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Chasing Ryan Gosling: One Man’s Quest to Get Muscles, Burn Fat, and Find Adventure

There comes a time in a man’s life, in every hero’s journey, where he is faced with a quest. My quest comes in the shape of a special person, an individual who inspires such a strong sense of respect, admiration, and maybe even envy, that a man can’t help but harbor a deep desire to punch him right in the face.

This man is Ryan Gosling in all his “hey girl” glory. This is a man who got a job at a sandwich shop because he didn’t want to “lose his purpose.” This is man who can do no wrong.

Why not just “focus on myself”? So I’ll “feel good?” Everyone SAYS they want to “do it for me,” but I bet most of us have a magazine clipping or two of who they wish they could look like.  For years I had a man crush on Mark Wahlberg, and my main motivation in the gym was the hope that if I were ever in an action movie, he could be my stunt double. Pretty sure he does his own stunts.

So allow me a little fun while I try to look like Ryan Gosling, but with just a wee-bit more muscle. I still need to be able to knock him out if he ever says “hey” to my girl.

He’s smooth, he has style, and he’s got the physique of a vegan bodybuilder. And I’m coming for him. Here’s how I’m going to do it.

The Task

First of all, I need to identify the objective. Which parts of the icon do I want to emulate and surpass? I’m a one-woman man, so all that dreamy-eyed stuff is out, thank goodness. The guy is lean and ripped, and Allison has thrown down the gauntlet to see if my thick neck can handle a super-shreddder challenge. This will be my focus.

The Plan


This is not a fad “get-in-the-Gosling-Zone Diet”. I’m talking about what I eat in general. These are sustainable daily eating habits that I can adopt for most of my life.

The first thing to go is bread and other grains. I can eat them once in awhile, but grains are no longer a staple of my diet. I still get my donuts and cookies, and I make room for them by substituting lettuce wrapped chicken for a turkey sandwich. I’ve seen enough people on a gluten free diet shred down in weeks after cutting out bread. It works.

You will say that there is a void in my meals, and you’re right. I’ll be filling the void with more vegetables and healthy fats (nuts, avocaos, healthy oils), and maybe a tad bit more fruit and meat. This isn’t a bacon binge, people. And if you think this sounds kinda like Paleo, you’d be correct.

Funny thing about this eating plan is that my fat consumption is going through the roof. Yeah, it flies in the face of conventional nutrition wisdom (which, incidentally, is changing as  I write). But it’s also working. Roughly 50% of my calories are coming from fat, with about a 25% from carbs and another 25% from protein, and I’m already starting to get the Gosling glow. Again, this is not a short-term plan; I plan to sustain these eating habits. I’ll share more of my fatty findings in a future post.

Cardio + Muscles

This one is tricky, because I’m going to need to lose a bit of weight without sacrificing too much muscle. The cool thing about weight lifting is that, done right, it is a cardiovascular endeavor. In order to maintain strength while cutting body fat, I’m going for what Chad Waterbury calls the “10X3 for fat loss.” In my arrogance, I’ve modified the program of this great fitness mind, but only because I am on a unique quest. Here’s how it works:

Pick three compound exercises that more or less target the entire body. Perform each exercise for 10 sets of three repetitions. Rest for about 45 seconds. Then finish it off with one or two bootcamp-style circuits. Kind of like what those Crossfit crazies like to do. For example:

  • Squats 10X 3
  • bench or military press 10X3
  • pullups or rows 10X3
  • Add 1-2 circuits of : box step ups, jump rope, kettle bell swings, walking lunges, burpees, etc.

The beauty of this program is that you work the entire body, the low repetitions allow you to lift heavy weights that stimulates muscle growth, and the short rest periods keep your heart rate up. The circuits ramp up your metabolism for longer than the traditional shin- shattering jog up and down the street, too.

Now I’m building (or at least maintaining) muscle and burning a ton of calories.

Sign Up for Adventure

The last piece of the puzzle for me has been signing up for an adventure race. I was mesmerized by the Tough Mudder’s promotional video, and recently completed that 10 mile beast of a run. Before that, I signed up for the 5K Mudfactor, which was a ton of fun, and a concrete reason for getting in better cardiovascular shape. Allison will testify that I am EXTREMELY competitive, and I didn’t want to get killed in the Tough Mudder, and that was all the incentive I needed to add a few more days of running, swimming, cycling, hiking, SOMETHING to keep me active so I didn’t collapse in a heap on that mountain.

So far, I’m down from 185 to about 178. I have lost a bit of muscle mass and strength, which I expected, but I’m also getting leaner.

You have my formula for quest success:

  1. Diet: Trade grains for veggies and health fats
  2. Strength and Cardio: Total body compound exercises, low reps and short rest periods. Throw in a few circuits.
  3. Sign up for adventure.

Hey Ryan. You sexy sandwich-making, six pack abs son-of-a-gun. You’re the man.  And I’m coming for you.



3 Responses to “Chasing Ryan Gosling: One Man’s Quest to Get Muscles, Burn Fat, and Find Adventure”

  1. Lauren

    speaking of cross fit, how do you feel about it? i’m no expert, but hauling a ton of weight around as fast as you possibly can doesn’t sound like a great idea. i would think form might be more important than reps per minute?

    • Naturally My Dear

      Lauren, Neither Richie or I have formally attended a CrossFit but Richie has gone as a guest of a co-worker a few times and liked it. Like you guessed, there is the potential for injury due to improper form while doing complicated lifts as well as due to fatigue. That being said the consensus seems to be that some “boxes” are better than others when it comes to emphasizing and teaching good form. I’ll let Richie chime in with his expert opinion but I just wanted to get back to you on that :)

    • Richie

      I’ve only been a few times, but I have to say it’s a lot of fun, and it definitely appeals to my competitive side. I think I’m going to ask my friend from work to write a post for us about her experience with Crossfit–she’d have a good firsthand version. (Incidentally, I’m in a Crossfit competition on Saturday at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena). :)

      I have read a lot of people who dislike Crossfit for various reasons, one of them being the propensity for injury. I think it’s like any style of training though: if you program it properly, and learn the lifts properly, and then SCALE them properly, it’s probably relatively safe. I’m personally a little worried about performing the advanced movements (snatches, powercleans, clean and jerk) at high reps when you’re already fatigued. Olympic lifters usually perform those at low reps. I believe explosive movements are fine though, and actually help recruit more motor units than the slow, time under tension method used by body-builders though (from what I’ve read). Again, attention to technique and fatigue is key, IMHO.


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