Friday, 21 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Thirty: 5 Things I Learned



Hi guys,


Weigh-in: 205 lbs
Calories: 2800

So that’s it. 30 days of me droning on is over and I shall no longer be boring into your eyehols on a daily basis. In Post 49, I’m going to be going deeper into what I found out over the time, but here’s a quick summary of what I’ve learned.


1- 30 days is longer than you think. You’re not at your peak motivation every day; sometimes you’re just plain busy. By being accountable (to your friends, to yourself, to the public, etc.) you’re forced to keep churning it out.


2- Have an explicit plan. Know exactly what it is you want to achieve and don’t get waylaid. I set out wanting to write 250 words a day, and stuck to my promise.


3- Have some backups. Prepare what you can in advance. So in my case, what I should have done is written two or three back-up posts which I could release on days I was in a hurry. If you were doing a 30 challenge involving food, you could prepare some meals and freeze them in case you were strapped for time.


4- I know my strengths. I love talking about science and the mechanisms behind what happens when we eat certain foods, but I’m also fascinated by psychology. Having lost the weight myself, I can understand what people are thinking and how to angle a new way of eating to be the most effective.


5- I know what interests you! As well as being a chance for me to express my thoughts, I’ve also been performing some sneaky market research! In future, I’ll take the most popular daily blogs and turn them into full posts.


So there you go. 30 days have come and gone.


Until next time,
Cowlean

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Twenty-Nine: Rumpelstiltskin

Hi guys,

Weigh-in: 203.8 lbs
Calories: 3000

This post is definitely not click-baity. NOT AT ALL!!! Over the past month I’ve been seeing my ideas coalesce on the screen. Often times I’ll sit down to write on one topic, and another one pops into my head which I either swap to or scurry away for later (this post was actually originally entitled “Glossary”, but once I typed it I realised how dull that was...).

I’ve noticed that I often put things in quotations marks or italics, because they’re labels for the weird and wonderful ideas and methods I’ve encountered along the way. That’s because once you give something a name you have power over it. You can identify it, and separate it from yourself, or try and engineer it if it’s a positive.

That could be as simple as cravings. Since you can name that strong desire, it’s much easier to identify and say to yourself “my body just wants this food to create fat, my mind doesn’t want it though”.

A positive example might be the good feeling you get from being part of a group (oxytocin). As I’ve written before, as you start on the health journey, in some way or another you’ll disagree with your friends and you’ll also make new ones, both in-person and online. So if you are getting the results, but don’t feel as good as you did, you might be missing oxytocin. Knowing that it’s missing sends you off in the right direction.

This isn’t to be confused with being a control freak. It’s great to go with the flow and accept things for what they are, but if you know what’s going on you can start to fine tune your efforts. That’s when you move from intermediate to advanced.

Until tomorrow,

Cowlean

Monday, 17 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Twenty-Eight: Just for Men?

Hi guys,

Weigh-in: 204.8
Calories: 2850

We’re coming into the last days and I’m happy with the progress. There have been some slip-ups along the way but this wasn’t supposed to be a series for me to show off in. Admittedly I’m a lot further along the path than many, but I wanted to make the point that you should aim for about a lb a week in weight loss once you’re passed the first month or so.

Today I want to go over something that I hope will interest you: is the whole paleo/ancestral health/ketogenic diet/low-carb high fat malarkey just for men? The short answer is of course no, but why might people think otherwise? Here’s an overview of the three common misconceptions.

1- You have to become a carnivore

This is one of the main misconceptions mainly because of advertising. A lot of the time you’ll see these diets promoted as “now you can eat bacon again”, or they include a picture of a guy with a huge pile of meat in front of him. This conjures images of gluttony, whereas it’s actually a marketing gimmick. The diets I promote are high vegetable diets, combined with the right amounts of high-quality meat.

2- weight-lifting

The truth is that lifting weights/heavy objects is excellent exercise for both men and women. It’s an absurd fallacy that by lifting weights, women will get the bodybuilder look. There simply isn’t enough testosterone floating around for that to happen.

3- you have to do intermittent fasting and that’s bad for women

While it is true that women need to be more careful with IF, it is still very beneficial and you should include it if you want to. The misconception is that IF is a key component of these diets, whereas it’s more of a widget to add onto your current efforts.

Until tomorrow,

Cowlean

Sunday, 16 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Twenty-Seven: Field of Dreams



Hi guys,

Weigh-in: 204.6 lbs
Calories: 3000

Today’s post is going to be a quick one, I’ve been out all day and am completely exhausted! Luckily, it feeds into today’s topic, but you’ll probably be able to see how tired I am by its rough nature...

You may be aware of a very cheesy American film called “Field of Dreams”; it’s about a guy who makes a baseball field in his garden/farm and then the ghosts of baseball stars come to play with him (I think). Anyway, one of the quotes of the film is “build it and they will come”. Today I want to show you why this is such a silly notion.

A lot of people are waiting for the perfect future setting to get started. They might say things like:
  • When summer comes around, then I’ll go out and exercise, or
  • Once Christmas is over, then I’ll start researching ways to get healthy, or
  • I’ll wait until the doctor tells me I’m ill before I do anything

The list of examples is endless. Either they wait for the perfect setting to emerge for their actions to take place in, or they’re misguided by what they think weight loss will bring.

With regards to the latter, you can think of people who think that just by being thinner/healthier than they will be happy. While being healthy will make you feel better emotionally, you’re still not going to be as happy as you want to unless you use it.

How does my tiredness feed into this then? Rather than waiting for the perfect setting to write these blogs, I have to do them quickly and get them out the door. I could have put this post off to tomorrow and done two, but that’s not what I promised (yes I’m aware I’m behind by one day but I have a plan… - C).

So rather than waiting for happenstance to engineer the perfect situation for you to start your journey, get started straight away!

Until tomorrow,

Cowlean

Saturday, 15 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Twenty-Six: Who I Follow


Hi guys,


Weigh-in: 206 lbs
Calories: 3600

Today I want to run you through the people I actually pay attention to in this world. Here’s a clue: it’s not Men’s Health! The great thing about the internet is the freedom it gives, and if there’s a niche then it’s likely that someone is filling it. While the big names have important things to say (otherwise they wouldn’t be big names), it really is possible to find a writer/blogger/podcaster/youtuber/etc who truly speaks to you. These are a few of the people I looked up to when I got into health shenanigans, and still follow today.


1- Abel James, Fat Burning Man: http://fatburningman.com/


Abel’s show is what got me into the Paleo and Ancestral Health movement to begin with. He doesn’t push the ketogenic line that I’m more interested in now, but he’s a great place for people to start. Combining a silky smooth voice with friendly interviews, it’s easy to see how he’s become so popular. Abel’s podcasts, blogs and books are an excellent place for a beginner.


2- Dave Asprey, Bulletproof: https://blog.bulletproof.com/


Dave’s stuff is more up my street now; his content and products are excellent for any stage of the health journey and his work introduced me to biohacking and proper supplementation. Anyone at the intermediate and advanced stages of their health journey would do well to pay attention to him, because as well as starting advice, he gives excellent directions on truly optimising how you feel and perform.




Mark’s daily blogging is what provided the inspiration for this blog and the current series we’re on. What I especially love about his work is that a) there’s so much of it and his website is a treasure trove, and b) as an ex-athlete he can confidently speak about training while on a low-carb high-fat diet. I would check out his work especially for the exercise component.


4- Carl Totton & Tod Perry, What’s This Tao All About: http://whatsthistao.com/


This is admittedly a left-field recommendation but I’m not shying away. The podcast is all about Taoism with Carl taking on the role of mentor and Tod the knowledge-seeking everyman. Spirituality becomes a part of many people’s health journeys because at the end of the day you want to feel your best. Gaining new perspective on life is part of that. Carl’s teaching is fantastic; he’s the sort of person you wish you had as a mentor.


5- Pedram Shojai; https://theurbanmonk.com/


Before I head off I want to give a quick mention to Pedram Shojai for his work. He used to be a student of Carl’s and has taken his teachings forward and applied them to a hectic life. Before anyone turns their nose up, just remember how many studies are coming out now “discovering” how effective things like meditation are. In lots of ways, the west is limited by the scientific method and is only now catching up with eastern traditions.


Until tomorrow,

Cowlean

Friday, 14 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Twenty-Five: Good Friday Special



Hi guys,


Weigh-in: 205.6 lbs
Calories: 3100


Ugh...again! Oh well, I know what this means I need to do no that I’ve officially hit some sort of plateau…


Whereas Easter is mostly adored for the delicious, chocolate droppings left behind by a magical rabbit, today I want to get a little Biblical on you.


Before reading, make sure you read yesterday’s post first because it follows on (and all of them while you’re at it! - C).


I’m probably butchering the line here but one I really like is “by the fruits of their labour let them be known”, and while I’m taking the quote out of context it works well for what we’re doing here.


You’ve might have seen me say before, that the best time to start is now. Right now. The best time to begin is right this second, and you actually get a headstart by doing this.


The headstart comes from being able to say “I’ve already been eating clean for X hours”; the same could be said for anything: smoking, for example. “I’ve not smoked for six hours”, etc.


So when someone comes to me looking for help or doing some troubleshooting, I am always overjoyed when they describe what they’ve been doing for themselves so far.


They might say, I’ve lost weight, but feel tired. Or they could say, I lost weight but then gained it back, what can I do more sustainably?


Some people need motivation and guidance right from the very start, and that’s fine, but it is fantastic when you get someone who’s demonstrating the get-up-and-go already.


When you meet these people, you automatically know they’re going to succeed. That’s not to say the other type won’t, but you get a gut feeling that it’s going to go well.


Remember that the information is out there for free on the internet, and if you’re ever in doubt, just eat nothing to get some fasting benefits. Then come to me and we’ll work something out.


Until tomorrow,

Cowlean

Thursday, 13 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Twenty-Four: My Main Inspiration

Hi guys,

Weigh-in: 204.8
Calories: 3300

Bit of an ugh, and it was because I went overboard with the dark chocolate after drinking. So the post drink food was good quality, but I just have a feeling that the alcohol puts my body in a bad place to deal with it.

Today I want to talk about a person very close to me… it’s me! My main inspiration in this whole endeavour is myself.

Now, before you sling your ‘ook, and mutter narcissist under your breath (somewhat correctly - C), I do actually have a point here. I am my own main inspiration. I drive myself forward to get to where I want to go. All I have to do is look how far I’ve come, and I instantly know I can push just as far ahead.

What I want to encourage everyone to do is consider themselves their main inspiration. Sure, we all wouldn’t know what we do without second hand information; my job is maybe as far from “in-the-lab” as it gets. But I’m the one who put in the hard work to deliver that knowledge and transform it into my results.

Without your own efforts, the value would never have been delivered, and you would still be at square one. And often times we let the road ahead get us down, whereas if we looked backwards we’d see how much we had already achieved.

I have an awful problem of achieving something, and then attributing it to other people, claiming it wasn’t as big a deal as it was, or trying to make it more luck than skill. Every now and then you really do have to pat yourself on the back.

Platitudes and cheesy motivation quotes aside, you really do have to flaunt it if you earned it!

Until tomorrow,

Cowlean

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Twenty-Three: “Mindful Eating”

Hi guys,


Weigh-in: 204.4 lbs
Calories: 3900

Even though that’s an increase on yesterday, I did a carb refeed and am attributing to that. The upside is that my workout will be awesome tomorrow, and I had an incredible sleep. That’s because carbs lead to a serotonin release which aids sleep.


Today’s post is in quotation marks for a reason. I’m not actually talking about *mindful* eating, as in paying close attention to the experience and sensation of eating, I’m talking about being aware of what you’re putting into your body.


You could do this through a few methods:
  • Keep a food diary
  • Track your calories
  • Track your carbs
  • Track everything which you consider “a treat”
  • Track how many steps you’re doing a day using a pedometer or online converter
  • Track your weight


All of these actions have something in common: they shine a light on your current activities. This would be a great tool for someone who wanted to lose weight but didn’t want to actually “go on a diet”.


I would recommend someone do one. or a combination of the above, every day  for a week, with no strings attached. Just measure whatever you want for a week then throw it away if you want to. Use it as a check-up if you like. Following on from my post on how much you “swing back the other way” once you’ve hit your goal, you could do a tracking week every three months to make sure you don’t stray too far.


What I predict will happen is that by the end of the week you’ll step back and see what you’ve actually been up to. It’s very easy to let things slip and build up; in fact that’s what leads to a lot of weight gain. Someone slowly and insidiously gains weight every year without them realising. And for someone who’s not even started on the journey: what you’ve accidentally done is taken the first, and hardest step.


Until tomorrow,

Cowlean

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Twenty-Two: Treat Yo-Self!



Hi guys,

Weigh-in: 204 lbs
Calories: 3000

Looking good; as I said yesterday, I’ve set my schedule up to make some good progress this week. So while I’ll be treating myself to some new low weigh-ins (get a life - C), my mind can’t help but wander to the other treats I give myself ( ;)  - C).

No, not those ones, but the food ones. One of the funny things that happens as you “eat clean” is that your perception of a treat changes. What you considered exceedingly mundane becomes humorously indulgent.

So I’ve prepared a list for you of the weird things that I gorge upon when the weekend rolls around. Some of them are more wacky, and some are just stupid. Laugh, cry, and most importantly respect, the gluttony:

An entire roast chicken

Condiments (obviously not as a meal, but with other food)

Heapings of carbs in general (rice, sweet potatoes, etc.)

Whole 100g bars of 70% dark chocolate

Beer (on occasion)

24 hot wings

A whole tub of Green and Black’s dark chocolate ice cream

Flat whites

Whole packs of grated cheese

Pork scratchings

Whole packs of sliced chorizo, salami, etc.

Whole joints of meat (if reduced)

90 grammers (BP coffee containing 90g of different fats)

Whole packs of bacon

Whole packs of apples/whole bunches of bananas


As you can see, some of the things on this list are just silly. For example, I would never have foreseen myself considering condiments as a treat, but they have! It’s very uncommon, I know.

Writing this list out has actually been quite a good exercise. I’ve come to realise that most of my “treats” either up the healthy carb portions, or are huge protein feasts. Of course, I do not recommend eating like this usually; you still need to consider them treats.

Until tomorrow,

Cowlean

Monday, 10 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Twenty One: Heretic


Hi guys,

Weigh-in: 205.4 lbs
Calories: 2500

We’re three weeks in and doing okay. There’s been a number of obstacles along the way (nights out, dates, delicious temptations, etc.) but I’ve got a clean run this week to make some serious gainsss...

Today’s post is certainly rough around the edges, and was inspired by something that happened to me at work the other day. I was eating my lunch in my usual methodical, ritualised fashion, and just had the meaty parts of it left to eat. This led to two of my colleagues inquiring as to whether I’d just had protein for lunch. At this point I realised that I was officially the office nutjob

Now, you should remember I see this as a positive thing. I named this post “Heretic” because, in my opinion, if you want to succeed in the most effective way possible, you need to go against the grain.

A lot of the problems that people share are maintained by a combination of bad advice, social pressure, and mass confusion. Let’s take the standard “eat less and exercise more” mantra. If that advice was as effective as it is catchy, then why do so many people have concerns about their weight?

Let’s have a look at more examples:
  • You should pursue long cardio sessions at the gym
    • No, you should just move more at a slow pace mixed with infrequent bouts of high intensity exercise
  • You should eat as little fat as possible
    • No, healthy fats can and should be consumed in high amounts; it’s the carbohydrates and “healthy grains” that are leading to higher T2D and cardiovascular disease
  • You should be politically correct and stately
    • No, if you want to win a general election, you absolutely must not follow this advice!

As I see it, if society has a widespread problem, then following the generic advice will not work; otherwise the problem wouldn’t be widespread. If you’re confused about what to do, the best place to start is with the complete opposite of what most people are doing.

Until tomorrow,

Cowlean

Sunday, 9 April 2017

30 Day Cowlean Challenge, Day Twenty: The Importance of Being Lazy

Hi guys,

Weigh-in: 206.8 lbs
Calories: 3600

Today’s post is going to be a short one, because I practice what I preach ;)

I want to outline three reasons why laziness is actually a positive character trait in certain amounts.

1- It’s More Efficient

If you’re always working and enjoy being consistently on-the-go, then you’re not going to want to find the most efficient way to do something. Notice I say efficient, rather than quickest. The aim is to find the best way to do something.

2- Rest and Recovery

Again, if you’re constantly on-the-go you won’t get time to rest. You have to balance catabolism and anabolism. This is quite clear for someone who lifts weights and wants to build muscle, they need good sleep and rest days for the growth to happen. Similarly for someone who’s in a caloric deficit for a long time and doesn’t take a reset every now and then will do hormonal damage.

3- Evaluation

Being lazy every now and then gives you a chance to take time out, be introspective, and evaluate your progress. Look how far you’ve come and congratulate yourself in whatever way you see fit. You can also look at where you want to improve and see what you’re going to change.

Looking at how I’ve done so far, and with the last third rolling around: I’m very happy with the daily blogs, and I’ve surprised myself with the quality considering I write them very quickly. On the weight side, I’m going to rein in the calories to burn off some more fat.

Until tomorrow,
Cowlean