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Week 20: Deprivation Donnie

Donnie Daniels is a tough and stubborn son of a gun. Right out of high school, he served a stint in the military, and the boot-camp style mentality has stuck with him ever since. Donnie married Donna when he was in his third year of service, and soon after they had two kids. To no one’s surprise, their marriage did not last very long, as they likely married a bit prematurely, and Donnie was just a bitter, opinionated, overly demanding guy to deal with.

Donnie married again in his late 30s, but that marriage was rocky from the start and only lasted a couple of years as well.

Now in his late 40s, Donnie has been dating Dina for close to seven years. They met while “treadmilling” at their gym when they struck up a conversation about their favorite supplements. They have talked about marriage for some time, but his two failed marriages left a bad taste in Donnie’s mouth.

Donnie owns a small and rather successful drywall installation company where he’s maintained a staff of five or six guys for over the past 20 years or so. Donnie has his staff perform the on-site installations while he handles the sales end of the business.

When it comes to his physical condition, Donnie is frustrated. At 5′10″ and weighing 215 pounds, he’s fixated on returning to his military days when he was a lean 165 pounds soaking wet.

Donnie also has multiple issues with his knees (one scoped and one cut) and his shoulders (one scoped, one injected); these issues are mostly a result of his excessive time in the gym.

Donnie attacks his cardio workouts with military-like conviction: headband on, earbuds in, eyes straight ahead, grinding out the revolutions on the elliptical machine or the miles on the treadmill, all with a look of absolute determination and with a limp gait, unfortunately. But Donnie “knows” what works, as it’s worked time and again, and he’s absolutely going to sweat his weight off. He performs his cardio day after day, faster and faster, like a hamster on a wheel, sweat pouring off of him, hitting the floor and the machines of the gym that he’s been a member of for close to 15 years. He also still walks the neighborhood with a weighted vest three mornings per week and does his 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups daily before most people arise.

In conjunction with his cardio-based routines, Donnie tries to combat his excess weight with calorie deprivation, where he suppresses his calorie intake to minimal levels for weeks at a time. He eats little to no fat, often skips breakfast, and limits himself to two salads per day.

This tactic usually results in Donnie getting his weight down to 190-195 pounds over and over again, only to climb right back to 215 pounds (over and over again) when he can no longer tolerate the caloric restrictions and excessive exercise and binges for weeks with unfavorable foods such as pizza, hoagies, fast food, and wings. To make matters worse, Donnie has little to no muscle definition whether he’s at 190 or 215, as he continues to lose muscle mass with his hard-nosed, cardio-focused training tactics.

Stubborn Donnie never considers hiring a professional performance coach. In his mind, his military basic training days-drive yourself physically and eat only what you need to survive-got him in the best shape of his life. So why would he change what he “knows” works?

In reality Donnie is unhealthy and unhappy, but unfortunately, he knows everything.

Dear Donnie,

Your body is breaking down and will continue to do so until you are willing to tuck your macho tail between your legs and ask a true professional for help. You have to come to the realization that you are not 19 anymore. The human body begins to break down as we age. (This is a scientific fact Donnie; we’re all heading to the same place.)

While this is not a death sentence, your training regimen needs to be modified as you age. You need to focus on mobility and corrective exercises so that you can move without feeling crippled. And as far as your fluctuating weight: you need to quit being so darn stubborn and accept your old-school way of under-eating and over exercising is not working. Humble yourself Donnie; address your weaknesses rather than hide behind your strengths.

In the end, you need to adhere to a proper training program that can help reverse the damage you’ve inflicted upon yourself with the boot-camp type of approach you’ve taken for the past 30 years. Hopefully you will begin to eat foods that can be fished, grown, or butchered and approach human performance in a sensible, safe, well-programmed manner. Find a training center whose focus is not on selling memberships to hamsters to run endlessly on wheels, but instead provides a complete, sustainable program that emphasizes mobility and corrective measures and a progressive approach to strength and power.

And last Donnie, eat like an actual man and not like a little rabbit. You can’t build a lean, muscular physique on two salads a day!


Week 20 Quiz:

1) Donnie’s multiple issues with his knees are most likely a result of too much time in the gym: a) True b) False 2) How has Donnie tried to combat excess weight in the past? a) Lots of cardio b) Low calorie & fat intake c) Skips breakfast d) All of the above 3) Excess exercise, combined with calorie restriction, often leads to loss of muscle mass: a) True b) False 4) How will Donnie find sustainable success? a) A complete and properly designed training program b) Eat food that is part of the “Fish it, Grow it, Butcher it” rule c) Run endlessly on a treadmill at the gym d) Both a & b

Once you've taken the quiz, click here to see how you did.


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