I once declared that the idea of going for a swim is about as appealing as licking the foot of a medieval peasant.
And there were plenty of reasons why.
I didn’t like the idea of swimming through all the chemicals and gunk that ends up in a swimming pool… busy swimming pools are like an obstacle course, where you’re always crashing into people, or worried about getting disapproving looks from all the hardcore swimmers who are secretly seething at you for breaking their rhythm… I once almost drowned in the Rhyl Sun Centre swimming pool, and had to be rescued by a life guard when they turned the wave machine on.
But the brutal truth about why I didn’t like swimming was this:
I was no good at it.
So, in one of those “get out of your comfort zone” moments, I decided to book some swimming lessons at a facility called the Swimcube, which has an endless pool that allows you to swim against a current – it’s the swimming equivalent of running on a treadmill.
Here’s a picture from my first lesson:
As you can see, there are two cameras, both above and below the water. My coach would tell me what to do… I’d attempt to do it… then I’d stop and look at what I did on a big screen in front of me, so we could talk through what I was doing right and what I needed to do differently.
Video analysis is such a useful tool for improving your performance, mainly because what you think you’re doing, and what you’re actually doing, are often two very different things.
The same holds true when it comes to getting in shape, not just in the obvious sense of recording yourself doing an exercise to see if you’re doing it properly, but when it comes to your diet.
That is, the amount of food you think you’re eating, and the amount of food you’re actually eating, are often two very different things.
There was a famous study, published in the early 1990’s, which involved a group of “diet resistant” subjects who couldn’t lose weight despite eating just 1000 calories per day.
But when it was calculated under controlled conditions, their actual calorie intake turned out to be upwards of 2000 calories per day.
In other words, these subjects were eating twice as much as they thought, which goes a long way towards explaining why they weren’t losing any weight.
Your estimates of calorie intake don’t have to be out by such a large amount. Even just a few hundred extra calories here or there is enough to cause your weight loss to stall.
Constantly tracking your calorie, fat, protein and carb intake can be a real pain in the arse, which is why I don’t do it. But I do use the system outlined in Gutless to make sure my diet ticks all the right boxes, while taking a lot of the stress and hassle out of meal prep.
This method does require a bit of time and work on the front end. But I much prefer it to following meal plans created by someone else, which usually contain a bunch of fancy ingredients I’ve never heard of, stuff I don’t like eating, or meals that take too long to prepare.
Christian Finn, M.Sc.
Founder of Muscle Evo