I’ve thought long and hard about this numerous times. Everyone knows the Internet doesn’t “lend and hand” to the option of testing.
Everything is already out there for you to grab with a click of your mouse. You want a diet to try out? You’ve heard about IF so you go and check out Martin Berkhan. You want a strength program? You go and check out Stronglifts.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty let me first off make one point clear. If you have hired a coach, you have given up a certain degree of freedom. This means you should trust him or her to have your best interest in mind, and testing becomes less of an issue. Still, if you have a good relationship with your coach and are interested in trying something out, you should feel free to run it by him or her to see what their thoughts are, perhaps it’ll be something you can implement.
Now, I want to separate this issue into two simple subjects: nutrition and resistance training. I’m splitting this post in two parts, so stay tuned for my bit on resistance training next week.
The issue of nutrition is always somewhat comical for those looking to do it themselves. You usually tend to get two main types of people:
- The dogmatic dude
- The trendy hipster
Let’s cover both of these, as they are kind of two ends of a spectrum:
When I mean dogmatic I am talking about always sticking to your guns and being closed minded.
You know whom I mean. The 40-year-old bodybuilder, who still eats 6x/day, still thinks low fat diets reign supreme, and loathes everything that’s not HIT.
We get it dude, you’re stuck in your ways.
Even though pretty much everything you have done has been debunked, you just keep on rocking on. The issue comes into play when he begins having some cognitive dissonance. Does he need to eat 6x/day even though he feels crap doing it and feels like he has a second job because preparing food takes so much damn time?
This is where experimentation and testing where n=1 comes into play. But will he be too scared to test? Will the thought of losing 20+ years of hard plus gains be too much to handle because he’s thinking of decreasing his meals to only 4x/day and hitting each body part more often than once per 9 days?
When I mention the trendy hipster, I mean the dude or girl, who tries IF for a month, then is Paleo for a month, and then does a juice fast for a week, followed by some new horseshit that Dr. Oz is peddling. You get the idea…
This is the lady, or gentleman who looks like they’ve done crossfit for the past 5 years. Which is to say they don’t look like they’ve stepped in a gym (u mad?). They never make much progress in terms of body composition. Even in strength they won’t make much if any progress (we’ll be going over this next post).
They hop around so god damned much that they simply can’t make any progress. There is something to be said for an individual who puts their head down and just grinds away at IIFYM, or changing habits on a regular basis. These things take time.
I have clients don’t have a lot of experience tracking macros. They will report to me after the first week and be upset because they were under their carb target by 16 grams… I tell them not to worry about it. Seriously, it will get better. You just need to practice.
What I’m trying to say is the trendy prick simply doesn’t improve his abilities at developing a calorie or food awareness. If you don’t develop one or either of those qualities you will be constantly spinning your wheels. Jumping on the newest fad will be a catalyst for wheel spinning.
I would prefer people to find a medium between the two. The scientific circle jerk community tends to actually be closer to the trendy end of the spectrum because there is always new research being released, which may or may not end up having any utility. So being “cutting edge” can still make you a trendy hipster.
I think that both ends of the spectrum can actually learn from each other. Let’s go over what they can draw from each other to become testers in a more productive manner.
If you can identify with the either of the descriptions above you know what category you may be in. I try not to be a categorical thinker (hence the spectrum) but in this case try and pick and choose what bullet points will offer the most value to the issues you are having.
- Being skeptical is awesome, and I tend to be the same way. However you need to keep an eye on what others are doing to see what is working.
- Once you begin to research a new idea, understand if it would fit your lifestyle. Some people get migraines from fasting for too long, this means it’s a simple call to skip it.
Keep reading and attempt to stay up to date with new research even if it’s only in its infancy. It could end up being a game changer (but more than likely will be the next bullshit you see on Dr. Oz)
- If there is something you have been doing for years but simply don’t enjoy anymore, research alternatives. Reducing meal frequency is a huge one. Or eliminating a food that bores that hell out of you.
- Looking at history can be smart for these types. People 50+ years ago were stronger and more jacked than you. Look at what they did before the Paleo evolution started and learn something from the past
- Not everything new has to be tested
- If you find something you like and it’s working, grind it out for a while like dogmatic dude and get better at that area (maybe that’s eating less protein, or some crazy idea like that)
- If you aren’t making any progress, find a diet or philosophy that works for you and stick to it until you begin to understand why it works
- Sometimes taking a break from reading all your favourite blogs is a good idea. It allows your mind to wander on it’s own and not be influenced by other people.
Tests You Can Run Today
- Change meal frequency
- Change portion sizes
- Add/subtract fasting
- Try IIFYM
- Take a step back from IIFYM and work on single habits like protein intake, eating more veggies at every meal, begin cutting down calorie containing beverages. For bulkers: eat a tonne of trail mix, add fats to your all your meals. The possibilities here are endless
- If you’ve been doing IIFYM and only eating boring rabbit food and animal flesh. Try adding some crappy carbs that everyone loves. Breakfast cereals, every You Tubers favourite: pop tarts (I find these to taste like cardboard mixed with horseshit). You may be surprised by how a lack in any negative effects on your body composition and performance
These are just a few simple tests you can begin right away. Don’t even read about it, just dive in head first to something you’ve wanted to try. It’ll provide a great change and will hopefully make your life simpler while maximizing your gains. After you give it at least 2 months trial then please feel free to argue about it on the internet.