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What The Hell Effect

MyFitnessPal is a great site that helps us track the physical part of weight loss.  Calories eaten and calories burned.  We learn a lot about what macros work well for us personally, what exercises we enjoy/will stick to, and we learn there are some batshit insane weight loss methods out there.

Weight loss is also mental for almost everyone (if it wasn't, weight loss statistics would look better).  This year I have decided to dig into some of the mental factors that cause me to struggle as I finally drop the weight from my long bulk (fulk). 

What The Hell Effect

We have all been there.  You go out to eat and have it all mapped out to stay within your calorie goal.  Then some sadistic person orders chips and salsa for an appetizer to share.  Suddenly the chicken and steamed vegetables don't sound as good and next thing you know you're ordering a double bacon cheeseburger with a mile high mud pie.

This is the What The Hell Effect at work.

Much of weight loss is focused on "inhibitional goals" or basically not doing something.  You succeed at your goal as long as you don't pass X point and then you have failed (this is the hardwired black and white assessment we have).  After you have failed there's no further amount of loss by continuing to pile onto it.  If you change weight loss goals to "acquisitional goals" you can combat this.  

  •  I ate four servings of vegetables daily the last two days.
  • I was under my calorie goal the last seven days (or under a weekly calorie goal).
  • I completed my workouts for this week.
  • I limited myself to one sweet treat today.
  • I drank eight glasses of water today.
Now you have accomplished some things!  You might not have been under your calorie goal today, but you accomplished that goal previously and your "loss" of 200 calories in chips and salsa doesn't look as big.
TL;DR - If you set goals that look at the negative you're more likely to throw in the towel when one small problem comes along.  Set aquisitional goals and you'll be less impacted.


I allowed myself to...

This phrase is one of the most powerful phrases you can use in life. 

When you blame someone else or something else you give away your power.  When you take responsibility for your choices you take back the power and you can make changes.  This statement also removes excuses.  It's not, "I did this because...".  

I allowed myself to gain the weight.  

I allowed myself to skip workouts.

I allowed myself to eat things I didn't really want when offered them.

I allowed myself to pretend it wasn't happening.

What have you allowed recently and what are you doing to change that?  The power is in your hands, how are you going to use it?

2,000 days of MFP

This week I celebrated my 2,000th day as a member of the community.  I've had my fair share of success and struggles.  I wanted to write a great blog post today about getting in shape and the exact steps to do it, but I think I'm going to take a different route.


-In the 2,000 days I have been here I have logged accurate approximately 20% of the time.  I have more forum posts than I have meals logged.

-I have exercised less than 50% of the days that I have been a member.

-Cardio sucks.  I bribe myself to do it.

-Lifting is boring. *insert gasps from everyone here* I like how it feels, I like how it makes me look, but even when I am fully concentrating on form and tempo I find it boring.

-If there was a short cut in a pill I would probably take it because I can be just as lazy as the next person.

-Binge eating is my BFF.  We don't hang out anymore, but she calls my phone from time to time. 


I am not the "go hard or go home" type and nobody has to be that way to make progress or reach their goals.  Start with baby steps and build consistency.  Learn to develop habits because they will keep you moving even when you aren't motivated. Not every day has to be perfect and you don't have to set personal records weekly.  

The biggest factor to success is to just keep trying.  Win or lose that day, go to bed each night saying you will work at it some more tomorrow.

Deadlifts and meditation

As someone who suffers from anxiety I can't just sit around and meditate.   My brain goes into overdrive and suddenly I'm worrying about everything.  I've tried many methods of clearing my mind, but in the end it just doesn't work for me.

Deadlifts achieve that.

When I step up to the bar my mind starts to clear.  I don't think about work or kids.  I don't think about form or weight.  As I grasp the bar everything that I have been carrying on my shoulders slips through my hands and into the bar.  The moment before the pull my mind is free.

I have noticed that when I fail a deadlift it's because I'm thinking about the lift or the weight.  If I try to do some fancy set up or develop a ritual then I'm thinking too much and I'll fail.  It is only when I am in the void that I am fully committed to the lift. 

To me, a good deadlift session is better than an hour in therapy.  I'm guessing that avid runners feel this way about a long run.


What's your favorite form of meditation or therapy?  

In defense of the excuse

If we were to cut to the heart of all the things it takes to lose weight, we would find that being honest with yourself is the absolute most important thing you can do. 

For every way of eating and exercising there has been at least one successful person.  For every way of eating and exercising there has been at least one unsuccessful person.  In the end it is not about finding the Holy Grail of weight loss plans, it’s about adherence.   Adherence is this magical combination of doing something that you believe in, doing something that’s satisfying, and simply sticking to it. 

Finding that one thing that suddenly clicks with you is awesome!

What if you never find it?

Dieting can be extremely stressful.  There are so many factors that make it a struggle, from environmental to physiological to psychological.  Almost nobody enjoys being hungry or missing out on the good stuff in life.  Weight loss is not easy and everyone trying to make it seem that way makes things more frustrating.  How many years of your life are you going to spend stressed out trying to lose weight?

I’m here to support people deciding that maybe today isn’t the day.  If dieting has made your life miserable and you’ve made no progress it’s time to consider other options.  Yes, I’m saying maybe some people should quit.  Quit counting calories, quit restrictive eating, quit doing exercises to earn or make up for food.

Hear me out.

If you are miserable from trying to follow diets you are going to burn out on every single plan no matter how fact based and proven it is.  Focus on happiness and focus on honesty (with yourself) about your habits.  Start thinking about health as an addition equation instead of a subtraction one.  Add in exercise you enjoy.  Add in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.  Add in a specific treat weekly or daily.  Stop making it about weight and start making it about positive habits that you enjoy.

In short, I am all for “staying fat”.  Taking the focus off of weight loss and putting it on healthy habits (mental and physical) is going to help some people actually make changes.  Stop chasing the perfect plan and be honest with yourself that another diet isn’t what you need.

Five years!

It is my five year anniversary on MyFitnessPal! 

In this time I have lost weight, gained muscle, run some races, competed in a bodybuilding competition, competed in a powerlifting meet, bulked, and now I'm cutting again.  During this time I've also done a lot of things wrong and just enough things right to make it work.  I've tried most of the fad diets, taken dieting to all sorts of extremes and at times I have had a narrow minded approach to this.  I am not even close to an expert, but I wanted to share a few things I have learned along the way.


  1. Don’t sweat the petty stuff.  Worrying about meal timing, exact macros, perfect micros or supplements is really only important to competitive athletes, professionals, and some medical conditions.  Figure out how to make it sustainable and forget the crazy diet tips in Cosmo or Men’s Health.
  2. Don’t pet the sweaty stuff.  Find an activity you love.  Getting started is hard enough, you shouldn’t have to suck it up and suffer through workouts.  Get out, have fun, profit.  Worry about adding in the necessary exercises after you’ve established a more active lifestyle.
  3. Form habits and the habits will form you.  Motivation comes and goes, but habits carry you through the tough times.
  4. Set goals!  You need short term and long term goals in life.  The short term gives you a constant sense of accomplishment, the long term give you a path to follow.  Set some really big goals.  You’re capable of more than you realize.
  5. Sometimes it’s better with friends.  I have seen friends fall in love with obstacle course races, lifting, yoga, and various other activities all because a friend decided to drag them along once.  There are so many great activities out there, so grab a friend and try them out.  You’ll have a community to lean on in the hard times and help you celebrate the good.
  6. Failure is not final.  Sometimes all you have at the end of the day is a quiet voice saying you’ll try again.  There were times I didn’t make progress for months, but I kept trying until I made it.  Don’t let someone’s rapid success discourage you, not all of us have that kind of discipline.
I started out at 217 pounds and barely able to walk up a flight of stairs.  I had no idea that I would accomplish as much as I have.  Just keep trying.  It might take you years to reach your goal (it did for me), but that time is going to pass anyway.


Failure isn't final

There are times when things just click.  Diet is easy and on point.  Workouts are going great.  Everything in life seems to be carrying us towards our goals.

There are also times when the world is falling around us and we are able to push through that.  We fight on through the struggles to keep our diet on track.  We overcome time constraints or exhaustion to get our workouts in.  

There are times where we fail.  We fail when it should be easy.  We fail when it gets hard.  Failure happens to almost everyone.  Momentary failures and even month long set backs don't mean we won't be successful.  We learn just as much through failure as we do through success.  Sometimes we have to keep trying and other times we need to adjust our methods.  

During my bulk I put on a lot more fat than I should have.  I struggled with binge eating still and I didn't want to cut if I couldn't control it.  I put aside my desire for a lean body in favor of fixing real problems.  Life happened and I stopped making it to the gym.  Getting back into eating appropriately for my goals plus lifting was very difficult. 

I don't want people to think that I am 100% disciplined because it isn't true.  I struggle just like everyone else.  My life doesn't revolve around fitness and sometimes I sleep in instead of going to the gym.  There are times where I ditch my meal plan in favor of just enjoying food without worrying about calories or macros.  I don't believe in trying to be perfect, just trying to do a bit better and maintain balance.  

Don't be so hard on yourselves!  Take failures as the opportunity to learn and keep an open mind when you ask for help.

I could tell you

I could tell you exactly how to lose 10 pounds.  That's what this site is for.  The exchange of fitness and nutrition information to help us make improvements.  Many of us seek improvement in the form of weight loss when we first get here.  I can help people do that and I enjoy watching people succeed.

I could also help you find ways to be proud of yourself as you currently are and ways to see yourself differently.  That is where the real change happens.  You could lose 10 pounds and still not be happy, but make internal changes and you will see things for the better.

I have made myself vulnerable over the years.  I've posted about almost all of my "flaws" (cellulite, loose skin, stretch marks) and my struggles (binge eating, body dysmorphia, depression, anxiety).  I think sharing these things is important to show that success doesn't look perfect along the way.  I won't pretend that I am perfect, because showing that I still struggle can give people hope that their struggles won't keep them from success.
  • Tell yourself that you are good enough.  
  • You don't have to believe that you will succeed, you just have to keep trying.
  • Stop beating yourself up. 

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires

Life happens.  Something comes up and our progress gets put on the back burner, then we forget about it.  We make excuses and find other things that we need to do instead.  Soon the spark of complacency turns into a wildfire of laziness.

You might be able to contain that fire to one area.  Maybe you stop doing workouts, but you still log your food.  Maybe you stop caring about your intake and maintain your exercise.  Sometimes that fire is out of control and you don’t bother trying to contain it.

One day the heat from the fire starts to burn things that are important to you.  The scale reaches an uncomfortable number, your clothes stop fitting, you start feeling sluggish, or you are out of breath doing something that used to be easy.  At this point the damage is done and ignoring the fire is a new habit.  It’s now time to stop ignoring the fire, put it out and plant new life among the charred remains.

The beautiful thing about regrowth is that life takes hold quickly.  The habits are already there, they are just dormant.  The hardest part is simply putting out the flames and giving up the excuses. 



Recently I went on a vacation that covered a period of 10 days.  During my long vacation I managed to lose a few pounds.  It wasn't my goal to lose weight, but I did focus on making better choices than I traditionally do.  I wanted to take a minute to talk about the choices I made that helped me stay on track.

Relax!  Vacation is the time to get away from the normal stressors in life.  Taking kids on vacation isn’t the most relaxing experience in the world, but I let go of control for a while and focused on enjoying the time away.  I didn’t drag them to things I wanted to do, I let them help pick our activities and we all ended up happy.  Reduced stress levels helped make sure that my body had time to lower my cortisol, just in case it happened to be elevated.


Getting active.  My favorite thing to do on vacation is be a sloth.  There are very few times where we have an excuse to just lay around and do nothing.  During vacation I got up at a fairly normal time to go to the fitness center at the hotel for a 20 minute workout before my kids woke up  It was some “me time” and set the tone for an active day playing with my kids.  We went swimming several times a day, so I found ways to use the water play as a workout.  Throwing kids, running while towing them, swimming laps, treading water, and even water aerobics didn't take away from the fun while adding a bit of fitness in.


Food is my friend.  I went into this vacation with two goals when it comes to food: eat foods that are filling and foods that are yummy.  I took my breakfast sandwich machine with me for a simple and filling breakfast without having to go out to eat.  We ate several meals out at places that we really wanted to go and I picked my food by what I really wanted that would be filling.  We also had the ability to grill, so I had chicken and vegetables fairly often.  I didn’t stress about how many calories I was eating, I focused on picking things that would keep me full and not snack just because there were snacks available.  Yes, I had it lucky that we had a grill and a fridge.


Vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing.  We shouldn’t stress about food or exercise, but if we have worked to make those things habits it will naturally happen even on vacation.  Vacations add up to a small portion of the year (unless you travel for work), so have fun and be reasonable.  Don’t make yourself and your family miserable worrying about every bite of food.  If you don’t go wild eating everything you can get your hands on you will stay on track. 

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