Visualize this. You were just chosen to let world famous Fitness Model, Frank Sepe, shack up in your house while he does some local photo shoots in your area. His taxi is dropping him off at your door step step in 5 minutes! And, did I mention, he'll be relying on your kitchen and food supply...
The question is this. Is your kitchen prepared for your guest? Will he look inside your fridge and be impressed with your nutritional choices or will he cancel his photo shoot and call the Extreme Makeover Kitchen Gang leaving you embarrassed and humiliated of your kitchen which resembles the same fridge of the cast from America's Next Top Model!
In this article, I am not going to tell you what and why to eat. I am assuming you already know the importance and basics of bulking and cutting and have a plan to follow. In the article, we are going to discuss how to action-steps to executing your plan effectively in 2008.
Creating a Safe House
Before the new year gets too far in, we are going to revolutionize your kitchen. The plan is start stocking your kitchen as if you have professional bodybuilders, UFC fighters and professional athletes living in your house. No point in setting the standard low. If you wish to resemble the physique of a champion - then you better start living like one. The plan is to remove all foods not conducive to your goals and replace them with foods and replace them with a variety of better choices.
Let's face it. If the food is in your possession or located anywhere in your vicinity, you will eventually eat it. Don't kid yourself otherwise.
The key is to view your home as a 'safe house.' A place where you are free from all the temptations of fast food, finger food at socials, alcoholic beverages at parties, sweets at the girlfriends house, muffins at staff meeting and salty foods on poker nights. With all this temptation potential for sabotage, you need to create a safe house you can return to each night. Here's how to do it right for 2008:
The Fridge and Pantry Makeover
Just a few days ago, I bought myself a brand new stainless steel fridge! Compared to the one I bought at a garage sale for $25, this one is beautiful. It's even more beautiful when it's stocked to the brim with muscle building ammunition. Why am I telling you this? Because, for some reason, as soon as I owned this new fridge, I felt obligated to put it to good use. When it's empty, I almost feel inadequate of being called a man's man! If you don't plan on buying a new fridge for some extra motivation, my first advice, is to empty your entire fridge and do a complete over haul. Call your mom. Call your girlfriend. Call you wife. This fridge is getting a cleaning.
Don't be surprised if you are more motivated to parallel the cleanliness of the fridge with the cleanliness of the foods inside the fridge. Little changes can go along by adjusting your personal mindset.
Here's What to Dump in the Garbage
It would be easy to write out a Top 50 list of foods that you should avoid at all costs. However the reality is that this is rarely the cause for getting fat and not achieving your goals. There are actually very few BAD FOODS. I learned from an old university professor who said, "There's no such thing as good or bad food; there is only good and bad times to each certain foods." And yes, there are some foods that you should avoid at all costs but there is not a 'David Letterman's Top 10 List.'
However, I will lay down some guidelines that will give you a better chance of seeing your six-pack sooner than later. Eating some of these foods immediately after your workout will do little harm because they will be converted right into your muscles, but you will be better off leaving them on the shelves at the grocery store.
GET RID OF THESE FOODS
SODAS AND JUICES - excluding or including can be the difference between skinny and fat. Go ahead and read for yourself on your next 'healthy' fruit juice the amount of sugar. You have two ingredients- sugar and water.
HIGH FAT PROCESSED MEAT - sausage, pepperoni, bacon and related foods are loaded with the type of fat that will shorten your lifespan, and are also loaded with sodium. Don't confuse these for good sources of protein.
FROZEN DESSERTS AND ICE CREAM - again, more sugar to transform your six pack into a keg.. Sugar and oil-laden sauces - whether it is ketchup, barbecue or horseradish sauce, the majority of nice packaged sauces are quick injections of spiced-up high fructose corn syrup.
You're better off spicing up your meals naturally without all the sugar and extra empty calories.
MOST PROCESSED FOODS - make sure your warning sirens go off when you see anything packaged in colorful wrappers, boxes, bags or containers. These foods promote 'healthiness' but fail to admit the degree of processing it went through. Do your own experiment - next time you are unsure of a processed food just take a look at the ingredient list. If you see more than 5 ingredients that you can not pronounce then you have to wonder what the heck you are putting in your body. Most of these foods have an exhaustive list of 'fillers' that preserve the shelf life and have nothing to do with nutrient value. Avoid this stuff at all cost!
CRACKERS - refer to the above but you get to choke down a mouthful of sodium too.
WHITE FLOUR PRODUCTS like white bread and bagels - manufacturers first remove the wheat seed's bran, its six outer layers, and the germ, which results in more than 75% of the vitamins and minerals being lost and over 95% of the fiber being lost. It gets worse. What little is left gets bleached in chlorine dioxide to give the bread a shelf life. It is further whitened by adding chalk, alum, and ammonium carbonate to make it feel and look more improved for the customer. An anti-aging salt that I do not even know how to spell or pronounce is added to the final stage.
A few synthetic nutrients are then added back into the white flour and labeled 'enriched,' but in reality there has been no real 'enrichment' of the original product, only deception and destruction. Did you know that rats will die within seven to 10 days after being put a diet of white flour?
BAKING SUPPLIES - more chemicals to wreak havoc on the human body.
POTATO CHIPS - a cumulative batch of chemicals to put an enormous amount of strain on the pancreas, which is forced to protect your body from these chemicals.
MYSTERY FOOD IN ROTTING TUPPERWARE CONTAINERS - even though Aunt Wilma makes a mean turkey dinner and has supplied you with leftovers until next Christmas, there is no reason to test its life span! Do an inventory once a week and chuck any foods that have exhausted their expiration date.
Here's What to Add to the Kitchen
Since your fridge is probably looking bare like your college days it's time to stock it up so that even Chef Pasquale would be very happy.
Again, this is not the David Letterman Top 10 list but it is a very good start to being fully prepared to having the ammunition required to build massive muscle.
ADD THESE FOODS
BEVERAGES - Get ready to start drinking a lot of water. Invest in filtered water and avoid tap water if you know your local area comes from poor sources. Also, drink 2-3 cups of green tea a day for its high antioxidant profile and more than a handful of health reasons. Chuck the killer fruit juices and soda!
BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS - If your budge permits, aim for free-range chickens (organically fed) as a the most superior choice. If you can not afford these regularly than go for the grain-fed, store-bought type because they carry minimal body fat.
COOKING SPRAY - Only buy the ones made from canola or olive oil
CHEESE - Typically the cheeses that have a stronger taste will serve more purposes. They have a better protein and fatty-acid profile and they provide more taste to your food. Cheese is higher in fat so use it in moderation and aim for a variety of cheeses, such as Feta, goat, Havarti, aged white cheddar and Parmesan.
DRIED FRUIT - This is a great source of easy calories. Just a small handful of some dried fruit has the same amount of calories as a large apple. If you're trying to gain weight, then dried fruit can work to your advantage, but if you are trying to lose weight then be very cautious.
Good sources are currants, dates, pears, mango, apples, and banana. Just don't eat the extra sweetened ones loaded with hydrogenated oils as an additive.
EGGS - Omega 3 eggs should always be chosen because they are laid by chickens that were fed a diet rich in ground flaxseed.
EGG WHITES - Egg whites can be a little pricey if you buy them in the cartons, but can save you the headache and mess of cracking and storing half your fridge with egg carton boxes.
Instead, buy a few cartons of pasteurized egg whites that are a great substitute to top off an omelet with some high quality protein. Egg whites are also great to throw into protein shakes, but don't be surprised if your significant other runs away because of wicked stink bombs.
EXTRA LEAN GROUND SIRLOIN - Always go for the leanest sources available. Your local grocery store should meet your requirements but feel free to venture down to a farmer's market and go for grass-fed beef freshly ground.
FRUIT - Always go for an assortment of colors and make sure your fridge is always stocked with fresh fruit. I typically shop for seasonal fruit from a quality perspective and cost perspective. If you can, go for local and organically grown produce.
Examples are apples, grapes, bananas, kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, mango, oranges, tangerines, and pineapple.
GREEN TEA - Go for the one with out any extra flavoring or fillers. An organic green tea without any extra herbs is the best.
GRAINS - Here is some safe ammunition on the grain side: oats (not the instant oatmeal loaded with sugar), oat bran, whole flaxseed's, quinoa, whole barley and wheat bran.
LEAN TURKEY AND CHICKEN SAUSAGE - This is great to mix things up, and while you might not want to buy this all the time there is nothing wrong with the occasional street meat!
LEGUMES - Kidney beans, split peas, chickpeas and lentils are excellent sources of fiber and a great addition to your arsenal.
MEAT, POULTRY AND FISH - There are many exotic selections to choose from and the best advice I can give is VARIETY! Eat a wide assortment and do not limit yourself to one shopping center. Rotate your shopping trips to farmers markets, the super-size grocery store and smaller grocery stores. Each will carry a different selection of meats.
MIXED NUTS - These are easy calories and a great source of good fat to balance out your meals. The best sources are walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans and peanuts.
SAUCES AND CONDIMENTS - There are many options that will enhance your taste buds while not counteracting the nutrient profile of the meal.
Here are some safe bets: pesto, salsa, curry sauce, tomato pasta sauce, balsamic vinegar, white cooking wine, red wine, raspberry vinegar and flavored flax oil.
SALMON -Genuine wild salmon is better than farmed salmon because you will benefit from its higher quality Omega-3 profile and absence of mercury and toxins.
SPICES - Here is where the fun comes in. You don't have to be a gourmet chef to know how to use certain spice combinations but it may take some experimentation. Consider this free food and customize your spices to your dish. Focusing on just some of the basics like salt, pepper, fresh garlic, basil, oregano, chili powder, and cinnamon will bring your food to life.
VEGETABLES - If you know which aisle the chips and cookies are better than where the fresh produce section is then we have some work to do. You should be able to pick your vegetables from your local food market with your eyes closed. This should be the one section in the grocery store you are more familiar with than any other. Here are your staples: spinach, broccoli, peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, cucumbers, celery and carrots. Try and aim for the colors of the rainbow - the more variety the better.
Secret Tip When Grocery Shopping
You will notice that the majority of these foods are stocked on the periphery of the grocery store. While you are at the grocery store you will notice that your trek does not wander into the 'forbidden aisle.' These are the aisles full of the present and future physique challenged. Grocery shopping does not get easier than this once you discover that the best foods are located in the produce and refrigerated section. Shop in the 'safe zone' to avoid the ambush of pre-packaged food and processed carbs, sugar and bad fats.
Don't forget to buy plenty of meal-sized Tupperware containers, plastic bags, a lunch bag, some 1L water bottles and perhaps some plastic cutlery. This will help you prepare your meals in advance.
Create a Nutritional Plan and Follow It
Have you heard of the saying, "Make your plan and than work you plan." It's quite powerful of taken seriously and applied wholeheartedly. Once you have decided on the plan, right for you, stop surfing the Internet, stop chatting on forums, stop trying to 'perfect' it and simply follow what you have.
Your biggest obstacle will be keeping a 90% adherence to the program. Commit to following the program for at least 90% of the time. That means if you are eating six times a day, you will be eating a total of 42 times per week. 90% com pliancy means you don't mess up more than four times in the entire week! Puts a new perspective on why you might have not succeeded the past few years...
One of my nutrition mentors reminded me to not judge a program until I have followed it to 90% com pliancy and for at least 4 weeks straight. Anything less, is too short to come to any conclusions of whether it was a good or bad plan. Don't play the blame game and try out a new nutrition plan for one or two weeks and then quit and say you didn't get results because 'it wasn't working!'
Replace Old Habits With New Habits
Habits are basically like automatic behaviors. I will be the first to admit that breaking bad habits and forming new habits is not easy at all. If it were, you would have no financial problems, perfect relationships, a healthy body and you would be rocking this world!
The 'sick-cycle' is the term I use to describe the continuous cycle of poor choices. When we continue to make choices that lead to the same dead end, we are in the midst of a sick cycle.
It's interesting how you have probably tried to break an old habit by doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. Isn't is foolish? Why can't we see that trying to write a different ending to a story by mentally writing a different story in our minds just does not work and it will never work!
Creating new habits to transform your body into a Greek-God or a Greek-Goddess is not easy and will require you to assess which habits in your life need to be destroyed. But you probably already know what habits are destroying your progress. Knowing what to do is not enough. In my opinion, YOU DO NOT TRULY KNOW ANYTHING - you might have talked about it - UNTIL YOU actually EXPERIENCE AND LIVE IT!
"A bad habit never disappears miraculously;
it's an undo-it-yourself project."
-Abigail Van Buren-
HERE ARE SOME PRACTICAL TIPS
TO HELP YOU CREATE NEW HABITS:
1. Post your meal plan on the fridge. If in 2006, you simple kept your nutrition plan in your 'head' then replace this with a new habit - put it in a visible place where you can see it every day and reminded EXACTLY what to eat. Obviously, the kitchen will be the most practical spot.
2. Prepare your meals in advance. Instead of waking up causally each day without enough time in the morning to take your food to work, set aside a time in the week where you create all your foods three or four days in advance. Make your life as easy as possible. I suggest coming up with a set time each week where you designate a few hours to preparing all your meals and than freezing them until you need them.
3. Buy a cooler and Tupperware containers. Having the right equipment will force you to eliminate the excuses. Buy enough Tupperware containers so that you can separate all your foods and organize them nicely. Sure this might sound extreme to the general public but I assuming you are sick and tired of looking like the general public! I don't know any professional bodybuilder or fitness model who does not travel with a cooler. I have no alternate solution to suggest anyways. How the heck are you going to eat three or four meals away from home if you do not pack them in a cooler? Hey, did I mention - get a cooler!
4. Buy your supplements in bulk. How often have you run out of supplements which results in sabotaging your diet plan for a day or two. Mentally, having a stack of supplements sitting on my counter top reminds me of my goals each day and that I have the tools to succeed. I have no excuses if I am in a rush and need to mix a protein shake. From a financial standpoint, making a commitment to buying a certain volume of supplements in advance tells yourself that you are committed and not going to waste your hard earned money by quitting.
Failing to Prepare Is Preparing To Fail
I could not agree more strongly with the late Benjamin Franklin, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." Eating without a program is like building a house with out a blueprint. How will the final product look - if a final product is even achieved?
When I refer to meal plan, I'm referring to all the specific details of an nutrition plan. I'm referring to the overall calories, amount of carbs, amount of protein, meal frequency, food selection etc . These details must be pre-planned before you even start! Yes, this is a true plan. How much easier will it be to maintain your focus every time you wake up each morning? Having a plan to follow leads to one simple task - work it and execute it!
Decide To Be Successful and Take Responsibility.
I learned this philosophy from the Australian strength coach Ian King. It goes something like this:
"You are getting everything you deserve right now based on the person you are being and the decisions you have made. You will continue to get the same thing if you continue doing the same thing. You will not get a different result unless you become a different person by habit and action."
This philosophy has seriously impacted me - everything you have in life is exactly what you deserve to have and everything you want to have.
Jim Rohn, one of the world's greatest personal development coaches constantly preaches passionately on this topic and has this to say.
"You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of. You don't have charge of the constellations, but you do have charge of whether you read, develop new skills, and take new classes."
Brad Sugars, an Australian entrepreneur and wealth/business coach, describes an excellent picture of this philosophy of taking responsibility. It is a very clear and accurate portrayal of the difference between taking responsibility (described as playing above the line), and avoiding responsibility (playing below the line). Observe the words 'victim' correlating with playing below the line, and the words 'victor' correlating with playing above the line.
Which line do you play in? It is much easier to play below the line, especially when our society reinforces this attitude.
Do you think that the best way to fulfill your potential for 2008 is by blaming someone else? Does this way of living allow you to reach your full potential? Never!
THIS IS A GUARANTEED WAY OF ALLOWING SHORT TERM RELIEF BUT THE DOWNSIDE IS THAT IT LEADS TO A LONG TERM SPIRAL DOWNWARD OF NEVER GAINING CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE AND NOT TRULY REACHING YOUR POTENTIAL.
So whatever body you are living in now - maybe it's too thin, too big, too soft, too flabby, not tight enough, not strong enough and so forth - you are responsible for transforming your body for the better, if that is truly what you desire.
Make 2008, not only the year that you master your meal plan - but the year that you stick to your resolutions and create a new body and a new life!