Monday, August 27, 2012

Losing Weight on Vacation

As I mentioned in my last post, I went away for a couple of weeks of volunteer work at a summer camp. This was hardly a vacation, but I was away from my routine and eating habits for an extended time. While I was there, I had very little control over my nutritional habits while there, since all meals and food on site were provided by the staff. Somehow, I was able to control my calories while I was there and even managed to drop a few pounds! I should clarify that I lost weight the good way, not because I starved myself for two weeks. There was no deterioration in muscle mass, just a lower body fat percentage. I thought I'd share some of the small habits I was able to stick to in order to stay healthy.

No White Carbs
This rule is an easy one to follow just about anywhere. All "white foods" like rice, pasta, cheese or sugar contain lots of fat and more carbs than you need in one sitting. The problem with a heavy dose of carbs is that if you don't burn them right away they get stored and turned to fat. Avoiding anything like the foods mentioned will help you control your caloric intake. Good rule to stick to no matter where you are or what diet you follow. I suggest replacing bread, pasta and rice with whole grain alternatives.

Don't Drink Carbs
Very simple and easy to do while away. I got in the habit of only drinking water at home and had no problem following that while I was working at the camp. Even so-called "health drinks" are loaded with calories and carbs you don't need. Fruit juices and protein shakes are also easily replaced by eating more carefully. Your body was designed to absorb protein and nutrients through eating, so drinking them doesn't always mean you're absorbing them as much. Stick to water and be more mindful of what you eat. Listen to your cravings, that's usually your body telling you what you need more of.

Keeping Intake Below RMR
Your body, on a daily basis, burns a certain amount of calories, regardless of how much or little exercise you do that day. Just your basic functions require some calories to be burned and this is called your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). To calculate my body fat and RMR, I usually use the site and once you know how many calories your body burns naturally every day, you can adjust your intake accordingly. I was able to memorize most of the popular meals of camp before going up so that i had an idea of how many calories I was taking in each meal.
For example, my RMR is about 3000 calories, so if I eat that many in a day then I break even. If I eat more, then I'll gain weight. If I eat less, I'll eventually lose weight. I was able to keep my daily intake around 2500 calories, which created a 500 caloric deficit each day. This is equal to 3500 each week, which is approximately one pound lost.
If you're going to attempt this, don't allow your daily calorie deficit to be more than 1000, because this will also affect your muscle mass. Your body will use your muscles for energy, like your fat, and you'll lose mass. Eventually, this causes that "skinny fat" look which is not healthy.

Eat 5 Small Meals, Instead of 3 Big Ones
5 small meals a day is good, but I've had my best results with 6, but that isn't always convenient. When we eat 3 large meals, we're carb loading our bodies, but rarely burning them as fast as they're coming in. By spreading them out a bit thinner, divided into 5 meals or more, we can control how our carbs are being introduced into our bodies and gives us a chance to use them, before they get stored away. Essentially, when you eat lots of carbs separated by many hours, your body thinks you're starving and will store your carbs as fat. Also, by spreading your meals, you keep your metabolism active which keeps your RMR high and burning calories all day.

Eat Right Away
Try to eat within 30 minutes of waking up, which wasn't a problem at my camp since we had a packed schedule. It's always good to hit the ground running. Try to have a high protein breakfast somewhere between 300 to 400 calories if possible. This will get your metabolism working all morning and you'll be burning calories all day long! You'll notice that an hour after your meal you'll feel really hungry again. This is your body expecting a frequent input of food, so it won't be shy to digest fast, as opposed to a slow metabolism when eating scattered meals that are too heavy.

Midnight Snack
Now I wouldn't actually recommend eating at midnight, but a light snack about an hour before you go to sleep is great, contrary to popular belief. Crash diets that don't allow any food within a few hours of bed are actually quite counter productive. This puts your body in a catabolic state, where your body starts eating away at your muscle cells instead of your fat. You'll technically still lose weight, but less and not for long. When you lose muscle mass, your RMR lowers, which means that you're burning less and less calories every day. This means that your losing muscle and not burning fat. Add to this a slower metabolism and you'll be gaining weight again within a week! Bad for the long term. Instead, try to have a protein based snack before bed and keep your body working hard and burning calories while you sleep! You'll wake up just a little bit hungry, which indicates a high metabolism.
If you sleep 8 hours and don't eat 3 hours before bed, as some diets suggest you do, that's almost 12 hours without food and your body will think that you're starving. Keep the intake slow and steady.

These were the golden rules that I stuck to when I was away and forced to eat burgers and hot dogs several times a week. I was active every day, doing manual labor, but not nearly as active as training in the dojo or lifting weights. If this diet could work there, I can only expect better results now that I'm home (for the time being) and back into a regular training routine. Eating healthy is not nearly as hard or as expensive as people make it out to be. Just a little bit of homework and you'll be adding years to your life!

Jordan Bill
Fight or Die

Monday, August 20, 2012

What I've Been up to this Summer

Lots of my usual work, like this blog and other responsibilities, have been slowed down this summer in pursuit of some very interesting new opportunities. I apologize for the lack of blog updates and videos in the last month, but things are relatively back to normal and consistency will be restored! Thanks for all the continued support during my neglectful period. I received tons of emails and social media messages from people encouraging me to keep doing what I'm doing and I think that the break allowed people to re-visit some of my older material and also allowed newer members to catch up. In any case, everything is back to normal now! It's going to be great to get back into a normal routine and share some thoughts with you guys again. Thanks for being patient and supportive. Here are some of the very cool things I was up to this summer that took me away from my regular duties:

Volunteer Work
For those who don't know, I like to do volunteer work whenever possible. I've been involved with a youth camp for about 16 years now and have taken on more responsibility there this year. Over the years, I've been a councilor, a recreational program director, a Core Team member and helped train new staff through a Councilor-in-Training program. I've also taught martial arts, yoga, women's self defense and sports workshops as well. The weeks leading up to the camp take up a big bulk of my time and this year I was also invited to help with animating and maintenance with another camp that shares the site. Very rewarding work that charges my spirit like a battery for the rest of the year. You can check them out at to get more of an idea of what we do.

High Intensity Interval Training
Not overwhelmingly time-consuming, but worth mentioning. I actually plan on writing a much more detailed post about this, because I've seen amazing results very fast and want to encourage more people to incorporate this into their training. I was able to lower my body fat percentage significantly, drop several pounds and cut my workout time down. Really effective, but quite challenging. I will be writing about this a lot more in the coming weeks.

Video Game Consulting
Sadly, I'm not allowed to discuss this in any real detail, but it's a project that I'm very excited about and can't wait to share with everyone. I'm going to leave this vague for now, but with a promise to explain (and brag, maybe) as soon as I'm allowed! As a lifelong video game geek, I never would have imagined that my training would lead me to such a cool project!

Book Writing
After a year of writing, editing and re-writing, I finally finished a book project that I've been working on. Very proud about this one! The book is for modern martial artists and focuses on effective goal setting for performance enhancement in training. It also features examples of universal lessons learned in the realm of combat that have also helped me in my personal life. Each chapter also features a personal story of real-world violence that I've been exposed to (or created) and how proper focus and goal setting helped me survive. I really think this book will help people in their training and hopefully encourage others to start. It's in the final stage of editing now and will be available on  the site within the next two weeks.
If you're interested in reading an excerpt, just email me at and I can send you a chapter. Also, if you email me, I'll be sending out a few free copies, chosen at random, for preliminary reader feedback and questions. In exchange for the free copy, I would use your feedback for a testimonial and your questions for my FAQ section. More on this soon, but make sure to email me!

More Teaching
I was booked for even more teaching contracts this summer than usual, which I love! More people pushing themselves to share my passion with! I consider myself to be a very lucky person when I get to do what I love for a living, so I take my job as a teacher very seriously. In exchange for people allowing me to live the life I've always wanted, I make it a point to always push myself in my own training, exploring different methods and practices thoroughly so that I'm always bringing the best information possible to anyone who wants to learn. Teaching has pushed my personal training further than any other motivation before so I always appreciate new opportunities to share.

Gathering Affiliates
Something I've been meaning to do for a while, but just haven't found the time to do so. For years I've been following the work of other professionals both in person and online. I've finally gathered the nerve to contact them and get their permission to make them official affiliates to Surprisingly, everyone was excited by the idea. The purpose of this is to make it as easy as possible for you and anyone who visits the site to also see what other professionals are up to and writing about. People who like my work will get a chance to also see the people who influence me as well. The online affiliate section of the site is being made as I'm writing this and should be up on the site soon. I look forward to sharing the work of some amazing people with all of you!

So that's the bulk of what has kept me away for the last little while. All very cool reasons, but no excuse for the lack of blog updates and for that I apologize. Not only have these opportunities allowed me to challenge myself in new ways, but they've also provided all kinds of new material and thoughts to write about! I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks and thank you again for your patience during this low activity period. Hope to hear feedback from everyone and will be back soon with more. It's good to be back!

Jordan Bill
Fight or Die