In Defense of Moderation: The Story of Metabolic Flexibilty

“The hero is a pattern of action, designed to make sense of the unknown; they emerge wherever human beings are successful.”
J. Peterson (Maps of Meaning)

Let me frame what I’m about to say with this: on the surface, I’m not suggesting anything that most of you might not already suspect. More often than not, we ‘understand’ considerably more than we actually ‘know.’ But, rare are the times that we know ‘why’ we do what we do. Taking that idea and filtering it through a nutritional lens, we’re told a story (about how to eat, in this case), which we don’t fully understand and then act in accordance to it’s misinterpreted principles. So, I’m here to simply ask for your thoughtful consideration.

Throughout the last month or so – through giving lecture, hearing lecture, and general reading – I began to develop the faintest idea of a new story (new to me, at least). It’s here that I’ll present it – hopefully coherently. Let’s begin:

The Story We’re All Told: Think in Temperance

Aimed at longevity and health? Well then, moderation is the law of the land. Move more, eat less calories, but feed very frequently…and all variety of food is acceptable in moderation. Even preferred. Nutritionally, nothing carries too much weight. And, because every flavor of food is fair game, we need only employ master-level self-control while eating whatever we’d like and merely log extra miles on the treadmill. Easy enough.

The Reality We All Occupy: Think Again

We’re genetically programmed – wired to eat – in a completely inverted fashion. In truth, evolution trained us to move less, eat more and perpetually seek novel, or extremely tasty, food (we’ve previously written and lectured on this idea). The stark truth is that for the first time in modern history, death and disease from overconsumption out number death and disease from starvation. The moderation schtick has clearly failed the Western world and this bill of nutritional goods we’ve been sold is rotten. Fast, we need rigid and formal nutritional guidelines. Nutritionally, everything matters more than we thought!

We need a hero (a believable…a useful framework for eating). But from where and by whom? Do the principles of Paleo orchestrate a return to vibrancy? Do we distill the devil in the details of macro counting? Can the king of Keto lead us back from the void? Will fasting expedite our return to the promised land? We’re all after a new ‘truth’ and eager to wield it’s metabolic might. But, what is the truth?

It’s here that we finally approach the crux of that emergent story of mine. The one that I thought was original – my new story – but as it turns out, isn’t. I’m not the first to conjure this idea – far from it. There’s nothing new under the sun, they say.

Here’s the rub: I believe we properly prescribed the idea of ‘moderation’, but propose that we simply miffed the application. Now, what I’ve come to call ‘nutritional moderation’, has previously been coined by those much smarter than me as, ‘metabolic flexibility.’ Metabolic flexibility, outside of sounding entirely more scientific than moderation, is ‘the capacity for an organism to adapt fuel oxidation to fuel availability.’ In layman terms, it’s the ability to use both fat (ketones) and carbs (glucose) as sources of energy based on availability and need. A metabolically flexible individual empowers themselves with the ability to transition between fats and carbs. They, their mitochondria, unconsciously vacillate between utilizing ketone (fat) sources while not exercising and then back to glucose (carbs) for more energy efficiency during exercise. It’s a brand of efficiency that gives any system a run for it’s money. Essentially, metabolic flexibility occurs at the energy-producing, cellular level. Think of a hybrid vehicle that seamlessly transitions between battery and petroleum reserves. It’s the same idea. The ancient genius behind our energy-using design is no different.

Under normal circumstances, the mitochondria, and by extension our metabolism, should be very flexible in shifting between fat and carbohydrate as a fuel. Unfortunately, that story we’re told and proceed to follow, creates damage. We generally live in an overfed state (feeding frequently on suboptimal sources of carbs and fat). That state retards our ability to use multiple sources of food as fuel (fat and carbs). And so the line from the story we’re told neatly connects to the ‘sicker than ever’ reality we occupy. What’s more, imagine if ancient man were forced to eat every three hours and account for each calorie consumed. Would he have turned nose to a cache of fruit while in a state of ketosis? Absolutely not, he wouldn’t have survived. And none of us would have the capacity to read or write, much less, consider these ideas. This might seem harsh, but ‘the popularity of small, frequent meals is likely our culture’s way of self-medicating’ to compensate for our broken metabolism (malfunctioning mitochondria).

*The other obvious analog for fitness – actual flexibility (mobility). If we become stiff and unable to move properly, we increase the likelihood of injury and wearing out our joints. Maintaining our hips, knees, and shoulders and ensuring proper spinal alignment is important for the same reason that keeping our mitochondria mobile is important.

The New Story of Moderation: A Different Model of Temperance

With deeper consideration, we might better come to both ‘understand’ and ‘know’ what drives our eating habits. Then determine ‘why’ we should apply certain lessons from the new, more fully-developed nutritional story. So what IS true? The old story of moderation certainly has proven to be a false truth. That’s clear. And, it’s irresponsible to argue against the value of paleo principles, counting macros, intermittently fasting and states of ketosis. In the new story of moderation, they all have their utility. The new hero knows this.

Shakespeare was famed for saying, “All the worlds’s a stage…and one man in his time plays many parts.” I dare say, the hero of our new story of moderation strategically employs and plays each of those nutritional parts…in periods of calculated moderation. That hero understands that like exercise, nutrition might also follow a seasonal model. This hero (you) learns to responsibly weld each of those nutritional strategies as their tale continues to unfold. Like the flexible and mighty mitochondria, nutritional heroes understand the framework of therapeutic nutrition: quality foods paired with a precise understanding of what food actually is – delicious energy. Then, they sometimes eat lots of carbs and they sometimes eats lots of fat, but rarely ever together. And, when faced with choosing between nutritional evils, they’re wise to consider a fast. Heroes of this brand fend off sickness and disease, malfunction and metabolic malice on all fronts. By not tilting at quixotic windmills, these heroes instead shine like lighthouses, as beacons of hope to those that behold them.

Mighty may your mitochondria be,




Galgani, J. E., Moro, C., & Ravussin, E. (2008, November). Retrieved from

House, E. (2016, June 17). The Best Kind of Flexibility: Metabolic Flexibility. Retrieved from

Peterson, J. B. (1999). Maps of meaning: The architecture of belief. London: Routledge.

Wolf, R. (2017). Wired to eat: Turn off cravings, rewire your appetite for weight loss, and determine the foods that work for you. New York: Harmony Books.

Developing a Seasoned Fitness

This weekend’s weather makes a clear point: the seasons have transitioned. Spring has arrived (at least for now). Gone is the bitter wind, the piles of snow and that gloomy period of dormancy. Nigh are warm and longer days, blue skies and everywhere the sparks of life (growth). Mother Nature’s figured out a great many things, the seasons not least among them. All this philosophical weather-waxing isn’t for naught, I promise.

Recently, I’ve shared a curious number of conversations that appear to point me towards a conclusion that, like Mother Nature’s seasons, crops up almost in-line with the weather. The seasons of training aren’t too dissimilar from those we notice here in temperate Tennessee. Fitness, during the cold months of the CrossFit Open (aka Winter), takes an intentional and dormant-like turn away from vibrancy and growth. Programming (your fitness) recedes into a weekly survival mode, pivoting in the cold and Castro-like wind. Naturally, we hunker down and weather the storm. Lucky for us, our Winter (the CF Open), only lasts a few weeks.

As we recover from the intensity of that season, healing – of sore joints and bruised egos – occurs and soon appear anxious buds of growth. How many of you silently pledged to do that first – muscle-up, handstand push-up, double-under, pull-up, etc? Or made committal alms to your future self for improving subpar skills? Great news. Truly.

It’s here we finally run into the crux of my argument. By my estimation, it’s a simple, but elegant injunction – throughout this Spring of your fitness growth, take a more responsible approach towards your success. To paraphrase Greg Glassman, a true master pledges oneself to learning and and then relearning fundamentals…over and over and over. How can you sharpen your air squat? Where does your movement pattern break down during a Snatch? Why does this happen? Start there and this season’s regrowth is sure to pack the most powerful punch you might imagine. Treat yourself as if it matters because it does.

Like the arborist prunes the buds of his fruiting tree, we too must prune our efforts towards a real and productive direction. If you’re aimed at true growth, take some time to reflect on what’s kept your fitness success at bay. In that way, we might all consider taking a methodical, deliberate and plodding approach to the not-so-complex puzzle of cultivating our best fitness. When we succeed, how much better might the next CF Open (Winter) season feel?

All training is an act of philosophy.



Tonya (left) and Dawn (right), besties, finished Bristol’s Outlier Lifestyle Challenge in 1st and 2nd overall!

Like all Outlier Lifestyle Challenges, the 2018 version presented a dynamic array of tests – nutrition, movement, recovery, community and reflection. This year, we measured success along with a spectrum of ‘metrics’ (4 varied markers of fitness, daily/weekly challenges and body composition measurements). Tonya excelled at all measures and reaped the rewards. She PR’d all her tests, lost 11.8lbs, 6+ inches and logged the highest point total by a comfortable margin.

Here’s what our 10EX Coaches have to say about Tonya…

  • We’re so happy that Tonya took the initiative to better her life and those around her as well with this year’s OLC. Let her be an example of what hard work and perseverance can do. By around 3 weeks in, Tonya’s choices were starting to show aesthetically. By the end, she looked like a whole new person. Cheers to you, Tonya. You make our community stronger with your presence. Thank you for showing up consistently with a smiling face and a willingness to work. Tonya is a great example of our community of Outliers.


  • Tonya is the humble and quiet person in the back with her nose down doing work, stopping every so often to give a joyous smile. Tonya, you are an example we can all follow.
  • Where you see one, you will see both (Tonya and Dawn). Both smiling and working hard.
  • She comes in and works hard. Nothing else. Happy for both of these great ladies.

The OLC is aimed specifically at nudging participants into orienting themselves towards their untapped potential, their ‘ideal.’ One of this year’s tasks required participants to put thought to words in long-hand responses to a few writing prompts. Tonya’s words give clearer shape to what it means to invest some time on ourselves:

“You did it and kept it going…You are a role model for your students and your boys…you are stronger both mentally and physically…Hopefully, I’ve inspired someone along the way.”

Cheers to you and your journey, Tonya! You’re an inspiration.

-10 Experience

Melissa Lawson – Morristown’s 2018 Outlier Lifestyle Challenge Winner

I like the person I see in the mirror..she’s a lot happier. – ML

Like all Outlier Lifestyle Challenges, the 2018 version presented a dynamic array of tests – nutrition, movement, recovery, community and reflection. Melissa met each challenge with her trademark smile and a steady resolve to grow. This year, we measured success along a spectrum of ‘metrics’ (4 varied markers of fitness, daily/weekly challenges and body composition measurements). In the most balanced fashion, Melissa showed substantial improvements across each.

Here’s what our 10ex Coaches have to say about Melissa…

  • Not once have I seen Melissa enter the halls of the gym with a closed mind. Always smiling, always eager to receive the next cue and continually growing in the ways of a true Outlier. Her journey is inspiring and I am proud to have her In the 10ex family as a torch bearer!
  • From a coaching vantage, Melissa is a reminder of the Outlier ideal. She’s warm. She’s curious.  And her attitude is infallibly positive. She works both hard and intelligently. Truly, she’s uncommon among the uncommon. Plus, she’s a Star Wars fan and we all know what that means – #jedi
  • Melissa is the true definition of what we look for in the Outlier community. She has worked phenomenally hard, lead by example and has really shown what it means to prevail. She is a pleasure to have in class and is a valued asset of our facility.
  • From the time she started, I could tell Melisa was an extremely hard worker. She comes to the gym every chance she gets and puts in work when she is here. She is always on time. She approaches every workout with a positive, “can-do” attitude. She is super respectful of all coaches throughout the entire class. She receives coaching really well and works to be better than the day before. It is an honor to help her through her journey.
  • I haven’t worked with Melissa as much as others have, but I know from our few experiences that she is willing to listen, learn, and works very hard (as evidenced from her results)!

The OLC is aimed specifically at nudging participants into orienting themselves towards their untapped potential, their ‘ideal.’ One of this year’s tasks required participants to put thought to words in long-hand responses to a few writing prompts. Melissa’s words give clearer shape to what it means to invest some time on ourselves.

“You made yourself important…you made yourself better so you have a better you to give the ones you love…You have proven to yourself that you can be as strong on the inside as you want to be on the outside…We have mountains to climb!”

Cheers to you and your journey, Melissa! You’re an inspiration.

-10 Experience

Outlier Lifestyle Weekly Challenge #6


An Outlier understands how relationships give meaningful shape to limited time.

Last week’s challenge, when properly met, required us to while away some time in daily meditation. Hopefully at times, feelings about family, friends, and relationships settled near the top of your thoughtful heap. This week, ironically, offers us the most capitalistic opportunity (there’s Valentine’s Day) to cultivate relationships within both individual and community circles.

“It is not the clay the potter throws, which gives the pot its usefulness, but the space within the shape, from which the pot is made.” – Lao Tzu

Much of the same philosophy can be applied to our social health and fitness. Stretch a bit with me here. I’m no Lao Tzu, but I’d posit that it’s not the time we possess which gives our life its purpose, but the relationships (and acts) within that time, from which meaning is gained. In short, what’s there provides the means; what’s not provides the purpose. Our lives provide the ‘pot-like’ utility, a framework to be used. It defines what’s there – a limited time and chance for opportunity – the capacity to fill our life’s pot from ‘wall to wall’ with experience. How we choose to fill our ‘pot of life’ – our actions, our decisions, and our relationships – provide the purpose. Combine ingredients: individually strong relationships, immersive community and purposeful intention. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and enjoy helping-after-fulfilling-helping.

The recipe for a #10exlife is nutritiously rich and delicious because it’s oriented towards relationships. This week’s challenge is two-fold:

#1 – Bolster a single relationship:

  • Corral a family member or friend.
  • Explain your intention to strengthen and enrich both parties.
  • Auger into Arthur Aron’s 36 Questions to Bring you Closer Together (these questions take half an hour or so to discuss).

#2 – Connect within your #423nation community:

  • Join us in celebrating the end of the OLC – Friday evening after the final class ends.
  • Bring food to share attendant with recipes.
  • Meet new Outliers that you haven’t yet.
  • Cultivate away and enjoy the evening!



Outlier Lifestyle Weekly Challenge #5

Let us remember…when we were all together, united by a good and kind feeling which made us…better perhaps than we are. – Doestoevsky


An Outlier knows when the prose of life demands punctuation.

How often do we intentionally reflect on moments with proper consideration? The short answer: not enough. In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius (according to one historian, responsible for the most defined period of prosperity and human happiness in modern history – the Pax Romana) reflected that “nowhere is more peaceful – more free of interruptions – than your own soul.” Perhaps, he had a few things squared away on both personal and political fronts. Who seeks more prosperity, more happiness (purpose)?

Every day this week, we ask you to spend a few silent and mindful minutes gazing into your own soul. Meditative moments deliver a dyadic punch, knocking us soundly into better physical and psychological states. A cascade of benefits await – 76 Scientific Benefits of Meditation.

Need guidance? We suggest downloading the HeadSpace app (it’s free in the App Store/Google Play world). Andy Puddiecombe, cofounder of the company, lends the soothing timbre of his British accent to every guided exercise. It’s a wonderful place to begin learning how to observe your thoughts. If you’re a Sam Harris fan, he provides some basic guidelines here too.

As En Vogue, known for their prophetic lyrics, said…Free your mind and the rest will follow.


“Sacrifice who you are for what you can become.” – Jordan B. Peterson

If you’re in a hurry and want to read the challenges, scroll down. If you have a few minutes to spare, read on.
Congrats on getting this far through the challenge! It hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been impossible either. Cheers to you. In the past 6 months, my hobby has included devouring a wide range of psychological literature from Viktor Frankl, Nietzche, Joseph Campbell and Jordan Peterson, and would hope to shed some light on the script of the inner battles you are having with yourself. You are not alone.
-Week 1. Day 1.
In the brain, neurons are slapping hypothetical hands faster a than non-rhythmic child at sing-along dance party. You’re excited about the possibilities of the future and what you could become. Most of all, you’re excited about dem abs!!! AB-raham Lincoln? Downton AB-bey? AB-solutely! The groceries have been bought, meals prepped and the water runs through you. Eight hours of sleep got it. Five meals devoured. Mobility smashed. Training, floored. Reflection, written….and in the mirror. Selfie. #fitnesssingles Post. Challenge, a piece of cake. Metaphorical cake, that is.
-Week 2. Day 1.
After finishing the first weekend of clean eating and ignoring the beer, desserts and cloud-like gluten-filled meat bookends, you start to see that you really are going to crush this challenge and snort the rewards. You check the scale and see that 5+lbs have been peed away. Meal prepping isn’t quite as exciting as at it once used to be, but you know it’s crucial to success. Sacrifice now for later and dem abs!! AB-dominable SWOLEman. Princess LEANa (Best I could do for a Star Wars reference) Sleep, mobility, training, reflections and weekly challenges are great, forcing me to organize and break out of my comfort zone to become the best version of myself.
-Week 2. Day 6.
Hello, Saturday. Hello, chicken, kale and ever-so-sweet sweet potato. 10am gym time. Ruling the workout like a Fitatorship and striking down reps left and reich. Every point accounted for excluding meals because the day is yet long. You have a dinner party to go to that night and it is your favorite restaurant. Surrounded by friends who have no clue the internal struggle going on inside your head and mouth. A friend calls upon you, “Blair, are you going to order spaghetti with no meat and extra parm again?!” You smile, an uncomfortable giggle and a nervous sweat breaks out through your gray top. All you can muster is, “You’re welcome.” and smile awkwardly again. Then you order……
-Week 3. Day 7.
Standing beside the halfway point mile-marker and three more weeks to go to sit atop the mountain. Just as the middle of most things, Wednesdays, 2k row, the round of 15 and life: these weeks are the hardest. You know this and you also know that it will be easy to have some sort of cheat and get off the wagon. Do you choose the dopamine cocktail of instant gratification, ice cream and guilt? Or, do you choose to see what you are capable of and stick it out for three more weeks and ride the serotonin stagecoach to fulfilling lands undiscovered?
-Week 5. Day 1.
Two weeks to go. Clothing seems to be fitting better in the good and bad areas. Cravings aren’t as bad as they once were after adding another meal. Water is more enjoyable #RIPdietcoke Not as many aches and pains. The extra sleep is making annoying things tolerable and the brain is firing off like fireworks at a 4th of July parade. That night you go to a work party and a coworker has made their world famous caramel cake and offers you a piece. A small slice of heaven to the obnoxiously flavor-deprived taste buds. You indulge. Your taste buds explode with flavors the likes of which may only be recreatable by riding a unicorn across Candy Mountain and diving into the caramel wonderfall. Point deducted.
-Week 5. Day 1. Two hours post caramel goodness.
WTH. After your stomach sounding like a cow gnawing on a rubber ducky, eyelids heavier than a 3-pood kettlebell and motor functions running on turtle speed, you decide to go to sleep. Lackluster sleep, that is. #insulinrollercoaster
-Week 5. Day 2.
Back in the Habit like Whoopi and avoiding the downward spiral, you’re back to the new normal of health and happiness halfway through the day. Falling off is easy. Getting back on is noble and hard. Work hard.
-Week 6. Day 1.
Head down, eyes forward. Determination has never been so high. The battelplan for the week is laid out like an organizational masterpiece that any Colonel would admire. This will be the easiest week yet. You make one final push to get some extra workouts in, cut back on the portion size, slumber like Sleeping Beauty and rack in the challenge points to ensure the highest possible sum.
-Week 6. Final Day 7pm 10Experience Culmination Party.
Weigh-ins, pounds down, scores and reps are recorded. Socializing with the like-minded group of fellow members, you catch yourself thinking back on all the struggles between mind and training, mind and food, mind and sleep, mind and PVC, mind and mind, and smile. The path to success isn’t a straight line or a perfectly paved road; it has pot holes, wrong turns and lots of counterbalancing to get where you want to be. Don’t flood the house to put out a match. To get here you have to kill your old self and be born again from a challenge to a lifestyle then, ultimately, sharing health with the ones you care about to raise the collective whole to a new level. Be the inspiration and the star which people follow.

WEEK 4: Leave Everything on the Paper

This week we have two challenges. The first will make your life better and the second will improve someone else’s.

Challenge 1: Take time to write down (on paper, no phones) what you accomplished that day OR take time to write down a to-do list for the next day. Why? Sleep is one of the Four Pillars to health and wellness defined by Robb Wolf (and many others), but if our minds are racing while laying in the bed, then inevitably it will make it more difficult for us to fall asleep and flourish the upcoming day.

Challenge 2: Handwrite two letters to two different people you deeply care about and tell them how they have impacted your life in a positive way. Gratitude can have many healing powers and always leaves us with a happier and more fulfilled life. Ask for their address and let the heart do the writing.




Outlier Lifestyle Weekly Challenge #3

A different sort of uncomfortable this week, ya masochists!

Week 2: Get Uncomfortable

An Outlier is confident because of their ability to bear hardship; leisured because of their toughness.

Past communications foretold of sacrifices awaiting us all. Let’s cut to the chase. In a variety of ways, this week’s Outlier Lifestyle Challenge asks you to choose hardship. Seneca wrote much clearer on the idea in his Moral Letter to Lucilius. Each of us confronts fate with the chance of achievement when faced with challenge. To earn your bonus points this week, choose and complete any 2 hardship tasks from the following list:

  1. Complete a 24 hour food fast (and receive your normal points too). Why? Read study #1, study #2, and study #3.
  2. Every day, finish your shower with 30 seconds of cold water. Remember, Wim Hoff? Read THIS.
  3. Strike up a legitimate conversation with a stranger. Need direction? Dig into The Art of Ordinary Conversation. Need examples? Invite them to the gym, ask for a 10% discount on your coffee, tell them a joke, etc.
  4. Run a cold day 5k.
  5. Don’t use your dishwasher all week.

Truly, the ideas behind the challenge are more important than the challenges themselves. Control your perceptions. Direct your actions. Properly face hardship. After all, most of us live a #10exlife in the VOLUNTEER state.

Outlier Lifestyle Weekly Challenge #2

“You can’t consume much if you sit still and read books.” – Huxley

Week 2: Develop Keystone Habits

An Outlier leverages the power of habit.

Remember that version of your best self? Habits are the daily behavior that permit us to ceaselessly strive towards that self. Habits are also a sort of dislodging and best-self-defeating surrender to craving. Charles Duhigg, in The Power of Habit, claims that habits never really disappear. Instead, we simply edit our behavior loop. For this week’s challenge, we extract a parcel of the book’s thesis – the part heralding keystone habits. Keystone habits provide what we commonly call “small wins.” They help other habits flourish by creating new behavior standards AND they do well in curating environments where positive change becomes contagious (It’s Not a Cult, It’s a Cultureremember?). Effectively, keystone habits start a transformative process. This week’s challenge involves 2 such habits (to be completed daily):

  1. Small Win #1: Make your bed every morning.
  2. Small Win #2: Read something substantial for 30 minutes.
    *You might start HERE with a prophetic and cautionary tale from 1991. What would she have thought about the dizzy of social media?
    *You might also start HERE and HERE if you’d like some Zone Diet reading prep.

At 10 Experience, we attempt to encourage everyone to develop healthier, keystone-like habits. Once we – the collective ‘we’ – choose who we want to be, we all grow towards that purpose. Like a sheet of paper that once folded tends to fall forever that direction, let’s bend our will at growing into the best possible version of ourselves.

Turn the page,



Duhigg, C. (2014). The power of habit: why we do what we do and how to change. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks.

Outlier Lifestyle Weekly Challenge #1

A memory of Tonya M.’s 2017 bountiful generosity.

Week 1: Be charitable

An Outlier understands that the benefit of altruistic behavior is manifold. We choose to highlight only a couple:

  1. It helps others in need. This is the most important and obvious reason for this week’s challenge.
  2. It helps sort yourself out. Not only does this sort of behavior clean up your material world, it also provides an inner cleaning as well. Actions like these lend credence to the notion that we can change the world by first changing ourselves. That can start with your ‘room.’

Yes, your first lifestyle challenge is quite familiar. While your Facebook check-ins carry quite a charitable punch, this week we ask you to do more. It’s simple: donate unnecessary coats/clothes/shoes or any sort of unnecessary-to-you-but-vital-to-others stuff to a local organization (Goodwill, The United Way, local churches, etc). You can google: “charities near me” and find a cache of places.

Do well.

PS: As our tagline reads, we believe fitness to provide inspiration in directions that aren’t vanity related. A touch of virtue signaling is better than a blank check-in. So, when you find yourself trucking a bunch of stuff, take a quick picture and post it to social media. Use the hashtag #10exlife and let’s continue to carve out what the 10 Experience truly means.