I consider part of my job as a coach is to be an option facilitator. In my mind, an option facilitator is someone who can give a different perspective or reframe of a particular situation or problem in order to enable the person to see a different path to a solution. Lately I have taken on a different perspective of what that means and how being a good option facilitator is of value.
I certainly have my own ideas and opinions and I realize those come with my own biases. These biases are created from my life experiences. In the pas,t when offering options, I would have a tendency to look at those options in a very black and white manner. With a “this is the way” mentality came judgment on what is “right” vs. “wrong” . For instance, we are currently in the midst of a nutrition challenge which we started near the the first of February. In the past, I may have approached this as the “best” plan for everyone. What I am working hard on is trying to convey with this particular challenge is that it is only one of many different nutritional approaches. There are many different approaches that can help you to improve the quality of your health, mental and physical performance, and ultimately your life in general. The goal is to experiment for yourself to see if it is something that works for you.
If you choose to experiment,then it is my job to assist you along the way and hopefully provide some new perspectives on how to make a successful go of it. We all will have barriers that get in our way. Sometimes we just can’t see a way around or through those barriers. What I hope to bring to the table is the fact that exercise, nutrition, training, and life optimization is my job and what I think about almost all day everyday. Using the nutrition challenge as a example of option facilitation process here are few barriers that I’ve encountered and a few options to address them.
1. How will i have enough energy to train when I’m not eating carbs?
With the exception of Jiujitsu all of our traiing at Alliance is an hour or less. Most training sessions are designed to be intense but short in duration. If you are eating up to 150 grams of carbs a day, you will have enough carbohydrate to replenish your glycogen stores. Once your body becomes more accustomed to burning fat for fuel ,it will be even easier for most. I have found that it may take some time to adjust. It may take 21 days for most and longer for some others. However, the fear of not having enough carbs typically comes from prior information and beliefs which may actually not hold true for us.
2. I like bread, pasta, alcohol, etc. and “can’t” give them up.
The key word here is “can’t”. If you really mean, “I don’t want to or “It’s not that important to me” then that is a different story. If you truly believe you can’t then I would argue differently. One of my favorite quotes I have seen recently related to this is from Gary Taubes. In his book “ Good Calories, Bad Calories”.Gary says that “Sloth and gluttony are not the reason for being over fat but that they are a symptom.” When your diet consist of consuming a lot of sugar you are setting up a perfect storm of hormones to wire your brain to want more of the same. By breaking the cycle you will find your true self.
3. It’s too complicated.
It can be if you make it so but it does not have to be. There are plenty of good and simple recipes in Marks book. Some people like to cook and experiment with new things and that great. I on the other hand am more of a creature of habit and prefer to keep it simple.
Sample day for me:
5:00 am Bullet proof coffee
6:30am 4 scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon
Before training- amino acid and ketone supplement
Lunch- Big salad with either chicken or hamburger
Dinner-Chicken, beef, and vegetables
Nighttime bio coffee with collagen and Heavy cream.
If you choose not to pursue this challenge, then that is fine and no judgment on that decision.This part is not always easy for me. I have a tendancy to get tunnel vision and as I mentioned earlier see things in black and white. However, I am working on reframing how I facilitate options and trying to open my eyes to see even more possibilities.
Another example of option facilitation is how I offer explanation and correction of exercise performance. I am trying to avoid telling someone they are doing something wrong but rather trying to give an option of how to do it better. I like to also think of this as planting seeds. You may not be ready for certain options when I offer them but hopefully the seed will be planted so that those options are still in your mind when or if the need for them arises. For instance, you may have heard these recommendations regarding the performance of the deadlift.
1. Warmup adequately before performing deadllifts
2. Take time to get the setup. This includes getting in the right position with hip hinge and neutral spine.
3. Create maximal tension on the bar and take a breath into your belly before actually starting the pull.
4. Push through the mid foot while maintaining tension through the core (including lats) in order to stabilize the spine and transfer the power from your hips and hamstrings.
5. Reset between each rep to insure you have proper position and tension.
Sometimes you can perform well and not have any injuries or issues without doing all of the above. However, if you do have a problem then my hope is that you will have a process to go back to to correct it when you need to.
So, what in the world does this have to do with David Goggins. David Goggins is a retired Navy Seal and among his many seemingly impossible feats are performing over 4,000 Pullups in 17 hours and running 205 miles in 39 hours. Although he is never named in the book, he was the SEAL that Jesse Itzler lived with in his book called, Living With A Seal. David was recently on a podcast with Joe Rogan. His story was very inspiring especially, from a mental toughness and transformational standpoint. (Just as a warning the language on the podcast is of the rated R variety. )A few of the takeaways for me were:
1. Most of the limits we place on ourselves are based on our genetics or our environment but our mindset.
2. The person we believe we are to be is most often dictated by what others told us we could be and is often not a true reflection of our best self
3. To become your best self you have to face your fears and be willing to fail.
4. Take responsibility. Jocko Willink calls it “extreme ownership”. It’s not that you have to do everything by yourself or can’t accept help but realize you can’t blame others for your result.
5. Ask questions to yourself. As Tony Robbins has said, “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask.” David said he used the question of “What if?” What would my life look like if I did this. Another question you can ask is “How is that working for me?”.
In summary, what I often hear from people when I am presented with a problem is that it is hard or that they can’t. In some cases there may be an easier way and to choose the harder path is not necessarily the best. However, sometimes it is just hard. When it comes to can’t, there are probably somethings we actually can’t do. However, in my experience most of the time it is simply a matter of priorities, values, and beliefs. To use myself as an example and how David planted a seed and facilitated a different option for me relates to mobility and stretching. When David says that a doctor told him that he was the tightest person he had ever seen and that he would need 50,000 hours of stretching to correct himself, I thought of myself. I have thought of myself as being “naturally” tight and although I have spent a great deal of time working on finding the problem and trying to correct it, David gave me a different perspective when he says that he spends two hours a day stretching and that he has only missed two days in the last 5 years.
Lastly, I want to facilitate an option or another way of approaching your training. If you look at some of the amazing physical and mental achievements David put himself through you will see that he paid a price physically to accomplish those feats. When we have done crucible training and events in the past such as Kokoro, 20X, 12 Hours of Jiujitsu, the Crucible Challenge, or the 24 Hour Walk, they have all, in my opinion, been focused on survival. In other words you just have to get through and don’t quit. They definitely teach that you are capable of much more than you thought. The seed I want to plant is “what if” you put that same mental energy and focus on the internal aspect of training and tried to do everything better. Just maybe your training would be even better and your body, mind, and spirit would benefit just as much or more.
The following is from Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint. It is a great resource and guide to utilize if you are engaging in the Alliance Nutrtiion Challenge based on Mark’s 21 Day Reset.
The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid, revised and updated in 2016.
Recommended Macronutrient Intake Levels: The Primal Blueprint recommends a highly varied diet based mainly on personal preference within the guidelines of the Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid above. Animal foods (meat, fish, fowl, and eggs) comprise the bulk of dietary calories. Vegetables are recommended in abundance, comprising the bulk of emphasis on your plate. Healthy fats (macadamia nuts, coconut products, avocado, olives/olive oil) are another featured category. Moderation categories include other nuts, seeds, and nut butters, seasonal fruits, high-fat dairy products, and supplemental carbs in the form of starchy tubers, quinoa, and wild rice for high-calorie burners.
Following the Primal eating strategy should default you into an optimal intake of protein, carbohydrates, and fat to support health, peak performance, longevity, and effortless maintenance of ideal body composition. This includes plenty of room for daily and seasonal variation of macronutrient and total caloric intake. Those new to Primal eating or interested in a methodical approach to shedding excess body fat may wish to accurately calculate macronutrient intake from time to time, using an online resource like FitDay.com to determine whether their macronutrient ratios are at the desired levels.
Using an online macronutrient calculator entails first writing down all food and drink consumed for at least a couple days and perhaps up to a week and recording the amounts, weights, or volumes with as much accuracy as possible. Measuring cups, a teaspoon/tablespoon tool, and an ounces scale are recommended. Recorded data can then be input into an online calculator to reveal the total calories, the breakdown for each macronutrient in convenient pie chart form, and even the breakdown of each individual food or meal consumed. Particularly with the goal of moderating carbohydrate intake per Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve guidelines, it can be quite illuminating to see just how grams of dietary carbohydrate accumulate over the course of a day. Following are the Primal Blueprint recommendations for protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake.
Protein: Start your macronutrient intake calculations with protein requirements, since adequate protein intake is critical for healthy metabolic function and the preservation of lean muscle mass. The Primal Blueprint recommends obtaining an average daily intake of around .5 grams of protein per pound (1.1 grams per kilo) of lean body mass. The original Primal Blueprint position was to fall in line with the widely-touted recommended range of .5 grams (1.1 grams/kilo) to meet basic needs, up to .7 grams per pound of lean mass (1.66 grams/kilo) for the moderately active, up to one gram per pound of lean mass (2.2 grams per kilo) for active exercisers. Mounting research now suggests that we might be overestimating our protein requirements to our detriment. Dr. Ron Rosedale, a leading voice in the concerns about excess protein, suggests that .5 grams of protein per pound of lean mass is plenty for everyone. He believes that even high-protein-demand people (the highly active, growing teens, and pregnant women) need only to add 5-10 grams per day to that calculation to ensure optimal protein intake.
Lean body mass can be calculated by subtracting your fat weight from your total weight. You can multiply your body fat percentage (measured in a variety of ways) by your total bodyweight to determine your fat weight. For example, someone who weighs 150 pounds and has a reading of 10 percent body fat has 15 pounds of fat and 135 pounds of lean mass. Hence, they would calculate their protein requirement to be 135 pounds x .5 grams = 67.5 grams per day, perhaps 75 if highly active.
Carbohydrate: Carbohydrate intake should align with the recommendations presented on the Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve, which will be presented in detail in module 4. For lifelong health, weight management, and disease protection, no more than an average of 150 grams or less per day should be consumed. When grains, sugary foods and beverages, and other processed foods are eliminated from the diet, it’s easy to default into this range. One hundred and fifty grams per day represents an abundant intake of vegetables, and a sensible intake of fresh, seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds, and even the sensible indulgence of dark chocolate. Those wishing to reduce excess body fat should limit carbohydrate intake to 100 grams per day or less in order to stimulate the burning of excess body fat for energy. This average can be easily achieved through Intermittent Fasting, strict attention to avoiding grains and sugars, and a reduced intake of fruits and starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, etc.) during weight loss efforts.
Fat: With recommended protein and carbohydrate intake falling into relatively narrow ranges, it follows that fat becomes the predominant macronutrient in the diet and the main variable in obtaining dietary satisfaction. Recommended fat intake is generally not an absolute number (unless specific calculations are performed to lose a certain amount of body fat over a certain time period), but instead should align with obtaining dietary satisfaction at every meal. Although high-fat foods are calorically dense, they have a high satiety factor and do not stimulate an insulin response. By eating what amounts to a high-fat diet in comparison to the SAD, one can stabilize appetite and energy levels, and shed excess body fat without having to face the traditional struggles of deprivation and restriction.
Pursuant to a goal of reducing a specified amount of excess body fat over a specified time period, one can estimate the number of calories burned per day and prepare a fat intake calculation that will achieve that goal. Detailed examples are provided for a hypothetical male and female in Chapter 8 of the Primal Blueprint book. Briefly, the steps are as follows:
1. Estimate daily caloric expenditure using the Harris Benedict Equation. This is a formula that accounts for your basal metabolic rate (based on age, sex, and size) along with your average daily activity level to estimate how many calories you burn in a day. In the following example, our subject burns an estimated 2,500 calories per day.
2. Calculate desired pounds of fat reduction in 21 days, multiply by 3,500 calories = total fat loss in calories. Divide total by 21 = average caloric deficit per day and total intake per day to achieve fat loss goal.
Desired fat loss = 4 pounds
3,500 calories per pound = 14,000 calories total deficit
14,000 / 21 days = 666 calorie intake deficit per day, to be derived from stored body fat
2,500 estimated daily expenditure – 666 desired deficit = 1,834 (daily caloric intake to achieve fat loss goal)
3. Calculate carbohydrate and protein caloric intake per day
E.g. 140 pounds of lean mass, active person = 70 g/day x 4 calories/gram = 280 protein calories per day
75 grams of carb intake per day for weight loss x 4 calories/gram = 300 carbohydrate calories per day
Total protein and carbohydrate intake per day: 580 calories
4. Subtract daily caloric intake goal (1,834) from protein/carb total (580) to determine allowable fat calories per day to achieve weight loss goal
E.g. 1,834 – 580 = 1,254 fat calories per day
1,254/9 = 139 grams of fat per day
5. Goal macronutrient intake to lose 4 pounds of fat in 21 days
Protein: 70 g or 280 calories
Carbohydrates: 75 g or 300 calories
Fat: 139 g or 1,254 calories
Since it can be tedious and stressful trying to align with such calculations while enjoying your life and eating delicious primal foods, the Primal Blueprint recommends performing a macronutrient dietary analysis only occasionally instead of obsessively. Generating a report detailing a typical day of eating reveals where one’s habit patterns land, and where adjustments can be made if necessary. In the case of falling short with fat loss goals, macronutrient analysis can be very helpful in pinpointing ways to improve the rate of progress.
For example, many primal enthusiasts successfully ditch grains and sugars and take a liking to primal-approved foods to the extent that most or all of their necessary fat calories are provided from dietary fat. It is perfectly healthy to obtain all caloric requirements from food, and moderating insulin production will prevent the accumulation of additional body fat (since fat cannot be stored without insulin). However, those wishing to reduce excess body fat must create that familiar caloric deficit between expended calories and ingested calories, so that additional energy requirements will be pulled from storage areas on the body. The beauty of the Primal Health Coach approach to weight loss is that this deficit is achieved naturally through the optimization of appetite and metabolic hormones such as insulin and leptin.
Be a Part of the Alliance Nutrition Challenge
We have the Alliance Nutrition Challenge coming up on February 5th. In one of our last emails, we introduced that we would use Mark Sisson’s book, The 21 Day Keto Reset, as a template for the challenge. The reason I chose this book is that it resonated with me in regards to my own experience and research.
Here are a few of the key components that resonated with me.
- There is a transitional phase as you move from your current diet into ketosis.
- One of the goals is creating metabolic flexibility where you don’t need to stay in ketosis indefinitely.
- The effects of the plan are long-lasting in that you are able to move in and out of ketosis with ease in order to support whatever health and fitness goals you may have.
- You make adjustments to the plan based on how you are feeling and performing and don’t rely solely on blood measurements.
- You are meant to enjoy the food you eat and not suffer.
- You are able to go for longer periods of time without eating yet not suffer from hunger, lack of energy or performance declines.
My Low Carb Adventure
My previous experiences going from a higher carbohydrate to a lower one were quite an adventure.
My first experience into a low carb diet occurred nearly 30 years ago when I was preparing for a bodybuilding competition. For those of you who are old enough to remember, back then it was thought that the best diet for losing body fat while retaining muscle consisted of eating mostly protein and carbohydrate while eating very low fat. That is as low as 10% of calories from fat. It worked well for me back then as I was able to lose 20 pounds and become the leanest of my life while consuming 3,000 calories a day. It was also common practice to perform a carb depletion followed by a carb load the final week before the contest. The purpose was to create a rebound effect of storing more glycogen in the muscle while pulling water along with it so that you had a more “ripped” appearance. I don’t remember how effective this was for my physical transformation but what I do remember is how I felt going from 300-400 grams of carbs a day to 50. it was my first experience of what some call “keto flu”. I had no energy, was very grumpy, and lost strength. Needless to say, it was a miserable experience. Fortunately, this only lasted a week and I was back to my high-carb eating.
Getting in The Zone
A few years later, I read Dr. Barry Sears book, The Zone Diet. The science and anecdotal evidence intrigued me enough that I was willing to give it a try. The ratio of protein to carbs and to fat was 30/40/30. When I tried the Zone diet I did not have as severe a response as with my carb depletion experience. However, I stopped within a week or two because I thought it just wasn’t for me due to the fact I was always starving and again very irritable. Later after gaining a better understanding of the plan I was able to adhere a little better but did not notice a significant change in how I felt or performed so, I learned some things from this experiment and in general, continued to eat fewer carbs than before. I did not continue monitoring the macronutrient ratios and went back to more of my normal eating patterns.
The Path to Paleo
When I first read about the Paleo diet I looked at it from a different perspective and was more focused on food quality and what foods I might actually have a sensitivity to rather than simply focusing on macronutrients. I had a lot of clients achieve success on this program and I also had some success in terms of losing body fat and feeling better. With this program, I did indulge in a ‘cheat day’ and enjoyed the extra carbs. I had a much easier time transitioning into Paleo. I believe this was due to the fact I had become more fat adapted. During this time I was not concerned with calories or macronutrients per say but really focused on eating more high-quality whole foods. I still consumed carbs, especially after hard training sessions. I would also indulge in a cheat day from time to time. In general, I would say that some of these habits stuck even though I was no longer following a Paleo diet. I would try to eat more nutritious whole foods including fats and overall fewer carbs, especially refined ones. I also began to pay more attention to how certain foods made me feel. For instance, I love spaghetti and my wife makes great spaghetti but I realize when I eat it I don’t necessarily feel as good the next day.
The Keto Kraze
About a year ago, after reading about the Ketogenic diet and its benefits from a number of top biohackers, I decided to give it a try. I was actually surprised at how I felt. My energy was pretty good and overall I felt good. I also, lost some weight rather quickly even though that wasn’t the goal. Looking back I made several mistakes but it was a learning experience which is mostly what I was looking for.
As I was preparing my goals for 2018, I knew that I wasn’t optimizing my nutrition and after listening to a podcast with Mark Sisson decided to give the Keto plan a more committed effort. It has worked much better this time. I have made some mistakes on this plan but continue to learn and improve. However, I have to say this is the best I have felt for some time. I feel my energy is very good, my mental clarity is good, my training is going well, I’m sleeping better, my joints feel better, and I would like to think that even my mood is better.
I wanted to share this because if this has the same impact on you then it will be a big win. What it has demonstrated to me is how much nutrition plays a role in our overall well being. Even if I think I eat “pretty good” there is still lots of room for improvement. That is what optimization is all about.
If this particular plan isn’t for you then you will have learned from the experience.
Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon, Be your Best Self,
Biohacking is a term I came across a few years ago that I have become more and more intrigued with. It seems more experts in the field of peak human performance such as, Dave Asprey, Ben Greenfield, Tim Ferris, etc. are into biohacking. So, what is biohacking? Wikipedia defines biohacking as “managing one’s own biology using a combination of medical, nutritional and electronic techniques. This may include the use of nootropics, non-toxic substances, and/or cybernetic devices for recording biometric data. My interpretation of biohacking is that it is anything you utilize to dupe your body and/or mind into better performance. It can also mean utilizing methods and technology to speed up these changes or improvements. If you use my definition, and are training at Alliance, you are already a biohacker. It is just a matter of to what degree. The first steps in biohacking are maximizing the effects of the fundamentals.
4. Stress mitigation
5. Mental work
I have decided to take my own biohacking to another level in 2017. I realize I am not getting any younger but what I do have, at this time in my life, is more knowledge and experience than ever before. I also have access to more information and technology than ever before. If you are a member of Alliance, you have access to me which means you have access to everything I do. I will keep you abreast of what I am doing for my own personal biohacking and what the results are.
The process works like this:
1. Decide what it is you want to work on
2. Measure what you want to improve
3. Implement and track your new strategy
4. Track your progress my measuring at regular intervals
5. Make a decision about the efficacy of the strategy based on the results. If you are getting positive results, continue or tweak in order to continue progress. If you are not getting results, first, insure you were implementing the strategy consistently and correctly, then either discontinue strategy or tweak and test again.
Our online nutrition coaching program demonstrates how this process works. The program consist of:
1. 12 months of daily nutrition lessons
2. Specific daily habits to be implementing and integrating every 2 weeks
3. Daily accountability ( did you study the lesson/ did you do the habit for the day)
4. Periodic measurement (body composition, weight, pictures)
The program has a proven track record of results, in terms of body and health transformation. If you are following the program with at least 90% compliance you can expect results. If you are not compliant, then you simply need to get on track with the plan. If you are 90% or more compliant but are not getting expected results then there can be tweaks or hacks to the plan.
Looking forward to making 2018 extraordinary!
Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon,