Strength: noun. the ability to overcome.

If you’ve ever struggled to lose weight – or more specifically, fat – you’re not alone. One of my friends, Mike Whitfield, also known as “Mikey Pancakes” because of his love of, you guessed it, pancakes, has been there. Deep, deep down there.
Unlike many of us who have, at one point or another, dropped, 5, 10, or even 20 pounds, not, Mike.

Nope… Mike lost a whopping 115 pounds and has managed, incredibly successfully, to keep it off, not through deprivation, like you might assume (hence his nickname), but by carefully managing his “cravings” and by using time-efficient exercise protocols. (That’s how I got to know [of] him.)

This is what 115 pounds of fat loss looks like.

So I asked Mike to do a quick little interview.

And, full disclosure here, Mike actually has a product that you can buy, which I actually recommend because I think it’ll help you out tremendously, if you should so choose. And if you don’t, that’s cool too. The following interview will still really help you out – especially, as I mentioned earlier, if you’re struggling to get rid of your unwanted body fat.

So… without further ado…

Geoff: Mike let’s cut to the chase: Not only did you lose 115 pounds, you’ve kept it off. How in the heck did you do that? Tell us about your story if you would.

Mike: Sure Geoff! Well, it all started with a playstation game. I was playing football and threw an interception. I was so mad, I threw down my controller and when I went to pick it up, I had one of the biggest moments of my life.

It was then I realized I had to do something about my weight or I was going to die young. I was over 300 pounds at that point.

I jumped on the New Year bandwagon, but set a long-term goal so I would stick to it. I lost 75 pounds in 6 months (at the 6-month mark, I was going on vacation to the beach – great incentive, right?).

Now how I did it – I just focused on making better decisions with my food. I had to exchange my Mr. Pibb and iced honeybun for oatmeal and little things like that. I started with one cheat day per week and the rest of the week, I just simply aimed to “be good”, eating more protein, veggies and fruit.

My workouts were at my corporate office gym, lasting around 40 minutes. I also trained for my first 10K. It was very exciting crossing that finish line. I still run that 10K every year!

Geoff: Ha-ha-ha-ha! I didn’t even know they still made Mr. Pibb! So, what you’re saying is, you didn’t worry about being “perfect” all the time… AND you actually planned for it. Novel concept… Much different than the way most people approach the whole “losing weight” thing.

What were some of your early struggles and failures?

Mike: Man, I tell you, it was tough… my first day was at my old high school track. I just wanted to jog a few laps to just do something. But I got tired after just 1/4th of ONE lap! I actually wondered if I was going to be able to do this. I went ahead and walked. I knew it would be long journey, but I had friends and family in my corner.

In the past, I tried the Atkins diet… dropped around 10 pounds in 2 weeks, but absolutely hated it. So I gave up (and gained the weight back). This time, it was different, especially when I let myself indulge once a week.

Geoff: I’m sure that sounds eerily familiar to many of my readers – maybe even like you’re looking over their shoulders… Failing because of unrealistic expectations. So, let’s be brutally real here – Why do most people fail in getting the weight off?

Mike: Geoff, I think people go too hard and try to do too much. If you think about it, going from pizza and ice cream to broccoli and chicken overnight is tough for anyone.

The same for exercise… to go from not being active to doing hardcore workouts 6 days a week… that’s a disaster waiting to happen. Start small and build from there.

I also think that people are setting their expectations too high. You’ve probably seen those silly photos on Facebook… you know, the ones where a guy with ripped 6-pack abs is shown with the words “I Put in My 45 Minutes, Did You?” or some other clever saying.

So now, people think that if they put in 45 minutes of exercise a day, they will have 6-pack abs by this time next week. That’s the illusion they learned from a facebook photo.

Geoff: Yeah, good point. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And, like you, they didn’t become overweight overnight. Yet they think they can somehow “cheat” nature and the laws of the universe. Ok, let’s assume that someone does get the weight off. Why do you think people fail in KEEPING the weight off?

Mike: Man, it’s all about the mirror. Once someone looks they way they want to look, they think “OK, cool. That’s it.” Then almost immediately, they go back to their old ways.

They don’t think of new goals. For me, my reason of being fit is so that I can get up and down the basketball court with the youngsters in their 20’s (as you know, I’m 40). I play 3 days a week, so I have to be in shape to enjoy that.

And I also have 2 young sons, Champ and Deakan. I want to play hard with them. In order to do that, I have to stay in shape. Keeping up with a 4-year old and 2-year old is a workout!

Always have a “why” to keep yourself healthy. Set new goals. Go for new records… whatever motivates you. It’s more than the mirror.

Geoff: Man, I totally resonate with your “why.” Many of my readers have been with me for a long time, so they know that’s my reason “why” as well – to keep up with my little ones – also 4 and 18 months.

A popular approach that I’ve actually been recommending for about 5 years now is the idea of strategic cheat meals or days. You mentioned right out of the gate it’s what kept you sane and moving forward – and still does. What’s the big deal about “cheating” – that is, having planned periods during your fat loss eating plan?

Mike: Geoff, if I couldn’t “cheat”, I would fall of the wagon so fast. I love food… especially pancakes. If I can’t have my pancakes every once in a while, I would admit that any diet isn’t worth it.

Psychologically, a cheat meal or day allows you to hit your reset button. It motivates you to stick to your plan during the week.

On the science side of things, it helps you lose fat because you’re not constantly depriving yourself. This keeps your hormones happy. When your hormones are happy, your body works more efficiently – including burning fat.

Geoff: Based on your coaching experience, why or how do people fail using this approach?

Mike: Some people take their cheat day to the extreme. They will consume 15,000 to 20,000 calories in a day without realizing it. “Hey, it’s my cheat day. I’m supposed to eat as much as I can” is the mentality and that defeats the purpose.

It can certainly hurt your progress, too. I’ve seen people respond to a cheat day by thinking they have to “get it all in”, so they cheat themselves until they are miserably full. The next thing you know, they are not losing any weight. It’s almost like they are in panic mode because they won’t be allowed to eat their favorite dessert until a week later. So even though they are full, they force feed themselves.

Geoff: Yeah, I’ve actually seen that happen with clients of mine in the past. It was a real stumbling block for them. But once they “slowed down” and realized they didn’t have to fill themselves up to the brim, they started seeing the results they were looking for.

Let’s do a 180 and talk about another popular “diet trend” right now: Intermittent Fasting. I’ve also used this for the last 5 years with great success. What is IF and what is it supposed to do?

Mike: Brad Pilon said it best… it’s simply a break from eating.

It’s one easy way to cut calories. If you follow a 16/8 fasting protocol (16 hours of not eating followed by an 8-hour window of eating daily), you’ll skip breakfast. Just like that, you’re easily cutting calories.

With many of my coaching clients, they would discover a rise in energy, focus and productivity as well as improved digestion. That is due to giving your digestion system a break.

Geoff: “A break from eating.” Yet so many struggle with this concept, right? I know many of my clients and customers do. What are the most common objections you’ve found to IF?

Mike: Without a doubt Geoff… binging. Too many folks fast, then their next meal is legendary (like a double cheeseburger with fries). They think fasting is almost like a “free pass” to eat more processed foods. But doing that stresses their digestion system even more, plus all the side effects of feeling sluggish, etc. etc.

Geoff: Wait, wait, wait – you mean I can’t just “not eat” – then eat whatever’s not nailed down? I thought I was cutting calories by not eating??

Mike: Exactly. That’s why I always tell people to break their fast the same way every time. Whether that’s a protein shake with some nuts or a coffee or some eggs… whatever it is. Do that every time. This will keep you from binging.

I find it interesting that people will immediately tell me they will be so tired and cranky, yet when they try it, they fall in love with it. Their mood actually improves. Their appetite even goes down.

Geoff: Right. That’s generally been my experience as well. Speaking of binging and not eating – Tell us about this new research about dieting you ran across – and more importantly, what it means for us today – especially those who find themselves chronically yo-yo dieting.

Mike: It’s funny because it’s something I live every day. So when I ran across this study, I was like, “Yes, this confirms it!”.

In a study from Cornell University, behavioral economist Brian Wansink and his team followed adults for 330 days and watched their weight fluctuation patterns and corresponding days of the week.

Long story short, at the end of the study, he said, “The big difference between those who gain weight over time and those who lose or maintain weight is directly related to the way they eat from Monday to Friday.” 

Finally, someone gets it! I thought. Everyone tells us to watch our daily calorie intake, but really what counts is our WEEKLY calorie intake.

Geoff: Wait – wait – say that last part again…

Mike: Sure – Everyone tells us to watch our daily calorie intake, but really what counts is our WEEKLY calorie intake.

So if you tighten up a little bit more Monday through Thursday, you can “cut loose” more Friday, Saturday and Sunday and still lose fat. This is great for busy people like me that enjoy food on the weekends.

Geoff: Man, that’s GREAT news – because that’s where most people fall down on the weekend. Take guys for example – they’ll get together with they’re buddies during football season, down some wings, nachos, and beers, and then feel guilty, and give up. And they don’t have a plan in place to accommodate for that. So, like I said, they give up. Or a woman will go out with her girlfriends for coffee and end up getting dessert, and again, the guilt strikes them, and, like so many times before, they quit, because of their unrealistic expectations about what should be instead of what could be. Essentially, they just need a better, more flexible plan to follow.

Which of course is a “perfect” segue for my next question:

You’ve recently put together a new program based on your experiences with yourself and with your clients over the last 10 years or so. What’s it called and can you tell us a little about it please?

Mike: Sure thing Geoff. It’s called “Diet Free Weekends”. Basically, it’s a laid-out plan that lets people enjoy their favorite foods Friday, Saturday and Sunday by adjusting what they do Monday through Thursday.

So instead of one huge cheat day where you try to “get it all in”, you “spread it out” over the weekend. I don’t know about you Geoff, but on Friday night, I’ve put in a busy week and I’m tired. I love having that time with my family and enjoying a pizza and maybe even a movie.

Geoff: Oh yeah, Friday is traditionally pizza and a movie night at my house too.

Mike: Yeah, and on the weekends, I spend more time with my family and part of those memories is enjoying some “fun” food. I wanted to make that doable for everyone. Besides, pancakes taste better on Sundays (haha!).

Geoff: No kidding. Honestly, I’ve tried this many times and found it to be a sane and more flexible approach to “cheating.” I just naturally cut back on my caloric intake over the weekend and spaced out eating my favorite foods. But I always felt like I was cheating my cheat day, if you know what I mean. And because of such, and uncharacteristically so, I didn’t think to investigate this concept deeper. So I’m glad you did.

I think it’s important to say though, as a sort of disclaimer, that this is not one of those rapid fat loss protocols, right? It’s more of a sensible approach – something you can live with – something that won’t drive you nuts and let’s you have a life. At least that’s been my personal experience.

Mike: Right, It’s certainly not a “lose 10 pounds in 4 days!” approach, but following it and sticking to a smart exercise program like your Kettlebell STRONG! or Kettlebell Express! workouts, you can make consistent progress without being in “Diet Prison” on the weekends.

Geoff: Hey buddy, great to chat with you. I really appreciate your time.

Mike: My pleasure!

If spreading out your cheat day over the course of a weekend and enjoying your social life while still losing fat sounds like something you’re up for, check out Mike’s “Diet Free Weekends” here.

Remember, “Diet Free Weekends” isn’t one of those rapid fat loss plans. It is however something that you can live with while still losing fat consistently. Here’s what you get when you order your copy:

DFW MAIN 300x156 How Mikey Pancakes Lost 115 Pounds   And KEEPS It Off Today...

DFW BONUS 300x162 How Mikey Pancakes Lost 115 Pounds   And KEEPS It Off Today...

 

 

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The Kettlebell Snatch – Protecting Your Elbows And Biceps From Injury

by GEOFFN May 22, 2014 kettlebell exercises

The Kettlebell Snatch. The only thing that jacks people’s elbows up more is the kettlebell clean. Here’s a quick video of a technique, called, The Elephant’s Trunk Snatch. Yeah, I know, pretty goofy name. I don’t know what else to call it. I didn’t come up with it, I just named it. Anyway, watch the […]

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8 comments Read the full article →

Avoiding Injuries On The Kettlebell Ballistics – Part 3, The Clean

by GEOFFN May 21, 2014 kettlebell exercises

For the past couple of days we’ve been discussing how to avoid injuries while performing your kettlebell ballistics. We covered set and posture in videos 1 and 2. (Video 1 – Posture for kettlebell exercises is here. And video 2 – set up for kettlebell exercises is here.) Today, we’re covering the one cue that […]

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5 comments Read the full article →

How To Avoid Kettlebell Injuries – Part 2

by GEOFFN May 20, 2014 kettlebell exercises

… And no I’m not talking about dropping the durn things on your toes or head or anything like that. This is part 2 in the series, especially applicable to elbows and biceps. Here’s the video. In it you’ll learn two simple drills you can implement today. To learn more about refining your technique – […]

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3 comments Read the full article →

Kettlebell Injuries – How To Protect Your Elbows And Biceps, Part 1

by GEOFFN May 19, 2014 kettlebell exercises

It seems people are still getting injured using kettlebells, even with all the great resources out there, like StrongFirst and RKC. I guess the number of bad resources outweigh the good. Or maybe it’s just the “killer workout” mentality that so many unqualified trainers bring to the table with this “cool new kettle-ball workout.” I […]

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7 comments Read the full article →