A Food’s Purpose

A Food’s Purpose

By Adam Moore


In the fitness industry, it’s common to shame ourselves into eating healthy or try to outwork poor food choices. I think it’s unhealthy to tie your food to feelings of shame or insecurity. Food and the nutrition choices we make have the power to enact amazing results and changes in our physique, mood, hormones, and health. Hopefully those changes are positive, but of course, we humans are often our own worst enemy. To get the most out of our food, we need to ensure it has a purpose.

Food and meal choices can have any number of purposes, though gym culture tends to steer people into the limited domains of either supporting muscle growth of enabling fat loss. But there are countless reasons to eat the food you’ve chosen: a flavor you want to savor, a dish that reminds you of your mother’s cooking, a meal that gets your whole family to sit down without their phones for an hour, a food high in antioxidants to relieve inflammation, and on and on and on. Eating mindfully, regardless of the purpose, is typically a great way to enjoy the food you’re eating and allow your body to digest it well and absorb all those nutrients and benefits that come with your meal.

In my life right now I focus my food choices on having enough protein to promote muscle growth and enough carbohydrates to fuel my workouts. I also want my food to sustain my physical health, so 95% of my meals are made at home and completely under my control. That being said, for breakfast today I had a meal called “Hot Tots” that consisted of tater tots smothered in cheese, peppers, crumbled bacon and poached eggs. Plus I had a Bloody Mary. For dinner tonight I had a double cheeseburger, fries and a vanilla milkshake with Oreo crumbles in it. And I don’t feel guilty at all! What purpose did this food have and why don’t I feel guilty about the choices I made?

Today was Father’s day, and I was looking forward to having some fun with Remy, my son. Every day of the week, every week of the year I cook breakfast at home. My breakfast, Remy’s breakfast and, on the weekend, Andrea’s (my wife) breakfast. Breakfast today was an opportunity to do something different, to have something other than eggs and turkey sausage with broccoli slaw and sweet potatoes. It was a chance for us both to relax and have someone else serve us. That “Hot Tots” meal and a Bloody Mary was a great change for me but also a great time to bond with Remy as the two of us had a table to ourselves with lots of food to share and crayons to draw with and generally make happy memories.

In addition to it being Father’s Day, Remy and I haven’t seen Andrea in four days as she’s been at a conference. I wanted to surprise her by taking her someplace we could all just relax and feel like a family after picking her up from the airport, so I took her straight over to Five Guys. We both enjoyed a delicious burger and a milkshake, a happy treat for each of us that was also fun to share with Remy. It was a great opportunity to just sit down, share stories from our days spent apart, and just relax in a casual environment without having to worry about making dinner, doing dishes, or all the little things we do the other 364 days of the year.

I wasn’t thinking about muscle gain and fat loss during my meals today. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than the moment I was in and the people I was sharing it with, and that WAS the purpose of my meals today, that bonding with my son and fellowship with my family. I could allow myself to feel shame. I could use those meals to guilt myself into an extra workout tomorrow. Would that make me any healthier? Would that make me any happier? Feeling guilt or shame would only lead me to feel stressed, to lying awake at night, to producing cortisol instead of healthy hormones that should come with a good night’s sleep. Instead of that, I’m happy for the time spent with my wife and son, and I know that it was two meals out of the roughly 1,800 I’ll eat this year. I hope that when you have a meal that may not have a “gym purpose” you allow it to still be purposeful for you so that it either nourishes your body or your soul.

The Process: Part 1: Find Your Mountain, Climb Your Mountain

The Process: Part 1: Find Your Mountain, Climb Your Mountain
By Coach Michael Garrity

My father was in the room with me. He sat in a chair at the end of my bed; I could see immense anguish in his eyes, almost despair. He searched with his eyes to know what I was feeling: pain, fear, hope… or none of the above.

Until this point (at least from the event of my injury), I had been mostly hopeful; with almost a sense of gratitude that this had happened — knowing that I would no longer feel a pain of such magnitude, and would never have to fear the pain again. It had happened. I had survived; the sun rose the next day.

But seeing my father — my first coach, my loving critic, my most loyal fan — look at me with such a grasping yearn for understanding, I broke. Holding onto optimism for the week that had passed since my injury I was quickly cut down by the sheer effect of it all, and the subsequent magnitude of waves it would send through my life. The last decade of my life had a sole purpose and pursuit; now that purpose was in immediate question and doubt.

So yes, I broke. Completely. My stoicism that had long been rooted in accepting pain and struggle now turned to vulnerability, rushing fear, and the purest uncertainty. I broke down in that bed, still drugged up five hours after surgery. Looking down at my leg in an immobilizer, where it would remain for four weeks, left me at a loss of words. All I could think about was the process back to recovery; the hours, days, months even years it would take to reset my body back to square one — the fading of a life’s work and a boy’s dream. Shedding tears I said three words when my dad asked what I felt.

“It’s so daunting.”

I was immobile for four weeks. I wasn’t able to walk without two crutches let alone drive or even fit my braced leg in most cars. But I did what I could to better myself each day; with a sharp decline in my physical progress and the inability to train, I turned to my mentality and knowledge. That meant four weeks straight of reading and sharpening my training knowledge so I could approach my pursuit with intelligence and without doubt. I digested everything I could find to plan my comeback; I mapped out my entire next year in the gym.

Admittedly, during those weeks I watched a good amount of television too. One of the movies I watched was ​Everest ​ . There is a scene in which the characters are discussing the reasons why they originally wished to reach the summit Mount Everest; one of the character’s response instantly struck me and opened up my heart to what was ahead:

“I’m climbing Mount Everest… because I can… because to be able to climb that high and see that kind of beauty that nobody ever sees, it’d be a crime not to.”

That’s when it hit me. During the previous weeks I had been balancing on an edge; my mind almost sinking into completely destructive doubt and into the undermining questions repeating in my head: Why do I want to come back so bad? Why risk failure? Why risk another, more serious injury? Why voluntarily put yourself on the racks of physical pain and psychological anguish for my foreseeable future? Why do I train?
I rewound this scene in ​Everest ​ multiple times, even writing it in my journal — because that ​was ​ my why. I found my mountain. I had my mantra.
After four weeks of no physical training, I returned to the gym. I began the program I had so meticulously planned while I was home — the first step on my mountain’s incline.

During my first workout I was pissed. Everything was terribly hard and a set of ten reps on the bench press felt like a 2,000. Still, even though I had lost much of my physicality, my mind was on fire. I was boiling with anger and sincere dedication to something I loved, a passion visible in my eyes and in my drenched t-shirt.

Today as I write this, I vividly remember myself saying out loud between sets “Climb the mountain.” The volume would rise and curse words were carefully placed to update the phrase as I threw my weights down after each set. (Thankfully the music was loud so no one heard me. I wanted to train, not embarrass myself!)

But the truth is, that mantra saved me. And it continues to save me today.
So, now I implore you to find your mountain. Find the reason ​why ​ you do this. We all have various stories and completely different lives. Find what is unique to you; find that personal goal, that sliver of a moment that first brought you through our doors. Make it a battle. Fill it to the brim with passion and pure discipline in pursuit of reaching your own proverbial summit. Once you have found it, once you have your mountain in your sights, don’t veer your eyes from the top.

Because once you find your mountain, you have to climb it. What other option is there? To stop and turn around? Go back to base camp? All that will do is give you temporary comfort, and you should never desire fleeing comfort in life. Your summit holds the ability to bring you a new sense of comfort and confidence into your life. So make it your mission to do away with the pull of a temporary escape from the harshness of your summit attempt. You know the pain, and you love it. More than that, you want it. That’s why you found this mountain. You want a life of impassioned turbulence in pursuit of a noble, clear-eyed, full-hearted goal.

On the mountain you do not want relief from the crushing winds of a pursuit. You do not want relief from the rising and broken steps and valleys of progress. You want to be on the incline, in the breach of your battle; you want impassioned turbulence.

You found this mountain. You brought yourself here. Now it requires everything you got.

7 Rules for Fat Loss Training

7 Rules for Fat Loss Training
By Coach Jeremiah Treadwell

1. Prioritize Nutrition

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: nutrition is the single most important thing for fat loss. If you’re serious about stripping off body fat, you must make time for grocery shopping, cooking, meal prep, doing dishes, and keeping a food journal. If you don’t have time for this, make time; cut down on time wasters like social media, web surfing, playing on your cell phone or watching television.
If you have truly eliminated every possible time waster and are ​still ​ pressed for time, it’s perfectly acceptable to train less to have the time to take care of your nutrition. You heard me, train less! That’s how important good nutrition is. For example, in my fat loss programs, I have Tuesdays and Saturdays as shopping/meal prep days.

As far as what to eat, there’s no rule that says you have to perfectly follow a particular diet; certain aspects of certain diets are worth emulating. For instance, you can take aspects of the paleo diet (natural, single-ingredient foods, meats, fish, whole eggs and vegetables) without unnecessarily restricting other foods that are not paleo; while still supporting your training goals, like quality supplements such as fish oils, BCAA’s, protein, peri-workout nutrition and some starchy carbs such as rice.

2. Pick Big, Hard Exercises

Regardless of your goals, effective training starts with picking the right exercises. The best exercises for fat loss are the best exercises for almost any goal. The big, hard compound movements are the ones you should be doing.

3. Get Stronger

While most people understand that getting stronger is important for building muscle and enhancing performance, its relevance for fat loss is often overlooked. When your goal is fat loss, you want to burn as much fuel as possible; to do this, you want your body to be as fuel inefficient as possible. One of the huge problems with cardio for fat loss is that the more you do, the better you get at it and thus the more fuel efficient you become; with resistance training the opposite is true. The better you get at strength training, the more weight you can lift and the more it takes out of you. Spending some of your training time getting stronger allows you to do all your other forms of training (e.g., metabolic resistance training, conditioning) at a higher/faster level, and this makes them even more effective for shedding unwanted body fat.

4. Build Muscle

Virtually everyone trying to lose body fat should gain some muscle. Most people know this, but it bears repeating again and again. Even a few extra pounds of lean muscle means a lot more calories burned each day.

5. Jack Up Metabolism Post Training

Years ago exercise scientists told us to perform long sessions of slow cardio to burn fat. However, this answer was a response to the wrong question. Fat loss training isn’t about what burns the most amount of fat during a training session, it’s about what burns the most amount of fat in a 24 hour period. In other words, short, high-intensity exercise creates an oxygen debt (known in “bro talk” as E.P.O.C., or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and ​this ​ results in a metabolic boost long after the training session is over.

6. Rotate Strategies

As with any goal, following an effective program will only work for so long before you hit a plateau. Too often people trying to lose body fat just use intense metabolic resistance training and HIIT (high intensity interval training). While these are excellent methods, they won’t work forever. With fat loss programs, it’s imperative to switch to different strategies such as the following:

1. Metabolic resistance training: Using moderate weights for moderate reps while alternating upper/lower body exercises or doing whole body circuits

2. Strength training: Using more traditional strength training methods to allow you to lift more weight when you return to metabolic resistance training

3. Bodybuilding: Focusing on building lean muscle to raise metabolic rate and doing brisk walking to burn a few extra calories

4. Strength plus conditioning: Focusing on getting stronger in the weight room by undergoing challenging forms of conditioning to boost EPOC (that “after-burn” effect).

The trick is to not only periodize your training, but also periodize your diet. When some people try a lower-volume strength training program, they tend to gain fat; this isn’t because of the training. Obviously, strength training doesn’t cause fat gain. However, if you switch from higher volume training (i.e. typical fat loss / metabolic stuff) to a lower volume training (i.e. powerlifting program) and don’t drop down your carbs and total calories, you’ll gain fat. Period.

7. Get Outside

We’re made to be outdoors. While it’s not always practical to haul a whole barbell set outside or train at Muscle Beach, it’s indisputably beneficial to partake in an outdoor physical activity. This can include everything from running sprints at the track, finding a hill and doing uphill sprints to pushing a prowler and pulling a sled. You can even grab a sledgehammer and try to beat an old tire to a pulp.

Consider bringing minimal equipment like kettlebells to a park and having an outdoor session. Or, do what I do, which is train with barbells in my basement gym and then do farmer’s walks up and down the sidewalks of my neighborhood. Additionally, doing other activities such as sports or outdoor recreation is great to not only burn a few extra calories, but also to have fun, reduce stress, and enjoy the benefits of the finely conditioned machine you’re building in the gym.