|Image 1: Socrates unquestionably did not look like he knew anything about intermittent fasting or physical culture, but he knew a lot about how to unlock the potential of his students.|
Do you want to know how to set yourself up for failure?
If I wanted to make it easy for me, I would follow the example of many health and fitness authors and provide you with a 3-10 item list of how you can "set yourself up for failure". This is easy, because you do not even have to know what works. It is enough to now what does not work. Yet even though there are much more things that don't work, than things that do work, the word(s) "overeating" or even "constant overeating" would be totally misplaced on the list of "don'ts" of a skinny person who insists to do an intermittent fast and still wants to gain weight. Without "constant overeating" in the restricted feeding windows this is not going to happen.
|Image 2: The new "MyPlate" is probably the most prominent example of moribund one-diet-fits-them all solutions (even if it was not intrinsically flawed, as well)|
Who are You and what do You want to achieve?
As I am doing it at the beginning of each semester with my real world students, the first thing I will ask you to do is to introduce yourself. What relevant information would you have to provide? Are you being fed up of being the fat or skinny kid, the girl or guy who is always just "a friend", the last one to be picked when you are playing football with peers, the pre-diabetic who got scared, when the doctor told him that if he did not start jogging and eating "healthy" *haha* whole grains will sooner or later be injecting insulin? If you do not have an answer to this question, yet, chances are you won't be able to help yourself make a change - and if you do not want to change, why are you even contemplating an intermittent fast?
|Image 3: Are you sure "getting skinny" is really what you want, former fat kid?|
Why are you here? What is it that motivates you to "study" at the SuppVersity?
The first step in setting yourself up for success is thus to set an appropriate long term goal. I know that each and every one of you will tell me that he is "freakin' motivated" and "ready to do whatever it takes" to achieve his/her goals... so!? Then give me the elevator pitch of what you want to achieve... if it took you longer than 2 seconds to put your main goals into a single sentence, I must tell you that you have not yet taken the first and most fundamental step to set yourself up for success. Even the slightest doubts on your part as far as your goal is concerned will eventually become major obstacles on journey to a "new" or "better" you. That does not mean that your goals cannot change in the course of your journey (it is very likely that they will and in most cases it is even necessary), but if you were not sure, whether you want to go to Canada or to the South Pole, don't you think it would be better to stay at home, then?
|Figure 1: Initial motivation (as assessed by the MPAM-R questionaire on a 7-point Likert scale) of male and female trainees going to a commercial gym and correlation (r-values) with adherence to the exercise program (adapted from Ryan. 1997)|
The implications of these findings [...] suggest that body-related motives are not, on average, sufficient to sustain regular exercise regimens, and thus should not be made the most salient justification for engaging in exercise.
|Image 4: For Arnold (you know he is my favorite ;-) "the pump is like cumming ... like having sex with a woman" ... well, we all know how much he enjoys both, and it was the former joy, the one from the pump, him on track and made him succeed (still from video).|
Your muscle get a real a tight feeling [...] that's the pump [...] it feels different, it feels fantastic [...] it is as having sex with a women [...] I am cumming day and night ... it's terrific, I am in heaven (if you don't believe he said that, watch the video)Do you see the pattern? Think of the fat lady that was holding on to the inclined treadmill, trampling away sweating, when you were doing your HIIT on the stair-master. Do you see a pattern?
Well, obviously both Arnold and the lady wanted to improve their physique. For the Governator, however, it was a necessary consequence of his life-style, a life-style that was based on doing what he loved to do. For the lady you saw on the treadmill, on the other hand, it was something alien - a physique "those other all have", something "nature has given those skinny anorexic chicks", something she "can work for as hard as she wants, but will never achieve". Be honest with yourself: Who are you? Arnold or the lady on the stairmaster?
Did I just hear you say that "it is not my fault, Dr. Andro!"?
|Image 5: "Good" or "bad" this DNA helix is a part of your setup for success. Trust me - a few pathologic exceptions aside - it will only hinder your success if you lull yourselves into believing that it does.|
You need to realize that whatever the central aspect of your motivational elevator pitch is going to be ...
- looking good naked (how do you define that?)
- never being called "skinny bitch/bastard", again (are you sure that is only an issue of how you look?)
- not being the fat guy/girl, any more (what do you think will change, then?)
- eventually get rid of the constant fatigue (could the fatigue be the result of trying to achieve unrealistic aims?)
- adding +20lbs of lean muscle to my frame (what will you have achieved then? will this be enough? or are you going to want more?)
- losing -50lbs of fat (is it just the figure on the scale you are looking for?)
- getting off your diabetes drugs (do you have an idea why you maneuvered yourself into this situation in the first place?)
- living into your 100s (do you just want to live long or is this more about good health into the old age?)
- and so on and so forth
Homework for the next installment: Post your elevator pitch
|Figure 2: Robb Wolf once mentioned the "performance - health - longevity triple point" in one of his numerous insightful blogposts on his webpage. In essence the figure above expands on his idea: You obviously cannot max out on all of the items. Notwithstanding, all of them are attached to the very same life-style foundation and the practical overemphasis of any of them may have pathological consequence (Adonis complex, depression, drug addiction, obesity, anorexia, ...).|
And don't forget, where you came from. Maybe you've just been straying around, because your present elevator pitch incorporates two or more of the partly diametrically opposed extremes in figure 2? Think about it. Have you ever seen an Olympic athlete partying 5 days à week, who goes to bed at 4am has pizza for "breakfast" at 4pm and improves the world record at 8pm? Probably not. So incorporating diametrically opposed extremes into your elevator pitch is about as much a no-go as having none at all, remember that before you go public - I mean, what would the world think if your plan to have french fries instead of the pizza and them perform a new world record fails?