Things I've Learned Over the Years

This is a blog post that was originally posted on RP+, but we felt it was a good idea to share with everyone!

My journey with RP started way back in about 2008. I met Mike (Dr. Mike Israetel) at the rec center gym at the University of Michigan. He was squatting 405 ATG and I was power cleaning 225 for reps. We gave each other a quick nod of approval (bro nod, of course) and started chatting. Not long after that, he convinced me to compete in a powerlifting meet and I was hooked on lifting/dieting. I only give that quick background to say that I’ve been eating/training in an RP manner for about 10 years now. The purpose of this blog is to share some things that I’ve learned over those years that can hopefully help a lot of you out!

Here are some of the most important real-world lessons I’d like to share with you:

  • Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. I’ve done at least 10 cuts (fat loss diets) during the last 9-10 years or so. Some of those earlier cuts were incredibly OCD/perfect and as I’ve learned over time, each subsequent cut gets a little bit easier and you start to know and appreciate that you don’t have to be perfect 100% of the time. What I mean by this is if you miss a meal time by 30-60 minutes, the world isn’t going to end. If you are so stressed about going out to eat with friends that you get overly anxious, DON’T be! Chances are the stress is worse than having to eyeball your foods for that 1 meal. If you eat 5 meals a day for 90 days, that’s 450 meals. A handful that are not perfect isn't going to noticeably deter your progress over the course of 3 months.

  • I should also note that I’ve never once in my almost 10 years weighed a tablespoon of peanut butter. It’s 100% fine if you do so, but my point here is that a lot of folks get so worried about being SO incredibly perfect that the stress/anxiety of having to be 100% all the time eventually leads them to just completely fall off the wagon. The big take home point with this is that so long as you are consistent with how you measure and you actually reduce when you are supposed to, chances are you will be more than fine. This is why it’s important to weigh yourself regularly and be honest with yourself. If you know you need to reduce your fats by 1/2 , but the scale isn’t dropping then maybe it’s time to reevaluate how well you measure.

  • Massing is fun, until it isn’t! I started my RP journey at about 175 lbs. In that time, I have weighed as much as 265 lbs and most recently about 215 lbs. I’ve had meals where I’ve downed 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil or put that in a shake (GROSS). Everybody thinks massing will be the time of your life (and it can be), but when you really stall out on the weight gain and drastic measures have to be taken, it can be a rude awakening where you actually look forward to cutting!!!

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  • Another point on massing is that Mike and I learned the hard way early on that trying to get as big as possible certainly has drawbacks. We definitely had periods when we gained too fast and too quickly. The result was gaining more bodyfat that eventually had to come off and made for some pretty awful diets. The take home point here is to mass slow and steady. Aim for about 1 lb/week for 2-3 months max and then take some time to maintain or cut back down a bit before trying to putt on more mass.

  • Another big lesson we learned as a result of massing too fast/too much was having to run really long diets. For a bodybuilding show in 2013, I dieted from about Thanksgiving 2012 until about the first week in April. That’s close to 5 months and I’m here to tell you that those last 8 weeks or so were some of the hardest of my entire life (no energy, bad mood, etc). Had I taken the time to mass properly and start from a leaner starting point, I could have made it a 12-week diet or so and been MUCH less miserable. We also had to do no carb/no fat days to get in shape because of the last two points. No carb/no fat days and 1-2 hours of cardio a day isn’t the ideal case. The lesson to be learned here is why we talk about dieting for a max of about 3 months at a time. It’s REALLY hard mentally to diet for longer than that (even pro bodybuilders barely diet for more than 3 months at a time). Longer diets lead to the last take home point….

  • Longer/harder diets can lead to much bigger rebounds. After that cut in 2013, I remember one morning before heading to train clients in person a breakfast consisted of a glass of milk and if my memory serves me correctly about an entire package of Golden Double Stuff Oreos. Folks, that is NOT good! Those longer diets can wreak havoc on you mentally and physically, so it’s really important to not over-diet yourself and learn from some of the mistakes we made on ourselves really early on in RP time. If you can start a cut from a leaner starting point (remember it might take a few cuts to get there) and have a manageable time frame (max of 2-3 months) chance are you are going to be MUCH more successful with your cut. The last hard cut I did was only about 10 weeks long and I did no cardio to drop about 10 lbs (and I still ate Thanksgiving like normal) and get to my all-time leanest.

Hopefully, you can take some lessons from this and make your diets (whether they are for fat loss or muscle gain) much more successful!

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