Coach JP - now Spartan SGX certified!

Coach JP - now Spartan SGX certified!

Just a quick post to share the news that I've (finally) completed all the requirements to become a Spartan SGX Coach, making me one of only three in BC, I think.

So now I'm "officially" certified to make you do tons of burpees, hang from things, climb over walls and carry weird stuff over crappy terrain, where before I was just really mean...LOL.

-Coach JP

What to Do When You Get Off Track

What to Do When You Get Off Track

So far on the blog, we've talked about setting goals, finding your motivation, and how preparation and small wins trump the mythical willpower when it comes to long-term success.  Hopefully you've used those lessons to get yourself started on your health and lifestyle journey - but what happens when you get off-track?  Are you one of those people who goes completely off the rails (like I used to be!), or just make a minor course correction and carry on?  Today's article gives you some tools for dealing with those inevitable times when things don't go according to plan.

The Myth of Willpower (How Preparation and Small Wins Add Up)

The Myth of Willpower (How Preparation and Small Wins Add Up)

Willpower

Yes, the "W" word.  That mythical pink fluffy unicorn called Willpower has been held out as the key to success in nearly every realm of life, from weight loss, to business success, to climbing Mount Everest.  I've also heard, time and time again, "I just don't have the willpower to resist eating that..."  or something along those lines to explain why someone hasn't been able to succeed in losing weight and/or maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

WILLPOWER VS. STRONG MOTIVATION

It seems that, much of the time, people equate willpower with strong motivation.  E.G. if your motivation for losing weight is strong enough, you will be able to resist the temptations of poor food choices, etc. because the motivation will give you the will.  Maybe they need to get in shape or risk losing their job, or have been told that their life is in imminent danger from health complications unless they lose weight.  Keep trekking through the forest or climbing that mountain, or give up and die alone in the wilderness.  In these cases, people are absolutely driven by this strong motivation.

From the outside looking in, it seems that these people have enormous willpower because they don't make those bad choices, but when you look just a bit deeper, or even if you ask these people how they "find the willpower" they'll tell you.  It isn't willpower, it's that the alternative (not losing weight) or the consequences of that alternative (E.G. unemployment or death) are negative enough in their mind that it is simply not viable, so they have "no choice" but to make the right choice.  There is no exertion of their will required to stay on track - their deep motivation is sufficient to sustain them because any other choice is unpalatable.

Having a deep, emotionally-resonant motivation is great (that's why we had you go through the 5 Why's Exercise in our article "Find Your Real, Deep Down Why"), and can definitely help keep you on track through minor, or even some not-so-minor, challenges along the way. For most of us, though, for motivation to be strong enough on its own to sustain a fitness/lifestyle journey through serious challenges, it literally has to be life and death.  If the consequences of failure are less than fatal, we can always find a way to accept falling off track.  That is completely normal, and is absolutely OK!

Meal Frequency vs. Consistency

Meal Frequency vs. Consistency

So far, we've looked at where you want to go on this journey, and dug into some deeper motivation to keep you on track when things get tough.  Today, we're going to change gears a little, and look at something a little less emotional that you can put into practice - meal timing.

Dispelling The Myth Of
Frequent, Smaller Meals

Before we go further, I want to dispel a very commonly accepted myth when it comes to nutrition for fat loss.

For many, many years, the generally-accepted practice in the fat loss, physique and sports nutrition fields when it came to meal frequency was that people should eat multiple small meals throughout the day, rather than the traditional "3 square meals" of the olden days.  A number of seemingly plausible reasons were given for why this was the optimal way of doing things, but really it came down to two main concepts:

  • More frequent meals to keep your metabolism "revved up" all the time
  • Smaller meals to keep insulin spikes smaller, keep blood sugar more stable and reduce fat storage

Great in theory, but what was really behind all of this?

Find Your Real, Deep Down "Why"

Find Your Real, Deep Down "Why"

What's My Motivation?

In our last post, we talked about how important it is to Begin With The End In Mind.  Having a clear, strong picture of where you're going on your nutrition/lifestyle journey can be a powerful motivator in itself, and for some people, that vision is all they need to see it through to the end.  They can see the potential reward of better health, improved sports performance, or just looking better naked, and that carrot is enough to keep them going.

Most people, however, need to dig a little deeper to find something more internal and emotional to drive them forward when times get tough.  This is kind of like that "emotional breakthrough moment" you see on those weight loss shows on TV, where the contestant breaks down and shouts at/cries with their trainer over something deep inside that has been holding them back.

While we don't necessarily need you to do that (but hey - if you need to, we're here to listen!), we do need you to take things to a more emotional level so that you have something really meaningful to you to help you push through the rough times.

Begin With The End In Mind

Begin With The End In Mind

Begin With The End In Mind

When it comes to body composition change/fat loss, it is important to define where you are starting from, and where you want to go.  Before taking a look at where you are starting from, we'd like to help you “Begin With The End In Mind”, so this article and the next couple we post are designed to help you determine where you want to end up, and why. 

Fat Loss Exercise - How Much / How Often To Train

Fat Loss Exercise - How Much / How Often To Train

There's a lot of information out there on fat loss exercise, with some folks advocating hours of "cardio" every day, and others promising results in "just minutes a day".  It's hard to sort out fact from fiction and marketing hype.

The truth is, it takes time and hard work to lose body fat the right, sustainable way.  Bear in mind as we talk about this that what you need to do to achieve fat loss, better body composition, and improved performance is not necessarily what you will need to do to maintain it.  In other words, don't freak out when we tell you how much work you'll need to do to get to your goal, because you will almost certainly not have to do that for the rest of your life.

Why We Do What We Do :)

Why We Do What We Do :)

I just wanted to share a great message we received from one of our members yesterday.  This great lady is part of the great crew we have at The BTG that make it such an awesome community to be a part of, and why Coach Julia and I love what we do here.

Thank YOU, "Mabel" for putting in the hard work to get such great results!

JP. Thanks. I do not let you and Julia know enough how much I appreciate you both. I can now walk UP the hill on Old Yale and the hill on George Ferguson Way without dying a slow death. I have had back pain for 30 years, and every test shows nothing wrong. It was this morning that I realized I do not have any. Just a few twinges, that is it. I thank you both so much. I feel like a new person. I doubt if I will ever do a Spartan, but my Spartan is Old Yale hill.
"Mabel"

Free Preview of My First Book, As It's Being Written (Part 2)

Free Preview of My First Book, As It's Being Written (Part 2)

Alright, folks - here's the continuation of the story that will make up the Introduction to the book.  I'm hoping to finish off this part of the book over the coming weekend, and will post it here as well.  After that, I'm not sure how much I'll post on the blog, and how much will only be going out to my Advance Reader List.

If you're interested in getting all of the content through the process, click the button in the main post to get on my Advance Reader List.  I promise, all you'll get from the list is access to the book content - no marketing BS.  I just need some eyes on the content, and feedback while the book is being developed!

Free Preview of My First Book, As It's Being Written!

Free Preview of My First Book, As It's Being Written!

So, I've decided to write a book.  It's going to be partly a journal chronicling the training, nutrition and progress of myself and the BTG Spartan Team as we prepare for the 2017 season, partly a training and nutrition guide to preparing for your first Spartan Beast (in particular, a mountainous grinder like Sun Peaks, Montana or Lake Tahoe) or just to become a great all-rounder fitness-wise, and hopefully a little bit of an inspirational and entertaining tale along the way.

Here's the first part of the Introduction (or maybe chapter 1?) that I just finished writing, covering a bit of back-story, including our semi-disastrous 2016 preseason, breaking my ankle one week before our first Spartan Race of 2016, and the beginning of my comeback from that disaster at the end of May to completing four Spartan Races in 49 days from early September to yesterday (October 22), including a Trifecta (Sprint, Super and Beast in the same year) plus a second Beast.  It's 2166 words so far, and I've only gotten to where I got the OK from the doctor to start walking unassisted!

The continuation of the introduction (or maybe chapter 2?), which I'll also publish here on the blog, will complete the journey through to the end of our racing season, and bring things up to the current date.

If you're interested in reading the whole book online, as it is created, sign up to my advance reader list by clicking THIS LINK.  I'll also provide a link at the end of this preview chapter, for once I've hooked you with my riveting content - LOL!  Seriously, though, I'd really appreciate having a few more sets of eyes on this as I create it to help catch any typos and to give me quick feedback on whether it's interesting/useful enough reading or not!

Why Better Than Average Isn't Good Enough For Me (and shouldn't be for you either!)

Why Better Than Average Isn't Good Enough For Me (and shouldn't be for you either!)

Here's a link to a great article titled "Why Better Than Average Isn't Good Enough for Me" on breakingmuscle.com by Pete Hitzeman.  In the article, he talks about how the only useful comparison you have for your performance or progress is against yourself.

The only useful, reliable comparison is the one made objectively against myself. Am I better than I was yesterday? Last week? Last year? Have I gone faster or moved a heavier barbell? Have I solved a problem with a recurring injury or learned a new movement? Have I improved my focus, consistency, determination, or mental balance? As long as these markers are moving forward, I will continue to move the goalpost further afield.

I may never become an elite athlete, but I can reach the pinnacle of my own potential, and that will be good enough.

Comparing yourself to the average person in our society breeds complacency because, let's face it, it's not hard to be better than average these days, with obesity on the rise and largely sedentary lifestyles becoming the norm.  Conversely, comparing yourself to professional athletes, celebrities or fashion/fitness models, whose bodies are their jobs and who have the time and resources to dedicate to training themselves accordingly is not appropriate or useful either.

You be YOU.  Be the best YOU possible.  Need some help getting there?  Get Started with training and nutrition coaching at The BTG.

Auguston Stairs - What Are My Limits?

Auguston Stairs - What Are My Limits?

I was solo this morning at the Auguston Stairs, so without anyone else's pace or time constraints to think about, I decided to push my limits a bit.  I set out with a pace intended to see me through 15 sets of stairs, with the aim of seeing what would quit first - my legs, my lungs, or my head.

The answer?  None of the above.

The Truth About Ketogenic Diets

The Truth About Ketogenic Diets

Ketogenic diets are once again back in fashion, as people take the low-carb mentality to the extreme in search of a quick fix for fat loss.  The folks over at Precision Nutrition have taken a look at the actual research behind it, and put together a great overview of ketogenic diets, what they are, who and what they DO work for, and who and what they DON'T.

Here's the link to the full article, and here's the short version (summarized by Coach JP):

  • For long-term fat loss, surprise, surprise:  starving your body of a key macronutrient doesn't work. 
  • As with all low-carb diets, the fast weight loss that most experience in the beginning is due to the loss of muscle glycogen (I.E. one of your body's key fuel sources) and the water that accompanies it, not any loss of body fat.  All of that weight will return as soon as you provide your body with the carbohydrate it needs to replenish those stores.
  • For athletic performance, a ketogenic diet doesn't help performance, and may harm it.  However, supplementing a regular diet with ketones might produce a small (2% or less) but measurable improvement in aerobic performance.  Not worth it for a weekend warrior, but for an elite endurance athlete, maybe.
  • For those with or at risk for certain neurological issues, ketogenic diets have been proven effective, and research is currently ongoing for others. 

When Disaster Strikes Part 1 - Nutrition To Support/Accelerate Injury Recovery

When Disaster Strikes Part 1 - Nutrition To Support/Accelerate Injury Recovery

So I managed to break my leg/ankle (technically a "spiral fracture of the fibula") on the inaugural Run For Water Trail Race yesterday.  I was absolutely flying (for a 205 lb., 5'7" non-runner!), on pace to finish the race somewhere between 1h30m and 1h45m, and it happened.  Just a single misstep on a very slick section of the trail (it was the wettest day of the year so far yesterday - just my luck!), my right foot trailed behind me, and I went down HARD.  Lots of snapping/popping as I went down, race over.  X-rays confirmed the break, so now I'm in a cast for 6 weeks, but on the upside, I "probably" won't need surgery according to the ER doc.

Auguston Stairs - 2016.05.07

Auguston Stairs  - 2016.05.07

So, week 7 of stair training at the Auguston Stairs, and I've achieved 10 trips in under 1 hour.  Today's planned work took just over 56 minutes to complete 10.

A big thank you to some of our rock star women at The BTG for joining me today, since the boys bailed out!  Christine, Megan and Tanya all worked hard on their first time at the stairs, with Christine and Megan completing 6 trips, and Tanya completing 4.  Beware, ladies - your legs are going to be SORE for a couple of days!  My wife, Raina, meanwhile, herded all the kids (5 girls!) around the trail and back through Auguston to meet us at the end of our work.  A real team effort for an early Saturday morning!

Spartan Trifecta Training - Auguston Stairs (Video and Tips)

Spartan Trifecta Training - Auguston Stairs (Video and Tips)

I decided to shoot some video of the stairs yesterday - one trip down and back up, in real time, so you all can see what they're like.  You can see the video on our YouTube channel here.

The stairs are very physically demanding, don't get me wrong, but they are also a bit of a mind game, and the mind game may be even more important than the physical training.  Your brain may tell you to quit (a lot!), especially once you start doing more sets.  For me, the first four trips or so are mostly physical demands, the next few are more mental, and the last couple are really both.

I almost always want to quit around number 6 it seems, but I haven't yet!  This past weekend was the hardest to push through that, because I was doing the stairs solo.  I could easily also have stopped after 8, because my family was at the top of the stairs waiting for me, but I was committed to doing 9 trips, and I wasn't going to fail myself by quitting early.

Being able to push through that mental barrier of "this is really hard, I don't know if I can finish" and discovering that you will rise to the challenge if you keep pushing is a really important lesson, not just for Spartan training, but for life!

Stair Training for Spartan Beast Sun Peaks

Stair Training for Spartan Beast Sun Peaks

In a deviation from the training plan, we're getting a bit of a head start on our incline / elevation training thanks to BTG client Kyle H, and his find of these stairs just a few minutes' drive from The BTG Garage.

Our first visit to the stairs absolutely DESTROYED my calves for four days, though that could have been the combination of the stairs at 8:30 AM, sparring at 10:00 AM, then an 8 km run / 4 km walk at noon the same day.  Actually, about 5 km into the run, I started to get seizures in my quads very similar to those I experienced on the Beast last year, but oddly enough my quads felt fine in the days after, where I didn't feel anything in my calves at all during any of the activity, but they were incredibly stiff and sore in the days following.  Go figure...

Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach and...Sourdough Baker?

Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach and...Sourdough Baker?

I have to admit, I have become a LITTLE bit obsessed with making sourdough bread.  In today's "wheat is the root of all evil" culture, particularly in the fitness and fat loss industry, that seems to be a bit counter-intuitive, maybe even a bit crazy, but bear with me...

See, I've never been a "X is always bad" kind of guy when it comes to food.  We've gone through a number of nutrition/diet fads and trends during my lifetime so far (low-fat/high-fibre, sugar-free, fat-free, low-carb, gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, and vegan among others), and the takeaway once the hype behind each of those blows over is that eating healthy really comes down to eating a wide variety of real foods in moderation.  Anything can be bad for you in too big a quantity, or when it is consumed too frequently / to the exclusion of other things.

Read the full article to journey a little way down the sourdough rabbit-hole with me!  :)