Man Skills: how to lose your fat gut

by adam on February 19, 2011

I don’t post much on this page about fat loss, but I think it’s time to change that up.

Before I get going, you can view some of my fat loss articles on www.MovementMinneapolis.com.

If you are here looking for a fat loss boot camp in Minneapolis, click here now.

Why Should I lose my big fat gut?

I don’t like to dabble in “shoulds” too often, but I will give you one….

Because you think about it every fucking day. That is a start. People obsess over their appearance. You wake up and at some point you look at yourself. Most people are not very happy with what they see.

If I’m wrong, stop me now.

What I do know is that the supplement industry makes 10 billion dollars a year selling pills that promise fat loss. P90X murdered the market with its promises of extreme fat loss. Biggest Loser is one of the nations most watched television programs. You can tell me you don’t care about fat loss, but the indicators are clear that everyone else does.

You want to look better. What is wrong with that?

Nothing in my opinion. Some people may tell you not to worry about it, but you still do.

That is fine. I’m going to tell you some shit that will help. I’m going to share with my history. You will learn from my lessons and mistakes. It will be your burden to decide if this is for you.

Everyone who is not committed will ask for qualifications to buy them in. So here are my qualifications.

I was fat. Now I’m not.

This is me as a fat guy, around 240ish...

I train lean people who used to be fat.

I teach people how get lean and stay lean.

And I do it better than anyone else I have met. That last part is yours to decide, just be warned I don’t care if you agree or not.

Man Skills, things every man (and wo-Man) needs to to know.

Why do I title this Man skills? Because taking control over your body, having a hand on how it works and looks is fucking awesome.

Every man has in his grasp the ability to control his body composition. Choosing to exercise that ability and demonstrate mastery of it is up to you. At the minimum I want to make sure you are up to speed on the broad strokes with this.

What do I know about this topic?

Well for starters I know what it is like to wake up and think “fuck am I really this fat?”

I know what it’s like to pull a pair of jeans out of the closet and get defeated trying to get them buttoned.

I know what it is like to try on a suit which is only two years old and finding out it is definitely not something to wear today.

Now some real deal fat guys would laugh at me when I say I know how it feels. I have never exceeded 25% body fat. I did not avoid going to the beach, or asking a girl out because I felt like a fat kid. I never truly “struggle” with the weight as others have. So if that disqualifies me from helping you, click the Back button right the fuck off my site. See how effective that is to get your attention? Back to work…

I am saying that as my disclaimer. I don’t want you to be misled to thinking this will be a story of someone who went from like 300 lbs to 200 lbs. It’s not a story of someone who changed their entire life.

Those stories are pretty neat, but it does not apply to me. I was never someone who killed gallons of ice cream and hid in the basement wishing to never be found. I’m a guy who found himself fat because I ignored my bodies feedback, my sensation, and in many ways common sense. I also do not have a story of massive set backs and tragic problems. As soon as I knew what to do I did it. This is a story of how I learned to drop fat without killing myself with dumb fucking diets and bullshit faddish exercise programs.

Enter The Blue Suit

My first day of basic military training I jumped off the bus at 185 lbs. I was 18 years old. In my mind I was a big kid, but realistically I was a 6’2 scrawny kid with a wide upper back from lots of wrestling and a belly from too many trips to Burger King after work. I think I was some what pudgy as a freshmen in high school, I was lean and pretty strong when I graduated as a senior at 191. I more or less took off 9 months of training as I worked a lot prior to military service.

So concerning food and fat: BMT was a strange beast for my diet. It was the first time in my life I was limited on when I could eat, but at the same time it was the most food ever provided to me at one time. Breakfast at 6AM sharp, lunch 1145 sharp, diner 1700 sharp. You either ate or you were ordered to eat. They gave us good food too, but no one ever asked if we wanted more or less. Here is your serving, clean your plate.

I was the dorm chief for my flight (323 TRS/flt 163, 2001) and I would be the last person served. The rule is simple. The flight had time to eat until I was done. If I decided to eat one bite and call it good they had to drop their shit and leave. So some days I would take a long time to eat, maybe 7 minutes. Other days I would be a big fucking dickhead, bite a piece of toast and say get the fuck back outside.

During this time I learned how much leverage food has over people. Prior to that I never really thought about it. On my flight there were a few guys that would bug me from time to time, “Hey will you please slow down, I’m starving!”

Now were they starving? Of course not. Were they unhappy? Stressed out? Confused? Yes, Yes, Yes. They wanted to use food as a lever to alter their state. Too bad for them, 18 year old trainee Glass had no idea what state management was. He simply assumed they were lazy and wanted more time to fuck off before going back to whatever task we had. So instead of talking to them about it, I would shovel down a plate of food in 45 seconds and tell them to unass their chairs. Why? Because I am a dickhead like that.

My graduation day I weighed 172 lbs. I was pretty fucking lean. Scrawny bean pole looking fucker. I have a photo from that day and it’s hard to remember having a 29 inch waist with a medium shirt.

Skip ahead to 2008. Wow big jump, I know.

ok, i’ll back up for a second.

After technical school I was sent to Minot to the nuclear wing. I was able to get some weight lifting in during my technical training, and I was back up to 180. My schedule at Minot was optimal for training, and I left there for Korea at 201. If I had to guess, I would have been around 11-13% body fat then.

Then in Korea I drank my ass off. Somehow I balanced a lot of training on the Emergency Services Team with trading a lot of dollars off in Song-ton for OB’s and Long Island Ice Teas.

By the time I left Korea I was right around 210, probably around 17%-18% body fat. I was distinctly more muscular, but definitely fatter. My endurance was up, my “work capacity” was up. I could run 10 miles no sweat. I could wear my gear all day and go crush the weight room for two hours later. But I was fatter. My diet could have been described in many ways by the popular 40% Protein/40% Carbs/20% fats. I thought that was the best way to stay lean and get strong. But I was in fact fatter when I left than when I arrived. Very important to note that.

When I first got to Okinawa I decided I wanted to lean out more. It was hot as hell and humid all the time. I would run at night, and do a lot of body weight exercises plus some deadlifting and pressing.

I was placed on day shift and found out it is easier to crush fast food instead of packing a lunch. Way easier. Having to eat in a patrol vehicle meant lowest possible preparation is required. So I got to be pretty tight with Charle’s steak sandwiches and Pop Eyes chicken. My diet was clock work, eat at 6 AM after shift change before traffic started. Eat again around 2 PM once the standard noon car accident rush was over. Eat again at 8 PM before bed.

Naturally I was training the whole time. My body weight moved to 215. My waist was slightly up, but I thought things were going ok. By the way, I was fatter.

During my first deployment to Iraq I dropped a lot of weight. I came back more muscular and leaner than when I arrived in Oki. I spent the whole deployment lifting like a mindless little worker bee- deadlift, press, get ups. Like a good party member, deadlift/press/get up. Very little cardio outside of jogs here and there, and every now and again I would try out this crazy “Cross Fit” thing which was picking up steam on the base. I didn’t care much for the CF, because it rarely included the motor miracle of lifting a barbell of the floor. I did do some body weight training during this time and was highly influenced by Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning book.

My diet during this time was “inconsistent” according to my coworkers. I would eat anywhere from 1 to 6 meals a day. Some days I would eat nothing but 5 pieces of chicken breast. Other days I would have fruit pieces through out the day. I had no eating schedule, because LSA Anaconda had 5 DeFACS and one was always open. I limited myself to one soda per day, and I drank 2-3 gallons of water a day. Because the DeFacs served completely different food daily, I had good variety across the board for macro nutrients and types of food.

When I got back from Iraq I dropped 4,000 dollars to have several hundred pounds of metal cannon balls with handles delivered via APO to Oki, followed by several hundred more via import from Australia. Tree swinging traps and the pain tolerance of an immortal were in my future.

For 6 months I worked in the mobility/S-4 section. Very routine diet. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Rarely missed a meal. I look back and see I pretty much ate the same 7 meals through out the week. I also dined out often, enjoying some fantastic meals and of course CoCo-IchiBans at least 3 times a week.

Body fat came back fast. It was some what perplexing at the time because I switched my training over from 2-5 sets of 2-5 reps over to lots of reps with kettlebells for workouts that would often go 40-60 minutes.

I should add, in this year (2006) I was so certain of this fact: Diet doesn’t matter. Only training matters. Lift harder and the fat will come off. I knew that.

That was the belief system of a man who was putting on more body fat every month.

me as a fat guy side view

I was back in Iraq within a few months.

Guess what happened?

Got leaner every month.

This time it was different. Lots of moving around, working 6 days a week 14 hour-18 hour shifts. Some days I would only get in a single meal. Other days I ate upwards to 8 meals. I have no doubt I had at least 4 times where I put down over 8,000 calories.

Some days I would eat only meats. Other days I ate whole boxes of pop tarts. Some times I would eat three plates of vegetables, other times it was only sugar and fat. When the temperature would go over 140 degrees I wouldn’t eat anything.

My workouts were 45-90 minute kettlebell circuits. Stupid volume. I had days where I would set a timer to 30 minutes and do nonstop get ups. I would drink a bottle of water, then juggle kettlebells for 30 more minutes. Some days I would snatch for an hour.

I got lean. When I came back I was under 10%. My body weight was right at 197lbs.

This gets close to when most of you first found me. I started this website when I got back from Iraq the second time.

Where it all goes bad…

North Dakota. 3rd lowest population in the United States. World leader in flex seeds and sun flower seed production. A place where you can drive in some directions for 3 hours and not find a McDonalds.

fat guy rear view

Honestly, I fucking hated moving to North Dakota. Wonderful people live there, but its a fucking fat camp stocking state.

Nearly all the food you can get is coming in heavily processed. Good luck finding fresh fruit or vegetables considering everything must be shipped in. Minot had 3 major grocery stores, they all smell like rotting vegetables and bleach. The best place to eat in town would be like a 1/4 star joint in any major city. High quality food? Not here, not unless you go out and kill it yourself.

So I’m training my ass off. I am getting in to these feats of strength, steel bending, and throwing around kettlebells every day. My job has me on the road in a vehicle for upwards to 10 hours a day. I fall back to old familiar favorites- Cheetos, beef jerky, processed lunch meats. I often got home late and tired, so I order Papa Johns or wings from Pizza hut. I felt like I’m hungry all the time, but I’m obviously over eating because those utility pants were getting tighter.

Now I feel my psychology at this time was really what allowed the next series of events to unravel.

First I had this idea that “functional fitness” was all about how I played, and had nothing to do with what I looked like. I had an idea that training to alter my appearance was vain and wasteful. The only thing that mattered was more weight on the bar, bigger steel bent, or more reps in a set. Diet didn’t matter, if you tried hard enough and stuck to it all things were possible. Will power and effort is all that is required, and people who are failing need only to resolve themselves to stop being a pussy.

So I added body weight (and of course body fat). 2008 start of the year 210 lbs, highest point 217 lbs. 2009 start of the year 212 lbs, highest point in the year 246 lbs. I was doing a “mass” program and I was eating a lot. I felt like I was getting pretty strong at the things I was working on. My waist was at 38 inches. I could snatch a 24kg bell a hundred times with no problem, but I felt tired all the fucking time.

Luckily I was able to justify this shit with the idea that it will all come off as soon as I train harder.

Turning it all around

In many ways The Movement was born in February 2010 in Woodbury MN when 7 people met at Kinetic Edge Performance  for three days of listening to Frankie Faires tell us everything could be changed. The request from him was “tell me when you think I’m full of shit.” I had already been working with the material at this point for several months to the best of my ability. During the weekend we had a talk about diet, and Mike T Nelson told me had been working for a while on a new plan for eating. The basic idea was everything is too complicated and unrealistic for people to make the progress they could.

I spent a lot of time learning more and more about this topic. I spent even more time testing it out, studying results, and replicating them on others. So I have several years of personal data, and over a years worth of data points with multiple subjects.

212 lbs at 11% body fat, taken 18 Jan 2011

Here is the last personal thing relating to my history you should know.

I weigh 213 right now. I am lean. My body fat is decreasing while my fat free mass increases monthly. I am the strongest I have ever been and I have never looked better. Why does that matter? Because it was incredibly easy to get here.

Photo was taken 15 Feb 2011, leaner every month.

Why share all the history?

As I write all this up, the experiments which should have been run are screaming at me. The answers appear obvious, like a red pen has circled all the key words. It’s so funny that as we retell a story the solution is so apparent when at the time it eluded us.

What my history reveals about me

  • I was consistently leaner when my diet was heavy on variety and light on routine.
  • I was leaner with multiple types of meals and a wide range of macro nutrients
  • I was leaner when I rotated my meal frequency, I was fatter when I was on schedule
  • Quality of food matters, I got fattest when my quality of meals dropped
  • Training has minimal impact on fat loss, even when you are centered on so called “fat loss” movements
  • Trying hard has little impact on fat loss, no matter how hard I tried 4,000 calories of low quality food would still be stored as fat
  • Being dedicated has little impact on fat loss. I trained 5 days a week for 40-60 minutes, and still got fatter. The wrong action performed with high dedication is still the wrong action.
  • If you chose to ignore diet, you can just forget about an easy fat loss experience. This is not to say it won’t happen, but it will not be as easy or as fast as it could be.

It does not matter what you think about those statements, the data confirms this is accurate.

Here are some opinions

  • A lot of this could have probably been managed/avoided had I maintained a food log and tracked my measurements monthly.
  • A body that looks better plays better. Take any person, make them fat, performance goes down. Make them lean, performance goes up. See a lot of fat guys at the Olympics? No you don’t. Lean Adam kicks fatty Adams ass, and fatty Adam was not one to be fucked with…
  • Training for appearance is not stupid.  Ignoring appearance is stupid IF deep down your appearance matters to you. Don’t let the pretenders define your priorities! To add on, most of our popular functional fitness authorities look and move like shit, with very poor functional strength and ability. Fuck the gurus, do your own shit.
  • Fat loss is probably 75% diet. It’s also 100% science.
  • Some movements probably work better for fat loss, but ultimately you have to own up to the amount of calories you are consuming.
  • It is not as simple as calories in vs. calories out, but that shit is highly associated to this game.

Now on to the man skills part

You want to lose the gut now?

Do this:

  • Keep a food log. Write down everything that goes in your mouth.
  • Measure your body with a tape measure every 14 days in the following sites: neck, shoulder, chest, waist, hip, upper leg, lower leg, upper arm, lower arm.
  • Take a photo of yourself in the front, side, and rear every 30 days with your shirt off.
  • Find a way to check body fat and do that every 14 days. I recommend an OMRON body fat tester. I have been using one at Movement Minneapolis for 6 months and it has proven to be very helpful.

Try this:

  • Use a variety of foods, variety of frequencies for meals, variety of macro and micro nutrients, variety of meal times, and variety of meal sources.
  • Use a variety of food preparation techniques
  • Eating in various combinations and isolations
  • Changing the brands and labels on foods. Like a certain brand of oatmeal? Try out several others and see if you can find something else you like.

Don’t do this:

  • Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Don’t try to “fix” everything today. You will fail. One thing at a time dude bro.
  • Don’t get pissed off when your 50 lbs of fat doesn’t fall off in one week of no donuts.
  • Don’t completely eliminate anything from your diet that you enjoy. If you like a beer, then have a beer. If you love pizza, then eat pizza. This is about lifestyle, not restriction.
  • Don’t think you can short cut this by dropping $300 dollars at GNC. The only thing that will get leaner is your bank account. Supplements may or may not work, but even the best fat burner gets owned when you crush three big Macs at lunch time.

Keep this in mind:

  • It is going to take time to drop off fat, after all it took time to put it on. Most men have been working on their fat belly for at least 5-10 years. That shit is not coming off in 4 weeks.
  • Don’t do anything now that you are not prepared to continue doing. This is about sustainability.
  • If it was easy everyone still wouldn’t do it. They would sit around and bitch. Like they do.

Avoid the following:

  • Beware of fat people telling you about diet and fat loss. I’m not saying to not listen, I’m saying use caution. If they knew what they were talking about they would be leaner.
  • Beware of people offering a 30 lbs reduction plan which works in 3 weeks