt against you any moment. Another human tendency, and one of our less admirable ones, is to gain a feeling of superiority by comparing ourselves to those less skilled. Remember you will always be a beginner compared to someone else out there.

Thailand Lessons

In Thailand over the course of 4 months I lived in a room underneath the gym at Sitsongpeenong Muay Thai Camp. I showed up to Sitsonpeenong with a couple of decades of experience, in shape (but still fat by Thailand standards), and 20 fights under my belt. However, compared to many of the Thai 16 year olds there, who will already have close to 100 professional bouts at that age, I was a rank novice. Also, fighters in camps such as the one I was at are usually there because there is no other choice for them and their family. Despite sweating all over the place, being comparatively a beginner with motivations most likely perplexing to someone fighting for survival, I was never treated with anything but respect. I strive to, although not always successfully, to remember this lesson in humility and graciousness.  

Back to New York

So, back to New York and group boxing classes. Even though you are now finding a “groove” there will be times when your motivation begins to flag. You might know exactly what to do at this point. “Jab,” “cross,” “slip,” and “weave,” are now all part of your vocabulary. You have all the right gear, you have a gym community, your comfort level is higher, yet still sometimes you might find it difficult to make it to the gym. Take a moment and think how much more of a challenge it is for someone new. Someone who feels awkward, doesn’t know anyone, and isn’t speaking the language yet. 

It’s Takes a lot of Heart to Begin

There is a difference between knowing because you’ve experienced something and knowing because you have been told something. If you have been in shape before, or used to be an athlete, you have a tremendous advantage over a beginner. You truly know that the results can and will happen with work, fuel, rest. The true beginner is venturing into uncharted territory with their body. In many ways what they are do is the more than just difficult, it’s courageous. They deserve our respect.