In this podcast, I interview Isho, who turned his weight loss journey around by transitioning from traditional diet myths to a holistic, evidence-based approach.
In his 40s, Isho has lost 24 pounds (and counting!) while getting stronger at the same time.
Having battled with weight for years, Isho’s breakthrough came from our comprehensive coaching program, emphasizing flexibility, balance, and consistency.
In our discussion, we delve into his diet structure, how he manages cravings, and his strategies for indulging in treats without derailing progress.
Tune in to learn how Isho transformed his relationship with food by recognizing the importance of a balanced and sustainable diet, and the mindset shifts and mental fortitude required for lasting change.
0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!
3:10 – Isho’s Background: Life before discovering our coaching program.
8:51 – Emotional Eating: Isho’s evolving relationship with food.
16:06 – Comparing Methods: Why past dieting didn’t work and how our approach made a difference.
18:51 – Try Whey+ risk-free today! Go to buylegion.com/whey and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% or get double reward points!
21:26 – Body Transformation: Insights into Isho’s remarkable change in body composition.
29:06 – Diet Decoded: How Isho set up his diet for success.
39:25 – Sweet Temptations: Isho’s strategy for desserts and treats.
Mentioned on the show:
Try Whey+ risk-free today! Go to buylegion.com/whey and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% or get double reward points!
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hello, hello, I’m Mike Matthews, and this is Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today for a new episode, which is another installment in my success story series of episodes where I interview people who have used something of mine, whether it is a book, it’s usually a book like Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, or Thinner, Leaner, Stronger, or Muscle for Life.
Or it’s my coaching program, which you can learn about over at BuyLegion. com. That’s B U Y Legion. com slash coaching if you are interested. And in today’s episode, you are going to be hearing from a coaching client who worked with my team to lose 24 pounds, and he’s still going. He has a bit more fat he wants to lose, while gaining muscle and strength at the same time.
And like many of our clients before working with us, Isho had tried many different things with. varying levels of success and ultimately with failure because the goal is not just to lose weight for a short period of time, it’s to lose fat, it’s to gain muscle, it’s to gain strength, it’s to then keep that fat off and maintain a healthy and ideal for you body composition and ideal for you might be different than other people and that’s totally fine.
The spectrum of Healthy body composition is pretty accommodating. You don’t need to have six pack abs to be healthy. If you want six pack abs, you can get them and you can be healthy with them, but you don’t have to look like an Instagram fitness model if you don’t want to. And so anyway, Isho did that.
He lost 24 pounds and gained muscle and strength in his 40s, which goes to show that it’s never. too late. If you’re in your 40s, if you’re in your 50s, if you’re in your 60s or beyond, it’s never too late to start getting into better shape and even to get into great shape. If you’re starting in your 60s, it’s too late to try to become a competitive bodybuilder, probably, unless you have outstanding genetics.
But I suspect that that doesn’t bother you. That’s not bad news. And so, if your goal is to simply get and stay in great shape, it is. never too late and you’re going to hear about isho’s story he shares how he battled with his weight for many years as well as the breakthroughs that he achieved with my coaching program and how he learned to be flexible with his diet, flexible with his training, improve his relationship with food, and greatly increase his consistency in the kitchen and in the
gym, which is at least half of the battle.
Isho, it’s nice to meet you.
Isho: Mike, so nice to meet you too, and thank you so much for having me on the show.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for taking the time. I appreciate it.
Isho: Oh man. It’s, it’s been such a great experience. I’ve been chomping at the bit to be able to speak to you and, and tell you just what an amazing experience I’ve had.
So I’m super pumped to be here. Well, thank you.
Mike: Uh, I’m flattered and let’s get into it. So this is going to be about your story, your fitness journey, and I like to. To start these with maybe a kind of a snapshot of where you were before finding me, before finding your work, what you had tried, what was working for you, what was not working for you, what were some of the problems that you were dealing with?
Isho: Yeah, so I think. I’d always had an interest in exercise and nutrition separately, not necessarily kind of bound together. So I had at different points, uh, struggled with a little bit of excess weight, not terrible, but just kind of, you know, enough that it makes you uncomfortable. And you look for, uh, alternatives around that.
And so I had tried, I think pretty much every diet. In existence, uh, I’ve always considered myself a little bit of a guinea pig and been willing to try, uh, so many of these different programs, whether that be going vegan for, you know, as long as that’s sustainable, which in my experience was a couple of weeks or then, uh, you know, going, uh, Atkins or South beach diet or paleo and, and all of those things do yield results in the short term.
And I, I couldn’t quite put. My figure on why they could be so opposite and yet all work, but ultimately none of them were sustainable.
Mike: That, that is an interesting point because it, you think about it, you’re like, well, if I were to combine a number of these diets, I would literally have nothing to eat.
Everything would, would be verboten. So how, how does that make sense? How
could, how could these things be so contradictory where if I were to follow them, try to follow them simultaneously, I would die?
Isho: Yeah, and ultimately, I just couldn’t figure out and I’m still maybe haven’t quite gotten to the bottom of it.
So many quote unquote experts can all say opposite things about something that human beings have needed to eat to survive for thousands of years or and how can we just not come to some kind of consensus and that what really spoke to me and I’m going to skip ahead, but Just kind of what really spoke to me about your program is that instead of being bound by restrictions about this food is bad for you, or at this time of day, you shouldn’t be eating, I think it brought everything into focus because it allowed me to see that when you’re not eating carbs or when you’re not eating for 16 hours a day, really, all you’re doing is creating a deficit in a variety of different ways, right?
But ultimately they work in the short term. Because they create deficits, caloric deficits, but they do create this, uh, secondary effect where you’re feeling restricted, where you’re always feeling like there’s something that, that you want, whether it’s a slice of cake or alcohol or steak, you have to sacrifice in order to be on this program or diet.
Mike: And there’s a big difference between a diet that says, all right, so you like pizza. We probably don’t want to eat pizza every day, but sure, you can have some pizza once a week, have some pizza and enjoy, even if it’s just once a week, there’s a big difference between that experience and the diet that says no pizza ever under any circumstances.
Isho: Absolutely, and it and all it creates is an opportunity for you to fall off the program, right? And so I had bounced around a bunch of different diets and I and I do have one thing going, which is I do have. pretty strong willpower. And when I commit to a project, I dive in. And so I would dive into these diets and find success in the short term, but ultimately wound up going off of them.
So I had been yo yoing for a while and then ultimately had stabilized and kept a low weight for a while running. I was doing like half marathons, full marathons, stuff like that. And that also ultimately is just a way to create a caloric deficit, right? And so it worked. And But even at my thinnest point, I was thin, but not strong, um, and maybe a little bit of skinny fat.
And so if the goal is to look good and feel good about yourself, that wasn’t really kind of hitting the mark.
Mike: And not have to commit major amounts of time to exercise to compensate for what’s going on with. Your diet. I mean, people will say, Oh, you can’t out exercise a bad diet. And there’s truth in that.
Unless you’re willing to do a lot of exercise, then you kind of can actually.
Isho: Yeah. There are moments in marathon training where you, your caloric deficit is just so massive that you can really eat. Pizza and ice cream every day and lose weight, but that’s not even a sustainable lifestyle for a runner who loves to do it anyway, right?
Like you can’t keep up with those massive weeks that are just kind of in your buildup to, to the big day. But, and I had lifted weights from time to time, but never really in a structured program, never kind of with, with a clear focus like I did when I started BLS, so to be the journey was, was a lot of trial and error.
And going against the grain many times and being willing to try new things, finding limited pockets of success here and there, but ultimately not finding something really sustainable and with the approach of flexible dieting and lifting weights, I don’t feel like I’m going to Committing to a very restrictive plan.
I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. If I want pizza, all I have to do is budget for it in my macros and calories. Right. It’s just made me think of food as fuel and in a way that you can enjoy it and you can look forward to it. And I do eat all my favorite foods, but. I just now have a quantitative approach to it.
It’s just, you know, this is the amount of calories that I need for whether that be a cut, a maintenance or, or a bulk phase. And this is how many I’ve had, and this is how many are left. And it’s just a very objective point of view. So to me, that’s, that’s been extremely helpful.
Mike: Previously, were you, would you say that you, you had more emotions connected with food or were you always kind of a food is fuel type of person?
Isho: I’ve always had an emotional connection to food and I think I still do. Like I look forward to eating. I would say maybe I don’t have the dark side of the emotional connections to food right now where sometimes I will get a craving and I’ll think, am I really hungry or am I just craving something?
And if I really decide that a piece of chicken wouldn’t do the trick, then maybe I. Want to do is, you know, chew on a little bit of gum for a little while and just get that that satisfy. Yes, satisfy that need or whatever that is. Right? So I would say that there’s this bad rap about counting calories.
Mike: Yeah, or even even that food is fuel, some people would say that that is now getting into the realm of a dysfunctional relationship with with food more that would be you would see more commonly with fitness people rather than the opposite, which would be the uncontrollable hedonist who is maybe on a binge and purge type of cycle or relationship with food.
Isho: For sure, there’s a lot of that out there, right? I myself do not really think that I’ve kind of been part of that trap, but I would say that I am excited about food. I spend a lot of my time looking for recipes and cooking stuff, and I love to sort of engage with the world of food, and I’m genuinely excited about it.
But, Think I can approach it this way, where if you can look past this stigma that exists out there, that says, you know, counting calories is so 80s or whatever, you know, whatever people want to use to, to put down the idea of.
Mike: Or that, that even just paying attention, maybe you’re not counting or trying, but you’re just cognizant and you are factoring at least approximate caloric densities into your food choices and so forth.
Some people, they would say that, you know, that, that sounds kind of like maybe almost like an eating disorder.
Isho: I, I think, I think people could, could have that misperception. Misconception. Yeah, I disagree. I’m just
Mike: I’m just saying some people listening, especially if they’re newer to all this, they’re probably going to hear this and they might even start hearing it from people in their inner circle, hearing it from friends from family members.
And again, I disagree, but I think it’s it’s worth mentioning, especially I like when I do these types of interview interviews and I’m talking to people who have gone from a place of not really knowing what to do and having them. All kinds of different types of problems to sorting things out and reaching a point like you’re describing where it sounds like you have a great relationship with food.
You still enjoy it. You just enjoy it responsibly, so to speak.
Isho: Yeah, and I think that’s where the misconceptions come in, right? I think people. This is not something that people have seen a lot of or, or when they’ve seen it, they’ve seen it perhaps as a, as a component of someone’s unhealthy behavior, right?
Like, Oh, I can’t have that because I already had pizza or whatever. It was just kind of like a behavioral thing out there. But, but to me. Understanding the world quantitatively spoke to me right and saying, well, look, there’s a simple balance of calories in calories out where at first you do need to at least spend a little bit of time weighing your food and tracking it in an app while you get the hang of it.
I don’t think this is I think once you get over. The first few weeks and get your eye your head around sort of like what does 100 grams of chicken look like?
Mike: How many how many calories is in a tablespoon of peanut butter and then you then you feel deep disappointment?
Isho: Well, uh, or you find the uh, the powdered lower calorie version but but so I I did want to sort of Say that once you get to a basic understanding of how this works, then you don’t need to be exact about it.
You have a very good idea of it and I choose to continue to weigh the food and track my nutrition because I buy into it. I believe that the results are a function of having stuck to the program, you know, convinced that it worked. And so. I also travel for work a lot and I have a lot of unpredictability and I don’t, obviously I’m not at a, at a hotel restaurant pulling out a scale and weighing my, you know, amount of rice that I’m eating.
I have a good idea of it now and I can track it without being exact, right? So that, so I, I think there’s a stigma around sort of this idea that, that. Counting calories is either old fashioned or unhealthy in some psychological form. But, but I don’t, I don’t see it that way at all. I see it as if I can understand the data, then I know what’s happening.
And to me, that was, that was the thing that’s made a tremendous difference. And not only on the nutrition side, Mike, but also on the workout side is being able to see the progress in a log.
Mike: I was going to say that it’s interesting how many people would. Immediately accept the utility of tracking training, they would say, Oh, yeah, of course, that makes sense.
Track your workouts. You can compare, but but then tracking food again, just with some people, it totally irrational stigma attached to it when it really is. It has the same utility. It’s just these are two dimensions of what you need to get under control to master your body composition.
Isho: And there’s a lot of other applications, right?
Like I track my sleep. I wear a fitness tracker that tells me the quality of, of my sleep, not just the hours, but what, you know, what, how much I spent in each stage of sleep, counting your steps is also helpful. And so there’s a lot of things that if you, if you’re a person that likes data, you don’t mind collecting the data.
And so I think of it that way. Mike and, and, and it does take away the idea that, that, that it could be unhealthy. I just think of it as, I want to know what’s going on. If there’s the old adage, if you don’t measure it, you, you can’t manage it. Right. So I just, I feel comfortable in, in the data. Yep. Makes sense.
Mike: Anyways, you were saying with your training.
Isho: Yeah. And so the training, the same thing, right. Is, is, uh, in the past lifted weights, but never. As a part of a program and with a, with sort of very clear goals and, and not tracking it. Right. And so when I started to put it in the app, and then you look back at your data or print it out in sheets, and then you look back at, and you say, well, look, every two weeks, I’m adding five pounds to this lift.
Like I am objectively getting stronger. And sometimes that can get lost if you don’t see it in the data. You know, you can say like, Oh yeah, I feel myself getting stronger. I know I’m lifting more weight, but can I actually go back and see. The progress week in and week out, or maybe I didn’t go up and wait this week, but I did more reps or, you know, I was able to complete the set that last time I couldn’t.
So you do see the progress and there’s a little bit of a lab, but then it eventually starts showing up in the mirror and that’s where, you know, the second wave of motivation comes in. It’s like, wow, this is working. I’m. Even more pump that I want to keep going and then and then it’s it really became a virtuous cycle.
Mike: And as far as the the training that you had done in the past.
So, in the beginning, as you know, our bodies are very, very responsive to training. And so I’m guessing what you had done in the past produced some sort of results, but
why did it not stick? Like how your training has stuck this time around?
Isho: I think it’s a combination of things, Mike, but I found tremendous value in the coaching. There’s a sense of accountability that someone’s looking at my logs. Someone’s going to know if I worked out or if I didn’t work out. Somebody is going to see track my progress and come back with feedback about how to make it better. And so to me this time I have someone looking over my shoulder. Uh, I can not only use as a resource to say, Hey, look, I’m not feeling good about this lift.
Can we try something different? Or I’m having pain, tendonitis in my elbow. What can we switch this up for a little bit, which is a tremendous source of help, but I found that committing to a period of time when someone is going to be looking after my performance motivated me to stay on track, right? So I had in the past, you know, done workouts more, a little more haphazardly.
Kind of following some rules, whatever you read in the magazines or but not as a part of a sort of a long term program. And when I started this, I committed to doing it at first. I committed to 12 weeks of coaching and you like to say, you know, I want you to fire us after after two weeks. I’m I’m the opposite.
I signed up for another 12 weeks and then another six months just because I really see the benefit of having somebody. Show you the ropes more so than the book. I mean, the book was a tremendous eyeopener in so many ways, but, but I love the accountability aspect to the coaching and I don’t see myself giving that up anytime soon because the sum of all these parts starts clicking, starts working, and you see the results and you say I’m 45 years old is the first time I’ve ever actually.
Felt good about the way I, my body looks the combination of, uh, getting to a point where there’s sufficient leanness to actually see more of the results of the gym. You know, I, I just think that when all aspects are considered and, and there’s a lot more to that is, you know, the sleep, the step count, all, all of these things coming together, but when they.
All came together in click. I went from seeing lifting weights as something of a chore to something that I’m excited about. It it’ll happen. I lift Monday through Friday. It happens that on a Saturday, I’m like, man, I wish I could go lift today, but I have to rest, which is a big change, right? Uh, and, and, and, and, and totally different outlook that’s showing up in the results, uh, for me, because I’m, I’m genuinely bought in and excited to keep on.
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Can you tell us some of the changes that you’ve seen, uh, in your body composition and your performance just in the, in the course of. Since you started the coaching.
Isho: Yep. Yes. So I’ll start you off with a baseline. It was, uh, the first few days of the year I was hanging out with my kids at a museum and they had this, they had this, uh, playground in it and I tried to. Do one chin up at the playground and I couldn’t do one and I thought I’m 45 years old once my body starts to get on an age and and and I start losing the quote unquote muscle, which I don’t think I had much to speak of what’s going to happen to me.
I can’t, you know, if I can’t do 1 single chin up and that’s when I decided something has to change. I have to look for a better answer. I started the program. When I had already kind of lost maybe about 10 pounds, just kind of running and loosely doing like paleo stuff, but not very motivated. And that day I said, look, I’m either going to stay like this or I’m going to get serious about it.
So I went from the moment I started tracking my body weight and my body fat percentage and my lifts and so forth, let’s call it day zero. I was probably about 25 percent body fat, about 185 pounds. I’m six one. So that doesn’t seem terrible, but I was just. Soft and kind of larger around the waist. And in the, in the course of the first 24 weeks of, of the program, I lost 24 pounds.
All of it was fat. So I was really happy to do sort of about a pound a week, but retained whatever little muscle was there. But, but then it also started to sort of show up better, right? Because as, as the fat melts down. You know, a little bit of, of, of your kind of more athletic physique that may or may not have been there the whole time that starts to show up, you know, within just a few weeks, I was doing not only.
Sets of chin ups, but, but, but doing it with a, with a weight strapped around my waist and just people started noticing people start saying things like, wow, man, you know, what are you doing? Tell me about it. And so that’s where you, you, you really know that you’re getting something accomplished and that, and that you’re on your way to your objective.
And so I, you know, I’m not a, I’m not a very. Sort of kind of big muscular type guy, but to get down to from call it 24 percent body fat to about 13, 14, it was, uh, where I ended the cut. I did a five month cut. I don’t feel like I suffered at all through it. I thrived, but I was enjoying every step of the process.
I was enjoying seeing myself change and now I’m onto bulking and trying, you know, to continue to get stronger and hopefully put a little bit of muscle on the frame so that as I enter sort of the later years of my life that I have sort of. Good basis. Start from, from a strength perspective and having a little bit of meat on the bone.
Mike: And in that process of losing that fat, you also certainly we’re gaining muscle just because you’re not going to gain a bunch of strength without gaining a fair amount of muscle as well.
Like for your first month or two, you’re learning the exercises and you can improve there. But beyond that, it really, it really takes muscle. Growth to produce more strength and you know, for some people listening, they might be a little bit surprised that how much fat you you lost. And I don’t know if you experienced this, but I’ve experienced it going up and down and body fat levels that we often carry more fat than we realize.
And the look that we want, I don’t know if this is the experience for you, but the look that we want Often requires a bit more fat loss or we could say weight loss, but that’s a consequence of fat loss then we realize and so again, just because some people might be thinking with your height and like, oh, wow.
So you went down to into the one sixties and you weren’t like grotesquely skinny.
Isho: No, not at all. And that’ll vary a lot, I think, from person to person.
Mike: Sure. But the fact that you’re a taller guy, maybe you might be similar to me. Maybe you don’t have a large skeleton. Like, I wasn’t made to be a big guy. I have small wrists.
I have small ankles. I just have a small skeleton. And so even accounting for that, again, just wanted to point out that how much weight you lost while improving your body composition, gaining strength, and achieving look that you like.
Isho: Yeah, yeah, for me, it was, you know, I started at like the mid one eighties.
I got down to the like mid one sixties and I decided to end the cut there because I had kind of seen a lot of the results I wanted. I wanted to see my midsection to be leaner, but then there’s a point where you start to get maybe a little too thin. And I said, okay, well. Now I want to switch and there’s a part where you want to kind of stop the cut, uh, and, and, and switch it up a little bit, but yeah, it would definitely, the results would vary a lot based on what people look like.
I also have a smaller skeleton in the ways that you described. So I could have continued going either way, but, but I think that I was so excited and I still am to, to see what. What I can do on a bulk, I want to see what I can look like with a little bit of meat on the bone. And so to be just the idea that you can toggle on and off what mode your body is in based on the amount of different macros that you eat was fascinating.
And the proof’s in the pudding. I mean, if you lift weights and eat sufficient protein and sustain that caloric deficit, it’ll be fat that melts. And, you know, you’ll reveal the. Muscle that’s that’s underneath and you’ll get to grow that in the process, even through a cut, like you mentioned, you know, and that’s kind of that.
Those awesome newbie gains. I’m sure that over the that cut, I gained muscle while I was losing fat and it’s and it’s evident in the lifting logs.
Mike: Yeah, it’s, it’s hard to see because what you see is that you’re, you’re shrinking. But what you’re not seeing is that you actually are building muscle up under that fat that you’re losing.
And by the time you get lean enough to see it, all you see is, Oh, cool, that actually looks pretty good. Uh, but what you didn’t see is how it would have looked if you wouldn’t have gained any of the muscle. Now, maybe you still would have been happier, but it would have been a different look.
Isho: I actually have seen it because that’s what happened with, uh, marathon training.
So you would, you would shrink without any muscle underneath. And so those are the results that, you know, yeah, your, your waist size goes down, but you take your shirt off at the beach and it’s not exactly sort of the athletic look. It’s just a, a kind of like a frail marathoner look. Uh, I have actually experienced that, and this time it, it was a totally different experience because I was just losing fat and, and, and preserving.
My lean body mass. So it was a tremendous experience. And now in, in, in the, uh, in the bulk, I’m just kind of early days of the bulk, but we’re very pleased with the results so far as, as you continue to make strength gains. And, and then, and granted, you know, I’m starting from a, from a low point. I haven’t been like this super straw kind of, uh, farm strength kind of guy or whatever, but you see the gains and it’s just my reflection on that.
Mike has just been, you just lay a brick down every day. And so from day to day, the changes aren’t really visible, but when you step back and you look at what you’re building, that there’s all of a sudden a wall, and then all of a sudden a building, and then all of a sudden, you know, things add up. And it’s difficult to see on a, on a day to day basis.
Cause all you’re doing is kind of laying one brick at a time, but when you step back and that’s what sort of the, the coaching helped me figure out is, you know, you put the side by side photos and he says, well, look at this, look at this and pointing out the differences beyond the obvious, and you realize that, that it’s, you know, as long as you’re staying close and consistent day in and day out, the results show up.
Mike: You mentioned that when you were cutting, it was an enjoyable, it was a pleasant experience. I’m curious to hear about how you set up your diet. How did you make that work for you? Because a lot of people listening know about energy balance. They know about macronutrient balance. They know the fundamentals, but there’s a lot of wiggle room within those fundamentals.
And the exact way that you went about it. Would work great for one person and not so great for another person because they may prefer different macronutrient ratios. They may prefer to eat at different times. They may prefer different food choices. And so I always like to ask people specifically, what would you ascribe a lot of the success to in making the diet work and making it something that that was sustainable and that you could consistently stick to for five months.
Isho: So one thing that comes to mind quickly is the quality of those calories in those macros, right? So the moment that that you start paying attention, you realize that 100 calories of Snickers is not the same as 100 calories of broccoli, right? Perhaps that’s not the best example because they’re composed of different macros, but but the quality of the calories can make you feel satiated longer.
Right. So the feeling of fullness and the reduction in the cravings does matter a lot as you eat more protein and more quality foods. So my experience was I first started by cutting out all the junk and really sticking to kind of whole unprocessed or as little as little processed as possible type foods.
The other thing is I think to have. Some kind of an approach to how you’re going to do your day, right? So I, I start kind of, I have the same breakfast every day. I just have a shake where I put kind of the same components in every day. And I, and I know that that’s in a certain range of calories and macros, and then I’ll be flexible the rest of the day around how I get to my macros, right?
So if I have chicken and rice for lunch, then I’ll for dinner, I’ll open my app and see, okay, well, I have this many calories left to have this many. Grams of protein to go and so forth. And I just kind of top it up on my way to dinner. And then I usually have a little bit of excess calories, even in a cut, I would allocate a helping of Greek yogurt with berries or something that will satisfy the sweet tooth and also help me sort of reach the goals.
So having a kind of a strategy, I think some people might like to plan out their entire day. The day before, or I’ve also seen some folks do meal prep, kind of like they’re weak and they do like the same five dinners and the same five lunches. I think there’s, there’s some trial and error, some kind of finding what works for you.
For me, I take a very flexible approach to it. I just kind of. Go along the day and, and, and as long as I track what I’m putting in there, then dinner becomes a little bit of a, like a game, a little bit of an adventure to see.
Mike: Pull up chat GPT. All right, here are my macros. Give me here, my angry. Here’s what I have in my fridge. Give me some ideas.
Isho: And, and, and there’s little hacks that you can do, right? Like I, uh, I’ll buy sort of the rotisserie chicken and just pull it all apart and keep it in a Tupperware in my fridge, right? So want to have dinner and I need, no, I need 40 grams of. Protein, I just kind of put it on the scale.
Yeah. I put it on the scale and just kind of get to my goal and, uh, sweet potatoes and rice and I just kind of, kind of have stuff already prepared and in the fridge. And so when it comes to sort of rounding all these things off at the, at the end of the day, it’s really easy to do. And, and a lot of it, I, I alluded to this earlier, but a lot of it is just kind of having an idea.
After doing it a few times, you have an idea for what it takes to get. 50 grams of carbs or 40 grams of protein in a meal, so you don’t really have to think about it too much. It just becomes kind of second nature after a while. You know, if you don’t play the piano at first, you’re thinking about where you put each finger, but then over time, you just kind of know how it goes.
And so I found a lot of the same to happen with, uh, with the nutrition. And that’s, I think what made the cut not, uh, not a difficult experience. I never felt like, uh, I never felt like I was missing out because Once you switch to high quality sources of nutrients, you don’t need that many calories. And the other thing that I do want to make sure I mention is, you talk about in the book how for most people they get the caloric balance or the energy balance wrong because they either A, overestimate the amount of calories they burn, or B, underestimate the amount of calories they eat, or both, or both for sure, that’s a double whammy.
The calories that alcohol throw into the mix, I think, were a really surprising revelation for me, you know, because I, I always kind of followed these paleo or whatever other programs. And I didn’t really think of. You know, if I go out on Friday night and I have X amount of drinks, then, you know, what is that doing?
But once you start tracking and you say, Hey, I had four beers and whoa, look at what it did to my calories. Right. And so I would say that largely the only thing that I. Cut out or did less of and which was not zero, but a lot less of was alcohol because it really provided no nutritional value. It just ate up calories, made me feel like crap the next day.
And so I would even say that, that I don’t miss alcohol. I would say that if you, uh, have a bell curve for Alcoholic consumption. I’m maybe somewhere in the middle. I wouldn’t say I’m sort of any extreme, but I’ve gone down to probably the short and now where I just don’t see the value and I see the impact that it has beyond sort of the experience of it.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe always had with it, but now that, that I’m tracking and I’m paying attention to calories in calories out, how things make me feel, uh, eating high quality foods, getting up early. I do my workouts at five 36 in the morning and how alcohol will just wreak havoc on all of that.
Mike: I’ll joke sometimes like why don’t you go and do a heavy lower body workout like make yourself on on that Monday you know on Sunday you said you wouldn’t drink all the while you drank the bottle of wine don’t go in and skip that leg workout go do it and suffer through it and maybe next time you’ll think twice.
Isho: For sure for sure and I’m not advocating that people don’t have alcohol like I enjoy having alcohol uh as much as the next guy and I and I just now do it in a In a, in a framework of, I have to fit it in and I am much more mindful about the way it makes me feel the way it, all the side effects of it, and that I’m going to drag the next day, whether that be in the gym or family life on a weekend or at work or whatever.
And so to be tracking the content of its macros really opened my eyes to sort of what, what it really does.
Mike: Yeah, that’s, um, a common experience of people who go through this, this kind of journey where it’s usually body composition that motivates them to reduce alcohol and takes, they realize, okay, I can’t be drinking 500 calories.
Whether it’s alcohol or milk or fruit juice, whatever, like I can’t drink 500 calories a day on average and make this work. I’m going to be starving all the time or whatever. And so that initial impetus is just, just numbers and body composition, but then often In many cases, it’s been some time since they have reduced their alcohol intake consistently, and then they start to realize, uh, how much better they feel with less alcohol.
And then that becomes a reinforcement for not abstaining altogether, but just staying at the more manageable. Range where it’s friendly to body composition, and I wouldn’t say friendly to health. I think that that’s mostly a myth. The claims that have been made about alcohol being healthy at any amount.
However, if you are drinking, I guess, say responsibly, but if you are, uh, if you’re limiting it to, let’s say an amount that’s not causing problems with your body composition, it’s probably not that much alcohol. And if you are doing a lot of other things right and taking care of your health, you can probably mostly mitigate any of the.
Negative effects that that alcohol may have, you could argue you might feel even a little bit better if you went to zero, but there’s quality of life. Now we’re talking about. And if the bottom line improvements, the physiological improvements become fairly negligible because you’re doing all these other things so well, and you really enjoy having a relatively small, if it’s consistent amount of alcohol, then do it. I think that you just just do it with that awareness.
Isho: Yeah, you speak in the book about allowing yourself sort of a 10, maybe 20 percent of your calories to be the treats that that will help you sort of fill that void and keep you on track. And I think of desserts and alcohol. Sort of in that same bracket, you know, I’ll allow myself some alcohol here and there and, and that doesn’t mean, you know, I don’t want to have a slice of cake every now and then, or a few beers every now and then, but I’ll just fit it in, in the right proportion, uh, into my plan.
And so I’m allowed to do that. It’s, it’s within the flexible framework of the program that, that allows it to. Allows you to take those things in, right? And so to the extent that you can plan for it and you can usually see these things coming, you know, you’re going to go out to dinner with friends on Saturday night.
And I know that probably means I’ll have three glasses of wine. We’ll just budget for it. Or took my kids to a baking class and, uh, had a bunch of baked goods that we cooked. And so, uh, you know, I had croissants and donuts and stuff and I just put it into my. Daily plan and it works and I continue to reach the goal.
So that to me is what really makes this program sustainable for life. The idea that I can, I can enjoy all of these things in moderation and as part of my plan.
Mike: And I wanted to ask about treats because that’s also an important component of making. Diet as a lifestyle work and by diet that I don’t necessarily mean restricting calories.
I just mean an eating a way of eating is allowing yourself to have things that maybe you’re not going to have every day like desserts or alcohol. And so I’m just curious what strategy worked for you. Like I speak to some people and for example, they would do a weekly kind of treat meal and they had their favorite types of foods that they would go to.
Maybe there’s some alcohol with it. And that really was a motivating factor. And I remember going all the way back to when I was learning this and experiencing it and cutting. And I really would look forward to my wife and I, Friday night, we would go out to dinner somewhere. That was my treat meal. And it was something I really looked forward to throughout the week.
And it was an, there was an enjoyable rhythm to that. I liked that where I was. On plan and then once a week, I would go and I would eat off plan and I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t eat 10, 000 calories, but I would eat whatever I wanted to eat and I would really enjoy myself and then get back on plan. Other people I speak with, it’s more like once a month, not because they felt it.
That they had to only do it once a month. They really just didn’t care. They were just on plan and then randomly a birthday party. And then, okay, fine. There’s their once per month kind of random treat meal, so to speak. But how did it work for you?
Isho: So at first I. I was really gung ho and I did no treats and no alcohol.
So the first part of the cut, I did that. And then as time wore on, I said, well, I’ll try here. What if I can break through this mental barrier that chocolate cake is erase all my gains? And I tried it and I fit it into my daily math and Nothing happened. And so the next time I said, well, what if I have a bagel?
And, and then I started just kind of developing a more flexible approach to it. So I, I would say that at first I was really, really set on getting the results.
Mike: Which is not a bad strategy. I mean, you’re like, I’m gonna go all in and see if it works, because if it doesn’t work and I’m all in, then it’s not gonna work.
If I add in the cake and the bagels and whatever.
Isho: For sure. I wanted to see what it really could be at its maximum potential. Right? And so I did that for a while, but then I started to think about sustainability over the long term. And so I started to add these things back in, including nights out with alcohol and what have you.
And I saw that they didn’t Make me take steps back so long as I was, you know, always keeping it within my, within my budget daily. And I’m now totally flexible about it. If I want to have a, a little bit of a treat every day, I allow it. If I not looking for it, then I don’t have it. And same goes with, with sort of like weekends where.
You know, if I’m over at a friend’s house for a barbecue and I, you know, I would maybe not have a bunch of barbecue sauce with ribs or whatever, but I’m like, yeah, whatever, it’s going to be fine. I put it in the, in the tracker. I ate some barbecue sauce and no big deal. Right? So I’m just flexible about it.
I do try to stay very close and very consistent day in and day out on hitting my macros. But as long as I can fit those things in, which I always can, then. It’s just continued to work.
Mike: And I will say that is a benefit of doing it the way that you’re doing it. Some people, they don’t like that it requires thought throughout the day.
Like you do have to, okay, you put in what did you just eat? You have another meal coming up. Let’s say it’s lunch now and you don’t want to eat. Too much of what you have left in the day in your lunch, because then you’re going to be very hungry come dinner and you’re gonna be like, shit, I only have 300 calories left for dinner.
Like, that’s not great. However, if you are willing to give it some some attention and give it a little bit of energy every day and working it out and finding also a pattern that works for you and having your little go to foods and some of the things you’ve mentioned, the big benefit is kind of maximum flexibility.
Like you’re, you’re saying where you’re able to many people, it’s usually one or two meals per day. Like there are usually one or two meals that are pretty fixed. Like you mentioned, your breakfast is kind of just what it is, but then maybe it’s lunch or dinner. And I know a lot of people who are, who like to approach it where it’s, it’s not a planning.
So, so much as a tracking, like what you’re talking about is it allows them a lot of flexibility in one or maybe two meals per day, where then they really can eat. What they want to eat so long as it’s within the realm of reasonable, you know, meals. So I just want to want to say that that that does work very well for some people.
Isho: Yeah, in my case, and this isn’t a strategy so much as it’s just the way it kind of the cookie crumbles is I just kind of. I’m less hungry in the earlier part of the day, even though I do my workout in the morning, I do make sure that I get my proteins and my carbs, uh, around my workout, but then I get a little more hungry in the middle of the day and then I get a little more hungry in the evening.
And so I just, the way my calories stack up is they just kind of progressively get larger with every meal. And I, in some ways kind of have set up the dessert portion of dinner as my big sort of catchall. So I do find that I. Get a little bit of a craving for sugar or sweet things at bedtime. So I just leave myself a couple hundred calories there so I can have a little bit of dark chocolate or some, you know, yogurt with berries, or, uh, even if I, you know, my kids baked chocolate chip cookies, I can just have a cookie because I leave myself kind of a little bit of a, like an inverse pyramid where I get kind of have more room towards the end of the day, but that’s just because of the.
Maybe the hunger patterns or the cravings that I get maybe at the, at the end of the day. And I just kind of molded it to what works for me. And that’s, that’s been, you know, to be an important part of the program is there’s absolute flexibility about what time you eat, how much you eat at each meal time.
Like all these ideas that you can’t eat more than X amount of protein in a meal because you won’t digest it properly or whatever. Like all those things went out the window. They’re not scientific based.
Mike: Or, or that you can’t eat at night or that you’re not supposed to eat carbs after a certain period, or you’re definitely not supposed to be eating sugar at 9 p. m.
Isho: And, and, and to take it a step further, Mike, I also read Fitness Science Explained, your other book about how to understand. The scientific method at work, which I recommend to everybody, whether you’re into fitness or not. It’s really about sort of how science works. Uh, and it was, it was a great reminder of how you need to be a skeptic about the things that you read, because that’s where so much of the misinformation and the confusion comes from.
Where you hear, well, you’re not supposed to eat carbs. Now, a science, new scientists have said that you’re not only, you can’t eat carbs after Noon or whatever, and they all contradict each other, but it’s, it’s really, it’s the way these things are promoted in, in the media that are confusing, right? But if you take a critical eye to things, and that’s what I really, really spoke to me about your book is that you dispel a lot of these notions, not from, Oh, well, look at my body.
This is my source of credibility is I’m a, you know, I’m a very fit person. No, it’s, this is what the scientific method says. Either worked or didn’t work in this study, and these may be the flaws with this study. And this is why people think that this common misconception is true. But if you approach it from a more critical standpoint, and you have the elements to, or the tools to, to judge for yourself and make up your own mind, then.
That’s what kind of brought your program together from a fitness perspective, from a nutrition perspective, from a recovery perspective, like all of these different things come together because those are the best that you’ve distilled the best of science down to a few pages that sort of Kind of put together kind of these fundamental truths that work.
And I think a lot of the places that people can bounce around with misinformation is people speaking from not necessarily the scientific viewpoint. It’s, this is what’s worked for me. This is kind of best practice of bodybuilders, whatever it is, there’s so much that is not borne out by the. Scientific literature, and you’ve done an amazing job of that of actually going through all that literature and being critical and saying, well, this is supported by science.
This isn’t. And at the end of the day, so many of those things where you shouldn’t eat in the mornings, or you should only eat meat or whatever, whatever it is. You’ve gone through it with the filter of the science supported or not. And science supports flexibility. I think at the end of the day, as long as you’re hitting kind of your calories in, calories out, and you’re getting the right amount of protein, everything else around the program is very flexible, which I think not only is underpinned by scientific fact, but allows you just to stay on the program without feeling like you’re sacrificing.
Mike: Yeah, one of the problems also with people sharing their own anecdotes, uh, and it’s great that people do that. A lot of people who are doing that are just trying to help. But unfortunately, when a lot of people talk about what has worked for them, they are being honest about what has worked for them, but they don’t know why it worked.
And often They’ve been misled as to why it has worked. I mean, think about like the keto diet and a person can lose a lot of weight and they can lose a lot of fat on a keto diet. Absolutely. You can also gain a lot of fat if you go about it in the wrong way, because you actually can eat way more calories consistently on a very high fat diet.
But, you know, so you have somebody who does the keto diet that lose a lot of weight and they say, yeah, the keto diet worked really well for me. Oh, why did it work? Oh, because carbs make you fat. Well, that alone, uh, is dis, it’s, it’s, it’s wrong, but, but that can cause then problems in, in other people who then try to do it themselves.
And then let’s say it doesn’t work for them and they actually gain fat. And now they’re very confused because if carbs are what are making. me fat and keeping me fat. I’m not eating any carbs anymore. And I got fatter. So, and, and that then can lead people to all types of incorrect conclusions. That’s where a lot of people then to think that something’s just wrong with them and their metabolism.
Oh, maybe it’s metabolic damage. Now they have to do detoxes or they have to do metabolic resets. And you know, I, I have, uh, Empathy for people who get caught in that whirlpool, so to speak, because there’s so much misinformation because there’s, there’s a lot of money in sharing misinformation like that.
You can sell people all kinds of things and you can, you can get status and prestige and you can get media attention and blah, blah, blah. So, you know, it’s just something that in my work. I’ve always tried to be honest about the weight of, of the evidence, not, not cherry picking studies and always keep an eye to practicality because bottom line, what matters the most is what works consistently.
Fortunately, there’s enough good research out there and I’m just a desk researcher. I can’t take the credit for really the bulk of the work, which was the people who was done by the people who. We’re in the trenches, doing the research, generating the hypotheses that that’s really the hard work. And fortunately, that work has already been done.
And so for people like me, I just try to make it as clear and practical as possible and stick to what I feel is again, the weight or the consensus of the high quality evidence. And then seeing that producing results repeatedly in people, a wide cross section of people, basically everybody really who can can stick to what you’ve described in this episode as long as they can do it semi consistently, they will get results and we’ve seen that even in the literature, people with all types of health problems, metabolic problems, they too can win with this basic Blueprint now, it can be harder for some people to stick to it, and that’s another discussion.
But if they can figure out how to stick to it, there’s a lot of talk about somaglutide right now, right? This weight loss drug that it just helps people not eat is really what it’s doing.
Isho: It’s an appetite suppressant. Yeah.
Mike: Correct. It just turns your appetite off. So then it’s easier to maintain a calorie deficit.
And I, that’s not an endorsement of it per se. I do think I’ve seen it work very well for certain people who have had a lot of failures trying to do all types of diets and they’re very overweight. And there is a point where it’s healthier to, uh, I do get the argument that it’s healthier to use a drug like that and get that weight off and then try to also incorporate lifestyle changes.
So Ideally, they could come off the drug and maintain that new lower body weight. I would not recommend it for people who are able to do something like you did, uh, without the drug. But, um, anyway, I, I just want to want to say that I appreciate, uh, the appreciation, like, like I had a joke, you know, I’m not, it’s nice that I like these episodes because it’s, uh, just a confirmation that I’m not scribbling into the void or, or mouthing into the void that.
You know, some people, they don’t want to hear a lot of what we’re talking about. They’re not ready for it yet, but there are a lot of people who are willing to hear it and say, Hey, I’ll give this a try. It’s not what I wanted to hear. I didn’t want to hear that. I can’t just eat whatever I want, however much I want or however much I want of these predetermined foods. Uh, I didn’t want to be told that I had to care about calories, but I’m willing to give it a try.
Isho: I agree with that, Mike. And I think one thing that would tie together the success that people can have in all of those other programs, ultimately, you’ve boiled it down to being the result of a caloric deficit.
And that’s borne out by the science.
Mike: Marketers, marketers are always trying to dance around that, like noom, noom, I think. Are they still claiming they’re not a diet? You know, it’s like a a…
Isho: a lot of it is just about how people look at those things, right? Just the, the conceptions around it.
Mike: Right, right.
They’re trying to play the perception game, like we don’t want, well, it, it absolutely is. Diet, of course, by definition, by whatever definition you want, it’s a diet, but.
Isho: Animals have diets, right? So, but yeah, I think, I think if you, if you take away the emotional attachments to those words, I think, I think there’s sort of some fundamental kind of tenets that underpin that there’s, there’s, I mean, and it works in every which way in nature, like there’s a balance to energy and everything. And it requires a certain amount of force to lift a certain amount of weight. It requires a certain amount of calorie deficit or surplus to, to create a certain result in the body.
I mean. The way of looking at it kind of with a, with a white lab coat and goggles takes away all those emotional components to it. And just says, look, I’m going to experiment on myself. Here’s a hypothesis. It, this program will work and let’s see if it works or not. And to me, the results are undeniable.
The amount of people that have had success on your program speaks for itself. Just in, in, in the sense that if this message reaches someone at the right time, and they’re ready for it, and they have the commitment. Down and they, and they’re willing to kind of go maybe not all in some folks, all in, but you know, they’re willing to go the, the distance, the program works right.
And so this message reached me at the right time. I happened to 1 of my friends was on your podcast and, and I saw it on 1 of his socials and, and I said, I’m going to check this out and everything I heard just spoke to me and it said. There’s a, here’s a quantitative approach. And I said, ah, that’s something I have tried.
And, uh, and here I am, you know, months later, super happy about the results. And, and, uh, all I can say is it’s in my experience, it’s, it’s just, I’m following something that’s based on scientific fact and. Not only in the scientific literature, the results that I’ve seen have been literally following the math.
You know, if, if that reaches, that message reaches someone at the right time, you know, they’ll have the motivation to do it and you’re not scribbling into the void or not speaking into the void, your message reached me and, and, and I’m super stoked to have found the program and, and to continue doing it and the coaching has been a tremendous element, you know, Harry Barnes is an amazing coach and he’s helped.
Not only with the accountability aspect, which I really value, but also to sort of help dispel the last kind of remaining myths or misconceptions that can be out there from all kinds of information that we’re bombarded with every day. Right? So just, I did want to say that the program to me just clicked.
It made sense. It came from a background of evidence and I can’t see myself living any other way.
Mike: I love it. I love it. Well, this was, this was a great discussion. You show we were able to cover everything I wanted to cover. Is there anything else that you wanted to share before we sign off here? Anything that I should have asked about that I didn’t or?
Isho: No, man, I think we’ve covered a bunch to be just if there’s anything I can, I can leave you with is the having flexibility in the plan has been a tremendous realization, right?
That you don’t have to follow. Things rigidly to understand that life happens and that sometimes, you know, I’ll be on the road for work a bunch and I’ll have to skip out, skip a workout here or there. That’s not the end of the world. If you can’t track or whatever your calories or your workouts or whatever for a period of time here or there, it’s not the end of the world because the sum of all of those other bricks that you’ve laid on all those prior days and all the bricks that I’ll lay on all the following days will make this one miss brick not matter.
Mike: I think it’s a good experience to have, actually, just as it’s a good experience to, like you said, track your food, at least for a period and get a really good idea of what proper portions look like. And it’s, I think it’s a good experience to be as close to perfect as you can get with your training and really see what that can do and how, how you feel.
I think it’s valuable to have now almost the opposite kind of experience where you’re in a situation where because you’re traveling, you really can’t. Track it’s hard to even your eating schedule is kind of random. You got to just make do with whatever you have available and you have to skip some workouts because inevitably you realize what you just what you just said.
It’s like, oh, I mean, even I haven’t even been able to train in a week and still look good. I still feel pretty good. Then you get back in the gym and you just kind of pick up where you left off and you realize that, oh, wow, an entire week. Worth of missed workouts. You know, I felt kind of bad about it, but it just didn’t matter.
I would have to miss every other week to even notice a difference.
Isho: You’re so far down that one path that like a few steps one way or the other won’t change it, and then you’re going to go right back on the path. So I think that that’s been the source of, for, in my experience, some, some moments I’ve derailed and then lost interest.
And, and I think that my reflection on this is that just, if you put your breakdown every day, then, you know. You can allow for a little bit of variability, a little bit of life unpredictability, but that’s no reason to sort of not think that it’s working or to give up because really the sum of all the work prior to and what will come in the future will make it insignificant.
Mike: Totally agree. Well, again, thank you for taking the time to do this. I had a lot of fun and keep up the good work.
Isho: Thank you so much, Mike. Thanks for writing the books. Thanks for putting together the coaching program, podcasts, all of everything you do, uh, to help people improve their lives. I’m incredibly thankful. Please keep putting out more, uh, more content.
Mike: Yeah, always working on the next thing, and I’m, I’m flattered. Thank you. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful. And if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people.
Who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email. Mike at muscle for life. com muscle F O R life. com. And let me know what I could do. Better, or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode and I hope to hear from you soon.