How to not lose your mind over your diet

Back when I trained in college, I had no idea what a good diet was.  Now that I do know, however, it’s become an extremely stressful endeavor: I feel like everything is bad for me except for the smallest subset of food that I prepare myself.  So, how do you maintain a healthy diet (being healthy is a necessary precursor to growing muscle and losing fat) without losing your mind?  Let’s go back and examine two of the major issues with working out and food…

In college, I ate whatever I wanted and figured a protein shake after my workout was sufficient.  This thinking could not be more flawed.  Not only does working out *not* give you free license to eat whatever you want, but your results can be extremely detrimentally affected by what you consume.  In other words, working out will never be able to “make up” for the junk food you eat; additionally, that junk food you do consume will also negatively affect your ability to perform strenuous exercise.  Elaboration after the jump.

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Exercise frequency and how I arrived at my present routine

Exercise Frequency

Back when I was doing Max-OT, I was doing body part training every day of the week.  I believe this to have been semi-effective, but the frequency was on the high side.  I would make some progress, but would need to take time off frequently.  Some who are more genetically gifted than me would most likely benefit more from a higher frequency program, but I cannot count myself amongst this group.

When I was doing high intensity training (HIT), I was only doing one workout per week, which was total body, with one set to compete failure for each exercise.  I was operating under the impression that training to failure was absolutely necessary to provide growth.  In essence, the HIT crowd believes that your body will not provide an adaptive response unless pushed to its limit, i.e., failure to do any more mechanical work.  More on frequency and an effective hardgainer routine after the jump. Continue reading