Your life's goals may not include polishing off a 72-ounce steak in seven minutes, one of Peter Czerwinski's mind-boggling (and perhaps stomach-churning) gastronomic feats. But that doesn't mean you don't have the same appetite for success as "Furious Pete."
Furious Pete Overcomes The Odds!
Watch the Video - 4:17
Devour Your Biggest Weakness
Pete didn't always have a shovel-ready eating style. His video tells of a 16-year-anorexic needing to control some aspect of a life coming apart at the seams. Maybe you've been there. One element he could dictate was food. This led to a compulsive relationship with food and an eating disorder that landed him in a hospital.
That was 2002. For Pete, the key to recovery was channeling that same focus on food and his body into the world of competitive eating, where he now holds 35 world records (and no indigestion to show for it, it seems). What's more, he has learned to add training to that massive influx of calories and protein. Now, instead of looking like a man one step from the casket, he resembles a fitness model. Yes, he's still a control freak, just like he was while starving himself. Only now, he's building his body.
Transformations like Pete's don't happen overnight, largely because the issues that make them necessary creep over us slowly. It took him three solid years to stamp out his negative thoughts about food. Incremental progress isn't just okay; it's essential for success. Small changes last, big ones don't. But the time to start is now. Staying on track isn't enough. The track you're on needs to be headed in the right direction.
Pete found inspiration by reading other peoples personal accounts of struggle to success. Now his story, along with many others, serves as an inspiration to you in the book powered by BodySpace - Body by Design.
What's Holding You Back?
So here's your challenge for 2011—Take one shortcoming of your own related to health, fitness, or diet, and dedicate yourself to turning it into a strong suit by year's end. Which shortcoming? Deep down, you and only you know what most needs improvement. What Pete has accomplished is an inspiring example for us all. Here are a few others:
The Solution /// Go ahead and eat frequently.
That's fine. Just consume different foods.
Grazing is human nature. Heck, the cavemen ate that way, and their stomachs weren't spilling over their loincloths. Only now, what we graze on comes in a paper bag or tin can, especially during the holidays. "Most snacks that people eat are very high in calories and calorie density," says Barbara J. Rolls, Ph.D., a professor in the department of nutritional sciences at Penn State University. "They pack a lot of calories into a small package." By "they," she means candy bars, potato chips, pretzels and other usual suspects. Most people who grab those products receive hundreds of calories, when they only need a hundred or so.
Those extra calories add up to a national obesity epidemic, but this is about more than weight management. Indulgence foods with low nutritional value raise the odds for cancer and cardiovascular disease while undermining overall health.
The content of those frequent snacks is the problem. In fact, a series of frequent, smaller meals-assuming they're nutritious-is the best meal plan for achieving a lean physique and sustained energy. The basic precepts of healthy grazing are as follows:
Mix meals, don't miss meals. Eat a small meal with protein, fat, and carbs every two to three hours. Wait six or eight, and at the next meal, you won't be selective; you'll reach for the sugary junk loaded in machines. You'll also eat nearly as fast as Pete, outrunning your "fullness" signals. People aren't very sensitive to the calories they're eating at the time they eat them. The result: a blood sugar crash and more hunger.
Keep your wallet fat and your body lean. When you're eating more frequently, you won't be able to afford to eat out a lot. But there are better reasons to avoid convenience stores and fast food chains, which dump fat and salt onto foods to make them tasty. For a more nutritious alternative, whip up a protein shake (I like Nature's Best Zero Carb Isopure) or meal replacement product (try Labrada Lean Body Packets).
Banish the word snack. When you feel the urge to snack... you're hungry. So eat! Stop thinking of these periodic feedings as having to come out of a box or a bag. Your best bets are "low-energy-density" foods such as fruits and vegetables, fat-free yogurt, maybe some rolled up low-fat meat or mozzarella sticks. If you do need something packaged and fast, grab a protein or meal replacement bar.
The Solution /// Max out more limited workouts, and you may see your best-ever results.
More and more research finds that when it comes to training, shorter is often better. "It's a mistake to think that instead of doing one set with a lot of mental focus that you can do two or three sloppier sets," says Dorian Yates, who's hammered on more than his share of muscle as a six-time Mr. Olympia. "In resistance training, you can't make up for lack of intensity (how much you lift) with more volume (total sets times total reps)."
Done correctly, fewer and shorter lifting sessions actually can lead to more, not less, muscle growth. That's why you hit the gym in the first place, right? You want a diesel physique, not an attendance badge. Dorian makes an interesting point about the need for recovery.
Let's say you start off squatting 100 pounds for ten reps. Fast forward: Now you can handle 500 pounds, a fivefold increase, for those same 10 reps. Congrats. But what hasn't changed? Your central nervous system's ability to recover. Only now it encounters five times more stress. Every set!
As for cardiovascular training, study after study finds that systematically busting up into higher heart rate zones-a.k.a. high-intensity interval training (HIIT)-produces greater long-term calorie expenditure than longer, gerbil-on-wheel-type cardio sessions. HIIT prompts other physiological adaptations. A research team from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, recently divided training subjects into HIIT and conventional aerobic training groups.
The HIIT group alternated 30 seconds of fast pedaling on an exercise bike with four minutes of rest, completing four of those 30-second sets each workout, and three such workouts per week. After two weeks, the spike in blood glucose after the sugary drink had diminished more in the HIIT group than in the standard group. Better yet, it took 23 percent less insulin production by the pancreas to lower their blood sugar. Not bad for a total of six minutes of exercise a week.
So if your gym time is at a premium, here's how to make the most of it:
Borrow Dorian's One-Set-To-Failure Approach ///
That is, for at least one session a week. Don't slide under the barbell with muscles as cold as a hanging slab of beef. Load 50 percent of your max weight and do a warm-up set. Rest. Load 70 percent of max and do another warm-up set.
Only then do you go all-out with your max weight and take the set to failure, the point where you can no longer continue using good form. If that last set involved 100 pounds, the first two would have been 50 and 70 pounds, respectively.
Boom, you're done with that exercise-before growing bored. This approach should allow you to thunder through an entire workout in 20 or 30 minutes.
Make A Mental Movie ///
The title: You, Only Bigger. To maximize a shorter workout, "see" your muscles growing bigger as you train. During concentration curls, picture your biceps expanding like a balloon. On squats, watch the quadriceps firing on the big screen in your brain. If you need help in forming these mental pictures, treat yourself to a copy of Frederic Delavier's Strength Training Anatomy. Study the integration of the body's muscles. All of them share a neurological link with the brain.
Play musical cardio apparatus. The human body adapts quickly to a stimulus, including cardio machines. To burn more body fat in less time, switch, often. "The step mill [a.k.a. the revolving stairs] is the hardest cardio piece I've ever done in my life," says Michele Olson, Ph.D., a professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery. "Try doing five minutes on that at a pretty intense level, and then hop on a cycle for five less-intense minutes."
Continue alternating-and continue on your own journey to success.