Musings of a Dick A blog about fitness, startups, obesity, and rewiring your brain for health en-us Sat, 04 Apr 2020 18:15:15 +0000 Sett RSS Generator Rethinking the concept of "laziness" (AKA why most beginners fail) I know what it's like to be overweight. Not only do people look at you, but you can actually feel their stares (along with the accompanying judgment).

It's an unfortunate truth that when someone is overweight, more often than not, others conclude that he/she is Lazy.

This also happens with ourselves and our own failures. How many times have we fallen off the wagon by binge eating or skipping a few workouts and felt remorse about our own Laziness?

I suspect that Laziness is the first culprit that comes to mind, because of two reasons:

  • Laziness is an easy concept to comprehend.
  • People love to judge others by nature.

In reality, we don't know why someone else may be overweight.

Perhaps they grew up in a poor neighborhood where cheap calories were plentiful and nutrition was scarce. Maybe they experienced the death of a loved one and turned to food for solace for years.

This isn't to say that each person shouldn't be responsible for their own health. We are all responsible for our health, even if arriving at the current state isn't necessarily our fault.

What I am saying, however, is that we cannot know anyone else's circumstance.

By assuming Laziness, we're implying that weight loss is simply exerting willpower. "Eat less and move more," you'll hear. Therefore, not doing so must be a moral failure. This is unfortunately reinforced by popular culture. After all, why couldn't this person, as Nike says, "Just Do It?"

Obesity and weight loss aren't so simple. After training more than 1,000 people and seeing countless successful transformations, I can tell you that Laziness--as we know it--is rarely the reason for failure.

But there is a type of "laziness" that is a common--perhaps the most common--cause of failure. It's a laziness of the mind.

There are people who come to me, because they are a prisoner of binge eating. For a subset of binge eaters, their problem is caused by excessive cardio. I tell them that they should cease cardio in the short term, and they respond with:

"What??? I can't give up cardio!"

Or consider the case of another client, let's call him Rob, who drank daily, which eventually led to him overeating on most days. When asking him questions to gently examine the reasons that he drank, he clammed up. Even when encouraging that he use a heavy dose of self-compassion when examining his problems, he was unable to.

This is the type of laziness that prevents people from succeeding. This laziness, in fact, is a form of fear. The fear of trying something new. The fear of examining yourself without judgment.

Only when we overcome this fear, can we finally discover what actually works in fitness (it isn't always what it seems), develop an honest understanding of ourselves, and finally conquer fitness.


One of the most common fears is asking for help. If you've tried everything before and it still doesn't work, consider signing up to train with me:

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Wed, 02 Aug 2017 20:04:37 +0000
The Pushover, The Asshole, and The Gentleperson An initially frustrating trip to the hair salon yesterday (Yes, a salon and not a barber. Asian hair is fickle ok?) was a good reminder about the three types of people in life.

I came in for an appointment to cut my hair (more like hobo rag at that point) at 7:50pm. When I came in, I was told by one of the two women frantically working that they were running 15 minutes behind.

15 minutes turned into 30 minutes...which soon turned into 45 minutes. I started to become irritated, and it wasn't helped by the fact that some college-aged looking douchebag kept demanding extra attention to perfect his buzzcut. I mean it's a fucking buzzcut. Do it yourself.

Now, there are three types of people in this situation.

The Pushover

The first person is the pushover, the person that I was until my late teens. The pushover's thoughts are relatively predictable.

"How dare they make me wait so long. How dare this business think that they can take up my precious time. How dare this acne-faced teenage prick not know that I'm in line. I'm a customer too!!!!"

But the modus operandi of pushovers is that they never turns these thoughts into action. At the core, all pushovers are ruled by one thing: they are so worried about being disliked that they are constantly paralyzed.

They'll passive-aggressively sigh and squirm, go through their haircut completely annoyed that they were jilted, then probably leave a bad tip at the end.

Most pushovers "live" their entire lives that way. I use quotation marks, because they're not really living. They're constantly dying inside, wallowing in self-pity over a world that seemingly favors others, thinking:

"But I have talents too! If people could just see that I'm amazing they wouldn't just walk all over me."

But not all pushovers stay that way for life. Some are observant and all notice an interesting phenomenon: assholes seem to get their way. So, pushovers sometimes transform into assholes.

The Asshole

At the barbershop, the asshole has the exact same internal reaction as the pushover. This makes sense, because most started out that way. But the asshole is no longer paralyzed by the fear of being disliked; in fact, they crave being disliked. It reminds them that they are no longer a pushover.

That's the core modus operandi of an asshole. They go through life in fear of being pushovers. At the salon, they loudly fuss:

"What the fuck...I've been here for 50 fucking minutes, and you've been spending it all on that kid's buzz cut. This place is shit, and I have an important interview tomorrow. Also, I'm not paying full price for this bullshit."

Assholes enjoy being assholes, because they think it pays off; they often get their way, which only encourages their the short term.

My problems with alcohol have shown me that it doesn't pay off in the long run. You see, too many drinks (or internet commenters) would turn me into an asshole, even if I didn't mean to be. People hate assholes. You might get your way right now, just like Geoffrey Baratheon often got his way. But people are secretly plotting your fall, which will inevitably happen after too many episodes.

The Gentleperson

Lastly, we have the gentleperson. At first glance, the gentleperson seems exactly the same as the pushover.

How can there be any difference? After all, the facts are still the same: The hair salon is wasting my precious time and the woman at the salon is still ignoring me as a customer in favor of someone else. How can I not be annoyed?

But the gentleperson knows one powerful thing: In life, you can choose what to be annoyed about. You can choose what to think about. You can start off by considering that the world doesn't revolve around you. Think about the pushover and the asshole and how many times their thoughts revolved around "their precious time" or "their value as a customer."

Perhaps the person cutting hair hates being there as much as you do, but she has to feed her kids. She's just as annoyed by the little prick in her seat as you are.

Or perhaps the kid in the seat isn't a prick at all. Maybe he's super nervous and self-conscious about his first date, something I'm sure everyone can relate to.

Mindset is what separates the gentleperson from the pushover. Gentlepersons choose not to be annoyed, and this flows into their actions. They don't sit in their chair huffing and puffing, and rather, they're kind to the person cutting hair. In fact that might have been the only kindness received at a hectic day at the salon.

Now, being a gentleperson doesn't seem sexy, but perhaps I shouldn't have used that label for them. Perhaps I should have used the word winners. They win at business, sex, and pretty much life.

Consider the fact that research has repeatedly shown that kindness is one of the few traits that women find attractive in a man. This is surprising to many men, because they equate being kind for being a pushover. Or even worse, they do nice things for women, expecting that they'll receive sexual favor in return. Now that is a pushover.

Or consider the fact that research also shows that givers are the people who get ahead in business, not takers.

In fact, I can attest to this from personal experience. I ended up training a Miss America, because I was so impressed by her intelligence and charisma when she was Miss New York City that I offered to train her for free. I had no clue she'd end up winning Miss New York and then Miss America.

Similarly, I helped fitness folks get reach on Fitocracy during its early days. One of those people introduced me to John Romaniello, who introduced me to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold eventually formed a partnership with Fitocracy, which then led to many interested acquirers for my startup.

Note that the pushover, the asshole, and the gentleperson don't have to be different people. They can be the same person at different stages of their life (or different amount of beverages consumed). It's also interesting that being a winner requires softer skills like empathy, kindness, and the self-awareness to realize that you can choose what to think about the world. These skills aren't sexy to develop, but they always pay off.

By the way, after a lovely conversation with lady at the salon, I wasn't charged for my haircut. I did leave her a $25 tip though.

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Thu, 21 Apr 2016 18:06:48 +0000
An Open Post About My Ongoing Struggle with Alcoholism For the most part, what I write about my personal life online is from my digital troll persona. Ninety-nine percent of my social media posts can be summed up as a string of incoherent Facebook babbling and Tinder screenshots that leave many wondering "trolling or unhinged?" It's tongue-in-cheek entertainment, not to be taken literally. (Which might make more sense if you've met me in person.)

But this post is very different. There is no trolling. I want you to know that I am 100% serious with everything that I'm about to say.

I'm writing this post for two reasons. First, I suspect that many entrepreneurs and fitness professionals quietly deal with issues around alcohol. But more importantly, this is the first time I'm actually admitting these issues to myself.

For the last two years, I've battled an an ongoing struggle with alcoholism. Of course, to those who know me well in person, "coming out" about being an alcoholic may seem like hearing that Lance Bass just came out of the closet. Except that even my closest friends probably don't know the extent to which I drink.

Since 2014, I've drank to the tune of 15-20 drinks per day. Unfortunately, that's not a typo. I remember (or don't remember) all too many consecutive nights in which I easily polished off a fifth of vodka and some additional beers on top. Or three bottles of wine. Pick your poison.

If it sounds like I'm bragging about my drinking prowess, it's because it started out as a badge of pride. It was part of my identity.

"I am a person who drinks...people who drink need to keep drinking." – Tyrion Lannister

The quote above seems to be a common brag amongst male alcoholics (men always like to engage in an irrelevant pissing contest about things that don't matter). While my friends waned towards the end of a Friday night, I was only at the start of a bender that would last several days. From July 2013 until this very day, I'd be surprised if I were sober for more than 60 days.

Outwardly, I convinced myself that secretly being drunk and productive was an admired skill, but I recognized the facade deep down. I was like an overweight person who jokes about being fat as a facade. In reality, drinking is something that has threatened my career (without going into too much detail, Dick Talens once ended in a jail cell. No charges were pressed luckily, but it definitely wasn't fun.) and destroyed many relationships.

How My Addiction Crept Up

I didn't always enjoy alcohol. In fact, I barely drank in college or in my early 20's. But I've always been addicted to something. When I was young, it was food and video games. In my late teens and early 20's, it was bodybuilding and startups. (Martin Berkhan has a really good article about how this may be a prevalent trait amongst people in the fitness industry.)

I never dreamt that one day I'd be addicted to alcohol. Hell even I was 26, I remember scoffing at the idea of entering a bar alone. By the time I turned 30, it was my preferential way to end the night.

For an easily-addicted outgoing introvert like myself, alcohol is like the two-sided face of Janus. Actually it's worse: you never again see the gentler face once you get too deep.

From the few AA sessions I've attended, it seems that many go through the same addiction process, which I call "fucking a praying mantis." Alcohol reliance feels amazing at first, but eventually you're devoured whole.

And alcohol was a godsend at first to someone like me--clinically ADHD and never getting hangovers. It was the first substance that allowed me quiet my inner monologue enough enjoy being present. I became more social, and arguably sharper after the first few drinks.

Then, things started to spiral downward.

In 2014, I started coaching more fitness clients. As any general population ("gen pop") coach will tell you, adherence is the most important factor in client success; getting a client to succeed requires repetitive amounts of compassion and empathy. Unfortunately for me, there was only so much of that to go around.

After spending all day answering emails and meeting with clients on Skype calls, the only thing that I wanted to do at the end of the day was go to the grocery store then hang out with my buddy Johnny Walker all night. As it turns out, I now know that certain professions like social workers and psychotherapists are often the first to feel compassion burn out and lack self-care.

Then Shit Hit The Fan

Drinking at night started soon turned into drinking first thing in the morning. I became quite good at writing SQL and Python after 4-6 beers in the morning and a few at lunch.

At the start, I was a really discreet alcoholic; few people could tell I was drunk by the time noon rolled around. My emails would always be completely coherent. Hell, if I'm being honest, I probably wrote better drunk anyway.

But as I drank more and more to keep up this addiction, the other face of Janus began to rear its head. I fought hard to convince myself that I didn't have a problem. My view was myopic; if I got drunk before a tech panel, I'd remember the fact that I made people laugh with Jameson-inspired snark, but I'd conveniently ignore the fact that I almost forgot my shoes.

It was when I got to about 20 drinks per day that relationships began to crumble. Despite drinking throughout the day, I was relatively agreeable, but that began to change once boozing continued into the night. I became a different person. The slightest irritation from even my closest friends would cause me to unleash a world of scorn.

If you're an astute reader and remember what I said earlier, you're probably wondering how not even my closest friends knew the extent of my problem with alcohol. Well, that's because they're sadly not my friends anymore.

You see, people are actually quite forgiving when it comes to problems with alcohol (and ADHD). They'll forgive you being late or flaking on things. They'll forgive that you're, forgetful, rowdy, or insensitive.

But they don't forgive you when you lash out at them and go for the jugular by verbally berating them on their vulnerabilities. That, I've found, tends to be unforgivable.

The worst part is that I was usually full of regret the next morning. By then it was too late. And like any addict, I usually immediately turned to the coping mechanism I knew best.

I'm Probably Not Alone (And Neither Are You)

There are three reasons that I'm being as transparent as possible in this post.

First, I rarely hear about problems with alcoholism from my colleagues--but I know there are many of you out there. There's a tendency for us who are ADHD to get into domains like blogging or startups, where our constant need for dopamine hits are fulfilled by shallow Instagram likes or user signups.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a link between ADHD and substance abuse. When that ADHD goes undiagnosed, consuming alcohol has a self-medicating effect at first. If what I said above relates to you, know that you're not alone and it's okay to admit that you may have a problem. Feel free to reach out discreetly and know that you're not alone.

Secondly, I wanted to be open, humble, and apologetic to those who I've wronged because of my alcohol abuse.

I've lost many good friends--including the most authentic friendship I've ever had--in drunken tirades where I was not myself, but almost watching myself from afar as a completely different person. And that's if I even remember what happened. I say that not to shirk responsibility, but to take responsibility and tell you that it was me, not you. (Unless of course, you are actually a constant asshole that takes advantage of others, in which case alcohol was just the catalyst to me going off on you. Lolol! Kidding! Mostly!)

Lastly--and admittedly this is for my own selfishness--I wanted to get this off my chest and pledge complete abstinence from alcohol from this point forward. Now complete sobriety isn't for everyone, I've learned, but it is for me. (All of Leo Babauta's articles on how to quit alcohol are amazing by the way.)

This is post isn't to share a success story (I've only been fully sober since Thursday). It's about coming clean and taking accountability and responsibility.

One thing that I know from coaching is that moving forward requires understanding that we're all human. We all worship something, and we all have our own demons. It's about what you choose to worship and how you choose to address those demons that actually matters.

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Sun, 17 Apr 2016 17:11:48 +0000
Perks of being a dicktalens VIP -- free fitness tools, content, and cat pics Last week, I added a VIP section to as a thank you to everyone who's supported me and read my stuff over the years. that will be updated with exclusive content and tools. I just added a weight tracker with nifty graphs and am currently building a Reverse Pyramid Training calculator.

Registering is – and always will be – free. Check out some nifty interactive graphs that you'll get below.

I'm also saving my best articles for the VIP section, such as "The Persona-based Guide to Hitting Your Macros" and "The Ultimate Chest Workout."

Hope to see you inside. :)

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Mon, 29 Dec 2014 19:47:58 +0000
Exciting Announcement(s) for my Plans in 2015 2014 was a bit of a strange transition year for Dick Talens.

In March, I left the company that I spent almost every waking hour of the day working on since starting it in 2011. Part of the reason that I left is realizing that I've spent my mid-to-late 20's glued to a chair and monitor. After that, I spent the year traveling, drinking, chasing tail, and building up my coaching business to the point where I could earn a six-figure living if I just did that fulltime on my own.

As you can see above, I chased way too much tail this year.

With that being said, I will no longer be part of the fitness industry on a fulltime basis. While I do love coaching, writing, and devoting a chunk of my time to helping people with fitness, it's going to be more of a hobby/pet passion of mine for the time being.

On that note, I wanted to announce two awesome new things I'll be working on for 2015.

1. I am excited to announce that I'll be partnering up with co-founders Adrienne Tran (rockstar CTO) and Leo Babauta (yes, THE Leo Babauta from ZenHabits) to launch a new startup called Guild. (Invite list will be available at in a few days.)

One of the amazing things that I discovered early on with Fitocracy was the ability that social+gamification had to change fitness lives. And while Fitocracy is firmly entrenched in the fitness space, there is no reason that this concept cannot be expanded to domains such as habit/productivity, personal finance, starting a business, or even whisky drinking.

I'll likely be moving to San Francisco. Yes, I love New York and am not very fond of San Francisco, but both of my co-founders are there and we'll likely be starting the fundraising process soon.

By the way, I've actually been doing a lot of coding as of recent. Unlike when I did a majority of the code that got Fitocracy from 0 to 200,000 users, I'm actually enjoying the process this time and making sure that I treat coding as a skill, just like fitness. (We're also launching with live Facebook-style updates on props and comments, weee!)

2. I'll be more of a permanent fixture for LifeHackers Health and Fitness content

I don't think that I can pull myself from the fitness industry completely. Being part of the industry has allowed me to help bridge the gap between the mainstream and really awesome fitness personalities, especially through launching Fitocracy's Knowledge Center and getting great industry content. When it comes to fitness content, most of it is really bad. Here's a Facebook post of mine from earlier today.

However, as you might have seen, I've contributed a fair bit of content to LifeHacker. When it comes to health and fitness, I love LifeHacker. They are one of the very few publishers that "get it." (along with a few others like Greatist, Fitocracy's KC, etc.)

I'm excited to announce that two weeks ago I agreed to become a more permanent contributor towards LifeHacker's health and fitness content.

This means both creating content on my own as well as highlighting the best stuff from the industry. That is, if you're one of the rare fitness professionals who is both evidence based and understands the way that human beings think and make decisions, I'll be highlighting a lot of your work on LifeHacker pretty soon.

Anyway, those are all of the updates from me. I'm going to be a bit quiet/heads down over the next few weeks so that I can stay on top of my coaching and we can launch Guild by January 1st and I also have quite a bit of LifeHacker content that's ready to go. I wish you all the best Holiday season and a grate 2015!

Dick Talents

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Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:30:10 +0000
Lose weight during the Holidays? Yes pls!

With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, you're probably worried about gaining weight.

What if you could actually LOSE weight during the holidays? Well you can.

With a few tips, tricks, and instructions you'll be able to eat all of the food you love during the holiday season WHILE still losing weight.

On January 2nd, everyone will be starting the New Years resolutions, you'll already have a notch down on your belt.

-------------> Join Holiday Weight Loss Made Simple <-------------

Why this group will work for you

You’ve probably experienced the pain of dieting before – hunger, lack of energy, lack of willpower.

Weight loss is supposed to be hard, right? If it were easy then the world would be skinny. But what if we told you that weight loss can actually be quite simple? That the only reason people think it’s hard is because what you know about it is wrong. Here’s an example.

Everyone thinks that dieting necessitates the need to feel hungry. Weight Loss Made Simple trainees, however, always complain about being full beyond belief during their first few weeks. AND they lose an average of 5 lbs or more in their first two weeks.

Unlike with other "diets," my clients, such as Jerry above, keep the weight off for life.

He's not the only one. Here's what Michael F has to say about this course.

“Starting this program, I was in a stressful place and unhappy with what the stress had done to my body. With Coach Dick Talens’s help I’ve already lost 12 pounds and 2” off my waist and am incredibly happy with the changes. Not only is the fat dropping but Dick helped create a plan that made my work at the gym pay off even more. The ugly bumps and lumps of fat on my body are being replaced by muscles starting to peak through! I’m really excited about my progress and that I know things will keep getting better. Now my body is an anti-stressor for me and something I’m starting to be proud of!!”

Why weight loss seems hard

There are a few reasons. First off, selling simplicity is hard.

Marketers have a far easier time selling scam products containing the “secret of weight loss” or “one weird trick.”

Secondly, most of what people know about weight loss is wrong. For example, eating foods containing saturated fat are completely fine and will keep you feel full.

It doesn’t help that most health professionals do not know this and actually spread the opposite message. Lastly, weight loss isn’t just a matter of willpower.

Willpower is actually a finite resource, and while it is useful, it is the last thing that you should turn to for weight loss.

“I always thought that losing weight meant being hungry and doing hours of cardio. With Fitocracy’s help and guidance, I’ve come to realize that I can stay full all day (like, insanely full) and still lose weight. By providing us with educational readings and slowly introducing a new diet and workout routine, I feel like I am fully prepared to take on my long term goal of getting healthy and fit! I never realized how little I knew about fitness until I started this program.” – Emily M.

-------------> Join Holiday Weight Loss Made Simple <-------------

What this group will teach you

This group is a continuous course that teaches you the science and psychology behind weight loss. It’s designed for beginners who have over 15% of their bodyweight 20+ lbs to lose.

In this course, you’ll receive:

1. Personalized nutritional guidelines

2. (Optional) Training and exercise guidelines

3. Unlimited support via group Q&A

4. Weekly Google Hangouts with Dick Talens

By the end, you’ll learn how to stay full (sometimes uncomfortably so) and completely rethink the way that you view weight loss.

This group works!

The proof is in the pudding – WLMS trainees who reported their weight after the first month lost somewhere between 6 to 10 lbs.

Many of them said that this is the easiest that they’ve ever lost weight and the first time they’ve taken control of their bodies.

Here’s why. Remember how we said that there was no “magic?” Well, we lied. Sorta.

When you put all of the concepts in this class together and get better at the skills that we teach you, you’ll find that doing the right thing is as close to magic as you can get: losing fat, building muscle, feeling more energized, and fuller than ever.

Isn’t that what many magic pills promise?

This is an extremely interactive class. You will be placed in a group with 50-80 other Fitocrats, where you will need to perform weekly readings, report on your weight loss, and interact with your peers and coaches.

Does this all sound too good to be true?

-------------> Join Holiday Weight Loss Made Simple <-------------

What our participants have to say…

“Since Joining WLMS my friends and family have all noticed that I’m losing weight and looking better. It wasn’t until I joined that I learned just how much I was under eating. I had been seeing a personal trainer for about 6 months when i joined and was stuck in a rut. After working with Fitocracy even my trainer said he was able to see results in my muscle strength and weight loss. I couldn’t have been happier after joining WLMS and I hope to keep up this amazing weight loss after the program is over with all the knowledge that Fitocracy has given me. We joke that he is a wizard but he really is just man with a plan that works.” – Joe K.

“I cannot begin to recommend WLMS enough, when I joined I was scared to eat carbs or more than 1,200 cals but WLMS coach Dick Talens has totally changed my outlook. He is most definitely a fat loss wizard :) I’m shedding fat like crazy and every week I have to notch my belt a little tighter. And yet I still get to eat plenty of food and don’t suffer from deprivation (no banned food groups here) or hunger. The small group format is also awesome for encouraging friendships and motivation. Dick has a huge selection of excellent reading material to recommend and the weekly hangouts are both informative and funny.” – Victoria B

“I’ve never consider myself as someone who knew a lot about fitness or weight loss. But, when I joined this program, it showed me how ill prepared every health class, and popular news story about weight loss left me. After a short time i was astonished how, although I had to cut back, I didn’t have to cut out. I lose inches, but can still enjoy the occasional Mallomar, or cupcake. Dick really broke it down, helped me understand what really affects weight. It won’t be easy, I often find myself struggling to meet some of my nutritional and fitness goals. But, it works, plain and simple. Even better, I feel Dick is helping me build a lifestyle that i feel i can really sustain for the foreseeable future. Dieting no longer seems like an impossible undertaking, and every week, my goals inch closer and closer. Thanks Dick!” – Joseph N.

How can one lose weight DURING the Holidays?

It's simple, really. There are only really a handful of days where people really indulge in epic meals – Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. If you learn how to eat the other 90% of the time, these days are but a blip in the grand scheme of things.

What about all of the holiday parties?

There are strategies to deal with them and "plan to fail." My clients frequently go to weddings, happy hour, parties, and learn how to deal with these situations.

You can read my guide on dealing with these situations here.

-------------> Join Holiday Weight Loss Made Simple <-------------

Incredible Value

For those who are willing to put in the work and take the first steps in weight loss, this group provides amazing value.

I charge upwards of $500/month for one-on-one online-coaching. Similarly, my other FTF team, Your Ultimate Transformation, a more intimate in-depth group costs $150/month.

Right now, I'm pricing this group at $49/month on a continuous monthly basis. This group will have no end date, because your weight loss journey might take months or even years, and I'm committed to helping you see that through.

If you want expert help from me in a private, low-cost environment, I believe that this is the group for you.

-------------> Join Holiday Weight Loss Made Simple <-------------

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Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:22:58 +0000
4 Reasons Why Fight Club is the Exact Opposite of CrossFit Conspiracy theorists, take note. There is something very eerie going on between CrossFit and Fight Club…

Ignoring the obvious fact that their initials are backwards (CF vs. FC), there are some very compelling reasons that Fight Club is the exact opposite of CrossFit. Could this be mere coincidence?

Similarity #1

Fight Club: The first rule of Fight Club is not to tell anyone about Fight Club.

CrossFit: The first rule of CrossFit is to never shut up about CrossFit.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Although the burning question remains… if a CrossFit vegan introduces himself to you, which does he talk about first?

Similarity #2

Fight Club: You purposely try to injure others.

CrossFit: Meanwhile…

I once had a friend that did CrossFit, and he was always injured. Like literally, always injured. It never crossed his mind not to train, take some time off, or listen to his body. I guess that he wishes that he were a wounded bird in another life.

Similarity #3

Fight Club: The brown bubbly stuff is often ingested before a fight.

CrossFit: The brown bubbly stuff is excreted afterwards.

This is one of the “similarities” that I wish I were joking about. Rhabdomyolysis, a condition that hardcore CrossFit athletes are so familiar with that they “endearingly” call it “Uncle Rhabdo” is no joke. It’s a fatal condition that some people wear as a badge of honor.

Similarity #4

Fight Club: The leader realizes he’s delusional at the end.

CrossFit: well… I’m just going to leave this here…

“We can take you from a 200 pound max deadlift to a 500-750 pound max deadlift in two years while only pulling max singles four or five times a year. We will though work the deadlift, like most lifts, approximately once per week at higher reps and under grueling conditions. It may intuit well that if you can pull a 250 pound deadlift 21 times coming to the lift at a heart rate of 180 beats per minute, then 500 pounds for a single at a resting heart rate is perhaps manageable.” – CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman

Clement You, CPT is a personal trainer based in Singapore and fitness blogger at He believes in heavy lifting, flexible dieting, the psychology of fitness and the League of Assassins (in no particular order). His previous struggles with depression and bulimia have helped his expertise and successful work with clients with eating disorders. They influence him to look deeper than exercise programming and into the intrinsic determinants of psychology and motivation on fitness success.

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Mon, 10 Nov 2014 20:09:07 +0000
Better than a New Years resolution – Be the fittest you've ever been BY January 1st. Friends, romans, countrymen, lend me your ears Ok but serious hashtag notroll.

I wasn't going to do online training group for a bit, but given the success of the last and the fact that not everyone could sign up, I've decided to do another.

The client results have been nothing short of amazing with people losing upwards of 50 lbs while working with me.

Sign up soon if you want a spot because they go quickly. Btw, the latest group has retained almost all clients, which tells you how much benefit they've seen.

Some Your Ultimate Transformation classes are a few months in, and the results have been phenomenal. For example, this is one user's results in just 16 weeks.

Don't wait until right until the deadline, because spots tend to run out days before the class starts.

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Wed, 08 Oct 2014 15:07:35 +0000
I am now officially Dr. Dick Talens I am now Dr. Dick Talens. (Doctor Dick has a really nice ring to it.)

You heard that right. Thanks to an honorary doctorate in "Drug and Alcohol Counseling" (See the irony here?) from my friends at the LADC, I can legitimately, legally, and officially, be called Dr. Dick Talens.

You might think I'm being silly. You might think that I'm trolling. (Hint: I'm always trolling.) But I'm going to make an argument for why, for the purposes of marketing, calling myself Dr. Dick Talens is no worse – and arguably better – than what occurs every single day both in the fitness industry and at most family practitioners' offices.

The "Dr." title is placed in front of someone's name in order to signal legitimacy as a highly-educated professional. There's nothing wrong with this; while the specifics depend on the field, you can generally assume that there was a decade of studying, research, and hands-on experience that was spent accomplishing this degree.

That being said, there are three observable phenomena that you should know about. While these don't apply to everyone, I believe that they apply to a majority of the population.

1. The "Infallible Doctor" phenomenon

This is the tendency give undue credence to anyone with "Dr." in front of their name. We have a limited amount of mental energy to appraise the knowledge of another human being, and it's only logical that we default to certain heuristics. Recall the last time you read an article on any controversial claim. It's likely that there was someone with "Dr." in front of their name who was used as supporting evidence. Did you question her credentials? How about her field of specialty?

2. Vertically/Horizontally unscalable domain expertise

Would you trust therapy from someone because he/she has a PhD in Pelican Breeding? Of course not! These domains are unrelated.

How about weight loss advice from a Medical Doctor? You probably wouldn't find that to be a far stretch.

Unfortunately the truth is that you have just as much chance as receiving good weight loss advice from a medical doctor as you have receiving therapy from someone with a PhD in Pelican Breeding.

Domains are neither necessarily vertically nor horizontally scalable. Let's dive into both of these.

Horizontal scalability refers to domain knowledge being applicable to a (seemingly) related field. For example, there is the assumption that because doctors are experts at curing disease, they are also experts at preventing disease.

But they're not. Doctors spend very little time learning about nutrition in medical school. I write about this extensively here. There's a good chance that your doctor knows just as much about helping you lose weight as your next door neighbor.

Another quick example – I've also seen physicists attempt to pass off their knowledge of "energy" as applicable to nutrition, simply because calories are a unit of energy. Smell the bullshit here?

Vertical scalability refers to domain knowledge being transferable from a micro to a macro level. Famed economist and author Nassim Taleb points out that experts in the micro-workings of financial instruments have never been able to predict the macro implications. You would think that a single expert on financial derivatives could have predicted the financial crash of 2008, but they couldn't; knowing things at the micro level does not scale to the macro level.

Let's go back to the example with medical doctors. Ostensibly, someone with an MD in endocrinology would be able to help a patient lose weight, due to the fact that they understand the inner workings of hormones and the human body. But that's not the case.

Sure, they might legally be able to prescribe medicines that aid in weight loss, but there is very little overlap in the domains of "weight loss" and being able to aid someone with weight loss, a subject that is much more dependent on habit, psychology, and nutrition.

It's worth noting that some of the world's leading weight loss practitioners are medical doctors, including two friends of mine, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff and Dr. Spencer Nadolsky. However, their expertise comes from learning the specific weight loss domain across thousands and thousands of patients, not necessarily from their medical degree.

3. The Doctor-Hubris phenomenon

Taleb is actually a victim of the very cognitive biases that he identifies, as he frequently tries to dispense insights in nutrition, something that he knows very little about. The irony that someone who has identified these cognitive biases actually demonstrates them is a prime example of the Doctor-Hubris phenomenon. Doctors will frequently think that they know more about an unrelated domain than they actually know.

This is why Dr. Oz, aside from being a complete charlatan, truly feels that he has the ability to dispense weight loss advice. He once mentioned something along the lines of "I perform surgeries all the time. I know that saturated fat is bad for you."

Really? Does the surgery domain scale to the nutrition domain?

Comically, my dad is a medical doctor who frequently tells people to eat less meat. He also happens to be the only person in my family who is fat.


And this, ladies and gentlemen, describe in a nutshell while putting two letters in front of your name is usually bullshit when it comes to the fitness industry. It's simply a marketing tool that exploits human thinking. Consumers see phenomenon #1, which is irrelevant because of phenomenon #2, and exacerbated by phenomenon #3.

The next time you see Dr. in front of someone's name, really examine the expertise in their domain and the domain that they are trying to apply it to. In the meantime, I will be using the Dr. in front of my name to shed light on this oft-used bullshit.

Sincerely yours,
Dr. Dick Talens (Honorary Doctorate in Drug and Alcohol Counseling*)

(p.s. *Ironically written when drunk)

(p.p.s Apologies to all of the actual legitimate people in the fitness field with "Dr" in front of their name, i.e. Mike Nelson, Yoni, Spencer, etc.)

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Sun, 28 Sep 2014 09:59:16 +0000