Author Archives: The Keen Physique

DIYDS Fundamental #2: Measure Your Progress

Still Fat

Still Fat

 

Welcome to DIYDS Fundamental #2: Measure Your Progress.

So you’ve figured out where you are. Nice.

And you’ve decided exactly where you’d like to go. Strong work!

Now here’s the next step. As you begin along your path and as you continue your journey, you will require frequent and accurate feedback about how you’re doing. Without these “road signs” along the way, you will have no way of knowing if you’re still on the right track.

The purpose of this feedback is to alert you when you’ve deviated from your chosen path. Once you’ve received the feedback, you can correct your course and continue on your way. This is how any guided system works.

Forward Progress–>Deviation–>Correction–>Forward Progress–>Deviation–>Correction and so on and so on until –> Arrival. Easy enough, right?

You go, you mess up, you get back on track and go until you mess up again, then get back on track. Repeat as necessary until you reach your destination. Note here that the deviations are expected and unavoidable, not demoralizing and defeating.

SPOILER ALERT: You’re going to mess up along your way. Badly. You’re supposed to. The proper response to any deviation is to get back on track. Then you’re back. That’s it. No drama, no worrying, and no self-doubt allowed. A deviation is followed by a correction and that’s the end of it. Your eventual arrival is never, ever in doubt.

Now imagine your journey without this valuable feedback. You could deviate off course (and you will, remember?) and not know it. Then when you eventually became aware of how far you’d strayed—far past the point at which the course correction could have been quick and minor—you would become thoroughly disheartened at the effort that would then be required just to get back to where you were before!

How to Measure Physical Progress

First I’ll tell you how I do it, and then I’ll share some other ways that can also work.

The initial priority is that your chosen measurement of progress be reflected in a number. Not a feeling, not an image, but a number. I was this many, and now I’m this many. 

My preference is using a tape measure to measure the circumference at your navel, waist, and hips.

These are the curves you're looking for.

These are the curves you’re looking for.

This is where people accumulate the majority of their fat. Until you become lean, these numbers are very meaningful. That is, when they begin to drop, you can be pretty damn sure that your body is losing fat.

These measurements must be taken under the same conditions each time, otherwise there is no basis for comparison. For example, if you take a measurement first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, you can only compare that measurement to other measurements that were taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. That way, everything is the same except how fat you are, so a change in measurement means a change in fat. Eliminate as many variables as possible.

The second best way to measure your progress—if you’re averse to tape measures for some reason—is the size of your clothes. Ladies: if you go from a size 16 to a size 10, you know you’ve become smaller and have lost fat. Guys: if you go from a size 38 waist to a size 32, you know you’ve become smaller and have lost fat. Keep in mind that you often can’t compare across brands; Levi’s 38 jeans are a different waist size than Calvin Klein 38 jeans, for instance.

In practice, here’s how you do it. Go out and purchase a pair of pants that are one size too small for you. Attempt to put them on, and write down on a piece of paper how it went. “Couldn’t even get them up” could be one description, or “Got them up but couldn’t button them.” Whatever happens, write it down and mark the date.

Then, one week later, try them on again. Write down what happens. Think of this like a diary.

"Finally able to fit on standard area rug. Progress is encouraging. Penis still MIA."

“Finally able to fit on standard area rug. Progress is encouraging. Penis still MIA.”

You’ll eventually reach the day when you can fit into the “small” pants: SUCCESS! Congratulations. Are you the size you’d like to be? If not, go out and buy some pants that are one size too small and repeat the process. Over time, you will become smaller and smaller.

The third best way to measure progress is to count belt holes. As you gain new holes on your belt, and are required to pull it tighter and tighter to fit you, you can be sure that you’re getting smaller. It’s not as good as pants, but it gets the job done, and it’s better than the fourth option…

…which is weighing yourself. Your weight is obviously also a number, but unfortunately it doesn’t carry nearly as much, um, weight as the numbers we’ve already mentioned.

"See because it's like, 'weight' as an indicator of importance, but then it's also the scale thing too because you're fat."

“See because it’s like, ‘weight’ as an indicator of importance, but then it’s also the scale thing too because you’re fat.”

That is, the fact that your weight is going down or up does not mean that you are losing or gaining fat. It could mean that, but it could also mean about ten other things. Maybe it’s muscle gain/loss, hydration changes, monthly cycles, and on and on and on.

Comparing your weight now to your weight from before can only be meaningful over a long enough time span. The minimum time span for weight to be meaningful seems to be somewhere around one month. If you’re a different weight than you were two or three weeks ago, that doesn’t really mean anything. But if you weigh ten pounds less than you did last month or longer ago, that pretty well means that you lost some fat. Again, maybe you lost three pounds of fat and seven pounds of valuable muscle, but probably not, unless you’re really dieting wrong.

And There You Have It

So that’s the second thing to remember in order to Do It Your Damn Self.

First, figure out a Location and a Destination. Find out where you are and where you’re going.

Second, begin measuring your progress, or, “Establishing your new location at regular intervals along the journey.”

That’s all for now; stay tuned for Do It Your Damn Self Fundamental #3!

 

 

 

DIYDS Fundamental #1: Location + Destination

"Joey...do you like movies about gladiators?"
The first thing you see in GoogleMaps is the first thing you should figure out in real life.

The first thing you see in GoogleMaps is the first thing you should figure out in real life.

 

Welcome to DIY Fundamental #1: Location + Destination.

Just like any physical journey, your path from the body you have now to the body that you want involves a few fundamental things that you need to have and do in order to successfully arrive at your destination.

The first one is the simplest. You must know precisely where you are, and you must know precisely where you’re going. Without both of these, you’re lost before you’ve even begun.

If you were to visit the cockpit of any airplane while the plane was in flight and ask the pilot what the plane’s destination was, that pilot would be able to give you an immediate and precise answer. In fact, out of all the landing places possible on the entire goddamn planet, the pilot would be able to bring his estimate to within one hundred yards, and ten times out of ten he’ll get it right. And why? Because that pilot has his shit together, that’s why.

"Joey...do you like movies about gladiators?"

“Joey…do you like movies about gladiators?”

The fact is, no plane ever even leaves the gate without first having programmed a destination. Satellite information tells the pilots precisely where they are, and they establish precisely where they want to end up. Nothing else ever happens before these two things.

What’s the first thing a cab driver asks you when you get in (other than “where are your pants?”)?

How come your browser has an Address Bar across the top?

We could be here all day with questions like these, but you get my point: it is clearly counterproductive to begin any journey without a clear idea of where you are and where you are going.

What This Means For Your Physique Transformation

Step one is to determine where you are. However you’ve decided to track progress—methods for which we’ll cover in an upcoming Fundamental—you must begin doing it on Day One, and let that represent the “You Are Here” point. You can track progress with a scale, a tape measure, pairs of pants, belt holes, or a combination thereof, but whatever you choose, measure on Day One and write it down.

Step two is to determine where you’d like to be. This will most likely be an estimate; you can’t always know ahead of time what your numbers will look like when you have the physique you want. Again, whatever you’ve decided to use to track your progress, figure out the numbers you’d like to see and write them down.

And There You Have It

DIY Fundamental #1: Location + Destination. You have to know where you are to go somewhere else, and you have to know where you’re going to get there.

 

30 New Clients by January 1st

This is me for the next three weeks.
This is me for the next three weeks.

This is me for the next three weeks.

On my Facebook Page, I regularly post things that have to do not with fat loss or nutrition, but with motivation, goal setting, and achievement. The main ideas revolve around deciding what you want out of life, recognizing that your “limits” are all self-imposed, making great use of your time, and constantly seeking growth and progress.

Well an idea popped into my head the other day, and when ideas come out of nowhere I tend to give them more serious consideration than ideas I’ve thought long and hard about. The ideas that pop into our heads out of the blue are far more trustworthy and reliable because they have not yet been tainted by our biases, expectations, and boundaries. In other words, we can put them into action before we have a chance to think, “That would never work.”

The idea: 30 New Clients by January 1st. Unrealistic? I know! That’s how I know it’s a good goal. I have no idea exactly how to do it, and it’s a little scary.

I’m always talking about going after what you want; now it’s time to show everyone how to do it. Not to show everyone “how to get 30 new clients,” but to be an example of how to decide that you want something and then begin moving in the direction of that thing. The purpose is growth, or “growing into the type of person who has done that.”

So today it is December 13th, 2013. By January 1st, 2014, I will have received payment and begun working with 30 new Personal Consultation clients.

And you are going to help.

Check out that link you just passed for my Personal Consultations page. Think about it. Imagine how your life would transform if you had my personal daily guidance for 90 days. You would know exactly what to eat, exactly when to eat, exactly how to track your progress, and would get instant guidance on how to manipulate those variables based on that progress.

You’d be a different person physically, but what’s more, you’d be a different person emotionally and psychologically, with different habits and attitudes. And that’s how you establish a change that sticks. At the end of 90 days, you won’t be “the same person you are now, only with a better body.” You’ll change into a completely different person and your bodily improvement will be the end result of that personal change.

Check out that Personal Consultations page again. If you really want the changes you say you want, then hire me and prove it.

Some of you will get in touch to arrange a Consultation Period that starts on January 1st. That counts, and you’re helping.

Some of you can think of somebody right now who needs my help. Whether you get them the three-month Consultation as a Christmas gift or guide them towards hiring me on their own, that counts, and you’re helping as well.

The rest of you, just keep this post in the backs of your minds. In the coming weeks, you may hear someone talking about holiday weight gain. You may hear someone expressing confusion at the latest health headlines to hit the newsstands. You may hear someone bemoaning the fact that their New Year’s Resolutions never seem to work out. When you hear the overwhelmed frustration in their voices, think of how I can help.

Many of you will be hearing from me personally. Sorry to bother you.

30 New Clients by January 1st is where I’m headed. And you’re going to help me do it.

Just Some Joke #3

"Alcohol is the Devil. Woo-HOO!! I'm partying with the Devil!"
"Alcohol is the Devil. Woo-HOO!! I'm partying with the Devil!"

“Alcohol is the Devil. Woo-HOO!! I’m partying with the Devil!”

A guy is belly up to the bar at his local pub, really tying one on, when a shot goes down a little rough and he vomits a bit down the front of his shirt.

“God dammit,” he mumbles. Looking down at his ruined shirt, then up at the bartender, he continues, “Now I’m fucked. My wife is going to kill me. I’m not even supposed to be out tonight!”

“Hey, don’t sweat it, buddy,” the bartender replies, smiling and slipping a $20 bill in the guy’s shirt pocket. “Just tell your wife that you were walking past the bar on you way home, some old drunk stumbled out and vomited on you, and then felt so bad he gave you $20 to pay for the dry cleaning bill.”

Drunk Baby

The guy agrees that this is a genius idea, and orders another round with renewed vigor and lifted spirits (so to speak).

Hours later, after fumbling at the door with his keys, the guy finally finds his way into his house, where his wife is waiting at the foot of the stairs in her bathrobe. Immediately, she starts giving him the business, cursing him up and down, telling him what a lousy, no-good, two-bit sonofabitch he is, when she notices the vomit stain.

“And just look at that!” she yells, red-faced. “For a hopeless drunk, you can’t hold your booze for shit! Another shirt ruined, and all because you were out drinking!”

“Honey, HONEY!” He finally interrupts, holding his hands up in defense. Collecting himself, he explains that he wasn’t out drinking at all, and tells her all about the drunk vomiter and his generous apology, and the $20 bill.

Eyes narrowed, she notices two $20 bills in his shirt pocket.

“Well if that guy gave you $20 to pay for the cleaning, then how come there are two $20 bills in your shirt?!”

“Well, honey, you see, the guy, he ahhhh…” stammers the man, “…he crapped in my pants, too.”

Balance Requires Motion

Cool Story Bro
"OhShitOhShitOhShitOhShit..."

“OhShitOhShitOhShitOhShit…”

 

Nothing ever stays the same. Ever. Even things that appear to remain static are in motion, it’s just that the motion is too slow for us to discern. Some changes happen over thousands of years, some over several centuries, some over decades, others over a few years, others over a few months, weeks, days, moments…you get the idea.

Change is the only constant. The only thing that never changes is that everything changes.

Cool Story Bro

You’re probably thinking, “So what?” You’re doing it wrong, that’s what.

Think of all the areas in your life where you’re striving to keep things from changing or to get them to a place where they can then remain forever.

1) What weight do you want to get to? And then what? A 60-year plateau?

2) You want your cholesterol lower? How about zero? What then?

3) You want your spouse/significant other to stay just like they are? What, forever? Good luck with that.

4) Hey, nice work situation you’ve got there. You’re paying rent, putting away some savings, having a life outside of work…so…what now? This, but forever? Everything’s going great, let’s keep it the same, right?

Most people are living in such a way that if Odin himself came back down to Earth and granted them eternal life, they would hold the same jobs for centuries.

Think about that.

Think about that.

They’d hold the same comfortable job, do the same comfortable things, have the same comfortable friends, and lead the same comfortable life. The punchline here is that they would be absolutely miserable.

We all have an innate desire for growth. We all want to move ahead. We think it’s for money or prestige or whatever we happen to be focused on at the moment, but we’re actually moving forward for the purpose of growth itself. To live is to grow, and there are no two ways about it.

So how do we thrive? How do we grow? How do we avoid stagnation? How do we keep our balance?

Constant motion, that’s how. Balance requires motion.

If you don’t pedal your bike, you fall over. Yes, you’re upright. Yes, you’re finally on top of the bike. But if you don’t GO, you’ll fall.

Yes, you’re comfortable in your situation.

Yes, you’ve got most things just like you want them.

Hell, you may even have the next twenty years mapped out, you poor bastard.

But if you remain still, you will slowly succumb to stagnation, boredom, anxiety, malaise, and failure.

Change is the only constant. Growth and progress are your purposes. As good as you have things right now, your “arrival” at some destination can never be your final goal. There is no such thing as a “final goal,” because once you get there you’ll be able to see, from that new vantage point, an even greater possibility. So it never ends, thankfully. There is always more, always better, always forward.

So this is the real reason we strive for our goals. We don’t want to lose the weight just to lose the weight; we want to lose the weight because of how much we’ll grow by becoming the person who lost that weight. We don’t want to double our income just to have more money; we want to double our income because of how much we’ll grow by transforming into the person who makes that much. You get how this works?

Look at your life. What needs to change? Where have you stagnated? What is a situation where you “arrived” and then stopped moving forward?

You have a mind. You have an imagination. The beauty of these is that not only can you see things as they are now, but you can see things as they are not and change them.

You can change anything about yourself or your situation. The best time to start is last month. The next best time is Right Now.

 

Making The Bed While The House Is On Fire

They're not the same thing.

A man is abruptly yanked from sleep one night by a loud noise. Gathering his wits about him, he realizes that he smells smoke and can hear the telltale crackling of a fire. Looking out the window, he learns that at least one room downstairs is belching smoke, and consumed by a fire that’s on its way up. He calls 911 and then races into the hallway. In a panic, he bursts into his young son’s room, intent on throwing the boy over his shoulder and escaping the blaze.

His panic turns to alarmed befuddlement, though, as he enters his son’s room to find him diligently and meticulously making his bed

Dad Drinks

An expression that I’ve become fond of is “making the bed while the house is on fire.” Akin to “polishing the brass on the Titanic,” it refers to the situation that exists when a person has completely ignored the clear and obvious priority and is instead conscientiously attending to some small, irrelevant bit of minutiae.

In the realms of health and fitness, this is discouragingly prevalent. Big, fat fires burn bright while every fitness magazine, supplement company, and athletic apparel manufacturer makes money on bed spreads, tuck technique, and pillow composition and arrangement.

The following are examples of Making The Bed While The House Is On Fire; if this is you, you need to get your shit together.

  • “Is Aspartame safe? I heard it was bad, so I’ve been using Splenda. Or, wait, I think it was Xylitol.”
  • “Is _____ Paleo?”
  • “I got this kind of salsa, because it doesn’t have HFCS.”
  • “I always make sure to get the organic ____ instead of the regular kind.”
  • “I’m still eating the same way, but I’ve started Insanity/P90X/TurboFire/Zumba/Similar Nonsense.”
  • “Okay, I’ve had ____ calories today and I’ve got ____ left.”

Here’s where it gets confusing. It’s true that Aspartame is probably not a good idea, Paleo is a huge step in the right direction for most people, HFCS is uniquely fattening, organic foods are usually better for us, bodily movement in addition to exercise does have measurable benefits, and calorie counting does have a place for figure and bodybuilding competitors and those who need to crash diet to make weight for something.

But!

 

 

The time to worry about those minor details is after some priorities are checked off.

Realize that for the vast majority of people, fat loss is the priority. Fat loss, and that’s it for now. Once you fit into the pants you’d like to fit into, it will then be time to worry about all this other non-sense. Here’s what I mean:

Client: “No nuts?! But I thought nuts were healthy!”

Me: “Nuts are perfectly natural and healthy. They contain natural fats, some good fiber, and plenty of phytonutrients. Also, they can keep you from losing fat. Remember that fat loss is the priority. To reiterate: nuts are very healthy and can keep you from losing fat. If fat loss is the priority, there’s no good reason to include nuts. Once you’re the size you want to be, you can add nuts back in if you like.”

Client: “No fruit?! But I thought fruit was healthy!”

Me: “Fruit is perfectly natural and healthy, and can also keep you from losing fat. If fat loss is the priority, there’s no good reason to include fruits. Once you’re the size you want to be, you can add fruit back in if you like.”

Client: “No direct ab work?! But I thought it was important to strengthen your core!”

Me: “Direct work for your core is a waste of time for you, because your only priority is fat loss, and abdominal exercises have no fat loss benefit. While not dangerous, abdominal work will waste time that could have been spent perfecting the things that actually matter for fat loss. Once you’re the size you want to be, you can add abdominal exercises into your routine if you like.”

Client: “I’ve started buying quinoa noodles because there’s no flour, gluten-free muffins, Triscuits that are whole-grain instead of regular, oatmeal from steel-cut oats instead of instant, and the orange juice with more pulp because it’s higher in fiber.”

Me: “You’re going to be the healthiest fat guy in town.”

Client: “Mercola blah blah Dr. Oz buh-blah blah Men’s Health b-b-blah blah blah Prevention Magazine, and I heard that blah blah blah.

Me: *Vomits gently*

Health vs. Fat Loss

They're not the same thing.

They’re not the same thing.

There are things that are healthy and can keep you from losing fat.

There are things that can cause fat loss and are not good for you.

The idea here is to be right in the middle; right in the “healthy fat loss” zone. Both are necessary, and neither is sufficient.

What’s Better?

Eating organic, wild-caught, grass-fed food or losing three inches off of your waist?

Avoiding HFCS or dropping four pants sizes?

Getting the good probiotics in your organic yogurt or eliminating twenty pounds of fat tissue?

Whatever it is you’re eating may very well be healthy, but it is not nearly as healthy as fat loss would be. Another way to say that is: The benefits of having less fat in your body far outweigh (see what I did there?) any benefits that can be had by eating more antioxidants, “detox”-ing, eating organic, avoiding gluten, eating more alkaline foods, and on and on and on.

If you make fat loss the priority, you will become much, much healthier in the process of losing that fat.

If you make health the priority and clean up your diet while remaining fat, you are making the bed while the house is on fire. Yes, your bed was unmade, and kudos to you for fixing it, but your fucking house is on fire.

First…

…get regular-sized. First, get to the pants size you want to be. First, get smaller. These are the priorities. Accomplishing these will give you a health benefit that far surpasses any other intervention you could undertake.

Then…

…shop at Whole Foods if you want. Then eat more antioxidants if you want. Then buy some wild-caught fish if you want. Then buy the salsa without the HFCS if you want. Then do some crunches if you want. Then make sure everything you eat is Paleo-approved if you want. Then include modern, processed foods “in moderation” if you want. 

You get it.

“So How Do We Lose Fat?”

I thought you’d never ask. First, I’d prefer that you Educate Yourself. Read that shit, and you’ll know how to make fat loss a priority.

If you’re not into that, you can buy Keen’s Fat Loss Map® or, if fat loss is really a priority and you want to guarantee that it’ll happen, you can hire me for a Personal Consultation.

Get your priorities straight. Stop making the bed while the house is on fire.

 

 

 

Just Some Joke #2

Octopus w:Bagpipes

A man walks into a bar with a large octopus underneath his arm. Ignoring the stares of the other patrons, he walks up, pushes a stool aside, flops the octopus down on the bar with a squish, and puts his hands on his hips, scanning the suddenly attentive room.

Octopus w:Bagpipes

“This octopus,” the man intones, “is a world-class, virtuoso musician. I’m announcing a standing wager of $100 that says this octopus can play any musical instrument you put in front of it!”

All eyes then turn questioningly to the members of the band, who have just gone on break.

This guy’s full of shit, thinks the trumpet player. He grabs his horn off its stand, marches over to the bar, and loudly slaps a $100 bill down.

“Let’s see him do something with this,” he says, thrusting the trumpet into the mass of tentacles.

The octopus envelops the trumpet, turns it around a few times, works the valves a bit with his tentacles, fits his beak into the mouthpiece…and out comes the most fantastic jazz trumpet anybody in the bar has ever heard! High notes, low notes, loud and soft, with great melodies to boot. Pretty soon the whole place erupts in applause as the trumpet player takes his now-slimy trumpet back to the bandstand, his wallet $100 lighter.

Man, fuck this octopus, thinks the tenor saxophone player.

“Hey!” he yells as he saunters towards the bar, “let’s see him do something with this!”

Well no sooner has the sax player slapped a $100 bill down and handed the octopus his horn when out of the mass of tentacles comes the most incredible jazz saxophone playing anyone in the bar has ever heard! Furious flurries of notes fly from the horn, each one better than the last, and pretty soon the whole room is clapping along. Finishing with a soulful, bluesy flourish, the octopus hands the horn back to the dejected sax player, who glumly returns it to the bandstand amid uproarious laughter and disbelieving applause.

Suddenly, the doors fly open, and all eyes are drawn to the stranger who has busted in, short of breath. As he slowly makes his way towards the bar, people finally begin to recognize the item he’s holding in both hands as a set of bagpipes.

The murmuring of the crowd dies down as the bagpiper fixes the octopus’s owner with a challenging stare.

“Here,” he says, presenting the bagpipes with a shove. “let’s see him do something with these!”

So the octopus takes the bagpipes and wraps his tentacles around them.

He turns them upside down.

Then right side up.

Then left-wise.

Then top-ways.

Then under-side-ways and back around again.

Finally, after about a minute of this with no music coming out, the flustered owner glares down at the octopus.

“Well? Are you gonna play that thing or what?”

Play it?!” replies the octopus, breathing hard and covered in sweat. “Hell, I’m gonna fuck it once I can figure out how to get its pajamas off!”

 

How To Sleep Your Way To The Top

Champion of the Sun!

“If you’re an average sort of person, 36% of your life will be spent asleep. Which means that if you live to ninety, then thirty-two years—THIRTY-TWO YEARSwill have been spent entirely asleep.”

—Russel Foster, neuroscientist and sleep researcher

Also, if you’re an average sort of person, your response to the above quote was something like this:

Oh. My. God.

Oh. My. God.

I’m going to try to sell you on the idea that you need to make sleep a priority in your life. Over the last few months I’ve been digging through articles, studies, videos, talks, and books that discuss sleep; what happens when we sleep great, and—sometimes even more enlightening—what happens when our sleep sucks.

At the end of the article, I’ll link to some resources for those who would like to delve a bit deeper. For now, though, I realize that if you’re an average sort of person you will ignore those links and read only the article, hoping that I can convince you to make sleep a priority. So here goes.

First, read the opening quote again. Imagine celebrating your ninetieth birthday and realizing that over the course of your life you had been asleep for thirty-two years. That’s fucking insane. That’s longer than many lifetimes, and you were asleep for it! In light of this bit of simple number crunching, it’s pretty obvious that we are not just “on pause” for several hours each night.

The Problem

Here’s what we think is happening each night:

"How do I let them know because of the unfreezing process, I have no inner monologue? I hope I didn't just say that all out loud just now."

“How do I let them know because of the unfreezing process, I have no inner monologue? I hope I didn’t just say that all out loud just now.”

And here’s what’s actually happening each night:

Rube Goldberg

Caution: Blue Balls NOT this fun in real life.

 

Firstly, because of this misconception, it is very, very easy to ignore the importance of sleep. After all, we’re just in some sort of “stasis,” right? Everyone I talk to about sleep agrees verbally that sleep “is important” and that they “need to be sleeping better.” But the conversation never, ever causes any change in their lifestyle or behavior because deep down, they just don’t think sleep is that much of a priority.

Secondly—and even worse—a cultural attitude has developed that belittles sleep and mocks those who value it, often turning sleep deprivation into a badge of honor. You’re probably familiar with the following, usually blurted out with smug, sneering self-satisfaction:

  • “Sleep is for the weak.”
  • “Sleep is for wimps.”
  • “Sleep is a waste of time.”
  • “Money never sleeps.”
  • “There will be plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead.”
  • “I pulled an all-nighter!”
  • “I burn the midnight oil.”

No pain, no gain! When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Early bird gets the worm! Imagine what you could do with all your spare time if you just got up an hour earlier each morning! While you’re sleeping, your competition is hard at work!

Please realize that this rah-rah, tough guy bullshit has no place in a discussion of your optimal health.

It seems well-meaning and harmless, but is actually quite damaging to those who are duped by it. And here’s why.

Why We Need Great Sleep

First, notice I didn’t say “enough” sleep. Great sleep may or may not mean more of it than you’re currently getting. The quality of sleep is far more important than the quantity. Some people have average-quality sleep and should get eight or nine hours. Some people have sleep down to a science—a reproducible, efficient performance—and can make do with five or six.

Also, I didn’t say “good” sleep or “decent” sleep. I said “great” sleep. At the end of the article, I’ll briefly discuss some sleep rules for maximum quality. It won’t be anything innovative or new; Google for more if you’re interested.

What does great, deep sleep look like?

1) You fall asleep quickly.

2) Your sleep is uninterrupted, and if you do happen to wake up, you have no difficulty getting back to sleep.

3) You can wake up without an alarm.

4) When you awake, you feel fresh, ready, and energized.

5) You’re calm, relaxed, focused, and alert all day long.

6) You rarely get sick.

Here’s what great, deep sleep does for you:

1) Allows your body to fully repair and rejuvenate itself.

2) Allows your hormones to be produced and released in the proper order and amounts.

3) Improves your body’s ability to process glucose, stabilizing and normalizing your blood sugar, making you more resistant to diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and metabolic syndrome.

4) Burns off any excess food intake from the previous day as free heat.

5) Permits optimal Leptin signaling, which controls the brain’s oversight of the body’s energy status.

6) Reconstitutes the collagen proteins in your muscles, skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and organs, allowing the maintenance of structural integrity, elasticity, and resistance to wear-and-tear.

7) Allows your brain to solidify the neural networks that were activated that day, improving learning and memory.

8) Lowers inflammation in the brain and in the periphery, reversing autoimmune disorders and lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer.

9) Regulates dopamine and serotonin, which control the reward centers of your brain.

10) Regulates the chemicals associated with appetite and hunger.

11) Heals any damaged tissue in need of repair.

12) Increases your longevity.

13) Lowers your blood pressure.

14) Improves cognitive function, enhancing your creativity, problem solving, judgement, and critical thinking.

15) Improves athletic performance.

16) Lowers stress levels by modulating your body’s stress response.

17) Improves depression, schizophrenia, and other mental imbalances.

18) Decreases your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.

19) Decreases your chances of becoming obese.

What does shitty sleep look like?

1) You have difficulty falling asleep.

2) You wake up often during the night, and have a hard time getting back to sleep.

3) You wake up hours before the alarm, alert and awake, having only slept for four or five hours.

4) The alarm often doesn’t wake you up.

5) You get to bed after midnight.

6) You awaken in the morning feeling groggy, disoriented, or lethargic.

7) You often crave a midnight snack.

Here’s what shitty sleep does to you:

1) Impairs cognitive function, including memory, reasoning, concentration, and problem solving.

2) Dysregulates daytime energy levels, alternating between excessive lethargy and excessive arousal.

3) Increases your risk of major depression; a history of insomnia has actually been shown to predict future depression.

4) Increases your risk of anxiety and mood disorders.

5) Increases attention lapses and slows reaction time—sleep-deprived drivers have repeatedly exhibited the same level of impairment as drunk drivers.

6) Makes you more likely to show up late for work.

7) Diminishes your enjoyment of family and social life.

8) Makes you more prone to relationship and intimacy issues.

9) Profoundly diminishes the number of immune chemicals produced by your body, compromising its natural defenses and immune response.

10) Increases your blood pressure.

11) Increases your risk of heart disease.

12) Increases your levels of inflammation, as measured by highly-sensitive C-Reactive Protein.

13) Makes you more insulin resistant, reducing your tolerance for glucose and leading to obesity and diabetes.

14) Increases your risk of cancer.

15) Interrupts the function of the endocrine glands (pituitary, adrenal, thyroid, etc.), compromising hormonal production and function throughout the body.

16) Decreases your body’s utilization of body fat for energy.

We Get It

 

The Layman’s Summary

We all have things we’d like to do each day. Realize, though, that each day begins and ends with sleep. If your sleep is not excellent, your days will not be as good as they can be.

You’ll feel better, look better, perform better at work, become more motivated, live longer, have more fun, enjoy a better social life, and have better body composition if you make sleep a priority.

So How Do I Sleep Better?

As I mentioned before, nothing here is new information. You’ve all heard it before, but here are some tips for getting better sleep:

1) No glowing rectangles for one hour before you hit the bed. That means no cell phones, laptops, TV, etc. When your eyes are exposed to artificial light after sundown, especially blue light, the brain responds to that signal by releasing morning/daytime chemicals. These chemicals inhibit the release of the sleep/restoration chemicals that are necessary for a great night of sleep. What should you do before bed? Read, meditate, make love, make love again but with somebody else there this time…the options are plentiful.

2) No food for three to four hours before bed time. Give your body time to finish digesting your dinner. The digestive chemicals that are released in response to food also inhibit the release of the sleep/restoration chemicals that are necessary for a great night of sleep.

3) Make your bedroom a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house. When we sleep, our temperatures must fall. Many of the magical chain reactions that rejuvenate us cannot occur at normal body temperature. Keeping it warm at night is a mistake.

4) Make it pitch black where you sleep; NO light. The eye sees light, tells the brain to wake the hell up, and just like that your sleep is not optimal.

5) Arrange your sleep so that as many hours as possible occur before midnight. A handy rule of thumb is that each hour of sleep that happens before midnight is twice as valuable as each hour that happens after midnight. Your brain knows when the sun has set. This signal initiates the cascade that’s pictured towards the beginning of this article. If you wait too long after sundown, you interrupt your body’s timing and your sleep suffers. Get to bed.

The Day Man

Champion of the Sun!

Champion of the Sun!

You might be wondering: won’t this make me terminally boring? No nights out? No social life? No fun? Not so fast, ye of weak imagination!

Since I implemented these strategies into my own life, my friends and colleagues have taken to calling me the Day Man. I still do everything on my—ahem—social agenda that I’ve always done, only it all happens during the day. With even a little bit of creativity and planning, the switch becomes easy.

Ever throw some bourbon in your coffee at 6:30am following a nine-hour night of badass sleep?

Ever make the time to cook your date dinner and have her over for a 3pm happy hour?

Ever DVR or Netflix your favorite shows and watch them in the morning instead of after dinner?

And then sometimes I go out at night. But it’s the exception, not the rule.

I won’t elaborate any more, but my point is that your work and social life can and will fit around your health requirements. And make no mistake, sleep is a requirement.

Sleep is not a luxury. Sleep is not something that only the lazy or underemployed can afford. It’s essential. If we all spent as much time planning our sleep as we did planning our diet and exercise, we’d be far healthier and less stressed than we currently are.

Think about it.

Some Further Reading

This talk.

This meta-analysis.

This study.

Search for yourself in the SLEEP archives. SLEEP is a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal that compiles all the most pertinent studies on sleep from around the world. Search obesity, depression, glucose regulation, appetite, and schizophrenia for starters.

Hell, just google “Consequences of Insomnia” or “Benefits of Sleep.” Go nuts.

 

 

 

Make Your Self a Christmas Present!

"This is a metaphor for how I live my life. That really happened, though."

It’s that time of year again, you guys!

"You see what happens when you don't do your chores, Kyle?"

“You see what happens when you don’t do your chores, Kyle?”

It’s time once again to bask in the glowing warmth of Holiday Cheer! For many of us, that cheer starts in October and lasts all the way until we lurch back into consciousness on January 1st—hungover, dry-mouthed, and ten pounds heavier than we were when we had our first bite of Halloween candy.

Then, of course, it’s time for the New Year’s Resolution! This is a magical time of year when, for about five days, everyone in America pretends to give a shit about getting less fat. To fail your Resolution is almost a cliché at this point; a cultural expectation that we laugh about, if only to hide our disappointment. Another year, another Self-promise that we can’t keep.

Sounds like fun, right?

As I often say: “Surely there’s a better way.”

I’d like to introduce you to an idea that I came up with a year ago, as I was nearing the “after” picture that you see on the welcome page of this site. At the time, I had plumped up a bit from some hard partying, having just spent a month in Japan and then going on a three-week road trip five days after I got back.

There MAY have been some drinking involved in this one.

There MAY have been some drinking involved in this one.

As I returned home and made plans to slim down again, I faced the daunting scenario I’ve just described above. Luckily, inspiration struck, and I came up with an idea that would circumvent all of the worry about weight gain during the Holidays and the inevitable failure of yet another New Year’s Resolution. My idea? I would make a Christmas gift for my Self!

After thinking about what to make for my Self, I decided that I would reduce my Cumulative Measurement—the sum of my circumferences at navel, waist, and hip height—by eight inches in eight weeks. That was my Christmas gift to my Self. On Christmas morning, I would wake up and get to enjoy a gift from Jim, to Jim, that would be far better than any gift I could have gotten from anyone else.

So applied my knowledge of how we get fat in the first place, got my shit together, and slowly started working towards the goal.

Well fast forward eight weeks—I ended up finishing with a week to spare, like a Boss™—and dig it: I took the paper on which I’d recorded my progress and put it in an envelope along with a certificate that had a description of what I’d accomplished, including the measurements, the change in pants size, and a brief description of the change in appearance and confidence. I sealed the envelope and marked it “To: Me. From: Me.” Now, I didn’t put this under the tree and open it in front of family and friends, because even I’ll agree that that’s weird as shit. But I did open it on Christmas morning, and it was an unforgettable feeling.

"This is a metaphor for how I live my life. That really happened, though."

“This is a metaphor for how I live my life. That really happened, though.”

Imagine the pride of accomplishment that comes with doing something like that for yourself. Imagine the objective, tangible markers of success that can be staring you in the face on Christmas morning. Imagine having the #1 most-often-stated New Year’s Resolution—to lose weight—already completed before the new year even starts! Imagine the satisfaction and stress relief that would come from knowing that you are completely capable of improving yourself. There it’ll be: irrefutable proof that you can do it.

For obvious reasons, I’ve singled out fat loss as the gift to make for yourself. However, the gift can really be anything. If you’re already regular-sized, here are some ideas of gifts that you can make for yourself, or begin to make for yourself, in eight weeks:

1) Learn a foreign language.

2) Learn how to ballroom or salsa dance.

3) Some new clothes that make you feel fantastic when you wear them

4) The benefit of daily meditation.

5) Eight hours of sleep each night.

6) Join a weekly club; could be book club, polar bear club, martial arts session, yoga, personal training, or anything else.

7) Eight weeks of filling up a notebook page per day (you’d have 56 pages by Christmas!) with things in your life that are going well or things to be grateful for. You could bind and cover those pages, and give yourself a “Book of Gratitude.” Holy shit that’s a good idea, I’m totally doing that.

This is just off the top of my head. The idea is to take something that you would identify as a New Year’s Resolution and decide that you’re going to make it now, in eight weeks, as a Christmas gift to yourself. Then make a plan to accomplish it by 12/25/13, and begin!

My Gift to My Self This Year

My Self is in for a treat! Along with #7 above that I just thought of, here’s what I’m going to be making for my Self.

I started this blog back in February of this year, and it has been incredibly satisfying. Along with the articles that have been so fun to write, it has been awesome to hear all the great feedback from those who have purchased a Fat Loss Map, gone through a month or multiple months of Personal Consultation with me, and gotten some measure of inspiration or focus from The Keen Physique’s Facebook Page. Thank you to all my clients, past and present, and those who have dropped me a note of appreciation in the last nine months or so.

Recently though, as some have pointed out, I’ve been slacking! Articles are fewer and farther between, and the Facebook updates aren’t doing much better. Instead of thinking of reasons why this is and explaining myself, I’ve decided to skip that shit and go right to the solution. My gift to myself this Christmas will be eight articles and 56 Facebook updates. Specifically, a schedule of 1) A new article each week and 2) A Facebook update every day. Yep, every day.

When I wake up on Christmas morning, I will have the pleasure of looking back to the day this article was published and, scrolling forward from there, enjoying all over again the accumulated words from everything that I’m going to write between now and then. Here’s a fun part: even if nobody gets any value out of this increased output, it will still be valuable because I will have gotten something out of it. This is a gift I’m making for my Self; in other words, I’m doing it because of how I’ll feel when it’s done. Your gift should be the same. It’s for you, not anyone else.

So You’d Like to Get Regular-Sized

Some of you reading this right now would like to drop a few sizes for your New Year’s Resolutions. Well, consider doing it this way instead. And furthermore, consider letting me help.

For the determined, I’m offering Personal Consultations for twice their normal duration. Instead of a one-month consultation, this consult will last until Christmas, all for the price of the one-month consultation. So far, every personal consult client has seen consistent results, and it is just the thing for someone who is ready to get their shit together this season.

Alternatively, for those who would like to tackle their Resolution early on their own, I’ll be offering the Fat Loss Map at a steep discount. For a few weeks, you can get the Map for a small fraction of the price of your last bar tab. You’re welcome.

Ready?

Whether you take me up on my offers or not, do your Self a favor and fire the hell up! Imagine what you can be on Christmas morning. Imagine who you can become in eight short weeks. The best time to start is last year; the next best time is now! Let’s get into it!

Client Results #2!

Wedding Season

Welcome back from Labor Day Weekend. It’s that time again! Time to share the results of a few clients I’ve been working with over the past several months. This update will include those who were personal clients of mine and those who just bought a Fat Loss Map™. Some names will be omitted to protect privacy. Anything [in brackets] is my own editing.

First Up!

The following are some quotes from “Stacy.” She bought a Fat Loss Map last Spring, and we’ve been corresponding via email, and although I don’t have a formal Testimonial from her, I think that many will be able to relate to her sentiments.

“‘When I started this I was on the verge of having to buy an entire new wardrobe, and now I’m comfortably fitting in all of my clothes.  Feels great.’

‘Can’t believe I’m 5 weeks in already. Crazy!

Quick update: I lost 1 pound this week for 13 pounds lost to date.  I have to say, I really feel the loss this week.  That one pound feels like I’ve shed 10.  I don’t know why, but I feel lighter and I look better.  I can actually see a difference in my waist and my hips.  It feels really good.

 I have a pretty awesome grocery list to grab after work today.  Pumped for the next week and to keep this feeling going.'”

Stacy has done a great job so far, and is just beginning her success story. Just like everyone else, she’s human; she’s not perfect, she messes up, and she disappoints herself sometimes. But no matter how bad something gets, you can always clean it right up. She’s far more capable than she realizes, and I’m very excited to meet the Stacy that we’ve only imagined up until now.

Next!

The following testimonial is from Justin. Justin wasn’t obese, or even fat, but wanted to lose a few pounds and feel a little more control over his eating. Let’s hear what he had to say:

“Simply put, Keen’s Fat Loss Map works.

At first glance, the Map might not seem like much, but that’s the ‘trick’ if there is one. Follow the instructions and you will lose weight. It’s that simple. Want to know more about why it works, and Jim has plenty of resources for you to check out—but come on, you don’t really care why it works, just that it does.

Keep in mind that I’m not saying the Map is easy. The first few weeks were very difficult. I missed French Fries and hamburger buns. I dramatically changed what I was putting into my body, and my body didn’t know what the hell was up.

What I am saying is that it’s simple. Follow the plan and things will get better in short order. After just a week or two, I noticed something unexpected…I wasn’t starving at 11am. Or noon. I could make it to 1pm with no problem. Same thing with dinner. All of the sudden I realized that my hunger levels had stabilized. I’d eventually get hungry, but I was never starving any more. And after meals, I felt satisfied, but not FULL. I mean that in a good way; ‘satisfied’ means I’m no longer hungry, and I feel like I have energy from what I’ve eaten. I feel good. ‘Full’ means I’m stuffed, tired, don’t want to move, and generally hate myself for what I’ve crammed into my face.

As I said, I was a terrible eater before starting the Map. I thought a Jimmy John’s sandwich and the low-fat chips were eating ‘healthy,’ because hey, it’s not a burger and fries! It was an adjustment learning to eat healthfully, mostly because it meant I had to think about my next meal (and maybe even the one after that) more than 20 minutes before I planned to eat it.

I started my weight loss process at 188 lbs, and I’m now hovering around 172 lbs. More importantly, I’m no longer on a ‘weight-loss plan’ as I first thought when following the Map. This is just how I eat now. I’m not always perfect, and I probably could have lost more weight faster if I’d been more rigid, but it was important to me was that this not drive me crazy (like counting calories had in the past). I was pleasantly surprised when it went well beyond ‘not driving me crazy’ to ‘how I eat.’

I’m not at my goal weight, but I’m much happier with how I look and feel, and I’m confident that I’ll continue to lose weight, and eventually maintain a healthy ‘normal-sized’ weight in the months and years to come. If you’re still wondering whether or not this is for you, all I can say is give it a try. I wasn’t sure it would work for me, but it did, and I can’t recommend it enough.”

Justin did some great work. Following the Map, he was able to lose weight without hunger while eating delicious food that he feels he can continue to eat for the foreseeable future. He’s eliminated the confusion and anxiety that so often accompanies food choices. Nice work, man!

WEDDING SEASON!

Wedding Season

Love is in the air.

 

The next two folks had weddings coming up. Brandon was the groom. He wanted to look sharp in his tux, and to do that he wanted to lose ten or fifteen pounds. Following the material in the Map, he kicked ass. In his own words:

“Jimmay,

 
Well, my wedding was awesome. About a week before I was down to 175, my lowest weight in a few years. Many people commented on how ‘trim’ I looked. It is easy for me to be pudgy, I don’t know why—it’s always been that way. I’m not talking ‘fat,’ but just looking like ‘the guy that could stand to lose 10 lbs.’ 175 should be a general target weight for me. 
 
I must say, I looked pretty badass in my tux! I didn’t even work out all that much, I just ate well. Also, I learned that the amount of food I used to consume on a regular basis was just plain unhealthy, not to mention gross. [Following your guidelines] helped me break the kinds of habits I’d developed since my childhood. My mom was/is an amazing cook, but as you may know, Midwestern Mommies love to feed their men too much damn food! It’s just too much. A human being doesn’t need to eat that much food. It is not right, it is not healthy. As a kid, family dinner was made ‘healthy’ when a salad was prepared as a side dish. 
 
Now, [WIFE] and I will eat a hearty salad as a dinner (baby spinach and sauteed shrimp with old bay spice kicks ASS). Now, I’d like to be as healthy as I can be. Do I fall off the wagon sometimes? Hell yes! But it is not every day, it is not even twice per week! And honestly, I feel so much better. I drink SO much water, I eat lots more veggies. [WIFE] likes to have ice cream on occasion after dinner. If I ate ice cream after each meal I’d be a blimp. So I just eat literally a spoonful and my sweet tooth is satisfied. No biggie. I don’t have to eat [a metric shit-ton] of ice cream anymore. 
 
Before we got married I gave [WIFE] a solemn vow – No beer gut. Ever. I just don’t want to be that guy. Ain’t healthy, ain’t good for your heart, ain’t necessary. 
 
THANK YOU for showing me a better way my friend! All the best to you!”

 

Fantastic work, Brando! I’m sure [WIFE] appreciates your newfound commitment to a healthy, vigorous physique. I hope you guys enjoy many, many years of great [sex].

The other wedding goer was Laura, who was standing up at a friend’s wedding. I asked her to write a testimonial for this post, and here she is:

“Prior to The Map, I considered myself to be a very healthy eater. I was basically an ‘almost’ vegetarian– my diet contained a lot of veg, grains, fruit, and my protein came from eggs and the occasional fish. I didn’t drink pop, I didn’t eat anything high in fat and I didn’t eat processed food. Even so, I was exhausted, constantly cranky, and at my all-time-highest weight—just over 200lbs. My doctor told me my blood pressure and cholesterol were terrible. She couldn’t figure out why my bloodwork was so bad since my diet was ‘so good.’ I couldn’t understand why I ate healthier than most people I knew and I [just] couldn’t lose weight to save my life. I was sad, desperate, and frustrated. My first email to Jim said, ‘I’m getting close to thinking this is just where by body is going to be but it SUCKS.’

 Jim’s immediate response: ‘Good news: this is not ‘just where your body is going to be’ … There is a way, you fill find it, and it is a certainty that you can get to wherever you want to be.’

Initially, I was skeptical, though most of my skepticism came from sheer shock that the wacky, inappropriate kid that I went to high school with had lost almost a hundred pounds, started his own company, and was writing me incredibly sincere, matter-of-fact emails assuring me that I could and would be a better version of myself.

Well, I’ve been on The Map for almost six months now and while I still have a ways to go, I’ve lost about 20 pounds. My blood pressure has improved drastically. While I did initially struggle with increasing my protein intake, I now can’t imagine eating any other way. I *never* thought I would CRAVE a burger. I *never* thought I could start my day without eating breakfast, not eat lunch until 2:00pm and NOT be a hangry psychobitch. I routinely go 7-9 hours without eating. My hunger/satiety signals have totally normalized. I have more energy than I ever did when I was an almost-vegetarian.

Here’s why I love The Map: I don’t have to think about ANYTHING. I know it. I live it. I don’t have to count anything. I don’t have to weigh anything. I get to cook delicious, fatty (FATTY, you guys! bacon! butter!) meals and eat a bit of fancy French cheese for dessert. I drink red wine and bourbon without remorse. When I’m sick of cooking or out with friends, I don’t have to worry about restaurants. You can get a bunless burger and a salad pretty much anywhere on this green earth. Do I cheat? You bet your ass I do but only on something I really, really want {insert giant toasted sesame bagel with lox and cream cheese here} but I’m finding that I just don’t want the sugar or the [carbohydrates] the way that I used to. You can keep your spaghetti, now please pass the bacon and guacamole.

This isn’t to say it wasn’t an adjustment at first—there were plenty of times Jim needed to talk me off a ledge because I could not possibly grill another chicken breast or eat any more [goddamn] cauliflower. Every time I needed a boost, Jim had the encouragement, research,  or laugh that I was looking for. Trust me, nobody is more shocked than I am that the kid who used to make [dick jokes] during band practice is now one of my biggest cheerleaders. I no longer feel like I am ‘on a plan’ or ‘trying this Paleo-like thing.’ I eat plants. And animals. And gooey French cheese. And I’m looking and feeling better than I have in a really long time.

 ——————

 Seriously, man. You’ve changed my life. I’ll never go back. Here’s to the next twenty pounds! [BOYFRIEND] says he’ll write you a testimonial too—it will surely be less gushy and more concise. ;) Feel free to [edit the shit out of] mine.

 I’m really not kidding: if you should ever find yourself in Milwaukee, we’ve got a steak and a bottle of Bourbon waiting here for you.”

 

There are some more stories in the hopper, but I wanted to welcome everyone to the Fall season with these success stories. Not everyone has 200 pounds to lose, although I’ve got a few of those as well. Again, a map shows you the way to where you’d like to be, from wherever you are, whether that’s the same town or a different country.

Congratulations to “Stacy,” Justin, Brandon, and Laura! Keep going, and I’m here to answer any questions along the way.

And to anyone reading this: if you can relate to any of the stories above, or any of the stories in this post, get yourself a Fat Loss Map™ or a month of Personal Consultations. Once you do, it will become my personal mission to get you regular-sized. Think about it.

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

 

 

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