NO STRAIGHT ANSWERS • HEAD COACH XN'S BLOG

​Head Coach and Next Level founder Christian Matyi – a/k/a "XN" – gives notoriously complex answers to even the most simple of questions.  He'd always rather you "think more" than "know more." So you can only imagine what'll happen when there wasn't any question even asked . . . 

You never know what his many years of coaching will inspire him to claim as "relevant" to your progress. 

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The Dot & Mr. Miller: Maybe The Steroid-Free Guys Really ARE Steroid-Free

Watch this video.  The workshop wasn't trying to prove anything.  We weren't even taking a hard agenda that "steroids are wrong" or "bodybuilding is full of liars."  We were merely discussing what makes something credible.  And that is a topic that so few of us in life ever really breach, much less any of us in bodybuilding. 

But that idea was at the center of a recent meeting of the Next Level's Spring 2015 team.  And at the epicenter of the discussion was guy named named Doug Miller.  

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Competing to gain is better than competing to win.

Why are you competing?  No really, why?  I mean, if you're not competing in a contest any time soon, this question may not seem to apply to you.  Unless, of course, you're instead trying to get a better job.  Or a good grade.  Or jockey for attention of a mate.  Yeah, most of us are kind of competing.

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OUR OFFICIAL WORD ON PALEO DIETS (again): Clever but stupid.

More and more, Paleo-style dieting is seeping out of the fringes and into the mainstream.  No longer just a fanatical tool in the world of athletics, Paleo, "neo-Paleo" and "carb-cleanse" diets are graduating into pop culture touchstones for fad dieting.

 To be fair: lemmings enjoy sugar.  

To be fair: lemmings enjoy sugar.  

Which means more and more "regular people" are taking forays into this method of eating.  And while I have written similarly on this topic before, I couldn't hold my tongue while watching a new wave of idiots fall like lemmings off the carbohydrate cliff.  I must restate a simple and true fact of human dieting. (I'll get to it in just a second – bear with me.)

You see, what makes Paleo Dieting so convincing is that it is borrowing off of biological facts to describe it's content.  Facts are hard to argue, especially those wrapped in the bright-colored sugary shell of "science."  Once science becomes candy, everyone falls in love with it.  And this was Paleo Dieting's marketing success to the masses: it uses simple, bite-sized scientific facts to uphold it's rationale.  It basically is promoted as "how our bodies were designed to eat."  It looks at our biological design and draws conclusions based on evolution.  And therein lies the candying of the message: it's so yummy with facts it's hard not to dig right in.

Facts are hard to argue, especially those wrapped in the bright-colored sugary shell of “science.” Once science becomes candy, everyone falls in love with it.

However, as true as these facts are, they are only part of the story.  If you want to talk about "how we are designed to eat" and evoke our evolutionary track, then you can't just selectively pick from the candy bins only those sweet facts that uphold your story.  You have to assess all the facts when analyzing a design; anything less creates misleading conclusions.

The biggest overlooked "fact" in analyzing how we were "designed" to eat via our "evolution" is also the one that has always seemed – to this coach, anyway – the most glaringly obvious:

NO GREAT HUMAN ACCOMPLISHMENT
THAT LED TO THE BETTERMENT OF OUR SPECIES
WAS EVER ACHIEVED WITHOUT ADDED SUGARS.
PERIOD.

And I mean all our greatest accomplishments.  Whether it is Stonehendge or the Sisteine Chapel; open-heart surgery or the Mars rover; a Shakespearian sonnet or the internet where you are now reading this article; nothing awesome we humans have ever accomplished didnt also require tons of excess sugar to get done.  Including:

THE POSSESSION OF THE SCIENCE WHICH ALLOWED US TO LOOK BACK 
AND DETERMINE THE DIETS OF OUR ANCESTORS
RELIED ON TONS OF SUGARS TO INVENT.

PALEO DIETING WOULD BE UNKNOWN TO US
WITHOUT MILLENNIA OF HUMANS
INTENTIONALLY EATING NON-PALEO DIETING.

Our ancestors – the guys who ate Peleo – were the ones who invented non-Paleo, added-sugar dieting.  And thank god they did!  It was a boon to our evolution!  

While mass-production of carbs has caused us terrible setbacks, that is not the fault of the carbs themselves.

And this is a fact: to get ahead, we must use out ability to develop technology.  And while there are many worrisome woes to the industrialization of food, industrialization is different from applied technology.  While mass-production of carbs has caused us terrible setbacks, that is not the fault of the carbs themselves.  The application of technology – the use of refined tools – to enhance our diets is not the bad guy here; we are not going to get our best performance by shoving twigs into ant holes for a mouthful of bugs.  Avoiding crappily-produced (read: industrialized) foods is a good thing, but avoiding added sugars all together?  Yah, that idea didn't really work out for our ancestors either.  

Which is why they invented adding sugar.  And then all kinds of awesome started going down.  

And that is an evolutionary fact.  Just as factual as the face used to bolster Paleo Dieting.  Th problem is that thy are not as sugary sweet; these here are like the factual brussel sprouts to the M&M's ofd Paleo's science tray.  Of course they are easy to shove aside.  Way too much fiber to be any "fun."

 Mmmm!  Science!  So factsy!!!

Mmmm!  Science!  So factsy!!!

Paleo-style dieting is a trick of logic and marketing, not a boon of health promotion or a maximization of human potential.  Our potential was maximized when we used tools – one of the evolutionary traits which helps define our species – to change what we ate.  Then pyramids, The Beatles, Great Wall and airplanes, not to mention Olympics, marathons, baseball and bodybuilding, among many other cool things.

Paleo-style dieting is a trick of logic and marketing, not a boon of health promotion or a maximization of human potential.

Paleo is clever, but stupid.  It is a useful compendium of ideas on our biology, but a lousy prescription for maximizing human performance.  yes, the short term benefits have been extolled time and again through countless "after pictures."  But the fact of the matter is human betterment relies on adding sugar to our diet – judiciously and conscientiously, but absolutely.  

And no sweetening of facts will out-nourish the nutrients in that fact.

What I "do" as a coach, simplified.

. . . . See how one simple, well-done act of motivation
starts into motion a mighty machine of free promotion? 
Well, if you ever wondered "what I do," this is "what I do."  
While others strive for vain, self-proclaimed Greatness,
I meanwhile quietly strive to build a community among the truly great.

This was pulled from a conversation with an Athlete today who I was promoting.  

I find that, as a Coach, I pull results from Athletes far more affectively by bringing in close to them other Athletes or Mentors who are motivational and exceptional.  By being a constant bridge to examples of greatness, an Athlete can build far greater trust in me than if I was hammering down upon them an endless rain of mind-numbing, emotionally boring "true, hard facts."  

My wisdom is my own, but my brains are certainly not.  I have quipped for decades that "I am not very smart, so I keep my brains on speed-dial."  I always find it wiser as a Coach – and more effective – to not try to be the embodiment of all the information, but rather the navigator towards where information might lie.

This is something I beg of many other trainers and self-proclaimed coaches; to stop pointing always towards yourself, and instead learn the powerful skill of pointing away.  I have always believed that "the Truth is anything which points away from itself in order to lead you back towards it." It is always a tiny bit of a lie, therefore, when a teacher or mentor proclaims that they "have all you need."

Trust more those leaders who are well-resourced, rather than those who are merely well-accomplished.  The teachers who have a solid, trusted network of others who can share information has a lot more directions to help you than the dude who tries to be the one, single compendium of all things useful. 

This is why so much of my work is in the development of the community, rather than in the fortifying of my own, private mind.  And this is why I work in groups, collaboratives and – most importantly – teams.  These well-networked solutions provide more opportunities for Athletes to learn, as well as more possibilities within that learning.  (Not to mention a LOT more laughter – which is one of the best teaching tools I have ever encountered.)

Minimizing expertise own to "how much someone knows" not only misguides those who seek to learn, but also insults and diminishes the power of the very knowledge one seeks.  All best learning is done, dear human beings, together.  I know – many of you can remember the countless times where you were learning alone . . . but if you think of the environment in which you were doing that solo learning, you will see you were hardly "alone," and that the contributions of others were critical for that learning to have taken place.  The house you were in, the book you were reading, the computer you were clicking and the weights you were clanking were all tools supplied by others. And they were all the types of tools that pointed away from themselves to help you.  And because they didn't demand your reverence, your mind was free to learn and grow via their usefulness.

We're all in a network.  We're all in a community.  And the minute someone or some thing proclaims "I (or we) self-possess all you will ever need to learn" is the minute you are being misguided.  Which is why I find it far more vital as a Coach to be the aggressive and protective arbiter of a stable, consistent community for my Athletes to learn within, rather than demand their reverence and complete devotion to my own thoughts.  (Many of which are not too swift, anyway.)

This is what I do.  This is why I call myself a "Coach" and rather than a trainer.  I am more gardener than whip, more palette than paint, more tool than building.  I seek to leave open more options than I eliminate, and ardently try to bring around me resources which I can pass on to those seeking out which options are their best choices.  

The community is more powerful than the knowledge any single member of it possesses.  I don't seek that power.  I merely seek to keep it well-networked.

And then keep it all on speed-dial.

Dear "very smart" fitness writers:

Good writing is not the result of having good content.  if no one likes reading what you wrote, then who cares if you alone are publishing the "best information."

The majority of a "fitness articles" (the term gets caught in my throat) out there today are not written by those with rhetorical expertise as one of their credentials.  These are not writers; these are people with a lot in their mind.  And while I am grateful they want to contribute, they too often shoot themselves in the foot; they lose our attention and then criticize us for diverting that attention to things which can capture it.  

Good writing is about good editing.  Good writing is NOT about good content.  If the marriage of reasonable content and compelling writing takes place, then you have a winner of information delivery.

I only share this because too often I see athletes criticized for following the most flashy writing that has lousy content, yet those with solid content bore the crap out of those athletes and thus lose the chance to fill their heads with the good stuff.

We need to pay close better attention to how the good information travels from hand to hand.  We mustn't lament when good content gets overlooked when it was not delivered in an "easily-digested" form.

Meanwhile, this same sentiment should stand as a warning to athletes: just because something reads convincingly does not mean that what it has convinced you of is of high merit.  Persuasion is the tool of masters and the drug of fools.  Be mindful when you feel that an article is :right" that what could be convincing you is the writing, not the content.