002: The Cycle Diet And What True Health Is, with Scott Abel
On BiOptimizers’ Awesome Health podcast I have the pleasure of bringing you some of the greatest contributors to the health, fitness and wellness world. And today’s guest is a prime example: he is a world-renowned coach, former competitor and best-selling author.
This man is an important guest for me as well; I wouldn’t have a career in this industry if it weren’t for him! In 1996 I first saw him speak and hired him as my coach a year later.
Over the next 9 months with his coaching and guidance, I made the biggest transformation in my career. He helped me win a few national championships and compete at the Mr. Universe contest.
I also spent time with him personally and saw his lifestyle as one of the world’s premiere trainers, which inspired me to do the same thing. I’m so excited to have him on the BiOptimizers’ Awesome Health podcast for episode 2, please join me in welcoming Scott Abel!
More About Awesome Health with Scott Abel
As someone who has coached over 400 titled champions at every level (including Olympic level), Scott Abel knows how to produce consistent results for his clients. He has a mind and a spirit for coaching and personal performance, physical as well as emotional, mental and spiritual. Unlike many coaches, he communicates with his clients at their level and in a way that is effective for them. Ultimately, Scott says coaching is about serving.
When I asked how he has produced such remarkable results consistently, he explains there are two keys to doing so. The first is keeping his “horses” (his clients) thirsty. A lot of coaches want to lead their horses to water, but he believes his job is to keep his horse thirsty. So he was always looking for how his clients think, what they respond to, what is the best way to reach them and where is their self-esteem level.
He also thinks the best of the best liked working with him because he always thought of himself as an athlete doing bodybuilding, not the bodybuilder everyone else saw him as. And by best of the best I mean people like Joe Gold, Bob Kennedy, Joe Weider, etc.
As a coach he also looks at how to reach people, how to see and find their gifts, accentuate those without spending lots of time on their weaknesses. It’s also about understanding what bodybuilding actually is (which most coaches don’t understand to this day). It’s about how to bring the person to their peak level at the right time at the right day, without a cookie cutter approach.
Scott is known for many things, like the concept behind metabolic training and tenets of intervention training, etc. So I wanted to know how he has been able to continually innovate for four plus decades.
He attributes much of it to his liberal arts education: they taught him HOW to learn, rather than what to learn.
He has always been able to see the trend of what is next, rather than most coaches and trainers who look at what IS. He’s been around since before females were actively competing in bodybuilding, which led to fitness competitions and then figure competitions and bikini competitions.
He saw the trend of eating disorders and metabolic damage coming from that industry and his book, The Dangers of Dieting, was one of the ways he tried to do something about that. He soon realized that by participating in this industry he was part of the problem – the old adage if you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem. In this particular instance he was trying to dissuade women from competing at all.
Which of course begs the question: what was that experience like? What was it like for him to be at the top of the mountain, not like the view from that mountain and climb back down? What was that journey like for him?
Scott said he had come to a cross roads, he knew he was done with it. But this was before he had his own transformative experience, he realized he wasn’t actualizing his talents and knew he was being lazy with the talents he was given. He was given a “booming message from beyond” that if he wasn’t going to use his talents, then they would be taken from him.
That was a wake up moment but also a personal awakening for him all around, the entire industry had changed and he had never liked the hard core end of it. He could see how cult-like it was becoming. He knew he couldn’t be a part of that any longer, he hated that people thought they could only look their best by feeling their absolute worst.
And that’s not health, fitness or balance to him, nor something he wants to be associated with.
Health, Fitness and Performance: Are They Different Or The Same?
He explains it’s important to understand most people look at someone’s physique and base their level of health on how that person looks. So if someone has a six-pack others assume they are healthy. And that’s not the case, and definitely not the case with most bodybuilding competitors today. He shares a quote that sums it up nicely: people compete with the spirit of fitness, but no concern at all for the fitness of spirit.
However fitness is actually defined as the ability to meet the exigencies of everyday life with ease and plenty of energy to spare in case of emergencies, that includes psychic, mental, and emotional fitness.
Because of that his programs are all about personal growth, the vehicle is just the training program and the diet.
This applies to anyone in any industry: any activity should enhance personal growth, psychic maturity and things of that nature.
Validation And Attention Vs. Self-Mastery and Purpose
Today far too many people are concerned with things like validation and attention versus self-mastery, autonomy and purpose. Today’s social media is a magnet for the first group, but his focus is on helping people who are concerned with the latter and he has maintained that focus for a few decades now.
Diving into those few decades, we talk about a husband and wife he worked with and their incredible transformation. He summarizes it well with one of his “Abelisms”: quality of mindset determines quality of behavior. If your behavior isn’t consistent in the way you know it needs to be to get a certain result, then you have to address the quality of your mindset. That’s why the right diet or the right training program won’t fix you.
Unfortunately the competitive bodybuilding world focuses on diet and training to the exclusion of mindset and mental health. Proper coaching shows you a person’s mental patterns and where they get stuck, and when you see that you help them to get rid of their “stinkin’ thinkin'” as he calls it. As their coach, you help them get on and stay on the path of right thinking, and right attitude. Then the right behavior follows and becomes a natural thing to do. This is when it’s no longer a burden to exercise, train and eat in a certain way.
An example of this is an exercise he does in a lot of his workshops. For one minute he rings a bell every 10 seconds and tells his participants NOT to think about elephants. What happens? They think of elephants! And that’s exactly how people approach diet and exercise. If they struggle with cravings they are always thinking about that struggle. They are in battle mode, which doesn’t work. He says you have to stop thinking about what you don’t want, remove the emotions of it and move towards what you do want. He teaches people how to think that way.
A Typical Day For Scott Abel: His Schedule and His Eating
Because he is such a master at his craft and has been so prolific and successful for close to four decades, I wanted Scott to share what a typical day looks like for him.
He gets up at 4am. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday works on emails right away for 45 minutes. Then he eats breakfast and has coffee before going to the gym.
On Thursday he has coffee first, brings it downstairs with him. His clients come first so he does his work with them, and then he spends time on whatever other projects he has. Next he goes to the gym, comes back, showers and has a full Inbox again which he addresses.
After that he does either a podcast or a video before shutting down about 3pm.
In terms of his food intake, he explains he has been on the cycle diet for 30 years. He has a housekeeper who cooks for him. She makes egg whites and oatmeal or oat bran for breakfast. And for about half the year he has a choice of grits too, because he has a client who lives in the south and sends him grits!
Meal 2 is almonds with as much fruit as he can stomach.
Meal 3 is any other kind of nut, with a glass of tomato juice.
Meal 4 is a dinner of protein, starch and fibrous carbs. Specifically on Monday and Tuesday it is chicken breast with asparagus and brown rice. Wednesday is tuna with grilled peppers and brown rice. Thursday is chicken instead of the tuna, with grilled peppers and brown rice. Friday and Saturday is tuna, coleslaw and baked potato with lots of extra virgin olive oil.
Just before bed, literally a few minutes right before bed, he will have a cup of cottage cheese. He does so because it’s great for neurotransmitters, and it invites sleep.
On Sunday he has his refeed day (or “cheat day”), this is the day when anything goes! You’ll hear what he likes to have on his refeed days, especially during football season.
You’ll also hear why this cycle is so important, how you can and retrain your metabolism, whether metabolic damage can be fixed and SO many other important and enlightening topics on this show. Scott is one of the brightest minds and spirits in our industry so get ready to listen and then listen again to episode 2 of BiOptimizers’ Awesome Health podcast!
- Scott Abel’s web site
- The Cycle Diet web site
- The Smarter Sculpted Physique podcast
- Metabolic Damage And The Dangers of Dieting, by Scott Abel
- Beyond Metabolism, by Scott Abel
- The Anti-Diet Approach, by Scott Abel
- Physique After 50, by Scott Abel
- The Aging Proposition, by Scott Abel
- Hard Gainer Solution, by Scott Abel
- The Cycle Diet, by Scott Abel
- The Empowered Woman, by Scott Abel
- Workout 17 Video From The Hard Gainer Solution
- Krista Scott-Dixon on The Smarter Sculpted Physique
- Scott Abel on Facebook
- Scott Abel on Instagram
- Scott Abel on Twitter
- Scott Abel’s YouTube channel
- Ancel Keys 1950s Study
- BiOptimizers web site
- Masszymes web site