Snooze or Lose, Part 1

Welcome to the first installment of a DNA series on sleep. Shuteye, 40 winks, sawing logs, catching some z’s, visiting la la land, zonking out…once we get past about age 9, we LOVE to sleep, and few of us get enough precious hours of slumber. Unfortunately, we can sabotage our training and nutrition efforts by short-changing sleep. Understanding your need for sleep and why it matters can help a lot in improving quality and quantity of sleep, and the results can be amazing.

If you have ever lived with a baby or someone who needs care around the clock, you probably understand how miserable sleep deprivation can be. Your brain feels fogged, you get cranky and have no patience, you can’t think clearly, and decision-making is a real chore. Many people get depressed and even suicidal with long-term sleep deprivation. On the other end of the spectrum, people who get adequate sleep each night have more energy and are generally sharper, happier, and far more upbeat than the unsleeping zombies. Most of us live somewhere in the middle, with almost enough sleep most of the time, punctuated by the occasional really good night’s sleep or late night online / partying / reading / etc. binge.


Why don’t we sleep enough?

Several societal factors influence our tendencies toward insufficient sleep. In short, we humans have done it to ourselves, and Americans value sleep less than many other nations.

  1. Electric light and other modern conveniences. Back in the days before we could easily light a room with the flick of a switch, people generally got up with the sun and went to bed with the sunset. Candles allowed some people to stay up after dark, but  people were probably so tired from performing manual labor all day that staying up after sunset was not preferred anyway. People spent a lot of time hunting, planting and/or harvesting or foraging for food, preparing food, building or maintaining a home, making or maintaining clothing, and performing many other basic tasks needed to live that we now take for granted. Two hundred years ago, people couldn’t go to the mall to buy new clothes and stop at the grocery store on the way home. Wealthy people after the industrial revolution had more shopping options than the caveman, but even then, someone had to get food, cook it, clean, and so forth. Automation of basics tasks and the increase of convenience has given us free time, which we have since jammed full of activities.
  2. Modern activities and distractions. The development of modern conveniences was intended to make life easier. While cars, washing machines, refrigerators, and the modern food distribution system are examples of amenities that have drastically simplified many basic tasks, we have invented a plethora of activities to fill the time previously occupied with basic survival activities. Late-night television has been around for decades, and many of us have traded sleep for Letterman on many nights, especially when we can watch in bed. The twentieth century brought the intrusion of the internet, so that now we can waste countless hours in front of the screen chatting with faraway friends, playing Candy Crush Saga, or even writing blog posts.  While the web now fulfills some of our social needs positively (or dysfunctionally, depending how you view it), online activity precludes sleep for many people. Further, many of us pack our days so full and take on so much that we work into the night, especially if we have to get kids to bed first. Some people just choose to stay up late to read, do puzzles, party, or otherwise relax, enabled by electric light.
  3. Culture and the badge of honor. Unfortunately, out workaholic culture does not value sleep. In some parts of the military, sleep is sometimes treated as a sign of weakness, and people who stay up for 3 days in a row are often viewed with admiration and awe. (Never mind that sleep deprivation has led to countless training accidents, many of them fatal.) Most offices value coming in early and staying late, to the detriment of productivity and usually sleep. Medical interns and residents often work  ridiculously long shifts, and older doctors view sleeplessness as a rite of passage; while the dangers inherent in depriving medical professionals of sleep are becoming recognized, this problem still exists, and will probably die hard. Anecdotally, the Baby Boomer generation seems to value sleep deprivation more than Gen Xers and younger workers, but companies will probably shift to recognize the value of sleep very slowly as different generations take charge.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Wow, that’s depressing. What can I do about it?

Start by recognizing the sleep drainers in your life. If you are staying up later than you like and / or waking up groggy with the alarm, and you know that you need more sleep, take a critical look at your schedule. What are you doing at 10pm and 6am? What can you eliminate from your daily or nightly activities that will allow you to get more sleep?

If you routinely go to bed later than you would like, set yourself an appointment. If necessary, set a sleep alarm – in reverse of the usual alarm clock – so that Mr. Smart Phone tells you to knock it off at the desired hour. Once you have developed the discipline to actually go to bed on time, bring the time forward 15 minutes. Repeat until you can get 7.5-8.5 hours of sleep each night. Implementation is not easy, but it’s critical to your long-term health.

Next time, we will examine why sleep matters, and in future posts I will cover the Golden Rules of Sleep and current research. Until then, sleep well!


A Note on Phases: they aren’t grades

We noticed a misperception among some of our nutrition clients who seem to believe that the program phases are progressive. In other words, some of you seem to think that Phase 2 is more advanced than Phase 1, and so forth. We would like to clarify.

Nope. Not quite.

Phase 1 focuses on quality of food, Phase 2 includes quantity, and Phase 3 brings in timing. Different phases are appropriate for different goals. Phases 2 and 3 are eating for performance, and if you are working on general fitness and strength but not working to drastically increase performance, then Phase 1 is appropriate and the others are not. Similarly, if you are going through a challenging patch – big deadline at work, new baby, sick parents, etc., then you probably need to focus on maintenance and basic lifestyle and not on performance. If you have been on phase 3 for a while and lifting a lot, you may choose to throttle back for a bit, to freshen things up and take a break.

Your training and nutrition will necessarily vary throughout your life. Switching from a performance focus to other goals is not a sign of weakness or giving up. It’s not really possible or healthy to relentlessly pursue strength goals without a break; your body will benefit from an extended rest from time to time. Remember, over training is a form of stress, and your body will fight with inflammation and stress hormones, both of which are detrimental to long-term health. In some cases, motivation can get in the way of progress.

Never feel guilty about throttling back, and changing from one nutrition phase to another; life is a marathon journey, not a continuous sprint, and switching gears is normal and expected. As long as you understand your choices and are comfortable and happy with the state of your body and mind, you are probably progressing just fine. Nutritional phase is just your fueling plan, not a grading scheme, and as such should be chosen according to the state of both your training and your life.

Applesauce Muffins

I love fall baking – pumpkin, squash, apple, and a lot of cinnamon…yum. Unfortunately, baked goods are calorie dense, even with clean ingredients, so even pseudo-paleo baked goods are special treats, to be enjoyed sparingly. Having said that, I just found a great recipe for cinnamon applesauce muffins. Enjoy with coffee on a lazy Sunday morning!

Applesauce Muffins
Recipe Type: Treats
Cuisine: Fall baking
Author: Anne Johnson
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
I love fall baking – pumpkin, squash, apple, and a lot of cinnamon…yum. Unfortunately, baked goods are calorie dense, even with clean ingredients, so even pseudo-paleo baked goods are special treats, to be enjoyed sparingly. Having said that, I just found a great recipe for cinnamon applesauce muffins. Enjoy with coffee on a lazy Sunday morning!
  • 5 eggs (beat those together first)
  • 1 c applesauce (natural, unsweetened, preferably organic – try Trader Joe’s or Sprouts)
  • 1/2 c coconut flour
  • 1/4 c cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/c c coconut oil
  • 2T honey (optional – I think they’re great without it)
  1. Preheat oven to 400’F.
  2. Mix everything in a big old bowl.
  3. Spoon into muffin cups greased with coconut oil, or lined with parchment cups (Sprouts has those).
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes at 400′ F. You can also mix them at night and bake in the morning – give them 2 minutes extra in the oven.


Rice Thins

Rice Thins
Recipe Type: Phase 2+3
Author: Dave
  • white rice flour
  • high oleic safflower oil
  • salt
  1. Of course these are processed, but the ingredients are minimal. I use these for some crunch with my food, and they taste pretty darn good!
Serving size: 18 pieces Calories: 130 Fat: 1.5g Saturated fat: 0g Unsaturated fat: 1g Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 26g Sugar: 0g Sodium: 85mg Fiber: 0 Protein: 2g


Client of the Month: Marybeth P.!

A.C.T. client Marybeth is our superstar of the month for September. Coincidentally, we also celebrated her birthday, and she is more fabulous than ever! Marybeth has literally worked her butt off in our Accelerated Custom Training program, dropping inches and pounds while gaining lean muscle and transforming herself completely. The photos say it all!

marybeth In the top photos, Marybeth had already been training for several months! We didn’t have a picture before that…

We asked Marybeth some questions to learn a little bit more about here. Here’s what she told us…

Favorite workout: Getting in the door! I can be in the worst mood, and when I get here, I feel great! I’m just grateful to be here – it’s a fun place to be!

Favorite thing about DNA: DNA changes people’s lives on a daily basis! I love the accomplishment I have been able to achieve here!

Favorite personal change: My arms!

Goals: Getting down to 17% body fat. I believe that I’ve learned enough from DNA to keep this going for the rest of my life!

Advice for people who are considering trying DNA: Just start! Don’t be afraid – just go with it…you’ll be glad you did!

Congratulations again to Marybeth, and GREAT JOB!!!

All kids love LOG! How to set up your logbook for success


Remember this?

At DNA, we require each client to keep a logbook. For our accelerated custom training clients, logbooks help us build each client’s program based on individual goals and progress. For all clients, logbooks serve some very important purposes that can keep you on track for meeting your goals and setting new ones.

1. Metrics:

The numbers don’t lie! Your logbook contains a record of your training and development over time. Inside the front cover, you should have post-its with your measurements and body fat percentage; if you don’t have these, make an appointment with David or Craig to get measured. You have a section for logging workouts, and pages for benchmarks – lifting personal records (PRs) by lift and rep count, running PRs by distance, and times and scores for beach mark workouts like Cindy and Fran. This written record is a vault of information that you can use to identify progress and plateaus, and to help you troubleshoot your training if you need an adjustment. Without a written log, you wouldn’t be able to measure your progress, and progress is a powerful motivator! If your max dead lift has gone from 140 lbs to 200 lbs in six months, how can you not be motivated by your stellar strength increase?

2. Accountability

Write a goal in your logbook, and you become accountable to those pages and to yourself. You can see in plain ink when you have been consistent with your training, and how far you are from reaching a goal. If you write down a goal, you are more likely to achieve it, as you have imposed a form of accountability on yourself. Show your trainers and your friends, and you’ll be accountable to them to! Watch for the Goals Board in the gym and add your goal to add public accountability!

Logbook setup

Here’s how to set up your logbook: you have two sections – daily log, and benchmarks. David recommends logging from the back and setting up benchmarks at the front, while AJ reverses the order – pick a method that works for you.

  • For your daily log, simply copy the workout from the board each day, and include the weights and any scaling you do. Also include notes about nutrition and sleep (including diversions, I.e., “nutrition on point” or “old roommate in town, drank 6-pack of Guinness last night,” “up at 2am and 4am with Junior”) and how you feel, if different from your usual self (“felt awesome today,” “slight head cold,” “sluggish for no apparent reason.”)
  • Benchmarks: label a page for each of the lifts below, and add a column for each of the reps listed. For example, the deadlift page will have columns for 5 rep max (5RM), 3RM, and 1RM. When you perform a lift, note the date and your max weight. If you attempted a higher weight and missed it, write the weight with “-” next to it. For example:

DL 3RM 255 265- (2)

This note means that I lifted 255 for 3 reps, and tried 265 but only got 2 reps.
Once you establish benchmarks, you can refer to your log each time the lift comes up in a workout. In the case of the deadlift above, I’ll know to start near where I left off (245 or so, after a warmup) and to try to get 265 or more for 3 reps. That’s how we get stronger over time! If in doubt, you can show your logbook to your trainer, who can help you figure out the right weight for you!
For running and benchmark CrossFit workouts, just give each workout a column for recording your time. You can put Fran and Cindy on the same page, in separate columns, for example. Just be sure to include dates.

Here are the DNA Benchmarks, each of which should have a partial or full page in your logbook (with columns for rep schemes as listed):

  • Deadlift: 5RM, 3 RM, 1RM
  • Front squat: 5RM, 1RM
  • Back squat: 5RM, 1RM
  • Strict press (sp): 5RM, 1RM
  • Bench press: 5RM, 1RM
  • Bent over row: 5RM, 1RM
  • Overhead squat (OHs): 10RM, 5RM, 1RM
  • Pull-ups, chin-ups, muscle ups, dips: each gets 5RM, and also max rep attempt – for example, pull-ups with 12kg for 5RM, or 10 strict pull-ups (if you max out at 10).
  • Olympic lifts: snatch (5RM, 1RM), clean (5RM, 1RM), clean and jerk (5RM, 1RM)
  • Kettlebell lifts: front squat (double bells for 5RM, 1RM), Turkish getup (1RM), swing (5RM), SP (both single and double, 5RM, 1RM), bottoms up press (both single and double, 5RM, 1RM)


  • 5k
  • 1 mile
  • 800m
  • 400m
  • 200m

Workouts: (include weight used)

  • Cindy
  • Fran
  • Helen
  • Snatch test
  • DNA total (sum of deadlift, bench press, front squat)
  • CrossFit total (sum of deadlift, sp, bs)
  • 30 man makers for time
  • Fight gone bad (include the whole tally)
  • Dirty thirty
  • Others that will be added as we go!

If you need help, ask a trainer, or ask friends to show you theirs as examples.

Bottom line – keeping a good record of your training is critical to measure your progress, provide Insight into your performance, and to make you accountable for your training. It’s a requirement of every DNA course and one of the elements that sets us apart as the best training facility in Tucson, ensuring that you are getting the highest value out of your investment, and helping us optimize your training. Make sure your logbook earns an A+ and practice good nutrition and sleep habits, and your results will follow!

Boring-looking but good. You can always decorate it!

Boring-looking but good. You can always decorate it!

Three Days with the Masters: AJ’s RKC II Adventure

On September 5, I snuck out of DNA under the guise of going on Air Force duty for a week. I did actually report for duty in Denver on the 9th (just in time for the epic rains), but I neglected to mention that I would be in St. Paul, Minnesota enroute, attending Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) Level II instructor training.

The RKC II starts with an entry test, which includes a 20 sec flexed arm hang (for females; the guys did weighted pull-ups), a press test, and requalification for Level I, i.e., a snatch test and technique tests of several other moves. I wasn’t concerned about passing any of it except for the press. The standards are graded by weight, so that women over 140lbs have to press a 20kg bell, and 139 and under pressed 18kg. I had the 18kg in the bag, but the 20kg was dicey – I had only pressed it once or twice. Therefore, my main preparation consisted of practicing my press for several weeks, plus a week on what I call the Nun Diet – nun-a-this, nun-a-that… mainly chicken breasts and veggies, very few fats or carbs, and no wine. My dual-pronged strategy worked: I weighed in at 138.4, pressed the 18kg, and then ate a nut bar. Yum.

Since I returned to the same training center where I attended RKC I, the intimidation factor was low as I understood better what to expect. I knew the class would be small. Rather than about 80 people at my RKC course, 13 of us shared the 3 master RKC instructors and 2 assistants. The personal attention was fantastic, and challenging! Master RKC Andrea Cu Cane was the first to zoom in on my lack of thoracic spine mobility, which I had not discovered in five years of training; the rest of the staff followed. The weekend was thus punctuated with reminders to open my upper chest and pull my lower ribs together. This correction alone was quite fatiguing and added an element of challenge to the weekend.


Sheer awesomeness on the right side of this photo.

The RKC system is very focused on teaching technique, and while instructor candidates and required to demonstrate excellent form, the Masters really emphasized ways to teach the various exercises and help clients build strength and skill. One major difference between Levels I and II is that Level I features mainly kettlebell work, and Level II includes several body weight progressions for building superior strength, as well as some advanced kettlebell moves. I did not expect to learn so much about the plank, pull-up, push-up, and pistol (one legged squat) as I did. The most useful component of these exercises was an introduction to activation of the latissimis dorsi, aka “lats” – the huge, powerful muscles in your back that will propel you to a whole new level of performance when you can tap into their power. I had no idea that I had been relying so much on my traps and other neighboring muscles, and despite coaching people to use their lats in pull-ups, I apparently wasn’t very good in recruiting my own.

Hello lat band…I learned one simple drill that woke up those sleeping giants, and that showed me how they feel when put to work. You may have had the pleasure of experiencing the lat band pull in the last week, as I have been using this great little trick left and right! Synopsis – grab a medium pull up band, hold it behind your back at “bra strap level,” and pull out with your hands. Relax and repeat. You will feel your lats working!

Another of my favorite newly-learned cues is “tailbone to navel.” While I understood this concept academically, I got a valuable refresher on the power of this one move for generating core strength. Squeezing your tailbone to your belly button forces you to contract your abs, powering the swing and forming the strong core tension needed for the plank and most lifts (body weight or otherwise). A solid lat crush, triggered by “bending the [imaginary metal] bar,” combined with a tailbone-to-navel core crush and a forceful exhale, generates a ton of force and allows you to do nearly anything.

Learning the thoracic bridge and the body weight progressions was exhausting, and I ended up getting far more fatigued than I did at RKC I, where we did more swings and I was more hungry. Fortunately, the staff were incredibly supportive and invested in our success in the course, dishing out tough love and some humor along with the physical instruction. Master RKCs Phil Ross and Max Shank walk the walk – each not only performs all of the progressions effortlessly, but they both demonstrated elite strength, playing around with one-arm handstand push-ups, front levers, and numerous other impressive feats.  Each owns a premier gym, Max in San Diego and Phil in New Jersey, and both of them shared their extensive experience in training a broad range of clients. Learning from true experts Andrea, Max, and Phil was incredible, and assistants (both RKC II) Leslie and Aaron rounded out the team with precision corrections and insight.

The RKC II test was less intimidating than my first RKC one. I was still struggling with the bent arm press and working on the kettlebell jerk, but had had enough highly supervised practice to perform and teach all of the moves. I had to relearn the windmill and was somewhat nervous about it as it requires thoracic mobility that I don’t have yet, but my pistol was looking fine and the pull-up was easy, thanks to a summer of weighted pull-ups in David’s Applied Strength program. Therefore, at the end of the weekend, I went away with a new certification, a much-expanded bag of tricks for helping DNA clients get stronger, and a renewed appreciation of both body weight training and the entire RKC system.


Girl Power!

I’m enjoying putting my new tools to work for you, and our whole training staff is learning these methods so that you can benefit from them too. Be on the lookout for more special opportunities to strengthen your skills, and have fun supercharging your training!

Fast & Easy Mojito Lime Chicken

Fast & Easy Mojito Lime Chicken
Recipe Type: Main Dish ALL PHASES
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Tina
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1-2
This is a fast and simple way to make boneless skinless chicken breast, for [i]training days[/i] or [i]off days[/i] and [u]all phases[/u].
  • [url href=”″ rel=”attachment wp-att-2533″][img src=”×230.jpg” alt=”” width=”100″ class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-2533″][/url]
  • “Grill Mates” Mojito Lime Marinade (dry mix) – 1 pack
  • Olive oil – 2 tbsp.
  • Apple Cider or White Vinegar
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  1. Chop your boneless skinless chicken breast into 1-2 inch cubes. Add to bowl or 1 gallon zip lock bag.
  2. Add in the marinade mix.
  3. [i]For training days:[/i] Add to the mix, 1/4 cup of water. 2 tbsp. vinegar. [i]For off days:[/i] Add 1/4 oil, 2 tbsp. water, 2 tbsp. vinegar.
  4. Thoroughly mix.
  5. Cook the chicken in a pan on high heat with lid, mixing every few minutes until fully cooked.
Serving size: 1 lb Calories: 480 Fat: 23 Carbohydrates: 2g Sugar: <1g Protein: 100g
I use the “Grill Mates” marinades of different flavors depending on the side and off day or training days. This also works on the grill, and with other cuts of meat.


DNA’s Client of the Month for August: Bianca R.

Talk about amazing results…Bianca started at DNA in just March with a goal of making weight so that she could achieve her dream of joining the military. She dove into training and literally worked her butt off, not only crushing her weight goal but becoming a super-strong Xena in the process. We caught up with Bianca, a 5:30am devotee, and learned a little more about what she likes and what makes her tick.


Favorite lift: clean and jerk

Least favorite exercise: pullups. She has a goal of being able to do 5 strict ones!

Other goals: get stronger, and improve technique

Favorite food: chicken!

Best thing about DNA: Bianca will tell you that the training is effective, and there’s always room to grow and improve within the training. She used to spend countless hours between running and the gym, and didn’t make much progress. Bianca says that if you follow the nutrition plan and train at DNA, you WILL get results.

Inspiration: Shannon!  She’s a little older than Bianca and is evidence that being over 35 does not mean you can’t be ripped and amazingly fit!

Advice to newbies: stay consistent – the first 3 months are tough, and then it gets better. Training at DNA takes a lot less time, so you can lose weight and still have a life.

Bianca also highly recommends training at DNA for anyone preparing to enter the military. She was much fitter than many of her peers at the first PT test, despite being quite a bit older than many of them!

Congratulations again to Bianca on her selection as Client of the Month!


Amazing Transformation

drew-sarahDrew and Sara have been an inspiration to many people. In the time of one semester they have completely transformed their bodies, increased their strength and conditioning to a high degree, and most importantly adjusted their lifestyle towards health for quality living well into the future.

Their training regimen was Advanced Micro Training (A.M.T.), which consists of 3 sessions per week of heavy weight training, with a touch of sprint work among other things. The program was developed to maximize the body’s ability to adapt to low dose stimulus. Every so often a period of testing was thrown in to gauge changes in over all performance.

The couple are proof that 95% of success in training can be attributed to nutrition. Here’s what they had to say about their experience.

Q: You’ve been in DNA’s ADVANCED MICRO TRAINING (A.M.T.) class for about 6 months now, what made you decide to join DNA?

A: There were many factors that caused us to check out DNA. The least interesting being that it was close to where we were living. I had also heard good things about DNA from another member, CJ Doane. In addition to that, Drew had been wanting to get fit for several months prior and thought that the structure that comes along with personal training would help him be accountable and committed.. Finally, we were both stressed out, not happy at work and in need of something to give us balance. DNA was perfect!

Q: For those reading, the AMT program consists of 3 15-minute training sessions per week requiring no other activity! Before beginning this program would you have ever thought that you could see these kind of results in such short training sessions?

A: NO! We do not want to sound too much like an infomercial, but it is absolutely remarkable that one can get these results with such short intense training sessions. Before starting at DNA Sara was running for 2-3 hours/week. Now we still both run less than 1 hour/week +the 45 minutes of DNA training, so the overall amount of time spent working out is less than before but more efficient.

Drew and Sara before

Drew and Sara Before Training

Too be fair, we have also made significant lifestyle changes. Everything Dave says about nutrition is a 100% true and we are eating clean food with a purpose, which has been instrumental in our progress. Fifteen minutes of training leaves 23 hours and 45 minutes to make choices that are going to help those minutes count or circumvent your hard work. Dave taught us how to eat right amplifying the impact of our work in the gym.

Phase 4 Nutrition and intermittent fasting

Drew and Sara Before Training

Q: Both of you have seen mind boggling results! What are some key factors involved in your success/es in this program?

A: Similar to what we said above, the importance of nutrition cannot be overstated. Also, I think it has really helped that we were doing this together. It is much easier to stay on track as a pair than as an individual. For anyone getting started on a program like this, we would recommend trying to recruit your family or signing up with a friend/partner/roommate. The support, encouragement and camaraderie that comes along with doing this someone else really helped us stay on track.

Q: What kind of training were you involved in before AMT?

A: Drew played sports in high school and lifted off and on until about 2 years ago. Since then and before starting DNA, he jogged a bit and hiked. Sara had never lifted and was a runner before starting at DNA, running between 15-20 miles/week.

Drew and Sara After 6 months

Drew and Sara After 6 months

Q: What kind of supplements were/are you taking? It seems impossible that these drastic results can happen with out any “help”!

A: Do sweet potatoes and lean protein count as a supplement? We were not taking any supplements until about 1 month ago. When we started phase III nutrition and the intermittent fasting we started taking BCAAs 20 minutes before we work out, but that is it. Since working out with DNA, we have never used protein shakes or any other sort of health supplement. We actually have both stopped taking multivitamins. Now that we eat better they seem superfluous, if not detrimental. It was just all real, clean food.

Q: Nutrition is a major factor, describe your experience with PHASE 4 NUTRITION.

A: Anytime we would start a new nutrition phase, the first week was challenging. After 1-2 weeks it seems routine. This was even true with phase I. With phase II, Sara could not believe that she was going to have to eat 193 grams of carbs on training days. Quickly, it did not feel like enough food, and now 299 grams is the norm. When Dave introduced the concept of intermittent fasting, we were both all for it. Not just for performance reasons, but mostly because there are extensive data showing that it promotes longevity, lowers cancer risk, and increases insulin receptor sensitivity. Our current nutrition plan has it so we only eat between 12 pm and 8 pm. The first day was really hard for Sara, she did not feel like she could do anything in the gym, and both of us had a hard time getting our macros in before 8 pm. Then we discovered sweet potato smoothies with kefir (it is fermented diary, so not inflammatory) and coconut water. After about 2 weeks, we both stopped feeling hungry before noon. It has only been a challenge when switching time zones, easy to go east but those 3 extra hours hurt coming home. Now it seems really easy to put away a lot of food in one sitting. One of the coolest aspects of experimenting with this phase of nutrition is to see how quickly your body can adapt to be entrained to shorter eating windows. The caloric intake remains the same, but the extra time off your digestive system gets results in a lot less oxidative stress. We are glad that Dave figured this out for us and we plan to keep it up indefinitely.

Q: What weight and body fat did you start at? finish?

A: Drew was 165 and 17.9% body fat. Yesterday, he was 157 and 5% body fat. That is a loss of ~21 pounds of fat and an increase in 13 pounds of lean body weight. Sara was 137 pounds and 28.5% body fat. Yesterday, she was 122 pounds and 12.7% body fat, with a total loss 15.5 pounds of body fat and an increase in 8.5 pounds

of lean body weight. That is just since February 26th!

Q: How long were your workouts?

A: Typically around 15 minutes not including rolling out and warming up. On occasion we would go up to 30 minutes, but that was rare. We were also running 2-3 times a week, but nothing long or serious and this was just for fun. Running is more of a hobby than exercise for us now. The exception to this was the 5 weeks that we were in Anne’s natural running class, which had us doing drills and cadence intervals 2-3 times/week that took around 20 minutes to complete. But this was more about fixing our poor running form than getting fit. Now we can run for fun and know that we are not going to damage ourselves. Quick plug for Anne’s course: proper form also made us a lot faster, which helped us get PRs on that dreaded 400m that comes after Dave’s applied strength “A” program.

Drew and Sara

Drew and Sara After 6 months

Q: What did you eat or how did your diet change?

A: We did not eat terrible before, but our diets were certainly not optimized. A bit better than the typical American diet. We ate a lot of organic green leafy vegetables and whole grains. We also ate a lot or red meat and little to no fish. Our biggest mistake was how much bread, pasta and pizza we consumed. Sara used to love her pasta. We also drank a lot of beer before. We both love craft beer and in particular high octane IPAs for Sara and dense stouts and porters for Drew. Enjoying a beer used to be almost a nightly indulgence for us. We also used to eat out a lot more, especially for lunch. I think our biggest mistake, other than the beer, was mixing fat and carbs, for example, fried chicken and waffles and mac ‘n cheese were not uncommon. In the most recent phase of nutrition, Drew had to make the transition to drinking black coffee (rather than coffee with cream/milk).

Q: What food did you miss?

A: This is a really interesting and not straight forward question. The first month, Sara missed ice cream and beer and Drew missed snack food and beer. Dave did a clever thing after our first month of training, however. We both had a great weigh in and he gave us a cheat meal allowing us to go all out with beer and whatever else for one meal. Sara ate a lot of ice cream and Drew had snickers. We both drank more than a couple beers and felt really crappy afterwards- a sugar along with alcohol hangover. Since we were so used to feeling great most of the time, this kind of took away our cravings. In neuroscience they call this ‘aversive conditioning’, Dave called it “de-conditioning”. Now there is not much that we miss, mostly because our palates have changed and we have discovered new things that we love. Sara does not miss ice cream because frozen kefir is amazing and on carb days we can eat it on gluten-free sweet potato pancakes. This is perfection! We have also discovered grilled tilapia with a citrus marinade…yum. Drew makes the analogy that it is like moving to another country. You probably will not be able to find good tamales in New Zealand, but the lamb and seafood will more than make up for it. Neither of us miss pasta at all.
That is not to say there aren’t cravings. Deep fried oreos or chocolate covered pretzels still sound good to Drew, but it is a transient craving that can be replaced by something better.

Q: Were you hungry?
During the first month of phase I nutrition, neither of us were ever hungry, although we also never felt totally full. We both think that this is because by cutting out grains and most carbs, we never felt that bloated feeling often associated with being full. We no longer have this association and being full now means that we are on track for getting in our macros. After the first month, it was a little different between the two of us. Sara usually did not feel hungry, except during the first week of starting intermittent fasting. Sara had also done Weight Watchers before (many years ago in grad school), and definitely felt less hungry with this nutrition plan compared to previous diets. Drew has had episodes where he has certainly felt hungry and like he “cannot eat enough”. This is usually before he meets with Dave to adjust his macros again. The point is that we never felt like we were starving ourselves to lose fat.

Q: How long did it take you to notice a change in your body? What change in your body did you notice first?

A: Both of us agree that we started to notice changes in about 3 weeks. For Sara, it was her calves having more definition. We were living in a house with no full length mirror, however. After about 6 weeks, we went to stay at the Tubac Golf Resort for Sara’s birthday, and when Sara saw her abs in the bathroom mirror of our cottage, she was blown away. For Drew it was his stomach definition coming back. His abs became prominent after about 3-4 weeks. Also, after doing Anne’s Natural Running Class we both noticed a new muscle on the top outer portion of our feet develop. This may have also grown from lifting in minimal shows, but it is funny to see something develop that you did not even know was there.

Q: Did you energy level increase?

A: Yes. Both in and out of the gym. We often talk about our second day in the gym in which we did a modified “Helen” (we ran 200m instead of 400m and neither of us were near Rx weights for the swings). It was an atrocious, nauseating, ear-throb inducing tragedy. In terms of conditioning, there was no where else to go but up. Now, we have more of an interest in the “most-fun-you-never-want-to-have-again” workouts like FGB (with a special preference for how DNA conducts it). Getting to prescription level was exciting as well as pushing for a higher score. Sometime early on, one of the trainers said “If you’re tired, you’re most likely not eating enough”. This was also something important to learn, but once we had our diet tuned to our macros (and spaced so we could fit them into one day), the afternoon sleepiness that traditionally followed lunchtime went away.

Q: Did you sleep better?

A: This is complicated to answer and not straight forward. Overall, we go to bed earlier now and have better sleep hygiene. But we are also drinking a lot more water, so we both have to get up to pee 1-2 times a night. Then there are the nights after a really intense, long workout in which we both have had problems sleeping. This has only happened twice. Neither of could sleep after the Memorial Day Hero Workout “Murph”. Sara could also not sleep after doing the “filthy fifty”. We suspect that there is an inverted-U shape curve with regards to physical activity and sleep.

Q: What is in a normal day’s menu?

A: We always start the day with 1-2 cups of black coffee. It does not have any calories, so it does not break the fast. Drew loves his coffee and likes to find fun facts about its benefits. Here is one fun fact: Coffee may ward off cavities!
Off days: Some sort of grilled protein (fish, lean beef, chicken), sauteed scallops or shrimp, riced cauliflower, salad (with yogurt-based salad dressing to cut fat- the brand is called Bolthouse Farms and is sold at Whole foods. Ranch and bleu cheese), nonfat greek yogurt with a little bit of blueberries, kefir and some other non-starchy vegetable. We avoid soy (except soy sauce, which is fermented), milk, corn, corn syrup and all grains. We still eat hamburgers and sandwiches, but with romaine or butter lettuce cups instead of buns. This is now our preference, as the bun takes away from the flavor of the protein and the lettuce adds a nice crunch making the texture better. Also, we have discovered a dark chocolate at Trader Joe’s with limited sugar and no soy lectin. Drew has one small square of this every night and Sara has one on off days only. It is a small indulgence that keeps us from craving other sweet things. Also, dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and good for your brain.
Training days: We start off at noon with ~20oz of sweet potato smoothie (2-4 sweet potatoes, 1 cup kefir, 1-2cups coconut water, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste)…yum! We cannot get enough of these. Rice with veggies, egg whites and chicken breast, grilled fish or shrimp, and more potatoes or rice. We may also eat a slice or 2 of rice/pecan gluten free bread with cinnamon (we make sure it is a bread without sugar). Cinnamon is an amazing substitute for sweetener. Sara puts it in yogurt, on bread and in smoothies. We also get carbs by eating organic gluten-free rice cereal with kefir. Our favorite is Erehwon. On Fridays, after training, we go for all-you-can eat sushi at Sushi Hama. We avoid the rolls and fill up on nigiri (ordering mainly lean fish, limited salmon, and no Krab). Finally, we still eat salad on these days, but not as much relative to the off days.

Q: Did you drink alcohol?

A: Very sparingly. We were both interviewing for academic jobs during this time, and would travel for this almost once a month. These interviews are 2-3 days and involve some wining and dining so we would typically have 1 drink at dinner, which was expected by search committees. The major change for us regarding our alcohol consumption is that there now has to be an occasion to drink. We both had a few drinks on the 4th of July and at Dave and Tina’s engagement party. Once, Sara had a beer after work for no reason but then went for a run immediately after, which made for a good run 🙂 Dave put the cost of drinking alcohol in perspective for us after we rowed our first 5K. It took Drew 19:59 and Sara ~22:00 minutes and it seemed hard. We burned around only 200 calories. Dave pointed out that we had just burned one beer. It seems easier to save the beer for something special. We should also note that with the exception of the engagement party, which fell on a Friday, we NEVER drink on training days. When we drink, there is also a big effort to eat lean protein and very little carbs.

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