5 Dieting Lifesavers for Your Summer Cut

Those of us that live in cold weather climates have to come to grips with the fact that summer is coming.  Every year we have a few warm temperature outlier days in January and February, but highs in the 50’s and 60’s are becoming more consistent so it’s time to get down to business.  I am a firm believer in starting a summer diet in mid to late February and concluding it in May.  At that point, we can use the summer months to maintain or even grow. Let’s face it, pool parties and boardwalk vendors don’t serve tilapia and vegetables.  But if we are ahead of the game, this won’t be a concern.  Planning your diet in this manner actually provides a nice opportunity to enjoy some calorie dense foods without the guilt.  Nothing better than showing off shredded abs while chowing down on a funnel cake.

A proper cutting program allows us to lose fat at a steady rate without sacrificing our hard earned muscle mass.  While it may not be as rigid as a contest prep diet, it still requires dedication and willpower to eat below your calorie maintenance levels.  In conjunction with weight training and cardio, this puts quite a strain on your mental and physical health.  However, scarcity in food choices and diminishing carb intake doesn’t mean you have to suffer all the time.  Here are five dieting lifesavers everyone should use for their summer cut:

 

1. For the love of god, please use a food scale

Imagine having the perfect gameplan for an opponent and leaving your quarterback at the team hotel.  Strategy means nothing if it can’t be executed properly.  I liken this to calculating exactly how many grams of protein, carbs, and fat you should be eating… and then eyeballing the amounts when it comes time to cook.  Why go through all of that trouble only to take a shortcut at the very end.  The unfortunate thing is that some people have the right intentions of eating certain foods and restricting their calories only to yield zero results.  I can’t stand when I see so-called diet gurus say things like ‘eat a fist full of meat and cover half your plate with vegetables.’  That stuff makes me cringe.  Take out a food scale and measure the amounts.  It takes two seconds and removes the guesswork  from dieting.

walden_farms_sauces2. ‘Certain’ Walden Farms Dressings

I must preface this by saying that some of the Walden Farms products are… bad.  No two ways about it, some of them are just awful.  But some are great as well, hence why they are on this list.  All of their sauces and dressings contain zero calories, and are flavored using artificial sweeteners.  You would think a product with no calories must be loaded with sweeteners, but it appears that they only use sucralose.  If sodium is a concern then it would be a good idea to monitor how much you’re using, otherwise go nuts.  They have quite a variety of products, so I wanted to highlight what (in my opinion obviously) are the best and worst of the bunch.

Awesome

  • Super Fruits Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Pear and White Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • All of the syrups
  • Strawberry Fruit Spread (has a jello like consistency so it can be hard to spread)

Decent

  • All of the barbecue sauces (I found I got sick of them quickly though)

Stay away

  • Peanut Spread
  • Pasta Sauces

3. High Intensity Interval Cardio

Hear me out on this one, because this is not here for the reason you may think.  High intensity interval training is widely regarded as the best method of cardio for fat loss, but that’s not why it made the list.  This may be anecdotal, but for me after a resistance training workout I want to eat everything in sight.  After fifteen minutes of intervals, I don’t even want to think about food.  No cravings when your lungs are burning and stomach turning.

4. Yohimbine

Yohimbine is a ingredient sold as a standalone product and is also found in many fat burning supplements.  It is great for appetite suppression and won’t break the bank if you buy it on its own.  A word of caution, not everyone is comfortable taking yohimbine.  Some report feeling anxious and uncomfortable while taking it.

5. Vegetable Variety

Check out this video of bodybuilder Evan Centopani cooking breakfast.  He uses a wide variety of vegetables, some of which you may have never tried before.  Broccoli and string beans get boring, but cooking with different vegetables and spices can really enhance the flavor of a meal.  The key when dieting is to make meals that taste good and are satiating.  Vegetables won’t cost you many calories and fill you up at the same time.  Expand your arsenal and experiment with new vegetable combos in your meals.

Why You Should Be Grateful to Live in the Millennial Era

The Millennial generation is classified as anyone born from 1980-2000, which means that this generation is reaching adulthood and starting to run the country.  As a Millennial myself (born 1988), I can easily say that the development of technology is the prominent characteristic that defines this era.  From this point forward, any time I refer to Millennials it will be a generalization, so don’t act uptight thinking I’m addressing you personally.  With regard to technology, we’ve actually reached a point where texting a new friend and seeing a response highlighted in green annoys us.  ‘What, you don’t have an iPhone?!’  If an app takes more than three seconds to load, instant frustration.  While it’s fun to make a joke about it, there are consequences to this behavior.

Millennials are considered to be impatient and entitled.  Life is thought to be about balance; once the clock hits 5pm it’s time to jet out of work and party.  Overtime and work ethic are scarce, a Millenial may not even know what the phrase ‘burning the midnight oil’ means.  But interestingly enough ambition is not scarce.  This is where entitlement comes into play.  Millennials have goals, but few are willingly to do the work required to reach them.  They are content to sit back and wait for their big break or luck.  As professional wrestler turned mixed martial artist CM Punk once said, “luck is for losers.”

This is a fitness website after all, so allow me to draw a parallel to the gym.  I literally get visibly angry and have to hold back tearing into someone when I see them on their phone between sets.  One day it will happen… that will be interesting.  You can’t put your phone away for one fucking hour and focus on one task?  A task that is supposedly important to you?  I know it is because I see you here every day and yet you look the same.  There is no way you can text your friend discussing what shitty dive bar you’re going to that night and be 100% mentally and physically invested in your next set.  And you wonder why you’re not making progress.

The title of this article explains why one should be grateful to live in this era, yet all I’ve done is outline the negative aspects of it.  How could living in an era of entitlement and participation trophies be a good thing?  Simple, all this means is that your competition is weak-minded.  If you have the work ethic, mindset, and killer instinct to reach an ambitious goal, there is no reason you shouldn’t.  I’m not saying it will be easy because it won’t.  But your competition is shit.  They don’t have the drive or determination.  They are… content.  What a horrible word.  If you so desire, join me in this journey as we step on the Millennial insects on our way to the top.  It is easy to become a reflection of our environment.  Don’t you dare be afraid to turn down an invite out if it interferes with your goals.  Earn that night out, only you truly know if you deserve it.

5 Reasons Crossfit Gets a Bad Rep, Written by a Non-Crossfitter

 

Crossfit is not a fad, because fads eventually go away.  The Crossfit Games are broadcast on ESPN and boxes are springing up around the country.  In other words, it is here to stay.  It is the most polarizing form of fitness ever; most people either love it or despise it.  Personally, I don’t fall on either side of the spectrum.  I believe it has both good and bad elements, but for the purpose of this article I will defend the Crossfit community.  Here are five reasons Crossfit gets a bad rep, written by a non-crossfitter:

 

1. It is not designed for beginners, yet many beginner lifters do it

The dropout rate for CrossFit is very high, meaning that people who start a CrossFit routine are likely to quit within a few weeks or months.  The reason?  Injuries.  A beginner looking to get in shape is going to want to do the hot, new, popular craze in the fitness world.  The issue with CrossFit is twofold.  One: the workouts are way too intense for a beginner.  Two: the lifts are way too advanced for a beginner.  Hell, I’m a trainer and admit that I haven’t yet mastered certain Olympic lifts.  You think a person who’s been on their couch for the past five years is going to walk into a box and perform a snatch properly?

 

2.  Bad form is inevitable given the style of CrossFit workouts

CrossFit is a combination of high intensity interval training, circuit training, bodyweight exercises, and olympic lifts.  As mentioned previously, olympic lifts are advanced movements.  They require not only strength, but technique and coordination as well.  I don’t care who you are, that clean and jerk is not going to look pretty after a 400 meter sprint.

 

3. The bodybuilding community is threatened by them

Time to let you guys in on a little secret: if you perform hard workouts… you get in shape.  Crazy concept right?  CrossFit goes against the fundamentals of bodybuilding, which stress proper form, tension, and slow controlled movements.  But take a look at some of these crossfitters and it’s pretty obvious that they look incredible from an aesthetics perspective.  A hardcore bodybuilder will naturally feel a little threatened when they see someone get in shape by essentially doing the exact opposite of what they’re doing.

 

4. There is a cult mentality among some Crossfitters

Whereas bodybuilders may feel threatened, crossfitters will get quite defensive if you question their workout style.  Don’t jump down my throat now, obviously this doesn’t apply to EVERY crossfitter. But I don’t think it’s outrageous to say that there is a bit of an elitist mentality with certain members of the CrossFit community.  Honestly, I don’t have much of a problem with this.  You should be proud of what you do, especially if you truly believe in the efficacy of the program.  The key is confidence, not arrogance.

5. Kipping Pullups

Can we just rename this so people can shut up about it?  They’re not traditional pull ups, nor are they supposed to be traditional pull ups.

Sean Felenczak, CSCS