Your Vitamins Have Steroids, Fish Oil Causes Cancer, and Vitamin D Will Kill You

I get asked about supplements all the time. Which ones I take, which are good, which are bad, which will help you put on muscle, which will help you burn fat…. I’ve probably been asked every supplement related question you can think of.

And my answer is always the same – it depends.

Supplements and Safety

A friend passed this Frontline investigation on nutritional supplements to me the other day after a friend sent it his way. He hadn’t had a chance to watch it yet but figured I’d be interested as his friend said it was eye-opening.

It’s an hour-long investigative report into how ugly the supplement industry can be. This piece states how fish oil does more harm than good, supplements can be tainted with anabolic steroids, and how people can bottle almost anything and sell it as a health product.

Scarry stuff.

It’s easy to believe we’re smarter than average and would never fall for something that doesn’t work, but it happens. And unfortunately, even the most trustworthy sources have been known to embellish or exaggerate scientific studies and research papers to make their blogs posts/books/products look more legitimate.

I have books on my shelves written by experts, people I highly respect and look up to, filled with terrible, sometimes contradictory, sources and references. People write these books and fill them with whatever sources they can find because they know that 99% of their readers aren’t going to look them up. They know that most people will take what they say as fact just because they list references.

As stated in this article by Fitocracy founder Dick Talens, this happens all too often in the fitness industry. Diet books, exercise equipment, nutritional supplements, and even major news outlets all fall victim to this game of making outrageous, hard to prove claims.

No matter how good or bad you’re told something is, you should always hesitate to trust any of it.

Frontline Doesn’t Care About Your Health

How this particular news piece made it’s way to me is important. A friend sent it to me after a friend passed it on to him. His friend believed the information in this report would help people, so he shared it. Not at all uncommon.

But had this report been about how great multivitamins are or how drinking plenty of water is important, we wouldn’t be talking about it at all. That kind of information isn’t exciting or worth sharing. People want to read, see, or listen to something new – something shocking. And the more shocking something is the more likely we are to share it with friends and family.

As noted in The Great Courses’ How Ideas Spread, it’s human nature to want to share these kinds of things. It’s simple, more surprising or shocking pieces of content are more likely to be shared. News media outlets know this and do their best to make their pieces as “shocking” as possible. No matter what the data actually says.

This is a big part of why health and fitness information is so confusing. We encounter articles every day telling us that protein causes kidney disease and cancer, dietary fat gives us heart attacks, and carbohydrates cause diabetes. And while some studies may suggest that in certain cases some of these headlines may hold true, media outlets would rather grab your attention than share the real story.

So instead of “High Protein Diets May Cause Further Damage to Those With Pre-existing Kidney Disorders” we get “Protein Causes Cancer”. One title grabs your attention while you wouldn’t think twice about the other.

Media outlets are interested only in one thing, and it’s not your health.

Scare Tactics

There is some good information in this Frontline report.

I wholeheartedly agree with their messages of being careful with what you put in your body, trying to take shortcuts by using pills is a terrible idea, and that too much of a good thing can harm you.

But, like typical health reports, it also contains a lot of misleading information, exaggeration, and scare tactics put in place to get people talking.

For example, near the midway point of the report, they interview Dr. Paul Offit, Pediatrician and author of “Do You Believe in Magic”. He had this to say in regards to vitamins:

“You need vitamins to live. The question is do you get enough in food, and I think the answer to that question is yes.”

Dr. Offit may think we get enough vitamins from our food, but most studies suggest otherwise.

Even with the prevalence of obesity and overeating in North America, many of us suffer from malnutrition. Take this study, for example, in which a sample of obese youth was checked for deficiency in four vitamins and minerals. Of the 156 individuals with a BMI above the 95th percentile for age and sex, 81% had inadequate amounts of vitamin E, 27% had inadequate amounts of magnesium, 55% were low in calcium and 46% did not get enough vitamin D. These children consumed 124% of their daily need for calories, yet most were deficient in at least two of the tested essential nutrients.

It would appear, then, that many of us don’t get enough vitamins from our diet and may benefit from a multivitamin.

Vitamin D was another big target during the Frontline report. The dangers of over supplementing with vitamin D were discussed at large during a gloomy portion of the report. And it’s true, when over supplemented, vitamin D absolutely will do harm. But that doesn’t change the fact that vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic worldwide.

Yes, some people take way too much vitamin D and it is harming them, but the vast majority of people don’t get enough and shouldn’t be afraid to supplement with 1,000 IU per day, especially during the winter months when sun exposure is limited.

Other risks and issues were overblown at times, but my biggest concern with this piece is its portrayal of all supplements as bad and/or dangerous.

Not all supplements are “pills and potions”, as Frontline would have you believe.

Are Supplements Safe?

…it depends.

In the United States the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test the effectiveness, safety, or purity of nutritional supplements. Instead, the FDA puts the onus on the manufacturer to ensure these things and states on their website that “consumers may contact the manufacturer or a commercial laboratory” with any questions or concerns. They also provide a place for anyone to report an adverse effect to a supplement.

Despite what the aforementioned Frontline report may lead you to believe, it is not the FDA’s job to test safety or effectiveness of dietary supplements. As per their own website, the “FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed”.

In Canada, however, things are different. I don’t recall this being mentioned in the Frontline piece, but we have much stricter regulations in place here. In Canada, all products must be cleared by the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) before being produced or marketed. The NHPD ensures each supplement manufacturer has a proper license, follows good manufacturing practices, and that clinical trials support claims and safety of each product. They also ensure thorough adverse event reporting and standard labeling conventions are used.

At the end of the day, supplements sold in Canada are more likely to be safe, effective, and labeled properly. This is good, but doesn’t necessarily give us a green light to pop as many pills as we want. As noted in the investigative report, too much of anything can have negative results.

How to Intelligently Approach Nutritional Supplements

There are three things you need to ask yourself before taking a supplement:

  1. What are the chances that my diet is deficient in the nutrients I’m thinking about supplementing?
  2. Which physiological system do I hope to target with this nutritional supplement and do I need to target that system?
  3. Is there appropriate, peer-reviewed research demonstrating that this supplement does what manufacturers claim it can do, without causing harm?

If you can’t answer any of these questions you should hold off on taking the supplement until you do more research and/or talk to an expert. A good place to start your research is Examine.com.

After going through the initial three steps listed above, if you decide that you want to try using a dietary supplement, I’d strongly recommend buying supplements that fit the following two criteria:

  1. Manufactured by a larger company that’s been doing business for a long time, provides certificates of analysis, and is certified by a third party.
  2. Contains as few ingredients as possible, ideally just one. For example, if want to supplement with creatine, don’t purchase something that has creatine, amino acids, caffeine, dextrose, and sucralose in it – just buy creatine.

Supplements Can Help

Supplements are not all bad and when used intelligently, can help supplement an already healthy diet.

People get into trouble when they take too high of doses, purchase from poor manufacturers, or view them as a shortcut to their health and fitness goals. We see bodybuilders or athletes taking certain things and think that if we take the same products we will look or perform just like them.

But that’s simply not the case.

Supplement | noun | something that is added to something else in order to make it complete

– Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Supplements are a very small piece of the overall health and fitness puzzle. If you aren’t eating right or exercising in a manner that will help you achieve your goals, all the supplements in the world won’t help.

Doubling your protein intake via whey isolate will not turn you into a muscle-bound beast overnight. Taking two multi-vitamins per day is not twice as good as taking one. It just doesn’t work that way.

It’s a confusing world out there. Constant mixed messages and investigative reports like this particular Frontline piece don’t help. From my twenty years of experience in this field, I’ve learned that things are rarely as good, or as bad, as we are lead to believe.

This is why it’s important to question everything, and try things for yourself.

Conviction Clients of the Month – January 2016

Clay WW copy
Clay carrying more than his share of the 897 pounds of food raised during the Winter Warriors Give Back Challenge.

Nick Dalrymple has been with us from the start, and Clay Bakke joined not long after.

We couldn’t be happier to have them both on board!

Whether it’s football, hockey, soccer, dodgeball, or obstacle races, these two are always up for a challenge.

This month we want to recognize both Nick and Clay as they are heading down to Los Angeles for the Spartan Races in Temecula, California. They will be racing in a Super (24 obstacles over 13 km) on Saturday and a Sprint (20 obstacles over 5 km) the next day. Two grueling races in two days – a challenge for even the most experienced athlete.

After competing in their first Spartan Race in August 2014, these two were hooked. Nick went on to run two Spartans the next year while Clay completed the coveted Spartan Trifecta – running a Sprint, Super, and Beast (30 obstacles over 19 km) in just one season.

Not only did Nick and Clay finish a combined five races last year, but they also stepped up their game by challenging themselves to compete in the Elite category for the first time. While racing against some of Canada’s best athletes both Clay (25th) and Nick (13th) were able to finish near the top in their respective age groups. A testament to their hard work and commitment.

Never settling for “good enough”, both of these men have set big goals for themselves this year. And understanding that nothing worth accomplishing ever comes easy, both have been training hard through our Winter Warriors program.

By training together, Nick and Clay have pushed each other to become better athletes and achieve more in life. Whether racing up hills, carrying small boulders, hanging from bars, or focusing on their nutrition, these two attack life with Conviction.

Good luck In Temecula guys, looking forward to seeing those shiny new medals!

Why You Failed in the Past and How to Succeed in the Future

As far as I can tell, there are just two reasons why anyone does anything:

  1. They are motivated to do it.
  2. They are dedicated to doing it.

And there is a huge difference between the two.

Motivation is a feeling. An emotion.

People workout, for example, when they’re motivated to do so. They feel like hitting the gym, so they do.

But once that feeling wears off, once they are no longer motivated to exercise, they stop.

You see this in gyms across the world every January. People set New Years Resolutions to get healthier because the thought of a new year motivates them to do so. But once it becomes too hard or “life happens” they stop going.

The motivation, that feeling of “I should do this”, is long gone.

Not everyone, though, falls into this trap. Some people still exercise and eat right come February, March…. even April.

How do they do it? How are they able to stay motivated for so long?

The truth is, they aren’t.

They might not be motivated to hit the gym in the morning. They may not want to take a salad for lunch. Yet they still manage to do it.

tomato-300x298These people don’t need motivation.

Back when they decided to make a change, to live healthier, they didn’t do it on a whim. They didn’t watch The Biggest Loser and think, “Hey, I should hit the gym tomorrow.”. Something happened inside them and they thought, “ENOUGH! I’m changing my life, no matter what it takes!”.

They dedicated themselves to living healthier and making lasting change.

Dedication is the opposite of motivation.

Dedication means doing things when you don’t want to.

Dedication means fighting your motivations on a daily basis.

Dedication is the difference between someone in great shape and someone that wishes they were.

When you wake up in your warm bed on a cold winter’s morning, you are motivated to stay there. A dedicated person gets up and hits the gym anyways.

When you are starving at work and your boss brings in pizza and donuts, you are motivated to indulge. A dedicated person eats their salad instead.

In “The 4-Hour Body” author Tim Ferriss has a chapter titled “The Harajuku Moment”. In this chapter, Ferriss describes why it’s so hard for people to make lasting change when it comes to their health. He believes that people won’t change until they’ve had their “Harajuku Moment”. He describes this moment as “an epiphany that turns a nice-to-have [e.g. losing 20 pounds] into a must-have”.

In other words, the “Harajuku Moment” is the moment when someone decides to dedicate themselves to change. Becoming healthier and more fit is no longer an option, but rather a necessity. A way of life.

Going to the gym or taking a salad only when they feel like it won’t do anymore. These things become part of their day, like showering and brushing their teeth.

If you’ve failed to make changes in the past, a lack of true dedication was likely the issue. Ask yourself, how dedicated were you to the process?

All diets work. All workout routines will get you results.

The difference between succeeding and failing isn’t which diet you chose, or 3 sets of 10 instead of 5 sets of 5. The difference between succeeding and failing is often your level of commitment.

If you want to change, you can’t just show up when you feel like it.

You need to be dedicated.

An Open Letter to the Winter Warriors

Dear Winter Warriors,

Words cannot express how proud I am of all of you.

What you accomplished yesterday was, simply put, incredible.

Through your hard work and effort, 897 pounds of food was raised for those in need and transported (by foot, nonetheless) over 17.5 kms to the Regina Food Bank through wind and snow along icy sidewalks.

You are without a doubt waking up in pain this morning.

Embrace that.

Let the pain that you feel be a reminder of just how hard you worked to help people you may never meet. You pushed your body to it’s absolute limits for people who won’t even be able to say, “Thank you”.

It takes a special kind of person to do that.

What I hope you learned from this experience is that there are no limits to what you are capable of. The words “I can’t do that” should never again cross your mind.

You are strong, tough, and able to do anything you put your mind to.

I’ve seen you do it.

Use this new confidence, knowledge, and pride to not only better yourself and your own life, but to help and inspire others along the way.

Thank you for everything. You are an amazing individual.

Riley

The Best Way To Conquer Your Weaknesses

Want to get better at push-ups? Pull-ups? Deadlifts? Need to increase your grip strength in a hurry?

This is how you do it.

Your muscles are already capable of lifting a car. They just do not know it yet.
– Pavel Tsatsouline

I Was Really, Really Bad at Pull-ups

When I was in my early twenties I was always hearing how important it was to do pull-ups. A lot of smart, strong people preached their benefits, but I didn’t have a place to do them. So I didn’t.

I was strong and did a number of row and pull-down varieties. I assumed pull-ups were just another assistance exercise I could do without. I was sure I could bang out ten reps no problem if I had to.

Then one day I had the opportunity to prove myself right.

After years of training in my pull-up bar-less home gym and “weight room” at the office, my wife and I purchased a family pass to the local YMCA. My first workout there, I walked straight up to one of the several pull-up bars to show everyone what I could do. I just hoped my lats wouldn’t tear through my t-shirt as I banged out dozens of reps.

Good news. My shirt didn’t rip.

Although it was close. It almost got stuck on the rack as I struggled to kip myself up for one and a half reps.

I was shocked. Embarrassed. Disgusted. Frustrated.

I assumed being strong in the big three (squat, bench press, and deadlift) meant I was strong at everything.

Lesson learned.

After the pull-up incident, I proceeded to hammer out a big bench workout. My ego needed it. But on the way home, I picked up a cheap door frame pull-up bar. I was determined to conquer this obvious weakness.

Do More Pull-ups. Fast.

World-renowned strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline introduced the “Grease the Groove” (GTG) training method in an article published in 2000 in MILO: Journal for Serious Strength Athletes. His article, titled “Chain Yourself to the Squat Rack and Call Me in a Year” provided a number of examples of people improving a variety of lifts and movements, quickly, using Grease the Groove.

GTG is a method of training that incorporates a few sets per day, using perfect form, sub-maximal reps, and maximal tension (squeezing everything as hard as you can).

Let’s say you wanted to increase your max push-ups, for example. If your current max is 12, you would do 3-5 sets of 8-10 push-ups throughout the day, 5-7 days per week. These sets would not be done one after the other, but would instead be spaced out throughout the day. One set before each meal, for example.

Power-to-the-People-coverThe idea is not to go to muscle failure. The idea is to practice perfect technique, with maximal tension. You want to “Grease the Groove” of the movement.

In his book “Power to the People!“, Pavel states why this works. He advises that stimulating a neural pathway with a positive outcome, makes future stimulations of the same pathway easier.

In layman’s terms: each successful set of push-ups makes future sets of push-ups easier. (The word successful is key here. Pavel devotes an entire chapter to why going to failure is a bad idea).

This doesn’t happen because your muscles get bigger or necessarily stronger. It happens because your body learns how to properly execute the movement and better activate the muscles.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. We’ve known for years that neural adaptation is a major part of strength training.

Strength performance depends not only on the quantity and quality of the involved muscles, but also upon the ability of the nervous system to appropriately activate the muscles.
– D.G. Sale, “Neural adaptation to resistance training”

An average person can only contract an estimated 20-30% of their muscles. An advanced lifter, on the other hand, can contract around 50%. By “Greasing the Groove”, you are learning how to get more out of your muscles. Just like an advanced lifter.

Greasing the Pull-up Groove

I had heard of Pavel’s method from a couple of sources and decided I would give it a shot on my journey to the pull-up promised land.

I couldn’t even do two decent pull-ups at this point. I needed to start small.

Instead of maxing out each set, I focussed on negatives. I’d grab the bar, jump up, and let myself down as slowly as possible. I completed five reps like this a few times a day until I was at the point where I could do three good pull-ups. This took about a week.

I continued to grease the groove but switched my five negatives to one full-fledged pull-up, completing one good solid rep 3-5 times per day. I stuck with this, doing three to five pull-ups per day, one rep at a time, for a couple weeks.

When I tested myself again I was repping out 6 solid pull-ups. Going from a max of one rep to six in under a month.

I was happy with the results I’d gotten and wanted to keep going. After taking a week off of daily pull-ups, I started back up again, doing 3-5 sets of three reps at a time.

Using GTG off and on (2-4 weeks on, 1-2 weeks off) for a year, I was able to increase my max to 20 solid dead hang pull-ups.

Awesome.

Incorporating GTG into Your Training

Grease the Groove works great for several exercises. Bodyweight movements (using sub-maximal reps) and power/olympic lifts (using 60% – 85% max loads) can all be trained this way.

Let’s say you wanted to bring up your deadlift. You could leave a bar loaded with 75-80% of your 1 rep max in your home gym and bang out a couple of reps a few times per day.

Want to increase your pull-ups? Grab a doorframe pull-up bar and do what I did.

Tennis-Ball-Grip-StrengthMore worried about grip strength? Use that same pull-up bar and just hang for a while a few times each day. Squeezing the heck out of the bar the entire time.

Another great option would be to keep a tennis ball in your office. Take it out and squeeze it as hard as you can a few times throughout the day.

Or maybe you’ve always wanted to be able to do ten handstand push-ups. This is even easier as no equipment is required. For the next month, do ½ – ¾ your max number of reps, 3-5 times per day.

Never go to failure, always stop a few reps shy. As Pavel says, “Muscle failure is more than unnecessary – it is counterproductive!”.

This Stuff Works

While it may sound like it, Greasing the Groove is not a shortcut. It’s a way to get a ton of good quality reps in without overtraining.

Where a lot of people go wrong with it, though, is by trying to “grease too many grooves” at once. This is a guaranteed recipe for failure.

Choose one area you want to work on, pick an exercise to address it, and put the work in.

Every day.

I’m confident you’ll find, like I did, that this is the best way to conquer your weaknesses.

Once you admit that you have a weakness and begin to face your fears then they no longer control you.
– Mark Bell

Yes, Omega-3s Really Are That Important

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past decade, you’ve heard of fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids. You may have noticed “Omega-3” labels on different foods. Or maybe your favorite day time talk show host has discussed their benefits in wonder. But unlike raspberry ketones or green coffee extract, omega-3s deserve the hype they get.

omega 3 PBNot only do omega-3s play an integral roll in cardiovascular function, nervous system function, brain development, and immune health, they have also been shown to:

  • increase metabolism
  • aid in cell repair and regeneration
  • help prevent heart disease and stroke
  • allow muscle tissue to absorb more nutrients

Omega-3s, a type of polyunsaturated fat, are essential to the human diet. Our bodies need these fatty acids but are unable to make them on their own. Omega-3s come in three different types: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which come from algae, and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can be found in things like nuts, flax, and hemp.

When you look at it like that, getting our omega-3s in the form of ALA seems like a good idea. Eating nuts, flax, and hemp sounds more appetizing than consuming algae. But for our bodies to use the ALA found in these foods it must first convert the ALA into a usable form. Unfortunately, this is an inefficient process. The ratio of ALA conversion is somewhere between just 5-15%. That means for every 1 gram of ALA we consume, our bodies are only able to use 0.05 – 0.15 grams of it. Because of this poor conversion rate, EPA and DHA are by far the best bang for our buck when it comes to getting in enough omega-3s. But seeing as we don’t eat much algae these days, our EPA and DHA usually come from fish (who do eat a lot of algae).

And I don’t know about you, but my family and I don’t eat a lot of fish. We’ll have salmon or trout once or twice a week, but that’s not enough to ensure enough healthy omega-3s.

Omega-3:Omega-6 Ratio

Just like omega-3s, omega-6s are essential to the human diet. You’ll usually find omega-6 fatty acids in plant oils and factory raised meats. And while omega-3s are not usually used in processed foods, omega-6s can be found in almost all of them. Look through your fridge and cabinets and see how many products you can find without one of the following in it:

  • Soybean oil
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Rice Bran oil, or
  • the “catch-all” Vegetable oil

Due to the overwhelming amount of omega-6s in our diet, our omega-3:omega-6 ratio is way off. Our bodies do best on an intake ratio of 1:1 (1g omega-3:1g omega-6). But with our current diets, this is far from the norm. We eat so many plant oils, factory raised meats, and processed foods, that this ratio is closer to 1:20! That’s 20x more omega-6s than omega-3s!

These two fatty acids compete with each other in our bodies. They’re constantly fighting for space in cell membranes and the attention of enzymes. Our bodies thrive on a 1:1 ratio, and when this ratio is off, bad things happen. Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, while an increase in omega-3s help to stave off inflammation.

If we want to be healthy, we need the balance.

The typical North American diet is far too high in omega-6s. This high consumption creates a pro-inflammatory environment inside our bodies, which puts us at major risk. A skewed omega-3:omega-6 ratio is associated with an increased risk of all inflammatory diseases. Including things like:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • type 2 diabetes
  • obesity
  • metabolic syndrome
  • irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
  • macular degeneration
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • psychiatric disorders
  • autoimmune diseases

So yes, omega-3s are important. And if you eat like a somewhat normal person, chances are you’re not eating enough.

Omega-3s are not a magical cure-all. They are an essential part of our diet that has slowly vanished since the industrial age began. Processed foods, cheap oils, and factory farms all deserve part of the blame.

So What Do I Do?

The way I see it, you’ve got a few options. You could completely change your diet, swearing off most of what you eat now to reduce your omega-6 intake. Or, you could start eating more fish and/or supplementing with fish oil.

It doesn’t matter what you choose, all that matters is that you get your omega-3:omega-6 ratio in check. And when it can be as easy as taking a few fish oil capsules every day, there’s no excuse. Fixing this broken ratio is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your health.

We already have enough people suffering from the above inflammatory diseases.

Please, don’t be another.

How To Finally Lose Weight While Eating What You Want

The Vegan diet is one of the most restrictive diets out there, yet you’ll never hear a Vegan complain about it.

large-232x300They’ll never sit across the table sulking jealously over your meal.

They won’t post how hard done by they are on social media.

They don’t say things like, “that looks good, I wish I could eat it”.

They don’t do any of these things because they have a reason for eating the way they do. They believe eating animal products is wrong, gross, and/or unhealthy. They’d rather starve than eat a steak and don’t feel like they are missing out on anything. In fact, most think that omnivorous non-Vegans are the ones missing out.

I don’t necessarily agree with the Vegan diet, but I do think we can learn a lot from them. When it comes to eating, we should all be as strong willed and confident in our food choices.

I always say the moment you go from “I can’t eat that” to “I don’t eat that” is a major turning point.

When someone decides to go Vegan, this is essentially what they’re doing. They have decided, for whatever reason, that they don’t want to eat animal products. Not that they can’t eat them, but that they don’t eat them.

Huge difference.

I know this from personal experience. When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I couldn’t believe all the things I now couldn’t eat. Bread, pasta, and pizza made up the majority of my diet and I felt lost. I kept focusing on all the things I couldn’t eat and always felt like I was missing out. Because of this, I “cheated” and ate gluten once in a while. It didn’t take long before I realized that when I ate gluten I felt terrible and wished I hadn’t.

And that’s when the transition happened. I no longer couldn’t eat gluten, I chose not to eat it.

Taking ownership of that decision made a world of difference.

Seeing people eat cake, cookies, pasta, pizza, and everything else didn’t bother me anymore. Sure, the pizza looked good, but I knew what would happen if I ate it.

Almost ten years later and I haven’t felt sorry for myself since that turning point.

spinach beet saladAnd yes, I realize it’s different. Avoiding certain foods is much easier when you have an almost immediate negative reaction. However, I have taken this lesson and applied it to all food choices.

Nowadays I could walk into any grocery store and fill my basket with gluten free versions of all the foods I used to eat, but I don’t. Years of research and learning has shown me how damaging certain foods can be when eaten in excess. So I don’t eat them often.

Not because I can’t eat them, but because I don’t eat them.

Do I get tempted sometimes? Of course. But when I do, I reassure myself that I’m making the right choice. I tell myself I’m an athlete and athletes don’t eat like that. Or I remind myself that I am trying to be a healthy role model for my kids, and healthy role models don’t eat like that.

Simply changing “I can’t” to “I don’t” does wonders.

When you do things this way, it doesn’t take any willpower or self control. You’re eating exactly what you want. Just like a vegan.

If you feel you want something and deprive yourself of it, you’re destined for failure. But if you take a minute to think about what you really want it makes the decision much easier.

What do you want more, a daily soda pop or a healthy, ripped body?

“Want” is powerful. If we want something we don’t have, we feel like we’re missing out. Like our lives are not complete and they won’t be until we get whatever it is we want.

My favorite quote on wanting comes from Ryan Holiday during an episode of the Tim Ferris Podcast:

“There are two ways to have everything you want – increase the things you have, or decrease the things you want.”
– Ryan Holiday

It really is that simple.

The best way to have everything you want is to want less. And the best way to eat whatever you want and still reach your health and fitness goals, is to want healthy foods. You must replace the feeling of missing out on certain foods with an even stronger desire to eat healthy ones. You need to want fruits and vegetables more than you want junk food.

And once you do, nothing will stand in your way.