Hi – I’m Pete. Thanks for stumbling upon my site. I’d say I’m a fairly normal 30 something year old who works in web development by day, and intermittently moonlights an increasingly irreverent career in health and fitness. I’m also gamer who competitively speedruns and have snagged some records. I stream on Twitch if you might be inclined to watch that sort of thing. I like to golf and took it up seriously for the first time a few years ago. My lofty long term goal is to achieve a scratch handicap, current best is 11. That’s all I can think of for now.
The main purpose of this site is to practically help people make health and fitness easier and sustainable. I also write about a variety of topics that might not directly relate to that.
My Story – Short Version:
- got deeply into the world of Health and Fitness ™
- got fed up with Health and Fitness ™
- realized the overall directive of the industry is ass-backward and doesn’t actually make sense
- also realized that the industry was much uglier than I thought
- created a blog to talk about all that, eventually wrote a book too
- had success – four digit daily traffic, many book sales, many coaching clients
- the whole thing never felt quite right, decided to depublish the blog and book, *poof*, all gone
- lived several more years of life and learned a lot
- never stopped believing in my philosophy and that it could help a lot of people
- decided to try the blog thing again, the right way, here we are
My Story – Long Version:
preliminary disclaimer: I do mean this is really long. But I think its important to fully express myself so that readers can really understand where I’m coming from.
I wouldn’t say I initially “got in to” health and fitness, but rather, like many people, was made aware of it by becoming self conscious at a young age. I can remember being as young as ten and noticing how some of my peers had more athletic looking bodies compared to my very average baby fat laden body. I remember actually telling my parents that I wanted to go on a diet when I was twelve and asking my cross country coach how I could shrink my love handles. It didn’t seem to matter to twelve year old me that I was one of the fastest runners on the team and a good athlete, or that I had a stone cold average BMI, or that my pediatrician gave me a doubtless thumbs up each year, or that in hindsight my body looked like that of a completely normal pubescent boy.
It’s actually really fucked up that most people get introduced to Health and Fitness™ by being circuitously insulted and made self conscious. Talk about a red flag for an ensuing abusive relationship, but that is a long winded digression… anyway, back to me.
I picked up my first barbell freshman year of high school as a part of training for track and field. And I do say that literally, like, my still very normal looking pubescent body could barely push up 60 pounds on the bench. By senior year I’d be a team captain and be able to lift three times as much. I remember momentarily reflecting on how cool it was that I was able to come so far. And yet, very normal slight love handles remained, and so too did self consciousness.
My coming of age coincided with the burgeoning golden age of bro science. People on bodybuilding.com were just spouting all kinds of unsubstantiated pseudo facts. The more products and supplements the better, which is an alluring directive because it’s easy to buy more products and take more supplements. Everyone was doing all kinds of random shit that never seemed to have discernable correlation with results. I can’t even recount everything I tried to spot burn away those awful, completely normal love handles.
When I did get to college I had the opportunity to continue competing at the D1 level in track and field, but I ended up deciding to pivot to the rowing team. I would then learn that there was a lightweight division to give guys who weren’t 6’5″ a chance to be competitive. Part of that meant making weight, which was actually pretty exciting to me because it created hard extrinsic motivation and an external blameworthy reason to partake in eating habits that were peculiar for an average college student. At that point I still didn’t really have any idea how this diet stuff actually worked, so I kind of cobbled together a system that was more or less a product of aggregate bro science, conventional wisdom, and even a sprinkling of common sense. It was more or less as follows: eat less fat, eat more vegetables, lay off on the junk, and the hardest one of all – no drinking during the ~4 month racing season. Little did I know that I’d unwittingly taken the most sensible weight loss strategy compared to anything I’d do for the next ten years. And it worked great – I made weight for three seasons, was six pack shredded, and, interestingly enough, still had some low fat love handles. I guess that was just the shape of my body after all.
College and rowing ended upon graduating in 2008 at which time, in addition to the worst economic recession in generations, the world of online fitness was really starting to blow up, which ushered in the golden age of fad diets and workout programs. People threw away their bread and drank coffee with butter, then did clean and jerks for max reps in a time limit with no real training in olympic lifting. I mean seriously – irreverent, colossal idiocy so abound it was honestly incredible.
And I was no exception – the one that snagged me was the paleo diet. I was honestly captivated by it, for years, despite my utter inability to stick with it and it not working at all as it claimed to. Meanwhile I seemed to conveniently forget that my simple eat-less-food system from before, which included plenty of bread and carbs, had worked perfectly. It didn’t seem to matter that I had a stem degree that included a lot of science, math, and formal logic in the curriculum, the kind of knowledge which should have promptly eviscerated the obviously flawed paleo concept, because I was straight up bated, hook line and sinker.
I learned a very important lesson in hindsight: it’s basically impossible to reason with someone, including yourself, who believes something because they want to.
And the paleo diet had all the perfect ingredients for creating a cult like following. First, the conspiracy theory laced narrative – the whole medical and pharma industry is a scam. Next, the excited rejection of a hard truth – you can be as gluttonous as you want as long as you eat food that you’re programmed to eat! (whatever the hell that even means). And most importantly of all, you’ve clued in because you’re so smart, smart enough to have lifted the veil and see the real truth, because YOU are *special*. Behave like a caveman, avoid eating the toxin du jour, discover the money making secret, become woke, take a metaphorical pill of some color, open your eyes, the [insert group or entity] are destroying the [insert group or entity], become… enlightened. Indeed, the exploitation of people who believe what they want to is present in every facet of life it seems. Which leads me to yet another lesson I learned:
Heuristic narratives are insidiously seductive – people really like to believe them, especially if they proffer an escape from a problem, which most of the well marketed ones do.
But life doesn’t fit into neat and tidy narratives. Life is complicated, situational, and often contradictory. And sometimes, as hard as it can be to accept, there’s no ideal solution to a given problem, and all we can do is figure out how to live with it.
PSA: If you feel like you’ve become privy to a certain narrative and you find yourself wanting to believe it… warning! danger! psychological vulnerability might be getting breached! caution is strongly advised.
My pontificating has digressed though, back to me again…
I eventually caught a blessing – I discovered an obscure author who wrote a book with the very underwhelming title of The Fat Loss Bible. Bible ey? I don’t even believe the actual Bible, but, some of his online writings were compelling enough to make me think the book was worth buying. Maybe it was just more shiny object syndrome, but fortunately we sometimes unwittingly do the right things for the wrong reasons. It was in this book that I learned this dude took it upon himself to track down every single controlled dietary study there was, which is a massive task to undertake in the mid 2000s when the internet was yet to be so accessible. It was all there in the book, in a nicely formatted table, 30 plus studies that all confirmed the same thing: that on a physiological level, calorie intake over time was the only thing that ultimately influenced long term weight change. I felt like a scholarly brick had hit me in the face – how could I possibly continue to argue against tens of studies that all showed the same thing? How could I continue to adhere to claims that didn’t, as it turns out, actually have a shred of legitimate scientific evidence to support them while there was a lot of evidence to contradict them? I looked at and thought about all those studies, I also then seemed to conveniently remember now that my eat-less-food-and-in-moderation strategy, the same banal strategy that has been espoused by the USDA and all other reputable dietary agencies around the world for decades, had worked perfectly for me. The wheels started turning, and an epiphany was had. Amazing. In the fifteen or so years since that book originally came out there have been more studies and even more comprehensive research reviews that have further solidified the calorie hypothesis. This one is a good example of such (from a site that’s great in general).
I learned how to track calorie intake and create an energy deficit that is the necessary prerequisite to fat loss. I fumbled and swayed the course a lot, but, fortunately things don’t have to be perfect to work – they just had to be good enough. In doing this, I eventually realized some real “success” as evidenced by the following picture:
Here’s what I realized about getting really lean by the way: no one gives a shit, least of all women. The only remark I’ve ever got about my body from a woman, like ever, was around the time of that picture when a friend told me I looked like I escaped an internment camp. Ouch! all that work and suffering for nothing apparently.
It was around this time I felt like jumping on the fitness blog bandwagon. Yes, the same bandwagon that ironically duped me and set me back for years, but I had the whole cynicism angle, and I sincerely believed I had a unique perspective that could actually help people. Plus I had some sweet after pics that totally legitimized me. So off I went.
I made just about every mistake in the book, and a lot of my earlier writings were truly, shudderingly cringeworthy. But I took action ultimately – I’ll give my past self props for that. It took a couple of years but I did eventually achieve the success I more or less sought out for. I was getting enough traffic, book revenue, and coaching clients to have a solid side hustle, and I had every reason to believe I could eventually grow it into a full time career.
There’s yet another learned lesson by the way: success is often a war of attrition – just keep going while most people give up and you might make it not because you’re the best, but simply because you’re among the few or perhaps the only one still standing.
There was a problem that lurked however, since the very beginning I now realize in hindsight. It’s hard to really explain with words what that problem was, but, I think the best way is to say that I was trying to make the site into what I thought it “should” be or what certain people would like, rather than making it about what I truly believed.
You see, around the time the fad diet… fad was at its peak, a new trend of “evidence based fitness” also burgeoned. And this was ultimately a good thing. There were actually qualified people citing actual scientific research to make their arguments, often which were intended to brutally debunk the evil bro science myths that certain evil people were perpetuating for ulterior gain. Citing scientific papers became the holy grail in this niche, like, cite a lot of papers so you look really smart.
There were some big players in this niche that formed a sort of pantheon. They were seemingly worshiped, and everyone just loved it when one of them publicly owned a bro scientist. Shame them into oblivion and be so self righteous about it. It was an early manifestation of cancel culture. A lot of members of this ostensible pantheon got pretty snobbish, and there was a lot of circle jerking surrounding them (and some of them it turns out were actually very flawed or just straight up bad people).
Virtue signaling, getting “noticed,” and becoming a de facto fraternity member became a big thing in this community, and it was pretty obvious when people were trying to do it. I knew it when I saw it because I was totally guilty of doing it. Hence the aforementioned problem: making my blog into what I thought certain others would approve of rather than what I actually thought it should be.
I would write something, then rewrite it, then rewrite it again, then I’d comb through older posts and rewrite those again. I edited my writing constantly, agonizing over my words coming through “perfectly” while dreading being deemed unworthy by the pantheon. My book, though financially successful, was a complete fucking mess. I reedited and republished it enough times to lose count. All on top of learning that writing a book is quite frankly an awful experience. I have so much newfound respect for professional editors and should have used one in hindsight.
The incongruencies felt visceral and took their toll. That and other personal problems, which I will get to, caused me to backslide on my own advice. I would literally finish my client emails then go get multiple big macs and stuff my face like a complete hypocrite. I eventually burned out hard and basically rage-quit my blog. I took it completely offline and depublished my book. No more agonizing over phantom people probing my public writing. I felt like I could finally breathe. Such relief. But I never felt good about abandoning ship and leaving something worthwhile on the table.
There was one other big problem that I needed to finally acknowledge and deal with: clinical depression. It runs pretty badly in my family, and when I was finally honest with myself I admitted that I knew something had been wrong since I was I’d guess around 11 years old. I would eventually realize that this was a root cause of my straight up dysfunctional relationship with health and fitness among many other things.
If you’re mentally unhealthy then forget the rest. It’s only a matter of time before a house of cards collapses. And so, years after I had canned my blog and certain events transpired, I finally worked up the motivation to get the treatment I needed. I saw an adult psychiatrist and we worked on creating a medication regimen that really helped me. I remember realizing one day “oh, shit, I feel normal, this is what people normally feel like.” I had been trudging through mud while people around me walked on paved sidewalks. I also started to see a therapist to work through issues that I realized were crippling me.
Let me just say to anyone out there struggling with depression… I am truly sorry, and I’m seriously rooting for you. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. That said, I feel like enduring depression has built character that has actually yielded a lot of good in my life. I don’t think I could have accomplished some of the things in my life without the resilience and perspective depression forces you to build.
That brings us to the present, where I’ve learned and grown a lot but am still very much a work in progress. I’ll have to live with and treat depression for my entire life, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find meaning and make living worth it. I’m not ever going to feel happy all the time, maybe not even most of the time, but I’ve realized that there are more important things to me in life than feeling happy. In fact, I realized that the major things that have inspired and motivated me over the years didn’t actually have all that much to do with feeling happy or not.
And I still believe in my message, so here I am trying the blog thing again. Thanks for reading, and I hope my site is helpful.