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Podcast 002: The TheoFit Principles (A Brief Summary of CORE SERIES)
THE THEOFIT PRINCIPLES
Most fitness programs usually focus only on diet and exercise, but neglect teaching people how to win the mental game of fitness — how to become self-disciplined. And a majority of the stuff out there on self-discipline doesn’t work for most people. On top of that, you can have all the discipline in the world, but if you’re doing the wrong things, you won’t see the results you want.
In this podcast, we’re going to outline the fundamental principles of TheoFit that explain why every person ever gets in shape. If you see a success story from the Beachbody program (which is a pretty good resource if you travel a lot — but that's for another time), or a CrossFit gym, or the Paleo diet, it’s because these principles are secretly at work behind the scenes. The truth is: There is no magic bullet. Just a few unchanging principles that can be adapted to pretty much everybody.
Now, there are three principles of fitness, and three principles of discipline. That means there are six TheoFit principles total. In this podcast, we’re going to explain what they are, how they work, and what happens if you neglect just one of them. However, they’re all extremely simple to understand, they can be adapted to any fitness level, and they’re the only principles that cause real change in any person’s health and fitness.
As you listen to these principles, you’re going to have lots of questions come into your mind about how exactly to implement them practically. That’s what the TheoFit membership is for — for you to ask questions that I will answer here on this podcast, and to interact with other TheoFit members who are going through the same struggle. You can join at www.theo.fit/membership. Now, let’s get started.
THE THEOFIT FITNESS PRINCIPLES
Now, there are complexities to each of these realities that I explain in more detail in the CORE SERIES, which is a free comprehensive guide to the TheoFit program in a series of articles — you can access it at www.theo.fit/core. Let’s dig into these three principles in depth:
You were committed. bought the “Six Pack PDF.” You signed up for the website membership. You paid the shredded instagram model. You bought the broccoli and the chicken. You signed the gym contract. And you tried. You really tried. But the results were unimpressive. So, you conclude, these kinds of things Just. Don’t. Work.
Sadly, the fitness industry is built on selling half-truths as if they were the holy grail of getting in shape. Carb modulation. Power lifting. High Intensity Interval Training. Paleo. Crossfit. The ketogenic diet. Most people latch onto one of these ideas, hit it extremely hard for a day, a week, maybe a month—and usually stop when they stop seeing results.
Here’s the problem, unfortunately: They weren’t doing it right. Getting in shape comes down to three simple practices. And all of these cultish fitness movements usually get one or two of these things right, but sabotages results by neglecting the third. If you can do these three things consistently, you will, without a doubt, lose fat and maintain muscle:
Hit a daily 20% calorie deficit. What that means is: However many calories your body burns on average each day, including exercise, subtract 20% from that, and eat that many calories every day. If you don’t do this, you’ll never lose fat.
Lift weights at least 4 times per week. If you only eat less food, but don’t lift weights, your body will just use your muscle and fat as an energy source, and you’ll just end up a smaller, skinny-fat version of your current self.
Eat 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. You don’t usually need this much protein, but when you’re in a 20% calorie deficit, and you’re lifting weights, your body is in severe need of protein. So, if you’re 250 pounds, and have about 50 pounds of fat, aim for 200 grams of protein per day. If you’re 200 pounds with about 60 pounds of fat, aim for 140 pounds of protein per day. You get the picture.
I know this sounds like just another program claiming to be the key, like the atkins diet or some celebrity workout plan. But it’s not. If you boil down every other plan, every success story, every impressive before-and-after photo, these three elements made it work: Calorie Deficit, Weight Lifting, Protein.
Some people start eating organic food and lose 10 pounds, and then start telling everyone that organic food makes you lose weight. Or, they’ll eat a high fat, low carb diet, and praise that approach. Or, they’ll join a spin class and lose a bunch of weight, and tell you that their spin class is the only way to get in shape. And they’ll all tell you that you don’t need to count calories or pile up on protein or lift weights.
But each of these approaches basically accomplished a calorie deficit by accident. When you eat only organic food, it’s hard to find organic candy bars and donuts that are very high in calories, so you end up eating fewer calories by accident. Same goes for eating low carb—even though you’re eating more fat, you’re cutting out most of the foods that were easy to overeat. Same goes for the spin class—they might be eating the same amount they used to, but they’re increasing their daily caloric output, therefore increasing the calorie deficit they’re in.
Just listen to me explain these three points very briefly, very plainly.
THE 20% CALORIE DEFICIT
A pound of fat is 3,500 calories. If you want to lose one pound of fat in a week, you must achieve a 500 calorie deficit every day for 7 days. If you want to lose 2 pounds a week, you must achieve a 1,000 calorie deficit per day for 7 days. You can achieve a deficit in 2 ways: By eating less, or moving more. That’s it. This is an unmoveable law of fitness that you can never change. Fat loss always come down to achieving a caloric deficit.
If you don’t achieve a caloric deficit, you can be crossfitting 6 times a week and doing cardio 2 hours a day—you won’t lose fat. Most people who train for marathons come to realize this. They’ll tell you: Yes, they burn an extra 2,000 calories per day by training, but they also eat a lot more, and don’t even really look that much different.
THE WEIGHT LIFTING
However, most people are right to point out that caloric deficits can be extremely unhealthy. And they are if your goal is weight loss. But most people I know don’t want weight loss. They want fat loss. Weight loss means you just want the number on the scale to go down—whether you’re losing muscle or fat, it doesn’t matter. But that’s a terrible mindset, because you can look just out-of-shape at 140 pounds as you do at 160 pounds.
That’s why you have to lift weights while trying to lose fat—so that you maintain your muscle mass while your body loses fat. Your body doesn’t want to lose fat, so you have to trick it to leave. You don’t want to be smaller for the sake of being smaller. Eating less by itself will just make you tired, irritable, and skinny-fat. But a 20% caloric deficit combined with weight lifting 4 times a week will make you stronger and faster, with more vitality, more focus, and a much better-looking body. When I combined these principles for the first time, I went from being able to grab handfuls of belly fat to having veins run across my abs in a timespan of 3 months. Weight lifting is also highly correlated with lifespan longevity, far more than cardio, running, yoga, etc. Weight lifting is essential if you want to achieve fat loss, instead of just getting smaller.
Now, the protein. This is the smallest essential part of getting in shape, but it’s pretty important. If you end up eating only 80-100g of protein to day as a girl, or 160-180 as a guy, you’ll be okay. But the more, the better. When you lift weights, you’re actually damaging your muscles with little muscle-tears. Your body makes your muscles bigger by repairing those small tears with scar tissue. Your muscles are essentially just groups of scar tissue. Proteins are the building blocks of that new tissue your body adds. If it doesn’t have enough protein, all that work in the gym will result in your body repairing your muscles to the same size, possibly smaller than before. But if your body has a surplus of protein, they’ll make your muscles bigger and stronger.
When you’re in a caloric deficit, your body wants to break down your muscle for energy anyway. So weight lifting, and especially protein, is your way of saying to your body, “NO! This muscle is mine. Stay away. If you want energy, you’re gonna have to go to the fat.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “That sounds great! It sounds just as great as all those other diet and exercise plans I’ve tried that left me totally disappointed.” Fair enough. But the thing is: I’m not telling you all those other programs were wrong. I’m telling you the fundamental principles that make any success in any other program possible. Other people are trying to sell you programs and tips and tricks. I’m teaching you the fundamental, scientific principles of your body that either put you in better physical shape, or worse. Carb modulation and ketogenic diets aren’t essential components of your life. But these three principles are always operating inside of you—this clean functioning relationship between your caloric intake, your weight training, and your protein consumption. The only question is whether you will embrace this system or ignore it; whether you will build your habits based on the principles themselves, or some marketing offshoot that overemphasizes one and neglects another.
This is the only way to lose fat, and there is no other way. I’m not scared of saying that, or being thought arrogant, because I didn’t come up with it. It’s just the way the body works. The more you comply with all three of these practices consistently and simultaneously, the faster and better you will see changes in your body. The less you comply with all three principles, or choose only to focus on one or two, you will find yourself once again putting all your focus and discipline into a program built on a half-truth, which will likely leave you frustrated and disillusioned with your fitness goals.
If you haven’t tried implementing these three principles, then you’ve never really tried the one thing that actually works.
Now, it's popular today to say that the bodybuilder mindset about protein is wrong — that only meatheads on steroids eat stupid amounts of protein. It's popular to say that we should only be eating 50g of protein per day. And guess what? That's true for most people. Do you know why? Because:
Most people aren't lifting weights (damaging their muscles), so they don't need the protein to recover (that would be like buying building materials for a house with no land).
Most people aren't in a 20% Caloric Deficit and trying to lose fat, so their body isn't inclined to turn to their muscles for energy — they are likely living an athletically stagnant life, slowly becoming fatter and weaker.
Most people aren't trying to build muscle, trying to hit muscle and strength goals. So, they have no need to consume materials that are intended to build muscle.
If you're a stagnant person and you do consume massive amounts of protein, because you're not resistance training and counting your calories, your body has no purpose for the protein. So, it likely increases your caloric intake unnecessarily and causes weight gain — again, if you're living a stagnant, goal-less life in regards to fitness, then yes, protein is unnecessary. But if you’re lifting weights regularly and pushing yourself while trying to lose fat or gain muscle, you’re going to destroy your body and completely sabotage your fitness goals.
So, in summary, these are the TheoFit Fitness Principles:
Resistance train 4-5 times per week.
Maintain a 20% calorie deficit if you want to lose fat, and a 10% caloric surplus if you want to gain muscle.
Eat 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
The TheoFit Discipline Principles
So, you know what to do to get in shape. You’ve got all the head knowledge. You’ve done all the research. But how do you get yourself to do it? How do you beat the labyrinth of laziness in your mind? What practical elements are necessary to succeed in your fitness program? These are the three TheoFit Discipline Principles:
Intensity—meaning, get crazy. Go hard. Be extreme. You see your diet and exercise through ferocious eyes. You dig deep within yourself and charge at your daily fitness obligations with force, with power, with vigor. You break through those psychological walls like a berserker. Intensity.
Consistency—meaning, you Do. Not. Slip. Up. You go to the gym every day. You finish your workout every day. You hit your calorie deficit every day. People could set their clocks by when you work out. For all you know, the world runs because you run. You crush it Every. Single. Day. Consistency.
Longevity—meaning, you keep going. Day 2, the hardest day—you keep going. Day 3, you keep going. Day 8, you keep going. Day 32, you keep going. Longevity means patience with results. Longevity means persistence, stamina, grit, psychological endurance.
Trying to get fit without Intensity is like trying to break the speed limit while barely touching the gas pedal. Push that pedal into the ground. Push your engine into the red. Push yourself from comfortable to uncomfortable.
Trying to get fit without Consistency what most people do. Most people try to go all out with fitness, but they only go all out 60% of the time. So the other 40% completely negates the 60%. This is the most frustrating place to be, because that 60% is really hard. But it’s giving you the same results as 0%. Consistency is important because, like school, fitness requires at least an 85% success rate in order to get anywhere with it.
Trying to get fit without Longevity is like taking out a loan to buy 10,000 lottery tickets. There’s a small chance you could accomplish something, but it will more likely yield depression and frustration than results.
The Personality Weaknesses
Most people fail because they have one or two of these three things. They all have names. Try to think about which one of these personality types you are.
First, there’s The Robot, who is consistent for a long time, but whose exercise is limp-wristed and their diet is so-so. They’re patient and compliant, but they never push the needle hard enough to go anywhere, even though they follow the directions perfectly.
Then, there’s The Berserker, who’s intense about diet and fitness for a long time, but only on weekdays. They have intensity and longevity, but not consistency. up and down every day, always cancelling out 5 days of compliance with 2 days of indulgence. They’re speeding down the highway, but pulling in at every single rest stop to get more snacks.
Then, there’s The Sprinter, who’s intense and consistent, but only for a week. They have intensity and consistency, but not longevity. They’re going from 0 to 100 in 5 seconds and crashing into a stop sign.
The Logistical Solutions
Which one are you? Robot, Beserker, or Sprinter? The problem with these first three is that they choose the two challenges that come easiest to their personalities. But they don’t push themselves out of their comfort zone. Nobody is naturally extreme, consistent, and patient. Everybody has to stretch themselves into something that feels unnatural in order to accomplish these results. Getting fit doesn’t come easily to anyone.
Find your missing quality—are you missing intensity, consistency, or longevity? Which come easy to you? Which is the hardest? Here are a few ways to achieve each one if you find it hard.
To achieve intensity if you’re a Robot, you need to write down your workout—every exercise, every set, every rep. Then, do two things: Turn all your sets into 5 sets of 5. This means that you’re going to be doing weight that’s hard to do, which means it’s heavy for you. This will drastically increase intensity. And don’t look at it as something you can decide or improvise when you get to the gym. Write it down, and make it a commitment. Fold your intensity into your consistency. The second thing: Strictly enforce a 30-second-rest policy for all your sets. No more than 30 seconds rest between the last rep of your set and the first rep of the next set. When you do these things, your intensity will skyrocket, and it’s a way of logistically fabricating intensity by setting standards for yourself that are hard, and fast.
To achieve consistency if you’re a Beserker, you need to build three non-negotiable rituals into your life. These habits must become the simple rails that the heavier habits of working out and dietary compliance run. These are elementary decisions and habits that drastically decrease the willpower requirements of the important behaviors of working out and eating less.
First, set a time that you go to the gym every day. It’s an unmoveable time. If you don’t set this time, you’ll never be consistent. Whether it’s 5am or 5pm, set the time, and be there 6 days a week at that time, if possible. Make this the unmoveable date that everybody understands is your gym time.
Second, pack your gym bag every single night with everything you need. Don’t trust your “morning self” with this task. Your morning self is weak and untrustworthy. Pack it at night. You don’t go to sleep until your gym bag is packed. If it’s not packed, just assume that you’re already giving up the next day.
Third, make a diet rule for yourself: You don’t eat anything until you enter it into your calorie counting app or notebook first. Count calories before you eat, not after. That way, you’re not relying on your post-meal self to be disciplined. Be disciplined before you eat, and then, compliance merely becomes a matter of eating what you’ve put on your plate, rather than taking on post-meal responsibility of calculating and entering your calories, which you’re probably not going to do.
To achieve longevity if you’re a Sprinter, you need to find a way to stop sabotaging the satisfaction you could get out of your diet and exercise compliance. You get a sick delight in the pain of pushing yourself, but quickly fall off the cliff of your own overcommitment when you realize how miserable it’s making you.
When it comes to exercise, keep yourself to a time limit. If you’re intense and consistent, limit your workout to one hour. In and out. Weights, abs, cardio, leave. That way, when week 2 comes, and you dread the idea of going to the gym for a long, grueling workout, you can remember: “It’s not an endless slog of pushing myself to exhaustion. It’s just the most I can do in an hour. That’s enough. In and out. Go.”
When it comes to diet, make a list of low-calorie treats that feel like fulfilling indulgences. Don’t feel like you need to make yourself miserable with the food you eat. For example, scarf down a tasteless head of lettuce before dinner to make yourself feel more full, and then give yourself a low-calorie but filling indulgence afterward. I personally like pre-made sugar free Jell-O, or plain Greek Yogurt with blueberries. Or, you could drink some heated bone broth (or soup), or a fat-burning tea like Slenderizer. That way, you to hit your calorie goal without sinking too deeply into a psychological pit of feeling hungry and empty at the end of every day.
At the end of the day, in order to make sure you come through on your plans, or to make sure your plans work at all, you need to know: What’s my personality type? What is hardest for me to achieve—extremity, consistency, or longevity? And how can I make it easiest for me to achieve that difficult attribute so that I can finally make effective plans that last? Hopefully now you have your diagnosis and your answer. Now go do it.
Now, all of the TheoFit content is based on these six principles in total:
Sufficient Protein Consumption
How exactly you implement these principles into your life is what the rest of the TheoFit community and future podcast episodes are about. Ask me questions, read the books, get the albums that help you get started. But realize that these principles are the fundamental principles that make all other programs work. There’s no way of getting behind these rules. You can’t neglect a single principle. They are all necessary. They all work in tandem. To neglect only one is to sabotage all the effort you’re putting into maintaining the other five.
This isn’t meant to intimidate you from fitness, or to say that if you can’t be perfect you shouldn’t try at all. But part of getting in shape is about facing reality. And these six principles are necessary realities of getting in shape. If you aren’t seeing the results you want, it’s good to know why — you’re probably neglecting one of these six principles. It’s probably not an issue of hormone imbalance or meal timing or failure to get the perfect program in place. It comes back to these principles. Do them. Figure out how to apply them to your own individual life, which might look a lot different from someone else. But make these your ideals that you’re always aiming for. To the degree that you achieve them, you body will transform at shocking rates and in surprising ways.
Don’t be intimidated. You can do this. Keep coming back to these six principles.