Bigger Smaller Bigger

by with John Berardi & Martin Rooney

Don’t Be the “Cooler Guy”


I’ve been holding steady at 178 pounds for two days in a row.

So I e-mail JB and see what he has to say about it.

Let’s keep things as is for now, he writes. Next week we’ll probably have to bump the calories up a bit. If you finish the week at 180 we’ll have to push to get an extra 5 pounds each for the last two weeks. Think about where you can add one more meal each day.

Wait. One more meal?

I can barely drink water on top of everything I’m already eating. How the hell am I gonna fit in another entire meal?

JB may be the expert, but my gag reflex is the gatekeeper to my stomach. And it’s not happy with me at the moment.

Still, I should be optimistic.

I email JB back and let him know I’m up for trying anything as long as my stomach doesn’t explode. I also mention that I’m heading on a road trip tomorrow with my younger brother and his friend. I’m taking them to a concert and putting us up in a swanky hotel.

I ask JB what I should do about food.

Just order double-dinners while you’re away and try to pick restaurants that can match your meals as closely as possible, he writes back. But whatever you do, don’t be the “Cooler Guy.”

That’s good advice because I can’t stand the Cooler Guy.

Let me explain.

The Cooler Guy is a dude who works out and carries all of his meals around in a cooler — from home, to work, to the gym, and even to social events — and periodically breaks it open to eat his tuna fish, chicken breasts, or whatever other plain protein source he has hidden between his bag of baby carrots and reusable ice pack.

It’s like he’s trying to call attention to his healthy lifestyle and constantly seeking approval. It’s annoying and — except in rare cases — entirely unnecessary.

JB and I were both the Cooler Guy early on in our weight-training career. In fact, most guys who get serious about working out and building a good body have been the Cooler Guy at one point or another.

I went through my Cooler Guy phase the first year of my body transformation. Then I realized if I just planned my day a little better, I could eat all my meals at home or in a restaurant and not have to look like a tool carrying a Coleman lunchbox around.

So I’m glad JB’s not insisting I pack a bunch of meals for my trip. Instead I’ll just plan on spending a little more money at restaurants.

And to be honest, I’m excited for a little variety. I’ve been eating the same damn stuff for the past 10 days.

Maybe I can get some lobster or something. I wonder how many mussels and clams add up to 1.5 pounds of protein.

Probably a lot.

Other highlights from Day 11

  • Climbing the rope, flipping tires, and pushing a sled. I love working out at an “underground” gym with access to all that equipment. It sure as hell beats running on a treadmill.
  • My girlfriend insisting that my tits are now bigger than hers. Which they aren’t. But it did require a quick comparison and further study. Which means my sex drive is, thankfully, on the rebound.

Knowledge Bomb!

The philosophy behind adding another meal

Making a change is all about small incremental improvements. You try something for a little while, see how it works, and if you need to, make a small change and repeat the steps.

For this experiment JB started me off with a lot of food, enough to where I’d be in a caloric surplus and gain muscle. But he didn’t overload me as much as he could have. He wanted to leave a little wiggle room to make changes if needed.

This “extra meal” he wants to add next week, therefore, is strategic. Now that I’m stalled at around 178 pounds, we need to increase the calories. Even though it’ll be tough for me and my stomach to eat another meal, I’m pretty sure I can do it.

But if I started with this meal at the very beginning, we wouldn’t have had any place to go when I inevitably stalled out. 

You can only add so many meals. You can only make so many incremental improvements.

(Plus, the extra calories in the beginning might have lead to extra fat gain, which we didn’t want.)

The lesson then, is to start small and add or subtract from there.

Want to build muscle without a crazy 28-day plan?

Here's the 5-step approach that can work for any man, including a free workout program, the best supplements, and exactly what to eat.

By signing up, you'll also get exclusive updates from Precision Nutrition with key health & fitness strategies. Unsubscribe anytime. Contact Us. Privacy Policy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.