Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Womens Weight Loss Paradox: Why is the scale stuck?

It is said in bodybuilding circles that one can make gains using basically any program for the first 6 months. Call this the "6 month muscle honeymoon" where just about any type of exercise will add muscle, especially if you are not near your genetic ceiling. So a teenage boy will make gains for the first 6 months and then things will slow down in terms of adding muscle at that rate. I know in high school in the early 90's when I first got a weight set my arms grew considerably for 6 months and then things slowed down and I had to get on a 'Cybergenics' kit to "keep growing"! (Cybergenics were the original "before and after" marketers with just mind blowing 8 week transformations-turned out the guys in the amazing photos were really just  using steroids and I was paying alot of money for B-12 drops and other vitamins) Anyway I never made gains as great as my first 6 months without serious hardcore natural bodybuilding techniques. For example I had to squat over 400lbs and get up at night and drink gallons of milk and natural peanut butter/banana sandwiches to really put on muscle while living in a monastery (thats another story). But what does all this have to do with women's weight loss? Okay try and follow me here:
1. Traditionally most women do more cardio then weights but that has changed in the past decade which is great. Men do more cardio and women lift more weights. Great.
2. Most women care more about weight loss then men, leading to often dieting haphazardly and having little muscle mass. I am of course generalizing but I have seen it enough of it.
3. A women gets on a "good" plan to lose weight that includes knowing how many calories are needed to lose weight each day, being consistent with a lower calorie diet, doing easy exercise like walking to burn calories and make the body better at using fat, and doing harder exercise like intervals or weights 2-3 x week to "maintain" lean body mass while losing weight. 
4. However the women is not going to just maintain muscle mass but actually add muscle as they go through the initial "6 month muscle honeymoon." Just about any reasonable strength training program (which could be found for free on the internet) will work if they stick to it.
5. So someone may do everything right, such as eating with a plan that is sensible, doing their workouts and avoiding binge eating BUT the scale stays the same or barely budges. If the women has been shown how to do proper squats then one can expect some muscle mass to be built in the lower body and if she also becomes "good" at pushups then there is some corresponding increase in upper body muscle. If one is not tracking lean body mass(which includes muscle and is rather hard to do properly without a DEXA scanner machine) then one should not be too concerned with the scale weight and instead use these measurement tools:

-Ask yourself if you 'feel' better then before you started?
-Do you clothes feel looser?
-Do you have more energy?
-Do you have more confidence?
-Can you lift more weight then when you started?
-Can you do more reps then when you started?
-Can you do more cardio then when you started?
-Do you feel more relaxed and sleep better?
-Have you surprised yourself with a personal feat of strength such as getting out of a chair without using you arms for support?

Anyone can "cut weight" like boxers do, by not eating and riding a spin bike in a sauna until they pass out and may lose 10 -20 lbs. But of course that is coming right back when you drink something if you didn't die. But sustainable weight loss for women is conservatively 2lbs per month. One can gain in the 'honeymoon phase' maybe 1/2 lb to 1 lb or muscle per month. Either because she had never done any strength training or had been on an extended layoff due to injury, kids, life in general.) So someone starts at 200lbs and after 6 months loses 12lbs of fat (2lbs per month) while gaining 6lbs of lean body mass. Total weight loss for 6 months is only 6lbs and so the scale can be very frustrating if its the only tool of measurement. Even though I promise you this person looks way better and can actually continue to lose weight compared to 'their friend" who just ate cabbage soup and ran for 6 months and lost 20 lbs. The cabbage soup and cardio diet not only eats away remaining muscle but will leave you in a worse state in 6 months.

In my opinion and after years of "helping people get fit" I now care more about how a person feels then weighs and how they can function (like lifting up kids) more then just looking ripped. Since being "ripped" is basically an temporary illusion of shaving, tanning, lighting, photographing, photoshopping, drug using, starving and generally unhealthy and neurotic behaviour. Being ripped is as unhealthy often as being obese but in different ways and so moderation is key-some muscle, some fat, some strength, some endurance and some fun in your life is what it really should be about. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Jocks vs Nerds? What happened?

First of all I want to apologize for the lack of content but I have been busy(like you). But today I am writing about a phenomena I have noticed in recent years. It is this. Within the world of fitness the line between the jock and the nerd has become blurred. At one time the line between jock and nerd was clear, for example take the 80's classic Revenge of the Nerds. The nerds were generally underweight, hyper intellectuals with a knack for programming Commodore 64's and being awkward in social settings. The jocks were generally stronger, much dumber athletes with a propensity to drink kegs of beer and act like gorillas. However today we have the Internet(well the nerds did too in the 80's but most people didn't have a clue what it was until 1995 or so) and this has changed EVERYTHING. With sites like T-Nation,, mesomorphosis, etc the theory and reasoning behind why we exercise and eat the way we do becomes much more questioned and the guys who do the best research are the nerds. So now we have athletes listening to nerds instead of their coaches (old jocks) and now alot of these nerds have used that same knowledge to build such a physique, that one could mistake them for a jock. This is great but we end up with 2 types of advice in the fitness world now.
1. Bro-science: this is generally anecdotal advice like, "you gotta eat every 2 hours to get lean" or "my buddy did it this way and so should we" or "I read that Ronnie Coleman does it this way so..." or generally advice that one gets from another person "in the trenches" as opposed to some nerd in an "ivory tower".
2. Ivory Tower "Studies": this is generally advice that is backed by some article in PubMed. The study could be from Germany in 1903 under the worst possible conditions and no controls but if it considered "science' then don't question it. Or it is advice from someone who has never actually exercised or dieted and then because they did a degree in whatever topic they are now an expert.
So on one hand we have the jock who trains like Arnold b/c thats how Arnold trained. On the other we have the nerd who robotically follows some periodized (undulating or not) program that took 3 weeks to create and eats only purple foods because some study said that was what to do. One is having fun and possibly getting results and the other is anal and is probably getting the desired results. I really noticed this when I worked as a YMCA Wellness Director and I had divided members into people who were just having fun and not attaining goals beyond the workout itself and others who over though out everything but often had longer term goals. I also found that in the personal trainers that worked for me. Some had advanced Kineseology degree's (the new somewhat pretentious name for a Phys ED degree), some had ACE, NSCA, CanFIT pro, etc certifications and some had no formal education but had been "training" for a number of years or sports their whole lives. The best trainer and coaches I found throughout the years we the ones who actually trained, ones who actually attained goals that other people desired, and only then did any theory make any difference. So IMO no one needs to be a MASTER in the Aristotelian sense of having complete knowledge of "why" each step in a process occurs but rather one must have a firm grasp of what each step is. One cannot just do stuff with out reason but one only needs so much reasoning before one must take action.
The real difference is the dichotomy of theory and practice. All theory is as bad as all practice so we need a moderation of course. So the jock in us is the Dionysian, primitive impulse to move around and enjoy our training and get lost in the ecstasy of the moment. While the nerd is the Appolonian, ordered reasoning to plan our next move and attain rational goals and "think" about what we are doing.  I am going to stop there and maybe continue this later in the week!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Healthy Fast Food

Hello Everybody, (Dr. Nick voice for all you ole Simpson's fans),

Breakfast is an important meal (and most people try to eat it in the morning.*)  However sometimes it is hard to eat a good breakfast because one is in a rush and by mid-morning one is eating a Danish or something from a coffee shop. So we are lead to make bad food choices out of a lack of time.

*Unless you are someone who likes to extend their night time fast into the afternoon with certain forms of daily fasting like Lean Gains or the Warrior Diet.

Healthy Fast Food:

My advice is to make a morning smoothie/shake/meal replacement that will keep you full and prepare you for the day. I like to use a Magic Bullet and it has replaced the 2 blenders I used to use in a day. Much cleaner and easier.

Try this:

1. Liquid base. Choose one or mix: Almond Milk, Hemp Milk, Rice Milk or Cows Milk or Water. 1/2-1 cup
2. Fruit:            Choose one or mix: Banana, Pineapple, Berries, Mixed fruit, etc. 1/2-1 cup
3. Fat:              Nut Butter (Peanut, almond, cashew, etc) or Coconut milk or coconut flakes 1-2 TBsp 
4. Fibre:           Flax seed, flax meal, or chia seeds 1-2 Tsp
5. Protein:        1-2 scoops powder (whey, pea, rice, soy, etc) 20-40g, OR 1/2-1 cup egg whites
6. Spices:         Cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg, apple pie spice and liquid flavour extracts. (vanilla, cherry, etc)
7. Vegetables:  Spinach, broccoli or kale. (handful)

Add ice cubes if not using frozen fruit or berries and add water to shake if too thick before blending.

Experiment with combos!

Sample Shake: Cutler Peanut Colada (you can adjust the quantity of ingredients to suit your caloric needs)

In Magic Bullet blend:

 1  cup Vanilla unsweetened Almond Milk
 1/2   banana
 1/2  cup pineapple
 2 TBsp coconut milk
 2  Tbsp peanut butter
 1/4  cup blueberries
 2  tsp flax meal
 1 scoop strawberry protein powder (whey isolate is good for this)
 1  Fist-full of spinach. 

This drink tastes fantastic and will keep you full for a few hours. It will have a low glycemic load because of all the fat and fibre and so you won't crash from it later like those "Super Juice shakes" you buy at the mall and airports! Most importantly it is loaded with nutrients and energy for the day! Give it a shot and let me know how you like it by posting a comment! Cheers:

PS: I will figure out what the 'nutrition label' would be and will post later!


PS: I bought my Magic Bullet at Canadian Tire on sale for $30 

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Fat Loss Diets

Today I will break down some acronyms and diet strategies for many fat loss diets- so people get an idea about all the different types.
1. Fasting. Now called IF or Intermittent Fasting (although all fasting is in fact intermittent.) Intermittent is defined by Merriam Webster  as "not continuous" so the term Intermittent is redundant, since a fast that was in fact continuous would be synonymous with starving to death! We all fast when we go to bed at night and that is why Meal One is called Break-Fast. Fasting however is as old as the Torah and like they say "there is nothing new under the sun." I like fasting by skipping breakfast more then taking full days but if someone had a lot of weight to drop every other day fasting might be the trick.
2. PSMF-Protein Sparing Modified Fasts- this is really not a fast but a protein shake diet that works out to about 500 calories/day and is medically supervised usually. These are great for the obese to drop weight but the premise of just drinking protein might be now a little outdated. Weight training is more important to retain LBM then protein but I guess on such low calories we need Essential Amino Acids and fats and the shakes guarantee this in a easy format. This is also like TNATION's Velocity Diet which is just a PSMF or any "shake diet" and most likly the inspiration for Slim Fast which is horrible stuff.
3. VLCD- Very Low Calorie Diet- this is just eating very few calories and ultimately is the basis of all diets. However just eating skittles (I know girls who have) will only result in nutrient deficiencies.
4. Bodybuilding Show Diets- these are a combo of a PSMF and a VLCD. You eat fish and rice cakes (or maybe green beans)  for 16 weeks and then the day after the competition you gain 30 lbs! That simple!
5. Keto diet- this is the ketogenic diet of Atkins! You know eat bacon lose fat! You actually don't need to be in ketosis (burning ketones for fuel) to benefit from low carbs so refer to next.
6. Low Carb or Glycemic Index Or more accurately glycemic load) diets- South Beach, Zone, 100 G carb limits, etc, these get the carbs and sugars down in the diet and keep insulin under control in order to lose weight. However calories still matter no matter what the book marketing slogan claims! I think everyone can eat less bread and wheat based flour products pushed on us by marketing boards and lobbyists!
7. Low Fat Diets-like the Ornish diet. Think late 1980's - fat free brownies and orange juice-not the best way to lose weight.

Well I have to go train people now and so I will do a second part to this later. Please post comments or questions below and i will answer or defend myself! Have a wonderful day -cause why not?


Wednesday, 2 February 2011


I think we will start to see a lot more regulating of the supplement industry in the near future. However if you want my quick picks of what I do recommend I would say: Fish Oil (liquid) COD liver oil is great if you are tough enough to drink it, Vit D, Vit C, and then occasional herbs, aminos acids, etc for specific purposes.

Email me with questions or add a comment.

ps: the FAT LOSS meal plan is coming next post!

Sunday, 30 January 2011


1. Clean up the diet to removes excess calories in the forms of processed foods, fast foods and liquid calories.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables instead of grain based starches whenever possible. Ex. spaghetti squash instead of regular spaghetti.Choose apples over muffins. ETC.
3. Maintain your muscle mass while burning off your fat by lifting weights (at least your own body weight) 3 x per week.
4. MOVE more-take the stairs, walk to work, just push yourself to move more.
5. SWEAT more- do things that make you sweat like mow the lawn, shovel the driveway, or help a friend move.
6. WALK! Get out and walk everyday.

So those are some basic tips to get you started and next time I will lay out a FAT LOSS meal plan.

Saturday, 29 January 2011


HOW TO LOSE FAT: well first of all, body fat is really just filled up fat cells and we can never lose the fat cells  once we have gained them (well you can with liposuction) BUT we can empty them out and shrink 'em down.  Second we never "lose" fat since we do not wake up one day and realize that we cannot find our fat anywhere. (I swear I had some fat on my butt when I went to bed-where did it go??? lol) fat won't fall off and get lost -we must mobilize it and use it for what it was intended-energy. So we must:

1. Get the fat cells to release fatty acids into the blood.
2. Use the fat while its circulating in the blood.
3. Prevent the fat from re-entering the cell.

 So fat loss does not have to be hit or miss, trial and error but can be systematically done with the correct exercise protocol and lifestyle. I will post an example of a exercise and diet plan for fat loss next post-so stay tuned.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Whenever I deliver a fitness seminar or wellness workshop I rarely prepare a lecture anymore. Rather I have found over the years that as long as someone asks one good question it causes a chain of questions and answers from which people really learn something. There is something special about the dialectic process (at least Socrates thought so) which is very different from passively receiving monologues. So please ask any questions you may have and lets see where it goes from there.



Transformation is a goal in many peoples lives, whether conscious or not. The point of this blog will be to explore how humans can and more importantly 'have' transformed  their bodies and lives.

However what makes this blog different is that I will be using the critical yet open eyes of a philosopher to explore how people do this.

The mission is simply to be honest and rational in exploring everything about the human body and transformation, from intermittent fasting, fat loss surgeries, high intensity cardio routines, neurotheology, running super marathons barefoot in the desert and everything that has to do with the human being pushing the boundaries of their bodies to elicit a change and ultimately to have some control in a mysterious universe!

Andrew J Cutler, PhD (C)
The Fitness Philosopher