World War Z’s lesson to us all

Posted by on Feb 23, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments


I read an email a while back about how the movie World War Z was on to something when it came to critical thinking. This email described the concept of the 10th man – When nine people agree on something, it’s the tenth man’s responsibility to disagree no matter how improbable the idea. If you haven’t seen the movie I won’t ruin it for you, but the point is sometimes you’re best to go against the pull of the masses.

The reason I bring this up is because in the last couple of months I’ve become more acutely aware that in lack of a defined purpose we all have the tendency to assume the purpose by whatever shiny thingamajiggy jumps in front of us.

Did that make sense? Don’t worry if it didn’t, most of this stuff is just a bunch of noise in my head translated into text.

Let’s try that again. If you don’t know what you need, where you want to go, how you’re going to get there, etc., then you’re going to assume the needs, direction, plan, etc. of the the guys selling weight loss coffee or whatever is weird gimmick is out there. The more vague and uninformed you are about whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, the more likely you’ll be to waste a lot of time, money, and emotional energy.

I ran into this a lot when we first opened our business and still do today. We didn’t know what the hell we were doing or how we were going to do it. Furthermore, I never set up any clear goal for guiding any research attempts or developing a plan of action. So anything that popped up seemed like the solution to my problems even if it didn’t move me any closer to my REAL goal. For instance, someone approached us about selling out services for much cheaper than our current rate during hours the gym is not being used. Well, for someone without a plan or goal this seems great because I get to make more money during a time I’m not currently making anything.

Here’s the problem: my goal is to provide one the most unique and transformative experiences in San Diego using our Trinity of Health model (nutrition, fitness and mindset). If I open our gym to people who are more interested in kicking the tires of the different local gyms than embracing our values and purpose then I’m not working toward our goals. Yes, I’ve made a little more money and maybe a small fraction of these folks will take an interest in our values and purpose eventually, but more often than not I’ve just become a rep counter for someone who just wants to get their sweat on. That’s not what I do.


Okay, so now I’ll get to the part where this applies to you. Perhaps you’re uncomfortable with how your clothes fit right now, perhaps you’re not happy with how you look naked, and perhaps all of this is making you pretty depressed. Well, all you have to do is surf the web or turn on the TV and you’ll find MILLIONS of dollars worth of advertisements for products  like Shake Weight for men, electrocute-your-ass-away pads, diet pills, creams, body wraps, diet cookies, etc. that all, very convincingly, tell you what you need, where to go and how to get there.

This is when the 10th-man idea needs to come into play. When you feel that knee jerk reaction to punch in your credit card info, you need take the perspective of the 10th man and call “bullshit.” Better yet, leave it to the company to PROVE it works before spending a dime. When you see these advertisements, all you see is one side of the story. You don’t see the person who struggled to lose some, if any, weight using the product. You just see a bunch of people who claim to have achieved massive weight loss thanks to the tug toner.

UnknownThis also applies to the people who urge you to buy their products so you can get out of starvation mode, heal from metabolic damage or a plethora of other disorders. Let me be clear that while the aforementioned DO exist, at least to some degree, they’re more of a state than a disorder and much less damning than people make them out to be.

The DIY method of weight loss can work, but it’s not going to work if someone keeps getting distracted and misled into thinking that all it’s going to take is this special supplement or this particular piece of exercise equipment.

This also applies to working with trainers who push supplements as “fat loss accelerants” or whatever trainers are selling these days. This is why you need to work with someone who knows what they’re talking about and promotes 1) making better decisions, 2) creating an active lifestyle, and 3) nourishing the body with healthy foods.


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Multi-Vitamin Deception?

Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Nutrition | 0 comments

Vitamin man

Recently a paper was published with this title, “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements” (1). A bold statement to say the least.

It’s pretty uncommon to hear an academic make bold and certain statements as Guallar and company did in the aforementioned paper. It’s like hearing a child use the F word or something. It just sounds wrong. So, this begs the question, “Are multi-vitamins useless?” Maybe.

Alan Aragon published a great review of this paper wherein he picked apart the research used to support Gullar and company’s claims. He found many holes in the supporting research that, in the end, still leaves one wondering about the value of multi-vitamins.

Well before we damn to hell all multi-vitamins we need to consider that not everyone is the same in regards to how well-nourished they are. For instance, another paper (2) found that 4 very popular diets created a boat load of deficiencies in 27 esszntial micronutrients when compared to the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) standards.

  • All four diet plans failed to deliver 100% sufficiency for the selected 27 essential micronutrients, based on RDI guidelines, when followed as recommended by their suggested daily menus using whole food alone.
  • Six micronutrients (vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin D, vitamin E, chromium, iodine, and molybdenum) were identified as consistently low or nonexistent in all four diet plans.
  • A typical dieter on any of these four popular diet plans would be, on average, 56.48% deficient in obtaining RDI sufficiency, and lacking in 15 out of the 27 essential micronutrients analyzed.

In case you were wondering, these diets included: The Best Lift Diet (Mediterranean type), DASH-diet, Atkins, and South Beach.

Vegetarians should ask be concerned and, given their food limitations, are potential candidates to supplement for: iron, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and possibly selenium (3-6).

So this means that both dieters and vegetarians might be dealing with some pretty heavy deficiency worthy of supplementation.

FURTHERMORE! A guy named Paul Jaminet PhD has an interesting theory about obesity and weight-regain. Specifically, he believes that one of the reasons people have such a terrible time trying to keep the weight off (i.e. Feeling so hungry they eat take out a local fast food joint in a night of angry food binging) is the health of their lean mass — the stuff that isn’t fat like muscles (7).

Vitamins and minerals make up the health of your lean tissue, and it’s pretty common for folks to lose a lot of lean mass while their dieting down. Not our folks though, they know how to get around that silliness. Anyways, if you lose a lot of lean mass and become nutrient deficient while dieting, who’s to say they aren’t related to one another. Dr. Jaminet believes that a diet lower in calories, but not too low, and high in nutrition (i.e. Vitamins and minerals) will keep lean tissue quality/health high, allow for easier weight loss, and eliminate the struggle most people have to maintain their leaner, sexier selves.

Of course this is just a untested theory at this point but he has observed it in those following his diet plan.

So, in the end here is what we’re left with: 1) There’s a lot of evidence showing no benefit to taking multi-vitamins, 2) Some folks may be more poorly nourished than others and maybe good candidates for supplementation, 3) There’s a damn decent theory supporting the role of nutrition in obesity and weight regain.

All this being said, we recommend multi-vitamins at the gym. Why? Because there’ no strong evidence that they’re hurting you and their cheap insurance.

I should mention however, that no amount of supplements will undo a shit diet just like no amount of exercise will, so don’t eat like a foo. 5 servings of veggies is a great starting place, but you also want to have a diverse array of different veggies to cover your nutrition bases. And even if you are getting a good variety of veggies, it won’t hurt to take a multi-vitamin if you’re a competitive athlete or attempting to lose weight. In fact, if Dr. Jaminet’s theory holds any water, taking the multi-vitamin may help in your journey to being lean and mean.


1. Guallar E, Stranges S, Mulrow C, Appel LJ, Miller ER. Enough is enough: stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements. Ann Intern Med. 2013;159(12):850-851-851. 

2. Calton JB. Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 Jun 10;7:24

3. Craig WJ. Health effects of vegan diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1627S-1633S. [PubMed]

4. Calvo MS, Whiting SJ, Barton CN. Vitamin D intake: a global perspective of current status. J Nutr. 2005 Feb;135(2):310-6. [PubMed]

5. Hunt JR. Bioavailability of iron, zinc, and other trace minerals from vegetarian diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):633S-639S. [PubMed]

6. Ströhle A, Waldmann A, Koschizke J, Leitzmann C, Hahn A. Diet- dependent net endogenous acid load of vegan diets in relation to food groups and bone health-related nutrients: results from the German Vegan Study. Ann Nutr Metab. 2011;59(2-4):117-26.


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The journey off Pizza Island

Posted by on Feb 9, 2014 in Mindset | 0 comments

It seems I’ve been talking a lot about the trip from Pizza Island to Athlete Avenue lately so I thought I might go into a bit more detail about the journey for everyone’s benefit.

Most of the folks I consult with about nutrition and lifestyle generally know what they should be doing. Hell, they can even drum up a realistic plan of action. So, logically, I ask them, “Well that sounds perfect, so what’s keeping you from doing it?”

At this point most launch into a long explanation about not having enough time for all the work involved, or how much they like pizza and beer, or how they like to cut loose and hang out with friends and being a monk when it comes to the more indulgent of foods doesn’t jive with their style.

My response, “You don’t have to do so much work/give up pizza/stop hanging out with your friends/be a food monk to lose weight and get healthy.”

Here’s the deal, you might be sitting here on Pizza Island thinking to yourself, “Man I don’t see myself living on Athlete Ave. That neighborhood just doesn’t seem my style. All the broccoli and hour long workouts 5 days a week, no thank you.”

Well, you’re forgetting one important thing. The trip from Pizza Island to Athlete avenue isn’t a single jump,


it’s more like 25-50 small steps.



If you take on the “Big Leap” mentality, then of course you’re going to fail. And what does all that failing do for you mindset? It teaches you that you’ll always fail at diets because the demand is too much, or that you can’t succeed because the only way to lose weight is to abandon all indulgences and become a completely different person when it comes to food. See the problem here?

As a general rule of thumb, the more unhealthy and long your relationship with weight loss, the more small/simple steps you should take. Taking small, simple steps that you’re 100% confident you can achieve build momentum and self-efficacy (i.e. the you-bet-your-sweet-a$$-I-can mindset).

Furthermore, perhaps you get half way to Athlete Ave and you decide you’ve come far enough and are happy with the progress you’ve made. Well if that’s you, congratulations you’ve achieved what very, very few folks have. On the flip side, perhaps you get half way and are so full of confidence that  you can actually enjoy the rest of your health journey rather than look at it like a punishment.

It’s important that I mention however, that this doesn’t mean these changes are easy or comfortable, but it sure as hell is not as hard as most folks make it out to be.

With that in mind, take just one small, achievable step towards making yourself better today than you were yesterday. After 3 weeks of consistently implementing this small change, give yourself the right to say “Good job” to yourself in the mirror and be proud.

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Bank more body composition bucks with less pain

Posted by on Feb 2, 2014 in Mindset | 0 comments

UnknownGoal setting is a well-proven and important skill to have. In fact Harvard is well-known for publishing statistics that showed the difference in money earned for those who didn’t set goals, those who had goals but didn’t write them down, and those who had goals AND wrote them down was staggering. Those who had goals made doubt twice as much as those who didn’t, and those who wrote their goals down made 10x’s the amount as those who didn’t.

Holy bananas, Batman!

So you might be thinking, “Does this apply to getting a sweet pair of abs too?” You bet it does! This is why we have been set on trying to get people to set goals for themselves in 2014, both in body composition and performance. The act of setting the goal and writing it done alone makes it more likely the goal will materialize than if you didn’t write it down at all.

While coming up with body composition goals are somewhat easy, achievement of that goals often isn’t. Hundreds of factors are capable of making your lose your sanity while trying to lose weight and tone up, and that’ why performance goals are so important.

To keep moving in the direction of a whittled waist and a yellow poke-dot bikini, you need to keep the motivation momentum you’ve developed going, and one of the best ways to do that is steady improvement. Nothing gives you steady improvement like well set performance goals.

While body composition goals are easy to come up with, performance goals often aren’t. If you want to lose 20 lbs in  6 months, it’s easy to see that you’ll need to lose a little over 3 pounds a month. But if you want to improve your fitness, which will allow you to lose weight easier and keep it off, what do you measure?

If you’ve been hanging out with us long, you might have some general goals formed such as squatting a certain amount of weight, climbing the peg board, or joining us for one of the upcoming Spartan races. But even those goals don’t give you constant feedback about how you’re doing and a way to get from point A to B.

You might have heard us talking about having different fitness levels in the gym, well now it’s here. Starting this week everyone will undergo fitness level testing to determine where they stack up on our fitness scale. Our fitness scale is made up of 3 levels (Level 1, 2, and 3), each of which is further divided into three more levels (A, B, and C). Each Level and corresponding sub-level is made up of a series of threshold exercises that one needs to be able to successfully complete before moving on to the next level.

Everyday there will be 3 workouts on the board – Level 1, 2 and 3. Depending on how your assessment turns out you will perform one of these 3 workouts.

How is this a solution you ask? Well, by implementing these levels we’ve created a way for someone to assess  their current level of fitness and the bench marks needed to get to the next level. Oh, and guess what? The higher you climb in our fitness progression, the better you’ll look too!

The higher fitness levels require a greater degree of:

  • Mobility – you have to be more flexible to pull off some of these movements
  • Body composition – it’s a lot harder to do a pull-up or squat 75% of your bodyweight if you’re carrying around too much luggage
  • Stability – more a function of training experience
  • Body awareness – if you don’t know your left from right foot you might have a problem doing a lunge

Putting all of these together makes for a damn-fine and healthy body that will last you a lifetime.

I hope you’re as excited about this as I am. This gives everyone yet another reason to come to the gym other than just coming for the sake of working out.


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Are yo-yo diets ruining your metabolism?

Posted by on Jan 26, 2014 in Nutrition | 0 comments


It’s a pretty common fear among those looking to do some waist whittlin’ that all their past successes and failures will somehow come back to haunt them by making them incapable of weight loss. As tempting as it is to think this way – that the twinkie diet you just came off of has somehow ruined your ability to lose weight forever, there is plenty of room for hope.

Where did this thinking come from? Part of the idea of what’s commonly called metabolic damange is that when most folks lose weight they lose a good bit of their fat-free mass (FFM). This FFM includes things like muscle tissue and basically IS your metabolism. When you go through another weight cycle and back the pounds back on more of the weight comes back as fat rather than FFM. Along with the reduction in metabolism you generally move less on a regular basis which makes each calorie you eat count that much more. Sucks huh?

So what’s the hopeful part I was talking about? Well, first – if you lose weight the right way you don’t have to worry about the diminished metabolism or weight cycling, and second – the research shows that even those with a history of chronic dieting can lose weight.

One study in particular found that only 4 of 52 women had resting metabolic rates (RMR) 15% below their predicted metabolic rates, but that these differences were not significant. That same study then compared these weight cyclers to non-cyclers and found no significant differences between the two groups, indicating that chronic dieting had no permanent effect on the participants metabolism.

Having a “normal” RMR would suggest that weight loss should be no more difficult for these cyclers than for non-cyclers. Right? Well, fortunately there is a study that looked at this very question.

This study looked at 439 overweight, inactive, postmenopausal women and randomized them into one of four groups:

  • Dietary weight loss with a 10% weight loss goal
  • Moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise for 45 minutes per day, 5 days per week
  • Both dietary weight loss and exercise
  • Control

The study lasted for 12 months. The women were classified into three categories:

  • Non-cycler
  • Moderate cycler (at least 3 previous weight losses of 4.5 kilograms or more)
  • Severe cycler (at least 3 previous weight losses of 9.1 kilograms or more)

How did the non-cyclers fair compared to the cyclers? Well, despite the differences in baseline profiles, there were no significant differences between the groups in terms of their adherence to the diet and exercise programs.  There were also no significant differences between the groups in terms of weight loss, change in waist circumference, or loss of body fat.

This means that despite harboring the fear that their metabolisms were ruined for life, these ladies were able to lose just as many pounds, inches, and percents of body fat as those who had no reported history of weight cycling.

Given this news, let me ask you as question – What would you do different if you found out that you too didn’t have a damaged metabolism and were capable of losing weight just like anyone else? How would this change your approach to weight loss?

Okay, before I sign off I want to say that this DOES NOT apply to everyone. Some people have legitimate health related issues that keep them from losing weight as fast as others. But in the meantime there is nothing in the research that supports the lack of ANY weight loss in the face of a well thought out eating and training approach, at this time anyways. So keep your head up, train smart, eat well, and be consistent.

Also, I want to thank James Krieger who provided the research summary I used to write this blog.

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One weekend to ruin it all

Posted by on Jan 19, 2014 in Nutrition | 0 comments

Unknown-1You wake up, get on your scale, and alas the numbers are moving in a favorable direction. You pat yourself on the back for  your efforts and get ready for the day. A <insert 1 of 100 different events that could derail you from your healthy eating kick> is coming up this weekend and, given your progress, you feel comfortable laying waste to whatever comes your way – small children beware.

The weekend passes and the debauchery is over. You know you might have taken 1, maybe 2 steps backwards, but this one weekend couldn’t possibly undo 3 weeks worth of dedication and sacrifice. Could it?

Monday morning you casually step on your bathroom scale and as a few lines blink indicating that it’s calculating your weight you’re half grinning feeling confident it will only show 1 maybe 2 pounds more than your previous weigh-in. Then like a freakin’ bolt of lightning you jump off the scale. 6 MOTHA TRUCKIN’ POUNDS!!!


Many have been here, at least in some form or another. How could one weekend, hell even one day, ruin weeks worth of progress. Well, don’t fret because there is hope.

First off, what is fat? Fat, in terms of body fat, is more formally known as an adipocytes or fat cells. In humans the primary fat cells is known as white adipose tissue or WAT. It’s white, in case you didn’t catch that. Anyways, the fat cells are stuffed full of molecules known as triglycerides and it’s the swelling of the fat cell with triglycerides that is the primary cause for looking more . . . plump.

Think of it this way, imagine a trailer (fat cell) full of red necks (triglycerides). The more red necks that fill the trailer, the bigger the trailer becomes – the trailer in this case happens to be a deluxe, high-end double wide that expands. Oh, and the trailer is white, again just in case you missed that earlier.

Now that you know what fat is, generally, it’s important to know that it’s not the only substrate used as a source of fuel.

When you eat more modestly and or train more vigorosuly you don’t just tap into fat stores, you also start using your stored carbohydrates (known as glycogen) and stored protein (muscle). For most dieters the main substrate used in the beginning of their diet is carbohydrate. And guess what, when you start using most to all of your stored carbohydrate you also lose a lot of water. For every gram of carbohydrate stored you store 3-4 grams of water.

1 gram of carbohydrate yields about 4 calories and we have a capacity of around 500 grams (2000 calories) of stored carbs in our body. Thus, if we burned 250 grams of carbs dieting we might lose anywhere between 750-1000 grams of water, which translates to roughly over 2 pounds of water alone. Uh oh. that means that a good portion of the weight you lose initially may be water weight.

What does this mean about your over indulgent weekend?

It means that your diet had you low in stored sugars and by indulging in  sugary or carb-laden treats you began the process of refilling your stores. For every grams of carb you stored you also stored along with it 3-4 grams of water. Sooooo, while it may look like a disaster it could be a simple mater of water fluctuation and those pounds should come off quickly. Provided you don’t let the number scare you into a f*@k-it-all binge and throw down in a buffet.

However, this also means that you initial weight loss may not have been pure fat either.  =-/ sorry.

Still, being glycogen depleted is helpful for weight loss as it allows for more weight loss to occur in stubborn areas like hips, thighs, and stomachs.

In the end, all else aside please remember these words: images-1


Pictures, in order of appearance, from:

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You’ll never lose that extra luggage until you….

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Mindset | 0 comments

This past week has caused me to reflect on the differences between those clients of mine who have successfully trimmed down and those who continue to struggle week after week.

Before I tell you what thought’s I’ve had on this subject, let me ask you a question – do you know how to lose weight?

Provided you said “Yes” like you should have if you’ve been working with me, the next question is – do you want to lose weight?

Okay, provided you answered “Yes” again, the last question is – do you believe you can?

See, this is where a lot of people get hung up. They have all the motivation in the world to lose the weight, and they may even know how to do it, but they don’t really believe they can.

You might be thinking, “No, I believe I can. I just [enter lame ass excuse here].”

I just want to take an aside here to examine one excuse that is overly popular as of late – “I am just too busy.” What does being busy have to do with mistaking your mouth for a vacuum?

Back to the point. Yes, you might believe you can from a rational standpoint, but what about from a subconscious, emotional standpoint?

In the book Switch I read a while back the authors related our choices to a man riding an elephant. The man, very rational and careful, does his best to direct the elephant, our emotions, along the path he thinks is best. However, elephants scare easy and should the elephant become frightened for any reason the man won’t be able to do jack, not matter how much he can squat, to get the elephant to obey.

We’ve all been there before. We’re presented with delicious foods that we just told ourselves we shouldn’t have, but somehow we’re covered in powdered sugar laying on the floor with the grateful dead playing in the background.

What? That hasn’t happened to you? =)

Returning to your belief in self – rationally you may believe in yourself and your ability to lose weight, but emotionally you may not. Emotionally, you may fear losing the weight because you think you’ll have to eat like a vegan or that you’re friends and family will ostracize you for being the healthy one. Or maybe you’ve failed so many times that you just don’t know another outcome and so you repeat the cycle.

Whatever you believe about yourself you will manifest, because our psychology compels us to rectify our actions with our beliefs, and our beliefs with our actions. My favorite example that of Leon Festinger, a social psychologist, inserting himself into a doomsday cult who believed the world would end with a great flood but that they would be saved by way of flying saucer.

When doomsday came and there was no flood or UFO they decided that their sacrifices (i.e. money, jobs, family life, etc) successfully prevented the disaster. The mind is a powerful thing. We seek out and will produce behaviors that align with our belief of self.

The good news is, once you’ve recognized these faulty beliefs you can change them.

One of my coaches preaches, “Have courage, practice faith.” Courage is immediate action in the face of your fears, but this is almost impossible to do unless you practice a little faith in yourself.

If you’d like to know more about how we work with folks on their mindset and foster their belief in self, fill out the consultation request form to the right of this post.

Until then, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

-Cody and Alana Bishop

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