TJ’s Gym Weekly News 10/18/2018



Cole (17) has been a TJ’s Mill Valley member since 2015. He recently completed a 65-mile backpacking trek as part of his high school TEAM program, a super-cool option in the Tam High District incorporating outdoor education in a big way. Congratulations, Cole, and way to crush it with your hard-earned functional fitness!


Message from TJ:

The Past:

I realize that I’ve pieced together little parts of my story over the past 25 years or so of experimenting with various nutrition plans, but I haven’t told the whole story. I’m telling it now, because it ties in with my recent article about how we get sick and, hopefully, how we get well.

My goal is to update this story every year at this time. Over the past 25 years, I’ve tried lots of different things. I’ve used myself as a bit of a guinea pig, sampling various diets, nutrition systems, and supplements. I’m not sure why, but I’m sort of an extremist, for better and for worse.

I need to make myself uncomfortable, even though I don’t enjoy it.

This is a weird part of my personality about which many people have offered opinions, and they’re all probably right to some degree. For now, I’ll keep it on the tracks by just talking about what I’ve learned in the past, what I’m doing now, and what I plan to do in the future.

Back in my 20s, I went through phases of hammering high-protein, high-carb, low-fat diets as often as I hammered all-you-can-eat hot wings and bottomless pitchers of beer. You might be shocked to know that this unhealthy regimen caused dramatic swings in weight (and mood!) that I chalked up to whatever phase of fitness I was in. If I was getting ready to run my one-and-only marathon or training for a triathlon, or in a a body-building phase or even a Stairmaster slog, I tended to be a little cleaner. But when a well-defined goal was met, you could find me at the Sizzler buffet. It’s in Colma by the dump. I loved that place.

Prior to my wedding, I dropped to 190 pounds by consuming Diet Coke and Jell-O. My brother quipped, “Allison, you’re marrying a cadaver?” Good times.

In the two years that followed, we bought a house, opened a gym, and had our first kid, sending me down a rabbit hole of excuses and bad attitude that would last for the next few years. I was fat and unmotivated, and everything hurt, from my knees to my head. I would fake it in the gym; the most real activity I got was when I played in the weekly pick-up basketball games at Sleepy Hollow. Just your friendly neighborhood gym owner. What a great example.

Within a period of a month, I had a full blood panel done by a nurse practitioner who was using me to launch her business of identifying food allergies and healing your “gut.”  The panel targeted markers of sensitivity or allergies to various foods, which I was told I should be avoiding. It basically listed every food a North American could eat. Green was good, yellow meant “watch out,” and red was bad news. From nearly top to bottom, in every food category: red, red and more red. My results suggested I shouldn’t even eat chicken. Rice, olive oil, and green vegetables with some turkey and fish was basically the only items I was “allowed.”

This lovely woman tried to tell me that she had never seen a panel come back like this, but the good news, according to her, was that my shopping list would be pretty easy. I’m pretty sure I had a beer in my hand when she said this. Remember, at this point, there was a healthy dose of Miller High Life and Ben & Jerry’s in my life, mixed in with 4-5 broken hours of sleeping-with-a-newborn every night.

At the same time, I was reading about this program called CrossFit. The next thing I knew, I was all-in on Paleo, thrusters, and sleep-training my kids.

It wasn’t a smooth ride, though. As I’ve written in the past, I initially lost a ton of weight following a Paleo plan, but then that B.S. led to my eating a pound of cashews per day and making almond flour brownies every night, on top of eating more red meat than most families of five. After I got fat again, I dabbled with a Keto diet, but since I didn’t know what I was doing, I found myself eating a brick of cheese driving from gym to gym.

That’s just a bad look.

Next, I started playing around with cleanses, where I would drink Cayenne-pepper lemonade, morning noon and night for a week, which essentially made me want to kill someone. I would lose 15 pounds over the course of a week and gain it back on a Sunday afternoon of binge eating.

The other factor to my story is that I happen to live at the perfectly wrong time. As most of you know, I love craft beer. I drink hazy IPA with a great deal of love and affection.

I often speak about your day of reckoning. I had mine. The reality is that I had to come face-to-face with that reckoning. What was I trying to do? Lose weight? Get Healthy? Be Fit?  Be Happy? Live long and prosper? For me, it came down to ALL of the above. I realized that I had focused on one of those at a time in the past, instead of spreading the love across goals, leading to a much more moderate, sustainable, and thoughtful plan. Once I figured that out, I had to develop the perfect plan for ME.

While living in the perfectly WRONG time of hops, malt, and barley, I have to admit that I’m living in the perfectly RIGHT time for access to information.  The Internet is a pretty cool place sometimes.  Experts, charlatans, showmen, and people who just want to help are all more than willing to heap upon you their stories, facts, and opinions.

I love this.

I love to read about something, then find the origin, then find the counterpoint. Finding out the driving force behind someone who is offering an opinion is as much fun to me as figuring out what they are saying.

The best part of my journey is that I’ve finally figured out my goals and why I have them.  I’ve figured out my plan, for now, and I’m compiling the data so I can show someone else why it worked for me.  At the same time, I’m really enjoying the research I’m doing to figure out how to help other individuals with their plans.

Next week:  The Present. I’ll talk about my plan and my execution.