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( this is a blog where it's okay to have ambitious fitness goals that are just a wee bit crazy )

The Motivation “Tipping Point”: When Willpower Becomes Self-Reinforcing

The Motivation “Tipping Point”: When Willpower Becomes Self-Reinforcing

Willpower by itself usually won’t get you very far. Generally speaking, it’s more important to control your environment and to get your daily habits in check, so that you’re doing the right things without “using up” your willpower (i.e. ego depletion). So in that sense, at least, I’m really not a fan of willpower. And yet… And yet despite that, I’ve observed a a strange paradox at work when it comes to motivation and success. I’m going to call this paradox the motivation tipping point. (It doesn’t really have a lot to do with Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point.) The motivation tipping point is when you have so much motivation, and so much willpower, that you reach a kind of tipping point where you no longer actually “use up” your motivation and willpower resources in your day to day life. Your motivation and willpower becomes seemingly endless. When you reach the tipping point, you experience the following: Temptations that were previously “stressful” or “draining” instead get you more fired up and motivated. Your motivational momentum builds and builds and builds. Paradoxically, “obstacles” becomes stepping stones that make things easier, not harder. In other words, you become so fired up that every so-called “use” of your willpower or motivation to resist temptation becomes itself a positive reinforcer. The use of your willpower actually makes you feel so good about successfully resisting the temptation, that, in turn, your willpower and motivation reserves don’t actually get used up. It’s not emotionally or mentally draining. Resisting the Cookie: An Example In the typical example of ego depletion, subjects stare at delicious-smelling cookies...
Hungry on a diet? Try this protein fluff recipe

Hungry on a diet? Try this protein fluff recipe

If you’ve been on a diet for a long time, you’re probably hungry as hell. A good way to deal with this is to eat protein-rich foods. Aside from having a higher Thermic Effect of Feeding, protein provides more satiety than carbs or fat. You should also try to eat foods with a lot of volume. In terms of both protein content and volume, this fits the bill… and then some. For about 200 calories you can get something like 25 grams of protein and a totally full stomach. You will not want more food after this. Believe me. In order to make it, you just need casein powder, some xanthan gum, and a good hand mixer or stand mixer. (A stand mixer is better. I’ll talk about that in a bit.) The idea of protein fluff has been circulating for some time around the fitness community. My most successful variation comes from this protein fluff recipe thread at bodybuilding.com. However, that thread is huge and has thousands and thousands of posts. The successful variations I’ve used from it are here and here. Note that LeanGains also has a variation that uses frozen berries to add volume. You can substitute the frozen berries for the cup of crushed ice below, but this adds calories. (But also a bit of flavour, so you might try it.) I’ll get into the secrets to a good fluff afterwards, but here’s the basic recipe: Protein Fluff Recipe Ingredients: 25g casein protein powder 6g xanthan gum 2 tbsp splenda or sugar twin (any calorie free sweetener) 2 cups almond milk or skim milk (approx....
Confessions of a Fitness Weirdo

Confessions of a Fitness Weirdo

I’ve lost a bunch of weight, but I’ve made every mistake in the book doing so. I’ve also developed some totally weirdo habits. Here are 33 confessions: One of my biggest regrets in life is not losing weight sooner because it was by far the number one thing holding me back from making higher-tiered competitive hockey teams. Many of the confessions below are tongue-in-cheek, but this one actually really bums me out. Speaking of wishing I lost weight sooner, being fat in high school suuuuuucks. (This isn’t really a confession, I guess, so much as an objective and universal fact.) In high school I gained weight while supposedly “dieting.” How? I skimmed some books and read that you should eat six meals a day to “stoke the metabolic fire,” and basically I just used this as an excuse to eat chocolate chip muffins in between my main meals, with no other changes to my diet. What could go wrong? I look at the size of my arms in the gym mirrors all the time. I care more about the size of my arms than the size of my legs. My squat is more than double my bench, and while this is nice for posturing on the Internet about how hard-core I am, and how I’m not like those total losers who don’t work their legs, I actually find it incredibly frustrating. For one brief, split second, I still always “fall” for all those over-the-top fitness ads. Even though I’ve been reading about and studying nutrition and exercise for nearly a decade, and reading about and studying the psychology of...
Overcome Your Gym Fear

Overcome Your Gym Fear

I really like Katy Perry. Right now when I work out at my university gym I have a lot of Katy Perry on my “workout 3” playlist. (I don’t know why I haven’t deleted my “workout 1” and “workout 2” playlists. I am a playlist hoarder.) So, picture this. I’m in the gym, right? I’m a sweaty dude and I’m surrounded by other sweaty dudes. We’re very hardcore, okay? Got it? We’re only allowed to laugh, joke and smile if we’re with a few friends, but when we’re alone we just kinda scowl at everything, to perform how angry we are at the weights. “It’s just you and the weights, man. Just you and the weights.” Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about. We’re not like those other weaklings who are just there to mess around and waste time. No, we’re serious. Weight lifting is serious business!!! A lot of the guys have the arms ripped off our shirts, so we can show off the guns. I’m kind of a nerd weirdo, so instead of some supplement store logo on my t-shirt I have a Doctor Who t-shirt with the Eighth Doctor on it. I’ve also got white iPod earphones in. These make me cool and hip and help me to fit in more. “I Kissed A Girl” is blasting on my iPod. Aw, yeah. Let’s do this. Someone walks up and starts using the rope pulldown near me. Do I care? Am I really that much of a self-conscious weirdo? Uh… Apparently I do care, and I am a self-conscious weirdo, because without thinking I surreptitiously take out my...
How A Little Creativity Can Make Running An Amazing Study Aid

How A Little Creativity Can Make Running An Amazing Study Aid

I began this article as though it were solely about studying for PhD comprehensive exams and running for an hour every day (because that’s what I did) but as I was writing I realized these ideas are applicable to anything you want to know more about, and the running for an hour is totally flexible: you can run or walk, for an hour or 15 minutes. Whatever. And I also discovered something else… More than anything, this article is about using creativity and experimentation to not simply “work fitness into a busy life” (without sacrificing what’s important to you, etc.), but to discover ways in which taking control of your fitness and your habits can make those other aspects of your life even better. It’s up to you and how you want to implement these things. My Experience A few years ago I had to write my PhD comprehensive exams. PhD comps are pretty scary (or at least they scared me). You’re handed a big long reading list and told, “Go now, little one! Off to your little hovel, to study alone for four months. Good luck!” Then after four months you write the exam. It can be anywhere from three to six hours, sometimes more. Often there’s a round of orals after the written portion, in which you have to defend or explain your answers, and answer further questions about topics that didn’t end up coming up on the written. In many cases, if you fail ‘em twice, you’re out (minus some begging and pleading). I was more scared about the fact that if you fail once, you...