Start Taking Your Life Seriously, Mate

When 70’s Big began, it was a stark contrast to several workout themes that were popular online. First, it was a detraction from the CrossFit/Zone and conventional fitness mentality that resulted in a man being a waif. Men are supposed to be burly and brawny. They shouldn’t be fat nor a willowy stalk, but instead own a stature of impressiveness. Secondly, our philosophy focused on achieving such a physique through the trials of strength training as opposed to aesthetic focused training. It’s easy to identify a lifter from the upper body boys that populate most fitness gyms; the lifter’s muscular structure carries broad traps, a bouldered back, and evenly tree-trunked legs.

There were other themes early on, like encouraging competition and opening the door to females to train, but the emphasis of the site started with extending one middle finger upward to the societal norm while the other fist powered skyward (or into another man’s face in slow motion). Our core group of guys that inspired the website trained hard and ate lots, yet we were all in our early twenties. The dietary intake the focuses on mass caloric intake isn’t something that can or should be sustained in the long term. It’s time to sort your fucking life out, mate.

I’ve adapted this phrase for use in the workshops in Australia. If someone acknowledges they aren’t using mobility appropriately, eating well, or doing something that would help their recovery, I’ll say, “Well, it’s time to start taking your life seriously, mate.” It’s most often used regarding dietary topics, since most guys aren’t putting much effort into what they eat.

If you agree with the above philosophy — that a strong, muscular, and athletic athletic man is most impressive — then ignoring food quality won’t get you there (or if it has, it won’t keep you there). Here are some topics that I’ve been developing with my mate Shannon that can help you start taking your dietary life more seriously.

Eat A Stronger Brekkie
Your first meal of the day will help tweak and control your hormones and therefore energy levels. If you don’t eat anything, then start eating a fat/protein rich meal. If you rely on whey protein, as I used to, then have some eggs or meat. The carb content doesn’t need to be extraordinary unless you’re training early in the morning. If you don’t have much time, then prepare an egg casserole or meat the night before. It also doesn’t take long to cook a few eggs that you can throw down the hatch along with some whey (with the point being that “meat + whey” is better than whey alone). Remember to get a quality fat source via eggs or oil (coconut or olive) — your afternoon energy level will thank you.

Eat A Variety
If you eat the same thing every day, then aim to vary up your food choices. We base everything in training on the stress/adaptation cycle; if you accept this, then it shouldn’t be absurd to think that your body won’t get adapted to a monotonous diet. The same goes for meat choices; if you only eat ground beef, try out another animal like lamb or pork. Get different cuts and see how many animals you can eat in a week. I’m less of a fan of turkey and chicken, but different protein sources will provide balance in a diet.

Also, if you eat the same types of meals every day, then see if you can vary them up. Always have a shake mid-morning and a solid meal at lunch? Occasionally switch them up. You’re probably not developing a food intolerance, but the variety will prevent it. Oh, and if you are eating “clean” and not having any change in your body composition (especially having an improvement at first), then you need to vary it yesterday.

The Carbohydrate Continuum
A lifter doesn’t actually need a lot of carbohydrates to function. Training for an hour or two is not enough to deplete muscle glycogen stores, despite what stupid-ass bodybuilding mags might claim. However, carbs are useful for spiking insulin, an anabolic hormone. However, the trainee needs to have a healthy sensitivity to insulin for this “spike” and anabolic effect to work. Trainees who do lots of high intensity conditioning and endurance athletes will need a larger carbohydrate intake (relative and absolute) given that they are tapping into that substrate source, but a lifter doesn’t require them to fuel their training (other than as maintenance and caloric content). Have carbs densely around the training session, yet getting them through vegetable sources throughout the day will help the sensitivity to insulin and also provide a lot of quality nutrients to help with systemic inflammation. Remember that “systemic inflammation” is exacerbated with crappy food and it will inhibit your recovery.

A Nice Stone Glass of…
Don’t like vegetables? Lamenting about not eating brownies every night? Can’t eat enough calories if it’s all clean food? Look, you aren’t Michael Phelps; the maximum effective range of an excuse is zero meters. This isn’t just about properly fueling your body to recover optimally about training, it’s also setting you up so you can train (and do dirty things to your wife) when you’re an old, yet jacked, geezer. Start taking your life seriously, mate.

42 thoughts on “Start Taking Your Life Seriously, Mate

  1. Awesome post.

    I’m wanting to get into more mobility work, at the moment I just do the odd stretch and a bit of foam rolling, but the Mobwod blog is a fucking minefield! I don’t really know where to start. Justin, could you write up a beginners program or recommend any specific mobility work for an average strength trainer? That would help a lot man.

    Keep fighting the good fight, sir.

  2. Very nice post, I figured as a heavier guy, who trains 3-4 times a week, that my carb reqs. weren’t all that high and that I needed to eat clean but it is fun to eat magic shell after lifting and pretend I’m doing something beneficial to the cause.

  3. Do you think it’s worth it to get “pastured” eggs–those that come from chickens that are allowed to take their lives seriously and scavenge/move around and therefore eat an omnivorous diet? I have a few suppliers that I could get them from but they cost like $4.50/doz or more compared to the $1.50/dozen I get in the 90-packs from Costco.

    Also, this post reminded me of this old video:

  4. Oh cool, a posted directed at me specifically. Thanks for not coming up and flat out calling me a dickhole, dude.

    Also, before my final yesterday my Prof said “Let’s get serious.” in his heavy North African accent. I lol’d until I was done the first question.

  5. Found a supplier of raw milk. Score! Damn this stuff tastes so much better than regular milk.

    Question for the guys that have been doing bench for a number of years. I’m 41, 6’0″ tall and around 190. Had a shoulder injury and never did bench until about 5-6 weeks ago. Started at 165 max and now I’m attempting 215 for a new pr tonight. I’m going to keep grinding this out but at what point do the gains come slower? Is 10lbs a month about right? Want to hit 300 by Xmas.

  6. Great post. As an early morning lifter (dictated by family/job), I generally train well-hydrated but fasted since the night before. After training I have a whey shake + banana + oatmeal, so that gives me a good insulin spike post-workout. The rest of the day I eat very clean.

    Adding in the post-workout carbs (oatmeal & bananas) is recent as of a month ago and it seems to have fueled some gains. Would it be safe to assume that the fasted training in early AM isn’t holding me back from further gains?

  7. I’m all about the egg casserole for brekkie. Bake one Sunday night, and you’re good for about four or five breakfasts. A dozen eggs, pound (or more) of beef, some kale or spinach for health, and mushrooms for flavor. Just microwave a slice, drink a cup of milk, and you’re at about 50g of protein. If you’re a big fella, toss a scoop of whey in your milk. Try something like this:

    @Maslow: Hard to say if pastured is worth it – it’s a steep upcharge – but it does change the nutritional value of the eggs. Mark Sisson has a good summary of the different chicken labels. ( What matters is what the chickens are fed – they’re not natural vegetarians, since they forage on bugs when they have the chance. “Pastured suggests that the birds lived on pasture and got some of their food from the pasture environment . . . Chickens, unlike cows, don’t have the digestive ability to live on pure grass, but the inclusion of fresh pasture sources in their diet naturally boosts the nutritional content (vitamins and omega-3s) of the poultry.”

  8. @emptyburns: I lift in the morning, too, and there’s usually a huge difference in performance if I’ve shoveled down some carbs beforehand. A big fruit smoothie is easy in the morning.

    On carb needs: How much does this vary from person to person? I was concentrating all of the carbs from fruits/grains around my workouts for a while. Veggies with other meals. I was tired ALL THE TIME. I get plenty of sleep (at least 8), and I was napping like a crazy fool. I recently added some fruit/grains throughout the day, and I can function again. I haven’t noticed a change in body composition. But even if I did, I’d take it. I’d rather be a little fatter but awake.

  9. @Maslow

    I’m no expert of course, but I prefer to eat commercially raised beef and eggs and just supplement some fish oil to improve omega ratios.

    Paying 2-3x more for pastured beef / eggs / whatever doesn’t seem worth it, and I haven’t seen anything conclusive that suggests there is something wrong with commercially raised product aside from fucked up omega ratios.

  10. @Terrible – Personally, I’ll splurge on pastured stuff occassionally, but yeah, there’s nofuckinway I’ll pay for grass-fed meat on the reg.

  11. @bedhead03 – Thanks, good luck with it. Try some rotel on top.

    @utexas61 – No personal opinion, but, FWIW, here’s what Justin said on the subject last year:

    “[D]oing “intermittent fasting” will be fucking useless if you’re actually trying to train and grow muscle. I can’t think of a shittier way to prepare for hard training sessions than not eating any calories. For the record, I think IF isn’t an optimal way to drop body fat either. And before anyone posts to defend it, I don’t really care: it isn’t a way of eating that is going to be optimal for long term health and is just fucking with hormone levels.”

  12. I used to only eat Paleo for a time but I’m approaching the end of my LP and so I’m not super worried about caloric quality, just caloric density. I still eat pretty well but I’m fine with a burrito post-workout. I plan on cleaning up my diet once I’m fully on a weekly progression.

  13. @karibot – thanks for your input. I’ll experiment with different “faster” carbs pre-workout, but there’s usually ~20 minutes between the alarm going off and my warm-up so not much time to digest.

  14. Thanks for the responses everyone. I always figured taking my 4 grams of fish oil should cover the omega issue, and I eat plenty of vegetables for minerals etc. I do agree that the pastured ones taste much better and look prettier.

  15. @emptyburns: I hear you. If I know I’m going to be really pressed for time the next morning, I’ll throw everything (frozen berry mix, a banana, some OJ) in the pitcher the night before and stick it in the fridge. All you have to do in the morning is blend it up and drink.
    Worst case scenario: scarf down a banana or two on your way to the gym. Bananas come pre-wrapped, so it’s easy to eat on the go.

    Speaking of food on the go: I’d like everyone to know that I ate a post-workout ribeye with my bare hands while I was driving to class today. I was still eating it as I walked into the class that I teach.

  16. What are peoples thoughts on the eating 5-6 meals a day? To me, it is a nightmare, inconvenient and too time consuming. Is this entirely necessary? I am borderline fat, I weigh about 231-233 with a waist line of 38. is the 5-6 meals a day necessary?

  17. Cleaning up my diet, being consistent in my training and living a more active life in general has taken me from 240 at 5’8″ with 35% bf to 195 with 16% bf. still getting stronger btw

  18. aramirez;

    As far as I’m aware, that ‘5 – 6 meals a day to keep the metabolic fires burning’ thing is horseshit. I’m pretty sure it’s been tested repeatedly and shown to be a dietary myth. Three meals a day is fine.

  19. +1 to what Dave H said.

    Aramirez- I’ve been exactly where you are (235-240 at 5’10 with a 38″ waist). 3 meals a day comprised mainly of protein from meat, a few veggies, and just enough carbs to support your activity level will keep you full and lean you out over time. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

    That’s not to say it’s easy. But it’s up to you to do it.

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  21. as far as Pasture fed meats go its well worth it.. its not just the omega 3 / 6 ratio that is skewed… its on a deeper level than that a commercially farmed animal is like a fat sedentary person who sits at a desk all day eating bread… a pasture fed free range animal looks a little like justin and wild meat looks more like Doug Young! so considering you are what you eat, what do you want to eat?? … theres also pesticides to consider, the fact that the meat is generally pumped with antibiotics because the animals are sick just like old mate sitting at the desk eating shit food… not to mention the taste is far better it doesn’t taste like a sack of wet assholes when its ligit grass fed free range meat… if you can’t afford it stop being a pussy and go rob a bank!! no seriously then if you get the shit stuff buy lean cuts as the toxins are generally in the fat munch keeps of fish oil… buy grass fed every second or 3rd time this is going to limit your toxic exposure over the years.. the problem is with this stuff that you don’t see any difference till its too late.. 40-50 years down the track is when you get all these nice things like cancers and stuff…

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