May 2012 03
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Before


After

I’m sure you’ve previously read interviews of people who’ve lost a lot of weight. I’m betting most of them gushed on about how they discovered some magical fat loss trick that made the process effortless and melted off the pounds. That trick was probably encapsulated in some product sold by the interviewee, author or media outlet responsible for the interview.

This isn’t going to be one of those interviews. Make no mistake – our guest today has lost a lot of weight. But he’s not going to bullshit you and tell you how easy it was, nor is he going to feed you some self-aggrandizing tale about his impenetrable willpower. He’s not going to wank on about some magic diet, supplement or training routine he discovered that melted pounds off quicker than he could buy smaller clothes. And he definitely won’t be hitting you with a pitch for his new supplement line or DVD workout series; he doesn’t have any.

What you’re about to read is a refreshingly candid, honest and insightful account of one man’s weight loss journey; a journey that was ultimately successful but traversed some pretty rough and rocky terrain on the way.

Today you’re going to meet a formerly obese individual who succeeded in an endeavour at which most others fail. He’s going to explain exactly how it feels to shed over 120lbs of unwanted chub, and he’s going to share with you the strategies he employed en route to his remarkable transformation. He’s also going to share the mistakes, setbacks, frustrations, and insecurities that plagued him along the way. I believe this interview will prove infinitely more valuable to people hoping to lose weight than a lifetime’s worth of infomercial-like cheesy-grinned ‘success’ stories – there’s no sugar-coating here, just the plain truth, warts and all.

ANTHONY: Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to meet Muata Kamdibe. Muata, thanks a million for doing the interview.

MUATA: No problem Anthony.  I appreciate you inviting me to do an interview for your blog readers. It’s actually been a while since I’ve done an interview, so just ring a bell or something if I go off on a tangent or something …

A: No worries, tangent radar now activated. Alright, Muata, before we talk about the methods you used to go from obese to lean and muscular, let’s talk about the emotional and psychological changes you experienced. A lot of overweight people have been that way for so long they’ve forgotten just what it feels like to be lean, agile and fit. When I watched your CNN interview, I was reminded of that saying “Inside every fat person, there’s a slim person trying to get out”. You spoke about how, when you were overweight, you rationalized it away in your own mind by saying things like “Hey, I’m just a big dawg”. But when the weight started peeling off, you literally felt like a brand new person, you started thinking, “Wow, this is what the real me looks like!” That must have been a pretty awesome realization – tell us a bit more about what went on inside your head as you made your way from overweight to single digit body fat percentages.

M:  Oh yes, my CNN interview.  It’s funny because I kinda cringe when I watch it now, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.  But, I just want to clear up a couple of things.  First, I went below 10% body fat briefly, and that was while I was training with you.  I’ll explain more about that in a bit, but I didn’t want folks out there to think that I was walking around at an emaciated 177 pounds for an extended period of time.

Now, back to the emotional and psychological changes that occurred when I lost a bunch of weight.  In short, it was a roller coaster ride, with constant highs and lows. From 2003 to 2009, I went from feeling like Superman to fearing regaining my weight if I ate one doughnut.  One thing that I don’t think most people who’ve never been obese understand is the mental anguish that accompanies losing a lot of weight.  Oh, and the quicker you lose it, the more it plays on your mind.  You literally have to get used to the new you, physically and mentally.

Yes, it’s great to be the center of attention at work, and even more so when your story is featured on a major news outlet like CNN…but what happens when the lights go off?  What happens when folks at work start to watch you to see if you will keep it off this time?  What about that little voice of doubt in the back of your mind that’s constantly telling you that this time will be no different?  Does dieting harder and exercising more quiet that voice?  Is it sheer willpower that makes it finally shut up?

I said I cringe every time I see my CNN interview because behind my motivational story was a person who was dealing with a lot of psychological and emotional issues as a result of the “new” Muata.  Hell, it wasn’t until 2010 that I actually got used to seeing the slender face I see in the mirror every morning.

As with everything else in life, it simply takes time to wrap your mind around what you’ve accomplished.  It takes time to realize you will make mistakes along the way, and how and why you should embrace them.  More than anything else, it takes time to basically get over yourself and your fat loss story and move on with your life.

A: You’ve just displayed a level of honesty and candour rarely seen when people talk about their weight loss experiences…the only other place I’ve seen this kind of sentiment is in people discussing their experiences with serious eating disorders. Otherwise, it’s usually just ecstatic tales of being able to fit into smaller clothes, feeling more attractive, and so on. I can think of at least one well-known example, who shall remain nameless, who in the early 2000s began hyping his darling diet paradigm to anyone who’d listen, based on the ‘sensational’ weight loss he allegedly experienced, but has since ended up fatter and unhealthier than ever, he’s become a virtual poster boy for the ultimate futility of dietary faddism.

So I’m guessing you’d agree successful weight loss relies much more on psychological factors than what most people would realize? In other words, you can have access to the best diet and exercise strategies, but if your head isn’t the right place you’ll have a real hard time ever reaching your goal?

M: Absolutely!  There is only so much of following someone else’s exercise plan or diet that you can do without having to come to grips that you’ve got to figure out a lot of it for yourself.  And this is where the psychological factor comes in.  It kinda reminds me of an interview I heard former boxing champion Shane Mosley,  give many years ago.  He told the reporter that with the right trainer and nutritionist, anyone can get into great shape and be ripped, but having the mentality of a champion is something that can’t be taught.  Now, I wouldn’t say that to be a maintainer you have to have the mentality of a Floyd Mayweather, but you will have to realize that there comes a time when you will have to figure out and solve your own problems.

A: Muata, one of the main reasons I wanted to do this interview is because a lot of people have such a fatalistic view of weight loss. We hear the 95% failure rate bandied about ad nauseum. With all the idiotic fad diets out there, and the widespread disdain for exercise, and the fashionable pooh-poohing of calorie counting, sometimes I’m amazed people lose any weight at all. Can you share with readers the strategies you used to successfully lose weight? Before you answer, let’s do this in three parts, with part one being the phase where you lost a chunk of weight on your own – after that we’ll talk about the period where we worked together, and then we’ll discuss what you’re doing nowadays to keep in shape.

M:  Actually, I lost the majority of my weight following a fad diet!  In 2003, I decided to lose weight – again. It was a promise that I had made to myself the year before, and the year before that.  Like most obese folks, I had tried diet after diet to lose weight, only to regain whatever I had lost.  For whatever reason, in 2003, “doing” Atkins actually worked for me.  It got me down to a size I had previously reached taking weight loss pills from a doctor in Tijuana, which was 240-245 lbs.  At this point, I think the most fortunate thing happened to me and was one of the reasons I didn’t regain the weight.

In 2004, I was so thrilled with my effortless weight loss that I stopped exercising and promptly hit my first plateau that lasted the entire year.  I was fortunate because I was able to actually maintain my 60 pound loss for a good year.  This was truly a turning point for me because I had never maintained my lost weight. Although I wanted to lose more, I decided to view the fat loss glass as half-full.  Although I was a devout low-carber at the time, and wholeheartedly embraced the “calories don’t count” dogma, I knew that something had to give because I wanted to lose more weight.

So, after reading Greg Ellis’s Ultimate Diet Secrets I started to count calories, and in 2005, I started to lose weight again.  It was during this time that I was pretty obsessed with losing weight on the scale.  So, I went through periods of weighing myself on a daily basis.  I also started incorporating light resistance training into my routine since I was initially doing the cardio that most obese/overweight folks do (read: ellipticals and treadmills).

Unfortunately, at least that’s what I thought at the time, I hit another plateau after losing another 25 pounds.

A: Okay, so then the dreaded weight loss plateau hit, the scourge of dieters since time immemorial. Your body fat percentage got stuck in the mid-teens and you couldn’t get it to budge. That’s when you emailed me and asked if I’d help out. I still remember the ecstatic emails as you dropped below 10% body fat for the first time. Tell us in your own words what you remember from the time we worked together…something other than “Anthony is a sadistic bastard of a trainer who revels in the suffering of others” would be good (laughing). Seriously, what were some of the key things we employed that you feel were critical to smashing the plateau?

M: I have a smile on my face as I answer this because I really enjoyed reading and miss your old Omnivore site, which is what lead me to asking you to train me; you had some classic one-liners for Dean Ornish! No, seriously, the main things I learned from being “virtually” trained by you was the importance of resistance training and using multi-joint, compound movements/exercises.  I’d never heard of a dumbell snatch or doing deadlifts with a snatch grip.

Also, you introduced me to the classic 5 x 5 strength-building set and rep scheme that changed my view on lifting weights.  I had always hated doing 3 x 10 routines as I always got bored doing 10 reps of any exercise and felt my focus would wander.  So, following the 5 x 5 routines you outlined made training fun for me since I was usually finished with my entire workout in 45 minutes.

During this time, I had a lot of “firsts” that bring back good memories.  I did my first unassisted dip and chin-up.  It was the first time that I had no love handles.  It was also the first time that I was able to bench press my body weight for reps!  Oh, and it was the first, and only, time that I trained twice a day similar to an athlete.  When I dipped under 10% body fat, it was as a result of proper guidance and working my ass off.  However, there were some other firsts that I experienced that had nothing to do with your training me.

Actually, I don’t think that I ever shared this with you before Anthony, but it was during this time that I developed an eating disorder.  I was so intent on getting a six-pack that I didn’t want to eat as many calories as you were suggesting.  Although you clearly gave me my macro breakdowns and explained why I needed to eat X amount of carbs and protein, I felt that I was eating too many calories.  In my mind, 2300 calories was too much, despite the amount of training I was doing at the time or how much I weighed.

So, when I proudly proclaimed that I was part of the single-digit body fat club on your old Internet forum, I had a dirty secret that you, nor the other members, knew about.

A: So my comment about eating disorders before was somewhat prophetic. People will probably expect me to be shocked here, but after training people since the early 90s, nothing surprises me anymore. Clients routinely ‘embellish’ the facts about their compliance with the recommendations you’ve set out, and after a while you learn to analyse their comments and body language and you get a good idea of who’s not being totally straight up about their dietary habits. Of course, over the Internet that face-to-face contact is completely missing, so yeah, in your case I had no idea. We’ll talk more in a moment about whether diverging from my recommendations was a good or bad thing, but tell me…what does your diet and training look like these days? Do you regularly change your training around, or do you have one style of training you prefer? You’ve maintained your hefty weight loss and made some pretty impressive strength gains, so you’re obviously doing something right!

M: Nowadays, the eating disorder is behind me, and has been for a couple of years now, and training, not exercising, is just as much a part of my life as brushing my teeth.  Part of the reason I’ve maintained my losses is because I follow an active lifestyle, and my training is dictated by my life.  For instance, I love to train with dumbells and barbells, but I only do this when I live in a house because I hate going to a gym.  When I initially trained with you, I lived in a 4 bedroom house and had a complete gym with power rack and dumbells ranging from 2.5 to 70 pounds, with a boatload of plates.

So, for the past couple of years, I’ve been living in a town-house that has little to no extra space.  Therefore, I do a lot of bodyweight exercises and use my kettlebells during the “indoor” months, while I’ll usually do sandbag and dumbell training in the park during the summer.  When I move back into a house in a couple of years, I plan on building a lifting platform, and there’s a trap bar out there with my name on it just waiting for me to buy it!

As far as my training style, what’s funny is that the template is pretty much the same: compound, multi-joint movements.  One thing that I’ve added to my repertoire since I’m officially middle-aged now is walking with a weighted vest and using my exerstrider poles.

I hope you don’t mind me plugging Tom’s site and product, but I think that it’s something that your readers should check out.  These poles are much more than simply hiking poles or the usual Nordic Walking poles that you’ll find available almost everywhere.  Basically, using these poles makes walking a full-body activity that also makes it easier on the joints since the force of each step is being distributed evenly all over your body.  Tom goes into all the science and what muscles it works on his site www.walkingpoles.com, but for me, it just makes walking fun and enjoyable.  But, l do get funny stares from folks and stupid comments like, “Where’s the snow?” whenever I use them.

Oh, and I do joint mobility exercises I learned from Steve Maxwell every day.


Exerstriding along the beach

A: You made a distinction there between “training” and “exercising”. Care to elaborate?

M: Sure, and this is something I first learned from reading a few of the Pavel books you turned me on to back in the day.  Basically, I prefer to say that I train or practice because it shows that I’m trying to get better at a skill and not just going through the motions.  Whether I’m shouldering my sandbag, pressing a kettlebell, or doing a Jumping Jack, I want to do it with the mindset that there is always something that I can improve upon … be it add more weight, use better form, vary the speed, or what have you.  I leave exercising for folks that go to the chrome and fern gyms, to steal a line from Brooks Kubik’s Dinosaur Training

A: Like all of us, you’ve made some mistakes along the way. Tell us some of the things you wouldn’t do again, that you would discourage others from doing. I know you went through a phase where you were following a very-low-carb ketogenic diet, taking fat-burning supplements and doing HIIT – all at once! Holy catfish, Batman! I hope you sent your adrenals off for an all-expenses-paid break in Hawaii after that one! (Laughing)

M: Man, I was so fixated on getting a six-pack and fearing carbs that I actually followed a keto diet for close to a year.  And, yeah, I was taking the fat burners that the “professional” bodybuilders recommended on one of the sites I was reading at the time.  I can’t remember the name of one, but it was a see-through capsule and had some sort of double helix looking configuration inside for “sustained” release.  Oh, and I was also taking a supplement stack that was supposed to help with my joint health.  At one point, I was taking no less than 15-20 pills a day!  I was also following, or should I say mis-following, Mike Mahler’s High Frequency Training Kettlebell protocol 5-6 days a week.  And to top it all off, I would go for walks around my apartment complex wearing a 20 pound vest 4 or 5 days a week.  I was doing entirely too much training and never gave a second thought about recovery.  It was all “balls to the walls” training until I damn near hit the wall … in my living room.

A: Huh?!

M: That’s right, all of my ill-advised overtraining caused me to faint twice! Both times it happened, I had just finished urinating. The first time, I made it out of the bathroom before I did my imitation of a whirling dervish before landing on my face inches away from a wall in my living room.  You’d think that would’ve been enough of a warning for me, but nooooo.  I had to experience it again, but this time I didn’t even make it out of the bathroom.  I simply collapsed right in front of the toilet.  Fortunately, I fell straight down on my ass and ended up in lotus position.  To this day, I get chills thinking what would’ve happened if I had fallen forward or backwards.

Needless to say, damn near head-butting my toilet was a wake-up call for me.  So, I stopped taking all the supplements and training like an idiot.  I had to learn the hard way that there are no magic supplements, diets or programs, and, most of all, there are no damn short cuts!

A: Bloody hell, I’m having visions of reading the daily newspaper and seeing “Man Found Dead After Head-Butting Toilet” on page 5. Thankfully you shut the door on that whole episode. Something I feel bears emphasizing is that you’re not some Internet jockey with too much free time on his hands, you’re a “real” person employed full-time in academia and a very proud father. Like everyone else, you’ve been through your share of personal trials and tribulations, but you’ve kept in shape the whole way through. How did you do it, when so many others let their training and nutrition go to hell every time some kind of life challenge raises its head?

M: You know, one quote from Michael Jordan always resonated with me.  Part of the quote, and I’m paraphrasing, simply states that, “I’ve failed so many times in my life … that’s why I succeed.”  Listen, since I started my journey in 2003, I’ve been through two divorces, child custody issues, and problems at my job.  However, what I finally came to grips with is that none of these things were an excuse for me to fall back into my over-eating and sedentary ways.  I can’t speak for other obese, or formerly obese, folks but I’m very clear about why I was carrying around 100+ pounds.  So, as I’ve shared on my blog before, it was my size 36 pants that kept me honest.  And, there were many times when they were tight because I started to regain weight; I’m not ashamed to admit this because it’s all part of the process.  But, I refused to buy a larger size!

So, each time my pants were getting tight, I had to sit down and, instead of beating myself up as I did pre-2003, simply analyse why it was happening.  And, what’s funny is that it wasn’t always as a result of my being a glutton.  For instance, I remember I moved from an apartment that was on the third floor to one that was closer to the ground floor.  I had no idea how much this would affect my calorie burn throughout the day.  Also, I was spending more time behind the computer.  My eating habits didn’t really change, and I was still training.  I was simply less active, so I started to regain.  By not berating myself, I was able to see what I needed to tweak to get my jeans fitting back properly.

I guess more than anything else, I’ve learned how to take a lot of the emotions out of the process, but this has taken years to do.  In the beginning, fat loss is all about emotions.  From the exhilaration of losing it, to the attention, to the fear of regaining it, to the disappointment of seeing the scale move in the wrong direction.  Once the weight is lost, there has to be a period that you believe this time will be different because you have much more control than you think.

I’ve finally realized that this journey is one of self-mastery.  It’s much larger than losing weight or even maintaining the losses.  It’s about becoming the best YOU that you can be.  I know it may sound like some motivational hooey, but, for me at least, it’s not.  If you don’t change your way of approaching life, how is losing weight going to really benefit you?  Why do you think so many folks regain weight after having bariatric surgery? I think it’s a lot more complicated than they just went back to their old habits …

A: Something that never ceases to amaze me is the modern-day Internet obsession with wanking on about every last aspect of metabolic minutiae, all the while ignoring the most basic fundamentals of nutrition and exercise. People can play the expert and bang on 24/7 about co-enzymes and uncoupling proteins and acetylation and esterification and methylation and yadayada, but talk is just that – talk. If they eat more than their fill and don’t exercise regularly and intelligently, then they’re still going to look like shit. I won’t name anyone in particular, but it doesn’t exactly take a neurosurgeon to instantly think of a few prominent examples. I know you have strong feelings about this…vent, bro, vent! Tell all those Internet-addicted jokers just why they desperately need to push themselves away from their idiot-screens and get outside!

M:  OK, and to shamelessly take from one of my favourite shows, Family Guy, what really grinds my gears about the recent crop of what I like to call masturbating Internet intellectuals is that they can talk, or rather post, all day about the minutiae of fat loss or gaining muscle without showing the results themselves.  So, we now have a cadre of bloggers and regular commentators who can wank on and on … oh, I’ve always wanted to use that expression in an interview … citing this or that Pubmed study or use jargon from a specialized field, yet are still obese or weak.  It’s actually mind-blowing to read folks argue that calories don’t count, yet are willing to explain why cold therapy interacts with some sort of ancient epigenetics that’s been deactivated because obesity is actually caused from inflammation in the brain.  I mean, WTF?  Do, I really have to be well versed in Archaeology or be a Palaeontologist to lose fat?

Also, folks who do actually realize that “Eat Less, Move More” is simply a template, tend to get carried away with macro breakdowns; however, they aren’t willing to track their calories for more than a few weeks.  Give me a break!  I mean, how silly is it for an obese person to really concern him or herself with how many grams of protein vs. starchy carbs they eat before noon?  Yes, I understand that macros are of some importance, especially for athletes, but I still contend that folks needing to lose 75 to 100 pounds need to focus on simply eating less food!  The reality is that if you’re used to eating a whole damn pizza in one sitting, a good starting point to lose the chub is to just eat half, pat yourself on the back, and call it a day.

Nutrition and training don’t have to be that complicated; as a matter of fact, the more simple they are, the more likely you’ll be consistent.  There was a reason that Bruce Lee once said, “Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”

A: Consistency has to be one of the most important but highly underrated aspects of getting and staying in shape. People get all gung-ho and diet for, like, 3 weeks, then get bored or go bonkers from hunger, then quit…until the next flavour of the month fad comes along. You see this all the time in weight training too…people obsess over whether to perform 6 or 8 or 12 reps, whether you should point your toes up or down during leg curls, whether you should space your hands 10 or 14 inches apart when doing close-grip benches, whether they should do PITT-Force/Max-OT/Dogcrapp/Heavy Duty/MuscleNow/Westside/Sheiko/Bulgarian/Romanian/East Pennsylvanian training. Here’s a revolutionary idea: turn the computer off, and just go lift some damn weight, for chrissakes! I’ll put my money on the guy who consistently gives an honest effort on the basic exercises for an hour or so in the gym three times a week over these jokers who are always neurotically jumping from one routine to another.

It reminds me of when I was younger and we used to go clubbing. No sooner had we settled in X club, everyone was wondering what was going on at Y club. Meanwhile, the crowd at Y club was wondering whether they should have gone to X club instead. It was this weird phenomenon that, no matter where you were, you wondered if the real party was happening somewhere else, even though the place you were in was packed to the rafters (laughing). And so it is with a lot of folks on the Internet these days; no sooner do they start one routine, they read about another on their favourite forum and wonder if they would be better off following that one instead. And the end result is that even if they stumble across an effective routine, they don’t stick with it long enough to give it a chance to work, they’re just engaged in a continual game of swapping and switching. People need to stop getting side-tracked by every convincing-sounding but conflicting theory out there, and to stop making it so much harder and more complicated than it needs to be. Long before the birth of the Internet and the subsequent fifty or so million ‘ultimate’ training routines that followed, there were people getting in awesome shape simply by picking heavy things up and putting them down again 3 to 6 times a week, and getting on their bikes and riding fast in one direction for 20 miles or so, turning around and riding fast in the other direction.

What the Internet has done, I’m afraid, is shift the emphasis from actually getting stuff done to intellectualizing about stuff. Too much theorizing, not enough doing.

M: Exactly!!!  And, it’s for this very reason that I’ve decided not to blog for this entire year.  The information highway (remember that name?) is one of the major contributors to folks leading a sedentary lifestyle, and I’m just floored with the amount of time and energy many bloggers spend in front of their computers.  Hell, I know that back in the 2008 and 2009, I would literally spend hours a day working on my blog.  I was writing more about training that I was actually training!  So, when I see a blog post with close to ONE THOUSAND comments, I’m just dumbfounded and wonder am I the only one that notices a problem with this growing trend?  So, we’re living in the times of the Internet-addicted, obese folks, who can explain all the inner workings of WAT fat versus BAT fat, but still can’t explain why they’re still struggle with their weight … OK, rant over.

A: Another thing that irks me is the widespread disregard for exercise. People need to know this right now: You can lose weight without it, but chances are you’ll still look like crap. If you want to get that attractive, glowing, taut, athletic look to your body, then you’ve got to exercise it. Period. Muscles don’t firm and strengthen themselves from dieting, nor from sitting at a computer all day barking nonsense on blogs and forums. The hatred of exercise seems particularly strong in the low-carb camp, where it’s either denigrated or marketed in some variant of the old “Build muscle and lose all the fat you want in only 20 minutes per week!” nonsense. My firm belief is that the same kind of people who are suckered in by the metabolic advantage fantasy are the same kind of folks who want to believe they can lose all their excess chub with no or minimal exercise. What do you think?

M: I think you’re right, but you know what, I also think that it’s semantics at work here.  For instance, folks will say that exercise is good for overall health but does nothing for losing weight because it makes you hungry.  While Taubes didn’t invent this BS, he has sure popularized it over the last couple of years.  But, this is what I find funny about this fuzzy logic.  Being hungry doesn’t mean that a person has to over eat.  This is simply a poor excuse in my opinion.

A: Actually, that’s a good point. Hunger is a perfectly normal and healthy physiological response. And there’d be something wrong if you transitioned from sedentary to highly active and didn’t experience a concomitant increase in hunger. I’m talking about genuine hunger here, not “I’m bored and it’s been a whole hour since I last visited the vending machine” eating-for-the-sake-of-eating hunger. Greater demand on the body means greater energy and nutrient requirements. In fact, I think that’s one of the huge advantages of exercise: You can lose weight and stay lean without having to follow the diet of an anorexic fashion model. The key is sticking with intelligent food choices and not using exercise as an excuse to go ahead and eat all that calorie-rich crap that deep down inside you know you shouldn’t be eating. I cite a review by Titchenal in The Fat Loss Bible showing that for most folks, any increase in caloric intake that accompanies exercise is overridden by the increased energy expenditure that accompanies their training regimen. But you need to be training with sufficient volume – eating like a pro cyclist while training on one of these low-volume/”abbreviated”/super-slow routines, that are fashionable in some circles, where your calorie burn is drastically attenuated is not going to give a happy outcome.

M: Speaking of excuses, I think that the term exercise needs to be removed from the equation because it gives folks an easy out.  Whenever folks would ask me how I lost the weight, if I said diet and exercise, they would tell me that they don’t have time to exercise.  They are more than willing to diet, but they would give me a million-and-one excuses why they don’t have time to exercise.  Well, you know what Anthony, I don’t tell folks to exercise any more because, and I’m being generous here, 95 percent of the population aren’t willing to put in the consistent hard work needed to truly transform their bodies.

A: Mate, I hear you loud and clear on this one. After twenty-five or so years of people I meet in shops or at functions asking me “how can I lose weight?”, it’s gotten to the point where I just try and change the subject, because I know 99 percent of them simply don’t want to hear the truth. I’ve lost count of the times people have asked me, with a straight face, “isn’t there some way I can do it without exercise?” Sure, you can eat like a bloody sparrow and starve yourself, but not only is that a crappy way to go about it, you wouldn’t do it anyway because you just told me you don’t want to give up your “favourite” foods, which is code for “calorie-rich shit”. So you don’t want to take responsibility for your dietary habits and start eating sensibly, and you don’t want to exercise, because you’ve become so pathetically lazy that the very idea makes you grimace. So what exactly do you want me to tell you? That if you simply stand on one foot for a few minutes twice a week and fart to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon”, fat will magically start melting off you? C’mon…

These same people would look at me funny if I asked them how I could become filthy rich without doing a single day’s work, but they earnestly ask if there’s a way to get in shape without making any effort. And people with this mentality are everywhere.

M: And, this is nothing new, at least not in the US.  Reading books written by physical culturists from the late 18th and early 19th century reinforce the fact that a small amount of the population are into becoming stronger, leaner, or more muscular.  These same authors also confirm that folks are willing to fall for BS if it’s packaged just right and requires very little effort on their part.

So, if folks want to denigrate exercise and say it’s useless or that they don’t have time, I simply say right on.  BUT, how about being less sedentary and more active.  OK, you don’t have time to exercise, but do you have time to not be sitting on your ass watching TV for hours on end?  What about not being behind your computer for six hours at a time?  If folks want to demonize exercise, be my guest.  But, please explain to me the benefits of being a couch potato on your health.

A: Muata, are there any books or Internet resources you’d recommend to people looking to lose weight, build muscle, or just improve their overall knowledge of diet and training?

M:  For folks that are interested in science-based fat loss, you know that I have to plug your The Fat Loss Bible, which is well referenced.  I like the way you cut through a lot of the myths being propagated by the low-fat and low-carb crowds.  For folks looking for a more psychological approach to fat loss, I suggest Tom Venuto’s The Body Fat Solution.  A brief list of folks that I think your readers will benefit from checking out are Steve Maxwell, Dan John, Brooks Kubik, Ross Enamit, Alan Aragon, James Krieger, Bill Hinbern, Will Brinks, Evelyn aka CarbSane, Dr. Andro, Tony Gentilcore, and Nick Horton.  In addition to Googling these folks, the website The Tight Tan Slacks of Deszo Ban is definitely worth reading. I’m sorry, but I just can’t get enough of old-school physical culture.  You can blame ole’ Coach Maxwell for that …


A very dapper Muata at CNN’s 2008 Fitnation Summit.

A: Hey, nothing wrong with the old school training, I love it. Anyway, enough of this diet and training stuff, let’s tackle the issues that really matter: Who do you tip to win UFC 145 … Jon Jones or Rashad Evans? [Note: I didn’t get a chance to post this interview prior to UFC 145, but Muata’s prediction wasn’t too far off the mark: the fight went the full five rounds, with Jones winning by unanimous decision]

M: I think that Evans is going to get worked!  To put it mildly.  Jon Jones is a phenom and represents the future of MMA.  I actually see Jones submitting Evans in the same manner he did Rampage Jackson.  He just has too many weapons and ways to win, while Evans can only hope to land a big punch or kick.  I pick Jones by submission in the 4th round.

A: What do you like to do with your time when you’re not teaching or training?

M: In my spare time, I dance salsa.  While I’m not at the level to go on Dancing With the Stars, I can definitely hold my own.  I took my first salsa class well over 10 years ago when I was weighing over 300 pounds.  I just recently re-took the class, with the same teacher, a few weeks ago, and it’s amazing how much lighter I feel on my feet now.  I also started back playing the congas, and growing vegetables.  In January, I set-up my indoor grow tent and germinated close to 100 veggie plants.  I eventually gave the majority of them away to co-workers and students.  While I grew all of these plants the traditional way (that is in dirt), I’m really a home hydroponic gardener.  I plan on setting up my 4 x 4 ebb and flow table for my hot peppers in a week or two.

A: Man, I love chilli peppers. Who needs drugs when you have scorching hot jalapenos?

M: I hear you, and the funny thing is that I can’t handle hot peppers any more, but I love growing them. Go figure.  I’ll be sure to send you pics.  Oh yeah, I’m also back to playing a lot more chess.  Thanks to the free smartphone app “Chesspresso” I play (and get my ass kicked daily) with folks from all over the world.

A: The end of the world is coming in 24 hours (not really, but humour me). How would you spend your last day on Earth?

M: With my son playing Guaguanco on the congas; hoping our rhythms would please the Orishas (and Zeus) to save the world …

A: What book are you currently reading?

M: I’m half-way through the June 1940 issue of Strength and Health magazine.  I’ve started to collect these old-school magazines.  I’m also re-reading Jim Schmitz Olympic Style Weighlifting and just picked up Nick Horton’s e-book Samurai Strength (another book on Olympic Weightlifting). I just finished reading Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do, and only have a few chapters left to read in Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated. I’m waiting anxiously for Brooks Kubik’s latest piece on John Grimek, and can’t wait for John Wood to put out The Dellinger Files II.

A: Favourite movie?

M: I’m actually more of a documentary type guy, and if it has anything to do with obesity or the obesity epidemic, I’ve probably seen it already and shown it to one of my classes.  But there are three extremely silly/funny movies that I can watch over and over again:  Pootie Tang, Stepbrothers, and Napoleon Dynamite.

A: What tracks would you throw on your ultimate workout CD?

M: Oh, my ultimate workout CD would have Sade’s greatest hits and John Coltrane for my joint mobility exercises.  When I start training, it would have to have a mix of KRS-One, Jay-Z, Chimaira, Hatebreed, Don Omar, Tego Calderon, Sizzla, Public Enemy, Bounty Killa, Beenie Man, and my Salsa Thundermix!

A: Muata, before we sign off, let the readers know where your blog is at so they can keep up with your latest posts and tips.

M: Well, as I’ve said I’m not blogging this year, so my blog may seem defunct.  Nevertheless, I have a good five years’ worth of posts that folks new to my blog may find interesting.  I’m still on the fence if I’ll even go back to blogging since I plan on getting into Olympic Weightlifting, which, as you know Anthony, takes a lot of time and work to get the technique down.  At any rate, here’s my blog’s address:  www.mrlowbodyfat.com.  I do have up to date pictures of myself there since there are enough weight loss bloggers out there with outdated pics on their sites.  Also, anyone interested can also send a friend request to me on Facebook.

A: Alright bro, it’s been a pleasure as always. Now hurry up and get your butt down to Australia so we can shoot the breeze over an Island Sting or two, and so you can discover all the natural wonders of this vast, spacious, sunburnt country … you know, like the perennially clogged roads of Melbourne that make LA’s freeways look empty (laughing). Seriously, once you hug your first Koala or lie back on a sandy white beach where you can look out over the ocean and not see a single oil rig, you’ll be smitten. And I know you’ll love the fact we have four of the world’s 10 most venomous snake species down here…but don’t let that put you off…as long as you’re within 30 minutes of a hospital it’s no big deal…Muata?…You still there bro? (Laughing)

M: Snakes?  Well, you’ve guaranteed my mom won’t be coming with me, she’s deathly afraid of them.  While I’m visiting, remind me to tell you about the time when I was seven and she stomped my friend’s rubber snake to death.  No, seriously, I have met a couple of good folks in Australia and can’t wait to visit, especially to go riding with you, which is something I haven’t done in years.  I just hope that you have an extra testes-saving seat for me because that’s one of the reasons I stopped riding …

A: Another great loss to cycling due to the ball-bashing nature of modern bike saddle design…sigh. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure I’ve got an Adamo-equipped bike for you when you get here. Muata, thanks heaps for doing the interview, take care!

M: Thanks for interviewing me Anthony and you do the same!

Anthony Colpo is an independent researcher, physical conditioning specialist, and author of The Fat Loss Bible and The Great Cholesterol Con. For more information, visit TheFatLossBible.net or TheGreatCholesterolCon.com

Copyright © Anthony Colpo.

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