Category: Motivation

Fat Loss with New Years Resolutions

Got Fat Loss?

Like much of the civilized world right now you want to know about fat loss. It’s the very edge of 2013. You are probably thinking up some new years resolutions. If you’re like most people, you also are making the wrong resolutions. Or your resolutions are poorly formed. Here are some ideas to help you make better resolutions.

Reward your fat loss goals with treats if that works
Mt. Fuji in Japan with my wife. I had lost nearly 20 lb at this point in my fat loss journey.

1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.
2. A resolving to do something.
3. A course of action determined or decided on.

The definition of “resolution” implies a firm determination and decision. Many people tend to think of it in black/white terms. Either/Or. Fat Loss or … Fat Gain? That’s the catch here. If it’s total opposites, the only failure option available is to gain fat. Don’t get stuck in that trap.

Group activities with a deadline make great fat loss goals
American Fork Canyon Half Marathon 2011 finish line

Let’s begin by thinking of a Resolution as a Goal. A goal is a target. You either hit it or miss it. That simple. First of all a goal should be easily defined. Easily written down. Studies have been cited that people who write down a goal are more likely to achieve success than those that do not. Even if they never ever read that goal again. If they read that goal over and over and over they are even more likely to succeed. Your fat loss goal deserves the best chance of success. Write it down.

Fat Loss Goal? Write it down

for best success in your fat loss goals build a support team of family and friends
My kids at the Steamboat Half Marathon. Get the kids involved in your family fitness adventures.

Your goal has to be measurable, controllable, and achievable, with a starting point and an ending point. It must be a statement of fact as though it were true. Not a wish. Not a desire. Not a want.

I want to be a size 6. That’s not a goal. That’s a dream.

I am a size 8. I will be a size 6 in 10 weeks with carefully controlled nutrition and exercise. Now that’s a goal. It’s defined. It points to the process. It has a starting and ending point. It’s achievable in the time given for many people. It’s even measurable.

Measure your fat loss goals and succeed

track your fat loss goals with apps and software
Tracking software or apps can help you achieve your fat loss goals

There are at least a few ways to track your goal achievement. One way is to set a group of subgoals. Break down your fat loss milestones into smaller and smaller parts. It’s easier to do a little thing several times a day and see if it works than to do one thing every six months or so and just not know. I have a screenshot above from my Web App. It syncs with my Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor Watch that I wear for most workouts. I can track to be sure I’m not coasting in my workouts. I can also see if I might be overtraining. I highly recommend one of the many different heart rate and fitness tracking apps.

Some people can handle daily or weekly weight checks. Others can’t. For body composition goals I don’t recommend weight-based goal numbers. As you work out your muscles might grow a bit, and muscles weigh more than fat. They also can store water better than fat. Your intestinal contents, what you eat on a daily basis, can also hold varying amounts of water. Weight isn’t always the best way to measure fat loss.

You an get a bodyfat percentage measurement on a regular basis from health departments, fitness facilities, trainers, and several others. It’s a good way to measure your fat loss, and in general it adjusts itself to the amount of muscle you have. You can also just go by how your clothes feel. Count the empty holes in your belt. When your pants fall off. Clothing sizes can vary quite a bit from the different manufacturers. One company can have you at a size 32″ pants and another at a size 36″ pants.

body composition improvement evident in fat loss
Upper back development at 12% bodyfat

You can also track yourself with a diary or journal. Keep track of your daily accomplishments. Keep track of every single food item that goes into your mouth. Weigh it, measure it, note it. Keep track of how you feel when you wake, when you train, in the evening. Keep track of every ounce of weight you lift or push or pull. Keep track of every minute you do cardio of any type. Look back on previous results to compare and establish progress. You can eliminate a lot of fat loss excuses this way.

Reward your fat loss goal accomplishments

Some diet plans include cheat days. I’ve seen some pretty good math to show how you can totally sabotage your entire fat loss nutrition plan in a single meal. Just avoid it. After a while, if you think about it, it just seems desperate. Instead find things that you love to do. Things with your family. Things you love to wear. Things you consider luxurious otherwise. Go ahead and reward yourself. Just not with food. It’s like rewarding a thief for not stealing things for a year by allowing them free reign in a jewelry store.

One of my favorite rewards is a hike in the mountains with my family. I like to try a running event, like a half marathon in beautiful canyons. I know people who like to buy a clothing one size too small and work their way into a perfect fit. Do what works for you. Just don’t use food as your reward for fat loss success.

fat loss nutrition is healthy eating
Fat loss nutrition, not diet, will be key to your success

Take Fat Loss Goal Setting to the next level

When you first start setting goals, they should be easy enough you can hardly fail. Set microgoals that are easy and well defined and well measured. Here’s an example of one of these daily sets of microgoals.

Today I will wake at 5:00 AM, take my vitamins with a large glass of water. I will do 10:00 minutes on an elliptical at Level 4 as a warmup. I will do full Back Squats with 135 lb for 30 total reps in 15 minutes. I will do Leg Extensions with 60 lb for 50 total reps in 15 minutes. I will get on a treadmill and do 30:00 minutes at 6.0 mph and 3% incline. I will eat a high-protein, moderate carb, moderate fat meal. I will take a very hot shower and get ready for work.

Each of these little microgoals are an element of this daily goal. Each of these little chunks of action are simple enough to do, one after the other, to achieve this part of a larger fat loss goal. Aside from the weights and reps involved, which could easily be adjusted for anyone, these microgoals would be very difficult to fail at. When you first start, you need lots of success. As you become an expert at setting goals, you can make more and more advanced goals, with a higher probability of failure and it will not deter you from keeping on the path you set out on in the first place.

fat loss makes your muscles stand out more
Leg Muscles appear more obvious when your skin is thinner from fat loss

Fat Loss Goal Failure?

Yes. Sometimes it happens. You fail. Say that for some reason or other at the end of the 10 weeks you’re not a size 6. Now what? For one thing, if you’ve been keeping accurate measurements and a diary or journal, you probably would have noticed this a while ago and made some microgoal corrections. For myself I have recently had an issue that when I looked back on training journals from two years ago suddenly made sense and I was able to address it and possibly avoid a year of setbacks. Refer to your journals frequently.

You can also evaluate your goal and see if it was realistic. For some people 3 pounds of fat loss a week is possible. For others that might take six weeks. You find out what you can do or get away with by evaluating your failures.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison

I think people probably need to fail to figure out their own success. Don’t let it get to you. Re-evaluate. Set a new goal based on your failure. At 185 lb and over 50 years of age I will never run a 4:00 minute mile. It would be silly to set a goal based on that. I will never have a 28″ waist. I will never do a triple-axel. But that doesn’t detract from any goals I set, so long as I avoid those exact goals. I can set a goal based on a 7:00 mile. I can set a goal based on a 32″ waist. I can set a goal based on a waltz jump combo. Find what you can do and focus on that. Not on what you can’t do.

Trail running is an excellent activity for fat loss
Top of Mount Olympus outside Salt Lake City Utah, a favorite trail run

I want you to explore the full range of setting goals and making achievements in your own fat loss program. This article is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning to set goals. If you can, read books on goals. Listen to audio books on goals. If you can afford it, hire a trainer who has success with goals. Hire a life coach. You can get quite inexpensive online and phone life coaching. Some people are strong enough to do it on their own, some need help. If you want success, do what works for you. It’s your future. What’s it worth?

Hobbies, Trolls, and Goals

I use my Facebook Page to comment at on some of the really interesting articles there. Sometimes agree, sometimes disagree, sometimes pointing out a simple addition or omission – nothing really serious mind you. Mostly this puts the article on my Facebook Page, so those subscribing (by Liking) my page can view some info I feel might be relevant to their training or goals.

Ice Tool Chin-ups for Sports Specificity
Ice Tool Chin-ups for Sports Specificity

Now and then, I get some replies, and sometimes it’s from the author thanking me for commenting, liking the article, or whatnot. Now and then it’s one of my Facebook family, showing support for “what I said”. And now and then, it’s some oddball hobbyist or troll spewing. One of my previous favorites was for a comment I made on a nutrition article authored by a registered dietician. I said something to the effect of “I agree that you need to properly hydrate while endurance training.”


In reply to this comment someone said quite rudely, in Brit Slang style, that the author was ill educated and clueless. Since it’s a Facebook post I went and checked, and sure enough, they were a first semester student in a nutrition associate degree program. Confirmation bias – the unsupported belief that your chosen path is the correct one. Since they had just started their first semester I doubted they knew the topic as well as the author. As well, they were pretentious in their poor tv-inspired use of the Mother Tongue, since they were born and raised in like Kansas.

Recently I got it on another nutrition article, this one I think was on the addition of legumes to the diet as a protein, carb, and fiber source. I mentioned that I highly recommend the addition of canned black beans to anyone I consult. A Facebook user ranted that cans were evil and toxic and should never be used. I normally do not feed the troll on these, because it’s useless. Feeding the troll would be replying with anything, since there is already a quick and easy way to suck you into their vortex of nonsense.

Lunch in Russia
Meal after the Qualifier for Elbrus Race 2010. Great combo there of Russian food.

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” – Mark Twain

Let’s run through it quick:

1) cans have chemicals
a: alright then bags
2) bags have chemicals
a: alright then, canvas sacks
3) canvas sacks have chemicals
a: alright then, right from the hands of the farmer
4) the farmer’s hands are coated in 2,4-D/MCPP

So not much point in that progression, right? So this one person has a hobby of thinking the stuff they are learning in their associate degree program first three weeks supersedes the article information from the registered dietitian. Another hobby is related to chemicals in food. I’ve had people with other various hobbies post their trolls about meat, fish, veggies, grains, you name it. The funniest perhaps was a trainer with outstanding credentials getting down on my claim that a plane is a virtual construction of geometry and that it was physically impossible to exercise in a single plane of motion, even on a machine.

Explore your dietary options and be flexible
There is always more than one way to get your food in. Choose what works for you.

Trolls Vs. Goals

The sad thing is that while the hobbyists were feeding their egos, and trying to get me wrapped up in an argument I could not possibly win, there was actual true collateral damage. Yes. Innocent bystanders, people who are looking for the secret to fat loss, weight management, body composition improvement, how to just freaking do it. Falling by the wayside over some silly little inconsequential comment from a Facebook Troll.

In the case of the canned beans, you have someone who leads a relatively busy life, a normal life, and you say to them:

“Go to the store and get a dozen cans of black beans. Have half a can a day with your evening meal.”

Nutrition - meal at the top of Half Dome in Yosemite
FullStrength is an excellent meal replacement – great at the top of Half Dome in Yosemite

Simple, easy, empowering. But then if you toss in a can poison chemical hobby:

“So get some dry beans. Soak them for 12 hours, rinsing in clear cold water 4 times. Place them in a large pot on the stove and bring to a simmer over the course of the next hour. Lower the temperature until the water just barely swirls around the beans, and cook them like that for 6 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Then remove from heat and pour cold water in until the water is cold. Let stand for 1 hour. Place on the stove and bring to a rolling boil for 1 hour stirring constantly. Now your beans are done. Eat and enjoy.”

Kids will love to exercise if you start them early
Is it ever too young to start training seriously?

Anyone besides me have a life? I thought so. So while people are trying to roll forward toward making serious empowering changes in their lives, we have these Trolls tossing sticks in the wheels bringing them to a dead stop. I don’t think they consider this cruel side effect to stoking their egos. Maybe I’m naive though, and maybe these hobbyists really are the alleged obese blobs with their butts firmly welded to their chairs in their mom’s basement, as legend goes, and since they can’t get out and do it, they will fight tooth and nail with the only weapon available to them to prevent you from doing it too. I sure hope not. Wow. That’s really really sad.

So you, don’t do it either. Don’t post negative hobby-related stuff. If someone posts an article about grains being healthy, don’t go off on your gluten issues. Obviously anyone with gluten issues would know enough to take the article with a grain of salt. You probably don’t have to educate them. That’s just an example, but I think you get what I mean. I do understand that many of these what I refer to as “hobbies” are serious and real to you, and many have valid data to support them, but your mission could cause major damage and this is not the right time or place to spread the word.

Also, if you’re on the receiving end. Don’t quit your program because someone says cans or bags, or something will kill you. Be smart. Life is a compromise all around, and if a can of beans saves you two days in the kitchen while you should be out making money or playing with your kids, then by all means, get the freaking can and enjoy the denial the rest of the civilized world enjoys about can poisons.

Set your goals, make progress, everything in its own time. Baby steps. Hope that helps.

Buffest Skater Ever - Angie Miske
Wife Angie – really buff for a skater, due to a great diet and hard training

Sitting is Killing You [infographic]

I was looking for information on a report I heard about a few months ago claiming statistically significant impact on mortality rates for simply “sitting” at a desk and ran into this cool infographic:

I do a lot of sitting as part of my job as a computer geek, and as a writer and blogger, so that sounds a little scary. I can set up my home desk to be a stand-up unit, and a lot of video editors I’m aware of use a stand-up desk, since they’re on a PC like 16 hour days to finish a project.

I also normally am up and down the stairs at work about once every 45 minutes or so, for bathroom or eating breaks, or just to talk to my employees, or dig around in our gear closet. Hope that counts for something.

What do you think? Do you stand or sit? How much time do you spend in front of a monitor/keyboard?



Too exhausted to Repin on Pinterest

I was chatting with my wife Angie this morning on FB Messenger. She’s been skating really hard, having just completed one competition and on the way to another, with the goal of working in a double jump and getting her axel solid. She was having some recovery issues, and she said:

Angie: you know you are exhausted when you are too tired to hit REPIN on Pinterest

Angie and Coach Todd Gilles at Desert Ice in Las Vegas Nevada, November 2013
Angie and Coach Todd Gilles at Desert Ice in Las Vegas Nevada, November 2013

It was so fun talking about her recovery, and the usual stretching, ibuprofen, rolling, hot bath, consuming a few more calories, a few more quality carbs, a few more aminos. I got the sudden inspiration:

Me: that is so totally worth being a slogan

I spent a few minutes in Gimp (my current photo editor of choice) and whipped this up in just a few minutes. I had a tough time selecting pictures since I’m not on my main photo editing computer, so don’t have access to a lot of my favorite images. But it’ll be a good test of the system, to see how this works out. Could be fun.

Too exhausted to repin
Too exhausted to repin on Pinterest

As an aside, this was in December of 2010 at about 185 lb and 14% bodyfat. This image originally appeared in my Blogger Blog article DIY: Twin D-Handle Long Chain Workout Accessory – how to make your own Lat Row extension so you can pull back farther past your chest for a longer range of motion (ROM) while doing various lat exercises. I should do an article on how to use it here on this blog.

What Type of Climber are You?

Not a typical bodybuilding post, but I was reading a funny article about climber psychotyping with a clever approach. I got a good chuckle at the list, and found this one particularly applicable:

Trainers ostensibly train in order to climb harder, but can lose sight of climbing and become obsessed with the cleansing act of self-mortification through extreme physical activity. This subtype is common amongst mountaineers and alpinists, as masochistic tendencies is integral to these types of climbing.”

So yeah. That’s totally true. Some days I’m training away and look out the window at a particularly attractive cliff near my house that’s never been developed. I tell myself someday – but know I’d probably rather ride a stairmaster than pop off chossy holds.

Is that so bad? I began this training quite a few years ago after a miserable ice climbing class during which I could barely haul myself up 40′ of WI3 without sewing-machine legs and hands sliding off my tools in spite of my wrist leashes. I had a really good year leading up to summer 2010 during which I was all around the world attempting climbs both group and solo, but minorly psychologically damaged by my Liberty Ridge near-death experience. Somewhere in the middle of that I discovered that I’m slightly better at training for climbing than I am at climbing itself.

No, it’s not so bad. I can share my insights with you, and give you a few shots of boost to get your rockets firing.

Big Fat Mountain – Kilimanjaro and Obesity

I ran into a listing on Kickstarter (a startup funding pool website) for Big Fat Mountain – a documentary by Kara Richardson Whitely about her journey past obesity by taking up hiking and eventually climbing Kilimanjaro (one of the Seven Summits Quest). I’ve done Kili, and it was a long hike, and I think it’s an awesome goal for someone trying to regain their youthful health and fitness.

She also wrote a book about her ongoing transformation – Fat Woman on the Mountain: How I Lost Half of Myself and Found Happiness

I haven’t read it yet, but think I’ll add it to my queue. This sounds like it could be a really cool story about how mountaineering and the Seven Summits Quest could be the best motivation some people need to truly transform not only their bodies, but their minds, hearts, and spirits.