Category Archives: Health

The 6-Pack Experiment Response Has Been Awesome

Wow…I started this six-pack experiment just to see if I could get ripped in a month…but it seems  A LOT of interest has been generated amongst my personal circle of friends (and others).

Generally when I start an experiment (such as the homeless experiment) I get a lot of negative or so-so feedback…until after it’s done, then everyone says it was cool.  Not for this.

Without trying to influence anyone to do this, I’ve already got a ton of people starting to eat differently……apparently losing weight and getting in shape is a common goal many people have…who woulda thunk it!

I have a feeling once people see the END RESULTS even more people will try.

So one of the things Adam (my awesome virtual personal trainer) told me was 3,500 calories = one pound of fat.

This means if I stay in a 500 calorie deficiency for a week, I lose one pound.  At that rate I’d lose 4 pounds during this experiment.  However I’ve gone beyond that…every day I’ve been in a 500 to 1,300 calorie deficiency…on average about -1,000 per day.

This means in one month I’ll lose approximately EIGHT pounds…which is a lot considering I’m not fat to begin with. And here’s the common question EVERYONE asks:

“But aren’t you hungry ALL THE TIME?!?”

The answer is NO!  Not at all!  …..but how?

It’s simple. I used to eat a bunch of junk that had lots of calories but super-low nutritional value.  Now I eat roughly the same amount of stuff, but more stuff that has HIGH nutrition and super-low calories.  This is why I’m eating mainly raw foods such as fruits/vegetables/nuts….because they’re all GOOD for you (those old cliches are often right) and have very few calories.  This means I get full, with LESS calories.

Have I given up meat?  NO!
Have I given up processed foods? NO!
Have I given up alcohol? NO!

However I’m eating A LOT less of anything with high calories….so naturally I’m eating WAAAY LESS of the above.

My roommate who joined me in this experiment (without me asking) told me one thing:

“One thing I’ve noticed is that every time you eat something, it LOOKS really good….and I think it’s because you have a cool plate.”

I realized a long time ago when I learned how to make really cool-looking alcoholic drinks that you FIRST eat with your eyes. I would make a normal drink (such as pineapple juice and vodka), but put it in a funky martini glass rimmed with sugar and garnished with a wedge of pineapple….then drop a cherry in the bottom for added effect and call it a “Cherry Love Bomber” or some stupid made-up name.  NONE of those additions changed the taste of the drink, but I got a reputation for “knowing how to make REALLY GOOD drinks” because I simply dressed them up in nice clothes.

Same goes for food.

Below are similar things, but one’s dressed better than the other (and by dressed, I mean in a cooler looking plate):

Ehhh…looks like boring-ass healthy food:

Now THAT looks sexy and delicious!:

Damn, just looking at that makes me want a piece:

Now doesn’t that look more fun and appetizing!?  It seems completely stupid since it doesn’t change the taste one iota….but tell that to all the people who drank one-too-many of my dressed-up-drinks “because they looked so good!”

Would you rather have this for lunch:

Or THIS slick meal for lunch (which has only 250 calories):

And even if you don’t have a slick plate like me (which I bought at a local Asian market for $10) you can always try to sex up a regular plate:

….although that’s much harder.  Plus regular plates are TOO BIG.  It makes you feel like you’re not eating anything and encourages you to slop more on there.

I also recently bought this small bamboo serving tray from Whole Foods….it’s a TINY tray that barely holds much, but holds enough for a small snack.  Ever sit on the couch with an entire bag of Cheetos??  I used to….and I wish I used this plate instead:

I can hardly fit a small bag of carrots or 2 clementines on there….PERFECT FOR SNACKING!  You literally can’t get much on there, plus it looks cool:

Buy a cool serving dish….you’ll love it.

It’s just a tiny and painless start to eating a little better.

Throw In A Monkey Wrench for Six-Pack Experiment

For most of the year I live in a house about 5 miles away from Downtown Austin.  This house is nice, spacious and a drive away from everything, so controlling what I eat in that area is easy.

However nearly every summer I get a place smack in the middle of Downtown (like the 4,000 sq. ft. 6th Street loft I had for a few months) just for fun.  This year I have a place on 9th Street for a few months, just walking distance to everything I need and everything fun!  I also have a car and scooter in case I need to go further.

Now when a person lives Downtown, it automatically opens you up to having parties, hosting guests and going downtown more often….and eating crappier more often….plus Austin is considered the “Hardest Drinking City In America“!

There’s late-night junk food places a-plenty around this area…and I do love me some junk food.  However at the same time I’ll be living in this area, I’ll ALSO be doing this six pack experiment.  So this will be a definite experiment with self control.

It also STOPS people from saying, “Ohh, it’s easy to eat like that where YOU live”…because that’s definitely not the case anymore.

I’ve already been out to several family friends house where there was good-food-galore, but I’ve found it very easy to abstain from eating junk….mainly because of what I’ve learned from Adam.

Anyhow, here’s a quick tour of the Downtown place…two things to keep in mind:

  • I say “you won’t find soda in this fridge” but there’s clearly a Coke in there…that was from the previous guy who lived here…must remember to throw that out.
  • I have this place for about 2 months, and still have my other place 5 miles from Downtown

Starting Off “The Getting A Six-Pack” Experiment

For the upcoming Six-Pack Experiment I have planned for the whole month of April I’ve got one goal: Get a six-pack in roughly one month.

I’m not fat, but I’m not lean enough for abs to show through.

(I think that’s what a six pack looks like)

There will be three main things I need to do during this experiment on a level I’ve never done before:

  • Go into a calorie deficiency for several weeks to lose weight
  • Do a bunch of ab exercises
  • Consistent cardio exercises

The HARDEST part of this is eating properly, thankfully I’ve been practicing doing that for the last month or two and have been successful at it….in fact preferring it.

I workout all the time and eat (relatively) correctly, but not to the extent I should…and I feel it’s because I’m not sure what to do.

So one thing I wanted for this experiment was PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. Originally I was going to get a personal trainer here in Austin, but that alienates everyone who wants to join me in this experiment (I know a couple of you out there have asked). “Oh, he had a personal trainer…no fair.”

Well I found a workaround. A fellow blogger Adam Gilbert.  That link is his personal blog, but what I’m interested in is the successful business he runs called MyBodyTutor.

Adam runs an online business that’s kind of like a “virtual personal trainer”…..but more than just dishing out some simple advice, he actually keeps you on track to hit your goals.  I signed up for his monthly service roughly a week ago, and told him “My goal is to get an awesome six-pack.”

With that said, he went ahead and gave me certain exercises to do and tips on eating yadda yadda…BUT THE BEST THING is the daily tracking you must do.  I didn’t realize this at first, but they have a whole back end to the website that members sign into daily….THIS is why I signed up…to be held accountable for everything I eat and how much I work out.

I signed up for the service about one week ago, and have eaten the best in my life these past 7 days thanks to Adam.  I’ll explain more about the process later in the experiment.

So in addition to being accountable by posting this experiment on my blog, I’ll be getting professional help, advice and accountability from Adam (thanks man)!

Currently, this is what we’re working with:


So obviously I’m not a big lard here, but if you look closer…you can see the problem:

We’ve got to get rid of that bit of chub.

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Amidst all the semi-lame April Fool’s Jokes other bloggers will be playing on their readers today, I will be starting something that’s less funny, but more useful (To me…but hopefully others too).

This is called the Getting a Six-Pack Experiment, so I want to make it pseudo scientific….and by pseudo I mean “scientific in a sense that even a dumb guy like me can understand”.

The Scientific Method:

  • Define the question - Can I get a six pack in one month?
  • Gather information and resources (observe) - I will be basing this experiment on past experiences with losing weight, what I learned recently about calories and professional advice from MBT.
  • Form hypothesis - I believe by April 31st I will be able to see my abdominal muscles MUCH better, creating a “six-pack” on my stomach WITHOUT starving myself at all.
  • Perform experiment and collect data – Starting today I’ll be documenting everything I eat and do for exercise.
  • Analyze data - Hold on fool…I haven’t started yet!
  • Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis – Hold on…let me start first!
  • Publish results – Wait till after April.

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On that note, I definitely think others out there should TRY THIS EXPERIMENT WITH ME! …and maybe not just trying to get a six pack, but maybe to start eating “just a little” better, or get just a “little” slimmer, or workout more…

It would make it more interesting and motivating to have others follow along to some extent.

LET THE SIX-PACK EXPERIMENT BEGIN!!

The Unbelievably Over-Complicated Subject Of Calories

I’m a really dumb guy.

I need really simple and clear explanations of things or I don’t grasp them.

So in the past I tried to understand why I never lost weight even though I worked out.  The answer was later found when I started losing weight by accident.  At that time I came to the generalized conclusion that:

Bad food = stuff that comes in a box.
Good food = stuff that grows.

Is that generalized?  YES!  Is it accurate….well…I think yes!  I bet some smarter person could run rings around me proving how XYZ food doesn’t grow, yet it provides ABC benefit because it has Beta Carbonutralized Bioflavayadda yadda yadda…

Well I’m not capable of understanding this smartness.  I’m too dumb……so I’m going to try and simplify the weight loss process so even a dummy like me can understand:

—————————————–

Here’s a horrible analogy that barely makes sense:

  • The day starts and your car gas tank is half full.
  • You fill up one gallon of gas at the beginning of the day.
  • During the day you only drive a few miles and use maybe a 1/2 gallon of gas.
  • Because you didn’t use up that whole gallon, your car is fatter than before!

However if you drove a lot and used several gallons of gas….
…end of the day your car has “lost weight”.

Damn that was a bad analogy!  ….but does it make sense?

TO LOSE WEIGHT:

CALORIES IN < CALORIES OUT

(For you ultra-dummies that means:  calories you eat are less than calories you use).

—————————————–

The reason everyone says to cut out sodas and candy etc. for weight loss is this simple fact…THEY HAVE TONS OF CALORIES! Not only do they have lots of calories, they have EMPTY calories….meaning the nutritional value you get is nearly none, but you still get all the calories.

Enough pretending I know what I’m talking about and lets do some visual comparisons.

Let’s take a nice household candy bar such as Snickers (something I used to eat all the time):

Notice it has 220 calories…but there’s TWO “servings per container”.  That means if you eat a full Snickers (who the hell only eats half??) you get a huge 440 calories for something that has virtually zero nutritional value and doesn’t get you full.

Until I took these pictures I never realized exactly how bad these (and other candy bars) are!  Yikes!

Compared to one of my favorite fruits, clementines, the Snickers bar doesn’t really hold up.  If I eat 3 clementines at once, that’s a lot of intake and I feel satisfied…and it’s only about 100 calories (roughly 36 calories per clementine)….plus I get a lot of nutritional value from them.

I can eat TWELVE clementines instead of ONE Snickers bar, get more nutrition and still consume LESS calories!  Good god!

Starting to see why people tell you to cut out the junk?

Instead of eating that one semi-gratifying Snickers that DOES NOT fill you up, you can eat TWO clementines, ONE banana and ONE tomato…they will definitely fill you up, and they look nice too:

Yummm….and the best part is ALL OF THAT together adds up to only 153 calories and has tons of great nutritional value. I can eat that for lunch and get full!!  You can even toss a handful of baby spinach on top and make it a salad.

Also instead of that ONE Snickers bar, you can eat ONE big apple and get:

Total calories: a few more than 65 (that was a big ass apple).

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So all you’ve got to remember is:

  • Don’t eat so many calories.
  • Processed foods usually have A LOT of them.
  • Fresh stuff = Good.

That’s a list even I can remember.

What was learned here will be the basic premise of my Getting A Six-Pack Experiment which I will  be doing all through April.  I’ll replace all the bad stuff I was eating…with good stuff! What a novel concept!!

I’ll be eating very clean in April and will document a lot of stuff…hopefully something will be learned.

Steve Pavlina’s Raw Food Diet Link List

A direct inspiration for the eating portion of the Getting A Six-Pack Experiment is Steve Pavlina’s 30 day raw food diet.

He has one of the largest blogs on the entire interweb, yet for some reason this goofy mofo made it really damn hard to navigate his 30 day trial.  So I’m adding all the posts here (mainly so I can reference things I liked):

Steve Pavlina’s 30 Day Raw Food Diet:

For his 30-day trial he decided to eat raw foods for different reasons than I:

He cares about saving animals /// I don’t really care

He was loading up between 2,000 and 3,000 calories /// I will be staying well under 1,500 almost every day

He did a lot of research /// I’m going with the little I know

He did it to learn to eat better /// I’m doing it to get a raging six-pack

He calls it a “30 Day Trial” /// I can it an “Experiment”

He’s never had alcohol and has a family at home /// I live in America’s Hardest Drinking City: Austin, TX. and go out with friends regularly

He was eating only raw foods /// I can eat whatever I want, so long as in calories < out calories.
Even though our methods will be different, I must fully accredit Steve P. with opening my eyes to the fact YOU CAN EAT A LOT OF FRUIT. I simply didn’t realize that before.

In my weight loss by accident post you can see the exact point where his 30-day experiment influenced me.

Another great resource on what’s “Good” for you is this amazing Dr. Klaper speech:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

So his 30 day trial inspired me, now onwards with the experiment….

Effort

I write this for two reasons:

1.) I am starting that 6-pack experiment in April and have begun preparing for it by eating ultra-clean and ultra-lean. Pretty much all day I’m eating 100% raw foods only…that’s not the plan for the whole month, but it’s been my diet for the last week.  It’s not hard as I expected (because I’ve been eating well for a few months now), but keeping this up for a full month and resisting the urge to pig out at social events gets HARD.

However for the month of April I want to see a dramatic change in the way my stomach looks…and for that I need to be calorie deficient for weeks at a time.  I can easily keep my current physique with the way I’m eating now, but my diet must be extra-ordinarily good to see those extraordinary results.

2.) As you know I own a business called House Of Rave which is all online.  Over the last year I made a lot of small tweaks which cut down on the number of customer support inquires and time spent getting orders out.  At a bare minimum I need to spend less than 30 minutes every weekday administering the site…the rest runs on it’s own.  That alone can pay all my bills and still save money.

Pretty cool eh! 30 minutes of work per day!

Well…I also like the business to GROW….so to maintain AND grow the site takes about 2 hours per day (mainly spent adding product photo/video reviews).

I will admit…over these first few months of 2010 those small required amounts of time have spoiled me. I’ve stopped updating the site as much as I should.  The 1st quarter is never a FANTASTIC time for a business like mine (which sells party supplies) and is also enduring a bad economy, but I think I’ve been slipping quite a bit on my responsibilities to it.

Extraordinary effort doesn’t necessarily mean long hours (although that certainly helps)….because with this business a very consistent tweaking of small things every day can make a HUGE impact.  I’ve proved this many times, including one time I documented 30 small changes I made with very clear results (aka MO MONEY)!

I think what I’ll do in April is one day blog about a small HoR change, then the next day document the diet and steps I’ve taken to get a ripped-ass six pack.

Find merchant supplies and POS terminals at Moneris Solutions.

Upcoming “Getting a 6-Pack” Experiment

Does this blog need more pictures of my half-naked body on it?

YES. Definitely.

Before you stop reading in disgust, I’d like to ask your opinion on an upcoming experiment for the month of April 2010 where I’m attempting to get a REALLY ripped 6-pack stomach.

QUICK EXPLANATION:
Even though I was satisfied the way my body looked in that “How I Lost Weight” Experiment, I still didn’t have a PROPER 6-pack set of abs.

There was still a decent sized layer of fat between my abdominal muscles and the real world.

From everything I’ve learned, this experiment will be primarily about controlling what I eat very carefully.  Before, I didn’t have the self-control to do this, but over the last year I’ve become pretty good about controlling what I eat….so the time has come.


THE EXPERIMENT:

I want to see how hard it is to get a true 6-pack, and if it can be done within about a month (for someone like me who’s already in decent shape and physically active).

…so over the course of the experiment I will be training and eating properly for it….and documenting the steps of course.

Will this 6-Pack be sustainable? I doubt it.
So why try? One of my friends called me out on this and said, “You just want to get a picture of yourself with a 6-pack so you can show off later.”

He was absolutely right.  In case I have the urge to brag to my future kids about “how cool dad was back in the day”…at least I’ll be able to pull up the photo and say, “Check THIS out” as they roll their eyes and accuse me of Photoshopping the picture.


THE CURRENT SITUATION:
Unflexed, my abs look like:

When flexed, my ab region currently looks something like:

It’s not bad….but it’s not lean enough for a true 6-pack either.  If I pinch the fat on my stomach, you can tell there’s a definite barrier between those sweet abs and the adoring world:

By the way…I took that fat-pinch picture while writing this in the library, and one of the librarians saw me lift up my shirt, pinch myself and take several pictures!  She just whispered a comment to the librarian next to her…Hahah, I wonder what they’re thinking!

Anyways, I’m curious if anyone out there has actually done this successfully…and maybe share some of that advice?  I’m not a fitness guru by any means, just some guy who wants to shove it in his future-kids face that dad had a 6-pack!

Learning from being drunk

In college I was first exposed to people who would get drunk when they go out. It was always fascinating because:

  1. People would be normal
  2. They’d drink this stuff
  3. They start acting differently

After more and more drinks it was very easy to see people getting chattier, louder and generally less inhibited. It’s clear that alcohol is pretty good at spicing up a party, but why do we need it?

It always bugged me that some people HAD to drink to have fun. Maybe they didn’t have to, but it really enhanced their good time…but why?

Being slightly nerdy I would select random people at a party and analyze their behavior from sober to drunk and in between. I would also do it with the best test subject I could find: myself. Now THIS is fun science :-)

I would take mental notes of what I was doing differently when intoxicated. There are a lot of good traits about being slightly intoxicate like the willingness to chat up strangers, feeling less nervous and not worrying so much about things. You tend to become a slightly more “fun” person when you’re a little tipsy.

There are also bad things such as not being able to comprehend things as well, loss of coordination (I can barely play the guitar if drunk), paying lots of money for alcohol, not remembering things as clearly, the whole driving issue and waking up feeling like crap.

So the novel of idea of NOT drinking, yet trying to emulate the GOOD qualities of being drunk popped into my head.

Over the years I’ve randomly decided to not drink on some days….no reason other than to just test pretending to be drunk. Not drinking is easy. It really isn’t that hard to refuse rounds of drinks because you can ALWAYS pawn off a free drink on someone else. You can also easily get a cola or other non-alcoholic drink to keep up the illusion. Almost 80% of the time the bartender doesn’t even charge me for a “plain Coca-Cola” or pineapple juice!

I’d try to mimic the “good” effects of alcohol when I did this, and to my surprise it actually works quite well with practice! It actually helps you have a lot more fun when you “pretend” to be drunk!

For example:

Let’s say you’re shy to dance, I know I used to be. I would always think “I wonder what people are thinking of me” or “I wonder if I look silly” over and over in my head. However if I was a little drunky munky I’d probably dance anyway, accept the fact I possibly look ridiculous, wouldn’t care what people thought and just have a good time.

So if I were sober and dancing, I would think WWDND? What Would Drunk Neville Do….and just do that. It actually takes some mental effort and practice to not emulate some drunky qualities, but it’s well worth it. It can also apply to many other situations in life.

This little technique has definitely helped me have a lot of fun over the years.

Now all this alcohol talk kind of makes me want a drink… :-)

Cheers!

-Neville

Back Flips Part 2

A little while ago I wanted to learn back flips. Well here is the 2nd part which was never posted (filmed circa March 2009).

Tried doing back flips on my own over and over.

Clearly wasn’t consistently working so I needed to consult someone who knew proper technique. Had a bunch of moderate attempts, one great success and one nearly-nose-breaking failure:

Got a scar, fortunately went away:

Like my nose too much to sacrifice for a back flip, so decided to get some proper instruction with proper safety equipment:

Made video of my first back flip attempts:

Weekly practices interrupted by travel. Manage to make the 2nd part of video:

Finally got them down!
When learning by myself, imapct after impact took a toll on my knees.
In this case:
No fear + No skill = Bad results.
Just to make sure nothing was really wrong:
Doctors visit + four weeks of physical therapy.

Watching that face-plant….priceless!

How I Lost Weight by Accident

I noticed sometime in early 2008 that I was starting to get a little chunky around the sides. I would suck in my stomach in front of the mirror and it no longer showed the muscles underneath like it used to.

Problem: I was getting fatter.

Another Problem: I was always being lazy (although at the time I never dreamed it had anything to do with food).

I don’t remember a period since college where I didn’t regularly get lots of physical activity or regularly go to the gym….so this wasn’t the problem.

One day my mom gave me a 5 pound bag of Clementine’s no one at home was eating. I took them to Austin with me. They’re like mini oranges that you can easily peel. I LOVED THEM!

I liked them a lot, but would eat maybe one or two a day. I then read Steve Pavlina’s 30-day raw diet experiment where he would eat only raw foods like fruits and vegetables. I had no intention of emulating this, but I was amazed at the sheer quantity of fruit he would eat. Instead of two Clementine’s, he would eat 8 or 10. Instead of one banana a day, he would eat 10+.

For some reason I just didn’t think of eating that many….sounds stupid, but true. I’ve never seen anyone eat THAT much fruit before.

So taking a cue from that I decided to up my fruit intake because I’ve always loved fruits. I ate pretty much the same junk I used to, but now with a whole lot more fruit. Slowly and slowly I started eating more and more, to the point where lunch was pretty much just grapes, apples, avocados, oranges etc.

Now of course I still craved heavier foods from time to time and would allow myself to pig out McDonald’s (I still love McDonald’s), but for the most part I was eating a lot less of everything else, and a lot more fruits.

During this time I started gaining an affinity for fruits and stopped craving junk food as much. Through the day I would snack on fruit and it felt great. The cool thing about eating that way is you don’t have to really watch what you eat. Pig out an all the fruit you want.

For dinner I decided that I wasn’t eating terribly unhealthy anymore, but my portions were out of control. To combat this I simply used a small plate, almost like a tea saucer to eat dinner on. I would try stacking my food sky high, but that little plate wouldn’t hold much. I allowed myself to return for as many servings, but that tiny plate had to be used. I quickly found myself eating drastically less food yet being equally satisfied, simply because I didn’t have much on the plate. I also stopped getting that over-stuffed “food baby” feeling after dinner.

I was still eating a bunch of junk, so I decided to not buy anything in a box. Well, I would still eat pasta or rice every night, and I suppose pasta and sauce comes in a box/bottle, but that was the extent of it. I stopped buying cookies, chips, soups, snacks or anything like that….and the transition really wasn’t that hard.

I would still eat junk at a party or when it was available somewhere, but I wouldn’t keep it in the house. I would also go to the grocery with one of those small hand-carts you carry instead of a rolling shopping cart. I physically wouldn’t have space to put a bottle of Coke or any other non-essential item.


(I admit….I have a weak spot for Ramen Noodles every once in a while).

Some very in-shape friends also told me that roughly once a week to PIG OUT on all the bad food I could get my hands on…..and pig out I did! I would hit up the McDonald’s value menu with a vengeance! Be careful though, when you eat all that junk food, you tend to crave even more junk food the next few days. It’s oddly addicting.

There were two VERY noticeable side effects to my new eating habits:

  1. I saved a lot of money on groceries.
  2. I felt WAY better (More on this later).

I never realized how cheap most produce is. You fill a basket with everything from the produce section and you’re looking at a pretty cheap grocery bill. It was an unexpected benefit.

The really crazy benefit was the way I felt after a few days of eating like this. Previously I would wake up, go to the office (two steps away from my bedroom) and sluggishly start working. Prior to that I’d usually hit the snooze button 10 times. I was sort of productive, but I always had “Fog Brain.” Fog Brain is not really a tired or lazy sensation, it’s just a not-as-clear-as-I-could-be sensation (which results in being somewhat lethargic).

Now I finally understand what a lot of people talk about when they start eating better and getting “better mental clarity.” It sounds like some hippy peace/love crap, but it works. I was more aware, willing to work longer and had better clarity….I also slept better, but more noticeable was I woke up in the morning with greater ease. I’m not saying everyday I’d hop out of bed with enthusiasm, but waking up was MUCH easier….working out was MUCH easier…and working through problems and issues seemed MUCH easier.

I sincerely wish I had discovered this in college.

I literally cannot explain how much clearer everything seemed when I ate well for extended periods of time. The benefit was immense.

So those benefits were great, but the changes physically were the most fun. I had always worked out, so I would get larger muscles, but my body fat pretty much remained constant due to my horrendous eating habits and love of fast food. Now my body fat was shrinking, and while my muscles remained relatively constant, I could see them better. Especially around the waist and chest.

A few times a month I took a shirtless picture of myself in a flexed and un-flexed pose (These pics are from Feb. 2008 till July 2008) in order to gauge my progress.

Here are the UN-FLEXED pics. Me just standing in a relaxed pose in front of the camera (Click image for full size):

Here are the FLEXED pics. Tensing the body to show muscles better. The difference from the 1st picture to the last picture is relatively dramatic (Click image for full size):

Here are both the images above put next to each other (Click image for full size):

None of the pics have been Photoshopped (except cropping). Some things learned from taking these pics:

  • Flexing vs. not-flexing looks incredibly different.
  • It REALLLLLY depends on how much you just ate. Waking up in the morning I would look great, but after a big meal I’d look much fatter in the picture.
  • The camera is deceiving.

During this time I didn’t take any vitamins, supplements, protein shakes or any type of physical fitness product. I simply ate less “bad stuff” through moderation and a lot more “good” food.

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RE-CAP OF THINGS I DID:
—————————————–

Eating habits:

  • Used a hand-carry basket instead of rolling cart at the grocery.
  • Didn’t buy anything that comes in a box or can (small exceptions for pasta and dinner ingredients).
  • Started using a small plate for everything. Took as many servings of food as I wanted, but on a tiny plate or bowl. This drastically helped cut down on over eating. If you go to a buffet, use a small salad plate to take your food.
  • Once a week pigged out on whatever I wanted. This quickly showed me how lethargic bad food makes you feel in comparison with the good food.
  • Started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables.

Exercise Habits:

  • Instead of driving to gym, biked to gym.
  • Joined a rock climbing gym and ditched the boring regular weight-lifting gym.
  • When still at boring gym, took spinning classes regularly.

Motivation:
Originally I liked the benefit of losing body fat and looking ripped, but that superficial goal didn’t last long. Eventually I started to slip back into bad eating habits since the motivation to “be ripped” wasn’t strong enough.

The thing that got me back into eating properly is the obvious difference in my mental clarity, being unbelievably more productive than before and waking up with much greater ease. The changes to physicality are just a happy side benefit.

Unexpected benefits:
I’m quite sure NO ONE wants to hear this, but taking a poop is a much more pleasant experience when eating well (did I just say that)?? Everything comes out quicker and is a lot easier to clean up. I suppose less time spent in the bathroom can also be considered a productivity benefit :-)


Naysayers:
I’ve never heard so much conflicting advice about a subject like working out and health. No matter what you do for exercise or diet there will always be some conflicting opinion, study, blah blah blah…

Whatever. Just eat well. Your body is much stronger than you might expect. If you eat 3 bananas in one day you won’t die of a sugar overdose, or if you don’t eat steak everyday you won’t start losing mass amounts of muscle. You’ll be fine.

Drawbacks:

  • Getting past that first “hump” of cravings for heavy foods.
  • Self control when you’re at a party with unlimited food.
  • The first few days can be a little rough….that’s why I slowly started eating better, the “transition” was nearly non-existent that way.

Sticking To It:
Since I originally took all those pictures and started this (roughly Feb. 2008) I’ve slipped in and out of good/bad eating habits a few times. Generally holidays and vacations help you eat a bunch of crap, and it’s a little difficult to slip back into the good habits again.

Fortunately you do this a couple of times, and the “bad” binges get shorter and shorter. The quality of work and productivity is so much higher when you’re eating clean, that it almost seems silly to eat bad stuff. But don’t worry, you’re supposed to shock your system once a week and eat horribly, so that makes it fun!

Happy eating!
-Nev