Andrew’s Tips for Starting & Maintaining a Diet

I’ve lost a lot of weight over the past year and I wanted to share some tips that have helped me along the way that might be able to help you with your goals as well.

Fat Intake

Dropping too low on daily fat intake, over a long period of time, causes massive cravings/binges and can mess with your hormones. If I go any lower than 50g/day of fat, I tend to start craving food obsessively. If you turn into a food obsessed emotional monster, this is might be why.

Meal Planning

When you really nail down a good diet, you might start finding new foods to slip into the mix to make things fresh/new. Keep this in mind: The more you think about food (Planning meals, recipes, etc), the more you will crave food. The best thing you can do for your appetite is minimize the time you spend thinking about food. You do this by preparing 2-3 menus of food you adhere to on any given day – like wearing a different suit on any given day of the week. “Oh, it’s Tuesday – that means it’s 1 lb chicken breast, 8 eggs, 500 calories of fruit/veg, and a serving of butter today”.

Intermittent fasting

Looking forward to only one meal (maybe spread out a bit) requires less conscious thought than looking forward to 3 meals + snacks. Less thought = less appetite. There might also be weird hormonal reasons for IF curbing appetite, but it works regardless. Less meals.

Filling Foods

Foods that fill you up are foods that have a lot of fiber and/or absorb a lot of water. Examples include fruit, vegetables, and oatmeal (with 3 cups of water per 1 cup of oats). Protein and fat also satiate obviously, but the satiety from protein/fat feels more hormonal than physical. Fiber/water absorption satiates on a very physical level.


When you start a new habit or routine, it will feel very hard at first. You’ll find that after 2 weeks it starts to seem “easy” to you to do the new routine, and after 4 weeks of repetition it will seem “default” or “automatic”. After a month of doing something it will become your natural state, and it will be hard for you to think of any way else to do things.
I like to think of this as a kind of psychological momentum. Every positive routine you have creates a feedback loop where doing it becomes easier the more you do it. The same can be said for bad habits though. This leads to two lessons:

  • When you’ve established an upward spiral (You have good routines), don’t stray from them! It’s easy to say, “Oh I’ll just have one donut”, or “Oh I’ll just order pizza this one time”, but one diet break might be a “combo breaker” for your winning streak. It might push you out of your upward spiral. That single lapse has a greater psychological burden than it seems to from first glance. Preserve your positive momentum.
  • Breaking a bad habit is hardest to do during the first two weeks. Don’t think about making a life change – just beat that habit for 2 weeks. If you can make it those 14 days, you can make it to the 30 day point EASILY. When you make it to 30 days, it will feel NATURAL and DEFAULT to never do that bad thing again. 2 weeks is the goal. It is not insurmountable.

Think About Your Goal

As previously stated, the more you think about something the more you will gravitate toward it. If you’re having trouble sticking to your goals, think about how much you want them every time you find yourself straying. If you think about where you DON’T want to be two minutes a day for every minute you spend thinking about where you DO want to be, you can’t expect yourself to succeed. Force yourself to stack the odds in your favor by thinking about your goals more than you think about your temptations.
If I find myself day dreaming about my weakness foods, I consciously force myself to spend more time immediately after that thinking about how awesome it would be to look amazing, and to be ripped. IT WORKS.

Slip Ups

You’re going to slip up. When you do, your focus will be to abolish the bad habit you’ve picked up and re-establish your positive momentum. During this time, the name of the game is DAMAGE CONTROL. Putting on 5 lbs during a bad time is a huge psychological burden compared to just “stalling” in your weight loss. Minimize the damage you do during your “slip ups” by eating less for a few days after you splurge. Your body takes DAYS to process food. When you overeat you incur debt. You have a few days to pay it off with a correction to your diet. You have about a day to exercise as much of it off as you can while it’s still being processed before it turns to fat. DO NOT use this as an excuse to binge-starve-binge. That is unhealthy for obvious reasons and will lead to an eating disorder. This method is occasionally used to temporarily correct a lapse in control or judgement – it is not a pattern you want to adopt.

Diet Composition

Your body talks to you. It tells you what nutrients you need by giving you cravings for certain foods. Your body doesn’t know what a pepperoni pizza is, or what a sweet potato is. All it knows is, “That fatty thing with a lot of sodium I ate yesterday (pizza)”, or “That filling starchy thing with vitamin A (Sweet potato)”. If your putting pizza and hamburgers into your body, your conscious mind will interpret those cravings as “Eat more Pizza!”; and If you are constantly craving pizza, it will be very hard to lose weight, and very easy to over eat.
For this reason it is important to eat “healthy” foods. After a few weeks of eating fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods, you will start CRAVING THEM. it’s easy to stick to your diet when you’re craving veggies and chicken breast.
This is also why you want varied food in your diet. Your body needs to be able to put a name to the nutrients it needs. If you need more vitamin C, and you’ve eaten peaches recently (they have vitamin C), then you crave peaches. If you aren’t eating any peaches though, you just get “hungry” without knowing why, and you stay that way after you should be full. Eat a somewhat varied diet so you know what to eat to satisfy yourself.

The End.

Stretching Routine: Starting Stretching for Beginners

Starting Stretching for BeginnersI am probably the least flexible person in the world and have always struggled to find ways to improve my flexibility. Most stretching routines too complex and time consuming to do on a daily basis so I’ve gone my whole life without ever stretching. Now that I’m constantly in the gym, I’m finding that my limited flexibility limits my ability to properly do some workouts and I knew that it was time for a change.

I started doing a bit of research and found a beginner’s stretching program called ‘Starting Stretching‘ created by phrakture. It’s the perfect program for a person like me who has absolutely no idea what they are doing and is too overwhelmed to know where to begin. The routine should take about 15 minutes to complete and should be performed in succession daily and after every workout. Keep reading below for the complete program pasted from Phrakture’s website as well as some pictures to help with the explanation of the movements.

The Starting Stretching Program

This program covers a series of 9 stretches – 3 upper body, 4 lower body, and 2 torso. Each is to be done for a total of 60 seconds. Doing this in one stretch is the best, but if you need to stretch for 30s, relax, and finish 30s, that is fine too. Try not to go lower than 20s intervals – if you can’t do a stretch for at least 20s, lessen the intensity.

These stretches are to be performed in succession after every single workout. This should take only 10-15 minutes. It is recommended, however to do them every single day. If you have time, repeating the stretches 2-3 times is also recommended.

Shoulder Extension

Starting Stretching - Shoulder Extension

Place your hands on some object that is overhead, while keeping your arms straight. You may bend forward to an object, as long as it is still “overhead”. Attempt to push your head and chest through so that the arms are pressed behind the body. Variation 1, Variation 2.

Beginner: As above, with palms facing down

Intermediate: Place your elbows on the object and bring the hands together as it you were praying.

Advanced: Rotate the palms facing upward. Holding a stick might be useful to help keep the hands from rotating. Alternatively, a dead hang from a bar in a chinup grip might be used.

Underarm Shoulder Stretch

Starting Stretching - Underarm Shoulder Stretch
While seated, place your hands behind you on the ground, fingers pointing away, and slide your butt forward, keeping the arms straight. This can also be done by placing your hands behind you on a tall object, and squatting/crouching down.

Beginner: As above, keeping hands on the ground, approximately shoulder width.

Intermediate: Use a stick or resistance band to keep arms narrower than shoulder width.

Advanced: Do this while hanging from a bar. Also known as a “German Hang”

Rear Hand Clasp

Starting Stretching - Rear Hand Clasp
With one hand overhead and the other hand behind your lower back, attempt to grasp fingertips behind your back. Make sure to do this on both sides. Example Video.

Beginner: Use a towel or strap to bring the hands together

Intermediate: Grab opposing fingers or hands

Advanced: Grab opposing wrists

Full Squat

Starting Stretching - Full Squat
Keeping the heels on the ground, squat down as far as your body will allow. Keep your arms inside the knees and press them outward. Feel free to hold on to something for balance, as it should not affect the stretch, but free balancing is preferred.

Beginner: Just get into the position and hold

Intermediate: Work on sitting up as straight as possible. Chest and head held high

Advanced: Sit up vertically and attempt to keep the toes pointed forward

Standing Pike

Starting Stretching - Standing Pike
Bend forward, hinging at the hips while trying to keep the back flat. Do not try to touch your toes – instead, try to touch the ground 1-2 feet in front of your toes. This will help you hinge at the hips and not bend at the back. When you can get decently below parallel with a flat back, then you can grab your calves and attempt to pull your head to your knees.

Note: When returning from the stretch, bend your knees and let your hips drop, before lifting your upper body up. Stand up as if squatting. Doing otherwise can risk back injury

Beginner: Forward bend with a flat back

Intermediate: When below parallel with a flat back grab your calves and pull your knees to your chest

Advanced: Pull your knees to your chest without using your arms to pull

Kneeling Lunge

Starting Stretching - Kneeling Lunge
Kneel on the ground and place one foot in front of you, flat on the ground, in a lunge position with the back knee and top of foot on the ground. Squeeze the glutes and press the pelvis forward, stretching the rear leg. Move the front foot forward as needed to ensure the front shin remains roughly vertical. Ensure the torso remains vertical, and not bending backwards or leaning forwards.

Beginner: Perform the kneeling lunge with hands on the front leg, supporting some of the torso

Intermediate: Keep the hands at the side of the torso, with palms facing forward and shoulders pulled back

Advanced: Raise the rear leg up against your glutes and hold with both arms


Starting Stretching - Butterfly
Sit on the ground, and bring the bottoms of your feet together in front of you. Hold your feet together with your hands and pull them slightly towards you. Actively try to press your knees towards the ground. See here for more instruction

Beginner: Use strength alone to push the knees towards the floor.

Intermediate: Lean forward slightly (with a flat back) and press the legs towards the floor by using your elbows.

Advanced: Lean forward with a flat back, attempting to touch both your chest to your legs and your knees to the ground.


Starting Stretching - Backbend
Backbends are fairly difficult for people who have never done them, so we’re going to scale it with a few other stretches first. With any of these stretches, if you feel pinching in the lower back, you’re doing it wrong. Take a step back and don’t push so hard.

Beginner: Glute Bridge. While lying on your back, bend your knees and put your feet near your buttocks. By squeezing the glutes, lift the hips and pelvis off the floor and press it towards the ceiling.

Intermediate: Camel. Kneel on your shins on the ground. Curl the toes under your feet, and reach behind you, grabbing the heels with the respective hand. From here, squeeze the glutes and push the pelvis forward as much as possible while holding onto the heels. Look upward and pull the shoulders back. You may need to use blocks or pillows to raise the heels higher at first.

Advanced: Bridge/Wheel. Lie on your back with your knees bent and pulled into your glutes. Place your hands on the ground beside your head, with fingers pointing down towards your shoulders. From here, press with the arms and glutes to lift yourself onto the top of your head. Hold this position for time. As you get better in this position, you will eventually be able to lift your head off the ground by pressing the arms straight. In doing this, make sure your shoulders remain above the hands and much as possible, and strive to straighten the legs.

Lying Twist

Starting Stretching - Lying Twist
Lie on the ground, facing upward, and extend your arms out to the sides. Lift one leg up at a 90 degree angle (bend the knee as much as necessary). Now lower the leg to the opposite side of the torso while keeping the shoulders on the ground. Attempt to touch the ground with the leg while maintaining shoulders on the floor. Turn the head in the opposite direction of the leg. Repeat for both sides.

Beginner: Bend the knees at 90 degrees and press down with the arm to deepen the stretch

Intermediate: Use a straight leg (locked knee) and press down with the arm

Advanced: Use a straight leg and no arm assistance – use only muscular power to maintain the position

After every stretching session, it is also helpful to work on weaknesses. Choose 1-3 stretches above where you’d most like additional flexibility, and add those at the end. I’d also suggest wrist and ankle stretches here as well.

Starting Stretching Cheatsheets

Starting Stretching Cheatsheet

 Scroll to top