Think for yourself and set your own damn goals

happinessI find it surprising that so many people don’t know how to set good goals.  Those that are able to set goals often get out of the habit.  Do people forget to think for themselves?

It almost seems that many of us fall victim to our family circumstance, supervisor(s), customers, children and school projects.

Objective of this article: Think for yourself and set your own damn goals.

Coaches, trainers and friends will help contract and stretch you to be more ambitious or knock you down to be more realistic.  In either case, you set the goal, you are the driver of your body.  You are an adult and you get to decide where you want to go.

But I don’t know what I want.

Let me help guide you to simplicity:

You want to be happy

Being consists of a few things.
1.) Sex
2.) Drugs
3.) Rock n’ Roll

Crazy right?

Okay, I’m just kidding. (albiet there is some truth to my humor)

Most people want to have importance, feel better and have more.  As of this current moment that’s what I’ve been able to simplify things down to.  Being able to have importance, feel better and have more will result in more happiness.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be anything physical, but often it is.  As much as I’d like to get into a philosophical discussion about that, I will save that for another blog post.

1.) Importance or purpose
2.) Feel Better
3.) Have more

This all equals more happiness.

You, everyone and myself all want more happiness. Without over analyzing things related to fitness will give you the most happiness?

Lose 10lbs, Get in better shape, get stronger, get better, make more money, get better grades.

Sorry, but all of these are really sh*tty goals.  Really ****** dumb.

They are all arbitrary and have no specific meaning.  None of them are specific.  Like the famous, “lose 10 pounds” goal.  “I just want to lose 10 pounds.”

Yeah the 10lbs you gained recently or a few months ago.

I’d like to rant about that too, but I’ll also save that for later.

Losing 10lbs is a goal and a major undertaking for most people.  It’s a project that requires multiple behavior changes.  The actual behaviors requires a time commitment. Each behavior has a certain difficulty level.  Some are easy and some are more difficult.

Assess what you’re willing to do.  If you’re not willing to track your food or give up your morning doughnut, it might not be a good idea to set a 30 day 10lbs weight loss goal.  Set a goal of 3 or 5lbs.  Or maybe you reduce how often you have your doughnut, or maybe you can track your food 2 days out of the week.  Keep in mind the doughnut in this example could easily be weekend alcohol consumption.

Set some behaviors you know you’ll stick to.  Make sure they line up realistically with your goal.  Maybe drink one weekend day a week.

Know thy self.

No one knows you better than you.  So it might be a good idea to start paying attention to your tendencies.  I’m a compulsive eater.  If there is ice cream in the house, it will be gone in a matter of days.  Of course I’ll share it with my family, but lets be real, I’m going to eat more than half of it.  If there are peanut butter M&M’s in a bag in the trainer area, I’m going to eat some.

If there is a bag of Doritos cool ranch in my house, I will eat some and then eventually all of it.

I usually work Sunday thru Thursday.  It’s unlikely I will workout as hard as I do on Friday and Saturday (if at all).  I know me and I know how to plan my week.  You need to do the same.

Unless you’re overly motivated, it’s best that you set a behavior based goal.  Like exercise for 10 minutes everyday.  Eat one serving of green leafy vegetables everyday.

Too many fail at losing 10lbs.  Too many fail at accomplishing anything with their fitness in 30 day they can be proud of.  They can’t be proud of it because they set a goal they are not ready to own up to.

I’ll end this with a sports analogy.  60-70% of all shots taken in an NBA basketball games are lay ups. A majority of NBA games are effectively won with shot within a short distance.

In order to score in baseball you have to get on base.  Hitting a single is what gets you on base.  Then run home. Score points.

In football, it’s really protecting the quarterback.  He needs enough time to get the ball where it needs to go.  When someone has the ball the opposing team needs to stop him to prevent a touchdown.  Blocking and tackling.

These are basics.  These are fundamentals. Think for yourself and decide what you want to work on.  Pick 1 or 2 NEW behaviors to adopt.  If you are ambitious and want to see radical change, journal your food, prepare your meals and spend 10 hours a week working out.  If you’re less ambitious, eat a leaf everyday.

Reaching a goal is a habit

weight loss motivational quote If a goal is important enough, you’ll achieve it.  If it is urgent enough you will usually make it or get really close.  If it is do or die, you will get damn close.

Although I want to be a pie in the sky dreamer that believes it’s all about being gung-ho, I also believe that we all need a little bit of balance in our lives.  A fitness goal is more is just one of many goals and obligations on your plate.  You have a life that consists of work, family and other ambitions that aren’t fitness related.

So even though a big goal is admiral and worth while, we need to frame our targets in a way that makes sense within the framework of our current life circumstance.

It’s also been a goal of mine to get a ripped six pack and under 10% body fat.  Now, you can call it an excuse, but the idea of having a militant nutrition plan during the holidays just isn’t realistic with my life goal.  For me, I know what it would take to get that lean.  I understand nutrition and exercise.  I know that I could do it, but I choose not to because I don’t want to subject myself to that kind of eating lifestyle right now.  I’m simply not ready to do something like that.

Getting big and strong while mitigating fat gain is right up alley for my current circumstance.  It’s something I want to do and it’s something I enjoy.

The habit of doing something that reminds you about your goal is the missing piece that people forget to put in place when questing for any fat loss, muscle gain or body change goal.

For me, working out is a reminder of getting better everyday.  Getting better at my deadlift goals, my squat goals and my bench press goal.  Taking fish oil and eat foods that are anti-inflammatory are reminders that help my body recover after these intense bouts of strength training.

there are good habit and bad habits to reaching your fitness goal

When you’re aspiring to change yourself for the better, you must set trigger points for change.  Texting and/or having a conversation with a friend about your progress is a good reminder.  Signing up for my email list is another reminder (if you haven’t already).

Being part of a positive group of people that acts as a support structure can serve as a reminder.  That’s one of the reasons why I created fat loss with friends which is now turning into “30 & 7.”

I have a friend who is trying to quit smoking. He’s quit in the past, but has picked up the habit again.  We all know smoking is highly addictive, but what prompts him to go outside for a cigarette?  Typically after a meal was an obvious observation. But If I had to guess other reasons, they would be because of feelings of discomfort (sadness, anger, awkwardness).  Nicotine is an addictive substance, but the act of smoking is a learned habit.

Goal setting can also be a learned habit.  That’s the purpose of “30 & 7.”  To make goal setting a consistent habit.

The act of accomplishing a goal is lining up a series of habits.

To be successful at accomplishing any goal, you have to start with goals that have least amount of habit change or additions. It’s very difficult to accomplish something that requires you to adopt 4 or 5 new behaviors.

If you have big and complicated goal, the likelihood of success will be high if you already mastered other habits.  In my case, I want to deadlift 600lbs by December 2014.  I already lift weights regularly and can dead lift 505lbs.  I may need to gain weight or  I may need to figure out a new program and plan.

I have a goal to stay under 200lbs for the rest of the year. I’m doing that right now.  My natural set point is around 190-195lbs, so if i chose to diet I could get there within in a few weeks.

The point is I know myself.  Know yourself and set a goal that makes sense for you.  There is nothing wrong with being a little ambitious, but realistic which you commit 100% to.

6 more days until we start the next 30 day cycle of goals. I hope for you to join us.  Be a part of my email list or comment on this post.  I want people to enjoy making progress in their health, body, mind and life.


I invite you to set a 30 goal and work side by side with me. Intro to 30 & 7

What is 30 & 7


30 & 7 is a basic framework for setting fitness goals.  You have 7 days to figure out what it is you want to achieve within 30 day time span.  After you set a solid target to shoot for, at the end of the 7 days we start working towards that 30 day personal challenge.

Most interaction takes place by an email and on the Fat loss with friends facebook wall.  It’s up to you on how much you want to interact with me or the group.

It’s quite too often that we forget the basics of making progress.  Setting a target and working our asses off to hit that target.

Ideally, the target you set fits into your overall long term health and fitness goal, but some people are not quite there yet.  Some people can’t see the forest before the trees. So instead of explaining the purpose of the forest, lets focus on one tree, Then maybe we can get you to focus on the bigger picture of the future.

Success is measured by the rules you set for yourself.  It’s been my experience that people set ambitious goals that are near unrealistic to attain or they set no rules and let themselves go.

The purpose of this 30/7 project is to help bring a balanced approach to making progress in your health and fitness. There are no rules to this project other than the ones you place on yourself.  Ultimately, the project is your body and your mind.  It’s up to you decide for yourself what you will and will not do.

Here’s an example.

I set a goal in the last 30 days to squat 335lbs x 8 reps, deadlift 365lbs for 8 reps and bench press 265lbs for 8 reps.  I busted my ass to get as close as possible.  I hit my deadlift target but missed my bench press and squat target.  I wrote about it on this blog post.

Now I have 7 days to “take a break.”  I’m giving myself a chance to downshift to a slower gear  or park in neutral.  During this period I will keep working towards my goal or maybe drop my intensity depending on how I’m doing things.

During that 7 days, I’ll reflect and decide on some appropriate goals for the next 30 day “sprint.”

I’m inviting you to join me.

Today is day 1 of 7, on the 13th of November starts a new 30 day period.  Sign up for my email list by entering your information in the form below if you’d like to join me.

Carb Nite Week Two: Eating junk with Ryan

It’s been 16 days on the Carb Nite Solution and it’s been pretty fun.  My wife and I have been doing the diet together and our Carb Nites have basically become our date nights. The basics of the diet are as follows: 30g of carbs a day, then one night a week we get to go all out on our favorite treats of carbs.

Carb Nite #1

(I ate about half of the pizza)


I started at 192lbs and 16.17% body fat (measurement taken by Mark) and 14 days later dropped to 187.8lbs @ 14.9% bodyfat. Three pounds of pure body fat in 14 days isn’t too bad.

Those 14 days consisted of one carb nite as our next ‘pig out’ session wasn’t scheduled until the next day.  One of the things I like about the program is the flexibility with what day carb nite is.  One of the rules is “never have carb nite sooner than your fifth night after your last one.”  This allows for some wiggle room, so that if we have a social event planned we can move our carb nite a day later or a day sooner.

Carb Nite #2

(I ate 4 donuts, maybe 5)


About Pigging out

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about carb nite.  If you decide to devour an entire cheesecake, eat a gallon of ice cream and scoop out a jar of mayo and put it on your sand which – you’re probably not going to have much success with the plan.

Another way you want to look at it: on carb nite you get two cheat meals.  An example would be at 4pm have some sweet potato fries with dipping sauce then at 8pm have 4 slices of pizza and some garlic bread. Then for desert, a Pizookie.

A Pazookie is an oversized cookie served at BJ’s Resturant

On Carb nites, I’ve been making an effort to make sure I hit the weights pretty hard early in the day so that my body gets the benefits of Carb Back Loading.  Carb Back loading is the next thing I’m going to try after getting down to a low enough body fat percentage. Carb back loading  works off of an evolved concept of what Carb nite is based on.  Essentially, you go low carb all day, then train hard at 4pm, then have some high glycemic post workout carbs.  You follow that up with some sort of carb nite. Think of it as having 2 cheat meals later in the evening.  I know, it sounds too good to be true. It’s hard to imagine working out super hard then eating pizza or a hamburger and fries.  Keifer suggests pastries for later evening to get an insulin spike.  However, there have been a lot of people getting great results from back loading.

Counting Calories

I keep an informal nutrition and training journal on the forums at Dangerously Hardcore’s website.  If there’s anything that’s been pretty awesome, it’s I’ve become part of this community that’s been pretty helpful with some of the questions I’ve had about carb nite and carb back loading.

There really isn’t much need to count calories because of the nature of the diet.  When you eat low carb, your stuck with eating lots of protein and lots of fat.  Eating foods high in protein and fat are very satiating, which makes it difficult to over eat.

It makes it difficult to over eat, but not impossible.  If you find a loop hole you will probably fail.  As I said about pigging out – it’s very possible to over eat.  It’s possible to over eat foods like nuts and cheeses.  If you love mayonnaise, it’s quite easy to over do that too, especially if your the type of person that can eat it like pudding.

Weight Fluctuation

In case you don’t know, when you do a low carb diet, you lose a lot of water. When you break your low carb state you get a rush of water in your body.  This will result in weight gain.  I went from 192 to 186 in a week  (this was on day 9) then after our first carb nite (day 10) I went back up to 191 the next day.  I knew this would happen, weight fluctuations due to water retention changes is common because carbohydrates (and salt too) have a large influence on how much water your body retains.  On my 14th day I weighed in at 187.8lbs.  Today I’m back up 192lbs (my carb night was yesterday, day 13).  If I based my results on weight loss I would go crazy, but I’m leaner, so the weight after carb night doesn’t matter so much (just as long as it goes back down after a 2 or 3 days).

Over the course of the next week I will start tightening my nutrition so that I can accurately calculate my macro nutrients.  When I get this motivated my OCD kicks in.  Its good in some ways bad in others.  I can tell I’m getting motivated because I’m tempted to do cardio – but I promise I won’t do it.  Cardio usually leads me to over training and I simply just don’t have the time for it.  Well, I could fit in some cardio time, but I  would have to cut back on my weight training time.  In 2 more weeks I will be doing a 30 day photo.

More updates to come soon.

3/13/13 Update:

My wife has recently been doing the paleo diet and she shares her opinions about carb nite. Although she’s on the paleo diet, she recently switch to carb nite so that she can plan for some cheat days. Here’ blog at Paleo Lifetyle.

Carb Nite Dieting Support
Email Series

Carb Nite Week One : Ryan’s 16 week project

Last year I made a commitment to the Paleo Diet.  Since making that commitment back early March 2011 I was able to get the leanest I’ve ever gotten with least amount cardio I’d ever done.  I did an experiment where I ate a very strict paleo diet for 30 days and did No cardio.  The closest thing I did to cardio during that short 30 day experiment was a resistance training day with legs with lots of back squats.  I was able to get the leanest I had ever gotten in my entire life.  It was amazing to me as to how much cardio I did (in case none).  Not only did I get leaner I got stronger also.  I hit a personal best of 285lbs for 5 reps on the squat rack and 295lbs 1 rep max on the bench press.  I would’ve never believed I would be able to do this with very low carb intake, let alone being the lightest I’d ever been at 174lbs.

After the ‘no cardio’ experiment I did the exact opposite and switched modes to high intensity interval training giving the Lyle McDonald’s Stubborn Fat Solution a try.  I did see results melting some of that stubborn belly fat, but it wasn’t enough.  I tried intermeittent fasting with Martin Berkhan of Lean Gains along with Eat Stop Eat with Brad Pilon. I also tried carb re-feeding.  Mark Sission has 2 really great articles on the topic of carb refeeding: Carb Refeeding and Weight Loss  and Dear Mark: Should I Increase Carb Intake for Weight Loss?

I went as far as doing a water cutting experiment to see how much physical weight I could cut in a 7 day period. I did so in a very unsafe matter, but was able to drop 5lbs after being on the lower end of my weight range.  Dropping from 170.8lbs to 165lbs.  My reasoning for doing so was to get snapshot of what it would be like to lean out for a bodybuilding / physique competition.  I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to do an aesthetic competition I would need to hire a coach who knew what they were doing.

I immersed myself in ‘Paleo Science’ and after 140+ podcast of the Paleo Solution with Robb Wolf (btw my favorite podcast), 60+ Podcasts of The Latest in Paleo with Angelo Coppola and a few podcasts from Chris Kresser  (Chris has great info, but he’s too monotone for my commute most of the time) I’ve come to the conclusion that Paleo Diet is a good thing it’s just not easy.  I became very obsessive and neurotic about logging food and tracking my weight I thought it was about time I needed to take a break from it. I basically forced myself get off the paleo bandwagon a little bit.

This was about October 2011. I can’t seem to remember exactly what happened that time last year but my wife and I found out we were expecting our second child and my best friend and I launched our kickstarter campaign for our card game , ARC (it’s sort of like magic the gathering/dungeon dragon type stuff just with time travelers trying to kill each other).

In first part of 2012, after gaining a few pounds from being ‘part-time paleo’ (and having a pregnant wife) I struggled to get back on track with it. Fast forward to the future, my beautiful baby daughter Elle (short for Eleanor) was born May 27th 2012 and it seems I just blinked my eyes and we are already past the second half of 2012.

My little baby girl, Elle 3 days old

Since being a big paleo diet and Robb Wolf fan, there was this question about the legitimacy from a listener about Carb Back-Loading written by Kiefer.  Robb Wolf’s endorsement of Kiefer background and education intrigued me to do further investigation.  I’ve never met Kiefer but heard of him through co-wokers (he’s from my local area, near where I work); I know a few of my previous co-workers have written some great articles on a sister website Beautifully Hardcore.

After listening to a few podcasts on Keifer’s Biojacked Radio, I was sold and purchased a copy of Carb Nite. The main thing that really sold me was that he backed everything up with scientific evidence with citations that reference studies where the information was relevant

I read the material and it fits with what I’ve already studied but pieces it together in an organized way that makes it easy to follow.  Although I may have learned about the techniques and principles in this book from other sources, I’ve never followed it in a systematic fashion as Kiefer puts forth in Carb Nite.  I’m very excited to start it.

So here begins my 16 week quest to a leaner me. I will be posting my progress and results with the program, as well as posting before and after photos.

Starting Statistics 9/3/2012 Labor Day
Method: Calipers

Bicep 2
Tricep 7
Subscapular 8
Suprailiac 16
16.17% (measured by mark)

Bicep 4
Tricep 9
Subscapular 16
Suprailiac 27
17.67% (measured by nate)

Avg 17.67%

192lbs (9:52am)
33.92lbs Fat Mass
158lbs of Lean Body Mass (muscle)

Because of the unreliability of calipers, I had 2 trainers measure me so that I could get an average. Visual appearance and how my clothes fit will be my main measure of results, however the objective person in me needs hard numbers for comparisons.  They aren’t the-end-all-be-all, but they will serve as some sort of guide.

Carb Nite 16 week follow up.














What the heck does Vitamin D do?

I always feel the best content to read is stuff that my friends on facebook read.  In all honesty, the only news I read is from facebook and twitter.  The same goes for fitness articles.  There a few names I’m a huge fan of that I trust and follow.  Sometimes I goggled something that’s valuable that I want to share it.

Most recently I’ve been suffering from this head cold/flu and it’s been lingering.  I can’t even remember the last time I’ve had a “cold.”  I’ve been sick by food positioning or some random bug, but never “the common cold.”  So I googled “how long should a cold last,” and I came across this great article by Dr. Mercola.  I use to read mercola’s stuff, but stopped because he was always trying to sell you something with pop up boxes.

I understand that we all got to make a living, but his website got too spammy, but now it’s not.  Great content, click on the link right below to read the article.

===>A Simple, Inexpensive Trick to Cure a Cold

It reminded me that I needed to get some vitamin D as well up my dosage on my omega-3 fish oil.

Coincidently, I heard the same reiteration of the important of vitamin D on the Joe Rogan podcast with Robb Wolf.  If you’re a paleo diet fan or just like fitness geek infomation mixed some comedy you ought to give this podcast episode a listen.

Also, while I was eating lunch, I wanted to get some more content on Vitamin D, and I came across this great video on youtube with Dr. OZ. This video summarizes the importance of vitamin D.

Intermittent fasting for weight loss: a simple plan

Skipping breakfast has been the single most convenient and effective change for my weight loss results. What I should really be saying is that it’s really been a way for me to maintain my weight during the busy times of my business.

It reduces my caloric intake for the day and allows me some “error room” for cheating. I know you’ve probably heard that 6 small meals a day is the way to go, but everything has its time and place. For me, eating 2 meals per day has helped me immensely. Here is a plan that incorporates frequent eating with the intermittent fasting concept

Wake up: 7:00am

Meal #1: 9:30am

Meal #2: 1:00pm

Meal #3: 4:00pm

Meal #4: 6:30pm

Sleep: 11:30pm

A few notes
Fasting window: 13-14 hours (last meal 6:30pm and first meal of next day is at 9:30am)
Water Intake: Minimum of 1/2 body weight in ounces. (example 170lbs person will drink 85oz of water)
Optional: Meals #2 & 3 are optional
Calories still matter: you still need to maintain a caloric deficit to lose weight.

If you want to really get into the nitty and gritty of the science of intermittent fasting, there are some great articles by Martin Berkhan at lean gains website. He’s a great writer and he always has good stuff. Here are two of my favorite articles:

Scorch Through your Fat loss plateau

The Lean Gains Guide