Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why MEN get stuck in their fat loss...and how to fix it.

I need to talk to the men about something. Something that you're going to read and balk at. Something that might seempreposterous even.

And it has to do with your body weight, your body fat and more importantly your testosterone levels, which indirectly effects your body fat, your energy and your muscle mass. Here it is.

You probably aren't eating ENOUGH.

I share this with you because I fight the same battle, the same struggle, the same mental roadblocks.

Or at least I did.

A few years ago, I was of the eat a little less, exercise a little more mindset and thought that's what it would take to get down to the 10-11% body fat range. After doing some research and applying the G-Flux Theory to my workouts and nutrition, I found my way to 12% down from 18%!

You see, many men have taken the "eat like a bird" fat-loss approach. They make the move to lose weight and get their head around the idea that they'll have to make some eating changes.

However, they far too often drop food intake and calories to devastatingly low levels and they do it for months, sometimes years! And they don't lose any fat! They lose a few pounds but eventually their metabolism comes to a screeching halt!

Now if you're obese or over 20% body fat, the "eat less, exercise more" approach will probably work until you get down to that 20% level. But you know what it's doing to your metabolism?

Strangling it. 

Your metabolic engine goes from a roaring V-8 supercar to a moped in no-time flat.

As men, testosterone and growth hormone (GH) drives our metabolism. And those hormones need energy and yes, dietary FAT to build them. So when we go cutting our calories to low levels, we starve our metabolism.

Funny thing is, when we do this, we actually gain fat. So most of us will just try to train harder and eat less. And how effective do you think that is?

You might lose an extra few pounds. But I promise you it is NOT fat. It's most likely muscle or water. How can you tell? You'll feel weak, chronically fatigued and absolutely drained. You'll look soft, you'll be grumpy and you will not be very motivated to exercise.

This will turn into a never ending story as your body starts to break down, injuries show up and even 10-hours of sleep per night will not feel like enough.

So how do you prevent or even fix this?

The short version, train less, sleep well and start eating more veggies and protein with each meal. Most guys need between2500-3500 calories for maintenance. Do you know what most guys who are trying to lose weight are getting? Around 1500. That's less than an 8-year old child needs!

Yes, 3000 calories seems like a lot. But if you're stuck in that flabby but not fat stage, you need to eat a little more and ease up on the workouts to help stimulate your metabolism. Exercising more and eating less will only result in more frustration, more injuries and an even slower metabolism. It's just the way hormones work.

Now don't go jumping straight from your 1500 calorie a day diet to a 3000 calorie a day diet. Your body will still be in energy conservation mode and you'll just gain weight.

Instead there is a different route you need to take. Ease up on the exercise to 3 times a week of moderate intensity strength work, cut out the cardio and gradually increase your calories by about 250/day for 1 week. Then repeat for 3-4 weeks until you're up in the 2500-3000 calorie range.

 Much of this has to do with feel. Pay attention to your body. Are you always tired? Are your workouts going backwards? Are you feeling more energized? Are you progressing with both workout intensity and movement quality each workout? Counting calories is almost fruitless. Once you get below 20%, it's time to start really dialing things in. You can't just keep cutting calories. There are some other important details that I just don't have the space to elaborate on.

However, for an in-depth video course on what nutritional and exercise strategies men need, check out Precision Nutrition's 5-day Fat-Loss Course for Men! It's eye opening to say the least. And besides, whats the worst that could happen? You take 10-minutes a day for the next 5-days and learn a few new things?

If you're still not motivated, just ask yourself the QUESTION BELOW:

Check out Precision Nutrition for Men.You'll be glad you did. 

Let's say you are one of these guys that is stuck. What do you do? You need some help, someone to coach you through the process. Send me an email at aaron@pairmarotta.comand we'll get you from start to finish!

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The discomfort of being "hungry"

Many people want to lose weight. After all, the whether is warming up and summer will be here before you know it! (In fact I'm already working on my tan doing yard work on the weekends!) But when people want to lose weight they realize they'll have to make some eating habit changes. They'll have to eat a little less, maybe stop drinking so many calorie dense beverages or cut back on the nightly sweets.

But here is one thing most people don't quite get until they embark on the "cutting out" phase of their weight loss journey: hunger.

Hunger is something we never think about because in our society food is everywhere. So when even thethought of being hungry kicks in, we fix it. And fast. Usually we end up eating more than we need too. Using a scale of 1-10, if our hunger is a 2, we eat like it's an 8. This results in too many calories and weight starts to creep on. In fact, this is how many people accidentallyGAIN weight on a diet!!

Two Saturdays ago, our Precision Nutrition clients had our first meetup. These are clients who are enrolled in the Men's and Women's Lean Eating program, as well as clients who have purchased the Precision Nutrition System. One of the talking points we discussed was eating to 80% full. This transitioned into hunger cues and how to tell when we are full or still a little hungry.

Here's the thing about hunger: it's uncomfortable. It shouldn't hurt, but you should definitely be aware and think, "hey, I'm hungry". This is okay! What else would you expect your body to do/say when you're cutting back on how much energy it's getting. If your car had a brain and it started getting low on gas, it would tell you to quit pushing on the gas pedal so much, and start letting you know it's getting low on fuel.

Here's what happens when we get hungry: our body sends cues saying it's low on energy so feed it. When no food comes but the energy demand is still there, adrenaline kicks in and start to pull from fat stores for energy. So being hungry is a good thing for fat loss!

Starving? no! A little hunger? yes.

There are a few things to keep in mind. Don't think that if a little hunger is good, that a lot is better. The body has an optimal range it operates in. Drop out of that range and things go south in a hurry; concentration fades, you might get jittery, you get sleepy and you get irritable. And then nobody wants to be around you. When nobody wants to be around you, you get lonely. When you get lonely, you get desperate. Don't get desperate. On top of that, your metabolism significantly slows down thus defeating the purpose of why you originally started eating less.

Lastly, when you eat, don't just eat enough to take the edge off. Eat enough so that you're about 80% full. Will you ever get to exactly 80%? No. Sometimes you won't eat enough and you'll be hungry within a couple of hours. Other times you'll eat a little much and think, 'that's a little closer to 95-100%." But you know what the big picture thing is here? You were aware. You thought about the food you were eating and you were conscious of what your body was telling you. And that is the main goal!

So the take home? Focus on habits. If you're not consistent with habits, nothing will change. Need help changing your habits? Check out the Precision Nutrition System. I just ordered a copy for our office and will be creating a curriculum from the information in the binder. Want us to coach you through the PN system? Email me at and we'll get started ASAP! 

By the way, you might be wondering since our last email how my habit of eating more to gain weight is going? Well, I've been sticking to a 4-egg scramble in the morning with veggies and cheese as well as a post-workout peanut butter/banana/chocolate shake afterwards. I'm up to 206. And it's time to add a different habit! I think the eggs in the morning is pretty well solidified in my life now!

Have a great week!

When it feels like you can't do anything right...

It's common for people to get a bit stagnant when it comes to making changes to improve their body. It happens to everybody. Even me.

In fact, life has recently begun to overwhelm me. I'm struggling (read: failing to properly prepare) to eat enough calories to continue gaining muscle.

I've also began to slack on my multivitamin. It seems the only two habits i've still got going for me are my fruit/veggie intake (at least 1 serving per meal, 3 of each every day) and eating whole grains only.

But we have to look at the bright side, the positives. Focus on what you are doing right! Even if you've only done it once.

For example, let's look at when you go out to eat. Let's say you actually eat the veggies that come with your meal. Sure you had a basket of bread, dessert  and all of your mashed potatoes. If you ate your veggies, mark one in the win column!

Let's say you make a recipe from Gourmet Nutrition, perhaps it's the coconut cauliflower mash (which by the way is awesome!). You make it, you eat it. Guess what?  Victory! Give yourself a high five. The rest of the day could have been a nutritional disaster.But that one success is all you need for a kick start.

It's like golf. I'm not awful at golf. But pretty close. After shooting a 103, I would get home and the only thing i'm talking about is the sweet fairway iron shot that rolled within 4-ft of the pin on the 13th hole. Do I focus on the fact that I managed to lose 6 golf balls? Nope. Focus on what I did right on that shot and lets apply it next time I'm out on the course.

It's called "find the bright spots" and it's a component of success. Nobody likes to hear what they did wrong. Maybe eventually we can start to look at what went wrong, but 90% of the time.... 

Wait I just had a revelation: this is probably what my daughter needs from me - catch her doing things right, focus on what she can do instead of telling her what she shouldn't do...

Okay. Back to my thought. 90% of the time focusing on what went wrong is not very beneficial and when it comes to weight loss, it's quite discouraging.

When you're focused on losing weight, think about what you did right and then apply that same skill to another habit.

If my habit is to eat less, well how did I go about that? Did I use a smaller plate? Did I put less on my plate to start? Did I leave a little extra on the plate? Did I slow down my eating? However I did it, there was a reason I was successful. There was some action that I took to make it happen.

Now think about yourself, your habits. What did you do that helped you stick to that habit? Look. You can do this. You were made to be the person that is happy, healthy and full of life. Thinking about how much you do wrong is not the way to become that person.
Need help working on your eating habits? Check out the Precision Nutrition System. I just ordered a copy for our office and will be creating a curriculum from the information in the binder. Want us to coach you through the PN system? Email me at and we'll get started ASAP!

Oh, and the favor? I'm going to be doing more presentations and workshops this year. So I'd like to hear about your thoughts and opinions on nutrition, exercise and health. This is a short 10-question surveyand it would be a huge help to me if you could fill it out! Thank you in advance!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Anticipate some struggle...

A wise man once said, anything worth having is worth fighting for. Or maybe that was Chuck Norris...

We fight for love, freedom, and independence. The same goes for your independence from your old self. You see we really have to know that if we are going to make a change, that at the end, when the change is complete you will not be the same person you were.

And for some people, that's kind of a scary thought. Changing the way you look, the way you feel, the way your friends see you, the way you look in a bathing suit. Imagine being 15-25 lbs slimmer. You look back at pictures from last summer and wonder who that person is.

Even a positive change can be a bit scary because it's just different. We get comfortable in our skin and we get comfortable with our habits. Remember that a big change can spook our emotional side. And if it is too spooky, that emotional side will stay right where it is. In addition to that, sometimes on our change journey we hit a rough patch that we struggle to get past.

Remember in the last email I said that we need to anticipate some struggle. By knowing when things are going to get tough, we can anticipate and plan appropriately.

So whether it is a new workout, a new dietary habit to begin or perhaps even the awkwardness of being the only one at dinner taking the "healthy" option at a table full of friends, knowing when the rough patch is coming helps us plan accordingly. And if we can plan accordingly, our chances of success climb dramatically!

How can you work to overcome some of these obstacles? Look for the bright spots. Often times with our friends, we like to commiserate about the struggles we have with our workouts, with our eating. We like to complain TOGETHER about how hard it is to eat more vegetables.

But looking at the failures only tells us about what doesn't work. Start looking at success stories - the bright spots - and take what works and apply it to your own situation!
  • Struggling to eat fruit or veggies with breakfast? Throw a small handful of raisins into your oatmeal.
  • Veggies for lunch? Have some carrots and hummus, or celery and hummus as a side.
  • Fruit for a snack? Chop an apple and toss it in with some plain yogurt, a pinch of cinnamon and some Splenda.
So think about where you want to go with your health and fitness. Look at what has typically been a huge obstacle for you. Begin to look for the bright spots and start to identify how YOU can implement bright spot strategies to overcome your struggles.

If you need help that's good! Get the herd working for you. What does that mean? Find out in next week's email!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Will it never ending?

I started reading a book by Chip and Dan Heath (yes, they are brothers) titled "Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard." I'm only half-way through it, but it's been such an interesting book that I wanted to share some of the information from it with you guys. Why?

Because losing weight IS a big change! You got the way you are because of the habits in your life. And changing the way you look will not happen unless you change the way you behave. Understanding how your brain works will only help you understand what your brain is doing in those moments of weakness.

So back to the topic for this email. Will power. What is it? Basically it's an attempt by your logical/rational brain to keep the emotional brain from doing something that it wants to. In the book "Switch" the authors make the analogy of an elephant and the rider. The emotional brain in us is like an elephant. It's big, it's strong, but it can be a certain extent. The rider is analogous to the rational logical brain. Basically the rider guides the elephant along a directed path. But here's where things get interesting.

You see the elephant - our emotional brain - can take over in a hurry, especially if the rider - our logical brain - isn't directing it where to go. If we let the elephant just go where it wants, it's going to cause problems. Not just because it's unpredictable, but because it's so stinkin' strong! However, the rider usually doesn't have much of a problem directing the elephant. The elephant will go where the rider takes it as long as the path is clear and the elephant knows what to expect. And this is where we get back to my point about will power. You see, will power comes from our rational brain/the rider.

The rider can only keep the elephant doing something it doesn't want to do for so long. If the rider becomes exhausted, the elephant will run wild. We see this a lot in our culture in that many people are emotional eaters. The rider has lost control and the elephant is running wild.

Bringing this back around to our eating habits and changing our behavior, will power is a limited commodity. It cannot and will not last you for very long. This is why people who struggle with emotional eating, can't say "well I only keep these cookies in my house as a special treat." Because their will power to not eat them will eventually run out, the elephant will run wild and they'll eat the entire box of cookies and then come back to reality in this sugar coated daze. It's the same reason that when your stomach is grumbling and you haven't eaten all day, you'll eat just about anything in sight: the rider is asleep and the elephant is running loose!

To really change behavior, you have to start small. Big changes will "spook the elephant." At that point, no matter how logical the benefit of the habit is, the person will not engage in changing the behavior. Your goals must appeal to both the logical brain and the emotional brain. This is why in the last blog post I sent you, I suggested you send yourself a postcard from the future. This stimulates the elephant to move. The path is clear: come to the Hi-5 FitCamp and start with a simple habit like eating from smaller plates.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Modifying your metabolism...

Often times I am asked if our exercise programs come with a eating plan to follow. It sounds like a logical question. As much as myself and other health professionals say that nutrition and eating are the biggest components to a fitness program, you'd think we would have a customized nutrition plan ready to go for you.

Unfortunately, even if I did give you a strict nutrition plan to eat 5 times per day, with 140g of protein, 42g of fat and 200g of carbohydrates what are the odds you'd actually follow it? I've written programs like this for myself and my compliance with it is less than 90%.

So wouldn't it be easier to give you a few general goals that give you some freedom to make some decisions so that you aren't eating the same 6 foods over and over? Some people don't mind eating the same foods everyday. I'm one of those people. But others needs a lot of variety. My wife is one of those types of people.

I recently put together a little report on how to modify your metabolism through 5 different means that are pretty quick to implement. In it I discuss the 4 components of your metabolism and which part of your metabolism the 5 strategies effect. This way you can see that by implementing all 5 you are really beginning to change your body to be a fat-burning machine!

Because you guys are on our mailing list I'll give you the quick run-down of th 5 Ways to Kick Start Your Metabolism...Today!
  1. Eat protein with breakfast. And not just a single egg (which has only 6g of protein). I'm talking add some PROTEIN! Have a protein shake along side that bowl of oatmeal. Or have a smoothie with some protein tossed in for good mix. Smaller individuals will want aroudn 15-20g of protein in their breakfast while larger individuals will want 25-35g of protein in their breakfast.
  2. Exercise at work. By increasing your energy expenditure multiple times over the course of the day, you're constantly giving your metabolism a kick in the pants. So go up and down the stairs twice (act like you forgot something if you need an explanation) or walk quickly out to your car and back in. Just get your heart rate up a couple times during the day for 2-3 minutes. But don't do it so much that you sweat. That might raise a few eyebrows. And careful with the yoga stuff...
  3. Use your kids as weights. Play with your kids. Pick them up and down, raise them over your head, swing them around a little (within reason). All of these things will increase the intensity of any motion. And you'll give your kids memories (or nightmares) for a lifetime!
  4. Walking Intervals. Some people walk for fitness while others walk to get from place to place. If you're walking for fitness or as transportation, throw some intervals in there. Walk fast until you feel you're breathing hard and your heart rate is higher and then slow down a bit. Alternate these higher and lower walking speeds to give your metabolism a quick shot in the arm.
  5. Eat more fat. Research has shown that our bodies will shift our metabolism to use the energy we have the most of. In addition newer research is suggesting we might be able to modify our metabolism to prefer a type of energy on a daily basis! This means that you have the potential to shift your metabolism to use fat on a daily basis. So how can we increase our fat intake? Fish oil supplementation has been shown to have an array of benefits including reduced inflammation, increased fat mobilization, improved cardiovascular function, brain development and immune system function.
Head over to the website and enter your email address to get the report emailed to you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Does your bootcamp do THIS???

Most people never give much thought to the variables in their workouts. After all, there are tons of articles in popular fitness magazines that tell us the best new exercises, but rarely do they divulge from the standard 3 sets of 10 reps. Most people go to the gym, do their upper body workout of triceps extensions, 3 different kinds of biceps curls and maybe some shoulder stuff that the magazines tell them will "tone" their arms.

But the truth is that you can do the same workout for months on end and still get no where because the body adapts to the stress you put on it. You have to change something. And most people think it must be the exercises. When they aren't seeing change, they swear that they just aren't doing the right exercises. Or that there is some new fancy trick exercise that they haven't tried yet.

However, you can use the same exercises and just change some of the other variables and get mind boggling changes in strength, flexibility. So that is what we've done with this round of the Hi-5 FitCamp. Usually we stay somewhat based in 3-4 sets of 5-12 repetitions, with each set having the same number of repetitions. However, this time around we are doing a bit more density training, trying to add more volume of exercise within each set.

For this round of the Hi-5 FitCamp we are doing a form of cluster sets. A cluster set is basically a longer repetition set (14 reps in this case) broken into smaller sets within the set. Cluster sets have been shown to be more effective in highly trained individuals and just as effective as traditional training formats in untrained people. This makes it a great system to use for our current crop of Hi-5 FitCamp members as many of them have been regular attendees for between 1-4 years, while others are brand new or have only been here for a month or two.

Cluster sets have been shown to increase strength in both experienced and novice weight lifters. However, cluster sets have been shown to be more effective than traditional training when performing power exercises such as medicine ball throws, squat jumps, medicine ball chest passes and split jumps. Why? Well with the rest afforded between smaller sets, the person is able to give more effort in subsequent reps. Here's an example.

Lets compare a traditional set of 12 squat jumps to a cluster set of 12 in which the set is broken into 4 clusters of 3 with :30 rest between sets. The person doing the traditional set will decrease power output with each subsequent jump because each jump uses available energy and there is no time for recovery. However, the cluster set person is able to recover a little bit after every 3rd jump. So if person A has his percentage of effort decrease by 10% every 3 jumps, then at his final jump he'll only be jumping at 66% of his max effort. But if person B decreased 10% every 3 jumps, but was able to recover 5% after each rest interval, his 12th jump would be at 82% of max effort. Basically he would be declining only 5% with each subsequent cluster set. See the difference a litte rest makes?

In summary, the benefit of doing cluster sets is increased time under tension (which results in more muscle gain) as well as increased strength. These are two of the major components to fat-loss! So why wouldn't we do this? Plus, it's a nice little change up for everybody!