Author Archives: naturalgc

About naturalgc

I am a natural bodybuilder, entrepreneur, personal trainer, supplement guru, and youtuber, with the goal of educating and inspiring. I promote drug-free training, and the physical and spiritual connection to food and exercise.

No More Diets! Eat Intuitively

Too much information

There seems to be an infinite number of ways to “diet” in today’s world. You have paleo dieting, macro dieting, calorie restrictive dieting, high protein dieting, high fat dieting, low carb dieting, and so on. Everywhere you look there is conflicting advice on which foods to eat to achieve your fatloss or musclebuilding goals. There appears to be no consensus among humanity as to how you should structure your eating, and which foods you should eat at all. To make it even more confusing, every day a new university study on a nutrient will outright contradict a former one. Almost every seemingly healthy food on the planet has been demonized at some point in history. This happens so frequently, I’m surprised we can find anything left to eat! Let’s take a look at one diet trend that is popular among the fitness crowd today. Then I will provide my take on a better and more progressive way to eat.

 

Reducing food to numbers.

Basing your food consumption on artificial systems of measurement might be confusing you more than it is helping. Humans simply love to assign a numbers to things. Ever since our little monkey brains developed the ability to count we have weighed, measured, and applied complex formulas to the food we eat. This extremely left-brained approach to eating food, has become the norm. Everything is categorized into a “macro” (a macronutrient) and assigned a “calorie.” I think it is important to know what a calorie even is. Did you know that a calorie is the energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 degree Celsius? Though it can be used as a reference point as to how much energy you could gain from your food, it is far from perfect. For example, 100 calories of Coca Cola is radically different than 100 calories of kale salad. While processed sugar is called a carbohydrate so is a leafy green vegetable. In sum, you may find you can religiously follow a specific set of calorie or macro total goals. But are you nourished? It is still imperative for your health that you consider what particular food you are eating. Use the calorie/macro total as a source of information but not as a strict guide. Furthermore, the more processing your food undergoes typically the more it is often stripped of nutrients, the more preservatives are added, and the greater likelihood it will cause health problems. So while it is useful to know what food provides the most or least energy, remember that using a math equation will never tell the whole story.
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Intuitive Eating

With all the conflicting advice on how to eat in the world today, it appears there is only one way to truly navigate the onslaught of dietary advice. That way is through a strategy that I call “intuitive eating.” There is probably no known scientific method to design a diet built around human intuition. It just isn’t quantifiable. Furthermore, it is uniquely specific to an individual at a particular stage in his or her life. By eating this way, the person can let his or her own internal guidance system point in the direction of what foods to eat. The body will always indicate to a person what increases vitality, and what does not. The only necessary ingredient is that people actually get in touch with their biological systems. Most of humanity is suffering from a severe disconnect with our bodies. We are constantly distracted by entertainment, gadgets and work to realise what it feels like to eat. We need to sit and FEEL what is going on when we consume a particular food or eat a certain way. Whether it be positive or negative, it is imperative we sit and just allow it. Only then can we recognize how sugar is attacking the body. Only then can we tell how plant based foods increase our energy and enhance the body’s cells. The body is constantly sending its warning signs, even if we aren’t paying attention. It’s time we tuned in.

So how does one use an internal guidance system to intuitively eat? First you must first dedicate your life to feeling good. If you are emotionally and physically starved, you will gravitate toward foods that temporarily fill that void. Once you stabilize your body and energy levels through physical and emotional nourishment, your cravings, your addictions to low quality processed food will typically disappear. If you gravitate towards sugary, processed or fast foods the idea is first to allow it to occur. Understand what you are seeking from it.  Secondly and without judgement, notice how you feel before, during, and after the consumption of that food. Witness what happens to your mood. Thirdly, instead of using your left-brain to count how many calories or grams of this and that are in your meal, use it for this: Build a mental database of the foods that made you feel fantastic and sustainably nourished. Discard those that merely filled an emptiness, created a high-low effect, or those that your body just reacted negatively to. After a short while of moving in the direction of foods that feel good to eat, your body will tell you in many ways what you need more of. Your skin might clear up, your energy may increase, you may become a happier person, your illnesses may even heal. Give it some credit. Let your body, which is an intelligent and magnificent system, guide you intuitively towards the right foods for you.


Choosing a Trainer

Choosing a coach or a trainer can be a confusing matter for the beginner or intermediate athlete.  Every trainer or strength coach I have met is usually only an expert in one or two particular areas of fitness. In my experience, Ive come across very few gurus that can tackle more than two or three styles of training. Trainers will be passionate about some specific areas, but you cannot expect them to have a background in every sport, or every aspect of fitness. 

When choosing to put your body in the hands of a trainer, the first thing you need to do is find out what exactly his or her specialties are. Really grill this person and find out if they have walked the walk and are continuing to.  More importantly, have they done what you wish to do?  If you are looking to become a better football player you wouldn’t hire an IFBB pro bodybuilder to train you.  Similarly if you were training for your first bodybuilding show, it would make little sense to go with a talented cross fit instructor.  

As self-evident as this might seem, I see plenty of athletes under the guise of unqualified trainers.  Trainers that just want to do everything, and in doing so providing meteocre services.  While these trainers can be extremely knowledgeable in one particular area they often have limited experience/knowledge in other disciplines.  It is extremely important that as a newbie, you match your goals up with the accomplishments and expertise of your coach.

Be weary of what i call the “general trainer.” Having a certificate in fitness training is a great start, but often a general trainer is no more experienced than the client!  If you want to lift big numbers, go with a strength coach with a long history of Olympic lifting or power lifting.  Conversely if you wish to compete in a triathlon go with an experienced triathlete with a solid training history.  Remember, experience always trumps education.

On a final note, trainers who can achieve an extremely low bodyfat (4-5%) are sometimes more sought after by beginners as their promotional photos are often visually impressive.  This may or may not be a deciding factor in your choice of trainer.  If your goal is to drop below 7% bodyfat then their expertise may definitely help you with weightloss.  If your goal is to improve your deadlift or become a better shot putter, this is a poor indicator of what this trainer can do. In sum, find yourself an experienced strength coach who has mastered applicable techniques.  Don’t be fooled by the pictures, talk to previous clients, and discover if the trainer is right for you!Image

 

 

 


Finding Harmony in Haiti

  • How did it all begin? Joe, A friend and customer of mine invited me to assist in the construction of single row houses in Petionville, Haiti.  Hesitant to leave my busy work life, I finally agreed.  Each unit is to serve as a temporary home for Haiti’s many orphans.  The completed project will provide residence for children ranging from tiny babies to 11-year-old kids.  After forgetting about the invitation, I received an email with a flight itinerary only days prior.  There was no backing out.  I realized I knew very little of Haiti.  All I knew was that it was an impoverished country.  Apparently some 300,000 Haitians died during the earthquake and most of the rubble has not been dealt with.  I also read that Haiti is now the poorest nation in the world.
  • When I arrived I saw a place with few tourists, and undrinkable water.  Most of the streets outside the city center are unpaved.  The houses are made of stone and concrete and many are partially constructed waiting for a roof or more building supplies.  While the cities are in the midst of rebuilding, the culture is vibrant and strong.  The people here are resilient, and happy with what little they have.  On the coast of Port-au-Prince are the poorest parts of the community, shanty towns with the most abhorrent living conditions.  Towards Petionville in the hills there is a mix of gated homes, churches and businesses.  Many North Americans contribute to orphanages or humanitarian causes, though there is still a degree of danger in many areas of the country.
  • After each day of construction, I sat in the tiny guest house (a box maybe 15ft by 15ft) and chronicled my journey.  I decided to blog my last journal entry in Haiti.  It was here laying in the bunk that I realized the trip was not just for charity.  It was a journey of personal and spiritual growth.
  • November 19th, 2012.  Day 6. It’s our last day in Haiti. Part of me has grown to love this place. There is a wonderful sense of community and family here.  The other part feels a need to return home -to responsiblity. I flirt with the idea of moving to Petionville but i know it is unrealistic.  I am psychologically rooted in Canada.  A quick breakfast in the gazebo of Corn Pops and French milk and we are off to the main house. (the orphanage)  GLA’s Patrick and his wife Holly take us and drop off their child at school along the way.  It’s a routine trip for the 30-something couple from Colorado.  My fellow Canadians Joe, Erik and I take one last look at what we have become part of.  The ride is short but there is an easy calm between us.  We’ve spent a week in Haiti in sensory overload. We’ve grown used to the smell of rot, burning plastic and overcrowded streets.  I catch myself smiling at Holly though she doesn’t notice. Haiti has brought us all together. 6 days here has felt like a year. I hardly knew Joe until the trip and i met Erik only 1 week ago.  I may never see Patrick, Holly, Pastor Brandon and Nikki or their families again. For some reason this doesn’t bother me. I have a week’s worth of memories.
  • We pull up to the 12 foot gate where razor wire surrounds the property.  A few honks lets a guard know we’ve arrived.   I wander up to the 3rd floor where the nannies are entertaining the toddlers.  A wide eyed 2.5 year old orphan extends his arms at me. I pick him up.  He’s a healthy 10lb Haitian child and he holds on. It becomes obvious why we are here. But it’s time to move. A local driver they call Ernst drives us to the Haiti airport through the streets of Port-au-Prince. I’m spent from 5 days of building trusses but I snap the last few photos of street markets and city life.  The drive is silent save for a Kreol radio station playing the latest local hits. Nobody speaks, and nobody has to. The somber atmosphere is fitting for a final drive through the city’s downtown.  People are selling sugar cane, clothing and fruits along the busy streets.  My mind tries to find organization in what seems like chaos.
  • Thinking back I am left more perplexed than ever.  I wonder if the others have gone on a journey such as I have.  Far away from home life seems to have more possibilities and less limitations.  Here it becomes easy to question the path one has chosen.  Is such confusion common among other travellers?  At the service yesterday, Pastor Brandon told us that the pieces of our life, even if they are pain and suffering, are all part of the delicious recipe of life.  And that we must be grateful for each ingredient. Though some are bitter and some are sour the end result is perfection. This reminds me of something I read from Deepak Chopra. He says that “this moment is as it should be, because the whole universe is as it should be.” We board the plane and I awake in New York. During the flight I try to think of all my first world problems back home. They have begun to lose their severity. I suppose every one is a necessary brush stroke on my life’s canvas. Soon we arrive in San Francisco, Seattle and then home.  It’s a comforting thought to know everything has a greater purpose, and for once I am truely grateful.
Thanks to Burnett Fellowship Church, http://www.burnettfellowship.com/
and God’s Littlest Angels (GLA) http://www.glahaiti.org/

Benefits of Natural Bodybuilding

1.  There’s NO offcycle.  You build muscle and then more muscle on top of that.  At no point should you end up with less muscle than you started with.  That is unless you lack motivation.  But hey, motivation isn’t 1oo bucks a vial, it’s FREE.

2.  Your muscle is REAL.  It is not a collection of interstitial fluids or water or temporary bulk.  What you earn, you get to keep.  After 4 weeks of training, you won’t see yourself deflate.  This will allow you to maintain the most important thing: your self esteem.

3.  You work WITH your body’s systems.  You are not trying to hijack your body’s hormonal system to artificially modify your feedback loops. You can accept that they are already functioning as intended, naturally. Furthermore, as your muscle fibres increase, so do the ligaments and tendons as well as bones they are connected to.  Remember, everything is related.

3.  You put yourself outside “the rest” of mainstream bodybuilding.  It’s a liberating feeling to know that you don’t give a sh*t  how big or ripped guy across the gym is.  You train for YOU.  And value your body’s ability to make and create what you need to be great.

4.  You are probably 100 times healthier being drug free.  ‘Natural you’ is a well oiled machine.  ‘Anabolic you’ requires multiple other drugs to fix the damage you are doing and reverse the effects the steroids have done to your hormones. You don’t need a PCT for a proper diet.  End of story.

5.  No needles! This is my personal favorite.  Natural bodybuilding is non-invasive.  Your performance relies heavily on diet and training.  You are what you eat. And you are the product of your quality of training.

6.  You never have to worry about being the best.  I know what you’re thinking: you’re accepting defeat? Not exactly.  You are realizing that current definitions of what it means to be the best (freaky juiced up muscle, 22 inch arms, etc) are only someone’s narrow definition of success.  Why not determine your success by muscular symmetry?  Or perhaps speed and agility? Or how great you feel everyday?  Is your mind in tune with your body? Your training? Your life in general? Getting over the bigger is better philosophy is another liberating concept that you can adapt.  The only thing that stops you is the mental barriers you put up.

7.  There are plenty of avenues for natural bodybuilding and natural athleticism.  The Olympics are drug free, as well as many bodybuilding and powerlifting organisations.  Do some research and you’d be surprised at how many options you have.  Of course, always train hard.

For day to day updates follow me on Twitter: @Natural_GC


How to Lose 5lbs (of fat) in 5 Days.

I’ll admit, I’ve done some stupid things in my day.  From eating a fried chicken head (yes, they serve these at Chinese banquets) to jumping off several story cliffs, to joining the army on a whim, or plunging in to white water rapids for fun.  For some reason, I get a thrill when I actually live to tell a story. In your face Death!  Which brings me to my latest challenge:  Losing 5lbs in 5 days.

Backstory:  Friday I get a call from my agent saying “a casting director may want to cast you for a role in an upcoming film,” shooting the following Wednesday.  I would have to display my body in front of the camera, and must be in photo-ready “ripped” condition.  I may even have to appear nude!  Unfortunately a summer of beer and wedding banquets has stacked on an extra 5-6lbs weight, and it sure as heck isn’t muscle.  So, I came up with a plan to lose 5lbs of fat, and do it in 5 days.

How I did it:

Breakfast:

30g quinoa or oats, cinnamon, blueberries, coconut, almonds

45g of eggwhites cooked in olive oil and whey protein shake

Weight-training (1hr, 15m)

Post Workout

27g whey protein shake, water

Lunch

1 Chicken breast baked

1 mixed green salad, carrot, almonds, cranberries, balsamic dressing

Mid Afternoon

25g vegetarian blend protein with BCAAS

1 handful of almonds

Dinner

Grilled chicken breast

1 cup of steamed greens, broccoli, green beans etc.

1.5-2hrs Cardio (cycling, hockey, jogging, or hiking)

Before bed

Whey protein and Greek yogurt (40g protein), cinnamon, 2 strawberries

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There you have it.  I lost 5lbs in 5 days weight training intensely in the morning after balancing my blood sugar right away every morning.  The lower carb-intake in the latter end of the day allowed me to tap into bodyfat stores at ease.  I had to cook some chicken in advance and make up some salads and veggies at night. I also made a commitment to do as much cardio as I had time for which worked out to a Friday night of cycling, a Saturday of hockey, and a Sunday day-hike.  I didn’t miss a weight training session either.  I also work 9 hour shifts and somehow found the time to train around it.  So how did the film shoot go? After a total 6-8 hours of weight-training  and 8 hours of cardio, not to mention some seriously sore muscles…  Unfortunately casting gave the part to someone else.  🙂


How to Build Muscle, Naturally.

Yes, there is a way to build muscle without the aid of anabolic steroids! In this short article I will outline several concepts that I personally recommend to gain extra muscle. Through my own trial and error, I have found the following tools can help to guide your training and take your physique to all new heights.

1) You need to eat enough real whole foods, and eat consistently. Too many young bodybuilders or strength athletes are afraid of gaining a little extra bodyfat, and either eat sparingly or merely nibble at food throughout the day. You need 5 meals a day at the minimum, to keep blood sugar constant and provide enough protein for muscle to grow.

2) Do not concern yourself with burning bodyfat during a phase of growth. To put this simply, fat burning and muscle gaining are two separate diet programs. Do not try to combine these. If you do, the contradictory eating strategies will cancel one another out and your body will stay the same.

3) You must powerlift. You need to lift some heavy weights and do the exercises that you see all the big guys (and gals) in the gym doing. Learn to squat, deadlift, and bench press. These compound movements increase hormones that facilitate muscle growth and tax the entire body building density, power and muscularity.

4) Only work with weights for an hour to and hour and a half. Without the aid of drugs, you will overtax your nervous system if you keep going. Go hard and increase your strength, but don’t overtrain by doing more than 4-5 exercises.

5) Use creatine supplements and eat enough protein. You don’t have to believe all the supplement ads, nor do you have to spend hundreds of dollars on products every month. But take a look at the guys you see on creatine and whey protein. Usually they are a step above the rest. Extra protein will allow you to build extra muscle.

6) Keep track of your strength in a journal. Strength and size have a direct correlation. The purpose of muscle is to move objects against gravity. The more resistance to a movement the larger the muscle will grow to accommodate the stress. Therefore, progressive resistance is absolutely necessary for muscle to increase in size. So challenge yourself everyday. Remember, if you aren’t getting stronger, you probably aren’t growing.

7) Make your progress in phases. I recommend completing a growth phase of at least 6 weeks before beginning a cut phase. This is because the muscle gaining diet program directly contradicts the fat loss diet program. The former is calorie rich, while the latter is calorie restrictive. If you attempt both, you will have no concept of what food to eat and confuse yourself. You will probably end up gaining very little strength (and muscle) while burning little or no body fat.

8) Minimize cardio while in the growth phase. Do cardio post-workout or in the evenings during a cut phase. In addition, rest 1.5-2 minutes between sets to allow your muscles to oxygenate after each set. Circuit training or minimizing rest is great for endurance strength, strengthening the heart, sport conditioning and so forth. However, for maximal muscle hypertrophy, it is counterproductive. Your muscles simply cannot lift heavy weights when oxygen depleted.

9) Connect your mind to every muscle in your body. Train your mind to memorize a pathway to the muscle. Learn to relax or minimize stress in muscles that are not being used and feel only the muscle you are training. Visualize the fibres contracting or firing and allow the energy to concentrate in that area of the body. Each muscle will respond with total control. Practice this and watch your muscles develop in response.

10) Believe. This may sound rather obvious, but you must put all your mind and bodily energy into a set of goals. Write them down. Your unique journey begins with desire. Constantly reminding yourself of why you are training, and what you are striving to achieve will prevent you from falling off the course. If you honestly and wholeheartedly believe that it CAN be done and that it IS possible, you will not only try to do it, you will.

You journey is as much in the mind as it is in the body. If you think that you cannot become great without taking drugs, then you will never be. It’s a strange phenomenon but there is an eerie truth to this. Take the above advice as something that has worked for my unique body. Your mileage will vary. But if you believe that you can achieve greatness without using anabolic steroids you will definitely be rewarded. Trust me!


Connect With Your Food

This article has little to do with science.  In fact, science based nutrition is what got us into the bind we are in today.  We have GMOs or genetically modified foods, excessive preservatives, colourings, and far too many processed and refined ingredients in our diets.  Take a look at any packaged item in the supermarket, and you may wonder where the actual food is hiding.  It’s time we took a step back and actually experienced our food.

While most of us just blindly stuff our faces with junk and go on with our day, many of us are beginning to question the foods we eat.  Why do we have no body or mind connection to the food we consume?  We are starting to wonder why we are riding a rollercoaster of high and low energy levels.  Why are we left feeling toxic and energy-depleted even after eating seemingly “healthy” meals?  The answers we as a society believe are hidden in the next diet that “studies have shown” help regulate or drop body weight.  We think that best way to eat can be done by using a strict guidline or a fad diet that contains the latest science. So, we run to Chapters or download the latest diet strategy of the day, all of which are constantly changing.

The real solutions, however, may not be contained within any book, magazine or other media.  What I call “experiencing food” or how food makes you feel cannot be measured with empirical data.  There is no known way to show how your body connects with particular foods, and no way to measure the resulting positive energy flux throughout the body.  We have the glycemic index, (how easily and quickly carbohydrates digest) but that fails to take into account mood or vitality.   For example, consuming steamed sweet potatoes and other fresh root crops can produce particular sensations of consistent bodily energy.  Such feelings might be of groundedness, stability, sturdiness and liveliness -perhaps even a connection to the Earth and soil we rely on.  This nearly undescribable bodily response or lift in mood one gets from such foods can be a helpful indicator as to what your body prefers. Why argue with your body?  On the opposite end of the spectrum, a frozen pizza will have an entirely different impact on your energy balance.  That earthy feeling from freshly grown foods you will certainly not experience.  The processed white bread and low nutrient content will cause a tiny upward blip in mood, followed by the polar opposite: a severe lack of energy flowing through the body’s cells. You may even notice mild and temporary depression setting in as your body’s balance is disrupted.  From a spiritual perspective, the vibration of the cells in the body probably decrease their frequency when nutrient-poor food is consumed.

Western society fails to emphasize your mind-body connection to food, or your individual and unique experience with it.  If we would just listen to our bodies and interpret what they are telling us, it could serve as a guide as to what we should be eating.  Unfortunately we have lost this understanding.  We no longer pay attention to the sensations and the signals that indicate if we are being nourished or not.  I believe we are all due for a change.  If we re-learned to experience food the way humans should, we would appreciate every nutrient and restore balance to our nutrition.