Yo-Yo-Dieting

55 Comments

Sue left the following question which I think is important and offers some interesting insights:
Thanks for the great post. It made me think and stop acting like such a victim because of my weight gain. What do you say to the yo-yo dieters out there like me?

Sue

The dieting merry-go-round is an interesting thing. So much information and good intention, so few favorable results. One result is a sense of failure on the part of dieters that takes on the likeness of a relationship gone bad. Promises are made, only to be broken and a sense of betrayal ensues. Instead of the dynamic describing two lovers this is the personal hell that many people face. Rosy picture isn’t it!

Part of what makes this situation so difficult is that people are facing tough biological, social and psychological issues when attempting to alter eating habits. All of these issues end up stuck together and the glue, not surprisingly, is carbs. WHOA! you might be saying…that’s a lot to lay on a piece of toast or a plate of potatoes…but in my experience this is exactly the issue. Lets take these apart one at a time:

Biological- When folks mention they are yo-yo dieting they are NOT having a problem eating meat, veggies, nuts and olive oil to excess. Whatever the clueless Mcdougalites may say, it’s not being ON the low carb diet that’s a problem, it’s going off the rails and eating every carbohydrate in site down to the bark on trees! Calorie restriction doesn’t work and just feeds into neurosis. It sounds great and plays into our puritanical leanings but it is a failed venture. I’m not sure why but everyone from the government to doctors to theologians LOVE this whole calorie restriction thing…”Eat less, be prudent..have more water dense vegetables…drink a glass of water before a meal to blunt hunger.” Bullshit. None of that crap works and it just leads people down a path towards failure.

The people who have success with this stuff find a level of carb intake that “works”. This level is different from person to person but it mirrors what people like the Dr.’s Eades and others have said for years.

Social- have you ever noticed that no one says a word to the folks who eat a bag of chips and a coke for lunch but if you have a piece of grilled meat, a bag of nuts and a salad you can sell tickets to your lunch hour as a circus side show? It’s an interesting but well documented fact that people do not like seeing others change or make progress. Come from a poor or dysfunctional family? Did you work to get healthy and perhaps wealthy? Are your family members excited about your success or least bit resentful? We see this almost daily…one spouse starts training and eating differently…they start making progress and change and the significant-other freaks out. It either undermines the efforts of our client or the couple tends to split. No shit here folks…heavy stuff but we have seen this pattern play out dozens of times the past 5 years. So part of yo-yo dieting is that people undermine our progress. It kinda sucks to catch flack for trying to affect positive change and sometimes it’s just enough to slide one back to junk-food (that’s TOO MANY CARBS if you missed the section above). Where does personal accountability come into this? Glad you asked…

Psychological- for some damn reason people have some kind of self sabotage thing they get going. For some it relates to diet, for others it’s betting on football and buying shit they do not need. Whatever the issue is the individual knows better, sets their will for change…then fails, feels like crap and the cycle continues. Some people do manage to affect change…but no one knows what the hell it is they are doing differently so it’s really tough to replicate. A growing number of psychiatrists think that drugs, talk therapy and chakra balancing are not very effective at helping people change. What is effective? Sleep, omega-3 fatty acids, and a tightly controlled insulin level. I know this is dragging things back to the biological but most of the yo-yo dieting, bad relationships gambling…it’s all neuro-chemistry and you either take steps to remedy the situation…or you don’t. If you are not sleeping well (and enough), taking your fish oil and keeping your insulin levels under control NOTHING YOU DO WILL WORK.

I’m sorry if this is a bit of a downer but some things just can not be snuck-up on. Some things require a fundamental shift in how you are doing things…if you want to kill the yo-yo dieting (and most behaviors that are troubling) you need to do some combo of the following:

1-Best defense: Don’t be there. What his means is do not have crap in the house. NONE. We do not have self control, we are not wired for it. This is that deal where folks have 8lbs of beef cooked in the refrigerator and they quip “I’m hungry…I’m bored with this…” You’re not bored, you are addicted to crack and you need to decide how you are going to handle the situation. If you absolutely MUST have some, go out and eat it. Make it high quality and do not bring ANY home. No Gad-damned Ezekial bread that can be gnoshed down at 2am as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Meat & veggies, nuts & seeds…that’s what you have on hand at home. If you are not convinced, let me use this analogy:

Most people feel like they can pull off a committed, monogamous relationship.They can avoid a bit of temptation, and do just fine. Cool. What if you are drunk and you just took a whopping dose of Ecstasy…and 10 of the hottest members of whatever sex you are into walk into the room with you and insist on having their way with you. Refined carbs are analogous to an alcohol soaked Ecstasy binge at the PlayBoy Mansion. If you are OK with the consequences of that fact, fine but if you are looking to affect change you need to know that will power will fail you EVERY TIME. You need to plan and you need to keep your home free of crack.

2-Rally the troops or go it alone. Tell the people near you, be it family or friends what you are up to and that you need their help. If they rally to your aid, great, it will really help things. If they begin undermining you as I mentioned above you need to distance yourself and minimize their influence. Obviously this can suck if it’s your best friend, spouse or boss but things are tough enough. If you let the people around you undermine your activities…bad on you. Your eyes are open and you know better.

3- Give yourself a break. This may seem at odds with the ass-whooping I’ve unleashed but you are only one meal away from perfect compliance. Obviously this can not stretch into an infinity of non-compliance (unless you are my parents!) but you need to take it easy on your bad-self. You CAN do this but you actually have to DO it.

We see three basic behaviours in our clients with regards to food. Some folks “get it”. They generally eat what they should, when they should. They feel good and they make great progress at more or less a constant rate. Some of our other clients are still stuck on the crack and generally eat too much of the wrong stuff. They feel like shit during workouts and make some progress, albeit slow. The final group does not eat enough. Progress is stalled and in many cases retrograde. This last group is actually a flavor of yo-yo dieting and it is hard as hell to reach these folks.

Perhaps a line from Star Wars in closing:

“Do or do not, there is no try”. Yoda

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  1. Steve Liberati
    January 28, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I love the new no none-sense Rob! It comes to a point where people decide to either get it right or continue to make up every lie, excuse and story why they cant get themselves in shape and healthy. Sadly most people do the latter until its too late. As Robb makes it abundantly clear, most know what needs to be done…its just a matter of doing (and doing it right).

    As my grandpop loves to say, “either shit or get off the pot.” Nothing in between.

    Steve-
    Thanks for the props. I think the personal accountability thing is huge but so is all of the biology and social issues surounding food. It’s not an easy thing to change, however it can be done!
    Robb

  2. Sarena
    January 29, 2008 at 1:38 am

    Nice!! And so true as well! I know the feeling of boredom…frustration etc and searching for shit to eat. But alas –there is none in my house that I would go for. yeah my teenager has some stuff that she and hubby share but I really wouldnt be caught with that in my hands. Now a piece of dark chocolate (85-100%)–dont bring it home. Will rather go out some days to the store and buy a small bar and relish it!

    Sarena-
    That’s why you are kicking ass at this stuff sista! You know your situation, you know your self and you structure things to help guarantee your success. Perfect.
    Robb

  3. Ron Nelson
    January 29, 2008 at 4:11 am

    Where does the IF fit into this? I like your comments regarding anyone reducing carbs.
    I used to walk through the office at work (to my classroom where I would eat alone, in the dark, planning the demise of my enemies. . .I digress) with a chicken breast and some sausage on a plate. People would look at it and ask, “That’s your lunch?” Had I included a heap of potato salad, no one would have batted an eye.

    Also, you made me feel good about the fact that my snacks during the day consist of nuts and maybe some Irish cheese.

    Ron-
    I still like paleo foods, then zone-ish proportions…then intermittent fasting. This just seems to be the most successful format to put things together. I’ve had a number of folks comment about the side-show lunch issue…funny stuff.
    Robb

  4. Sue
    January 29, 2008 at 4:50 am

    Thanks Robb. For me its the same 10 kilos everytime that I lose and gain. I completely restrict any bad carbs and then when I reach goal they slowly make their way back into my diet usually while socialising. It is affecting my marriage because I’m constantly complaining about my weight and my husband is sick of it. He can’t understand why I keep gaining the weight back. Its come to the point where I just don’t want to lose weight only to put it back on again. Its kind of pathetic I know.

    Sue-
    Nothing is pathetic about that, it illustrates how tough the whole mess can be. I drove Nicki NUTS complaining I was scrawny…not big & beautiful like Greg Everett….but I was unwilling to do the stuff necessary to actually look like I strength train. I swore if another person asked if I’m a runner I’d kill them and then myself! This is just dude-food-neurosis…you have chick-food-neurosis! We Know this however WHAT we need to do IF we want to change it. If we are unwilling to change…well, we get to keep our yaps shut and our neurosis to ourselves. that’s where our personal responsibility kicks in.
    Sounds like you are doing great…hang in there.
    Robb

  5. Greg Everett - Catalyst Athletics
    January 29, 2008 at 6:07 am

    A star wars quote and an ecstasy-influenced-infidelity analogy in one post… The bar has been raised.

    G-
    I do what I can!
    Robb

  6. Jonas
    January 29, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Great post Robb, Hey, I thought MY parents where the masters of non-compliance!

    Jonas-
    You and I are both Swede’s….maybe we have the same parents!
    Robb

  7. Jeff
    January 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Amen! Very inspiring stuff and I love the Playboy Manion + Ecstacy = carbs analogy.

  8. John P. Walsh
    January 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Robb,

    You hit that one out of the park.

  9. Matt Metzgar
    January 29, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Great post, Robb. If you mainly eat meats, fruits, and vegetables, some people think you’re an alien, even though you’re in shape and they’re 50 pounds overweight. Somehow they never connect the two, or just don’t want to make the connection. The idea that others undermine positive change is disturbing to me, though I do see it happen. There may even be a biological basis for it, who knows. It’s like crabs in a bucket, if one crab tries to climb out, the others pull it back down. Why I don’t know.

    Matt-
    Some people do seem to think they are “just destined to be fat”. We’ve had a few of these. One of our clients who is an attorney (never has there been a person better suited to a profession_argument for a living) was making this type of noise. I bet him $5k that we could get him lean IF he did EXACTLY what we told him to do. He passed on the bet but it made a point and the guy has lost over 90lbs. Slowly it dawns on people that they CAN affect change.
    Robb

  10. Jay
    January 29, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Robb;
    This might be one of your best posts yet, thanks and if you don’t mind, I’m linking it to my blog.
    Thanks.

  11. Rutman
    January 29, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    #1 Don’t go there.

    This one is number one with me too. Make home your safe haven. Get all the nasty stuff out of the house. It’s hard to overdue a tub of broccoli or take too many shots of Olive Oil.

    Rut-
    Exactly my experience. If you are out and about and want to kick up your heels, fine, have somthing off the normal menu. But if home is not pretty tightly controlled it’s going to be problems.
    Robb

  12. Katie DeLuca
    January 29, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Love the post Robb! I definitely have dealt with a number of these issues, but thanks to you and Nicki they are becoming less of a problem. Thanks for just kicking my ass every time you catch me with sweets. The shitty throwing up experience is enough for me to think twice about what I’m eating. I will never forget the horrible peppermint patty workout. Thanks again for everything!

    Katie-
    You’re doing great Amiga! You are like our little lump of coal…you just needed pressure, intense heat and a little polishing to turn into a diamond!
    Robb

  13. Aaron
    January 29, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    I don’t think the social aspect of food can be overstated. People get together with their friends and they eat, they eat cake at birthday parties, they eat pretzals at ball games, they eat stuffing at thanksgiving. I think people are willing to give up most foods. I don’t think they are willing to give up the feeling of social inclusion they get from the situation in which the food is presented. This, BTW, is also why so many people have trouble not drinking.

    And quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure we should give all of that up. I eat cake at a Birthday party and stuffing at thanksgiving. I will continue to do so. And I think people would have fewer yo-yo problems if they recognized that they haven’t blown 6 months of work if they do that. Making changes is about making changes in habits and lifestyles. Don’t eat pasta twice a week, don’t eat cereal for breakfast, don’t order Pizza twice a week, know what you are doing for lunch at work rather than getting busy and buying McDonalds. If you do those things, you can split a desert with your significant other after a special dinner and still know that you are eating 95% better than you were 6 months ago.

    The best thing I read in your food rant the other day was that almost everyone falls off the horse. The people who succeed fall off the horse and get right back on. Nobody failed to lose wieght by eating right 6 days a week (or even 5 probably) and slipping up here and there.

    Aaron

    Aaron-
    I can not emphasize enough, I’m not recommending or advocating perfection but it is crucial to affect SOME key changes. As Rutman alluded in his comment, you must protect your home environment. If that basic change does not happen I just do not see people changing or succeeding. Assuming this DOES happen however then the social events, birthday parties and stuff like that should not matter. It’s the Paretto 80/20 thing. I had a post6 over at Art Devany’s site about some clients who were dialed on their food M-F and they kicked up their heels on the weekend. The saw a stunning transformation….then the two days of non-compliance has turned to 3 or 4 and they have back slid a good bit. Breakdown point? they started keeping just a few “treats” at home…

  14. Kyle S.
    January 29, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Amen

  15. primalmano8
    January 29, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Holy crap that was a great post!

    I am a health psychologist and I could not have written a better piece myself. The three techniques you outline are right on the mark. It is remarkable how much you and I see things alike.

    Many people are surprised to find out how shallow of a psychologist I am. They think I will be digging deep into the psyche. In truth, I focus upon 3 things “eat well, sleep well and exercise.” If you do these three things, life will make much more sense both cognitively and emotionally IMHO.

    Doc-

    Thanks for the kind words. I try to stay up on the cognitive neuro-science and especially anything related to evolutionary medicine. It’s so simple…eat and live in accordance with nature. Easy to say and sooooooo damn hard to do.
    Robb

  16. Alex
    January 29, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    This is a great post. If I hear, “but I can’t give up my (fill in the carb fix here)” one more time when someone asks me about how I eat…!!

    Here’s the next question: What do you do when you’ve hit that point where your food is dialed in pretty well (80/20 or 90/10), home is good, food is prepared in advance and lunch (and other meals) comes to work with you every day – veggies, meat, fats, maybe a little fruit – and you are hitting the interval training and weights 3-5 times per week, but there is no progress? Now what? How do you figure out what is broken? I can hear you saying – “it must not be dialed in like you think” – and I know the answer for that. But what if it is?

    (Love your recipe posts, too. Thanks!!)

    Alex-
    When you so “no progress” are we seeing no strength gains? No improvements in met-cons? How long have you been on this program?

    The stuff I start looking at follows This line:
    1-Are you sleeping 8-9 hrs per night and waking up without an alarm? If yes proceed to “2”. If not fix it.

    2- Are you eating some kind of paleo esque diet. If no, fix it. If yes, are you as lean as you want/need to be? Have the performance you want? If no, time to weigh and measure your food in some kind of Zone proportions.

    If the training is hard we need our sleep to be in place. From there you need some paleo foods and if things are not progressing the way we want we need to be both accurate and precise with our food so we and tweak things as per our needs. That CAN be a buggar but if we do not know what we are actually eating it’s almost impossible to know what to alter or where to look to fix things.

  17. Sue
    January 29, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks again Robb. House is now junk free. My husband wants to lose some weight too so we are both eating the same foods – makes it easier with cooking. I thought my desire to be lean is just too strong so I’m giving this losing weight another go. Don’t want to spend the summer covered up – its time to fit into that bikini I have stashed away in my cupboard!

    Sue-
    Good for you! Now…the next step away from neurosis…I want you to pick a few PERFORMANCE goals. a pull-up, 10 pull ups…run 400m in less than 2 minutes. If you are game for following crossfit that is perfect as it has constant performance focus and goals. Once you get performance focused you WILL NOT backslide into meal skipping or bad choices to any real degree. Why? Your performance will suffer and it will piss you off. That anger WILL be adequate to get back on track because it is directed at a desire to do something slightly out of your grasp.

    Find some performance goals that matter to you. If you need help picking stuff let me know. Once you find those make them vitally important to you and you will never look back.

  18. steve seckinger
    January 29, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    You are so right about the sleep piece of this and we are living first-hand the longer term effects of interrupted sleep (babies). Good food and good workouts need good sleep, or progress is just plain muted.

  19. Chris Longley
    January 29, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    So true…

    I like the part about not being wired for will power. The ONLY way I can avoid carb binges is not to have it about the house. The odd temptation and it’s cool – I can leave it, but if it’s always there, sooner or later i’m gonna run out of decent alternatives and the Mars Bars will start callin’.

    Nice summary of the heart of the issue Robb.

  20. Naomi
    January 29, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Great post, especially love the starwars quote :)

    I’ve always said to my friends asking how I manage to do my things that it’s got nothing to do with willpower- I don’t have an ounce of that. Nice to see someone with the same idea.

    Naomi-
    It’s just so counter intuitive or just counter to the common “wisdom” of this stuff. It’s interesting that forcing will power on people that simply does not exists dooms the whole process to failure. bummer.
    Robb

    ps-I LOVE you blog, I’d like to add it to my bblog roll if you don’t mind.

  21. Nick Hanson
    January 29, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    I agree this is a great post. I have been crossfitting for three months and have really noticed the gains in performance in the last month or so since I adjusted my diet. In the last week I went zone and have noticed even further weight loss and performance gain.

    The key for me was just getting rid of anything that was going to tempt me. Am I 100% on the diet, no. But I am 95% and I feel significantly better on a day to day basis. In the last month alone I have cooked more meals for myself than I had in the previous two years. I enjoy your insight Robb, and look forward to meeting you the next time you are visiting at Crossfit SF.

    Nick

    Thanks Nick!
    Robb

  22. Sarena
    January 30, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Just a thought here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2245178,00.html
    Whats your thoughts on an occas stash of this precut fruit (when the carbs are on plan!!)..as per the additives?

    First meet Sunday; just around weight , maybe .5kg to drop! Excited, nervous but fine/fun!

    Sarena-
    I guess if you are in a pinch but it seems just as easy to have some apples, oranges and goodies like that on hand. No food poisoning either!
    Robb

  23. ec
    January 30, 2008 at 1:03 am

    i love how much emphasis you place on sleep. its amazing how easy food choices, IF, and overall recovery are when im on 8+ hrs a night. unfortunately, with the “more is better” mantra… many ppl (i used to all the time!) will forgo sleep to get in an extra workout, but are often worse off in many respects. the 9.5 hr Rx in LO can be tough, but man, when i can do it… everything is so much better!

    EC-
    It is a tough pill to swallow but it makes SOOO much difference. The notion of “getting by” on sleep is pretty telling. What is ever a good quality when you just figure a way to “get by”. TV is fun, there is always a book to be read but things really work better with that sleep.
    Robb

  24. Alex Europa
    January 30, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Robb, great post! It was just what I needed today…rough week at work. Holding it together, but my roomie is a pastry chef and the chocolate, cookies and cream cheesecake (with oreo crust) is CALLING MY NAME! Anyways, thanks for all your help so far…off to bed for my less-than-adequate 7 hours of sleep. :(

    -Alex

    WOW! That is a tough roomie to have around.
    Robb

  25. Mike
    January 30, 2008 at 2:59 am

    “What if you are drunk and you just took a whopping dose of Ecstasy…and 10 of the hottest members of whatever sex you are into walk into the room with you and insist on having their way with you. Refined carbs are analogous to an alcohol soaked Ecstasy binge at the PlayBoy Mansion.”

    Uh, didn’t you mean opposite sex….?

    Mike-
    I thought that was implied but reading it now it’s a bit ambiguous.
    Robb

  26. Frank
    January 30, 2008 at 3:59 am

    Nicely put Robb. I call that attitude “crab mentality”. Ever been crabbing? Start throwing crabs in a bucket and watch what happens. Sooner or later one them will make a dash for the lip of the bucket and freedom…only to get pulled down by the others and attacked! Nice to know that humans and crabs are on the same wavelength eh?
    Frank-
    This is starting to make sense…my parents astrological signs are Cancer…the Crab! i guess there is something to that hippy stuff!
    Robb

  27. Sarena
    January 30, 2008 at 8:51 am

    so i have been going to bed early around 9-10 the last week and all is cool. but i have been waking increasingly early. yesterday was 555am and today was 220 and i cant fall back asleep. its now 350 and i am gonna try to get back into bed again but this is nuts!! whats a girl to do? I know its not my diet! It may be nerves over the meet but i think not…

    Sarena-
    If you are waking up rested and refreshed likely not a problem. Just run with it.
    Robb

  28. RP
    January 30, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Great post Robb. Your outlook on these topics is not only fresh but minus the B.S. that clouds so many others.
    Next time you’re in KC, tell Rut to fire up that Jura earlier so you and Nicki can bust out the Bootcamp workout with us. RP

    RP-
    Will do! We covet that damn Jura…nicki has a picture on the refrigerator!
    Robb

  29. Naomi
    January 30, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    “Uh, didn’t you mean opposite sex….?”
    I actually thought it was nicely put, whatever sex you’re into doesn’t necesairily have to be the other sex.

    I’m glad you like it Robb, and ofcourse I don’t mind- I’m honoured! You might’ve noticed you’re already in my blogroll, a commenter pointed your website out to me and I immediately added it. Hope you don’t mind I didn’t ask..*blush*

    Naomi-
    You kick-ass Sista! thanks.
    Robb

  30. Anthony Bainbridge
    January 30, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Robb, great post. The talk about waking without an alarm is appealing to me. I’ve actually been in this situation before and it was beyond awesome, but my job at the time didn’t require me to be there at any specific hour. I slept from midnight to 10am every day, woke up refreshed, and got to work by noon.

    Situation is now different and when I go to bed without the alarm, I barely sleep a wink because I’m worried about sleeping in. There’s also no chance that I’ll get a full 10 hours like above, considering my coaching responsibilities keep me up past the required 8pm bedtime (I get up at 6am for work).

    Am I doomed to be dependent on that f-ing clock forever? Thoughts? Suggestions?

    Anthony-
    I’m in a similar situation and we jsut have to make the best of it. I really try to ensure quality sleep even if the quality is not enough on most days. Dark room, cool and for me ear plugs. With that set-up I sleep like the dead and do pretty well.

    We JUST TODAY started a new era with our training practice in which we will not start MWF until 9am. We have been getting up at 5am for over 4 years and it has crushed me at various points. This should help my training, mental outlook and productivity on the blog and other projects. When you can wiggle something like this into your schedule it will really help!
    Robb

  31. Sue
    January 30, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Robb, I’m not sure which performance goals to pick – I’m a newbie. Do you have any basic ones to start off with. I would love to be able to do ‘man’ push-ups and pull-ups. No chance at the moment and those upper arms definitely not tight!

    Sue-
    I think the push up and pull-up are perfect goals. If you buy a set of rings you can use those to progress towards a pull-up. If you live in a temperate climate you can focus on some walk/jog goals. Measure out a 200m course or use a school track and see how long it takes you to cover that distance. Rest 2 minutes and repeat that a few times. You may start off with walks and progress to runs.
    I highly recomend using the brand x martial arts scaled workouts and check out the Start Here page from crossfit.com

    That is a boat load of information, just attack it a little bit at a time. You can put together a home gym for a few hundred dollars that totally rocks…grab a neighbor for accountability and someone to suffer with and you are rolling. If you have a crossfit affiliate near you check them out and ask for help.
    Let me know if all this makes sense!

  32. Michele Laine
    January 31, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Robb,

    I found this article to touch home base. I have been focusing on the dramatic transformation; the “size 4″ possibility, and the “star pupil” approach to my diet and performance success. If I work my ass off and follow the plan, success will be mine! Right?!

    I have enjoyed much success and transformation this past year. I’ve listened to you and Nikki and considered myself in the behavior # 1 classification. Still, I felt frustrated that my results should be “faster” (product of food neurosis) because I was REALLY sticking with it all.

    My food choices remained consistent; energy -good, results – good, but quantity – too low for performance success (Damn, I thought I was eating alot too!) Couple that with mediocre sleep and you have slowed progress.

    I can always hear you saying “Fix it” and it pisses me off cause it doesn’t always seem like an easy fix, however, more often than not it is. It’s a tweek or two in the “life’s too busy” category and a sign that it’s time to slow things down.

    More importantly I forget to focus on all of the small successes along the way; my first pull up (then numbers I never thought I’d see), rope climb, 200m run in decent time, 10 boy push ups in a row and more than once, double unders, dead lifting, buying size 6 jeans and not getting too pissed off at that darned rower! Although the performance has increased, I still get lost in battle! I am up to 7 hours a sleep each night though – huge improvement from before.

    I definately hear the crap for the healthy choices I make while in social settings and I’ve come up with this: “I’d rather give up those carbs and enjoy my wine. It’s all about the choices we make!” Usually shuts people up!

    This has been an interesting journey for me. Thanks for the push, the tools, and the endless conversations on food!

    Michele-

    You have done fantastically and it is just scratching the surface. You are destined to be a top-shelf athlete…or we will kill you trying!

    In all seriousness I think something that happens with folks is they make HUGE changes…food, sleep…but it’s only a LITTLE bit towards where they need to BE for THEIR goals and expectations. I cannot tell you the times we have heard “…but I’ve done so much changing!” and my only honest response is “Yes, and you are strong enough now to do the REALLY big stuff.

    The day I quit medical school was when I realized I had not cooked a meal for myself in three weeks. Not breakfast, lunch or dinner. I love cooking and I knew how important that process of feeding oneself is to health and happiness. Ego, not LOVE is what got me into the hell-hole of medical school and it was a choice for doing the things I love instead of listening to the insecurities of my ego that were driving me to stay and finish. When we choose not to feed, water and take care of ourselves the way we need to its EGO…some fucked up focus that needs attending to. Interestingly however, the only effective way of dealing with that stuff is ACTION.

    You are kicking ass! It’s an honor to be part of the whole process.
    Robb

  33. Michele Laine
    January 31, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Darn it, I double clicked too fast – meant to add “and the endless butt kicking Nikki workouts” You guys are reaching me – there is hope- I’m getting it done!

  34. Ron
    February 1, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Hey Robb,
    Quick question.
    Can you speak to Krill oil?
    I know what krill are but I have heard that it is 3 times better than fish oil.
    What are you thoughts and is there any negatives associated with it?
    Thanks,
    ron

    Ron-
    Dr. Eades loves the stuff so I’m inclined to just throw my hat in right there! I believe the n-3 (omega three) fatty acids are attached to some kind of carrier lipid…making them better absorbed. I think there are also some carotenoids that come in the mix that are bioactive and act as antioxidants. Three times BETTER though? How does one gauge that? Do you need three times less for the same absorption of n-3’s? I’d be stunned if that is a fact. It sounds like fantastic stuff, but so is plain old fish oil.
    Robb

  35. Aaron
    February 4, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Does the form of the fishoil you take matter? I take Country Life gel caps that they sell at Whole Foods. I don’t always take 2 or 3 a day like I should, but I’m more concenred that it’s just not as effective as the liquid form.

    Aaron-
    I think the Country life brand is fine. I really like the Costco Kirkland brand. Good quality and inexpensive.
    Robb

  36. Mike OD
    February 4, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Like I tell people….before you try and lose any weight, make the decision first to be healthy…really make that decision 100%. It’s hard to put crap into your mouth if you are focused on health…and wouldn’t you know it, a healthy body loves to keep muscle and burn fat. Wow….what a concept!! The Yo-Yo stuff is people who never truely make the decision to be healthy in the first place.

  37. Sarena
    February 5, 2008 at 1:57 am

    Robb whats your thoughts on salmon oil. I occas order stuff from Vital Choice (although costly) and they seem to have what looks like, a good oil too!
    http://www.vitalchoice.com/category/omega-3-salmon-oil

    Sarena-
    I think any fish oil you like is good to go. If one has more DHA than another that’s a good way to go.
    Robb

  38. Margie Lempert
    February 5, 2008 at 2:38 am

    If I can add my two cents on the fishoil question, I’m inclined to believe brand matters for a couple of reasons: 1) source of fish and are they harvested in an eco-friendly manner, 2) does the distillation process effectively rid the oil of PCBs and heavy metals, and is it third party tested, 3) ratio of EPA to DHA 4) what else is in there besides EPA/DHA, and 5) possible rancidity.

    I did a bunch of research to pick my fish oil and those were the issues I kept coming across. I ended up going with Nordic Naturals – a bit pricier (I got mine month supply for $16. I live in NYC), but they seem to have really good fishing practices and do all that third party testing stuff.

    I am definitely not a fishoil narc or working for Nordic Naturals or anything. I’m just anal.

    Margie

    Margie-
    Nordic Naturals Rocks, no doubt about it. Regarding quality the Costco lab folks had the right answers when Brad and I grilled them a few years ago. PCB’s…not too concerned and it would require magic to get heavy metals into oil, they love proteins, not fat.
    Robb

  39. Craig Brown
    February 5, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Robb-

    I always tell people that humans are not wired for moderation. So you better pick your poisens carefully. In my case my ‘cheat’ meals are 90% Sushi, Vietnamese, or Thai food from GOOD resturants. When food that is already fairly ‘zoned’ is you splurge, it’s harder to fall to far.

    I also try to make fresh fruit the sweetest, carbiest thing I eat. So I don’t try to make food seem ‘normal’ in the moderen cracke dout food context. This way you tend to fall a very short difference.

    Lastly, I think the social aspect is over rated. Get agressive, not defensive. Just yesterday I was doing my usual lunch- pork loin, spinach, broc, avacado, a little smoked gouda, olive oil and vinegar- and one of my seriously overweight co-workers (eating McDOnalds) made a snide comment. My reply was “I win”. He said “yeah? In what context” My response was “flavor, health, quality of life- across the board”. It may be snide vs. snide, but it clearly made him think. And shut up.

    Craig

    Craig-
    AWESOME! I love it!

  40. Steve C
    February 5, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Robb, this came up on the Feb 3’s WOD discussion about Good Calories, Bad Calories and it occurred to me that you’d probably be interested in it. It’s an interview with Dr Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of California, San Fran discussing sugar (specifically fructose), glycaemic load and a bunch of related stuff.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/healthreport/stories/2007/1969924.htm

    Excellent, excellent blog you have here by the way. I’ve been reading you for a couple of weeks now and am loving it.

    18 months ago I would have described a no bread, no pasta, no milk diet as crazy obsessive insanity. But I’ve just come off an insanely great year eating paleo (discovered via CrossFit). The first year I can remember that I haven’t gotten sick.

    Just this week you’ve got me (damn you!) starting to apply strict Zone proportions to that… Which is absolutely insane if you know me at all. I swear my wife thinks I have some kind of eating disorder. I think she is Officially Concerned.

    Anyway, keep up the great work!

    Oh, I almost forgot! I have a question about cheese — cheese is predominantly fat (up to 30% in some cheeses, right?) but in the Zone it’s listed as protein source. What’s up with that? Why not at least a ‘combo item’ like whole milk?

    Steve-
    Thanks for the kind words and the link! I think the CFJ 21 lists cheese as a combo food…not 100% on that. It may also be that it is handled like a fatty meat…the fat blocks are assumed, whereas in lean meats like chicken breast one adds more fat blocks. Not 100% sure on that!
    Robb

  41. John Robbs
    March 25, 2008 at 5:00 am

    “Calorie restriction doesn’t work and just feeds into neurosis.”

    I don’t get it. I thought you recommended the Zone? If not that, or your own variation of the zone, what are you recommending?

    I ask because the Zone is a calorie restriction diet. That is what Barry Sears said many times in his book, “Enter the Zone”. I don’t have it with me, but off the top of my head, I remember three explicit parts where he said this. Lets see, 1) in the summary chapter, page 204 (did a search), he directly said that the Zone works by caloric restriction (“A Zone-favorable diet is a low-calorie diet that supplies adequate amounts of protein, essential fat, and micronutrients …”), 2) in an earlier chapter, he showed a chart that he said was the quantities of carbs, fat, and protein that the average person ate on different diets; the number of grams of fat and protein were constant on all the diets, but the number of grams of carbs were the least on the Zone; when you add it all up, the graph tells you that the Zone restricts calories more than every other diet he compared it to, even the ones that are considered low calorie, and 3) he has a chapter extolling the benefits of caloric restriction, which I took to mean that he thinks caloric restriction is a good thing (“Chapter 16: The Zone and Life Extension”).

    John-
    Covered that in a front page post, thank you for the question.
    Robb

  42. Kirez
    April 19, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Robb, fantastic post. Ive been sympathetic to Paleo for ~9 years, but finally got converted away from traditional endurance training by Art DeVany, and found CrossFit shortly after. Still, a lot of the nutrition stuff is new territory for me. Now I m eager as hell to be a CF trainer. (Sorry, apostrophe not working, ultimately due to poor network conxn.)

    In my own experience, training motivates my nutrition. When Im training hard I dont want to deviate from the ideal foods. When Ive discussed nutrition with friends, theyve agreed with this. Since finding CrossFit, I have finally adopted a 99% flawless diet (paleo with dairy), and it comes easily (finding good food doesnt come easily but thats a function of the local market conditions, Im in the middle east right now.)

    Do you recognize this relationship between training & diet? People pouring blood, sweat, tears and time into training — but this commitment doesnt backstop their food choices? Apparently this training–>diet drive isnt universal. Do you see it, and if so how large – or small – a role does it play? (Or do you get sample error bc all the people youre dealing with are already training?)

    Kirez-
    In general I’d say when folks make a big commitment one way or the other, get their food in order OR start training hard, the other element TENDS to fall into place also. Not always but I do think the suffering involved w/training makes the shitty food look a lot less attractive, especially if someone has cleaned things up, felt better and then backslides. The hazard with this is it becomes all or nothing on both counts! If someone gets super busy and the training drops off…if they can hang in there with the food the downslide is not so bad. Oftentimes however it becomes “fuck all of this”!
    Are you serving in the ME?
    Robb

    Thanks,
    Kirez

  43. Kirez
    April 20, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Robb, I’m not in the military. And happily I’m returning to CA (San Diego) in July. Thanks for the answer! I hear you on the ‘all or nothing’ risk.

    I’d like to talk again regarding insulin-dependent diabetes sometime. I’m noticing some surprising, unanticipated effects with strict paleo diet and heavy training — after initial decreases, my insulin requirements have gone UP. ?!?! I seem to be in caloric deficit (for 2-3 months now), maintaining weight but not increasing, high performance levels, ramped up metabolism — and requiring more insulin. It defies credulity. Higher metabolic rate, only protein & fat —-> increased gluconeogenesis???? I’m baffled, but monitoring everything rigorously and can’t explain it. My wife’s an endocrinologist, she’s with me on all this. (Neither of us is especially well educated regarding nutritional biochemistry, however.) From my experience, I’m seeing caloric deficit and simultaneously maintaining body weight and don’t know how this is possible. The only credible thought is that I can’t count very well. :-)

    By my way of thinking, minimizing insulin requirements is an objective measure of a diet’s quality and effectiveness.

    I’m not expecting you to know all the answers, but this is on my mind and I wanted to share it with you.

    cheers,
    Kirez

    Kirez-
    I’m going to tackle this one on the front page.
    Robb

  44. Feng
    April 21, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Great article, cuts to the chase by talking about carb (aka. crack) addiction! I’m trying to get off the crack myself by keeping a FitDay log and getting rid of the all-or-nothing mentality (in the sense that if I do screw up, I should just dust myself off, and climb back on the wagon, instead of saying f*ck it and giving up entirely…). I love reading your blog. Take care!

    Feng-
    Thanks for the kind words! I think that all or nothing approach is a buggar and can really undermine success. Glad to hear you are getting some traction with all this!
    Robb

  45. Allison
    June 2, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Robb-
    Plain and simple….You ROCK!
    Allison

    HA!! Thank you very much sista!
    Robb

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