Body Fat Solution: Interview with Tom Venuto
Tom Venuto: “Mainly, it’s not a diet book at all. It’s not a bunch of recipes and menus. My new book was designed more to help you stick with whatever nutrition and training programs you choose and make them an effortless part of your daily lifestyle.
Most of your readers already know they should eat more fruits and vegetables, eat lean protein, get enough fiber and eat healthy fats. Simple stuff. The question is, do you easily stay motivated to follow healthy eating habits with enough compliance to get the results you want, or do you find yourself blowing it on weekends, giving in to cravings, falling off the schedule when traveling, eating when stressed, or doing anything else that sabotages an already good nutrition plan?
That is what separates The Body Fat Solution from other books on the shelves. You learn about the emotional, psychological and even social (how people influence you) aspects of “staying on the wagon.”
To make this a total lifestyle program, I did include one concise chapter on nutrition and extensive food lists in the appendix so you know what to eat and how to categorize the foods. I also included a strength training and cardio program. But in this book, I teach “Principles” not fancy or advanced diet tactics or strict calorie-counting and number crunching. It’s very different from the by-the-numbers approach of my first book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle and for a much broader audience.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a “fluffy” book. It’s scientific and was meticulously researched, even the behavioral, psychological and sociological aspects.”
Editor: “You are a respected natural bodybuilder – known for having incredible motivation and discipline. Do you think you can truly identify with the average man or woman who struggles in this area?”
Tom Venuto: “I already do. And they identify with me as soon as they get to know me and my personal background. One of the responses I’ve heard over and over again from my readers, customers and members is that when they heard I was actually a lot like them, not only could they identify with me, but that’s what motivated them to read my book, start my program and change their lives.
Today I’m a successful fitness professional, author of two books and natural bodybuilder with 28 competitions under my belt. I keep my bodyfat under 10% all year round and drop as low as 3.5-5% for competitions. But it wasn’t always that way. When I was a freshman in high school, I was on the chubby side and was embarrassed to take my shirt off for swimming class. So I took up weight training and put on about 25 pounds of muscle and lost most of the fat during high school.
Then I went to college and discovered beer… and pizza, and cheese fries and subs… and I got fat again. Only it was worse than before because by then I was a self-proclaimed weight lifter and amateur bodybuilder, so my college buddies made fun of me. They called me “fat boy” or “beer belly” or “Bob’s Big Boy” (home of the famous big boy sandwich). I just laughed at myself right along with them, but the truth is, I was silently humiliated.
It all changed when my other group of friends – my buddies from the gym – encouraged me to compete in a bodybuilding competition. That’s when I learned the type of nutrition and training it took to reach low single digit body fat for the first time. It was not easy because I felt that I had the “endomorph” body type where anything I did wrong, I paid the price for it and gained fat overnight. But I did it. I competed at age 20 while I was still in college and things were never the same after I became a competitive bodybuilder.
So, I’ve never been seriously overweight, but I can relate to what it’s like to hate your body, what it’s like to have trouble losing fat and even what it’s like to be in shape and then get fat again.”
Editor: “You have an expanded section on emotional eating. Could you briefly outline some of the key points for us?”
Tom Venuto: “Emotional eating is eating for the wrong reasons, and the danger is you usually don’t even know its happening. It’s unconscious behavior.
The right reason to eat most of the time is for physiological needs such as providing nutrients, delivering cellular and muscular building material and for fuel. But most people eat for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with physical hunger or physical needs. They eat because they’re bored, tired, depressed, lonely, and especially when they’re stressed.
People also eat for social reasons, to celebrate, as a reward, and sometimes for no reason at all – you eat mindlessly like in front of the TV or wander to the refrigerator late at night just because it became a habit .
The solution to emotional eating is to understand the right reasons for eating and ingrain them into your belief systems and into your mind subconsciously. The big reason to eat is for FUEL. Food is fuel. Food is for energy. Another reason for eating is building material. You are what you eat. No matter how cliched’ that statement has become, you can’t say it enough times. You are what you eat, literally. Food is also for nourishment – it gives you every nutrient you need. Food is the best medicine. Food is a cure. Imagine if you thought about food this way and you ate for those reasons instead of the reasons most people eat. You would have an amazing body and spectacular health wouldn’t you? You’d also never have to worry about disordered eating because you’d realize that food is not something to fear; food is not the problem; high quality food is actually the solution.
The starting point of fixing this is to increase your awareness. You have to pay attention, be a conscious eater, or to borrow a concept from Zen, practice mindfulness. . This way you can catch yourself and that gives you time to pause and think before you act. I elaborate on this more with a 5-part formula for beating emotional eating in chapter four of The Body Fat Solution”
Editor: “In your previous downloadable book Burn the Fat – you espoused a program of frequent eating (5-6) meals a day, and high amounts of cardio training (along with a regular strength training program). Is this something you still advocate – or is there a different approach for the Body Fat Solution?”
Tom Venuto: “I absolutely advocate the 5-6 meal per day, carefully calculated macronutrients and calories, strength training and cardio training approach. Basically that philosophy is: eat more, burn more; Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle. It’s the bodybuilding – fitness – figure method of improving body composition. It’s how I achieved the condition I reached in 28 competitions and it’s how thousand of my success story clients reached their goals. It works so well that I would never change a thing in my own personal approach.
But after many years of working with a wider range and larger number of clients, with different personalities, who were not bodybuilders, I realized that all they needed was a handful of daily behavior changes and a shift in mindset. I could create the most scientific, sophisticated and effective nutrition program in the world, but if someone can’t follow it, because it doesn’t suit their lifestyle or personal disposition, that’s not very helpful.
So instead of just recognizing the physiological type of individuality from person to person, I looked at the differences in lifestyle and created this new program to accommodate people with every day challenges like high stress, lack of time, emotional eating and sporadic motivation. I used the 80-20 principle which says that 20% of your actions will give you 80% of your results. The rest is minutia. So for the average person, let’s just get those fundamentals in place first and not worry about the small stuff. That’s enough to get you 80% of the way there. You want to be in the top 5%? Then you’ll have to join me with a more regimented program
But with the new approach I took in The Body Fat Solution, it’s one of the most flexible programs that you will ever find on bookstore shelves. No dogma. Or, as one reviewer said, “It’s not a program that looks like it came out of the third Reich!” Anyone can do it. It really is a lifestyle.”