Aug 13

Don’t Over-Analyze Things!


Do you over-analyze and over-process everything?

Sometimes the most effective programs are the simplest programs.  People think complex equals more effective.  Most of the time more complex is just that…more complex!  We have a natural tendency to think more is better, bigger is better, more expensive is better…when in reality, smarter is better.  You don’t have to have a bio-chemical degree in the sciences to learn this game.  All you have to do is be willing to incorporate a few simple concepts in your life.

I picked up a new client yesterday.  Very nice lady.  Only one problem…she over-analyzes everything.  Not a complaint, mind you – just an observation.  That’s where my blogs and articles come from…observations over a 30+ year career.  There’s nothing magical or mysterious about what it takes to get in shape and STAY in shape.  You eat the right foods at the right times in the right amounts, you do cardio of sufficient frequency, intensity, and time, and you lift weights to stimulate muscular growth.  Pretty simple, huh?  Now I’ll be the first to admit that the APPLICATION of the previous sentence can be extremely difficult, but the concept is extremely simple – eat right, do cardio, lift weights.

The trick is to figure out your SWAG – Scientific Wild-A$$ed Guess.  SWAG is a term I learned in school by my Exercise Science professor, Dr. Evans.  The Science says we do something that has been shown through research to work.  The WAG is the educated guess – the art-form, if you will, of whether it will work for YOU.  For example, we need to eat proteins, carbohydrates, and fats – that’s the science.  The art-form, or WAG, is to figure out how much and in what ratios for each individual.  As much as we’re all human and alike, we’re all unique biochemical individuals.  This means that what works for me won’t necessarily work for you.  Easy, huh?  That’s why a cookie-cutter program is bound to fail for many people because only those individuals within the proper ratios of that program will achieve success.  All the others will either gain weight or not lose weight (and by weight I mean fat).

Back to my client.  Her goal was simple – to lose the bodyfat (BF) she’d gained over the previous couple of years.  I did a 9-site skinfold body composition on her and determined that she was mid-30% BF.  She thought she was mid-20’s but I could see she wasn’t just by looking at her.  She had about 35 lbs of bodyfat to lose.  More importantly, she was under-muscled by almost 20 lbs according to what I’d learned about how much lean body mass (LBM) males and females should have (in general, of course).  I explained that she was considered a ‘skinny-fat’ – a term associated with individuals who, with clothes on, don’t look like they need to lose anything.  In fact, they can actually look really good in clothes and a comment they’ll frequently hear is “What are you talking about needing to lose weight?  You look great!”  But take those clothes off and it’s ‘Ooooohhhh BABY…now I see what you’re talking about!”  The clothes ‘keep it all in’, and when the clothes come off, as Dolly Parton says, “There’s saggin’, baggin,’ and draggin’ takin’ place.”  Our conversation went something like this…

Me:  “So how can I help you?”

Her:  “Well, I need a good diet to help me lose all of this bodyfat.”

“Okay.  Well, the first thing you need to understand from me is that I don’t do diets.  I build lifestyle eating plans.”

“Oh, I know.  And I want that, but I need something to help me lose this bodyfat quickly.”

“Okaaaay…well, as I said, I don’t do diets as they signify deprivation.  The goal is to build a sound plan that you’ll be able to follow and maintain the rest of your life.”

“Well, can you give me your best plan that’ll help me lose this bodyfat quickly?”

I’m looking at her with a puzzled look now.  “I don’t have a best plan…I only have one plan that I’ve been using for over 30 years for thousands of individuals.  I modify it slightly based upon each person’s needs and activity level but there’s nothing magical about it.  For those that follow it they get great results.  For those that don’t follow it, they don’t get results.”

“Oh I know.  But I also know that there are so many diets out there and I’m just trying to find the right one that will work for me.  I really want to get this weight off fast.”

“Well if that’s what you’re looking for, then just quit eating.  You’ll lose weight quickly for a week or so, and then, when you start eating all of your normal foods again – and you will – you’ll gain it all back with a vengeance.  Why would you want to do that?”

“Oh, I don’t want to do that!  I want to keep it off.  But I need to get it off quickly.”

“Okay…let me explain how my program works…”, and I proceeded to explain to her the science and art-form of fat loss and muscle gain.  That was round one.  Round two follows…

Her:  “So here’s what I’m looking for…the best program that will help me get this weight off as quickly as possible.  Will yours do that?”


Me:  Big breath and sigh…  “As I said, my program is designed to help you lose 1-2 lbs of bodyfat a week.  Anything more than that will probably be water and muscle”.

“Well I’m on Weight-Watchers now and it’s not working.  I don’t know why.”

“Are you following it?”

“Ummm…I’m trying to.  I usually don’t eat everything they say I should eat.  I mean, I like their plan because it’s easy but I’m getting fatter and I’m not getting the results I want so I thought I needed to change their diet.”

“So you’re not following it and you’re wondering why it’s not working.  And if I write up a plan for you, how do I know you’ll follow mine?  There’s nothing wrong with Weight-Watchers – it’s just not built for the activity I recommend such as lifting weights and doing cardio.”

“Well, that’s another question…can I just do cardio and not lift and still lose weight?  I don’t want to get all big and bulky like you.”

“First off, I’m not ‘big and bulky’.  Second, you’re female and I’m male – you’re not programmed to build muscle like a man.  Finally, let me ask you something.  If I played golf a couple of days a week for 45 minutes or so, what are my chances of being as good as Tiger Woods?”


“Exactly!  So why would you believe that lifting weights for general fitness and doing about 30-60 minutes of cardio a day would have you looking like the professional female bodybuilders who make that their career, use drugs, and are genetically gifted and programmed to build muscle easily?”

“So I won’t get all big and bulky?  Because I don’t want that look.”

“Okay…slow down a bit.  If you lift weights to build the muscle and DO NOT lose the bodyfat, then yes, you’ll be ‘bulky’.  You’ll have built good shapely muscle underneath that ugly layer of bodyfat.  That’s why we make it a comprehensive program of lifting, cardio, and nutrition – to maximize your muscle-building and maximize your fat-loss.  Look at it this way…you’ve got a beautiful set of silk sheets on your bed. You invite your girlfriend over to look at them.  You guys go into the bedroom and you proudly point and say, ‘Aren’t they beautiful?  Aren’t my silk sheets just beautiful?  So pretty and shapely…’ and your friend responds, ‘But all I see is that ugly comforter.  I don’t see the sheets…’  To which you reply, ‘Oh, they’re there.  They’re just under the comforter’.  She comes back, ‘Well, take the comforter off so I can see the sheets’ and starts to reach for them.  You slap her hand and snap, ‘Leave my comforter alone.  I’ll remove it when I want, if I want.  Just know that the silk sheets are under there’.  Your muscles are the silk sheets and your bodyfat is the comforter.  Remove the ugly, bulky bodyfat and you’ll see the thin, shapely muscle.”

I could go on and on and on about our conversation – over 4 hours of consultation!  I literally had to say, “I’m done!  I’ve had enough for today.  You’re more than welcome to reschedule for another consult but I’m hungry now and it’s past my feeding time”.  So what was the outcome of our conversation?  Well, I did a body comp and wrote out a food plan based upon her numbers.  Again, nothing magical.  Protein at about 1 gm/lb BW.  Carbs at a 1-to-1 ratio right now as she was grossly under-eating previously even doing Weight Watchers.  I told her to check-in in one week and let me see the effects of the plan.  If things were good, we’d go another week.  The biggest thing I needed her to understand was that I needed a week’s worth of compliance before I could determine my next course-of-action.  I explained to her that I could not change or fix what she has not followed.  That was the end of round two.  Round three came in the form of an email a couple of days later to which I responded.  It went as follows…

Q:  I do have some questions now with the meal plan .  Since I cannot do cardio right now, the meal plan has a lot of food on it and a lot of carbs.  Wonder if it should be modified?

A:  The meal plan does not have a lot of food on it – it simply has more food than you’re accustomed to eating.  We need to build your metabolism to start the fat-burning process.  We won’t change anything for at least one week – probably two.  You don’t want to change horses in the middle of the stream.  You have to give the program a chance to see if it’s working or not.  Remember, you’re extremely under-muscled, and if we cut calories you’ll simply remain that way and inhibit your fat-burning.  Let the program run its course for a week or two, and then we’ll do a follow-up comp and see where you’re at.

Q:  How many calories should I be eating (remember, I’m short)?   I really want to make some progress and get rid of this fat.  I also have a vacation the end of [summer] that I would really like to be down in weight! (10lbs) !?  Should I have more of a precise meal plan with the percentages of protein etc.  Since I am so short, calories and how much I eat does make a difference.

A:  I don’t count calories – I go off of amounts, such as Gms of proteins, carbs, and fats.  It’s extremely precise.  For example, for some meals you have 3 oz of protein, 3 oz of carbs, and 5 oz of veggies.  That’s an exact amount.  That’s why I don’t go off of pieces and cups – there’s no exact amount to a cup of veggies or a piece of fruit.  If I say have a cup of broccoli, do you pack it tight or loose?  Do you have a small apple or a large banana?  But if I say eat 3 oz of broccoli, it doesn’t matter how big the spears are.  3 oz is 3 oz.  You’ve got a good plan.  It’s customized for you, your age, activity level, height, etc.  But there are variables that still may factor into play.  I won’t know that until I do that first follow-up comp to see the effects of this plan.  What I need from you is to follow the plan so I can see what’s working and what isn’t.  Then I’ll know where to go and how to proceed.  If you’re dialed in correctly, you’ll lose somewhere between 1-2 lbs of bodyfat/week.  Anything more than that will probably be water and muscle – not a good trade-off for quick, rapid weight loss.

Q:  What do you think would be the best cardio for me to do when I am able to burn all this fat off?

A:  The best cardio is the cardio you like to do and will do for the period of time that’s necessary to reach your goal.  It doesn’t matter which cardio you do.  Variety does not burn bodyfat – intensity does.  So whatever cardio you like to do and will do for the period of time necessary to burn the fat is what I recommend.  Feel free to cross-train if you’re one that gets bored easily.  Don’t do cardio that you don’t like to do or can’t do simply because you heard or read that it’s ‘better’ than another form.  It’ll simply hurt you or you’ll hate doing it and quit.  Remember, intensity, not variety, burns BF.

Please understand this blog is not to criticize the individual who hired me.  I shared this with you so that if you see yourself in this individual, you’ll understand the frustrations of trainers sometimes.  When you hire someone to train you and get you in shape, you need to understand that they can’t do anything for you if you don’t follow the program.  You MUST follow the plan – any plan – for me or anyone else to see the effects of our work.  Only then can we modify and attempt to correct the problem.  And it would be oh-so-helpful if you wouldn’t over-analyze things.  Don’t make things any more difficult than they need to be.  Don’t make the proverbial mountain out of a molehill.  Getting in shape really is simple.  Oh…one other thing…all diets/food plans work, and all diets/food plans fail!  They work as long as you’re following them, and as soon as you stop, they begin to fail.  Even mine!  Peace…

The Dr.






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