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Your ancestors developed key reflexes to protect you from danger in emergency situations. This is good because your survival didn't depend on thinking before acting. This is bad because in modern society, these reflexes get triggered, and get stuck on repeat. Since they're beneath conscious control, we can't reset them with our thoughts. Using these as a lens, I would argue that getting stuck in these emergency survival reflex patterns can literally begin to explain just about every malady I can think of. (Or at the very least, play a role in):   weight gain carb cravings diabetes lethargy and chronic fatigue back pain muscle tightness and stiffness any postural pain feeling of stress / overwhelm feeling of loneliness, isolation, disconnectedness social anxiety blank stares; ability to win staring contests inability to laugh/cry difficulty swallowing / coughing / gag problems dry mouth, oral health problems constipation / diarrhea vision and hearing problems addiction lack of motivation, feeling helpless, like things are pointless, useless to even try wounds that won't heal   So how does it all work? Survival Reflexes   For my first trick, I will now attempt to make this mess of science as digestible as possible. Okay so your brain as you know it is the product of MILLIONS of years of evolution. Before your earliest ancestors had the luxury of conscious thought, every action and behavior was instinctive, reactionary, and subconscious. In other words, you weren't the boss - your DNA was. If you ever found yourself in danger, your ancestors had already passed on reflexes telling you exactly what to do. (What's FREAKIN COOL is that they can still be observed in all of mammalian life in the wild! I've got some videos for you later.) As time went on, subsequent brain layers developed, and our mammalian nervous systems became increasingly complex. New layers brought with them new survival abilities, and...

“I eat pretty healthy." Many of my clients are already pretty health-conscious when they find me. This is the response given when asked about their diets during our initial meetings. I have seen it worn with pride, despite glaring indications to the contrary.  My clients come to me seeking a path towards less body fat, more muscle, more energy, improved health, and to just feel better. If their nutrition is so “healthy,” why is it they complain of such unhealthy problems? Could their nutrition actually be that good, but they’re just not getting the results they’re after? As Dr. John Berardi likes to say, sure it’s possible but it isn’t likely. Their “healthy eating” is based on loose and variable definitions. Without a stable framework, how will you ever know if your nutrition habits are on the right track? What does "eating healthy" even mean? Is it eating low-fat? Low-carb? Low-calorie? Is it the absence of junk foods, or is it the prevalence of nutrient-dense foods? Is it eating local organic? Vegan, vegetarian, lacto-ovo-pescatarian? Is it The Mediterranean Diet or The Zone Diet? Rest assured. One by one, the next five articles will answer the question, “what is good nutrition?” Enough questions. Let's get to some answers. Principles of Good Nutrition #1. Good nutrition controls energy balance. What is energy? You might be familiar with the common practice of calorie counting. Calories are a unit of energy that food provides us to perform countless chemical reactions inside our bodies. We absorb calories from the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the food we eat. Most of our daily calories come from food, but we also keep a stock of this energy source in our own body tissues, particularly body fat. As a protective mechanism, this stored energy is reserved for times of need (like starvation). For this reason stored calories are used secondarily to incoming calories from food. Special situations...

…Adults Look Down and Behind? Isn’t it amazing how rapidly children grow? I don’t mean just physically, but developmentally. In only ten short years, they go from having no clue how to tie their shoes to building the robots that might do it for them (did your high school have a sick robotics team like mine?). They (hopefully) learn to stop being selfish toddlers and transform into gracious gift-giving volunteers. They go from clumsily tripping over themselves in a fit of tears to standing in the face of adversity to win championships in complex sports. They may learn how to cook, speak for themselves, travel independently, and work a grinder of a job to become a functioning part of society. And in just ten years, they do all of this simultaneously. What have I done in the last ten years? I’m sure there are a few things you’re proud of, but are they countless? Have you forgotten most of them because they’re as abundant as the lessons from ten years of childhood? The neighbor’s high school kids might have you beat… What differences exist between adults and children, and could we learn from them to apply strategies to improve our own lives? First Difference: Authority Figures Children are surrounded by potential coaches and mentors. Parents, teachers, friends, friends’ parents and siblings, their own older siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sport/dance/music coaches, tutors, etc. Basically anyone older than them. The list is extensive! Children seem to always be accountable to someone else, someone higher than them. They always have a guiding light. How many adults maintain such relationships deep into their adult life? A special role in adult life is that of an employer, or more specifically, a boss. Unfortunately, I hear more about people hating their bosses than loving them and looking up to them. No longer wearing the student hat, many of the other potential mentor roles in children’s lives simply...

This week’s question comes from a dynamo doctor who refuses to let his life pass him by - from skiing double black diamonds and learning how to train like a wild animal, he embodies the need to conquer! Father Time be damned, he never uses his six decades of worldly experience as an excuse, and is interested in how to push even harder! What an inspiration! Q: How do I push harder without you [or another trainer/training partner] looking over my shoulder? A: Great question - This can be a difficult task, but it is a critical problem faced by many and is certainly worth solving. Remember, intensity in the gym is far more productive and conducive to producing real, lasting results than utilizing longer durations/volumes of a lesser intensity. Let’s break this topic down into a few steps. My first suggestion is to figure out why you’re even looking to be working harder. Nobody wants to work harder because it involves hard work. Hard work itself sucks. Yet, people out there choose to work hard every single day, so something has to be worth more than “the suck” of hard work. So how do you figure this out for yourself? Set aside some time to think about why you even go to the gym in the first place. What is it that you want to accomplish? Why is it important to you? Most importantly, make sure you identify what is the alternative to NOT pursuing and reaching your goals? If you honestly can’t find anything, perhaps you should re-evaluate your habit. Why continue to spend time and effort even going to the gym? I’m sure you have better things to do. I train because I love the process and the experience, even if it is usually challenging and even grueling at times. If I didn’t love training, I wouldn’t...

  We all have at least one. Foods that are just a bit too delicious. Trigger foods. You’re probably thinking of one right now. You swear you could eat it every day. You could live off the stuff. You’d never get tired of it. …Was yours peanut butter? Peanut butter. The king of trigger foods. Grown men and women alike have confessed to me their ability to put away a jar of peanut butter as they were interning for Furious Pete. Here are two tips to break the habit (or just make it more enjoyable - you decide). [caption id="attachment_295" align="alignright" width="768"] "...

Awesome discussion point that just arose in the Independence Day Group Coaching Challenge: A young girl was having difficulty trying to accomplish several conflicting goals simultaneously, in search of what she referred to as a “happy medium.” My thoughts: Also known as "riding two horses with one ass," this is actually one of the most common mistakes I see from people interested in making significant changes, especially in body composition (muscle gain / fat loss). The problem is searching for the wrong target, the “happy medium.” There should not be a happy medium. When you were achieving a high school diploma or college degree, was there a happy medium? Did you NEVER tell yourself that classes would one day end and you’d finally have the carrot you’d been chasing after? Losing a significant amount of fat really does not take very long (just think, at a reasonable pace, 100lbs in a year is not uncommon, nor unrealistic). It does require periods of intense effort, no doubt. The people who have been “focusing on fat loss for 10 years” have been working too softly and letting themselves continue for too long. Without deadlines, they’re letting themselves off the hook. Even more problematic is the tendency towards trying to accomplish goals that simply contradict each other when fused together. Imagine if your goals were to travel to Canada and Mexico. One day you decide Canada is more important, but then a craving for fajitas sends you the other way the next day. Torn between poutine and empanadas, you never get anywhere. The solution? SEQUENCE. Focus on ONE goal, attack it, and ACCOMPLISH IT. Then, move onto the next. It's easier to sit atop a mountain than it is to climb it in the first place. The “happy medium” people desire so badly doesn't come until after you achieve these focused milestones. Only then can you enjoy the "happy medium" as periods of maintenance, where you...