Do Not Diet or Set a New Year’s Resolution in 2014

Happy New Year! I sincerely hope that 2013 was a fantastic year for you and that 2014 will be even better. However, I do NOT want you to diet or set a New Year’s Resolution this year. Why? Please read on…

Diets Do Not Work

As someone who regularly works with people who want to lose weight, I am painfully aware of the fact that diets simply do not work. The Canadian National Eating Disorder Information Centre writes here that those attempting a diet are more likely to gain weight than lose it! And researchers from UCLA note here that after analyzing over 30 long-term studies, they observed that at least 2/3 of participants gained back the weight they lost (if not more) during short-term diets. Armed with this knowledge, it would be downright foolish to attempt a 30-day challenge or some other restrictive diet with the goal of keeping weight off long-term.

New Year’s Resolutions Do Not Work

I have an article about willpower coming out in the January 2014 issue of the Performance Menu, in which I cite several gloomy facts about the utter failure of those who set New Year’s Resolutions. In one informal study led by Quirkology, the success rate one year later was just 12%! Fitness and nutrition juggernauts Alwyn Cosgrove and John Berardi have noted time and time again how your chances of success when adopting new habits drastically decrease when you add too much at once. The numbers are alarming: one habit at a time yields an 85% chance of success, whereas two habits lowers to a shocking 35%, and three habits is almost zero! Just as with the knowledge of diet failure rates, the stats here should steer you away from doing what most people do when it comes to setting New Year’s Resolutions.

What To Do Instead

If your goal is to lose weight in 2014, then there are a couple options I would recommend:

  1. For quite literally instant weight loss, cut off a limb. (Actually, I can’t say that I recommend this option. You would lose weight though.)
  2. If you want to lose body fat and keep it off for the rest of your life, then talk to the people at Precision Nutrition. They are the largest and most successful nutrition coaching company in the world. They even tailor their free web content by gender! I highly recommend this course for men and this course for women. And if you are a trainer looking to level up your nutrition coaching skills, then check out this course.

If you have other goals unrelated to body composition, then here is what I recommend:

  1. Prioritize your goals. Go so far as to make a numbered list.
  2. Now take number 1 on your list (let’s say it’s, “Meditate more often”) and make it more specific (“Meditate for 5 minutes every day.”).
  3. Set an end date when you will re-assess your success. February 1st should work well.
  4. If and only if you accomplished your number 1 priority, then you may continue on to the other items on your list in a similar fashion.

For an added bonus, post your goals to the comments here or as a status on Facebook. Pay someone $20 to hold you accountable. Or better yet, find a social network with similar goals so that you have communal support.

And lastly, if you would prefer one-on-one coaching, then I am looking for online coaching clients in 2014! I have helped several people lose weight in the past, and I have personal experience when it comes to adding lean muscle mass and learning new skills. Thanks for reading!


Top Five Coaches You Should Follow

Keeping it simple with this Monday’s post: the Top Five Coaches You Should Follow, along with brief commentary about my experience with each one. I hope this will inspire you to pursue some of their educational offerings!

1. Charles Poliquin

I had to list Charles Poliquin first because he has probably influenced everyone else below in some capacity. Although he recently separated from the Poliquin Group, he is now building his own brand called Strength Sensei. My experience with Charles was initially through his Poliquin International Certification Program, and both Levels 1 and 2 which I have completed were chock full of great quality information. Another thing that really stands out when you attend a Poliquin event is that they have seriously high standards for everything that they do. Taking an online exam? You have to score 92% or higher to pass. Doing squats at their gym? You will be prescribed split squats if your butt winks even the slightest above parallel. Drinking green tea from their café? It’s organic from Whole Foods. Charles Poliquin and his team are all-around health and fitness experts, so I recommend you follow them for advice on everything including strength training, conditioning, nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle.

2. Ido Portal

I would be completely remiss if I did not mention Ido Portal and his team on this list. A CrossFit trainer first pointed me in Ido’s direction online in 2009, and I have been hooked ever since. Let me try to do his work some justice with a few brief links: The Floreio Art and his Self-Dominance video, The Improper Alignment Speech, and the Raw Brahs Interview with Ido Portal. Movement is the central theme in Ido’s work, and movement can come in various forms, such as handbalancing, capoeira, gymnastics, weightlifting, dance, etc. I am currently working through some online coaching through Ido and his team (thanks Odelia!), and I am looking forward to meeting him at the Dynamic Movement in Sports Symposium in Rhode Island in November.

3. James FitzGerald, aka OPT

The bottom line is that if you coach CrossFit, you need to learn from James FitzGerald at Optimum Performance Training. Not only did he win the CrossFit Games in 2007, but he also has more experience both in the gym and in the research lab than anyone else I have ever heard of. His Coaching Certification Program will be the gold standard for fitness coaches moving into the future, as it includes modules on Assessment, Program Design, Nutrition, Life Coaching, and Business Systems. Furthermore, his Big Dawgs blog is probably the best example of group programming that’s out there, as he has different levels for different athletes. Having met James and heard him speak a few times, he is as passionate about health, fitness, and sport as they come.

4. Martin Rooney

I was only recently pointed to Martin Rooney and his Training for Warriors program, but after watching him speak a few times, I could tell he was someone I needed to learn from. The biggest takeaway from the Training for Warriors online certification I completed this summer was Martin’s simple yet profound commitment to walking the walk in addition to talking the talk. Not sure you can trust what your coach is telling you to do? What if he is also having his very own daughter complete the same style of training? That probably means he believes what he’s telling you is true! Plus it doesn’t hurt that Martin’s coaching background includes these guys from Brazil who do jiu-jitsu… oh yeah, the Gracies!

5. John Berardi

Last but certainly not least, is John Berardi from Precision Nutrition. It’s just impossible to argue against what John Berardi has accomplished through his career: multiple degrees in exercise and nutrition, coached athletes at the highest level (GSP, for instance), and developed the largest online nutrition coaching programs in the world. I would recommend reading his short e-book “All About Intermittent Fasting,” as well as his role in Nate Green’s hilarious journey “Bigger Smaller Bigger.” Currently I am about halfway through the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program, and the textbook, workbook, and videos are absolutely top-notch.

That’s it, thanks for reading! Feel free to comment with any other coaches who have you inspired you.

Been on my mind recently

Fortunately, I have been doing several different things lately, and here’s what’s been on my mind:

  • Performance coaching, unlike the traditional academic classroom setting, requires and demands: embodiment, inspiration, motivation, creativity, innovation, a holistic perspective, a macro-micro-macro approach, consistency, variety, intensity, and functionality.
  • Some techniques for teaching music: learn it cleanly the first time so you don’t have as far to travel later, play one person at a time to enforce individual responsibility, and use tempo progressions from slow to fast for technique patterns and music.
  • When leading a group approach things as if they were on a spectrum of unrefined to excellent; avoid “good-bad” or “black-white” thinking, as that limits progress and causes frustration.
  • In life, whenever possible, you must maximize the effect-to-demand ratio: is what you are doing effective enough given how demanding it is to achieve.
  • Waking up each day with a clear purpose, especially if that goal involves other people in a cohesive social setting, is so much easier and healthier than rolling out of bed without a thought as to what your day will be.
  • Recognize those relationships and activities that are significant, meaningful, and valuable in your life. Preserve, extend, and flourish.
  • So much of modern rudimental marching percussion can be broken down into two things: 1) Play and perfect lots of basic exercise patterns, and 2) Design and execute a creative and appropriate show.

And for a bit of humor, I originally began the draft for this post in mid-July, with a title of “Neuroplasticity and skill-based living.” The only writing I had in the body of the post was, “Practice happiness. Meditation and mental exercise. CrossFit Mindfulness?” Lots of Exuberant Animal and MovNat on my mind methinks.

As for other things I do, lots of exciting things coming up:

  • Michael McIntosh will be arranging for the George Mason indoor drumline. Mike taught me at the Bluecoats, and I credit him with initially inspiring me to seriously pursue a career in teaching others how to drum.
  • The Anatomy of Frank will reunite as a five-piece band once again in November! Kyle Woolard, the lead singer / guitarist, recently toured the entire country (including Canada and Alaska!), and upon his glorious return to Charlottesville, we have a series of shows lined up in VA, TN, NC, and north.
  • I have been teaching much more classes at CrossFit Charlottesville, the epicenter for “Evidence-Based Fitness” in C’ville. It is so inspiring to help people reach their movement, performance, and health goals on a daily basis.
  • For the past two years I have been putting off writing a drum method book about rudimental gridding, but this fall it will happen! Hold me accountable if you see me.

Thanks for reading! Drop by a CrossFit noon class, check out an Anatomy of Frank show, or just go to any Charlottesville coffee house before 5 pm, and I’d love to chat.

Practical Instruction

I was reading an insightful post by Gray Cook recently: It reminded me of teaching drum corps in many ways:

Practical activities employ functional patterns, but always offer a variety of daily twists that produce adaptability by offering a wide array of perception.

I am teaching a group of 150 members who rehearse 6-10 hours per day for 90 straight days. Despite all these hours of work, they only perform a 10-minute show. Thus, my task is to provide them with functional, practical instruction while also continuously challenging them with daily twists to enhance their ability to perceive.

Our collective opinion was that we talked more movement than we actually taught. We loved the sounds of our authoritative coaching voices.

Yes! I need to constantly remind myself of this. Here’s how a typical scenario might span out:

“Drumline, Play this part of the music.”

*The line plays it, 10 times in a row without any stopping for instruction or comment.*

“Okay, great. You just learned more about how to play that part correctly than I could ever tell you in words.”

This also reminds me of the “macro-micro-macro” approach from Chris Spealler on the CrossFit Journal: