By O. R. Marv
You’re in Recovery and looking to change how you both look and feel through exercise and dieting.
You’re motivated as hell, yet aren’t sure where to start in terms of exercise frequency or what diet plan you are going to follow.
Before you get frustrated with “analysis-paralysis”, give yourself some credit for having found that motivation.
Most people will never, ever be motivated enough to do anything other than simply TALK about getting into shape or dieting to lose weight.
Great – you should be!
Now comes an extremely important concept that never gets addressed in the popular fitness magazines or late night infomercials.
This concept I am about to share with you is one that will keep you improving and progressing for years to come in regards to changing how your body looks and responds to a diet.
It will prevent burnout with exercise.
It will prevent yo-yo adherence to dieting.
It truly is the key to ensuring consistent gains while leaving room for growth and improvement down the road.
Yet this same concept will mean absolute disaster if you choose to apply it to your recovery program of choice.
What is this “magical” concept I am talking about?
It seems odd, in fact it seems like a pharmaceutical term -which it may be for all I know.
It is the concept of utilizing the “minimum effective dose” for both exercise and dieting:
· When it comes to exercise we want you to do the least amount possible while still doing just enough to change your body via strength, muscle size, and endurance gains.
· When it comes to dieting we want you eating the most calories possible while still losing weight – in particular body fat.
Hence…what is the minimum effective dose that can still change your body?
For everyone this will be different, which is the case with all aspects of fitness and nutrition.
This is why there is no one size fits all cookie cutter program that will work for 100% of the population who tries it out.
Now, on its surface, “minimum effective dose” sounds like I am giving you license to be lazy…but I am not.
The reason this concept is so important is because our bodies are incredible organisms that WILL adapt to whatever stimulus it faces if that stimulus remains constant (in this case that stimulus is our exercise and our diet).
NOTE: What I specifically mean by diet is the size of your caloric deficit you are functioning at in an attempt to lose body fat – meaning how many MORE calories are you burning than you are eating?
Our bodies HATE change and would rather reach and maintain a set point, or “homeostasis.”
Our bodies will always adapt to a point of reaching a set point of physical changes when you perform the same exercise routine time and time again (which is why progressing with your workouts is so important).
Our bodies will always adapt to a point of reaching a set point of maintaining weight and body fat levels when you follow the same caloric deficit while dieting (which is why starting conservative with your deficit is so important).
We need to have a few tricks up our sleeves for when that day of adaptation inevitably comes.
So…what I am aiming to describe is a concept that will set you up for success down the road in regards to exercise and dieting.
Sure you can lift weights right off the bat 5 days a week pushing 80,000 pounds of total volume for that week (total volume is simply the weight you lift multiplied by reps multiplied by sets).
Or you can start off running 3 miles for 5 days a week followed by 90 minutes of yoga.
If you were somehow able to withstand that rate as a beginner - highly unlikely - you are going to see massive amounts of improvement…but where the hell do you go from there?
Your body will adapt and then you are going to have to push 120,000 pounds of total volume per week.
Eventually you will have to add yet another day of lifting weights to increase that same volume to 160,000 pounds of volume.
Or your 3 mile runs turn into 5 mile runs turn into 6 days per weeks then 7 days per week.
And then where do you go?
You’ll be living in the gym or on the side of the road at that point and TRASHING your joints!
Think of lifting weights like this – you have to not only “earn the right to isolate” muscle groups – but you simply have to “earn the right to lift” multiple days a week.
Now by multiple I mean more than 3 days per week which should be the bare bones minimum for anyone having weight trained for several months – so yes start at 2 days minimum, 3 days maximum in the beginning, and work your way up from there.
Same goes for cardio in an effort increase your caloric expenditure to burn calories and ultimately lose weight while improving your endurance.
You can start off at those 5 sessions a week, but where do you go other than 2-3 hour daily marathon sessions of running plus yoga once your body adapts?
I don’t have time for that – do you?
MINIMUM EFFECTIVE DOSE PEOPLE!
Start conservative in both weight lifting for gaining muscle and then extra cardio sessions when making a concerted effort to lose weight or increase your endurance.
This concept applies even better to “dieting” and it explains why crash diets simply don’t work.
Look…America does NOT have a weight LOSS problem – it has a weight GAIN problem.
The scary statistic is that 95% of all dieters reGAIN the same amount of, if not more weight, than what they lost during a diet within 5 years.
Don’t believe me?
Look up any of The Biggest Loser contestants and look at those grim statistics.
Where most dieters go wrong is that they start their caloric deficit too drastically (often times in combination with way too much exercise, specifically cardio) and they quickly become completely miserable.
If they manage to see the diet through they have reset their daily caloric needs so damn low they can’t possibly sustain it long term.
When they do fall off the rails with their eating and exercise, they gain all that weight back (if not more) as they abruptly fall “off” their diet.
In addition to this problem they also get fed up with the massive amounts of exercise that controlled their life and often times quit doing any exercise at all.
That’s just on the surface as far as actionable outcomes that people tend to follow.
A crash diet causes way more havoc in a systemic level.
When you go too aggressive for too long with your caloric deficit, your body doesn’t know you are simply trying to lose body fat.
No, it perceives there is a shortage of food due to famine, so it will actually slow down your metabolism and hold on to every last cell of fat it possibly can to ensure survival.
A variety of hormone levels change, and these changes can take months and possibly even years to repair.
People unknowingly trigger this response in their bodies, then play the victim that they are cursed with “bad genetics” and will be an apple or pear shaped person for the rest of their lives.
Sound familiar anyone?
I highly encourage everyone to start their diets conservatively!
If you track your food the general rule is eat 500 calories less than your total daily energy expenditure for maintenance (how many calories can you eat per day to simply maintain your body weight).
I encourage people to start at simply 300 calories less than maintenance.
Because when your body does adjust (and trust me it will) you can further the deficit to 500 calories and not be stuck in an extreme crash diet.
Remember, the goals of any “diet” should be:
1) MAXIMIZE FAT LOSS & MINIMIZE MUSCLE LOST
2) EAT THE MOST CALORIES POSSIBLE WHILE STILL LOSING THAT FAT
If you start your “diet” too aggressively before you know it you are going to have to be a full 1,000-1,500 calories below maintenance to see any continued weight loss.
Plus if you are only eating let’s say 1,000 calories per day in order to lose weight how can you expect to maintain any muscle tone at all?!?
Dieting on paper seems so damn simple – eat less calories than you burn each day – but it’s damn hard to sustain for any period of time, especially in today’s society of fast-food convenience everywhere.
Hell even I struggle with it to this day and I’ve been doing this a long time.
There is a hell of a lot of psychology going on in combination with all the physiology of losing weight and in particular body fat.
Give yourself a chance and start conservatively and be in this for the long haul – to lose the weight and keep it off for decades versus drastically dropping 20 pounds one month and gaining it back the next.
Now…the one area minimum effective dose should NEVER make an appearance is in your recovery program, especially with making meetings (or whatever else you do that helps you maintain your sobriety).
How many meetings do you need to make a week to stay sober?
That’s up to you…but if you ever relapsed I guarantee you were at least one meeting short (either per week or even per day).
Today I don’t want to find out what my magic number of meetings is that just barely keeps me from relapsing which is why I go to meetings more often than I don’t – especially since quitting my corporate job (full transparency I used waking up at 3:50 AM as an excuse to skip them at times when I held that job).
Minimum effective dose gives you options and a life outside of exercise and dieting but it also leaves you playing Russian roulette with your Recovery.
So, do we want to find your minimum exercise requirements (to still see improvements)?
Do we want you to find your maximum calorie requirements (to lose weight)?
Do we want you to find your minimum Recovery requirements (to barely keep from relapsing)?
NOT IF YOU WANT TO LIVE A LIFE OF FREEDOM & PROSPERITY!
I’ll leave you with this statement which should sum those questions up nicely…
Be COURAGEOUS enough to do the least amount possible for your fitness goals; but not INSANE enough to do the least amount possible for your Recovery.