An “all or nothing mindset”, as applied to pursuits requiring alteration (as opposed to out-and-out cessation), only serves to prime an individual for failure. The psychology involved in prompting an individual to alter dietary habits, for instance is at odds with that necessary in coaching one through, for example, smoking cessation. As in any craft, one needs to know when, and under what circumstance, to utilize the proper tool(s) of the trade. I like to compare coaching (with diet as a subset of this) with thoroughbred training. Both pursuits require the skillful mix — and appropriate application — of hard-science and “in the trenches”, empirical know-how. Having recently completed Gary Tuabes’s book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, I am prompted, though, to add the following caveat: Just because an idea is upheld by “science” doesn’t necessarily imply that the idea is upheld by “good science”. The moral of the story is this: be discriminating. If an idea doesn’t pass the common sense test, question its underpinnings. The same holds true when contemplating the ruminations of “authorities”. Step back, take some time — think things through.

Back to the point at hand. Though I am both an adherent and advocate of Art Devany’s Evolutionary Fitness lifestyle, I do so with the realization that successful implementation of the strategies involved (long term, i.e., as a lifestyle change), does not necessitate an ongoing “perfection”, but rather the orchestration of a successful, overall campaign. Battles will be lost, punches absorbed, errors made. While I would consider my Friday morning workout to be a “win by knockout”, my eating — while not a total loss — left a lot to be desired. Let’s take look at it:

First off, the workout. This was completed prior to the start of my workday (as copied directly from my workout log):

 DB Snatch     
 70 x 3, 380 x 2, 290 x 1    
 95 x 1100 x 1, 1, 1 (left and right)   
 BTN Push-Press to OHS    
 135 x 1155 x 1175 x 1    
 185 x 1, 1, 1  Regular Pull Ups 
 BTN Push-Press  45 x 280 x 2, 2, 3
 185 x3 sets of 3  90 x 2, 2  
 Jump Squats     
 Rack at 7      
 275 x 10:1’s (Go 315 x 7:1’s)    
 45 x 2 sets of 3     

In a series of following posts, I’ll discuss why I place this workout so high on the “Ideal-to-Faulty” continuum. For now, though, let’s look at Friday’s food intake:

  • For breakfast (approximately 1 hour post workout) — grilled steak, avocado and pineapple
  • Mid-morning — a small piece of Godiva chocolate from a coworker’s celebration (happy birthday, Cristina!). With coffee(black), of course
  • Lunch — more grilled steak and avocado. A side of steamed broccoli
  • Mid-afternoon — a “nepsi” (a combination of instant coffee, Pepsi and ice) while enjoying an intriguing philosophic conversation with an intelligent and interesting coworker (thanks, John).
  • Roughly an hour-and-a-half later — approximately 6 oz’s of mixed nuts. This hunger pang was brought on, no doubt, by the blood sugar crash precipitated by the nepsi swiling. I expected as much
  • Dinner — tacos asada (damn they’re good) from a little mom & pop Mexican grocery/restaurant near my home
  • A Blue Moon beer (with dinner), and a post-dinner, Dickle on-the-rocks.

So, did the fantastic workout offset the day’s less-than-stellar eating? Who knows and who cares? The point is, I do the best I can (keeping the “ideal” always in mind) within the context of each given scenario, while at the same time allowing myself room to live. No self-imposed guilt trips, no berating self-speak. Cristina’s birthday was a special event. Nepsi is something of a bonding tradition for John and me. I’ll take those intermittent little dings, so long as the overall campaign is going well.

I’d like to wrap things up with a consideration of my dinner choice. The scenario is this: A combination of fatigue (due long work week), foul weather and a heaping dose of Fridayitis has conspired to alter my and Michelle’s (my lovely wife) plans for a dinner of pressure-cooked spare ribs. She suggests the little mom-and-pop joint down the road and, as any halfway intelligent husband would, I enthusiastically agree. But, since I know the my eating for the day has thus far been a bit wobbly, I manage the potential additional impact of the dinner “damage” by opting for the tacos asada. Why? Well, the only simple carbs in the meal are found in the tortillas. But, I’ve mitigated that damage by opting for corn tortillas instead of flour. Now, this probably amounts to more of a psychological victory than anything else — but, hey, I’ll take it.

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Keith Norris is a former standout athlete, a military vet, and an elite strength and conditioning expert with over 35 years of in-the-trenches experience. As a serial entrepreneur in the health and wellness space, he is an owner, co-founder and Chief Development Officer of the largest Paleo conference in the world, Paleo f(x) . As well, Keith is a partner in one of the most innovative lines of boutique training studios in the nation, Efficient Exercise. He’s also a partner in ARXFit training equipment, and a founding member of ID Life. In his spare time, he authors one of the top fitness blogs in the health and wellness sphere, Theory To Practice.


  1. Great blog, really enjoy it!! Its good to hear straight from another Evolutionary Fitness follower, keep up the good posting have you added to my RSS.
    The hardest part of living the EF lifestyle I find is trying to avoid starches/grains when eating out, anyway can’t strive for perfection all the time, you did well with the corn tortilla.

  2. Keith,

    I’m wanting to incorporate some of your workouts into my routine but I’m afraid I just can’t understand them enough to implement them in the gym. What are your rest periods between sets (if any)? Just enough time to switch the weights? And same question for between exercises, just enough time to get to the appropriate part of the gym? And lastly, what kind of warm-up do you do for these low volume, high weight sets to prevent any chances of injury?

    • Justin,
      Tough questions to answer, because the only consistency in my workouts is in their (by design) inconsistency. In this way, I keep my mind fresh and my body guessing. There really is no “wrong” way to go about hitting the set/rep/rest continuum, as long as it is consistent with your goals.

      As far as warm-ups, they are brief, intense and dynamic. For example: 3/4-speed sprints — maybe some jumps and hops as well. Ballistic push-ups. Bar-only Oly lifts is another good warm-up activity. I couple whatever activity I choose with ballistic/dynamic stretching. I then progress in to my actual work-out, but at a much reduced weight, performing these light reps (maybe 3-5 reps/set) in an explosive fashion. The intent is to (1) prime the muscleo-skeletal and CNS for the work to come, not to induce fatigue (that’s what the actual w/o is for). A couple of increasingly heavy sets in this fashion is usually sufficient to prime my body for the real onslaught.

      I’ve got a post planned to go live soon, in which I’ll discuss the topic more in depth; keep a watch for that.


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