Pictures in order:
-Summer 2006, 6 months out of testing for my black belt.
-2016, few weeks out from shooting the firefighter calendar.
-2014, competitive (or…”wanting to be competitive) CF.
-2010, a year into personalized programming for CF.
-2009, just started personalized mixed modal programming.
-2004, no real semblance of training and/or nutrition.
*I’ve posted about the whole vacation thing before. People don’t blow up on vacation unless they go batshit cray and eat/drink like maniacs. I had some great food, had drinks every day. Walked a lot, surfed a bit. But this post isn’t about visiting Mexico.
*I’m pretty damn happy where I’m at 46. It’s taken me a looooooooooooong time to figure out what works, and what doesn’t. Swipe left, and you’ll see the transformation since around 2004. Yeah. 15 years. Folks want rapid gains, mad cuts, in 6 weeks? That makes me clench my jaw, seriously. And social media doesn’t help a damn bit.
*If you were to ask me my body weight in those previous pictures, I’d have to guess. Lightest? Maybe 163-165 when I was in TKD, pre-CF. “Fat” Mike in Mexico? 185, I think? That was pre-martial arts, pre regular fitness regime. CF days? Got up to a leaner 185 eventually, but I was also eating untracked, lowAF carb, initially in the early years. These days, I hover around 200, and leaner than I have ever been.
*Well, what worked to get me to where I am today?? This is my “simple” list:
– Consistency: I’ve been training (as in, resistance training, of some form, and aerobic training, some form) since 2007. I have weight trained since I was in my late teens, but never targeted, focused. And I also did NOT train when I was in school/college, so a good 4+ years of libraries, Wendy’s chicken sandwiches, and shift work on the weekends.
– Nutrition: I didn’t pack on LBM until I started eating a fuck ton of carbs. NO, CARBS ARE NOT MAGIC. But they can be synergistically anabolic with a high protein environment and a hyper-caloric intake. And NO, they will NOT make you fat. Lots of things do that. Lots of things don’t do that. They won’t make you lean out, either. It’s more complex and variable than black and white, as folks want to make it. Also, of VERY important note: It took a LOT of hard work and discipline to get lean. I have never been genetically gifted to be lean, Trust me. From the time I was self-aware enough to care, I NEVER had abdominal definition. The double standard, though, of getting lean and staying lean is “easy”, is somewhat relatively true. But low carb didn’t do it. High carb didn’t do it. High protein didn’t do it. You know what did it? Being in a CALORIC DEFICIT…but not fucking up my metabolism. It’s not as hard as people think, but it’s not as easy as people think, either. I also never got into a large T-shirt until I was near my forties. Think about that. For those that are half my age.
– Nutrition, Take 2: My current numbers are 225P, 70F, 300C. 2730kcal. I’m always VERY hesitant to throw those numbers out there, as they are individual. What about quality, meal size, timing, ratio composition? VARIED. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I usually have a mid-morning snack. I ALWAYS, always, have carbs before bed. ALWAYS. I wake hungry, I’m hungry before meals, and I do NOT advocate going to bed hungry. I eat whole foods. Eggs. Meat. Some Vegetables. Daily fruit. Lots of starches (rice, mostly). I’m being purposefully vague because my food is simple. I prep a lot of proteins. I use frozen veggies. I make large batches of starches. My morning breakfast is pretty standard, either egg whites/couple whole eggs/spinach/turkey bacon or rice cereal/berries/supplemental protein powder. Lunch is a wrap w/ meat/veg/mustard, or leftover meat/starch/veg. Supper, meat/veg/starch. Seriously, I do not plan very far in advance, nor am I picky. I enjoy food but look at it mostly like fuel. Some random points on what else I do:
- I sometimes employ a compressed feeding window of 12hr vs 18hr.
- I do not have a structured re-feed, I allow myself 1 day, on average, a week to eat/drink whatever.
- Alcohol, rarely. I find this one of THEE most detrimental substances to body comp, REGARDLESS of caloric intake, or adhering to.—JUST my opinion. I can count on my hand the number of drinks I had in 2019. Anytime I have EVER had a client remove alcohol, regardless of amount, only beneficial things have happened.
– Supplements: Too big, too vast, too individual to get into in detail.
- Max Adrenal, Perform, Capacity, Sleep.
- I don’t use Max Recovery PWO (I have a whey intolerance), I usually go home and eat real food.
- Vit D, CoQ10, fish oil, Vit C.
- I use green tea extract, multi B, creatine, beta alanine, citrulline malate, and ALCAR preWO.
- I will frequently cycle in an odd supplement as an N=1 for 4-8 weeks
– Training: Disclaimer: I am NOT a programmer. For me, high frequency, lower volume (relative) sessions work very well. My programming coach @jamieelevated could chime in on the “why” a lot better than me. I see it as a constant elevation of RMR, and not blowing myself up in a single session, so I can train 1-2x/day, 6+ days a week.
– Training, Take 2: This is such a MASSIVE, and potentially inflammatory/opinionated/biased topic regarding body comp, I’m even hesitant to dig into it. Disclaimer 2, my thoughts/opinions ONLY: Training STYLE is a huge modulator of where body comp goes. Yes, some people do WELL with whatever stress is thrown at them…and some coaches throw all their eggs into this basket. “Train fast, frequent, & heavy”. Weeeeellll, let me tell you this: over the years, I have had nearly 1000 client consults. And that formula does NOT work for everyone. Just like the fucking bullshit mantra “train more eat less” does not work all the time, either. I have seen many, many clients who have had:
- Dialed nutrition, both quality and quantity
- Personalized programming geared for performance
- Lifestyle factors (sleep, stress, social) in order.
And they could NOT achieve the body comp they wanted—which, I might add, was not unreasonable. Calories in calories out, right? Not a fucking chance. How you train MATTERS. Sorry folks. CF might not be your answer. Oly lifting might not be your answer. Training in a mixed modal fashion will get you really nicely well rounded fitness. Oly programming will make you a better Oly lifter. See the pattern here? *cue the mad sobbing from the crowd now…
– Stress. That is the factor. Mixed modal performance training in the glycolytic/anaerobic energy system is MASSIVELY demanding on the steroid hormone pathway. Cortisol is upregulated. Sympathetic nervous system activation is dominant. Parasympathetic activation is lowered. Oh, folks get fitter. Without a doubt. But body comp does NOT always follow. But WHY, scream the masses! Why is it not black and white? Why does hard fucking work not yield results?
The body is not black and white. Your hormones are not static. One person’s damaging stress is another person’s adaptive stress. If I had an easy canned answer for why it works for some, and not others, trust me, I’d give it. I killed myself daily for years, peeling myself off the floor, dry heaving into dusty chalk buckets. Mixed modal training for sport they said. It’ll be fun they said. Sure. If you are a masochist. But in all seriousness, I have seen countless folks bust their ass, and not achieve the body comp goals they want.
Back to me:
- What I found works for ME, regarding body composition is a mostly functional bodybuilding approach. When I prepared for the FF calendar, I did STRICT BB, with mono-structural fasted cardio. COMPLETELY different than anything I had done years past. And it worked. Why? Lower stress. Nothing was glycolytic. Nothing was taxing. When muscle started to fail when training, I stopped. The cardio was boring, lame, maybe a light sweat. This was a means to an end.
- After that, I jumped back on board w/ OPT and Michael FitzGerald training me. For a while, I trained for the Firefighter Combat Challenge. When organization and planning fell through, I switched to a hybrid FBB with aerobic energy system training. I did everything from Assault bike intervals to 20 rep back squats to 40X1 tempo sets to superset pull/push to 30min sustained mixed modal aerobic
- When I ask Michael to describe my training at the time, this is what he said, and I quote: “Focus on improving muscular strength and endurance, not for sport…Focus on improvement of movements and skills for personal advancement, not for sport…Work volume is low to moderate, based on work schedule and lifestyle. Virtuosity and longevity > capacity and intensity” Typical FitzGerald. But poignant, and specific. That “NOT FOR SPORT” is very, very important here. As is the consideration of lifestyle and schedule. Really, what are we working around here? STRESS. Managing. Titrating appropriately. This concept is TOTALLY fucking lost on most athletes, if not all but the top coaches. MORE is not always MORE.
- These days, Jamie Granville does my programming. It is targeted specifically on hypertrophy, with a dash of cardio to maintain cardiovascular health.
- My main point in this long diatribe: I have been tinkering with training/nutrition since well before 2004, but seriously since 2007, and focused on body comp FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS. Read: 6-week templates? Paleo Challenges? You didn’t even drop a SINGLE POUND in 2 weeks since I last talked to you? Think bigger. Think farther.
It’s going to take longer than you think. Much, much longer. Its going to take a lifetime.
CEO & Founder
Mike Kesthely has been involved in athletics his entire life, ranging from years playing box lacrosse, martial arts, rock climbing, mountain biking and Crossfit®️. He has worked as a Firefighter/Paramedic for the Lethbridge Fire Dept since 2000, and is the past Health & Fitness Coordinator for the department. His passion now lies with nutrition & functional lab analysis, and improving client performance, health, and longevity through dietary augmentation.
- Former lead instructor for the OPT CCP Nutrition Level 1 in Scottsdale, AZ, at the International Center for Fitness, 2011-2014
- Former trainer with Crossfit®️ Lethbridge
- Optimum Performance Training Certified Coaching Program Nutrition, Level-1, under James Fitzgerald and Mat Lalonde, PhD
- Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
- Precision Nutrition certified (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) through Dr. John Berardi
- Crossfit®️ Nutrition certified under Robb Wolf
- Crossfit®️ Trainer, Level-1 certified
- Functional Movement Screen under Tim Takahashi, M.Kin., CAT(C), CEP, CK, CSS
Author: Mike Kesthely