72 days to lose the gut challenge — Staying the course

Day 37

Good morning to you. It looks like summer is finally starting to be brave enough to show us an ankle. Let’s hope the weather Gods will soon be open for the business of beaching. — After all, — Christmas is around the corner and South Africans aren’t exactly into “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” Give me a sandy beach towel and some Coppertone any day.

I have to say that yesterday was not that easy for me, coming off the fast. I felt quite flat during the early afternoon. My first meal since Sunday was a huge salad from Woollies, to which I added a bag of grass-fed biltong. While this all tasted delicious and ticked all the nutritional boxes, I got that post-meal sleepy feeling and actually had to lie down for 20minutes

There are 11 days left in phase 2 of the program. You should be eating the calories as recommended at the start of phase 2. These are quite small adjustments, but it’s important to remember that you arrived at phase 2 in better shape than when you started out, which means that you needed to make adjustments to the quantities you are eating if you want to maintain the momentum of this course.

Your workout sessions, as prescribed at the start of phase 2, are laid out in detail, and all you have to do, is follow the instructions. This is the boring slogging part of the challenge. It requires that you show up, even after the early butterflies have disappeared. By now you have lost a good amount of fat. Know that you are also gaining muscle, so the scale may not look like it is budging much. It boils down to how you are feeling and what you look like. If the scale says you’ve only lost 5Kg’s, it may be that you have lost 7Kg’s of fat, whilst gaining 2Kg’s of muscle. Look at the way your clothes are fitting. Have you dropped a few belt sizes? — then you’re on the right track.

So keep at it.

Also know that the results you see, are cumulative. You may be on a consistent trajectory when it comes to losing weight and gaining muscle, but the changes you see visually, the one’s that show off your oblique muscles, the one’s that make your jaw muscles flex every time you eat that celery stick, — those changes seem to really pop at you during the last phase of the program.

You’re in a positive virtuous cycle, because the more muscle you pack on, the more that muscle needs to maintain itself, to feed itself. This requires more nutrients. The leaner you are, the hotter your metabolic furnace burns, and you win every time, because your body actually wants more food just to maintain.

The only irritating thing about getting quite lean is that you get cold quicker. When I hit around 5%, I can’t even step into the Woolworths frozen meat aisle, for fear of catching frostbite….

I want to encourage you to stay the course. It’s not easy to stay focused and committed when you are only accountable to yourself. This is why one designs programs that take away the guess-work. I don’t want you to waste time and energy deliberating over which exercise to do, or which plate of food to order. Simply follow the prescribed steps and you will arrive at a destination which makes you feel fantastic about yourself. It’s a personal journey and it involves a bit of “kakking off” as they say in SA. Lean into discomfort, make the chore your friend, because the magic is found when the dues have been paid.


One of the most common questions I hear is, what should I eat before I train?

While the answer to this falls into a gray area, the real question should actually be… “Should I be eating before I train?”

Personally, I find having to eat before a workout to be a bit of an inconvenience. I don’t always want to wait for 2 hours before I hit the gym. I train hard, and the thought of re-acquainting myself with my lunch is also not a turn-on.

The existing misconception is that we feel that working out creates an environment where nutrients are more readily absorbed into the system. While this is correct, the misunderstanding lies in the length of time it takes for your muscles to receive the nutrients. If you eat many hours before training, there’s actually still plenty of food and fuel to help you train and to build muscle. The rate of digestion varies greatly in people and can be attributed to activity levels, age, stress and even the size of your body.

Research shows that you can absorb a gram of protein at a rate of between 1 gram per hour and 10 grams per hour. This is why whey protein digests quickest and egg protein takes the longest to digest.

Do the math with a meal that has 50grams of protein in it. Absorption can last anywhere from 5 hours to 50 hours. This is a huge range of time, but it should give you an idea that your pre-workout meal can happen many hours before you train.

I don’t eat before I train, and my body has adapted to an environment that does not require additional food, to perform at peak levels. My body has adapted to this and pulls energy (for the workout) from other sources, such as fat stores. The absorption is more efficient since there is no food in the system.

If you’re still concerned about not eating before training, understand this… When you fast before you train, your levels of hydration and the sleep you’ve had, play a significant role in your performance. Poor sleep and hydration can have a much bigger impact on your training, than not having that shake before you go to the gym.

If you want to eat before you hit the gym, then go for it. — but I recommend that you fill up on BCAA’s (Branch chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein) These are not a MUST, but it’s as close as you get to create an environment where you burn fat and build muscle. Research has shown that when you consume BCAA’s before a workout, your metabolism increases for up to 48hours THE FOLLOWING DAY.


If you still want to eat something before training, remember that it won’t really help your workout. The food in your stomach will not be digested for the benefit of your training. You may feel better psychologically though.

Here are 3 quick meals to consider before hitting the iron…

The Quick and Easy…. A cup of Greek Yoghurt and a handful of almonds…Simple Chef…. 3 shambled eggs, 100grams of oats and 50 grams of berriesThe Power Shake…. Frozen banana, chocolate protein powder, a handful of almonds and 4 ice cubes blended

A word about protein bars

Do you like a bar one? — So do I. A Bar One is about as good as most protein bars. Don’t be fooled by the long ingredients labels on Protein bars. Gelatin is often used to increase the total protein found in a bar, but at the end of the day, you’re munching on sugar. If you are looking for a bar, I recommend the QUEST BAR. It’s not too high in sugar or calories, and the proteins found in the bar, are still complete enough to be bioavailable to your system. These are top quality and don’t have the other crap in them that makes you fat.

Busting the last few myths

By now you should be building enough knowledge around food and exercise and even sleep, to carry a conversation at the dinner table. So here are a last few bits of “shit you need to know” advice Fat does NOT make you fat. It’s necessary for hormonal balance Heavy weights don’t make you bulky Yoga is not just for girls (Yip, I said it) The bench press is not the king of all chest exercises (try push-ups) There are muscles in your legs — work them, especially your hamstrings and your glutes Muscle does not weight more than fat. — But fat takes up more space than muscles

I have decided to include the correct workout on the day that it is due. It makes it easier for you to refer to. If you think that I should give you specific meal plans for the week, let me know. I would be curious to see what you prefer.


Today, you should be doing workout number 4 as prescribed.



4 to 6 reps

(see previous)



Setup. Stand with the bar on your front shoulders. …

Lift Your Chest. Raise your chest towards the ceiling by arching your upper-back. …

Press. Take a big breath, hold it and press the bar in a vertical line. …

Move Forward. Stay close to the bar while you press the weight up. …


Alternate A1 and A2 for 5 minutes Aim for as many reps as possible After the circuit, rest for 5 min Repeat another circuit Rest 5 min and move soon to workout set B

B1 Inverted Row

4 to 6 reps

(see previous demonstrations)

B2 Hack Squat

4 to 6 reps


The barbell hack squat is a lower-body strength exercise. … The exercise also places more emphasis on the quads. You will start in a squatted position with your thighs almost parallel to the floor. Reach back and grip the bar with your palms facing behind you with hands shoulder-width apart.

B3 Dumbell Squeeze Press


Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie face-up on a bench

Hold the dumbbells above the chest with your arms straight

Press the dumbbells together and your palms facing each other

Keeping your dumbbells touching, and your elbows close to the body, lower the weights to the sides of your chest.

Pause and then press again

Alternate B1 and B2 and B3 for 5 minutes Aim for as many reps as possible After the circuit, rest for 5 min Repeat another circuit Rest 5 min and move soon to workout set C

C1 Seated Calf Raise


Place a block on the floor about 12 inches from a flat bench.

Sit on a flat bench and place a dumbbell on your upper left thigh about 3 inches above your knee.

Now place the ball of your left foot on the block. This will be your starting position.

Raise your toes up as high as possible as you exhale and you contract your calf muscle. Hold the contraction for a second.

Slowly return to the starting position, stretching as far down as possible.

Repeat for your prescribed number of repetitions and then repeat with the right leg.

C2 Dumbell Shrugs


Stand erect with a dumbbell on each hand (palms facing your torso), arms extended on the sides.

Lift the dumbbells by elevating the shoulders as high as possible while you exhale. Hold the contraction at the top for a second. Tip: The arms should remain extended at all times. Refrain from using the biceps to help lift the dumbbells. Only the shoulders should be moving up and down.

Lower the dumbbells back to the original position.

Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Alternate C1 and C2 for 5 minutes Aim for as many reps as possible After the circuit, rest for 5 min Repeat another circuit with the same weight

Have an amazing day!

Tomorrow I am going to show you some other forms of training.


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