Journal Entry 324 – 28th Birthday

I turned 28 years old on Wednesday, November 14th. For some reason, this age sounds old to me and I don’t feel that old haha. That being said it was a great birthday that I’m pretty much celebrating over 4 days. On my actual birthday, Sarah and I just hung at the house and got some Chipotle and Halo Top. Thursday night we went out to Grapevine (favorite restaurant) with my parents and Friday we had some sushi from a local place. To finish off, we are having a party tonight at our house with some close friends. It should be good times. I should rename it “birth week” haha.

The Giants finally won on Monday night to get to 2-7. It was an interesting game though because the team chemistry felt great. The players were acting like they won the Superbowl afterward. This could be a great thing moving forward for the rest of the season. There may be a slim chance, we could win the division if we win out and the other teams drop a few more games. The Redskins are 6-3, so they would have to go 3-4 for us to beat them. Which is possible because their remaining schedule is not a cakewalk. Same for the Eagles. That just leaves the Cowboys, who have an easier schedule than the other teams, but honestly are not that far ahead of us believe or not.

I finally matched my previous bench press PR on my birthday. 225lbs for 8, 7, 5 reps. My diet has been much higher in carbs recently. I don’t know what it is, but I think I may be developing a taste aversion to chicken. Every time I eat it recently, I almost get sick to my stomach. I’ve also been drinking A LOT of caffeine recently. Other than that, I’ve been eating good and have definitely started eating a lot of rice recently. Something about it is overly satisfying at the moment. My parents gave me some Orgain Protein Powder from Costco both Chocolate and Vanilla, per my request for a gift. This protein is impressive in terms of micronutrient content. It also mixes pretty thick, which I have missed in my protein powder. I may have to switch over to these as my primary source of protein. The Chocolate is better than the Vanilla as the Vanilla tastes like it has too much greens powder in it. That being said, I still feel like this is way healthier than just straight dairy protein powder, which has almost no micronutrients in it.

Until next time!

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Journal Entry 323 – Finance

The end of the year is approaching very quickly. I can’t believe the Holidays are almost here. Very busy year overall and I have spent more money this year than any year to date. A first house will do that to you. That being said my Net Worth is still looking pretty good. Similar to writing this blog, working out and eating well, personal finance is a huge topic of interest for me. My interest in personal finance is what led me to my current job, to begin with. My current job has taught me a tremendous amount about the financial industry. I’m not an expert compared to some people but consider myself strongly inside of intermediate territory. I could compile all you would need to know into finance in a few simple tips:

  • Get out and stay out of debt.Β 
    • This one is probably the most important. If you understand this, then you likely have your ducks in a row. Don’t get behind on credit card payments, don’t buy a car you can’t afford and have $3-400 a month payments with interest or any other instrument of debt. Many places offer financing on just about any expensive item and you want to be wary of this. Financing implies you will be paying interest and this means more money you have to pay then the initial cost of the item. BEWARE.
    • A mortgage is somewhat of an exception because paying off a house is unrealistic for most people.
    • I have talked to some very smart people and some of them still haven’t grasped this concept, which is shocking to me. Do you really need a $40000 SUV with huge tires when all you do with it is commute to work or the store? – Probably not.
  • Invest in a 401(k) ESPECIALLY if you have company match (free money)
    • Be a loyal employee. It costs a lot of money to hire people and the longer you work somewhere, show up and do a great job, the more the company likes and invests in you.
  • Invest in a Taxable Account
    • Taxable accounts are the new savings accounts in my opinion. You can withdraw the cost basis (the money you put in the account – after-tax) tax-free and the money will grow far more (investment earnings) than it would sitting in a checking/savings account.
  • Keep 3-6 months of savings in your checking and savings and move the rest to a taxable account or other savings account
    • The value of your money in checking and savings accounts actually loses money each year due to inflation. Keep an amount that feels comfortable to you here, but save the rest.
  • Beware Lifestyle Inflation
    • This is a tough one, because it kind of happens automatically. Lifestyle inflation is basically earning more and spending more to match it. For example, say I got a $25000 annual raise. Most people would go “Hell Yeah” and spend it all by getting a bigger house and a nicer car even though they were fine with what they had before. Some of this is just the way society is set up as it is highly materialistic. Smart people take this money, pay off debt, invest it (which essentially means you will earn more money down the road) and live the same way they were living before. Quality of life is the same before the raise, but their wealth would increase tremendously.
    • Image result for fight club you are not the thing you own
  • Get rid of things you no longer use.
    • This is actually a very underrated tip for saving money. I shudder at the thought of hoarding. I’m possibly the only person in my family that is a minimalist or non-materialist. When your house becomes piled up so high with crap, you don’t even realize what you have any more. We don’t live in a third world country, therefore, we do not need to collect goods as if our life depended on it. Clean out your house and really go through everything you have to see if you truly need that item. Odds are if you don’t use it every day and haven’t seen it in years then you don’t need it. This doesn’t apply to pictures or family heirlooms, but mainly to excessive clothing that you don’t wear or any material goods, decorations that you would be better served getting rid of.
  • Buy Quality over Quantity
    • This may sound like I’m recommending never to buy anything. This is not so. I mainly recommend getting all of your debt paid off and your savings in place (investments or savings should be automatic. There should never be an excuse not save each month. Set up savings like you would an automatic bill payment). When you do buy something, make sure it is a quality item. This is something you would use daily or use for a long time before replacing, but it is also something you can afford. Never use financing to pay for a small item. Obviously, I don’t recommend buying too much quantity of anything, unless you actually need the volume of what you are buying. Buy nice things within your means, not a lot of things.
  • Appreciate Money
    • At an early age, I learned to appreciate food. As a fat child, I learned that it was through food that I was grossly overweight for my age and height. From that day forward, I manipulated food to achieve my desired effect. Which for me was to be slim. I have gone through one hell of a learning curve with food and can honestly tell you that when I eat something I appreciate what it is doing for me. I look at cheat meals as something I have earned and the rest of the time I choose foods that I know are benefiting me. (Protein, healthier fats, low sugar, green vegetables etc..) I only learned to appreciate food after it became scarce, however. The same is true of money for most people. Most kids or people even have no concept of what it means to appreciate money. Personal finance is not even a required class in school. (frightening thought) So when most kids graduate college in mountains of debt, then get a job that can barely pay the bills, money then becomes scarce. THEN they appreciate money. Unfortunately, it takes going through this for most people to “wake up” and truly appreciate it what money is and how to manage it.
    • Other people that don’t follow the rules above are in the same boat. They could make plenty of money and still be broke because they are truly idiotic with their spending habits.
    • You also have people on the other side of the coin that are so rich, money is no longer appreciated. It just becomes what Leonardo Di Caprio coins “Fun Coupons) in Wolf of Wall Street. Something to waste on material goods. This mindset can lead you to ruin down the road if you are not careful.

This actually ended up being a lot longer than I thought haha. I may add this under a new article. Ideas just kept hitting me as I was writing.

My strength is stuck in a plateau. Going to bump up the protein and calories by 2-300 to see if this helps. Other than that been keeping it pretty low carb still and my weight is hovering around the 178lb mark.

Sarah and I went to DC last week, which is why I didn’t post. We met up with my brother and his wife, as it was my sister-in-law Rebecca’s birthday, Sarah’s birthday and little Abby’s birthday on Halloween. She was much bigger than the last time I saw her! It was a fun time though. Sarah and I went to a few museums and then ate out at some local restaurants. On Sunday, we drove back and chilled most of the day and then went to Red Salt Chophouse and Sushi with Sarah’s parents for her Birthday dinner. The Sushi was great. I got Batman roll and Black Russian roll, mainly because I like the names.

Journal Entry 322 – Updates

Since my last post, I decided to update the site a bit. I updated the background to look more like an actual journal and took down some pages that I thought made the blog look crowded. As a minimalist, I like the upgrade a lot. After reading some of my older articles, I’m not sure I agree 100% with all of them anymore, but it contains good information nevertheless.

Last weekend Sarah and I went to a co-worker and friend of mine’s wedding. It was great! The venue was a country setting and somewhat isolated from outside distractions. Everyone had a good time and the food and drinks were on point. πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, this past week was very stressful. This is my long weekend and dear god it could not have come sooner. I really just felt like I needed a break. A break to get things done and just to relax and get out of my everyday grind. I think both physically and mentally I was starting to wear down. My gym performance is still plateaued, unfortunately. I plan to keep roughly 2 heavy days a week and the rest are going to be bodyweight movements and stretching. These movements have felt fantastic recently and heavy lifting has not felt so good. I think the extra rest from constant heavy weights every day is going to help break me through my plateau.

My diet has been so-so for the past week. I’ve been craving more oatmeal recently and I must say it is delicious. It’s also very filling. I have about 100-150grams to play with each day, so it is pretty easy to fit in. As for the brand, I always go with Quaker Oats Weight Control or Lower Sugar Maple and Brown Sugar. Hands down the best ever.

Sarah and I went to Grapevine Wednesday night with Sarah’s mom Laura and her Grandma. It was a great dinner! I think they now like the restaurant as much as we do. Sarah and I also had a date night last night. We went to Cooperhawk for some wine tasting and then went to Plaza Azteca for dinner. Copperhawks’ wine this month was not good haha. They usually have at least 3-4 wines that are good, but this month it was a very weak selection. We didn’t end up eating dinner until like 9:30-10:00 PM either. It was very delicious though.

Other than that I plan just to take it easy for the rest of the weekend. We are having some people over tonight for drinks, so that should be good times. Until next week!

Journal Entry 321 – Final Fantasy XV

For the first time in awhile, I started playing a Final Fantasy game. The last one I can honestly say I enjoyed was Final Fantasy X, which came out 17 years ago. Since then when I have played Final Fantasy it was a remastered version of an old game. I’m currently playing Final Fantasy XV for the PS4 and it has been good so far. The graphics are incredible, the fighting is fun, but can be confusing and the storyline is average so far. I like the characters, but they are far from my favorite. So far I would say 7 out of 10. I haven’t finished the game yet, so the rating may change, but this is an early impression.

Hokies had a big game last night and played great in the first half. Went into self-destruct mode in the second half. Sometimes it is hard to watch. The Giants have a big game against Carolina today. We are 1-3 so far this season, but a great way to think about it is we still have 75% of the season left. Plenty of time to turn things around and start scoring some points and winning games. After 15 years of being a Giants fan, I still delude myself into high hopes no matter how bad my team is. πŸ˜‰

Nothing exciting to report in the gym. My strength is about the same. I did feel very weak earlier in the week, but got stronger towards the end. Diet is still low carb of around 100g a day and I have not cheated at all this weekend. Had a decent amount of wine last night, but technically that is low carb. πŸ˜‰ Weight has been going down over recent weeks and seems to have settled around 177.5lbs. I did reach a new low of 174.4 lbs last week, but it was due to major dehydration and not an accurate representation of weight.

Next week is one of my friend/co-workers weddings. I can honestly say weddings are one of my favorite things to go to. Everyone is in a great mood and it is always an incredibly fun time.

 

Journal Entry 320 – Bachelor Party

Another quick update this week. I ended up buying the Playstation 4 last weekend. It was $300 for the system and the games are all dirt cheap at this point, so you can pick up a lot of great games for cheap. Came out to $350 for the system with two games and tax. Not bad for a system that I will likely have for the next 5-7 years. Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a fun game in terms of the arcade mode. I have not really played much besides that. Kylo Ren is hands down the best character when playing as the Dark Side. Luke is the best Lights Side user in my opinion. The rest of the characters are average. This includes Darth Vader who is unfortunately pretty slow.

My bench press is still 225lbs for reps of 8, 5, 5. Nothing new here, unfortunately. Everything else is still plateaued as well. I may change up what I’m doing, so it is less heavy strength work and more bodyweight days. Just feels like a good change at the moment, although I will still continue to bench press. I also want to add in daily stretching to my routine, which has felt absolutely incredible to do recently.

Diet has been pretty low carb during the week and high carb this weekend. My best friend Cameron and I had a bachelor party to go to on Friday and we feasted on Kickback Jacks right before (I got Chicken Philly with fries). The party was fun and a much more laid back Bachelor Party then I have ever been to, but due to the lack of sleep and fun we had, I pretty much made all of Saturday a recovery day. It was a beautiful day too, so it sucked not to have the energy to do anything.Β  I also woke up at a very low weight of 174.4lbs this morning. My lowest in recent memory has been around 178.5 lbs. I’m not sure if it was the lack of sleep, fluid loss or what, but I was very surprised when I saw the number.

Fortunately, today is looking good outside and I have a nice 4 day work week and 3 day week coming up, which I’m really looking forward to.

 

Journal Entry 319 – Miscellaneous

I’m just going to do a quick update this week. No post last week as it was a very busy week at work and I didn’t have a ton of time or energy to write a post.

I have hit somewhat of a plateau in my lifts recently. I have also felt more stressed out recently, which I know goes hand in hand with the gym. My meals at night have been less keto/high protein-oriented and more or less just eating whatever I want. I have noticed a couple of days this week my dietary fat was unintentionally very low. Like 30 grams or so. I definitely felt “off” the next day. I may remedy this with a full week of eating what I think is optimal. This consists of high protein meat-based meals and a low carb content. Let’s see if that jumpstarts me a little bit.

Other than that, the Giants and Hokies are both failing. Giants can’t score points at all and Hokies lost to ODU. Great! (sarcasm intended). Also, my number one draft pick in Fantasy Football, Leveon Bell, hasn’t played a game because he “isn’t making enough money.” Don’t even get me started on this fool. Once Eli Manning is done my interest in football is going to take one hell of a step down from where it is now. If my interest in football is currently a 10, once Eli is gone it will be more like a 5.

I’m also thinking about getting a PS4. Mainly for Star Wars Battlefront 2, which is an incredibly fun game. Kylo Ren is hands down the best character in that game. They are also going to add Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan in future updates, so yeah this game is a must buy. I’ve also had the PS3 for at least 5 years. Considering the system may be a bit pricey at first at $299, it lasts several years and holds its value well. Also, since the PS4 has been out a while, a lot of the games are very cheap now.

Journal Entry 318 – Just Keep Getting Stronger / Diet Philosophy Update / This is a Long One

Recently, I have been getting stronger on one of the most minimalist lifting routines known to mankind. After looking at my workout logs today, I have increased my bench press from 185lbs for around 6-8 reps to 225lbs for 6-8 reps. This increase of 40lbs has been done over the course of around 2 months. When people ask me how I am getting so much stronger, I tell them my routine and they act very surprised when they hear it. “Wait, you’re benching 3 times a week?” “You’re lifting every day?” “That’s all the volume, you’re doing?” “Where is legs?” Name a comment and I have heard it. At this point in my life, I do not care about looking like a bodybuilder and honestly except for a few points in my life never really wanted to. I like to look muscular don’t get me wrong, but looking muscular and strong and looking like a bodybuilder are two different things.

Bodybuilding is incredibly boring and monotonous. I just have no interest in it anymore, but I still love lifting and increasing my strength. It’s very rewarding to go into the gym and continually get stronger. Also, if you don’t go to the gym at all, please don’t ask me why I don’t train legs. I have my reasons. But if you don’t exercise or lift at all, then you don’t have a leg day either. So you really have no room to talk or criticise what I am doing.

Anyway, I love the results I have been getting recently. Simplifying the complex is always something I take great joy in. The only thing I have not been getting stronger on is chin-ups. So, just like the bench press, I’m going to start doing them every day. Here is my routine at the moment:

  • Day 1
    • Barbell Bench press 3 sets of 6-8 reps (Current 225lbs)
    • Chinups 3 sets of max reps
    • Cable Crunches (Heavy) 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Day 2
    • Dumbbell Incline Bench 30 deg 3 sets of 6-8 reps (Current 90lbs DBs each)
    • Chinups 3 sets of max reps
    • Cable Crunches 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Day 3Β  (Or off if I feel like I need a break – usually don’t take an off day)
    • Dips or Pushups 3 sets of max reps
    • Chins 3 sets of max reps
    • Cable Crunches 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Repeat
  • Weekend Routine
    • Pushups 5 sets of max reps
    • Chinups 5 sets of max reps
    • Prisoner Squats 5 sets of 25 reps (See I do train legs)
  • Weekend Alternative (If I feel like I need to take the day off)
    • Cardio for 30 minutes (usually once a week)
    • OR
    • Yardwork

Pretty simple. The daily volume is low for sure. But the weekly volume actually adds up. Day 3 acts almost as a rest day for me from heavy lifting. I think the biggest reason why this works though is the increased frequency and lower volume per day. I’m never overly sore with this routine and soreness is highly overrated. If you want to get good at something, would you do it every day or only once or twice a week? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Diet Update

Just like lifting, I have tried a lot of different diet schemes over the years. This blog is proof of that. I have found certain things that seem to work for me no matter what. My diet is probably more organized than most, but far from perfect. I had a consult with Menno Henselmans not too long ago and he subtly insulted my diet at the time. It kind of p*ssed me off, because I thought it was pretty good, but apparently not up to his standards. At this point in time, I could care less what an expert thinks of my diet. If you study nutrition long enough, you will notice that there are plenty of nutrition experts that are saying polar opposite things in terms of what they think is healthy and optimal. I’m smart enough in this area to form my own opinions, just like I did with my lifting routine. Once I finally stopped listening to other people or “experts” and designed my own routine based on my goals, I actually started to get results.

My current diet is as follows most of the time:

  • Go to work
  • 2-3 12oz Coffee’s with Cream and Splenda
  • Protein Shake – 25 grams of protein
  • Gym – 2 Hardboiled Eggs with pink salt before lifting
  • Protein Shake – 25 grams of protein
  • Get off work
  • Dinner – 3/4 pound of meat (usually 93/7) and 2 servings of vegetables with cheese and some kind of sauce
  • Dessert – Protein Pudding or Protein Shake with Berries

There are a few points I want to bring up here.

  • Notice the carbs are very low. You do NOT need carbs to grow muscle or strength. It is a huge myth. You want a workout secret weapon: SODIUM. Sodium and carbs have VERY similar functions in the body. The reason many people complain of lifting on low carb diets is because sodium gets flushed out with the lower insulin levels. The solution would be to eat a lot more salt. This way you can maintain and get stronger on your lifts and get cut at the same time.
  • The calories in this diet are not high. It provides me with enough protein and fat, but very little carbs. This is because during the week I want to use some of my body fat as fuel source. If you eat too much this is impossible. Excess carbs also obscure definition and make me feel and look bloated.
  • The above is what I consider a Control Day. This day is meant to be consistent and lower calorie in order to keep losing fat. I like to maintain lower body fat, so these days are essential. I have about 3-4 of these lower calorie days each week.
  • Here are some tips that I have always found incredibly useful through my years of dieting:
    • Drink caffeine throughout the day. It increases drive, focus, boosts your metabolic rate and accelerates fat burning. It is also one hell of a pre-workout. (Note – I’m referring to coffee. Not the BS supplements that GNC sells.)
    • Undereat during the day. Undereating shuttles more fuel to your brain and greatly assists you with a cognitively demanding job. Too much food can not only leave you feeling bloated, but mess up your mental focus.
    • Eat a big meal at night. You can’t have a fast without the feast. The feast will replenish you for the day to come and will help you sleep better. Try sleeping on an empty stomach and see how well that works out for you. (Not good.)
    • Eat a higher protein diet. Enough said.
    • Animal foods areΒ  > (greater than)Β  plant foods. Due to the way humans digest food, animal based foods can result in much better assimilation of nutrients and relieve digestive issues fairly quickly versus if you eat too many plants/grains/carbs. Not that you should be a carnivore, but the diet can be a godsend for some people.
    • Save carbs for dinner. This plays into the factors I talked about above, but I feel like most people should eat under 150g of carbs a day. If you eat zero carbs during the day, you can still smash some Mellow Mushrooom Pizza at night and be under your 150g mark.
    • Have at least 3 Control days in your week. I explained these above, but the benefits of these are immense. By going low calorie during your week, especially 3 times a week, your diet will automatically include healthier foods and you really can start to make a dent into your fat stores on a weekly basis, without sacrificing too much else the rest of the week.
    • Too much fiber is bad. Besides from the obvious reason of being overly bloated and gassy, too much fiber can bind to important nutrients and render them useless. Some is good more is not better. Yes, this includes my beloved Quest Bars, which I have cut down to once a week.
    • Never take a food you love out of your diet. There is a time and a place for everything. Anytime a person goes on a diet, where they completely exclude something, 99% of the time, they are a ticking time bomb until they give into that craving. If I tell you that you can’t eat pizza ever again, you will dream about pizza until the day you finally eat it again. This again plays into the beauty of Control Days and also undereating during the day. You still have 4 days a week where you can pretty much eat whatever at dinner and since you underate during the day, you have a pretty large amount of food and calories you can play around with. That is winning in my book.
    • I personally think alcohol once or twice a week is great for a human when consumed responsibly. Alcohol directly influences GABA in the brain and can “take the edge off” and help you relax. After a hard week of working this can be a godsend for people. Alcohol is obviously a social drink, so best consumed with friends, which can relax you ever more.

This post was way longer than I was expecting, but I had a lot I wanted to say!