5 Biggest Game Changers for Physical Transformation

I was recently asked for one specific thing that was a game changer for my health transformation. After taking a moment, I came up with healthy smoothies as my answer, but it really got me thinking about the other changes that have made the biggest impact on my level of health and fitness. It was impossible to keep it to just one, but I did limit it to a short list of absolute game changers that helped me lose 90lbs, achieve optimum health, and build a lean, muscular physique.

1) Changing Mindset from Weight Loss to Muscle Gain

Most people are focused solely on weight loss, just as I was, and it’s easy to fall into the outlook of eat less, exercise more. But actually, the reverse of this philosophy is true. Proper fueling and energy expenditure are what you should be focused on. How many calories do you need in a day to maintain your weight? How many do you need to gain muscle? Lose body fat? You can get estimates of these numbers using a calorie/macro nutrient calculator. If you haven’t done this, chances are you’re not eating enough calories, which can wreck your metabolism and promote the retention of body fat. Or, you’re eating too many calories, which will cause unnecessary weight gain. Find out your daily needs, figure out where you’re at, and you may be surprised at what you find. Instead of weight loss, focus on getting stronger so that your body becomes efficient at burning body fat. In order to achieve this, I recommend adopting a strength building routine involving lifting weights. Resistance training is far more effective at changing body composition than cardio. Instead of wasting away for hours on a treadmill, do some weight training with compound exercises like the squat, dead lift, bench press, and overhead press. You’ll be getting lean and strong in no time.

2) Making Smoothies

From day one, smoothies were a major aspect of my weight loss journey. Today, they’re simply a way of life. You can literally drink your way to better health. I will have generally 1-2 per day, but sometimes as many as four. I initially started with a $30 blender from Wal-Mart. Today, I use Blend-Tec, which ranges from $200-$300, but is worth every penny. Smoothies are a quick, easy, and delicious way to get vital nutrients into your diet. Here is a list of the smoothie ingredients we use frequently:

  • Purified Water, Ice
  • Almond Milk, Rice Milk, Coconut Water, Kefir
  • Berries (Raspberry, Blueberry, etc), Banana, Apples (Fresh or Frozen)
  • Mulberries
  • Spinach, Kale
  • Cucumber, Beets, Carrots
  • Oat Bran
  • Grass Fed Whey Isolate (Hormone/Antibiotic-Free, Naturally Sweetened)
  • Creatine (Weight Training Supplement)
  • Casein Protein
  • Cacao Nibs, Cacao Powder
  • Coconut Oil, MCT Oil
  • Flax Seed, Hemp Seed, Chia Seed
  • Avocado, Almonds, Cashews, Coconut
  • Spirulina Tablets
  • Green Superfood Powder Blend (Chlorella, Wheat Grass, Etc.)
  • Carob Powder, Camu Powder, Maca Powder, Moringa
  • Stevia, Xylitol (Natural Sweeteners)
  • Cinnamon

Mix and match based on this list of ingredients or come up with your own. A great place to start is the Wes Sider Smoothie for optimization or the Fully Charged Chocolate Smoothie for dessert. When it comes to produce, we generally buy organic. It’s usually cheaper to buy frozen over fresh, but we mix and match depending on what’s on sale or in season. I always switch up ingredients, but the smoothie recipes I have listed on Wise-Eats.com are a great place to start.

What are you putting in YOUR smoothies? Shoot us an e-mail or leave a comment down below.

3) Hydrating Properly

Adequate hydration increases energy, reduces appetite, promotes weight loss, and increases muscle strength, among countless other benefits. The first thing I do every day is drink a tall glass of high quality water and stay fully hydrated the entire day. Generally, 1-2 gallons per day total. If I’m running to the bathroom every hour to pee, I’m winning. Once you eliminate pop, milk, energy drinks, and other junk fluids, drinking water becomes natural, and your body instinctively craves it above all else.

It’s not only the amount of water you drink, but the quality of your water. Tap water and even some bottled waters expose you to the hazards of added chemicals and pollutants. Purchase a filter or buy water directly from a facility that does purification. In the past, I have used a Pur filter, but these commercial filters usually only mask the taste of poor quality water and do nothing to remove contaminants. After ditching the Pur, I began buying water from a reverse osmosis facility. Today, we use a Berkey filtration system in our home. For a more in-depth look at exactly how I drink water, check out the Wise Eats “Always Workin’” Water recipe video.

4) Being Able to Work Out Anywhere

Building a home gym made getting fit much more convenient and helped me stay consistent with my routine. You don’t have to waste gas, time, and precious motivation driving to the gym in order to execute a quality workout. Initially, I started with a few sets of dumbbells and P90X or UFC Fit. Now, I’ve built an entire home gym that I’m constantly adding to. Here is a list of items I have:

  • Dumbbells
  • Pull-Up Bar
  • Adjustable Barbell Rack ($100 on Amazon)
  • Barbell & Weight Plates
  • EZ Curl Bar
  • Jump Rope
  • Workout Mat
  • Kettlebells
  • Foam Roller

That is more than enough to get a complete workout and jumpstart the recovery process.

What’s in YOUR home gym? Comment below!

If you do prefer to work out at a gym, look for one that is close to home or work. Prepare meals and shaker bottles with protein and supplements in advance so you’re well fueled and not tempted to buy junk convenience foods. Pack a bag with everything you need in advance so you have no excuses not to show up.

Outside home and the gym, build movement into your routine no matter where you are. Go outside and get some sun. Go for a walk, ride a bike, or stop reading this article right now and do some push-ups or bodyweight squats. I am not afraid to do bodyweight squats right in the bathroom wherever I’m at if I need an energy boost or want to burn some calories. Bring some weights and a mat to work so you can exercise on your lunch break. Any time you’re feeling stressed, find a place to do some quick push-ups or pull-ups. You’ll work that anxiety out and be feeling like a new person in no time! Just because you don’t have 30-60 minutes to dedicate to a workout, doesn’t mean you have to do nothing. 1 minute of effort is all you need to get started. Make progress from there.

5) Listening to Podcasts and Audiobooks

I credit much of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to podcasting, which has changed my life for the better. Through this medium I’ve found many mentors including Mike Dolce, Shawn Stevenson, John Lee Dumas, Mike Matthews, Joe Rogan, Ben Greenfield, Brock Armstrong, Monica Reinagel, and many more. The subject matter is not limited to exercise and nutrition. You can find podcasts on news, business, sports, entertainment, virtually any subject you’re interested in. You can listen right off of your phone while driving, working around the house, or completing some otherwise mindless activity. Podcasting has been a true game changer for my life as a whole as well as helping me get fit. I’ll actually be launching the Wise Eats podcast later this year, so stay tuned for that!

Honorable Mentions
6) Finding a Coach

I’ve never used a personal trainer or nutrition coach, so my coach was Google. Through trial and error, I learned a ton about proper diet, exercise, recovery, and thriving lifestyle habits. If you have the means, seek a reputable coach who can help you assess your current physical condition, set some goals, and help you get started. If I had a one-on-one coach years ago, I could have achieved my physical transformation much more quickly. Having someone with knowledge and experience that you look up to for motivation is critical. If you don’t have that person yet, find them.

7) Using Intermittent Fasting & Fasted Cardio

Intermittent fasting is a fat loss tactic I’ve adopted recently to help aid in calorie restriction. There is research supporting the idea that restricting your hours of eating can have some great health benefits resulting in fat loss and increased energy. In the first few hours of the morning, I feel more alert and focused when I don’t eat right away. Fasting for a little while at the beginning of the day helps keep my thoughts clear and burn stored fat. While I enjoy walking any time of the day, I especially love going for a brisk walk in a fasted state first thing in the morning. It’s highly effective for fat loss and one of my favorite forms of low-intensity cardio.

8) Focusing on Sleep

Some say physical fitness is 80% exercise and 20% diet. Others say it’s 20% diet and 80% exercise. I say it’s equal parts diet, exercise, and rest. Once I finally made sleep a priority in my life, my fitness results and overall health improved dramatically. The higher your quality and duration of sleep, the more mental, physical, and emotional energy you’ll have to perform at your best. At a bare minimum, I shoot for 6 hours a night, but operate best at 7-9 hours. Here are a few of the strategies I implement to improve sleep quality. There’s good science behind many of them, although I won’t bore you with the details. Inspiration for this section, in part, came from Shawn Stevenson’s book “Sleep Smarter”:

  • Exercise earlier in the day – Too close to bedtime can inhibit sleep
  • No caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime
  • Sleep in a very dark room (We use blackout curtains)
  • Rise and fall with the sun to take advantage of your natural circadian rhythms
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid junk food
  • Get as much natural sunlight exposure as you can
  • Supplement with magnesium and vitamin D (or multivitamin)
  • Drink hot tea (Helps with food cravings, too)
  • Go to bed around the same time every night – Even on weekends
  • No large meals just before bed – Light, nutritious snacking only
  • Foam rolling or massage just before bed
  • Remove all electronics from the bedroom, including TVs and cell phones
  • Avoid using blue light emitting devices (TV, cell phone, etc.) at least an hour before bed
  • Read a book until your eyes won’t stay open anymore
  • Physical touch with another human being before sleep
  • Meditation or deep breathing just before sleep and/or just after waking

These are most of the strategies I use to get the deepest, longest sleep possible. The more you sleep, the faster you recover, the more you can work out, the better you will feel and perform, the more you’ll be able to work out and feel great and look great. You get the idea.

Are there any techniques YOU utilize to improve the quality of your sleep? We’d love to read them! Post in the comments below.

These factors have been absolute game changers in helping me lose 90lbs, build muscle, and improve quality of life overall. I hope you’re already incorporating one or more of them into your own life. If you’re not, it’s time to wise up!!! Thanks for reading.

For more health and fitness tips, stay tuned to Wise-Eats.com. And if you’re not a member of Wise Choice Nation, sign up now free!

10 Fat Loss Tips & Six-Week Challenge Results

Note: Before/after pics were taken in the evening, fully hydrated and fed.

10 Fat Loss Tips & Six-Week Challenge Results

Six weeks went fast! The fat loss challenge is by no means over, but I did say six weeks in my original post, so here’s an update. I didn’t get quite the results I wanted but did make some progress and lost a decent amount of weight in that time. I also made consistent strength gains in all of my major lifts (bench, squat, dead lift, overhead press), which was pretty surprising. I also learned some valuable lessons that are going to help me do even better in the next six weeks, and hopefully help you do the same. Read on.

Age: 34
Height: 6’0

Start Date: 4-2-18
End Date: 5-14-18

Starting Weight: 198.6lbs
Ending Weight: 193.2lbs
Total Weight Loss: 5.4lbs

Average Calories/Day Prior to Cut: 3,500-4,000
Average Calories/Day During Cut: 2,500-2,700

Macro Goals/Day
Protein: 240g
Fat: 40g
Carbohydrates: 278g

1) I Expected to Do Better
Total weight loss of 5.4lbs is not as much as I hoped for in six weeks, but it’s still nearly a full pound per week. My biggest downfalls were lack of cardio and inclusion of cheat meals (more on that later). Ultimately, slow and steady weight loss is the goal to keep a sustainable, healthy weight. A crash diet resulting in drastic weight loss will burn valuable muscle and contribute to metabolic deficiencies. That said, I lacked some dietary discipline during this cut and could’ve achieved results much faster.

2) Eating Clean Does Not Guarantee Weight Loss
Although I have tracked my meals every day since 2009, I’ve gotten away from strict calorie/macronutrient counting over the past couple years and focused mainly on quality of nutrients. Eventually, this led to excessive caloric intake (3,500-4,000 per day) and accumulation of excess body fat, which is why I decided to start this six week cut. Sure, I’ve been lifting weights like a madman and gaining muscle but didn’t need nearly that many calories in order to acquire the muscle I desired. Had my calories been around 2,500-3,000 per day, I could have still gained muscle without adding so much body fat in the process. It’s valuable to count calories so you know where you’re at. Calculate your baseline needs and adjust from there based on your goals to gain or lose weight.

3) Dietary Fat is Healthy, But Too Much Leads to Weight Gain.
Grass fed butter. Avocado oil. Almonds. Coconut oil. Cashew butter. Dietary fat has tremendous health benefits, and it’s delicious. But when it comes to losing weight and eating fat, tread lightly. Fat has the highest calorie content out of all the macronutrients at 9 calories per gram. It is also the nutrient most easily converted into body fat. Leading up to this challenge, I was consuming 100-200g or more of dietary fat per day under the assumption that it was clean eating and good for me. During this challenge, I limited my intake to 40-60 grams per day on most days, and this had a major impact on my ability to restrict calories and shed body fat.

4) Intermittent Fasting Helped.
By putting off breakfast for a few hours in the morning, you can get a cognitive boost and utilize the many benefits of low intensity fasted cardio (walking, other light activity). This will also assist you in keeping total calorie intake down. I love the way I felt in the morning during that fasted period, so intermittent fasting is a strategy I will continue to use going forward.

5) I Was Never Starving
I used to think that eating needed to be restricted to the point where I was physically uncomfortable in order to lose weight, but that’s just not the case. During this cut, I averaged 6-8 meals per day at about 2,500 total calories. There were definitely times when I wanted to eat more, but I never felt truly deprived of anything during the cut.

6) I Did Almost No Cardio
I focused strictly on heavy, compound weight lifting 5 days per week. What little cardio I did do involved low intensity bike riding, walking, core workouts, and stretching. To accelerate results in the future, I will incorporate 2-3 high intensity cardio sessions per week. This should help get results much faster.

7) “Workout” Less, Lose More
Calorie restriction alone is enough to ensure weight loss, but exercise is still a critical component. 1-2-hour training sessions are unnecessary to build muscle and lose body fat, which is what I was doing previously. 30-60 mins of focused weight training with proper form and challenging weight are all you need to get strong and lose body fat. Short, intense cardio sessions lasting 20-30 mins are all you need to complement that schedule. Rest, recovery, sleep, walking, stretching, foam rolling, yoga, etc. are just as important as strenuous physical exertion.

8) I Had Epic Cheat Days and Still Lost Weight
I usually try to limit myself to one cheat meal per week, if at all. Most of the time, I just eat like I normally do because I love real food. During this cut, I wanted to exclude all cheat meals, but failed. Enjoyed three significant cheat meals during the six weeks. Back-to-back date nights with the wife involving beer and NY style pizza, then most recently a Mother’s Day feast with the family where I pretty much ate what I wanted but still had the cut in the back of my mind. Most other times, I adhered to my allotted calories and macros every single day.

9) Carbs Are NOT Your Enemy
Sweet potato, fruits, vegetables, jasmine rice, steel cut oats. Carbohydrates fuel your workouts and provide valuable energy but have been bastardized by profit-seeking firms that are usually selling poisons and ineffective diet fads. Make sure you’re eating enough carbohydrates based on your activity levels. I had around 278 grams of carbs per day throughout this cut and felt great doing it. Keto…eat your heart out.

10) Can’t Expect Results Overnight.
Fitness is a lifelong journey. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. One rep higher than your last workout. 10 seconds faster or 1 mile longer than before. Stay consistent, and you will see results. Small deposits in your physical bank account now add up to huge dividends later. Stay committed, keep making progress, and you will see results in time.

These results have only motivated me to keep going and do even better. I will report my progress at the end of the next six weeks and continue to share the biggest lessons learned. I hope you can take some of these fat loss insights and apply them to your own life. Health is wealth, so start making some wise choices! Please contact me with any questions, comments, or suggestions. I want to produce the best possible content to help people get healthy and feel great because that’s how we should all be living. Thanks for reading.

12 Lessons Learned from 90lb Weight Loss

If you’ve been to Wise-Eats.com/MyStory, you know that I lost 90lbs back in 2009. It was the start of a major lifestyle change in which I became passionate about nutrition, fitness, building lean muscle, preventing sickness, and optimizing energy levels. Today, I want to share the biggest lessons and tips from that initial weight loss experience, and how you can apply them to your own fat loss goals:

 

1) Embrace Your Need for Change.

In order to improve your health, you must want it for yourself. Think of the reasons you want to lose weight or build muscle. Don’t let weight loss be some idea that’s out there floating in space. Make it tangible. Will losing 20lbs help you interact better with your kids, make you a better worker, leader, friend, or family member? Think of the reasons you want to change and it will help you solidify that goal. Making the commitment is the first step

2) Set A Specific Fitness Goal.

At 6ft, 270lbs, my original goal was very simple: lose weight. After the weight loss, my goals changed. I was skinny, but still sick and unhealthy. At that point, my goal turned toward body composition and building lean muscle. Assess your current physical condition and figure out exactly where you want to go. Then, make it a goal to finally get there, no matter what!

3) Losing Body Fat Is A Numbers Game.

Calories in, calories out. Assuming you have no pre-existing health conditions or metabolic deficiencies, weight loss is very simple. You need to achieve a caloric deficit in order to lose body fat. A calorie surplus is needed to sustain or grow muscle over time. Use a calorie/macronutrient calculator to find out what your daily needs are. I’ve provided my favorite below. Remember, these are just approximations. At 6ft, 200lbs with an active lifestyle, here’s what my caloric needs look like:

Maintain Weight: 2,925 calories per day
Gain Weight: 3,510 calories per day
Lose Fat/Sustain Muscle: 2,632 calories per day
Lose Fat: 2,340 calories per day
https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator

I prefer to lose fat while sustaining as much muscle as possible. Eating too few calories will burn up valuable muscle, which slows your metabolism and hinders long-term progress. Weight loss of about 1lb per week is a sustainable pace that will help ensure long-term results. As long as you’re eating slightly less calories than required, you will lose weight. If you’re lifting weights with proper form, making progressions, and eating slightly more than you’re expending, you will gain muscle. It’s that simple.

4) Start A Diet Journal and Count Calories

This step can be as complicated or simple as you make it. Use an app on your phone, track on a spreadsheet, or write longhand like I used to back in the day. This will help you monitor calorie intake, stay accountable, and wise you up toward the foods you’re currently eating. A kitchen scale will help you measure portion sizes. Counting total daily calories is a great place to start.

When it comes to macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates), there’s no need to obsess over counting every gram, although it helps when you want to accelerate fat loss and build muscle. I could’ve achieved my current level of fitness much faster if I had been more strategic with my eating and drinking habits over the years. The more disciplined you are with your diet, the faster your results will come.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re getting high quality protein with every meal (usually 30-50g per meal). This will ensure healthy weight loss while preserving lean muscle. Add a moderate amount of healthy dietary fat (which, in my experience, is very easy to go overboard on). The rest of your meals should consist of high quality carbohydrates, which will fuel athletic performance and boost physical and mental energy levels.

Instantly receive a full list of recommended protein, fats, and carbohydrates via e-mail when you subscribe to Wise Choice Nation! http://www.wisechoicenation.com/

5) Get Educated About Diet and Exercise.

Do some research about the things you’re putting in your body. Every single thing you eat or drink is either fueling progress or hindering it. Give your body the raw materials it needs to repair and grow efficiently, and you will reap the benefits.

When it comes to exercise, form and safety are paramount. Study proper form through trusted sites like Bodybuilding.com. There are quality videos for literally any exercise you can imagine. Once you understand how to perform compound movements properly and get some confidence doing them, you can get consistent with your training program and make steady progress.

6) Get Moving.

Discover forms of exercise that you enjoy and will perform on a regular basis. You can workout at home, work, or a local gym. Hire a personal trainer, join a fitness class, or just get outside and go for a walk or run or bike ride. You don’t have to buy expensive equipment or spend hours wasting away on a treadmill. A dumbbell and a YouTube video are all you need to get started. My favorite workout regimens, past and present, will be available soon at Wise-Eats.com/Workouts. Currently, I enjoy weight lifting 5-6 days per week mixed with some high intensity interval training 1-3 days per week (usually performed with kettlebells or UFC Fit full-body dumbbell/bodyweight training). Once you find an exercise program that you’re passionate about, working out is never a chore. It becomes part of your routine; something you can’t function without. You show up because you’re motivated to get better every single time and know that you won’t function at your best without it. Feeling amazing becomes the norm; getting in shape is just a byproduct.

7) Track Your Progress.

Use a fitness journal to record exercises and weights. Monitor your bodyweight daily and/or week-to-week. When tracking your weight, don’t be disappointed if your results aren’t immediate or consistent. For weight loss, aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week. For muscle gain, look to make progress over time by making small improvements each workout. Slightly more weight each time or more reps with good form. Record your performance, reflect on your progress, and celebrate your accomplishments. Realize that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you stay consistent, you will see results.

8) Eat Real Food.

Total calorie intake and macros are important to fitness, but I believe nutrient quality is even more important to overall health. Replace fast food or processed convenience foods with home prepared meals from fresh ingredients. Pay attention to nutrition fact labels, and try to eat minimally processed, organic foods as often as possible. Lean proteins like chicken, fish, and whey protein powder. Nutrient-rich carbs like oat bran, quinoa, and sweet potato. Fresh fruits and vegetables as close to their original source as you can get them. Meats that are organic or sustainably raised. Food has tremendous power over your health and fitness, so take it seriously. It can make or break your motivation, consistency, and progress.

9) Drink Only Water.

Okay, this is a bit of an exaggeration. Tea, coffee, coconut water, rice milk, and almond milk are also acceptable beverages, but you get the idea. The bottom line is to eliminate pop, juice, energy drinks, and most other processed beverages. They’re usually science-based chemical concoctions that are going to lead to imbalances and long-term health complications. I used to drink 20oz or more of soda per day for most my life, so I get it. Quitting that was one of the hardest mental struggles I’ve ever overcome. Trust me, once you finally eliminate soda from your diet, you’ll wonder why you ever drank it in the first place.

A complete list of Wise Eats approved foods, beverages, and supplements are sent instantly via e-mail when you subscribe FREE to Wise Choice Nation! http://www.wisechoicenation.com/

 

10) Limit Yourself to One Cheat Meal Per Week Or Less.

Throughout my 90lb weight loss, I cheated on my diet a ton. Cheat meals, cheat days, even full cheat weeks. Calorie restriction sustained my weight loss, not consistent healthy eating. Over time, however, I was able to improve my diet and focus on eating clean, which helped me build muscle and start to get really fit. You don’t have to eat perfect all of the time to lose weight and get in shape. Focus on your goals, try to eat healthy the majority of the time, treat yourself in moderation, and always get back on track after a cheat meal.

11) Plan Meals in Advance.

It’s time to get in the kitchen. Remove processed junk foods and other unhealthy snacks from your kitchen. If it’s not in your house, you can’t eat it, so stock your cabinets with wise choices. Make large batches of food to have ready for quick, convenient, well-balanced meals. Make enough breakfast to have leftovers for days. Bring healthy snacks like nuts and fresh fruit to have on hand at work. Prepare shaker bottles full of protein for those moments when you’re stuck needing a meal. The more you prepare, the greater your chances for success. Stay away from vending machines and restaurants. You possess sole responsibility for every single thing you put into your body. Own that role and do good things for yourself.

12) Kick Your Bad Habits to Make Room for Good Ones.

Quit smoking and take more deep breaths. Replace soda with filtered lemon water. Less sitting, more walking. Pack a healthy lunch instead of buying fast food. Stop feeling tired and sick. Start feeling energized and upbeat. Less negativity, more compassion and kindness. Watch less TV, read more books. Look at your cell phone less, sleep a little more. Reduce processed snacks, eat more vegetables. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Focus less on your problems and more on things you’re grateful for. Small changes today add up to life-altering results in the future.

Develop a lifestyle that will eliminate body fat, build muscle, and optimize your life for good. Do it for yourself, but also do it because there is someone out there who needs you to be around for a long time. Avoid sickness, boost your mood, increase energy levels, and fight depression with a longevity-based lifestyle. Through proper diet and exercise you can improve your mental capacity, productivity levels, and motivation to get better in other areas of life. Stick with Wise-Eats.com to help get you there, and feel free to send any questions you may have along the way. To keep up on the latest updates, articles, recipes and more, join our free newsletter, Wise Choice Nation. Thanks for reading. Make Wise Choices!