Journal Entry 308 – Back To Reality

First week back after the Wedding / Honeymoon. Took me a few days to shake the rust off, but I’m almost back to normal. My body still feels a little bit achy for some reason though. My joints still have some pain and my energy levels are a little low. I have some pain in my back as well near my right shoulder blade. Not sure what it is, but it does feel like it is slowly getting better.

My workouts have been very weak. I did a 4 day Push / Pull this week and my strength and endurance were definitely down. I did cardio yesterday which felt pretty good, but lifting has been a chore this week. My carbs have been pretty low recently and I’ve been eating a ton of protein, but it seems to be negatively impacting my lifts. I plan on adding some carbs and probably eating a larger dinner each night to see if this helps my lifts. I want to get my bench press back to 225lbs.

I had some Pizza Hut on Friday night, because I felt like I needed it. 😉 Sarah and I had a busy day yesterday as well. We went house hunting, went bowling with my team at work and then went to Downtown Richmond to get dinner with some of Sarah’s friends.

I had been slacking on working out for the week leading up the Wedding / Honeymoon. I’m not sure if I got “out of shape” in that small of a period of time, but it sure feels like it. Hoping to shake this feeling soon.

Advertisements

Journal Entry 307 – Wedding and Honeymoon!

A lot has happened in the last two weeks. I married the love of my life on May 5th, 2018! The weekend of the wedding was hands down the best time of my entire life. All of our friends and family were there and I couldn’t have asked for a better time. Laura Mincher, Sarah’s mom, was nice enough to organize the whole thing, which I know required a lot of work.

The Rehearsal Dinner was great and we had some awesome food and great speeches. My pumpkin chocolate chip Groom’s cake seemed to be a crowd favorite as well. It had VT (Virginia Tech) on it with a Spider (Richmond Spiders) in the corner of it for Sarah. After the dinner, all of the wedding party when out for more drinks in downtown Greensboro. We ended up drinking a lot (mainly craft beer. Just like Richmond, Greensboro seems to be big on this.) and I didn’t go to bed til around 4:30am.

On the day of the wedding, we woke up the around 9am and all my Groomsmen went to Kickback Jacks around 1130am for some food and drinks. The wedding was at 6pm and everything went smoothly. After we took loads of pictures, then everyone headed to the Reception. The Reception was amazing. We didn’t eat much food at all besides appetizers, but the club packed us some food for after the wedding. We did drink plenty though and it seemed like everyone that came had a really good time. After a lot of dancing and socializing, Sarah and I left for Charlotte, North Carolina. I ate way more than she did of the food because she wasn’t hungry, but that food tasted amazing. The sushi was especially good. Neither of us really had a piece of cake though. We had that initial bite when first cutting the cake, but that was about it. I believe some was saved for us though so we can eat it at some point!

The Honeymoon was also a great time. We left our hotel in Charlotte, NC around 730am and booked an early flight to St. Lucia. It took about 4 and half hours to get there. We then went through customs and had an hour bus ride to the resort. St. Lucia is a third world country for sure. I didn’t really think about this til we landed in the airport and went through Customs. As we drove through the island, I was a little worried we made a huge mistake going there. However, once we hit the Sandals resort, it was amazing. We arrived around 4-5PM on Sunday. The views of this island are really great. One of my favorite parts about the trip. Our balcony also had an amazing view. The food was also really good and there was a lot of it everywhere. I didn’t drink nearly as much as I thought I was going to. We had more drinks when we first got there and less towards the end of the trip. We also took a boat tour of the island, which was pretty fun. I will say most of the local citizens and/or Sandal’s employees of this country were extremely nice. I don’t know if they were told to be this way, but it was noticeable.

There were some negatives about the trip, unfortunately. I actually think I picked up the flu about halfway through it. We went on that boat tour and as soon as we got back, I felt horrible. I had chills, super weak joints, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, etc. It took me about 2 days to bounce back. The weak joints worried me. I felt like an old man and super lazy and that’s the complete opposite of how I normally feel. Another negative was that Sandal’s is an all-inclusive resort, but there are constantly people there trying to sell you something and they are relentless. It really started to annoy me. I mean when you are on your Honeymoon, you shouldn’t have to deal with that kind of crap being thrown in your face. I almost felt like I had to avoid certain areas of the resort just so I didn’t have to talk to these people. It basically just felt like a cash grab, even though we already dished out a handsome sum of money to be there. There was one other big negative and that was the number of insects. When you were eating outside there were a lot of flies around the tables. There was also a lot of insects on the balcony off our hotel. I feel like pest control could have been a lot better. The final complaint I had was going through Customs in the St. Lucian airport. Yikes.

I would rate our Honeymoon 8 out of 10. I had a really good time overall, expect for the negatives I listed above. I did really look forward to coming back to the US at the end of our time there. It’s nice being able to get your own food and drinks, use unlimited WiFi and just be comfortable knowing that you are living in the best country in the world. One other thing I forgot to mention, the local diet soda their tastes horrible. Very flat. I had two Diet Mountain Dews when I got back and words can’t describe how good it tasted.

After all this, Sarah and I are starting the house hunting process. We didn’t get back til 2am on Sunday morning, so we took Monday off to knock out a lot of stuff we need to get done.

I also plan to get my workouts rolling again and start putting on some muscle, I feel like I lost some size recently and this needs to get fixed! I plan on doing Chest/Tris and Back/Bis days twice a week with a Shoulder/Traps day in the middle. I’m also going to up the calories and protein. More on this next post!

One final thing I wanted to bring up. Being married to Sarah feels no different than before, which is a good thing to me. The biggest thing I have to get used to is her name changing to Mrs. Cocchiola and calling her my wife and not fiance!

Journal Entry 306 – Almost Wedding Time

The new schedule is in full effect and it’s been pretty busy at work. Along with the new schedule, my wedding is coming up this week, followed by the honeymoon. Soon after we need to move out of the apartment and find a new house! We have a lot on our plates at the moment. Really looking forward to the wedding and honeymoon though. Sarah and I have been together a little over two years at this point and we are very ready to get married.

My routine this week has been simple. No cardio, 4 days of lifting on a Push/Pull split. My calories have been pretty low during the week to cut some fat before the wedding. Scale is down to about 178-179lbs and my pants are definitely fitting looser. My diet has been almost exclusively protein for the past week and half with pretty low carbs and moderate fat. I’m not doing a ton of exercise though, so I really don’t need to eat a ton and I’m also trying to drop fat. That being said my lifts were down a little this week. I’m also pretty stressed at work, because of the greatly increased workload, but that will just take some getting used to. My sleep has been great though. Getting at least 8 hours a night.

I’ve been eating a ton of egg whites recently. In the morning before work, when I get home from work and sometimes after dinner if I’m still hungry. They are basically a perfect food right now though for me, because they are super low calorie and all protein. I also just really like the taste and texture for some reason. I usually eat Our Little Rebellion Protein Crisps as well during the day. These are 80 calories per serving (24 chips) 10g protein, 10g carbs (4 fiber) and 2.5g fat. Pretty much epic in terms of macros and you get a lot for the calories. They also taste really good. I also do a protein shake during the day at some point. I have protein powder at my desk, so this is pretty easy to make. Dinner is always a super high protein meal and usually some kind of vegetable. I then follow this with a protein shake before I go to sleep at night.

I never take lunch to work or even breakfast anymore. I really enjoy it. I don’t have to prep anything. All I take with me is coffee. Everything else is either at my desk at work or is a bag of chips, so nothing to prepare. Dinner is the vast majority of my calories and is essentially my only meal except for high protein snacks during the day. It’s been working so I’m sticking with it.

Journal Entry 305 – New Schedule is Coming

Today is the last week of my old schedule. I luckily get Saturday off, so it will be a 3 day week. I’m moving to an 8-5 schedule Monday through Friday. It will be a big change for me as I haven’t been on that schedule for awhile. This also means some change in terms of diet and workout, which I haven’t really figured out yet. I probably won’t figure it out until I actually start and see what I like best. I thought about going to the gym early and knocking it out, but I would likely have to get up before 6AM, which I’m not really sure I want to do. I will most likely just go to the gym on my lunch break around 1-2PM. I may adjust my routine so that I’m benching twice a week and continue with my pushups / chinups and stretching routine. Still hitting 200 pushups / 50 chins and stretching daily.

Not sure what I plan to do for the diet. Based on my schedule, an Intermittent Fasting setup would work really well with my hours. Eat minimal during the day when busy and feast at night. This would also be far easier from a planning and financial standpoint. What I may do is make a protein shake in the morning to drink around mid-morning, then eat a bag of Enlightened Beans or Jerky at work. This provides around 600 calories total during the day, which allows a very large meal every night, while keeping calories in check. This would allow me a couple drinks at night, a very big high protein meal and some protein pudding for dessert.

I got to a new low of 179.4lbs this week. I had a big eating day from Saturday night and all day Sunday and got up to 184lbs. I was down to 182lbs this morning. I expect to go below 179lbs by the end of this week.  For whatever reason, I almost felt hungover after my cheat day even though I didn’t drink. Not a good feeling. It’s probably because I went from pretty low carbs to very high carbs in a day and then back to very low carbs. That’s a pretty large swing that I’m not really used to. Calories were over 3000 for the day. I may try splitting my cheat day up into a big meal on both Saturday and Sunday night versus the whole day. I have a feeling I would not only enjoy this more, but feel much better than slamming calories all day long.

Journal Entry 304 – Return of the Refeed

Missed my post last week since Sarah and I were in Greensboro for the weekend doing some things for the wedding.

Some big schedule changes also happened at work, which will move me back into a much more normal schedule. Looking forward to that so that Sarah and I will have more time together.

My workout schedule has been even more minimalist style than my last post. I have literally been doing 200 pushups and 50 chin-ups a day at least for the last week. I’m only lifting once a week in the gym on Friday, which has been heavy barbell bench press that I then follow with pushups and chin-ups. Pushups and chin-ups are starting to feel extremely easy. I’m doing 30 pushups a set and 10 chin-ups a set. I plan to increase those to 35-40 for pushups and 15 for chins soon.

I really enjoy these two moves. They work every muscle in the upper body and you can literally do them anywhere at any time. (Although this is truer for pushups rather than chin-ups.)

As for my diet, its time for the “Return of the Refeed.” I experienced somewhat of a plateau where I could not drop under 182lbs for 3 days even with my diet and exercise on point. Very frustrating. I refeeded a couple of days ago pretty hardcore. I went 3000+ plus calories with the vast majority of calories coming from carbs. I went up to 187lbs after this day, but have now dropped below 182lbs just two days later. I have written about refeeds before, but have stopped doing them the past couples years for whatever reason. I really do they think hold tremendous benefit to allow yourself to “go to town” one day of the week just to get it out of your system. It also has many physiological and psychological benefits, which I have wrote about in my article How To Do A Carb Refeed.

Most people would benefit from doing this once a week. It’s just far easier to program. If you were going by science every 5th day would probably be optimal. So 4 days of dieting, 1 day off to refeed up to or beyond maintenance calories and repeat. This presents a pain for most people though, because your refeed day constantly changes. No one wants to refeed on a Monday. So I would recommend just doing it Saturday or Sunday (my personal favorite). Give precedence to carbs. I usually go high protein all other days, so I really look forward to eating all of the things I can’t eat on this day. I actually tried to lower protein as much as I could on my last refeed day. I hit around 80 grams of protein / 70 grams of fat / and over 400 carbs.

Also one more point about refeeds. Some people try to lower dietary fat as low as humanly possible on these days. Don’t do this. It makes the day far less fun and satisfying and really lowers your food choices. I’m not saying to go super high in fat, but just allow yourself to hit a normal of fat of around 50-70 grams instead of going like under 30-40 grams like is commonly recommended. Your body can store some dietary fat as muscle, especially if your diet days tend to be low in fat. Even if you store some fat, it’s going to come off easily when you return to your normal diet the next 6 days.

Journal Entry 303 – Minimalist

Time to return to my minimalist roots for awhile.

Workout

My routine is back to a super minimalist template and will be a 4 day Push / Pull routine as shown below:

  • Day 1 – Push
    • Barbell bench 4×6-8 reps
    • Dips 4 x AMRAP
    • Cable Crunch 4×8 reps
  • Day 2 – Pull
    • Chinups 4×6-8 reps
    • DB Curl 4×8 reps
    • Ab Machine 4×8 reps
  • Day 3 – Cardio
    • 30-40 minutes of Cardio
  • Day 4 – Push
    • Incline Dumbbell bench 4×10-12 reps
    • Dips 4 x AMAP
    • Cable Crunch 4×8 reps
  • Day 5 – Pull
    • Db Rows 4×10-12 reps
    • Chinups 4x AMRAP
    • Cable Crunch 4×8
  • Day 6
    • Cardio 30-40 minutes
  • Day 7
    • Cardio 30-40 minutes

I love it so far. I wanted to do full body but quickly realized that there was no way I could possibly finish that on my lunch breaks. The above is actually really intense despite the lowish volume. I want to hit the abs with heavy weights and more frequency. You will not find any isolation in this routine because it doesn’t really fit well into a time saving minimalist routine. I also do at least 100 pushups a day and have for some time now.

Diet

I have decided to go pretty close to a PSMF diet until the wedding with a few occasional cheat meals. I’m trying to get down to about 175lbs and stand at 182lbs currently. My calories are actually much higher than a normal PSMF, but the point is basically to eat protein and veggies only. Carbs and fats are incidentals. I estimate with my current deficit I should net about 1lb to 1 1/2 lbs per week. Since my protein is high and I’m lifting regularly to retain my strength, I’m expecting this to be pure fat.

I may eat some carbs at night (prob not many though) and have an occasional cheat meal (probably once a week) just for a little variation, but I plan to stick to this pretty rigidly for the time being. Of all the diets I have done when I eat nothing but lean protein and veggies and keep carbs and fats low, the fat always comes off.

Journal Entry 302 – Balance

So I spent about one week on the carnivore diet. It was great at first and not great towards the latter end of the week. I really started to crave any type of sweets and there is no way I could ever do it long term. My calories were higher than normal and my fat intake was well over 100 grams a day. I wanted to keep it high on purpose to see if I noticed any additional benefit in terms of lifting or cardio. I did not.

The savory test of eggs and beef were great at first. After about 4 days, I wanted to eat anything but those foods. Cooking these foods also became a chore. Another huge negative to this diet was food volume or should I say the lack of it. When you cook a very large serving of 12oz of beef (90/10) it loses about 4-5oz in the cooking process. So you have about 600 calories worth of beef and it’s a pretty small serving of food. I was actually always hungry after my meals and these meals were both high in protein and fat. I really missed the large volume in my meals and felt pretty restricted.  If you added anything on top of these meals such as guacamole or cheese or extra meat, your meal was easily close to 1000 calories and still very unsatisfying.

As excited I was to initially try it, my excitement was even higher to end it. It was worth a shot, but I think a diet consisting of lean meats, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, some saturated fat, fish oil) is still the way to go and keeps cravings at bay and energy high. Deep down I knew this anyway but it was worth a shot.

My apartment gym’s dumbells only went up to about 50lbs until a week ago. They bought 2 100lb dumbbells and 2 70lb dumbbells, which allows me to do a lot more in the gym. Due to my failed diet experiment that was very unbalanced, I wanted to make the perfectly balanced workout routine. I’m going to do 3 full body workouts and 3 cardio workouts with one day off.  Keep it simple :).