Interview: JC of JCD Fitness

JC...extra studly.
JC...extra studly.

This is a first for me and I sure hope you enjoy it. I wanted to add a certain level of insight that a dialogue can allow for that a long-winded article doesn’t. JC’s blog, JCDFitness, is a voice of common sense for younger guys starting off on their fitness adventure.  On top of that, JC is the dude who designed my new banner, which I think is pretty bad ass.  I wanted to dig into JC’s brain for some perspective on a variety of topics.

JC, I found out about you on Lyle McDonald’s forum. At the time, you had a blog that showed “food porn” and had a small following through the forum. How and why did you move from a small blog to your current mythbusting/advice dispensing blog?

I am almost embarrassed to say that is how I got started with this blogging thing.  Oh well.  I decided to create a new website/blog for two reasons.  Reason number one is because I was running out of ideas for fitness food porn and I was sick of coming up with different meal ideas.  I typically like to eat the same stuff every single day, so I am sure you can see how this would pose a major headache.

Reason number two is that I really wanted to write about fitness.  I was out with a friend one day and we had a long talk about how to get his training and diet back in order.  He basically told me “all I want to do is look great naked.” In my head I was like “that’s easy!”  So I basically poured everything I could think of into him for the next couple of hours.  He then encouraged me to begin turning my thoughts and ideas regarding my no BS approach to looking great naked into blog posts.  So yea, that’s how it all began.

Eating the same stuff everyday sounds a lot like Clarence Bass and his idea of uniform eating. I eat this

Clarence's Abs
Clarence's Abs
JC's Abs
JC's Abs

way too and don’t find it boring, though I do change up a few items every few months. I’ve mentioned this before, but your ab shot reminds me of the famous Bass ab shot. Walk me through a typical training day as far as eating/timing/rational for what you’re doing.

-Wake up at 9:00-9:30 and drink a shake, cup of coffee with cream and make a giant bowl of oats.  I usually eat a piece of fruit if I have some available.
-Train from 10:30-11:30.

-Post workout I eat around 200g worth of carbs, 60-70g of protein from shakes and trace amounts from carb sources.  This meal is usually a giant bowl of rice and brown sugar, potatoes or milk and cereal.  Sometimes its a combination of all three(not in the same bowl though, heh)

-Before work I will usually eat whatever.  This whatever can be a few chicken breasts in between a few slices of white bread slathered in barbecue sauce or some cottage cheese and a few healthy spoonfuls of peanut butter.  This is highly dependent on if I have done my grocery shopping.

-I work from 3:30-midnight and either do not eat or snack on free popcorn during my breaks and lunch.

-When I get home I will typically consume 5-6 eggs and fill in the rest of my carb sources with cereal, fruit or leftover pizza.

-My meal frequency does change on ocassion.  Some days it’s been as little as 2 meals and others as many as 5.

Speaking of meal frequency, I know you’ve done intermittent fasting in the past. If I recall correctly, it helped knock out some food phobias you had but it’s not something you actively do anymore. If I have this correct, what became the tipping point that told you “I don’t have this habit anymore”? In other words, what got rid of the food phobia? I know for me, I IF’d until I realized that I wasn’t going to lose mass if I had a late breakfast and that food isn’t as acute as drugs (as some might have us believe).

I IF’d for about a year, yea.  I used to tout an unhealthy obsession with clean/unclean food.  Eating a pizza meant I was inferior and worthless.  It meant that my diet was ruined for the month.  I used IF as a way to alter the way I viewed food.  It used to be good and bad choices, now all I see is energy sources.  As far as I see it cake and oatmeal are one in the same.  Cake tastes better though.

The tipping point that really broke the ghastly habit of eating on the clock was when I finally realized that I was maintaining and even gaining muscle mass fasting 16 hours a day and consuming only 2-3 meals in an 8 hour window.

I no longer follow a strict IF pattern and just eat whenever I feel the need.  However I no longer obsess about losing my muscles when I don’t have time to eat breakfast.

This is something I’ve become concerned with: I like eating paleo most of the time though I sometimes find myself concerned that even imbibing a little bit is going to fuck everything up…very Lyle McDonald “bag of cookies” story pertaining to health. I rationally overcome this, but it does creep in from time to time.

I wrote about this partially in my “The Dream” article. That said, since you both train and correspond with clients who have eating issues, how do you go about helping them to break these issues? Do you have them go cold turkey or meet them in the middle?

Yea, I really enjoyed “The Dream” as well as the healthy debate in the comment section.  This is such a good question, I am glad you asked.  I particularly like working with those who have struggled as I have.  I feel the best way to go about doing anything(successfully anyway) is to fully commit and ease into it.  It also helps to have a guide/coach to walk you through the process.

I usually tell people to start with a caloric goal, usually their maintenance intake.  Make sure they hit that goal on a consistent basis and get used to planning their intake accordingly.  I then insert ice cream, pizza and other “junk” into their diet on occasion and almost make it regular for a period of time.  If they trust me and control their calories, they soon find out there is no negative effect on their body composition whilst dieting/maintaining.  All of their preconceived notions about clean/unclean food BS is shattered.

So I guess you could say I meet them in the middle.  I will never forget the first day I deliberately fasted until 4pm to devour a 1500 kcal meal of steak and potatoes and then another 1500kcals before bedtime.  Talk about relief!

So since you build things that are generally considered “cheat food” into your caloric needs, what does it look like for you to “cheat?” Just exceeding caloric intake or just eating to enjoy the flavor of the food absent of health concerns?

I don’t generally deem free meals as cheating because I don’t particularly like the label “cheat food.”  It reminds me of my OCD bodybuilding obsession from my previous life.  In general if I am sick and tired of counting calories, I will eat a few meals where I do not count whatsoever.  This can be a meal I make at home, a meal out or a local barbecue/gathering.  I basically put myself in a situation where I cannot keep track of kcals.  These free meals usually include moderate amounts of alcohol (particularly beer) and good company.

About the health issue; I do not worry about 3-4 unhealthy meals per month as I eat plenty of fruit and whole foods. I figure that the health benefits from EFA’s and the micro nutrients present in fruit greatly outweigh the pizza I consume on occasion.

Last question, and it has 2 parts: what is your greatest strength as a coach and, if that magically vanished, what would be the thing you have to work hardest to improve, so that it’s your new “greatest strength?”

I feel my greatest strength is my objective approach and outlook.  Most of my clientele currently consists of guys my age(22) or a few years younger.  I have this habit of calling them young guys but only in the sense that most of them are newbies to all of this.   I feel that my strength lies in my experience.  I have been where they are currently, it was just when I was 14 instead of 20.  Therefore I can be the guide they need to ensure they don’t step in the potholes I did when I was battling the learning curve.

Now if that strength magically vanished like Spidey’s powers did in the sequel, I would probably go into hiding for a while or just grab a pen name and only write about fitness/training.

6 thoughts on “Interview: JC of JCD Fitness

  1. Awesome as usual.

    Interesting set of questions. Much like you guys, I’ve found that the IF thing isn’t some holy grail re: partitioning. It’s greatest benefit seems to be psychological. It really makes you loosen up about what you’re eating. I’ve been doing it for about a month. I typically workout late in the afternoon or early evening, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is consume a bunch of clean foods. First the prep time, second the sheer volume and time it takes to eat. I’ve turned to junk food to get my calories in and I couldn’t be happier. Nothing quite like eating pizza every day and dropping fat.

    I don’t adhere strictly to the 16/8 thing either. I just eat when my hunger is noticeable and task performance or concentration begins to suffer. That’s usually the 13/14 hour mark for me. I think the best thing about IF is that it gets you back in touch with your hunger cues. You really can feel the full range of sensations from stuffed, to neutral, to ravenous (if you really push the fast), and I think it helps restore for orthorexics a certain level of body sensitivity that disappears on OCD 6-8 meal-a-day plans.

    I haven’t had a ‘cheat’ meal in years. I think more than eating something ‘unclean,’ cheat meals and refeeds carry the connotation of overeating, and this actually trumps the importance of eating an unclean food in the dieter’s mind. But since I’m overeating within the limits of caloric goals every single day, I have no desire to just eat to the point of physical discomfort like most dieters do. I think this goes back to the body sensitivity thing.

    Great work guys.

    1. Ryan,

      I think that IF can have good effect on partitioning if used in a manner like Martin prescribes (i.e. PSMF days and overfeeds after workouts) but it’s not a 200% increase by any means.

      When I first started fasting (IF for Neurotic Athletes) I was filling calories with chocolate and ice cream and getting leaner. I was also sweating like a pig, which was strangely satisfying.

      The issue with the fasting is just that: most people are emotional eaters and so they freak the fuck out when the fast ends. Shorter fasts like you’re talking about helps to balance some of that, especially reminding that “Hey nutto, your sleep was 8 hours; just don’t eat 3 hours before bed and 2 hours after you wake up. Enjoy your coffee on an empty stomach.” Love the orthorexic phrase, btw.

      I got used to calling it a “cheat” meal ages ago when I first went on a diet; I have to clarify to clients that it’s a planned meal that’s not usual to your diet. Don’t stuff yourself but savor the flavor, so to speak.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  2. I like this approach. Sometimes when I find myself getting too obsessed, I make myself eat an ice cream cone, or a slice of pizza, just to pull myself out of it. It makes my whole lifestyle more sustainable. Generally I try to eat lots of veggies and healthy food overall, but even when it’s not convenient, I can still lose, or at least maintain my weight. I don’t fast, but I go on 5 hour hikes occasionally, and I eat a good breakfast, carry along a pb&j, and some fruit, pistachios, peas. It takes 2-3 hours to get hungry, then I eat some fruit/nuts. After 30 minutes, I’ll be hungry again, and eat 1/2 sandwich. And so on. By the end of the hike, I’m usually hungry again, and out of food. This is how I stay in touch with my hunger.

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