Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Graduating Gamma 1

Graduating Gamma
Step One: Physical

This is the easiest step to diagnose and the second most difficult to deal with. If you don’t know if you need to lose weight or get in better shape, go ahead and stop reading now, find a scale and check out how close you are to the right BMI. If you are more than eight points too high then you definitely need to lose some weight. (I’ll deal with the “BMI is bullshit!” argument later). I suggest scheduling a physical to check blood pressure and cholesterol as well, along with the regular battery of blood work tests, but if the means aren’t there to go to a doctor then head the drug store and at least check your blood pressure for free. There’s no excuse for not knowing your weight, and blood pressure. You can’t honestly approach your health without the facts so go and find out even if you are afraid of what you will find.

If you already know all of your vital health info and are in excellent physical health, and cardiovascular shape then you can skip the rest of this entire post. Congratulations on doing what few in modern society can manage and even fewer Gammas ever manage to do. Well done.

As for weight loss here’s the brutally honest facts and the secret diet plan: You must expend more calories than you consume over an extended period of time to lose excess body fat.

Of course this is much easier said than done so I will now discuss dieting. I don’t care what diet you are on to lose weight and nobody else does either. Let me repeat that: I don’t care what diet you are on and nobody else does either. The goal is to lose body fat and I’m no expert in dieting so I’ll not give one single, suggestion on what diet to choose, what I will comment on is all of the typical Gamma responses to dieting.


The most common Gamma response to diet and exercise is a litany of excuses.
  • BMI is bullshit! – Maybe it is, I don’t know, but it’s a tool that can get you in the ballpark and besides this has nothing at all to do with you being fat, a lot of things are bullshit in life, and they also have nothing to do with you being fat. Stop being hopelessly obtuse and binary in your thinking; that because BMI is flawed it in any way impacts your diet and exercise efforts. 
  • I don’t have the time to go to the gym – I don’t most days either, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do something every day. You have a floor, right? Get down on it for 10 minutes and do some good stretches. If you have 20 minutes you can get out a Pilates ball and work on it. You don’t have to go to the gym; you just have to do something.
  • I don’t have the money for the gym – You don’t need it to work out. Walking is still free. In a bad neighborhood or snowed in? Do some yoga, youtube videos are available. 
  • It only pays off it you can be JJ Watt – More binary thinking acting as an excuse. Yes, JJ Watt can afford a cabin in the middle of Wisconsin, be a hermit, and work out all day. You can’t and this has nothing to do with you working out.
  • If I worked out I’d be in great shape if I wanted to – I bet you would, but you aren’t.
  • American, Western diet is bullshit, man. Like GMOs, carbs, caveman, gluten, sugar, fat, protein and stuff, man. There’s no way I can do it. –  Shut. Your. Whore. Mouth. See below.  
Diets or otherwise known as: Shut. Your. Whore. Mouth.

The number one rule for men and dieting is: You do not talk about dieting. Read this previous statement again and say out loud: “I will not speak of my diet.” There are reasons for this which is that nobody cares about your diet, and nobody wants to hear about your diet. Even your mother doesn’t care. The world doesn’t need another fat guy running around telling everyone he’s found the holy grail of dieting because he read a book or a website, and has been following the plan for the last 92 ½ hours, or even 92 days.

You want to stamp a giant GAMMA on your forehead? Then pontificate at every meal and opportunity about your new favorite diet, and how most things people eat are killing them. You want to ruin the few dates you manage to get or even the opportunity to ask a girl on a date? Tell the girl across from you all about her terrible selections off the menu and how much of a better job you’ve done. Women love hearing about what they are eating is making them fat, you ladies’ man! Keep it up. Your newfound knowledge makes you the food police and everyone will appreciate your efforts, I’m sure.

That’s the easy part, here’s the tough part: You cannot comment online in any manner about the superiority of your diet, debate diets, tell others you are on a diet, or even comment on the “horrors” of the modern, Western diet until you’ve had one year of success on your current diet. ONE YEAR. You have no right as a dieter to tell anyone how to diet or what to eat until you’ve had one solid year of success on your diet, to do so otherwise is disingenuous, perhaps in the extreme. Success can be encapsulated by filling out the following sentence: In the last year I’ve been living the XXX diet and lost XXX pounds, lowered my BP and cholesterol by XXX, and feel better than ever. If you cannot honestly fill out this sentence, shut up.

That was negative, but as a Gamma I know you respond to the negative first so here are the techniques to help you out.
  1. Practice stoicism with your diet. This is a quiet, calm acceptance of what the diet brings, including the successes and failures.
  2. If anyone ever asks you about what you’d like to eat when you are a guest never tell them to modify what they are making to accommodate your diet. You have to be the one which practices self-control and deals with what is on your plate. In other words you don’t want to be known as the weirdo who nobody wants to invite over because your diet. (None of this applies to legitimate food allergies or celiac disease, etc.)
  3. If you make a meal for others, be sure there’s food for all tastes; don’t force people into your diet.
  4. If you start to make healthier choices, women notice and they will follow. Want a practical experiment? If you have a girlfriend, wife, or just eat around some women, regularly start picking the healthier options and you will see just like magic the women will too. Occasionally they will get upset instead, but they notice. My wife still remembers to this day that on our very first date I skipped the chips and ate the fruit. I never mentioned a thing about being on a diet, though I was at the time.
  5. The same stoicism applies to your workout too. I don’t care if you like free weights vs. machines, crossfit, running, or whatever. Keep your mouth shut and just go about your business.
  6. Whenever you feel like talking about your success in whatever you are doing in that first year, channel that energy into doing it even better rather than talking about it. Lead by example.
  7. If you are under 30 try picking up a highly physical competitive sport when you can handle it like a basketball, or soccer league or martial arts. Competition shakes out the Gamma tendencies and is great exercise.
  8. If you are under 30-40 find a less brutal physical sport like company softball, church basketball, etc.
  9. If you are over 40 that ship has likely sailed if you’ve never competed, but you will have one big advantage, if you start this late your joints are likely in better shape so if you do play a sport you might do well at it because your body isn’t as worn out. If you don’t play a sport, simply exercise instead.
Living this out in the real world

The most important thing to remember is never to give up. Everyone needs to lose weight and do better at eating except JJ Watt, and he’d probably tell you he’s slacking way too much this off season. There is no time when, “You’ll be in perfect shape”. It’s a lifelong struggle filled with ups and down, and periods where you’ll likely give up for a while and then get back on the wagon. That’s how it goes, and that’s OK so long as you do get back on the wagon. Measure your success by making small strides every day, like picking the fruit over chips, or 10 minutes of good stretching and pushups when you can’t get to the gym, rather than focusing on failure or setting impossible goals.

Personally I’m down from before I got married, but I still need to lose a lot of weight. I’ve struggled with it my whole life, but the only time it’s defeated me is when I quit trying. If you never lose any weight you are doing something wrong, so try a different diet and exercise regime until one works. Here are some responses to help you:

Person: ”You don’t want any more of this? You on a diet or something?”
You: “I’m full, thanks.”
Person: ”What do you think about the diet-du jour I’m all into?!?!”
You: “I don’t know… I just try to watch what I eat.

Girl: “I love chocolate cake, you? I mean I could eat this whole thing if I didn’t stop!”
You: “Yeah, I know what you mean. I love desserts too.” *You eat one small piece in front of her*

Girlfriend/wife: “I want to lose weight, honey. I’m going to try the XYZ diet I heard about. What do you think?” **DING! DING! This is good news she’s changing for you.**
You: “Sounds like a good idea; I’ll watch what I eat too. I know I need to watch it sometimes.” *Then you stick to your diet and just help when she asks for it. Ultimately her food choices are NOT your responsibility*

Person at gym: “I’m doing this exercise thing I’m so excited about let me tell you all about why it is better than what everyone else does…”
You-interrupting: “Hey man, that’s cool and I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m here to get a workout in, so can I get back to my thing?” *walk away if you need to*

Person: “We are having a BBQ this weekend, is there anything you can’t eat? I’ve noticed you’ve lost some weight, are you on some diet? I don’t want to mess you up or anything…”
You: “Oh no, whatever you make is just fine. I’ve lost a little weight lately, thanks for noticing.”
Person: “No really, you’ve lost some serious weight these last six months, what have you been doing? Atkins? I know a girl who…”
You: *after waiting for them to catch their breath so you aren’t rude* “I’ve just been watching it some, nothing special. Thanks for the invite, I’ll see you there.”

The anti-Gamma conclusion on Physical aspect of life: Never give up. Never!

So here’s the first test for everyone who comments on this post: you cannot talk about your diet, debate diets, or tell everyone about your exercise program unless you can honestly start your first post by filling out the following sentence: In the last year I’ve been living the XXX diet and lost XXX pounds, lowered my BP and cholesterol by XXX and here’s why I think it works.

Graduating Gamma is a series written by a recovering ex-Gamma who is now happily married and living a successful life as an increasingly self-confident Delta.


VD said...

As for BMI, if you aren't built like a runway model or a weightlifter, it's a perfectly reasonable heuristic. If you can't bench 225 at least four times, you can't hide behind the "BMI is bullshit" excuse. And weightlifters still tend to have BMI in the 27 to 30 range unless they are very short.

Unknown said...

I'd agree unless you lift a lot of weights and have muscle then BMI is a pretty good measurement.

I'd also add body fat % is as good an indicator as BMI is. If the body fat is north of 20% for guys that's what needs to go down.

Nate Winchester said...

I remember an earlier post Vox had (was it here or his main site?) that he pointed out a study that weight training seemed to work best for men losing weight. Any suggestions on the kind of regimen for that end?

Stg58/Animal Mother said...

I left off all organized physical exercise until just recently. I told myself I was working too much. I was. Running myself into the ground and not taking care of my health. I got to the point where I couldn't sleep in a hotel room because I wasn't burning off enough energy during the day, and I felt like crap the next day and never felt like exercising because I couldn't get enough sleep. I was finally able to start lifting again over the holidays and then got a trainer, a friend of mine who is a CSCS.

Start now! It's better than starting tomorrow!

Shimshon said...

I had an interesting personal experience.

Aside. I went from 82kg to hovering around 63kg. Before I lost weight, I made a few pathetic attempts at push-ups. I can't remember if I made 5. After I lost the weight, I started doing them regularly, starting with 10. I can pretty easily do 40 now.

Anyway. My kids, who were never all that active physically, noticed my regular drop-and-do-'em in the middle of the living room. Not too long after, my oldest son started getting into fitness. Did exactly as you suggest. Improvise when lacking the equipment. Pull ups, push ups, sit ups, stretches. Soon after, son #2 joined him in his home-based regimen. Son #3 still doesn't do much at home, but he participates in a weekly krav maga class with his brothers, along with some sort of parkour-type practice gym one weekly after school. At some point, I asked son #1 why he started, and he credited my example. You have no idea what effect your effort will have on you or others.

Unknown said...

Point #6 - lead by example. First time I heard this explicitly mentioned. Channel success into doing even more, not talking about it. Thanks for this advice. It can get lonely improving your life, and then the temptation is to "fish for compliments" to get a pat on the back or some other positive reaffirmations. However, what happens is that (a) I fool myself into having achieved something when I am not even halfway there and (b) I replace taking action with talking. That way, I damage any momentum that I have built up.
So thanks for the reminder. One year is a good time to shut up about it and just DO it.

Stg58/Animal Mother said...

Florian, you are absolutely right about the example. My wife is 6 months along with number 3, and she is itching to get back in the gym, or even start training in Wing Tsun! That right there is exciting to me. I trained for a few months in Wing Tsun a couple years ago.

daleaf47 said...

The problem with BMI is that it is pre-Galileo, who opointed out that wieght is proportional to the length cubed; BMI treats it as proposrtional to length squared. That said, since people don't vary too much in height, it has a little more value than wieght by itself.

Tank said...

This is a great post with a lot of exactly right stuff. I'm 62. When I was 21 I was 50 pounds overweight. I took it off and kept it off. I have no idea what my BMI is, but my BP is fine. I'm not going to say anything about my diet or exercise because what I do is not relevant to anyone else. I'll say this.

How to find out if you need to lose weight or gain muscle: take off all your clothes and stand in front of a full length mirror with your eyes open. Really, if you can't tell, your eyes are not open.

Exercise and diet: Do what works for you that you can do forever. If you call it a diet, you're going to go off it eventually and then ....

I got a laugh out of this: The number one rule for men and dieting is: You do not talk about dieting. Read this previous statement again and say out loud: “I will not speak of my diet.” There are reasons for this which is that nobody cares about your diet, and nobody wants to hear about your diet. Even your mother doesn’t care.

This is, of course, in general, true. Except when Tank was first losing weight his (Jewish) mom was concerned that he was getting too thin. Then I lost 40 more pounds LOL. Then I looked good.

Dark Herald said...

The first step for any Millennial Gamma is getting clean.

I get it. Your life sucks, so you are anesthetizing yourself with booze and cigarettes. You are not the first to have done so.

Limit yourself to two drinks two nights, a week with your friends. That should be enough to get a buzz going and stay in control of yourself. The fun is not cumulative. Alcohol is a couture designer drug, If you drink more than that. you are just getting stoned in public. You aren't the life of the party, you just look like an ass. DO NOT drink alone.

Give up tobacco completely. When everyone died at fifty, the stress relief of smoking probably outweighed the physical damage. That is no longer the case. I know you actually do look cool when you are smoking, no denying it. You look just like Don Draper There is also no denying that you spend a good chunk of your morning hacking brown smelly shit out of your lungs. Your breath smells bad, you smell terrible and kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray. Which you will find out once you start making out with chicks in the club. If you are changing your whole lifestyle giving up smoking is a great place to start.

Good news, if you have an addictive personality you can easily get addicted to exercise. Trust me on this point.

VD said...

I went from 82kg to hovering around 63kg.

And here I did the opposite, from 60 to 85.

R Devere said...

TWO books to read, NO EXCUSES:

Gary Taubes' "Why We Get Fat" (also google "13 food myths that are bad for health")

Mark Rippetoe's "Starting Strength" 3rd Ed.

Draw your own conclusions and start your own programs/diets. NO EXCUSES!!!

Almost every city or town has a Parks & Rec Department that has a gym with weights. Find it and use it.
A Rippetoe program can take as little as 45 minutes at a time, for both cardio--aerobic and strength-anaerobic. fitness.

Diet? Modified paleo, lots of protein, little refined carbs and sugar. Absolutely nothing marked "low-fat" or diet!!!

My bona fides? Lost 25 lbs( .5'10", 205 down to 180) have kept it off for two and a half years. Bench 90% body weight and squat 120%, deadlift 120%. all at 65 yrs. No walker for me!

Anonymous said...

Nate Winchester,

Yes, weight lifting is better for men since it increases Testosterone production, which in turn promotes weight loss.

Personally, I started at 280lbs, dropped to 225lbs while using guidelines from "The Four Hour Body". Then I started Crossfit, gained some strength. During Crossfit my max bench was 265, deadlift 435, squat 250. A year ago I quit Crossfit due to joint issues, let things heal, then started Strong-Lifts 5x5. Now, I've gained about 25lbs of muscle, bench 300, deadlift 505, squat 445.

If I were to do it over again, I would focus more on Powerlifting and less on Crossfit due to what my body prefers and what makes me feel the best. Also, the concentrating so much of form for Power-lifting has really helped the joint issues I was having.

Stg58/Animal Mother said...

Lower impact from powerlifting.

Brad Andrews said...

Any comments on the idea that biology is destiny? I look just like my grandfather except that I am about a foot taller. What are the factors of being much thinner even if that is not your heritage? My wife can eat whatever she wants and not gain significant weight. That is because her mother (genes) is thin.

I know I can be better, but how much can we really overcome biological programming and where is that line?

JartStar said...

The Gamma fails at weightloss because they rabbit-obsess about being in the perfect diet and exercise regime rather than actually doing anything.

Stg58/Animal Mother said...

Brad, you probably want to read Schwarzenegger's discussion of the three body types: endomorph, mesomorph and I forget the third one. Those seem pretty genetic to me.

deti said...


Endomorph: fat
Mesomorph: muscular, gorilla head
Ectomorph: skinny, stereotypical 98 lb weakling

Gunnarvoncowtown von Cowtown said...

Slight Tangent: I'm not sure whether I have a better class of acquaintances, or if the general public is just more well informed now? But, it's been about five years since I've heard a fitness n00b add the disqualifier "I don't wanna get too HUGE...", as though one can reach Schwarzennegarian levels of musculature by weight room osmosis. That's probably a sign of progress.

Anonymous said...

Fat in your arms, thighs, and butt isn't particularly problematic, even if it is unsightly. Its inter-organ fat that is what makes you unhealthy. Since virtually no man excessively store fat in their extremities (without also storing it between their organs) BMI works just fine, except as mentioned for hardcore lifters.

There are however a sizeable number of women who BMI doesn't serve. The "Asian" build can (notice I said can) generate a healthy BMI even when they are unhealthy. The "Black/Latina" build can generate an unhealthy BMI even when they are healthy. As such women are better served by Waist to Height ratio, which works for men too but is marginally harder to calculate.

Akulkis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JartStar said...

Akulkis, did you have trouble understanding the above post where you weren't supposed to comment on your dietary ideas or modern diet without prefacing your comment with a year of success with the results?

Nobody fucking cares that you know that people used to wear more clothing.

VD said...

Akulkis, did you have trouble understanding the above post where you weren't supposed to comment on your dietary ideas or modern diet without prefacing your comment with a year of success with the results?


Akulkis said...

Most of my life, I was pretty thin. In Iraq, I was doing commo support, and never had any reason to leave the base. I had an undiagnosed depression (low serotonin levels), so my energy levels were pretty low. To fight the headaches due to the low serotonin levels, I was drinking a LOT of Coca-cola for the caffeine (can't stand coffee) and the lunch, dinner, and midnight-meals at the mess halls always had a wide assortment of slices of pie and scoop for yourself hard-pack ice cream. And to allow things to get totally out of hand, our uniform pants don't really have a specific waistline size... the waist is more of a range of sizes (at least 6 inches) and there's a drawstring you tie, until it's tight... so your waistline can change quite a bit without you noticing.

So, it's not surprising that I came home wighing much more than when I shipped out -- by over 20 pounds, and I had gone from a 29-inch waistline to a 33-inch waistline. And I couldn't pass the 2-mile run portion of my PT test.

I knew immediately that I had to cut the calories, and literally, the easiest thing to do is get rid of the carbs. Between that, and doing most of the errands within 4 miles of the house on a bicycle rather than my car, I knocked off the fat and got my cardio and legs back in shape to pass all 3 parts of the army physical fitness test.
Protip -- carbs are just lots of calories with no nutritional value. Sugars, starches and alcohols literally have no minerals and no vitamin components.... which means that a food that's primarily a starch -- like a dinner roll -- isn't giving you ANYTHING that you need to eat.

When our country was founded, people did a lot of hard work, and in the winter, they froze half to death. So, the national diet is full of bread, pasta, potatoes, corn, rice, and other grains, and alcohol. And sugars (Corn syrup is sucrose + fructose + a bit of water).

The easiest way to reduce calories is to just knock most the carbs out of your diet -- like oriental food? Then eat oriental food.. WITHOUT THE RICE... make stews.. WITHOUT THE POTATOES... a little bit of carbs now and then won't kill you, but reserve those ONLY for days when you've pushed yourself to the point of exhaustion -- that is, when you walk in the door, and you know you're so tired, that you immediately flop into bed, and debate whether taking your shoes off is worth the effort, but fall asleep before you finish thinking about it.

Why carbs and not fats?

Fats trigger the production of a hormone (the name of which I forget) which your brain uses to shut off the "I'm hungry" signal. Carbs don't. Look at your life... when you go get a carb-filled snack... 30 minutes later, you're hungry again... so you go get another carb-filled snack... and all you're doing is filling your body with sugars & starches (long, long, long chains of sugar stuck end-to-end).

The modern American lives in a tropical environment year round. We sleep in a house which is kept warm throughout the winter...take at most a 30-yard walk to the car (if you live in a LARGE apartment high rise), which warms up within 5 minutes... drive to work, or the store, or wherever... walk maybe 100 yards in the cold..... to a nice, heated building...
and then later, do the same thing in reverse.

Akulkis said...

And yet, the typical American diet still looks like what we were eating 100 years ago, when houses were heated by fireplaces, wood had to be chopped every day (expendature of calories) and had drafty air leaks all over (more calories to keep warm), EVERY man dressed in long sleeve shirts, coats and ties all day long BECAUSE IT WAS WARM, most people did a LOT of walking every day, and though electricity was becoming common, very few devices were powered by electric motors -- factories still ran primarily on steam-powered devices...for fixed devices. Moving material was still done by means of strong arms, backs, and legs. If a horse was involved, that didn't mean that the job was easier, it meant that even MORE men would be involved to load the whatever onto the cart, and get it off, and position it correctly.

If you're not freezing half to death at night because your home has no furnace and the front door is missing, and if you're not chopping wood to throw into the fireplace to keep the interior of the house a barely tolerable 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and if you're travelling to and from work in an open carriage (horse-drawn, or 1890's style horseless carriage runabout-style automobile)..or trudging through the cold and snow to and from work...and doing 12-hours of heavy labor... then STOP EATING THE SORT OF DIET THAT WAS NECESSARY TO STAY ALIVE WHEN LIVING IN SUCH CONDITION.

Akulkis said...

Sorry. Forgot the preface. Included in the reposting

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

1) Free weights (core: presses, squats, dead lifts)


3) Paleo

4) Hiking, swimming, surfing, tennis

5) Sex

scipio afircanus said...

I would recommend fish oil to keep joints healthy and inflammation in check, one gram of EPA (do the math) is great plus vitamin C. I can say that based on 15 years of successful pain management related to joint and back issues.

Akulkis said...


I forget the exact figures, but a pound of fat requires something like 3 calores/day to maintain, whereas a pound of muscle consumes 11 calories a day just in its resting metabolism. Every pound of muscles you add is the equivalent of shaving 11+ calories out of your diet.

That being said... you can NOT stop working out, and continue eating the same amount of food as when you were doing weight training -- you'll bloat up like a pig. This is what happened to me in Iraq... I went from a period of INTENSE physical training (literally coming in from training every day without a dry stitch of clothing on my body) at our Mobilization site -- Fort Dix, NJ, to taking a 500 yard walk carrying a couple radio to and/or from the radio-repair shop at the BSB unit....once every few days. And other than that, mostly sitting around, waiting for the riflemen to bring their vehicle in to diagnose a communications problem. You can't live at the exertion levels of a sedentary office worker, and eat like you're a lumberjack living on the coast of the North Sea in 1700's Germany.

Akulkis said...

"The problem with BMI is that it is pre-Galileo, who opointed out that wieght is proportional to the length cubed; BMI treats it as proposrtional to length squared. That said, since people don't vary too much in height, it has a little more value than wieght by itself.

Yes, the purpose is to NEGATE the height aspect, and instead, calculate for cross-sectional thickness.
BMI is mathematically correct in this respect.

Trust said...

Best thing I ever did to overcome gamma and improve my game (before I knew what game was) was learning when to shut up, about diet or otherwise. In some cases, that meant slipping out without saying bye, which would rev up the hamsters over the perception that I was unconcerned or had better options.

Remember, the hamsters left will tend to spin more dramatically when left to the imagination than by anything a non-alpha or non-sigma can say.

Unknown said...

Excellent post.

In the last year and a half, I've been living intermittent fasting diets (leangains and warrior) and lost 50 pounds while gaining a fair bit of muscle. At my current rate, I'll lose 10+ pounds and get down to ~25.5 BMI by the end of March. I have no idea where my BP and cholesterol are (I obviously need to rectify that), though I'm certain they are improved and I feel much better both physically and mentally. My results would be even better, but I got lazy after a couple of lifting-related injuries and gained back ~10 pounds last summer.

The most significant aid for me has been tracking everything I eat in a cell phone app. I consistently make healthier choices because I know whether or not I can have that bag of chips and still meet my goals. When I don't track it, I underestimate my calorie intake. Note that doing this falls under the category of talking about your diet, so be discrete or do it later if you are eating in public.

Unknown said...

Excellent post.

In the last year and a half, I've been living intermittent fasting diets (leangains and warrior) and lost 50 pounds while gaining a fair bit of muscle. At my current rate, I'll lose 10+ pounds and get down to ~25.5 BMI by the end of March. I have no idea where my BP and cholesterol are (I obviously need to rectify that), though I'm certain they are improved and I feel much better both physically and mentally. My results would be even better, but I got lazy after a couple of lifting-related injuries and gained back ~10 pounds last summer.

The most significant aid for me has been tracking everything I eat in a cell phone app. I consistently make healthier choices because I know whether or not I can have that bag of chips and still meet my goals. When I don't track it, I underestimate my calorie intake. Note that doing this falls under the category of talking about your diet, so be discrete or do it later if you are eating in public.

Patrick Kelly said...

I started changing my diet and exercise about 9 years ago to bulk up, and gain weight.......I'm 9 lbs heavier BMI 22.7.....I'm working on losing about 2lbs off my belly for my 6 pack.........over 50 yrs old......

Is that too much discussion? I have no idea how much I can lift, only do body weight stuff, with help from a pull up is in the paleo direction, but not overly strict...i luv my ice-cream.....and wine....and Maker's Mark....(not all at the same time)

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Age is no excuse. For you older guys, you might want to check out the routine of actor Graham McTavish. He's an actor in the chick serues 'Outlander' and played Dwalin in The Hobbit movies. Tall, bald(ing), beard, fit. I've just been told I'm his spitting image. Older guys rule.

Hoots said...

If you are in any way accustomed to physical activity (you played sports in high school, occasional hiker, etc.) or even just have average awareness of your own body and physical capabilities, then you don't need BMI or any other numeric measure of fitness. You KNOW if you're a fattass. You can feel it when you get up from sitting for a long time, when you climb stairs, when you look yourself in the mirror. Just because your blood pressure's fine doesn't mean you're healthy. It's easy to hide behind a number. Don't do it.

Natalie said...

@Conscientia Republicae - unless there's a specific reason your wife should be ok going to the gym at 6mo along. I'm in the same place (yay, babies!) and still go lift weights twice a week. My doctor encouraged me to keep going and just said to do all movements either standing or inclined (ie no pullovers while on the floor).

Oh, dropped 30lbs post baby, and at 6mo preg am still under what I weighed six weeks after our son was born :) I cut out snacks, ate a smaller breakfast (because it's what worked for me), and lifted weights 3x a week with a trainer. I didn't cut out any food groups (even ice cream!) and just cracked down on portion size/frequency of sweets. It was a great PPD killer I must say.

Unknown said...

I never understood why Delta is higher than Gamma in the hierarchy. The gamma letter comes first than the delta letter.

Shouldn't the names be reversed? The normal guy should be called Gamma, and the introspective, excuse-seeking guy should be called Delta.

Unknown said...

Well, female perspective here but in general: The best exercise is the one you do. Find it, and do it, and break through plateaus when you feel like you're leveling out, and you'll succeed.

Moving heavy metal around for an hour or so a day, 4-5 days a week, works for me. A few days of either running or riding my bike supplement the lifting. I stopped trying to follow any kind of special diet. I eat what makes me feel good, fuels me, helps me recover, and gets me back in the saddle for the next workout. Sometimes that evens means pancakes or a hamburger. Men seem to have more leeway than women when it comes to diets and food. That's neither law nor endlessly flexible.

I would suggest planning a 12-week cycle of lifting/diet and measuring progress along the way. If, after 12 weeks, something hasn't improved to your liking, change it. T-Nation is an excellent resource of articles on diet and training plans you shouldn't ignore.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

No male endeavour is quite complete, apparently, without the "female perspective."

So damned cute.

Unknown said...

Vox is at his pleasure to delete it.

LibertyPortraits said...

Great guest post. The whole part about not talking about your diet and exercise is very good advice. I went through that phase of talking about this great new diet I discovered from this great book and how I knew how to build muscle and lose fat and get a super brain, blah blah blah. Nobody cares. He's right that your mother doesn't even care, I told her about the diet in detail when I was first excited and she still doesn't even know I'm on it (years later). I don't even know if I'm on it anymore because I fluctuate.

It's funny to read all of the advice pouring forth here, everyone has their own snowflake idea of what works, people just can't help but talk about themselves, me included. Great post. Great job by guest-poster, I can see that he put a lot of thought backed by experience into this post, I look forward to his other installments as he is reminding me that to quit being Gamma is a continual process.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

It amost sounds as if you're granting him permission.

File it under "Shit chicks say".

Brad Andrews said...

CR, I haven't seen those, but I definitely have the musculature to look better. My father had muscles until just before (a couple of weeks at most) he was taken out by prostate cancer. I do not look as overweight as I am. I doubt I will ever hit my "target weight" of 190-200 per the charts, but I could definitely do well to lose a good chunk toward that.

I need to find a good gym and start working out there most likely, though I will be moving in the next month or three, so that can complicate it.

VD said...

Shouldn't the names be reversed?

No. But I'm sure we're all very impressed that you know four letters of the Greek alphabet. Here is a hint: what does Delta represent?

Res Ipsa said...


Any suggestions on the kind of regimen for that end?

Jan 2014 I started a lifting program I found on the net. Initially it worked OK because I went from doing nothing to doing something. There were something's I was unhappy with, I wasn't getting stronger and I had stopped losing weight so I checked out this program: Strong Lifts 5X5.

I lost 19 lbs and increased my lifting weights on average 85% across all 5 exercises. I'm in my mid 40's and hadn't been in a gym since I was 22. The web site is free, the program is free and they have links to vids to show you how to preform the lifts (also free). If it looks good to you give it a try for 14 weeks and see how much you improve. After doing that, if you like it, add cardio on your non-lifting days. I think its a workable method that will get you lifting heavy weights in a reasonable amount of time. Get the strength up and the weight will come off.

BTW if you try it for 3 months and hate it, just try something else. There is no end of weightlifting programs on the net. One bit of advice: I have a pocket sized calendar that I track what I lift for every exercise. It cost me 88cents at Wal Mart. Get one, it will help you stay on track with what you are lifting.

Ron said...

Past month I've been going on and off some random training program, and in the past week I got off it (stress, exhaustion, pushed too hard in earlier sessions, etc). And when I read this post I realized that EVERY SINGLE WORD IN THERE IS TRUE.

So I figured, you know what, I may be too tired to today's session properly, but then at least I should do the best I can.

Deltaman (or whatever your name is), thanks. And thank you Vox for putting this up.

Revelation Means Hope said...

can't seem to comment lately, keeps getting swallowed here and on Vox P.

so, short version - I've known a number of gammas who need to gain weight (muscle preferably but they might even benefit from a little fat gain). These comments seem very focused on losing weight. Is this (gammas too skinny)unique to my geographic area (San Francisco bay area)?

Anonymous said...

Here is a hint: what does Delta represent?

Being pretty much a Delta myself, I assumed it stood for Delta Force. No?

Dave W. said...

Delta represents change, correct?

Thanks for posting this. Sounds like a whole lot of common sense. As an older guy (44) with a laundry list of physical issues that get in the way of getting in better shape (joint issues, minor hereditary heart issue, serious food allergies, recent hand surgery, etc, etc....), it's a good reminder that I just have to refuse to give up and DO SOMETHING. Knee is too screwed up to run or lift? I can walk on the treadmill or around the neighborhood for a half hour. Food allergies in the way of an optimum diet? Find other options and stay away from the fast food. Can't lift with my hand? (stupid slow-healing surgery!) Find machines at the gym that I can use without gripping (chest fly, lat raises, etc). It's easy to get depressed about it, but I refuse to give in to that.

Anonymous said...

"BMI is bullshit!"

Unless you are a serious bodybuilder, this argument just doesn't apply to you.

Anonymous said...

oops didn't realize Vox had already covered the above.

My mantra while dieting was "enough is a feast" Also makes a fair, non expository response when someone questions how much you're eating, if you wanted more etc.

Stg58/Animal Mother said...

Delta does represents change in engineering and physics. Think "dynamic".

RC said...

I haven't lost any weight over the past year but I've been doing the same boring workout for over twenty years now, three times/week, about an hour. Medium weights, pushups, stretches, just body exercises, all at home, nothing that anyone couldn't do with the most basic equipment. For me, the most important attribute was finding something I could stick to over time and getting it done at home, no travel, really helped keep me stay disciplined. It is true that you get addicted to the workout, with your body complaining when you miss, very self-reinforcing. I know I could do more; I know I could be in better shape; but this works for me simply because I do it, part of my routine. And at 54, still hammering off pushups effortlessly with a 225 pound body when many of those my age look ready to keel over has made it a good investment. A hundred and twenty hours a year in routine plus simple walking/hiking as able has made a huge difference for a very long time. I hope to be doing this same regimen in another twenty years. I'll report in then. I also think the example is contagious as my wife remains at her marriage weight too after these decades.

Anonymous said...

I remember an earlier post Vox had (was it here or his main site?) that he pointed out a study that weight training seemed to work best for men losing weight. Any suggestions on the kind of regimen for that end?

The ideal regimen is one you can start tomorrow morning and stick with until you find something better. (Same goes for diets). If that's just doing push-ups on the floor and deep knee bends until you can get a gym membership or weight bench or whatever, hey, get going!

Key thing is, don't let analysis paralysis keep your from starting, or convince you to stop. But, ah, do be careful using random horizontal elements as improvised pull-up bars...

BMI is crap, but if you don't like it, just take off your shirt and look at yourself in the mirror. Do you like what you see? No? Work out. Sort of, but it could be better? Work out.

Anonymous said...

Losing weight and acquiring a half decent physique is easy. If you can't do it, you're not trying.

Akulkis said...

For me, I find that the easiest way to stay in shape is to just avoid the use of labor-saving devices.
Doing things manually... or biking/walking instead of driving or taking the elevator... goes a long way,
Park at the far edge of the parking lot, instead of as close to the door as you can get (you'll get less
scratches and dings on your car, too!)
Make it a habit of NOT BEING A LAZY SLOB and you won't look like one.

MATT said...

No. But I'm sure we're all very impressed that you know four letters of the Greek alphabet. Here is a hint: what does Delta represent?


I forget your reason for reversing them.

Bob Loblaw said...

As for BMI, if you aren't built like a runway model or a weightlifter, it's a perfectly reasonable heuristic.

So true. We've all heard stories about some marine that was about to be kicked out of the corps because he's built like a tank and has a high BMI at 7% body fat. But if that's you... I can tell just by looking.

Rantor said...

Based on the influence of several men, including Vox, in the summer of 2013 I started dieting and working out. Lost 24 pounds and have kept them off, got my cholesterol down, etc. unfortunately a year into this I tore my rotator cuff which cut down on my lifting. Following a lot of physical therapy I have resumed lifting, although I am still at much lower weight.

The point about not talking diet is key. I only said anything if someone asked. We have a guy in the office who has lost over 30 pounds now and is constantly telling everyone. The other guys joke about him when he leaves the room. Don't be that guy.

As far as diet, if you need to lose weight, you need to know how much to eat. I used the tools at to figure that out. I also find that once you have a limit, cutting empty carbs and eating more vegetables, eggs, and meat helps me stay under the limit.

MarkyMark said...

I like what the writer says about the American diet; it's true! I've visited Peru twice, and I lost weight each time I was there. I still ate a lot, but: 1) the food is freshly grown or raised (i.e. no GMOs or growth hormones); 2) the food is not PROCESSED, but fresh at the mercado each day. Also, in Peru, you walk everywhere-and I do mean EVERYWHERE! Even though I ate a lot, I still managed to lose 4-5# over the two week visits. I most definitely think the food has something to do with America's weight problem.

For example, beef and chickens are given growth hormones. Why? Because the farmers want to fatten them up, so they'll get more for them when they sell the animals. Well, if we are what we eat; and we're eating food that was fattened up with growth hormones; then what is that food doing to US? Why does no one ask THAT question, hmmm?

Rantor said...

Speaking of walking... On a recent business trip to London, we walked and subways everywhere, it was great. I noticed a lot fewer fat people too. thinner than the mall rats around Washington dc at least.

Akulkis said...

Rantor... that's the absolute truth.

I once took an army physical fitness test at a school... then a few days later, went to St. Petersburg, Russia, for 3 weeks. Spent about 12 hours/day walking around. Came back, took another army physical fitness test at my unit. My run time was 90 seconds faster.

MATT said...

I shit 5 lbs.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I did not know who JJ Watt was before this article. HOLY CRAP! That is amazing athleticism. His body is amazing, but his technical skills are amazing as well.

People keep talking about getting rid of GMOs from their diet? Is non-science irrational paranoia part of the manosphere I missed?

I lost 90 pounds a few years ago when I was in grad school studying cardiovascular disease. Doing all that research I just looked at myself in the mirror and could not live that way anymore. I just rode a stationary bike and ate less crap. I am about 30 pounds up from my low, but am much better at just telling myself not to eat more food.

Most research on weight loss suggests only about 10% of people keep it off long term. Why? Because its hard as hell. I have alot of admiration for anyone trying to lose weight, it is a difficult but doable goal. The kind of goal that changes your character as you succeed. I had not been to the gym for 15 years because of school and just got back to it - it is very nice because can make more visible difference but also muscle burns calories.

Also - people who suggest parking further away as a way to be healthy - thats not really optimal. The calorie expenditure of the extra walking is probably around 10 calories and you lost 5 minutes. A single cookie has 100. The key is always control what goes in your mouth. The rest is a bonus. You can park a few miles away and run into work and blow that up if someone brings in birthday cake to work and you have a piece.

Unknown said...

BMI is debatable.

You won't go wrong if you:

1. Sell your TV, DVD player, and video game machine.

2. Use the money you got from step 1 to buy a barbell, some plates, and a couple dumbbells.

3. Use the stuff you bought in step 2. You won't have an excuse not to use that stuff because you sold the stuff from step 1, and now you have nothing else to do besides lift.

4. Trust me, you won't miss the idiot box. Just try it.

glad2meetyou said...

This is an interesting post, and I've resolved to put the advice on (not talking about) diet and exercise into practice.

I got a result from technique #7 (play a competitive sport). Two years ago I captained a YMCA mens basketball team. I'd like to say it was fun. It wasn't. It was humiliating. We won a single game. The result was leveling up from coward to loser. Losers get dunked on, get the ball bounced off their head, get the scoreboard stopped at 99, etc. Cowards don't step on the court. I see now that from the game perspective, there is a similar distinction between deltas and gammas. Deltas at least approach. Gammas don't.

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