Clean kitchens, dirty laundry and accountability

I recently got a new roommate. At first glance this may not seem like any breakthrough or large victory, but any of you who have attempted to share close quarters with a complete stranger may well sympathize with my excitement at finding a good fit!

When embarking on the search for a new roomie there are always fears. Fears that you may someday wake up to the sight of this new roommate standing over your bed, breathing loudly and staring intently at your slumbering silhouette. Fears that you may end up with a reckless party animal or sex addict. Fears that this new flat-mate may leave their fetish magazines, dirty underwear or retainer on the kitchen counter. Fears that your new addition may insist on playing Miley Cyrus at full volume, hanging autographed Justin Bieber paraphernalia throughout your home or hogging the television watching endless re-runs of  Little House on the Prairie.

Luckily, my new roommate  has turned out to be quite socially competent, easy-going and is seemingly in control of all her physical, mental and emotional faculties. In addition to providing me with a sane house-mate and bearing a chunk of the mortgage, my roomie has also reminded me of a key factor to success in losing weight…accountability.

Here’s the thing…when left alone, I am a failure in the cleanliness category. I tend to leave the toilet seat up, my dishes in the sink and I occasionally neglect a head of broccoli in the fridge until it starts sprouting tentacles. With a roommate however, I am like a new man. I see things in a different light. I know that if I leave my sweaty gym socks out on the kitchen floor, it’s not just offending MY olfactory…someone else has to suffer due to my nostril-singing disregard for hygiene.

The key once again is accountability. In the same way accountability forces me to take the time to wipe down the microwave, it can also help you shed some major pounds and keep them off.

If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around, does it make a sound? If you “forget” your healthy bagged lunch and sneak out for a Big Mac combo, does anyone notice? If you skip your workout to watch a re-run of Jersey Shore, does it make a difference? If you have an accountability partner, the answer is yes!

So how do you harness the awesome power of accountability? You need to find someone  who cares about you and ask them to hold you accountable. This can be a friend, family member or coworker, but it should be someone you trust and someone who you see on a regular basis. This is your accountability partner.

There are two options when it comes to finding someone to hold you to your goals. The first option is to find someone who also wants to lose weight and get healthier. In this case the accountability becomes a two-way street. This is someone you meet up to work out with, go to yoga with, play sports with, etc. You make a commitment to meet up several times a week to stay active. It’s so much harder to hit the snooze button and stay in bed if you know you’ll be letting someone down who is counting on you. The same goes with eating. You agree to follow a healthy eating regimen and make a pact to be honest with one another and to check in daily to see how things are going. This person should become a rock…someone you can lean on and confide in. Someone you can call when you feel like giving in to your cravings and who can give you support, remind you of your commitment and talk you off that ledge. Success is so much richer when you have someone to share the journey with so I think this is the ideal accountability scenario!

The second option is to have a more passive accountability partner. This is someone who agrees to check in with you daily or weekly and see how you are doing. In this case you make the agreement to be 100% honest with this person and provide truthful reports of your progress. This can be as simple as making a phone date once a week to report how your fitness and nutrition programs are going. Again it becomes much harder to eat that cupcake if you know you’re going to have to fess up to your accountability partner about it later. You should set goals and share those goals with that person. If your goal is to fit into your favorite pair of jeans that don’t fit any more, that person should be calling you weekly and asking how your butt is looking in those pants!

Here’s the thing…having an accountability partner does NOT change the fact that you are 100% responsible for your success. In the end it’s all on you. No excuses. No bullshit. Sharing your journey can be hard. It require you to throw out your ego and to be honest, open and vulnerable. It can be tough to share your goals, challenges and fear, but in the end accountability can make all the difference.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get off your butt and find your “weight loss roommate”. Remember…whether it’s keeping your dirty underwear off the kitchen table or losing 50 pounds accountability can make all the difference.




5 poser foods to avoid!

Nobody likes a poser, so why would you eat one? There are those foods out there that for whatever reason people have gotten into their heads are healthy, but are really sabotaging their success. Let’s look at 5 examples of poser foods to avoid…

1. Peanut Butter – Although peanut butter may conjure up images of childhood bliss eating PB&J sandwhiches out on the schoolyard, the truth is that “normal” peanut butter is crap! That’s right, the chunky PB is in fact making YOU chunky. All it takes is one look at the ingredients list on a jar of peanut butter to know I’m right on this one. That jar of Kraft or Skippy is filled with sugar (usually in multiple forms), hydrogenated oils and other ingredients sure to help you pack on the pounds.

Alternative: A better solution is to pick up a jar of almond butter, cashew butter or one of the other “nut” butters. The key is taking the time to read the ingredients! Ideally there should only be one…nuts or roasted nuts! Some of these happen to have a little salt or sunflower oil and well they are a little less desirable, they are still better than “normal” peanut butter!

2. Granola – Think all hippies are healthy? Think again! The majority of granola you will find on the shelf at your local grocer is packed full of sugar, manipulated oils and has a ton of calories! Don’t believe me? Do yourself a favour and read the nutritional information and ingredient list on most granola…then we’ll talk.

Alternative: Make your own! If you want to keep the grains in your diet, go to your local grocer or health food store. Go to the bulk food bins and make a mix of old-fashioned rolled oats, raisins, seeds (raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, etc) and even throw in a little unsweetened flaked coconut if you’d like. Add some almond milk, cinnamon and chopped apples to the mix and you’re in heaven. OR, find a recipe for a healthier granola that just happens to be paleo at the end of this post = ).

3. Fruit Juice – I used to be extremely guilty of chugging down this “poser” food. As a teenager and young adult I would often drink several glasses of orange juice in the morning and throughout the day. I would always buy the “natural” stuff (not from concentrate) and I had convinced myself I was doing my body a favour by ingesting this “healthy” beverage. At the same time I would wonder why I always felt great right after these couple of glasses of juice, then felt terribly tired about 15 minutes later. Looking back it was obvious…your body treats fruit juice like pure sugar! Your body, which naturally craves sugar, loves the stuff because you’ve taken away all of the boundaries. You’ve taken out all of the solid matter (such as skin and the majority of the pulp) that your body would have to break down to get to the sugar it wants and instead ingested a pure liquid form which is easily accessible and instantly spikes your blood sugar levels. For those of you interested…that’s a BAD thing!

Alternative: Drink water…and eat whole fruit! That’s right, have a glass of water and eat the apple…skin and all! Trust me, you’re body, waistline and blood-work will thank you.

4. Frozen Yogurt – Think you’re doing yourself a favour by putting down the Ben & Jerry’s and picking up some frozen yogurt…think again! Yeah yeah, the yogurt might have fewer calories but in most cases they’ve taken out the fat and loaded up more sugar! Forget about it.

Alternative: I occasionally indulge in the “So Delicious” brand coconut iced dessert. It’s like ice cream, but made with coconut milk instead of dairy and with a relatively small amount of sugar. Yum!

5. A TON of  “healthy” organic foods! – Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not hating on the organic movement. In fact, I tend to support the idea and purchase organic fruit and vegetables for the most part. The problem is, there are those products out there that hide behind the term organic and hope that people immediately read that label as “healthy”. The truth is there are just as many sugar laden, overly processed organic foods as there are non-organic. Organic products may hide behind fancy names for sugar as well, so when reading the ingredients you see such innocent sounding items as brown rice syrup, organic cane juice, organic cane syrup and agave nectar. Guess what…they are all forms of sugar!

Alternative: The key is to simply be a savvy shopper. Read labels. Educate yourself. Look for the amount of sugar per serving in the nutritional information column and watch out for sugar masquerading as innocent sounding ingredients! Organic foods can be great, but just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

I’m not against a cheat now and again (if you’ve earned it through a streak of healthy eating and discipline), but if you’re going to cheat…do it eyes wide open! These poser foods might sound healthy but can sabotage your success. Educate yourself about what’s on the shelf and you’ll be one step closer to a healthier you!



PS Sorry for the delay, here is the paleo granola recipe courtesy of the awesome Dawn Krpan!

This is for all you cold cereal lovers out there…..

Paleo Granola

7 cups of seeds and nuts ( hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesameseeds, chia seeds, slivered almonds, walnut pieces,pecan pieces, pistachios, pinenuts, brazil nuts pieces, unsweetened dehydrated coconut flakes, etc any combo youcan think of but about a 50/50 split between seeds and nuts is nice )

1 cup ground sprouted or regular flax” wet ingrediants”

3 tbsp Honey or Maple syrup, or agave syrup

3 tbsp nut oil (hazelnut, sesame, walnut, etc)

2 eggs

1 cup of mashable fruit ( like raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, orunsweetened applesauce, pineapple etc or any combo of them)

2 big pinches of sea salt( I know it’s not wet but trust me you want it here so that itgets evenly distributed)

Optional flavours:cinnamon, vanilla powder or extract, ginger, cardomom, cloves, almond extract,lemon or lime or orange zest,Get creative with your flavour combos!! The possibilities are endless.

1. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.

2. Mix nuts, seeds and flax in a larger bowl.

3. In a food processor or blender combine all the wet ingredients and blendthoroughly.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the nuts and seeds and mix until everything isevenly coated.

5. Line 2 baking trays with parchement paper or a silicon baking sheet, thendistribute the granola mix evenly between the 2 trays and place in the oven. Littleclumps are a good thing, so don’t try to break everything up.

6. At about 30-40 min, or when the mix starts to brown, stir the granola around so itcan get brown evenly.

7. Bake for another 30-40 mins or until nice and golden. As the mix cools it shouldget nice and crunchy just like “real granola”.Your baking times will vary depending on the type of oven.

I have a convection ovenso things bake a lot quicker. So just keep an eye on your granola and adjust thebaking time or temperature as need.

Serve with almond milk and some fruit.

Caveman Nutrition…aka Kicking it Old School

I realized after the first part of this challenge that I had to dig deep and pull out the big guns in order to hit my 6 pack goal. That’s why I’ve decided to kick it old school…really old school and join my friends at Crossfit Ramsay for a 90 day paleo challenge!

That’s right…paleo. As in paleolithic. As in getting all Neanderthal with it.

The theory is simple enough. The idea is that as human beings our advancements in technology and shift to an agricultural society have fast outpaced our genetics. For the vast majority of human history we subsisted on a hunter-gatherer diet of fruits, vegetables and meats. Then along came the shift from a nomadic lifestyle to permanent settlements. Along with this permanent settlement came the development of agriculture. We started adding into our diets grains and dairy products, which eventually became simple sugars, partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and other nasty “advancements” that are largely responsible for our current state of rampant obesity and poor health. So goes the idea that if we turn back the clock and re=connect with our hunter-gatherer roots (for the most part…after all, I’m not looking to start chasing down chickens and scrounging around city parks for wild berries) we can feed our bodies the types of foods it was designed to process.

Now I am a huge believer in the theory that you should read all you can and never believe anything you read. I’m not saying this paleo concept is the be all and end all, but there are some compelling arguments to the theory and the only way to make an informed decision is to give it a shot and see how I feel. So far it’s been 3 days and I must say…I feel pretty damn good. Since I lost my 100 lbs I haven’t been much of a bread guy and I’ve discovered that dairy products, as much as I love them, give my guts a grumpy face. That being said going the extra mile isn’t that big a step for me. Following the paleo philosophy means completely cutting out any wheat, grains, rice,  dairy and even legumes (beans, etc.). I am sure some of you doubled over at the thought of that, but it sounds pretty damn good to me. Meat, berries, fruits, nuts, seeds, greens, veggies…perfect!

Anyway that’s my story. I’ll keep you all in the loop and let you know how it goes. If you want to read more on the science and reasoning behind this line of dietary thinking I highly recommend you pick up “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf. He has some very well thought out and compelling ideas.

Until next time, keep your eye on the prize and feet on the ground.



Phase 2…Let’s Finish This

Well it’s March 1st and it seems like as good a time as any to fire this thing back up and finish off what I started. For those who may not have been following before, you can find the complete back story of this little project here.

Life is good, I still have my 4 pack, but to be honest I’ve never got rid of the nagging feeling that I needed to finish what I started. Last Sunday I ran into a friend of mine named Karen. I had noticed that Karen had an article published recently in one of my favourite local magazines and I congratulated her on her success. Karen proceeded to tell me that she had basically given up on her writing and one of the blogs I had written in December had inspired her to get back at it and submit the article. She has since submitted additional articles to 28 different publications and it looks like she will be having more success in the near future.

Karen’s story was a great reminder that success never takes place in a straight line. There will always be ups and downs, successes and failures. If success were easy everyone would have it. It takes courage to move against the grain and reach for what you really want in life.

In reality goals need to be constantly moving, shifting and changing. In fact if you reach your goal at your first attempt, it probably wasn’t great enough. So I’m moving the bulls-eye. My new goal is to have a full 6 pack by April 15th, 2011. This gives me a month and a half.

So just how do I plan on achieving this goal? I plan to use a combination of funk, majesty, interpretive dance, time travel and cyborg-ery…well at least the in my imagination that’s how it’ll go down. In reality, it will be the same combination of hard work, hustle and discipline that got me this far in the first place. For diet, it’s good old-fashioned clean eating. Lean protein. Minimal carbohydrates. Lots of fruits and veggies. For exercise I will be engaging in some hardcore effort with my friends at Crossfit Ramsay. As with before I will look to post my eating and workouts on the blog. While I won’t post every day I will post at least twice a week.

So welcome back. Enjoy the ride. Let’s finish what we started…


It ain’t fancy…but it works!

In the midst of a workout last week at Crossfit Ramsay here in town, I was given a clear reminder that keeping it simple can have it’s rewards. I guess a reward is in the eye of the beholder, because in this case my reward was a set of abs and legs that burned for a full week!

As the New Years resolutions and post holiday gluttonous regret start to kick in, people seem to be looking for fancy ways to lose weight and get into shape. Forget Chuck Norris’s fancy late-night infomercial ab machine. You don’t need some newfangled gadget or expensive piece of equipment to get you in shape. Why not try getting back to basics and working your ass off? It’s a much cheaper solution and you’re not left looking like an epileptic monkey trying to use the superfantastical abdominizer 3000.

Here is the workout that brought on this reminder. Complete four rounds of 50 sit ups and 50 metres walking lunges holding a 35 lb plate above your head. Complete these four rounds as fast as you can. That’s it. It’s simple. It sucks. It works! The beauty of it is that you can work at your own pace. In my case it took about 18 minutes. For others it might take 12 minutes or it might take 40 minutes…just finish as fast as you can. If you can’t hold 35 lbs over your head, hold 5 lbs or 10 lbs. If your just starting out, do 20 sit ups instead of 50. Either way it truly is beauty in simplicity.



Endings, Beginnings and Action

Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless.” Mary Kay Ash

So here it is…we’ve come to the end. What a wild ride it’s been! I’m sad to say that writing this I still do not have a six-pack. The truth is however that’s the nature of goals. In my opinion a goal needs to seem just out of your reach or it’s not worth striving for. No one ever achieved anything extraordinary in life by playing it safe. Andrew Carnagie once said that “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”

Even though I missed the mark, I chose to focus on all the positives that have come out of this crazy journey. I am under 200 lbs on a scale for the first time in years, I’m fitting into jean I haven’t been able to wear in 5 years, I’ve got more confidence and energy than I did a month ago and I look damn good naked if I do say so myself. Most of all that goal got me fired up. It got me out the door at 5:30 am in the middle of a blizzard to go to the gym. It helped me to avoid the gluttony of the holidays (for the most part) that many people accept as an inevitability. It got me writing again and in the end it seems to have fired up a few of you who have been reading as well.

In the end a lot of the words that have appeared on these pages were as much for me as for anyone else. I’m not perfect…I’m just a normal dude. We all need a reminder from time to time about what’s important in life and writing these posts helped to remind me of what i needed to focus on to have the life I want. Ultimately the only thing that matters is action. Action is absolutely the difference between success and failure. If you’re always waiting for the perfect time or always making excuses about why you can’t follow your dreams, you’ll never get what you want out of life. Remember…what’s the worst that can happen? Take action! It doesn’t have to be monumental, it just needs to be a step forward. It’s amazing what monumental feats can be achieved through the smallest of steps…repeated day after day.

So what are you waiting for? Take action. Not tomorrow. Not the next day. Not because it’s New Years and you feel you need a resolution. Take action because better is possible. Find a goal that gets you excited and go for it. Sue you’ll fall along the way, but failure breeds growth. I “failed” at my goal, but I’m so much farther ahead then when I started! And I’ve learned so much more about myself.

I’m excited. I’m pumped up. I’m still going to get a 6 pack…don’t you worry. And I’m going to keep this little blog going! I won’t write everyday, but I have loved sharing with all of you and I want to continue to hear about your feedback and successes.

In closing today here is yet another excerpt from one of my favourite books (even a lot of my close friends didn’t know what a personal development junkie I am…surprise!).

I was not delivered unto this world in defeat, nor does failure course in my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. I will hear not those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious. Let them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny. – Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World.

Stay tuned for follow-up pictures later this week!


Day 29…Decisions

“Every decision you make – every decision – is not a decision about what to do. It’s a decision about Who You Are. When you see this, when you understand it, everything changes. You begin to see life in a new way. All events, occurrences, and situations turn into opportunities to do what you came here to do.” Neale Donald Walsch

There are many decisions in life I wish I had made differently…and there are many decisions I wish I would have had the guts to make at the time. I wish I had lost the weight earlier in life, because once I discovered how simple (not easy) it was I wondered why I hadn’t done it earlier. I wish I hadn’t eaten all of the crap I had back in the day…all of that pop and refined sugar and crap may still come back to haunt me one day in the form of insulin resistance and diabetes. I once let a girl I cared about more than anything walk away at the airport without letting her know that I felt about her…I wish I could have gone back and told her that I loved her.

The truth is however that wishing won’t change a thing. The reality of life is that, good or bad, we live with the decisions we make. Even our decisions create decisions. We can either choose be introspective and learn from those poor decisions, or we can let them haunt us. I’ve come to realize that regret is one of the worst things in life…if you allow it to linger and fester it will eat away at you.

I can’t change any of those decisions I mentioned…they are in the past. I can only commit to moving forward. None of us can say what tomorrow will bring and that is part of the beauty of life. The real challenge for all of us is to embrace the present…live in the moment…to breathe in every ounce of life and to be thankful for the things we have.

I will close with a line from one of my favourite songs…”I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision, for another 5 years of life” – All My Friends, LCD Soundsystem.

29 days down…2 days to go