Friday, 31 December 2010

Instead of New Year's Resolutions, Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

By Tom Venuto

Why do new year’s resolutions usually fail? Why do you start with guns blazing on January 1st, but by February, you’re losing motivation, cheating on your diet, skipping workouts, and slipping back into old patterns? John LaValle, a master trainer of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) suggests that we should take a closer look at the meaning behind the word “Resolution.” Being derived from the word “re-solve," it really means “to solve again.” And isn’t that exactly what happens? You solve the same problem again and again, year after year?

You know what I’m talking about… That 20 pounds you lost last year, and promptly gained it right back… you are now resolving to take it off again aren’t you? The very nature of the word resolution implies gaining it back again.

Suggestion: don’t make resolutions. Set SMARTER goals.

Resolutions aren’t real goals. They’re more like wishes, and wishes are wishy-washy. A wish becomes a goal the moment you put it in writing. When you write your goals in a certain way, following scientific principles of success psychology, you’ll skyrocket your chances of getting what you want this year… and keeping it.

One of the most tried and true methods for goal achievement is the SMART goals formula. If you searched the net for SMART goals, you would probably find a dozen different variations on the SMART goal acronym. Here’s my version of SMART goals, along with a little extra to make them even SMART-ER.

1. Specific. Set goals with clarity. Your mind does not respond well to vague generalities. If you say your goal is to lose weight and then you lose one pound, then you’ve reached your goal. Is that what you really wanted? Get clear. Be precise. Be specific.

2. Measurable. Set goals that can be quantified in measurable units such as pounds, body fat percentage, lean body mass, inches and clothing sizes. Performance goals can include strength (lbs or kilos lifted) and repetitions completed. Don’t forget to include health goals as well, such as blood pressure and blood lipids.

3. Accountable. Set goals you can be held accountable to. First be accountable to yourself by using a weekly progress chart, a daily nutrition diary and a training journal. Then double your motivation with external accountability and submit your results and journals to someone else who will hold you to your commitments.

4. Realistic.
Set goals that are attainable and maintainable. If you lose two pounds of fat per week, you are doing awesome. 30 pounds in 30 days sounds great in the advertisements, but it is not typical, and rapid weight loss is likely to consist of muscle and water, not fat, and is nearly impossible to maintain.

5. Time Bound. Set goals with deadlines. Time limits are highly motivating. With no time limit, there is no urgency for completion. Set goals for daily workouts and nutrition, weekly weight and body composition and 12 week changes in weight, body fat or measurements. Set long term goals as well for one year, five years and even beyond. For all time periods, be certain that your deadline is realistic.

Now we add some motivational ooompf for this year by making your goals even SMART-ER!

6. Emotional. Goals give you a direction, but strong emotions are the propulsion system that drives you in that direction. Build up a burning desire by focusing on the emotional reasons why you want to achieve your goal. Connect your goals to your values. What’s most important to you about reaching your goal? If you reach 9% body fat, or whatever is your target, what will that do for you? What will your life look like then? How will it make you FEEL?

7. Reviewed often. Resolutions fail because they are casually set once at the beginning of the year and easily forgotten. Stay laser-focused by writing and reading your goals every day. Repetition is one of the keys to re-programming your mental computer for success. Use the goal card technique. Write your single most important body or fitness goal on a small card, then carry it with you every where you go, reading it several times a day.

S.M.A.R.T.E.R. GOALS is a simple, memorable formula for goal setting and goal getting. It may not be new, but then again, there are no new fundamentals. Methods and tactics may change, but scientific principles of success never change. And don’t forget to make your goals even smarter this year. A goal that’s not strongly desired and kept in front of you every day will be forgotten. Stay focused, eat right, train hard and expect success!

“A goal that is casually set and lightly taken will be freely abandoned at the first obstacle.” - Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker
Your friend and coach,

Tom Venuto
Fat Loss Coach
About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a fat loss expert, lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, independent nutrition researcher, freelance writer, and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat-Burning Secrets of The World’s Best Bodybuilders & Fitness Models (e-book) which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting:

Thursday, 30 December 2010

5 Excuses That Won't Fly in 2011

By Tom Venuto

It’s almost 2011. Your old excuses for not getting in shape won’t work. As Dr. Evil (Austin Powers) said, ZIP IT! I don’t want to hear them anymore! Read em’, then haul your excuseless butt to the gym!

1. I have no time.

According to a story in a recent issue of Men’s Health magazine, Barack Obama works out for 45 minutes a day, 6 days a week. Obama doesn’t just play basketball either. Our president stays fit to lead with cardio and weight lifting. He also says he wishes he could train 90 minutes a day. Have you ever seen what the daily schedule of a U.S. president looks like? If the busiest man in the world can train every day for 45 minutes a day, then what’s your excuse? ZIP IT! You ain’t got one!

2. It’s too expensive.

Getting in shape certainly is expensive… if you keep wasting hundreds of dollars, month after month on worthless “miracle” weight loss pills, internal cleansing gimmicks and “magic” potions that all claim to make you slim. Deceptive advertising and slick marketing for bogus diet aids is more rampant than ever. 2010 was the year of thewu-long tea scam, the acai berry scam, and, of course, the ubiquitous “cleansing” and “detox” gimmicks .

Unless you put on your critical thinking cap and learn to investigate before you invest, then you’ll get scammed by 2011’s flavor of the year as well. Your quest for those elusive “6-pack” abs will not only continue to be expensive, you’ll go broke. Walking, jogging, calisthenics and body weight exercises are FREE. If you want to know what’s really expensive, tally up the cost of legitimate expenses like natural food, gym memberships, fitness education, dumbbells and so on, and compare that to your doctor’s bill when you’re sick.

3. No one will support me.

Experts on social influence say your income will be approximately equal to the average of your 5 closest friends. Not only do I think that’s pretty darn accurate, I also believe that your health is your greatest wealth, and your physical condition will be about equal to the average of your 5 closest friends. It’s a real challenge to stay positive, focused and active when you’re surrounded by critical people and negative influences. However, in 2011, lack of support is no longer a valid excuse.

Online social networking is exploding (check out Twitter and Facebook ) and more IN PERSON friendships and associations are being made from an internet connection than ever before. Training buddies can be found online. Connect with them. Mentors and coaches are easily found online. Hire them. Support forums have been around for years. Use them. No support from your current friends? Stop whining, start reaching out and go make new ones. In 2011, support partners and new friends are just a click away.

4. I can’t lose weight because of my genetics.

The marvels of modern medical and biological research are astonishing. Our top scientists have mapped the human genome! In the past few years, numerous genes linked to obesity have been discovered. However, the obesity epidemic we’re facing today has only developed over the past 50 years and genetic mutations that lead to serious obesity are extremely rare. Genetic predisposition only means that you have a tendency. It’s when the genetics meet lifestyle and environment that the genes express themselves. If you have a family history of heart disease, is it smart to smoke, eat junk, be a stressed-out, type-A maniac and a couch potato? Well of course not, and it’s the same with obesity.

If you have a tendency predisposing you towards obesity, you’d better be the person doing the MOST exercise, not the least. You’d better be the person paying the MOST attention to your nutrition. You’d better be the person with the healthiest lifestyle. But unfortunately, it’s usually the opposite. Most people throw up their arms in frustration saying, “what’s the use, I was dealt a bad hand.” Sorry. That won’t fly in 2011. The latest research says genetics are a factor, but a tendency is not a destiny!

5. I don’t know how.

The lamest excuse of them all in 2011 is “I don’t know how.” NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO DO ANYTHING UNTIL AFTER THEY HAVE ACTUALLY DONE IT! Ponder that for a while. You don’t need to know how at first. To get started, you only need to know WHAT… what is the goal? Setting well-formed goals is the master skill of success. Not wishy-washy resolutions that have no resolve behind them, but real goals. In writing. With emotional ooompf! As you continue to affirm, visualize and focus on your goal with clarity, belief, and expectation, your new goal or intention will be received by your subconscious.

Once a goal is accepted into your subconscious mind, your brain, being a goal-seeking mechanism, will turn on your attention filters to seek out all the information you will ever need to reach your goal. It will also turn on an infallible navigation system to guide you to your goal like a torpedo to its target. As your brain guides your attention, your direction and your behavior, you will discover that today, there is more good information, coaching and instruction available than ever before. And when you’ve activated that “success radar” in your brain by setting goals effectively, it’s not as hard to find honest, accurate and helpful HOW-TO advice as you might think. In fact, you found this webpage, so you’re doing pretty good right now, aren’t you?

No more excuses. In 2011, remember my Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle Creed: You can either make excuses or get results, but you can’t do both!

Your friend and coach,

Tom Venuto
Fat Loss Coach
About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a fat loss expert, lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, independent nutrition researcher, freelance writer, and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat-Burning Secrets of The World’s Best Bodybuilders & Fitness Models (e-book) which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting:

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Brain Science And New Year's Resolutions

By Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, "I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they plan their lives. Perhaps it's because escape is easier than change."
Success psychologists say that 95% - 97% of the people in the world do NOT have written goals and fail, while 3-5% have written goals and succeed.

If these statistics are correct, then Mr Rohn's observation really IS quite fascinating isn't it?
Unfortunately for most people, the odds for success are actually even lower, because out of the few people who do set goals, most don't take goal setting seriously, they don't do it scientifically and they only do it once a year.

Goal setting is so important, that I always teach goal setting and mind dynamics first, and only THEN, do I teach nutrition and training second.

It doesnt matter how much you know about nutrition or exercise. Until specialized fitness knowledge is linked with goals and directions, the knowledge is useless and you won't accomplish very much or keep the changes long term.

In fact, I devoted the entire first chapter of my book, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle ( to the subject of goals and constructive "mind programming" for successful, permanent behavior change.
I've also studied Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) for many years and more recently spent many months researching the latest information about neuroscience to see just how much of the traditional self help and goal setting wisdom is actually backed by brain research.

As you start thinking about your goals for 2011 right now, I'd like to help you start the year off right by sharing two very valuable, science based tips on achieving your goals:

SCIENTIFIC GOAL SETTING TIP #1: Repetition is an effective way to "plant" a goal in the non-conscious mind

Why don't most resolutions stick? Psychology and neuroscience today are giving us the answers.
Thanks to new technologies in brain imaging, such as PET scans, SPECT scans and functional MRI's, we can now actually see your thoughts as electrochemical impulses and we can see the formation of new neural connections in real time right before our eyes.

We can also see where, geographically, in your brain, a particular type of thought is occurring.
most importantly, we can see how long it takes to form strong neural patterns and what types of stimuli cause the patterns to form more quickly

Here's what we've discovered:

Setting a goal once is a conscious activity. Willpower is also a conscious activity. But research has shown that at least 5/6 of your brain power is in the non conscious mind and that the information and instructions that reach the non conscious mind are responsible for your automatic behavior.

Some psychologists believe that 95% of our behaviors are unconscious and automatic... more commonly known as habits.

Long term behavior changes don't take place when you set goals one time as with most new years resolutions. There's an old saying in "self help" circles that it takes at least 21-30 days to form a habit. This has now been proven to be fairly accurate on a neurological basis.

New neural patterns begin to form only after they've been repeated enough times. They continue to strengthen with further repetition. If you make resolutions on January 1st and you don't continue to repeat and reinforce your desire for those "goals," no new neural connection is formed, no new habits are formed, no new behaviors are formed....

Your resolutions wither away and die and any results obtained through willpower (trying to force the new behaviors through conscious effort), are quickly lost when you slip back to your old ways.

What you repeat over and over again is programmed into the subconscious mind and begins to take root. On a practical level, this means RE-writing your goals everyday and thinking about them in positive terms and in mental pictures, every day, repeatedly until the habit is formed and turned over to "auto-pilot."
In 1956, when Earl Nightingale wrote "The Strangest Secret is that we become what we think about most of the time," we didnt know what we know now about the brain.

Nevertheless, Earl was right.

You don't change your body by trying to change your body. You change your body by creating new habitual patterns of thinking and visualizing.

Trying to force new behaviors with willpower while continuing with your old ways of thinking will always fail because your automatic behavior is mostly under non-conscious control.

Its not the resolution you set once... its the goals (mental thoughts and images) you focus on all day long that create the long term (and automatic) behavioral change... when you change your behaviors, you change your body and your life...

SCIENTIFIC GOAL SETTING TIP #2: Emotion is a goal-turbocharger

Is there any way around this tedious process of "mental programming" through repetition? Not really. The fields of NLP and hypnosis have given us some tools for creating more rapid changes, but ultimately you have to begin to "run your own brain" and change your habitual way of thinking. No one else can do it for you and there's no way around it.

There is however, a scientifically proven way to to speed up the process and that is with the use of strong emotion.

Since modern imaging technology can see activity in the brain and scientists have located the seat of emotions in the brain, we know that the strength and number of neural connections associated with a thought or behavior are increased when you're in a highly emotional state.

The neuron connections are also stronger, longer lasting and it takes longer to lose a neural connection when it was formed with great emotion.

With this knowledge, we see another reason why new years resolutions fail: They are set casually with no emotion and no strong emotional "reason why" that gives you the leverage to you need to make a change permanent.

On January 1st, you may think you're setting "real" goals, but if you're like most people, you're not only doing it a mere once a year and then losing focus, you're also likely to be making flimsy, wishy-washy, emotion-less "resolutions."

Zig Ziglar once said that, "A goal casually set and lightly taken will be freely abandoned at the first obstacle."
You might want to back up and read that quote again, maybe even write it down or print it out, because this one hits the bull's-eye!

This truly explains why New Year's resolutions almost never work, and why so few people can keep off the pounds after they get rid of them.

Goal setting should not be casual or lightly taken. Goal setting is an important and serious matter. This is not a game - this is your life, and you only have one life to live.

Goal setting is also not a one time event - it is an ongoing process of literally "re-wiring your brain." With the discovery of brain plasticity, we now know that this is science fact, not self-help fiction.

Make the time to set REAL goals, today! Take it seriously, do it scientifically, re-write your goals every day, think about them constantly, and then take massive action
Do it and this will be the most successful year of your life!

About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder and author of the #1 best selling e-book, "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle,” which teaches you how to burn fat without drugs or supplements using the little-known secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and turbo-charge your metabolism by visiting:

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A Super-Healthy Low-Carb PASTA Alternative!

This is one of my favorite dinner recipes!  ...also a great breakfast idea below too.

As I'm sure you know, if you're trying to get leaner, pasta and other noodles are one of the WORST things you can include in your meals... they are extremely calorie-dense compared to the small amount of micro-nutrients you get from them...

And the large amount of starchy carbs you get triggers cravings for more carbs later... I can tell you that when my meals are mostly meat and veggies, I'm satisfied fairly quickly, but if I try to eat a plate of pasta, I just can't seem to stop coming back for 2nd's and 3rd's and 4th's!

Whatever it is... there's no doubt there's something addicting about starchy pasta that makes you overeat almost every time.

That's why I almost totally avoid pasta except on cheat days.  So here's a great alternative below...

If you've never tried spaghetti squash, it's delicious and it's also a great alternative to pasta, since it's much higher in nutrient density and MUCH lower in total carbohydrates...

So you get MORE nutrition and less calories and starchy carbs which are just contributing to your abdominal fat.

My favorite way to eat spaghetti squash is to bake it soft and when it's done, scoop the spaghetti-like textured squash out and then top it with tomato sauce with veggies mixed in, and grass-fed bison sausage.

It's a great healthy dinner that's MUCH lower in carbs than eating a belly-stuffing plate of pasta.

If you've never baked a spaghetti squash before, it's simple... you just cut in half, take out the seeds, and lie the cut sides down in a big baking dish, and then put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan.  cover and bake around 400 or so for about 70-90 minutes depending how big the squash is.

Then you just use a fork to scoop out the squash and it comes out in spaghetti-like strands. It's delicious!

Remember that you can get grass-fed bison or beef sausage at:

*My 2nd favorite use for spaghetti squash:

Now you've had your spaghetti squash, sauce, and bison sausage dinner and you still have tons of leftover spaghetti squash.

Perfect!  Now you have a great healthy breakfast by throwing a layer of spaghetti squash into a pan with some virgin coconut oil and cooking scrambled eggs into the squash.  I tried this a couple weeks ago and was blown away how good it was!

This was my favorite breakfast for at least 3 days in a row while I finished the leftover squash.

I just added a bunch of seasonings to the eggs and spaghetti squash mixture and it came out really good.  Use your creativity with this one on the seasonings.


Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer
Founder -

Monday, 27 December 2010

8 Reasons Why You Keep Falling Off The Diet Wagon

By Tom Venuto

Clearly, we have an obesity problem in America and many other countries across our planet. Yet, I propose that we do not have a weight loss problem today. In case you’re confused at this apparent contradiction, consider these statistics: 

According to a study from Oxford University published in the International Journal of Obesity, within 3 to 5 years, about 80 percent of all ‘weight losers’ have regained the lost weight, and often gained back a little extra. 

According to research by the National Weight Control Registry, that relapse rate may be as high as 95 percent. 

For comparison, relapse rates for drug, alcohol and tobacco dependency have been reported in the range of 50-90%.

This means that lots and lots of people have “successfully” lost weight. But not many have kept it off. Therefore, we don’t have a weight loss problem, we have a weight-relapse problem; we have a “not sticking with it” problem. Wouldn’t you agree?

In fact, the fall and subsequent weight-regain usually doesn’t take years. Many people have abandoned their new year’s resolutions within weeks. By the time the Super Bowl party rolls around, their diet is history!
If this is true, then shouldn’t we put more of our attention onto figuring out why you haven’t been sticking with your program, and what you should do about it? 

I put together this new list (below) of the top 8 reasons why you fall off the wagon.
Rather than worrying about the minutiae of your diet plan, like whether you should be on low carb or high carb, Mediterranean or Okinawan, vegetarian or meat eater, I propose that if you simply focus on these 8 issues, you’ll start getting more lasting results. 

How? By being able to stick with whichever plan you decided was best for you! After all, even if you have the best nutrition program in the world - on paper - it doesn’t do you much good if you can’t stick with it in practice!


1. No focus: you didn’t set goals, you didn’t put your goals in writing, and/or you didn’t stay focused on your goals daily (by reading them, affirming them, looking at a vision board, etc.)

2. No priorities: you may have set a goal, but you didn’t put it on or near the top of your priorities list. For example, your goal is six pack abs, but drinking beer and eating fast food on the weekend is higher on your priorities list than having a flat stomach.

3. No support system: you tried to go at it alone; no buddy system, training partners, family, spouse, friends, mentors or coaches to turn to for information and emotional support when the going got tough.

4. No Accountability: you didn’t keep score for your own accountability – with a progress chart, weight record, measurements, food journal, training journal, and you didn’t set up external accountability (ie, report to someone else or show your results to someone else)

5. No patience: you were only thinking short term and had unrealistic expectations. You expected 10 pounds a week or 5 pounds a week or 3 pounds a week, so the first week you lost “only” 1 or 2 pounds or hit a plateau, you gave up. 

6. No planning: you winged it. You walked into the gym without having a workout in hand, on paper, you didn’t plan your workouts into your weekly schedule; you didn’t have a menu on paper, you didn’t make time (so instead you made excuses, like “I’m too busy”) 

7. No balance: your diet or training program was too extreme. You went the all or nothing, “I want it now” route instead of the moderate, slow-and-steady wins the race route.

8. No personalization: your nutrition or training program was the wrong one for you. It might have worked for someone else, but it didn’t suit your schedule, personality, lifestyle, disposition or body type.

So there you have it – 8 reasons why most people fall off the wagon! Have you been making these mistakes? If so, the solutions are clear and simple: focus, prioritize, get support, be accountable, be patient, plan, balance and personalize.

Train hard and expect success,
Tom Venuto
Fat Loss Coach
About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a fat loss expert, lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, independent nutrition researcher, freelance writer, and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat-Burning Secrets of The World’s Best Bodybuilders & Fitness Models (e-book) which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting:

Sunday, 26 December 2010

The Little Thing in Your Head That's Keeping You Fat

By Tom Venuto

I have no doubt that a scientist somewhere just read the title of this article and said out loud, “YES! Venuto is right! That little thing in your head – the hypothalamus – it IS the thing that is keeping you fat! By George, that Venuto guy isn’t a dumb bodybuilder after all – he’s been doing his research!” At which moment, I will be shaking my head and thinking, “you need to get out of the laboratory and into the real world, with real people, buddy.” Okay, okay, to be fair, Neuro-endocrine control of appetite and body fat really is quite fascinating. But today, I’m talking about PSYCH-ology, not PHYSI-ology. The little thing in your head that’s keeping you fat is actually just a….

Limiting belief!

Self-limiting beliefs are among the biggest problems that people deal with in their struggles to achieve a healthy ideal weight. They’re also one of the reasons that so many people start to falter or fall off the diet and exercise wagon as early as late January or early February in their New Year’s goal pursuits. 

If you’re that science guy I spoke of and you’re about to bail because you’re thinking, “Here we go again… another psycho-babble, self help article,” then think again. A belief is the force behind the placebo effect, which is well known by every scientist and medical professional. A respected doctor gives a patient a pill and is told it’s a powerful drug. The patient gets well immediately, not knowing that the “miraculous” substance was a dummy pill. Inert. Sugar. The miracle was in the mind.

But beliefs are not only involved in the mind-body connection, they are unconscious programs that control your behavior. The most important factor in whether you achieve the body and the health you want is NOT what diet or training program you follow. It’s what makes you follow your diet and training program. And guess what? What you believe controls your behavior - whether you will stick with your program or sabotage it with cheating, bingeing or inconsistency.

What to do about limiting beliefs

Ok, so now you agree that beliefs are psychological factors that affect you physically by controlling your behavior, including your eating, exercising and lifestyle. What now? 3 steps. 2 questions. 


You are fully aware of many of your beliefs. For example, beliefs about spirituality or politics are usually in the front of your conscious mind.

But the beliefs that hold back your health and physical development the most are usually the ones you don’t even know you have. They are like unconscious “brain software,” running silently in the background.
So the first step is to bring those unconscious and potentially damaging beliefs up to the surface so you are aware of them. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know you have one. 

2 Quick Questions That Will Help Draw Out Your Beliefs

Beliefs can go back to childhood, but don’t worry, you don’t have to go to a psychotherapist and be regressed back to kindergarten. It’s simpler than that. But it does pay to do this questioning process as a formal “exercise” with serious quiet time, with pen and paper (instead of just thinking about it).

Question #1: What causes me to be overweight (or unhealthy, or not having the body I want)?
Question #2: What’s preventing me from getting leaner? (or healthier?)

Spend some time with it and see how big of a list you can create. Ask yourself whether each belief helps or hurts you. Does it move you forward or backward. Does it empower or disempower you? The ones that hurt you or hold you back will be obvious. You may come up with beliefs such as:

“I’m overweight and I can’t get leaner because”:
I have no time
I’m too old
I can’t stop eating
I hate exercise
You just can’t do it when you have 4 kids
It’s impossible after having a hip replacement

But the million dollar question is: are these beliefs actually true?
Beliefs are not facts. You may hold your beliefs as absolute reality, but when you deconstruct them and challenge them, you may see that they don’t hold any water. 

Self limiting beliefs are false interpretations (negative thought patterns) that hold you back. And you keep holding on to them because making excuses and staying the same is a lot more convenient than changing, isn’t it? Change requires hard work, effort and leaving your comfort zone.

Your mission now: weaken the limiting beliefs and get rid of them


How do you challenge a belief? 4 ways:

(A) Challenge it directly: Is the belief even valid at all? See if you can find a “counter example” that disproves your belief. For example; if you think that after you’ve had 3 or 4 kids, it’s impossible to get a nice flat stomach, what will you say after I introduce you to a dozen of my clients and readers who had 3 or 4 kids and went from bulging belly to rock-hard flat stomach? If they did it, then how could your belief be valid? Answer: It WASN’T! You believed something false and inaccurate and it was holding you back! 

(B) Challenge the source: Is it your belief, or have you been living what your parents, peers or culture handed down to you? Just the realization that a belief wasn’t yours to begin with is enough to shatter it.

(C) Challenge the usefulness of the belief: Ok, so you believed something when you were younger. Does still believing it has any usefulness today? Does it help you move closer to what you want in your life today? If not, then wouldn't today be a good time to get rid of it?

(D) Challenging the belief by weighing the consequences: If you keep this belief, what is it going to cost you? What will the pain be like? What will you miss? And what will these consequences be if you don’t change it NOW?

Nature abhors a vacuum, as Spinoza once said. You don’t simply get rid of a belief, you must also replace it. What things would you want and need to believe instead that would create positive behaviors that would move you toward your goal? Write them down, then massage them into an affirmation. For example, if you’ve hung your hat on the belief that you didn’t have time to exercise, could you write a new affirmation of belief similar to this?

“I’m a very busy person, so that means I must set clear priorities and I must keep my health and body on the top of my priority list. I always schedule time for my most important priorities, I am efficient with my training, and I use every minute of my day wisely. And if Barack Obama, the busiest person in the world, can train for 45 minutes a day 6 days a week, there’s no excuse for me. I can do it too.”
Write down your new belief affirmations and read them, right along with your goals, every day.
Then “activate” this affirmation by doing what Olympic and professional athletes do: engaging in mental rehearsal. Visualize yourself carrying out the behaviors that this belief would generate. Think about and feel what it would be like to take those positive actions steps and play mental movies of how your life would change by doing so. Involve all your senses: see it, hear it, feel it. 

Keep it up until you start to see your behavior change and your habitual actions come into alignment with your goals/intentions. If you’re diligent, you’ll see changes in attitude and behavior with 21-30 days. It may happen sooner. It may take longer if you’ve carried deep, lifelong limiting beliefs. But in less than a month, the roots of the new belief pattern will be formed. 

Then you can update your goals and affirmations to reflect your current priorities and move on to the next goal you want to achieve or the next limiting belief you want to change. Keep THAT up, and pretty soon, you will be LIMIT-LESS!

BELIEVE ME, spending quality time understanding and working on your beliefs is a lot more productive than spending time in forums arguing about whether a low carb program is better than a high carb program… or even whether the cure for obesity is found in the arcuate nucleus of the lower hypothalamus. It’s in your head all right… but most people have been looking in the wrong place.

Train hard and expect success,
Tom Venuto
Fat Loss Coach
About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a fat loss expert, lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, independent nutrition researcher, freelance writer, and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat-Burning Secrets of The World’s Best Bodybuilders & Fitness Models (e-book) which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting:

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays!

Hi Everyone!

Just a quick one today.  We at Flat Abs hope you are all enjoying this festive season.  We'd like to thank you for visiting our blog.  We appreciate our readers so much!

The holidays can be a difficult time for some, so if you know someone who may be struggling today, give them a call, or send them a prayer.  And don't forget to be grateful for all the things you have. 

We'll still be here over the holidays and we hope you will keep coming back and visiting our blog!

Here's to Peace on Earth and a Happy New Year to everyone.

Friday, 24 December 2010

No Pain No Gain: Fitness Myth or Ultimate Fitness Truth?

By Tom Venuto

No Pain, No Gain. Is this aphorism just a fitness myth and downright bad advice? A lot of people seem to think so. As a bodybuilder with 25 years of training experience and more than two dozen trophies on my shelf, I have another perspective to offer you. Success with your body and in every area of your life is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone and that means embracing pain. 

To reach high levels of physical and personal success you must approach your training, and your entire life, as an endeavor in constant growth. The ultimate truth is, you are either moving forward or moving backward; growing or dying. There’s no such thing as comfortably maintaining.

To grow, you must step above past achievements; beyond your perceived boundaries and limits. That means stepping out of the known, into the unknown; out of the familiar and into the unfamiliar; out of the comfortable into the uncomfortable. You must get out of your comfort zone. 

The Late Cavett Robert, who was founder of the National Speakers Association, said something I’ll never forget: “Most people are running around their whole lives with their umbilical cords in their hands and they’re looking for some place to plug it back in.”

Most people are scared of the unknown. They prefer to stay in that womb of comfort. When the going gets tough; when the effort gets painful, when the work gets hard, they always pull back into safety. But the extraordinary people do the opposite. They know they have to get out of the comfort zone, and into new territory or they’ll stagnate and die. 

Walt Disney once said that he never wanted to repeat a past success. He was always creating something new. They called it “Imagineering.” Disney’s mission was to continuously dream up and create things they had never done before, and look at what Disney has become today.

Here’s a little quote that you should post on your bulletin board, your computer desktop or somewhere you will always see it: 

“Do what you always did, get what you always got.”

You can't grow or change by doing what you’ve already done. You’ve got to train just to prevent yourself from going backwards. Maintenance doesn’t occur when you do nothing, maintenance is working to fight entropy, the tendency for things to naturally deteriorate.

Still, most people won’t leave their comfort zones. They won’t do it in business, they won’t do it in their personal lives. They won’t do it in their sport. They won’t do it for personal health and fitness. Why? The answer is simple… It hurts.

By definition, what’s it like outside the comfort zone? It’s UN-COMFORTABLE, right? Change is uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s physically painful, but it’s always mentally and emotionally painful, in the form of discipline, sacrifice, uncertainty and fear. 

The maxim, “no pain no gain” gets knocked all the time as if it were bad advice. The fact of life is that you don’t grow unless you’ are constantly stepping outside the comfort zone, and outside the comfort zone is discomfort and pain.

I find that it’s mostly the non-achievers who make out “no pain, no gain” to be a bad thing. But the winners get it. The champions understand stepping outside the comfort zone in a healthy context, so they embrace it.
When you’re talking about the Olympics, or pro bodybuilding or the Super Bowl or a world championship, you’d better believe it’s physical pain, it’s discipline, it’s sacrifice, it’s blood, sweat, and tears - literally. But for most people who simply want to go from unfit to fit, from overweight to ideal weight, it’s not so much about physical “pain”; it’s more like stretching yourself. 

How do you develop flexibility? What does your trainer tell you? You stretch to the point of discomfort, but not to the point of pain, right? You get into a position of slight discomfort and you hold it just long enough, then what happens? The discomfort goes away, because the muscle becomes more pliable, and the range of motion is increased. 

Each time, you stretch a little further, just barely into the range you’ve never been in before, and eventually, you’re doing the splits. And why do you approach it like that? Because you don’t want to injure yourself. Stretch too far, too fast and your muscle tears. 

The elite athletes and high achievers really have to push themselves; they’re going to push their boundaries and test their limits. But if you’re not an elite athlete or seasoned bodybuilder, and you take the advice, “no pain, no gain” too literally, you’re going to end up getting injured. 

I always say to my training partner when I watch him cringing during a set and he finishes up with that pained look on his face, “Are you injured, or just hurt?” He knows what I’m talking about. If he says he’s hurt, I say, “OK, good. As long as you’re not injured. Let’s get on with it. Next set.”

It’s not about injury. That is bad pain. That is stupidity. But do stretch yourself.  You can’t improve unless you stretch yourself. If that’s what some people want – if they just want to “stay fit” – OK fine. It actually doesn’t take that much to stay fit, once you’ve already achieved it. 

But what if you want to improve? What if you want a new body? What if you want to change? If that's what you want, you’ve got to push yourself a little. You’ve got to break comfort zones. And if your body is not changing, then I don’t care how hard you think you’re working, whatever you’re doing right now is inside your comfort zone. 

The statement “no pain, no gain” has been misinterpreted, criticized and labeled a fallacy by many. However, the people doing the criticizing are almost always comfort zoners who haven’t achieved much. Don’t listen to them. Instead, follow the small percentage of people who step out and achieve great things. If you don’t like the sound of it, then say, “No effort, no gain.” We’re still talking about the same thing.

Embrace the discomfort like the champions do. Soon it subsides, you enjoy the benefits of the change and the pain is forgotten. You’ve reached a new, higher plateau of achievement. Enjoy the view for a short while. But be on guard because it’s not long before that higher level becomes your new comfort zone and then its time to press on again.

About the author
Tom VenutoTom Venuto is a lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, freelance writer and best selling author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has been featured in IRONMAN, Australian IRONMAN, Italian IRONMAN (Olympian’s News), Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness, Muscular Development, Men’s Exercise, and Men’s Fitness Magazines. Tom’s hard work, no-quick fixes approach has won him multiple titles in drug tested bodybuilding including Mr. Natural Pennsylvania, Natural New Jersey, Natural New York State, Natural Mid Atlantic States and NPC Natural Eastern Classic championships. More important, tens of thousands of people in 141 countries have used Tom’s Burn The Fat program to lose as much as 253 pounds or just the last stubborn 5-10 pounds and achieve that coveted 6-pack of abs. To learn more about Tom’s all-natural approach to fat burning, visit his site at

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Does Hypnosis Work For Weight Loss?

By Tom Venuto
Hypnosis conjures up images of a bearded man with piercing black eyes and a mesmerizing deep voice swinging a pendulum back and forth, chanting, “You are getting very sleeeeepy.” Hypnosis is terribly misunderstood and the only exposure to hypnosis most people will ever have is a Las Vegas stage show. But stage hypnosis for entertainment and hypnotherapy for behavior change are completely different animals. Could “real” hypnotherapy help you get leaner? 

I’ve wondered the same thing myself for decades, since I first started bodybuilding.
In the late 1980’s, Dr. Judd Biasiotto published numerous books about the mind in sports including one called, “Hypnotize Me And Make Me Great.” 

That 70-page book, which has long since gone out of print (but still holds a hallowed place on my shelf), was one of the books that sparked my interest in mind power and hypnosis. 

In case you’re not familiar with strength sports, Dr. Judd is the guy who squatted 605 pounds at a body weight of 132 pounds – a staggering feat, as any powerlifter will tell you. When a world class lifter who also holds a PhD in sports psychology says there’s something to hypnosis, and that his mental training regimen was instrumental in his success, a teenage wannabe bodybuilder, desperate for muscle, listens! 

All these years later, my interest in hypnosis and the powers of the mind have never waned. I’ve used self hypnosis as well as hypnosis CD’s, which were directed at improving performance in the gym, generating maximum intensity during workouts and pushing through the pain barrier. While I don’t see hypnosis as anything magical, I do believe it has been helpful. I also believe that a comprehensive mental training program, which may include hypnosis, can make or break your weight loss program success and give athletes a competitive advantage. 

Any seasoned coach can tell you that which diet or training program you follow is irrelevant if you can’t follow it consistently. Many of the problems such as non-compliance, self-sabotage, inconsistency and lack of motivation are mind problems, not body problems. 

One misconception about hypnosis is the fear that you’ll lose command of your faculties during a session or that it’s some kind of “mind control.” This is not true to any greater degree than your family, friends, peers or culture have “controlled” your mind. 

The fact is, the mind is amenable to suggestion, (especially the mind of a very young child), and in that sense everything is hypnosis. Reading the newspaper or watching TV is hypnosis or “mental programming” in one sense. You get “programmed” by societal norms to become one of the masses, unless you make a choice to be different and become what you want to be. 

Another source of misconceptions about hypnosis comes from stage hypnosis, which has virtually nothing to do with hypnotherapy for personal change. The stage hypnotist intentionally ferrets out the most susceptible individuals in his audience - who happen to be willing participants - and then induces some hypnotic phenomenon for entertainment value. 

Hypnosis, as used in personal change work, is simply a relaxed state of altered consciousness and heightened focus where the conscious mind gets out of the way, allowing a message from the hypnotherapist to reach your subconscious more easily. When your subconscious gets the message, it stimulates positive behaviors, so hypnosis is simply a tool for behavior change. 

Self hypnosis (by yourself), is as simple as taking long, deep breaths, getting relaxed (sometimes using progressive muscle relaxation techniques), then doing your visualization or repeating affirmations, or even listening to your own home-made affirmations tape. 

Many people report great success with hypnosis, but others do not. The mixed results probably have to do with the practitioner, and some with the subject. What kind of results can you expect from hypnosis? Could hypnosis help you lose weight or change your body in other ways?  

I believe that there is a mind-body link and that it’s entirely possible that the brain, central nervous system and subconscious mind can literally “talk” to the various cells of your body and that this may be a factor in healing from illnesses. I believe that the body is a remarkable self-healing machine and its own natural pharmacy. 
I think it’s pretty difficult to prove, but being that a legitimate science exists on this subject (it’s called psychoneuroimmunology), the scientific community seems to think enough of the mind-body connection to spend time, money and resources to formally investigate it. There are many exciting and plausible theories. 

We also have the placebo effect to consider, where a belief can affect biology in truly amazing ways. 
That said, when it comes to hypnosis, I think you should view it with an eye of caution as well as interest. First and foremost, and perhaps exclusively, you should see hypnosis as a tool to change behavior. When you look at a claim made for hypnosis, you should ask yourself whether that claim is a result that can be achieved through a change in your behavior. 

For example, if someone promotes hypnosis for muscle growth, is it possible that your behavior might change in a way that you gain more muscle? The answer is yes. The hypnosis might help you change your eating habits, and you might just push yourself harder in the gym. Therefore, the muscle growth occurs as a result of behavior change - eating better and training harder - rather than the hypnosis itself. 

It’s the same with body fat reduction: Will hypnosis magically increase your metabolism from a mind body connection? While I like to keep an open mind, I seriously doubt it and I’m not too enthused about hypnotherapists who say they will hypnotize you and your metabolism will speed up. If it can happen, I’m not sure it will ever be provable using the scientific method, so it may ultimately come down to your will to believe the claims. 

So, could hypnosis help with breast enlargement? Well, maybe. A thought might bubble up from your subconscious mind that it’s a good idea to save up your money, go visit the doctor, and fork over the three grand for implants (sarcasm intended). 

Guys, I could give the same warning about hypnosis for enlargement of your…. uh… your amount of hair… yeah, hair growth, that’s it… watch out for those hair growth hypnosis claims. I’m not so sure I believe them (grin). 

What about weight loss? 
Although the results are not definitive, there’s some clinical psychology research that’s been published in peer reviewed journals which shows successful results from hypnosis for weight loss. In part 2 of this series, you’ll hear more about what those studies found. 

Even more eye-opening in my view are some of the documented cases of medical hypnosis, which range from simple pain relief from dental work to surgery without anesthesia (which is pretty freaky if you think about it). The mind does affect the body. 

In my opinion, hypnosis sessions or hypnosis CD’s can be a valuable adjunct to a comprehensive fitness, nutrition and lifestyle program for some people, if you get them from a reputable and skilled hypnotherapist. 
Even better, I believe the ideal type of session would include conscious coaching and education as well as traditional hypnosis, not just a passive situation where you listen and expect your mind to be positively “programmed.” 

Then again, I think this is why weight loss hypnosis CDs sell like gangbusters, because they’re often sold under the pretense that you do absolutely nothing. Just listen and get slim - the perfect “quick fix.” 
I don’t think it’s that simple or easy. You have to accept responsibility for change, take an active role in creating change and have a bias for action if you really want to be successful. You have to work on the physical and mental plane simultaneously not just “think positive” or rely on self help CD’s of any kind. 

So while I DO believe hypnosis can be a valuable tool, at the end of the day, programming your mind for success all boils down to what you say to yourself (and see/read/listen to), most of the time. You can’t work with a hypnotherapist every day for the rest of your life, but you do talk to yourself non stop every single day, and repetition is a proven way to condition the mind. 

The way you talk to yourself, most of the time, IS “hypnosis” if you think about it… it’s self-hypnosis. 
If you already have a structured training and nutrition plan, Like Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle, but you’re having challenges with the behavior change side of things, I hypnosis or positive mental programming CD’s might be worth trying as an additional tool in your “mental training” took kit.  
Just remember that in the long run, you are your own best hypnotherapist and when it comes to the claims, let the buyer beware.

Tom Venuto, author of
Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle
About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a fat loss expert, lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, freelance writer, and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat-Burning Secrets of The World’s Best Bodybuilders & Fitness Models (e-book) which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting: or

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

How Liquid Calories May Be Making You Fat... Even Your Favorite Protein Drinks!

By Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS

At least 7 scientific studies have provided strong evidence that energy containing beverages (i.e., “liquid calories”) do not properly activate the satiety mechanisms in the body and brain and do not satisfy the appetite as well as food in solid form. 

Epidemiological research also supports a positive association between calorie-containing beverage consumption and increased body weight or body mass index. New research now suggests that soda may not be the only culprit…

The primary source of liquid calories in the United States Diet is carbohydrate, namely soda. Now running a close second are specialty and dessert coffees. Did you know that a 16 ounce Frappucino can contain 500 calories or even more! That’s one-third of a typical female’s daily calorie intake while on a fat loss program.
A recent study at Purdue University published in the International Journal of Obesity set out to learn even more about this bodyfat - liquid calories relationship. 
Researchers compared solid and beverage forms of foods composed primarily of carbohydrate, fat or protein in order to document the independent effect of food form in foods with different dominant macronutrient sources. 

Based on previous research, some experts have recommended targeting specific beverages as being “worse” than others. High fructose corn syrup and soda has been singled out the most and you’ve probably seen that yourself in the news.

There’s no question that soda has been on top of the “hit list” for some time now, by virtue of the amounts and frequency of consumption alone.

However, this recent study says that from a pure energy balance perspective, we should be cautious about ALL liquid calories, not just soda and not just carbohydrates! 

Fruit juice for example, appears to be an obvious improvement over soda, so many people have swapped out their soda for fruit juice. However, when fruit juice is compared to an equal amount of calories from whole fruit, the whole fruit satisfies appetite better (largely due to the bulk and fiber content), and so you tend to eat fewer calories for the day. 

[On an interesting side note, soup does not seem to apply; soup has higher satiety value than calorie containing beverages, possibly for mere cognitive reasons.] 
If you were to meticulously track your calories from beverages and you made sure that your calories remained the same for the day, whether liquid or solid, there would probably be little or no difference in your body composition. 
But that’s not what usually happens in free-living humans. Most people do not accurately track or report their caloric intake. Our mistake is that we tend to drink calories IN ADDITION TO our usual food intake, not instead of it. 
Men are especially guilty of this when they drink alcohol - Men tend to drink AND eat, while women tend to drink INSTEAD OF eating. 

This new research found that with all three macronutrients - protein, carbs or fat - daily calorie intake was significantly greater when the beverage form was consumed as compared to the solid.
Yes, it’s true! Even protein drinks did not satisfy the appetite the way that protein foods did!

While you would think that protein drinks are purely a good thing, because protein foods have been proven to reduce appetite and increase satiety, if you turn a solid protein food into a protein drink, it loses it’s appetite suppressive properties in the same way that happens when you turn fruit into fruit juice.

[NOTE: After weight training workouts, liquid nutrition may have benefits that outweigh any downside, especially on muscle-gaining programs] 
Why do liquid calories fail to elicit the same response as whole foods? reasons include:
  • high calorie density
  • lower satiety value
  • more calories ingested in short period of time
  • lower demand for oral processing
  • shorter gastrointestinal transit times
  • energy in beverages has greater bioaccessibility and bioavailability
  • mechanisms may include cognitive, orosensory, digestive, metabolic, endocrine and neural influences (human appetite is a complex thing!!!)
  • last but not least, nowhere in our history have our ancestors had access to large amounts of liquid calories. Alcohol may have been around as far back as several thousand years BC, but even that is a blip on the evolutionary calendar of humanity.
As a result, our genetic code has never developed the physiological mechanisms to properly register the caloric content in liquids the way it does when you eat, chew and swallow whole foods.

Bottom line: This study suggests that we shouldn’t just target one type of liquid calories such as soda. If you’re trying to beat body fat, it’s wise to limit all types of liquid calories and eat whole foods as much as possible.

Start by ditching the soda. Then ditch the high calorie dessert coffees. Then cut back on the alcohol. From there, be cautious even about milk, juice and protein drinks. 

Drink water or tea instead, or limited amounts of black coffee - without all the high calorie extras.
If you do consume any beverages that contain calories, such as protein shakes, be sure to account for those calories meticulously and be sure you don’t drink them in addition to your usual food intake, but in place of an equal amount of food calories. 

Remember, those protein shakes you might be drinking are called “meal replacements” not “free calories!”
For many years I have suggested focusing primarily on whole foods rather than liquids, even protein shakes. Unlike so many other fat reduction programs, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle does not require any kind of liquid meal replacement or protein drinks and our company does not exist to sell supplements; we are here to educate you and millions of others about the realities of body fat loss. 

We now have even more scientific data that confirms what Burn The Fat has been teaching all along.
I hope you found this helpful. You can learn more about “Burn The Fat” at

Train hard and expect success,
Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS
Fat Loss Coach
Reference: Effects of food form on appetite and energy intake in lean and obese young adults. International Journal of Obesity. 2007 Nov (11):1688-95. Mourao DM, Bressan J, Campbell WW, Mattes RD. Department of Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059, USA.

About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, certified personal trainer and freelance fitness writer. Tom is the author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle,” which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting:

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

My Take on Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, Low Carbs, and all of the Carb BS

by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer

With so much talk, confusion, and controversy in recent years about "carbs", I wanted to give you my take on good carbs vs bad carbs, low carb, and all the other "carb confusion" out there.  I'll also show you one of my favorite healthy carbohydrate choices.
First of all, although I'm not a "low carb" extremist, I do believe that one of the main reasons so many people struggle to ever lose any body fat is that they are overconsuming processed carbohydrates such as:

    • cereals
    • pasta
    • rice
    • bagels
    • muffins
    • breads (even whole grain varieties are not ideal if you're looking to lose body fat)
    • sodas
    • juices
    • candies
    • crackers
It is extremely hard to lose body fat if you're overconsuming any of these types of carbohydrates (even if you workout very hard). In addition to causing wild blood sugar swings and insulin surges promoting direct body fat deposition, eating too many carbs also increases your appetite and cravings.

Note that I didn't include potatoes in the list of processed carbohydrates. Despite the trash talking they get from many fitness professionals, I think whole potatoes (not fries or chips!) are a nutrient-dense healthy food.

Even carbohydrate sources that most people think are "healthy" really are just excess calories that don't really deliver a whole lot of nutrient density... and many types of breads and cereals pretend to be "whole grain" with clever marketing while in reality the first ingredient in them is refined flour, which is just going to shoot your blood sugar through the roof.

My take on it is that the majority of people struggling to lose body fat would do much better following these types of carb guidelines:

1. Reduce your grain-based carb products in the diet (cereal, pasta, rice, crackers, etc) and focus more of the diet on healthy grass-fed and/or free-range meats and eggs, grass-fed raw dairy, and TONS of vegetables and fruits.

2. Instead of the grains for most of the carbs, try getting most of your carbs from vegetables, sweet potatoes, and a variety of whole fruits and berries (NOT fruit juices, which remove the beneficial fiber as well as other essential parts of the fruit)

3.  If you're going to get any grains at all, focus on the most nutrient dense and fibrous portions of the grain... the germ and bran... this means that the best parts are getting oat bran instead of oatmeal, and using rice bran and wheat germ (beware of gluten in wheat if you have any intolerance) by adding to your yogurt, cottage cheese, salads, soups, etc.  This way you get all of the most beneficial nutritious parts of grains without all of the excess starches and calories.
For best results with grains, try to stick only to sprouted grain products if you're going to eat any grains at all.

4. To replace the void if you're used to consuming lots of bread, pasta, cereals, and other carb sources... try filling that void with more healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, nut butters as well as healthy proteins such as raw grass-fed dairy and meats, whole free-range organic eggs, etc. Healthy fats and proteins go a long way to satisfying your appetite, controlling proper hormone and blood sugar levels, and helping you to make real progress on fat loss.

With all of that said, here's one of my favorite carb sources that is high in fiber as well as tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants:

Sweet potatoes or yams

I always choose the orange varieties instead of the white varieties of sweet potatoes. One of the problems with sweet potatoes is the time it takes to bake a sweet potato for 1 to 1.5 hrs.
I cook my sweet potatoes in a different way that only takes 5 minutes and they come out delicious... and no, I would NEVER use a microwave.

The easiest and quickest way I've found to cook up a sweet potato is to slice it up into thin slivers and put it into a pan that you can cover with a lid.  I add a touch of butter, virgin coconut oil (beneficial medium chain triglycerides), and about 3-4 Tbsp of water and simmer with a covered lid for about 5 minutes.  

When the sweet potatoes are soft, then add a little cinnamon and maybe a touch of the natural sweetener stevia (if you want a little more sweet flavor) and you're all set with a delicious healthy carb side dish to go with any meat dish.  Add a side salad and you've got the perfect lean-body meal plan.


And by all means, feel free to give your friends, family, and co-workers the favor of better health and fitness by emailing these links to them. I'm sure they will appreciate the good info.
Til next time,

Don't be lazy... be lean.

Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer
Founder -

Monday, 20 December 2010

Six Ways to Eat Healthy During the Holidays


It's not easy to eat healthy during the holidays. But with a little planning and forethought, the traditionally fattening foods and eating-centered celebrations of the holiday season won't wreck your diet. Consider these six ways to eat healthy during the holidays.

  1. Ditch Full-Fat Dairy

    Consuming a lot of regular dairy products ups your fat- and calorie-intake exponentially. Consider healthier substitutions in recipes whenever possible, such as replacing sour cream with plain yogurt (which can save over 150 calories per half-cup). Serving a glass of fat-free milk with Santa's cookies instead of whole milk will save the big guy about 70 calories.
    More: Holiday Baking Substitutions
  2. Turkey is Tops

    The good news about healthy eating during the holidays? Turkey is one of the leanest types of meat. Stick to broiling, stewing, or baking as preparation methods; cook using a rack so the fat will drip away from the meat. (Frying turkeys may be popular these days, but doing so turns that healthy turkey into a dieting don't.) As a rule of thumb, try to always eat white meat poultry, which is leaner than dark meat (such as choose chicken breast slices over a drumstick). When selecting other types of meats, buy leaner cuts whenever possible.
    More: Make Healthy Beef Choices
  3. Have a Game Plan

    Avoid the high-calorie items typically offered at holiday get-togethers, such as high-fat appetizers, processed meats (such as cocktail sausages), fried foods, cream-based soups, heavy casseroles, and desserts. Plan to fill up on lighter fare, such as lean meat, grains, fruit, and veggies. Prepare and bring a healthy dish so you, and other weight-conscious guests, will have an alternative if the host's offerings aren't so diet-friendly.
    More: Six Ways Planning Pays
  4. Don't Go Hungry

    Arriving at a party with a growling tummy is a sure-fire way to make the wrong choices and overeat without even realizing it. Never "save up" your calories during the day by not eating; it will only backfire and cause you to eat more in the end. Have a smart snack, such as a small apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter, before you leave the house. You'll still be hungry enough to enjoy the holiday foods, but not so hungry that you overdo it.

  5. Fill Up with Fiber

    Not only are vegetables naturally low-fat, low-cal and chock-full of nutrients, they help you feel satisfied longer than other types of foods. The fiber will cause your stomach to feel fuller, and you will have a greater sense of satiety which will help you stay on track. Eating raw veggies as snacks, appetizers, in salads, and side dishes is a great way to keep your appetite in check.
    More: Build a Smarter Salad
  6. Forget the D-Word

    The holiday season is the most difficult time try to diet. Attempting to follow a strict eating plan when you're not truly committed can induce you to binge on the foods you have eliminated, causing you to gain weight. Focus on maintaining your weight over the holidays by controlling portions, making healthier choices, and getting regular physical activity. You can get back on track with weight loss when the diet danger zones of November and December have passed.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Which Breakfast is Healthier? Nutrition IQ Quiz

Hey there, it's Mike Geary from, and I have a little nutrition IQ test for you today.  See if you can guess correctly which breakfast is healthier below.

Breakfast option #1:

-Special K cereal with low-fat soy milk
-Glass of Orange juice
-Half of a wheat bagel

Breakfast option #2:

-Half of a grapefruit
-Whole eggs scrambled with vegetables & organic grass-fed cheese, topped with avocado slices and salsa
-Bison sausage (grass-fed, organic)

And the winner is...  breakfast #2 by a landslide!

If you picked breakfast #1... well, you've been fooled by clever marketing to think that soy milk, special K cereals, and wheat bagels are actually health foods.

Here are the major problems with breakfast #1:

a. There's NOTHING even remotely healthy about soy milk, despite the billions of dollars of marketing they have behind it to try to scam you into thinking processed soy is a health food.

Beyond the possible thyroid problems that soy can create for many people, soy has many anti-nutrients such as phytates, lectins, oxalates, and protease inhibitors that can be detrimental if overconsumed.

Soy can also contain high levels of certain heavy metals, is one of the most allergenic foods on earth, has one of the highest levels of pesticide residues of any food, and also can create a hormonal mess if overconsumed in the bodies of both men and women due to excess estrogenic compounds.

Want more belly fat? Well, go ahead and drink daily soy milk and I can bet you'll gain lots more belly fat!

If you want to learn all of the gory details and the full history of soy processing, I highly recommend "The Whole Soy Story" by Kaayla Daniel, PhD.

You can find it at amazon here:

b. Despite the marketing claims that Special K cereal is a health food, realize that it is still mostly refined flour with very little fiber. This is definitely not a great fat loss choice even though the ads will try to convince you of this.

c. Most wheat bagels still have way too much refined flours in them to be considered healthy.  This is yet another blood sugar trap disguised as health food.

d. The glass of orange juice will give you even more carbs in this already carb-heavy meal.  Although orange juice has a lot of nutrients, it is still a lot of excess sugar waiting to give you even more wild blood sugar swings.

Stick to a whole orange (or a grapefruit) instead of juice... that way, you get a lot more fiber and will fill you up more and slow the blood sugar response.

Breakfast #2, if you'll notice, is a much more balanced meal, that still contains some carbohydrates, but provides a lot more protein and healthy fats with the whole eggs & organic grass-fed cheese and bison.

Rounding out the nutrition profile with avocado, salsa, mixed veggies in the eggs and a half of a grapefruit really makes this breakfast a winner that will provide your body with loads of nutrients and antioxidants as well as keeping you satisfied longer, without any wild blood sugar swings.

On the topic of nutrition, if you haven't seen it already, I highly recommend getting a copy of my colleague Isabel's Diet Solution Program -

Don't be lazy... be lean.

Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer
Founder -