I tend to get a few questions pretty frequently, so here's where I answer them.

1. How tall are you?

I'm 5'9.

2. What is your workout routine?

I don't really follow a formal program. I engage in physical activities that I enjoy and that elevate my heart rate, in the context of 30-60 minutes of activity a day, five days a week. This can be anything from walking to crossfit to sex. I do 2-3 resistance training sessions a week, working all the major muscle groups each session. Sometimes those resistance training sessions are bodyweight exercises, other times they are lifting heavy barbells and dumbells. A lot depends on how I'm feeling that particular day. My resistance training sessions are included in that 30-60 minutes a day. I've put together two workout programs modeled after my own training. The First 100 Days is for beginners and includes cardio and basic resistance training. My Basic Lifting Routine is for more experienced exercisers who are looking for a simple and effective strength training routine. It includes free weight, body weight, and high intensity interval training.

3. What do you eat? Do you follow a specific diet?

I do not follow a specific diet. I only have a few guidelines that I follow as far as food:

1. Eat the appropriate number of calories
2. Get enough protein

Otherwise I eat what I want. I've experimented with several diet philosophies and found that they are more trouble than they are worth. Rigid dietary rules and restrictions are a recipe for disordered thinking. I've found the simplest, most sustainable approach is to keep 'rules' to a minimum and focus on eating the foods that I enjoy and that make me feel the best. I discuss more about my approach to food and eating elsewhere on my blog: here, here and here, and in my eBook here.

4. Do you take any supplements? What do you think of meal replacement products?

I actually wrote a whole blog post about this! You can read it here. In a nutshell, I think most supplements and meal replacement products are a waste of money. The few supplements I think are worthwhile are a good protein powder (I give tips for choosing one in the post I linked above), EFAs (especially if you are vegan or don't eat much fish) and anything a blood test may indicate you're deficient in. I highly recommend my friend Sol's supplement guide if you are interested in an evidence based resource on the subject.

5. I've been lifting weights for months and I'm not seeing any changes. What am I doing wrong?

You're probably not doing anything wrong! Aesthetic changes happen slowly, over the course of many months, even years. Check out my progress photos here and here so you can see the time scale over which my body changed. It wasn't fast. Patience is the key! And probably the biggest challenge.

6. Are you vegan?

I have been in the past, but I'm not now. I still tend to eat more plants simply out of personal preference, but I don't label my diet or define myself by what I eat. In fact, I now think that those thought processes are unhealthy and we need to be more flexible and less dogmatic about food. I've written about the dangers of getting too invested in dietary dogmas here and here.

7. What is Kaleo?

Kale + Paleo = Kaleo. It's a joke! A word I made up because people always seem to want to label my way of eating, to put me 'in a box'. Kale and paleo are trendy right now, and I wanted to poke at food fads a little. ‘Kaleo’ also means ‘the voice’ in Greek and Hawaiian. I like to fancy myself a voice of reason in a sea of hysteria and pseudoscience.

8. What macronutrient ratio do you aim for?

I don’t really aim for anything other than adequate protein (.8-1 gram per pound of bodyweight is the rule of thumb I follow). Otherwise I just eat what I want. Over time, my macros seem to average out to about 50% carbs, 30% fat and 20% protein, but they could vary wildly on any given day. I don’t advocate any specific macro ratio, I advocate eating in a way that works for you as an individual, with emphasis on eating foods you enjoy and that support your needs and goals. Check out my ebook for tips on building a solid nutritional base to support a healthy weight.

9. How do you get so much protein?

Well, first, I eat enough food overall. When I’m getting adequate calories, it naturally boosts my protein simply because I’m eating more food than if I was trying to stick to an unrealistically low calorie intake. I eat something protein-dense at every meal and snack. I add a good quality protein powder to my oatmeal in the morning. Tracking my diet showed me where I was getting protein and helped me figure out ways to fine-tune things to maximize my protein intake.

10. Do you eat carbs? What about wheat and other grains?

Yes, I eat carbs. My carb intake averages out to 300-400 grams a day. I ate that amount of carbs while I was losing weight, too. I eat wheat as well, and other grains. I tried going grain free for about a year and didn’t notice any difference. When I added them back in to my diet, nothing changed, again. I enjoy grains. I tolerate them very well. They provide me with the energy I need to meet the demands of my day to day life. I have no reason to restrict them from my diet, so I don’t.

11. How did you get your abs?

My abs are a product of low body fat and genetics. Check out the video I made about it.

12. Will running/cardio make me fat?

No. If you enjoy cardio, do as much as you like. Just make sure to eat enough to support it. Inadequate energy intake is the real issue behind the ‘cardio makes you fat’ myth. Check out this post to get a look into the real science on cardio.


9 thoughts on “FAQ

  1. I think you’re awesome. I agree with your philosophy 100%
    I just need find my own philosophy work for me like you have for you.,
    my major issue is consistency,
    so that will be my goal… to be consistent.

  2. Thank you for this. I truly and honestly appreciate your commentary and points of view. I have found it painstaking to try to follow a “plan” and have fought tooth and nail against my body this past year. Your message of patience is so key in my life right now. I’m trying to get back everything I lost after some pretty major knee surgery last year- it’s been difficult because I have never known what it was like to be unhappy with my body. I’ve always been an athlete and happy with myself until this year. I just keep thinking of your messages of kindness, patience, and self-respect. Slowly but surely, I’m getting it back on my own terms. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for what you do and for your honesty!

  3. Without doubt one of the best F.A.Q.s I’ve seen, all dogma well and truly ditched, to the point and succinct . Important to keep up the counter argument here against the barrage from the gurus. Some strong players fighting back now including you Amber, keep fighting the good fight.

  4. Based on your experience, is bodyweight training less effective than using barbells/dumbbells? I like the freedom of it and I know what to do, but still, dumbbell training seems to be more effective – more fatiquing. Maybe higher volume training could compensate for that.

    • I don’t think so, I do a lot of bodyweight training, more bodyweight than traditional lifting actually. I think it’s really effective, and if it’s what you enjoy go for it!

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  6. I love that it’s ok not to follow a formal program. After forcing myself to follow programs to the letter, while my inner teenager rebelled, I decided to accept that I am a workout free spirit. So long as I move my body everyday and do 2-3 strength days I call it good. So glad I’m not alone! I hate the guilt that the diet and fitness industry has heaped upon us. Or perhaps it’s my fault for blindly following along '?

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