Top 5 Tips to Gain fat and lose muscle (and the antidotes) PLUS cute puppy photos…

You read the title right. Gain fat. Lose Muscle. Why don’t we add losing your memory and concentration, and perhaps losing some bone density too? Scared? How about if I told you that these Top 5 tips have been taken from my own personal experiment – one that involved the cutest puppy you’d ever seen?

You see, a few months ago, a new little piece of happiness, joy and excitement entered my world. She was fluffy, cuter than a baby polar bear, and delightfully friendly.

On the flip-side, she napped constantly, but didn’t sleep any long amount of time, day or night. For a little while, I thought she might be attempting Tim Ferriss’ Uberman sleep schedule.

Seeing that she was fed and played with took some extra energy, that I hadn’t needed previously. My routine adjusted quickly – a small puppy has a way of letting you know if you’re slipping.

But it wasn’t play time that led me to writing this post – it was bed time.

The Harsh Reality

It all started the second night we had her. Bedtime came around, but it become more and more clear that little Peach wasn’t too interested in sleeping. At a loss a few hours later, I ended up sleeping the night on the couch, with her finally settling down lying on top of me.

The next night was better, with her in a box on the bed, however the concern of the little pup leaving more than hair on the covers prompted a full-scale research assignment the next day.

Tired, confused and concerned, a solution, of sorts, was found. To teach this little one her house-manners, in quick time, the strategy called for ambushing her bladder, day and night, so that she got the message it as the humans who decided when bathroom break would be, not her natural instincts. It sounded like a great plan – help her to realize that there are good, and less good times to go for a bathroom break. As an indoor dog, she was going to need to learn this pretty quickly, especially as it was coming in to winter and a small puppy hanging around outdoors wasn’t on the cards.

So we began the evening with her scheduled bathroom break, and we took away the food and water.

But it didn’t stop there.

Now came the task of setting the alarms – all 5 of them – over night.

So, the first would ring at 11.30pm, then the next at 1.15am. Then 3am, 4.45am, and then finally at 6.30am. The pattern followed a 1 hour, 45 minute schedule – 15 minutes shorter than her expected bladder capacity of 2 hours. The shorthand for puppies’ bladders, I learned, is the number of months of age, equalling the number of hours they’d normally wait between breaks. So a 3 month old pup would wait 3 hours. But little Peach was just under 2 months..

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A happy moment of sleep after a walk

The alarms start ringing

The first night seemed like some exciting project. Getting up wasn’t so bad, it was even a bit fun to see the stars in the middle of the night, and hear the owls in the trees. Peach was taking to the getting up well, and she was even going back to sleep pretty easily.

The following night was a little more gruelling, with some harder moments getting her to sleep again, but still no ‘accidents’ in between pee breaks.

Fast forward a week, and the time delay was out to 2 hours, 15 minutes. This was nearing 4 alarms, instead of 5 – a win for all concerned.

The result was already apparent though – Despite the fact that I was getting, in total, around 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night, I felt absolutely exhausted, and the cravings were starting to come in.

After 2 weeks, bed time was more of a milestone in an otherwise unending, continuous time continuum. No more were days separated, they sort of flowed into each other, never giving me a chance to feel fully ‘reset’ or rested.

3 weeks down and Peach was going very well with her breaks. She was out to 3 hours, which, depending on evening schedules, meant 2 or 3 alarms per night, instead of 5. This seemed like heaven, but some damage had definitely been done – I was already in new routines of eating more during the day, and drinking more coffee.

I was working feverishly on a product that’s very important to me, and close to my heart, and one that I didn’t want to let slip behind schedule. So, I was finding ways of continuing on, despite my feelings of exhaustion.

After a full month of nightly wake up calls, it seemed pretty easy to deal with. It was the norm. I no longer dreaded the alarm ringing, it was simply part of life. That said, so was the daily coffee rituals, and the chaotic thoughts which were getting more difficult to assemble and arrange. Work continued, but testing now became so necessary that it used up more time.

6 weeks down and Peach was looking good. She had now stretched her abilities to lasting half the night. This meant just 1 nightly alarm, and otherwise a longer sleep, which was a fantastic change. The impact of this change, though, didn’t kick in quick enough.

By this point, my energy for the gym had disappeared, and I was finding it harder to keep my workout routine. On top of that, coffee had replaced green tea on some mornings, and was almost a necessity in the afternoon. Meals had given way to more convenient options, and I found myself with a very nasty (and expensive) low-carb protein bar habit, which seemed like the only thing I could eat to keep my energy levels up. Despite including large slow carb meals during my work days, they just left me craving more food. I never felt satisfied with what I’d eaten, like I could always use more.

The Impact

Then it hit. The moment of truth. Around 6 weeks after getting her, I went to the gym for the first time in a few weeks. I’m not one to spend hours staring at myself in the mirror, but I do use mirrors to ensure correct posture and movement in my lifts, especially with free weights.

My jacket came off, and there it was – the proof that I’d hoped wouldn’t be there. My arms were noticeably smaller, and less defined. To add salt to the wound, though it was to be expected, I had lost considerable strength. Jumping on the scales, to my horror I had lost a staggering 9 pounds (though some was due to going off creatine).

What could be worse?

Fat. Extra fat around my middle that wasn’t there previously. I had lost weight on the scale, lost strength, and gained fat.

My happy, playful addition to my house had left me in a state of constant stress. Of course, it wasn’t her fault at all – it was that I failed to plan for her arrival, and didn’t have the habits to support me managing the changes in routine.

What about those Top 5 Tips??

Ok, well by now I’m sure you’d like to avoid this fate, but first we’ll have a look at the top 5 tips to gain fat and lose muscle, then I’ll give you the Top 5 Antidotes!

  1. Disrupt your sleeping patterns nightly. Preferably with multiple waking moments, at different times.
  2. Have something random in your environment that requires constant attention but is ultimate out of your control
  3. Follow your cravings for junky food and coffee
  4. Abandon healthy eating habits and foods in favor of convenience and ease
  5. Don’t bother to plan any antidotes or offensive strategies to avoid these problems
Seems like a fairly straight forward list right? Basically, if you don’t have regular sleep patterns, if you miss sleep, if you have things every day that stress you out but you can’t do a lot about, and if you eat crappy food, then you’ll easily gain fat, lose muscle and perhaps bone density.
Actually, that sounds like a lot of average people I know, with so called ‘normal’ lifestyles.. So let’s take a look at the antidotes.
Firstly, the key to understanding what caused all of this is knowing how stress works. Stress can be good and bad. Stress prompts a response – for example, weight training is a stress that prompts your muscles to grow. Stress over a problem creates a reaction to solve the problem.

But stress, often times these days, is more of a negative, and can be more constant.

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Growing up fast, Peach has taken to chasing waves

With stress comes cortisol, and if this is constantly high, it can lead to all kinds of health problems. Not just fat gain and muscle loss, but loss of bone density and reduced immune system. So, we need to make sure that cortisol is kept to being a visitor to our systems, rather than a house guest that lives on your couch, eats all your food and leaves muddy shoe prints down the hallway.

Let’s knock cortisol out of the park!

Top 5 Antidotes

  1. Sleep is the cheapest supplement around, and can be even cheaper when you think about all the expensive medical bills that could add up from years of getting too little sleep. It’s especially important to get adequate sleep, and around the same time each night too. So, think about ways your routine can help you sleep enough, and be properly rested for what you need to get done. Also consider what’s necessary to get done, and what’s on your ‘nice to do’ list, or what’s just a bad habit that needs to get canned.
  2. If you have something, like work, that is always there, and always worrying you, you need to reset your expectations a little. Focus on being concerned for your actions, not for the more far-reaching results. It’s important that your actions are aimed at getting the results required, however you limit of concern, or worry, should stop where your actions do. Only think over what you can influence – that’s you yourself, and no further. If the guy in Accounting is a douchebag, but you have to deal with him every day, find a way to feel OK with the effort you’re making, and leave him in your dust. Don’t even get involved in his event, simply do what you need to, and move on. If you find yourself planning strategies that have a long-reaching effect, but with limited true control over the outcome, focus on feeling good about being well researched and knowledgable.  This allows you to feel confident with your actions, but not get wrapped up in things that are out of your reach of influence. If your clients are crazy, or mad, or demanding, don’t buy into their unrealistic expectations of you, or your business, your product or even the general public and how the world works. Some people just don’t understand how things are, but you don’t need to become involved in their crazy ideas to be able to service them.
  3. Cravings for junk food and coffee generally mean you’re low on energy. You’re drained. Think about sleep, but also plan some relaxation and recovery times. Active relaxation, like yoga, or meditation can be as good as a couple of hours of sleep for your system, and can reduce stress by large amounts.
  4. If you’re shooting for convenience over healthy eating, chances are you might (perhaps secretly) feel like you have absolutely no time whatsoever in your week. Do everything you can to find an hour to take a step back and really look at your routines, and your habits. Odds are you’re just stuck in some patterns that are occupying your time or your mind. If you can’t free your mind, try repeating the work ‘Thankyou’ to yourself, slowly, whenever you remember to. Convenience foods are a downward cycle – as they don’t generally provide you with the energy you need to keep going, so you crave them more. Get out of the cycle and feel better by eating fresh foods and ones you’re made yourself.
  5. Failing to plan truly is planning to fail. If you have a big project coming up at work, or if you have a change in lifestyle or environment that’s going to throw your sleep patterns out of whack, then plan for it. These times are even more important to get good sleep, eat good food, cover your vitamin and mineral bases, and have times to relax. Exercise too is a great stress reliever.
    Consider all the ways you can reduce stress levels. Take a class – just 1 hour per week in art, painting, drama, dance, photography, book club, yoga, tai chi, meditation, walking, volunteering, and lots of other things have the effect of giving you energy, not taking it away. Put a little effort in, and get a big reward.
    Also think about your environment, and try to find a way to include nature in your day somehow. Even a photograph on a wall that you can look into has been shown to reduce stress levels.

Of course, at the end of the day, its about finding what works for you. But make it a priority to have your strategies for counteracting the stresses in your life. It’s important that this is something you think about, as much as the grocery shopping, or your work deadlines, or anything else that’s a high priority. The difference is that thinking about this can make all those other things easier. For me, I realized that getting to the gym is a stress relief, as much as a stress. I also decided to go a little easier on my working schedule, and change my expectations. I got back to healthy eating routines, and together with a little more stable sleeping routine, have found that I’m back on the road to feeling good, and having my stress levels low.


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15 Responses to Top 5 Tips to Gain fat and lose muscle (and the antidotes) PLUS cute puppy photos…

  • Natalie Fleming says:

    I really needed this. I have had some serious stress over my job the past couple of months. I am tossing and turning at night and not getting good sleep. this is really showing in my energy levels during the day and my mood. Tip: one way to know if your truly stressed….look at your tongue. That’s right. if you look at your tongue and you see indentions from your teeth on the sides, then you are definitely stressed. It should be smooth on each side. I really think what you mentioned in your number 2 (haha) antidote will help change my outlook. I think that is exactly what I need to relieve my work stress. I know I’m doing a great job and I have to quit letting other people and their negativity affect me. Thanks for the Post.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Natalie,

      I’m so glad this was well timed for you.Stress can snowball, and before you know it, you’re stuck in the middle. Getting a bit of separation from the day-to-day routines can really help, and seeing your work situations for what they are can really help to remind you that what you’re doing is the limit to which you should have concerns or feelings. Beyond what you do is truly out of your control, so in any way possible, let it go!

      All the best,

  • Graham says:

    Ready for this?

    In the last three weeks:

    – We got in a car accident that totaled my $30,000 minivan. All three kids were in the car.

    – The accident sent my wife’s IUD THROUGH her uterus which allowed her to get pregnant.

    – The pregnancy was ectopic (the fertilized egg implanted in the fallopian tube instead)

    - Her fallopian tube ruptured and she was rushed to the ER for surgery to remove the fallopian tube and close to 2 liters of blood (an average woman has about 4.5 – 5 liters of blood TOTAL)

    - I had not one, not two, but three separate stents of throwing up.

    - My dog got her tail shut in a door by a sitter (who didn’t realize it) so one night I come home from the hospital to a bloodbath in the kitchen. …the dog is okay…

    - Our AC broke on the record hottest day Atlanta has ever experienced.

    – I sliced my finger so badly with a knife that it required 5 stitches. The tip of my finger was almost off.

    Through it all, we got to show everyone how resilient you can be when you live active and healthy. Now I’m working on something HUGE and probably couldn’t be where I am without the most ridiculous three weeks I could possibly have imagined.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Graham,

      This really is an incredible run of unfortunate situations. I’m glad to hear you’ve come through it alive, and still with some perspective! That is all incredibly challenging stuff, even one of those things by itself!!

      Your comment about being resilient couldn’t be more accurate. Building resilience, in all facets (health, fitness, strength, emotional strength, etc) is truly the key to handling anything that life throws at you. Because, no one can control what happens along the way, but you can control how you handle it.

      All the best mate, take care!

      • Graham says:

        That’s what my dad always said to me! I would say “madeline made me mad.” and he would respond, no, she may have acted like an idiot, but you made yourself mad.

        • Luke says:

          Very nice! Your Dad was a smart guy ;)
          That’s what taking personal responsibility is all about.

  • Brian says:

    Sounds exactly like what happens when a baby enters the picture!

  • James Denyer says:

    “2. Have something random in your environment that requires constant attention but is ultimate out of your control”

    Babies/toddlers. This is why I abandoned slow-carb first time around. Your day starts at an unknown time and goodness know when you’ll get the chance to make AND eat breakfast.

    I’m now on my second attempt at slow-carb. But this time it’s different. According to the official Four-Hour Body Android app, it is an “acceptable alternative” to consume unflavoured whey protein within the first 30 mins of waking. This normally leaves me hungry by mid-morning, but the day is under control by that point and I have time to prepare second breakfast. problem solved :)

    • Luke says:

      Hey James,

      Interesting to hear about your experience! Thanks for sharing your comment!!

      I’m glad you’ve found a dependable way to start your day – having some routine really is a key to any kind of success and results with any lifestyle change.
      Unflavored whey protein is on the ‘grey’ list for me – different people have different results, but it’s well worth trying if it’s the difference between following slow carb, or not.

      All the best with your little one, and your progress!

  • Shannon says:

    This was one of my favourite posts that you’ve written so far of following this blog for a year. And I especially love the email newsletter that came with it. Thank you again luke!

    • Luke says:

      Hi Shannon,

      You’re very welcome, and I’m so glad this made an impact on you. Thanks for your comment, and all the best!


  • aff says:

    Essas dicas são uma porcaria!Eu procuro algo simples de se fazer,mas não acho nada parecido!DROOOOOOOOOOOOOGAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(Desculpe a franqueza).

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