Sunday, September 2, 2012

Interview with Drop the Fat Act & Start Living Lean Author Ryan Andrews - how bout those Deadly Fattitudes?

Ryan Andrews - Vegan
Lean Living Coach
and Author

The following is an interview with Ryan Andrew’s about his latest book Drop the Fat Act and (original b2d interview with Ryan, Aug 18, 2010 here). As said in the Aug 16, 2012 b2d review of the book, Drop the Fat Act really really is a must read for anyone interested in what getting, being and staying lean is about. In Ryan’s portrayal, Being Fat is an Act – an act that is the result of a consistent and repeated set of Fattitudes: Fat people – people who carry excess body fat – consistently share these attitudes. Change the attitudes, change the act, change from the Fat Act to Lean Living.

Because I’d never actually heard anyone put Being Fat so succinctly as a set of consistent Fattitudes (discussed in the b2d review) I asked Ryan if he’d have a wee chat with me about how these ideas developed. The following represents those conversations.

Ryan Andrews Drop the Fat Act b2d Interview

One of the richest parts of Drop the Fat Act and Start Living Lean is the bibliography. You have references to a lot of great books and approaches in getting to a good place with food. The acknowledgement of all these influences and your notes around them is fabulous to see.

In light of all these other sources, what did you feel were some of the missing pieces in this space that you thought needed to be addressed or could be better addressed by "Drop the Fat Act"?

It’s a collection of all the wisdom and experience I have to share. The book hits on the emotional and physical aspects of eating. I thought the opposites approach demonstrating what ISN’T working would be a fresh perspective for some people. I wanted to remind people that we can learn from our mistakes.

Where did the title come from? Why do you call this an "act" - and is therefore "lean" an act too?
I wish I had a better story for this, but it was really just a brainstorming session with my publisher that generated the title. I do believe that fatness and leanness are acts. It’s like playing a role or a character. A fat person does certain things. A lean person does certain things. Choose your character.
Is Fattitude your term? If so what inspired that framing?
I was talking to a good friend a couple of years ago who has lost over 100 pounds and maintained it for over 20 years. He told me I should include the term “fattitude.” I loved it and contacted my publishers about it immediately.

Audience for Drop the Fat Act

You're an experienced coach and you design for lean eating; you've done the research; you've spent the time on wards. You know this stuff, and you know that there are different learning styles and approaches to hearing a message.

Who are you particularly trying to reach with this book?
Anyone who is ready to listen. At different points in our lives, things hit us a certain way. I hope this book will help someone improve their life. One of my favorite quotes is: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
Indeed, to push on that question a little more:

The tone of the book is a bit dunno - how would you characterise it? Impatient? Acerbic? I've read your writing, Ryan - tons of about articles, your text book and support materials for the PN Cert Course - and we've done interviews and interactions. You're a *nice* person - meant in the most positive way possible. What made you decide that this more confrontational tone would be the way to go?
Just to keep things fresh. Stepping back from the “nice guy/textbook” approach to nutrition can be useful. We all eat 3 times each day. So let’s get real about it.
You frame Fat Folk as the Fat Eater and look at attitudes from approach to calorie restriction to types of food eaten; with fat Exerciser, it's time put into movement; Fat Life it's lack of sleep to over-confidence around weight management. How did you go about honing attitudes down to the particular attributes you list?
I started keeping notes about my clients when I was about 15 years old. That’s when I started helping people with eating and exercise. After a few years, I realized that the people with extra body fat all had the same attributes. I knew how they were living before they told me how they were living. Why not identify these attributes, learn from them, and do something different?
Are there any others that you didn't put into the book, but that you think some folks may want to be aware of creeping in?
You know, the book really hits on all the biggies. Each chapter has something I see each day. No joke.
Your final section is on the Fit Life, rather than the fat life, and it includes a 7 week plan. The plan is largely focused on doing more or the Lean stuff rather than less of the Fat stuff. Where we've grown acculturated to focusing on cutting out bad habits as the way to make progress, focusing on doing just more right stuff seems counter intuitive and just a little bit genius. Can you share some stories of how you've seen focusing on More of Right is better than Less of Bad?
Thanks. I’m tired of elimination. It’s been a major focus of nutrition for the past 20 years. Eliminate food X. Cut back on food Z. Before we occupy our mind space with food deductions, what are we actually consuming each day? Are we eating the nutritious stuff? The more we focus on something, the more likely it comes to fruition. Let’s focus on the positive. 

The Precision Nutrition (PN) Connexion

One aside on practical: in the book, you shy away from the 6 meals a day notion, and yet PN still has
a real transformation
this approach as part of the PN v3 system (pdf overview to PN here), though the current discussions on the forum seem to have toned that down - how reconcile that - and being a PN person - with your stance in the book?
PN AppleWe (PN) have chatted about this over the past couple of years. I think frequent meals (4-6 per day) can be useful for some people who panic when food is in short supply. Some people who eat 3 meals per day get in panic mode since the next meal is several hours away. This can lead to overeating. If having another meal in 2-3 hours prevents this overeating, then by all means, have another meal and eat frequently throughout the day. 
With that being said, if someone is able to be reasonable with food intake while eating 3 meals per day, then I would stick with it. We shouldn’t all have to be preoccupied with food, food prep and carrying around coolers all day. Let’s eat a meal, get done with it, and then go live life.

Also, one more PN thing - oatmeal in the morning
- you suggest it but don't seem to put caveats around it about having to workout first. With Precision Nutrition, one of the fundamental heuristics around starchy carbs, especially initially, is "carb timing" as in, don't eat 'em till you deserve 'em - eg, post workout. Could you go over your rationale around your "oatmeal is good" vs PN?
When someone eats a plant-based diet built around whole foods, carb timing isn’t quite as important. Why? Well, overall energy reduction is achieved with the general structure of the food choices and timing carbs is usually unnecessary to gain further benefits.
Goodness. That's an interesting leap. And an interesting place to get to. Perhaps a key thing to pull out here is the "plant based diet based around whole foods" as an assessment. Is someone's diet at that place yet?

The Joy of Tech comic
Featured, with permission, in Drop the Fat Act, Chpt 15:
Fat People Put themselves in Fat-Inducing Situations

Fattitudes and Clients

Now to the content again:
Have you started talking with clients in terms of their fattitudes? has it helped to help people recognize what um, might be called having a fat head (or fat thinking)?
We always discuss fattitudes. I really like when they can come up with their own list (instead of me doing it for them).
Have you considered a cheat sheet for "lean attitudes" (may be like the pn heuristics )
Good idea.
Do you have any sense of how long it takes folks to operationalize the shift from fat head to lean head? Of any of the fattitudes you describe is there one that shows up more than any other?

The shift is different for everyone. The MOST common fattitudes are: Making dinner largest meal, eating fast, dieting, eating processed foods, using food to manage feelings.
Could you expand a little more on the "it's not all about you" and how you've seen that with folks help them get to the lean action?

Are you talking about thinking outside our ourselves? Looking at the big picture with eating?
Actually i was thinking the former but the latter is interesting - so how about both?

Yeah. Our ideas about eating often become pervasively selfish. We assume that our own nutrition preferences trump any obligations we have as people. Rarely do we ask, “is eating this the right thing to do?” “Does this food choice lead to the greater good?” “What are the repercussions of eating this food?”
Second point:

Certain foods make us feel good, especially in the short term. We eat sugar and fat and get pleasure. When we start turning to this burst of pleasure any time we experience an uncomfortable emotion in life, it can have negative consequences on our health/weight.

Interesting. Getting that sense of discipline, really. OR different attitude/focus. And thus, a wee look further ahead as folks make progress.

As you see folks shifting into the lean act from the fat act, it seems many of us start asking quesitons about how to improve the process - or perhaps this is a fatitude in itself? Questions start to come up about supplements - whether its omega threes, or protein drinks or vitamin d on the sort of top level down to magnesium, zinc, b or i'm starting to see more on coq10 of late -  - do you have guidance around this one, too?
Overthinking can be a fattitude.

My advice is to keep it simple. There are certain areas worthy of improving. Some areas don’t really matter. I like discussing the idea of triage with clients.
Right - figuring out where the Important Bits are where a person is at right now. Related on the tuning - invariably folks experience some type of plateua in their practice - do you encourage folks to revisit their fatitudes to see which one might need more action, or what happens at this point for you?
Yes. Definitely revisit limiting factors.

Ryan World, Next Steps

How did you and your publisher find each other?
I submitted my book to 10 publishers. They were one of them.
Do you see a volume two?
No. (smiles)
OK then! Thanks very much for the time and extra insight into the Making Of - Drop the Fat Act and Start Living Lean.

What's coming up in Ryan World now that you have a popular press book in the bag?
Actually, I am now focusing more on my personal life.
Cool - good luck on your mission. As super self-less lean guy, that seems really cool.

As a reminder, besides now being an author of a book b2d is recommending as the Lean Living book to Share with All the Folks You Love, Ryan is also the co-author of the Precision Nutrition Certification text (and slides and voice overs for lessons) - you can engage with him on the PN Cert Forum if you're registered in this course. He's also one of the listed Lean Eating Coaches, so you can find him there. He also has been known to frequent the vegetarian questions on the general Precision Nutrition forum.

And once again, for those contemplating a purchase of this book, hesitate no more: you're doing good!
I also like to mention that 50% of all author proceeds from the sales of my book are donated to hunger relief efforts and improving school lunch programs.
You may also want to see the b2d review of Drop the Fat Act and Start Living Lean. Again, highly recommended.

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