Author: Michael Cocchiola

I'm a 22 year old recent graduate from Virginia Tech with a passion for nutrition and exercise. I have a background in Communications and social media and I'm starting this blog as a journal to where I've been and where I'm going.

Journal Entry 289 – Return of Cardio / The End of McAdoo

I decided to take on a December Dedication challenge. This idea was from listening to one of Joe Rogan’s podcasts after he overdid it on his vacation with too much food and drinking. His rules were different than mine, but the idea was great nevertheless. My rules are as follows:

  • Do cardio 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes
  • Eat out only twice a week (max)
  • Cut about 5lbs of fat and decrease waist size
  • Eat at least 5 servings of produce a day (easy for me)

So far it has been great. My diet is as 1500 calories max for 4 to maybe 5 days a week and 2500 calories 2-3 days a week. Based on my maintenance of anywhere from 2500-2700 calories, this is anywhere from 1 lb to 1.5lbs a week of fat loss. I’m trying to take off most of this fat before the Holidays.

I have actually missed cardio. Some days it wasn’t great during the cardio, but after I feel so good and energized. I also sleep very well. My anxiety always decreases as well. The only two days I don’t do cardio is Friday and Saturday due to my schedule. 9AM – 8PM doesn’t allow much time for cardio, so I simply take some rest on those days and just lift on my lunch break instead.

My lifting routine is back to 4 days a week with a Push / Pull setup. Three exercises each day with very little isolation moves. Back to do doing 6-8 reps range and loving it. Don’t need a lot of carbs to power through these.

As for the composition of my diet, its back to a much higher protein diet very similar to the way I ate in the past. It’s the best way to control calories and to be sure you’re not losing muscle on a cut. Carbs are lower, but still there and fat is low. I’m technically only dieting 4-5 days a week and taking a break on two of those. I have seen some nice visual progress already this week.

The eating out part is to break some bad habits. Not that I’m eating out at very bad places, their pretty healthy, but you have no idea how many calories these meals actually have. Your at best just estimating what’s there. Also, it saves a lot of money to reduce eating out a couple times a week.

The Giants finally fired Ben “fat a**” McAdoo and Jerry Reese their GM. I couldn’t agree more since they ruined Eli Manning’s 210 consecutive start streak for a meaningless game that meant nothing to our team. What a fn joke. I don’t want to rant here because it would be a very long post, but seeing these guys fired was like Christmas morning. Reese needed to go as well. He doesn’t know how to build a team and has drafted very poorly for the last few years, save for a few.

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Journal Entry 288 – Post-Thanksgiving and Waist Size

Last week Sarah and I went to Greensboro, North Carolina for Thanksgiving. Due to the fact that Sarah and I had to work on Friday, we did Thanksgiving on Wednesday night and came back on Thursday. I’m not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving food, so I don’t have a huge issue with overeating on this holiday. Not sure what it is, but I have extremely good portion control in terms of eating on this day. I didn’t eat a ton of anything, but a little bit of everything. My favorite is probably apple/cranberry crisp, which tastes more like dessert. I don’t ever really eat this with dinner though because I prefer savory/salty foods for dinner. I usually save the crisp for dessert and it is amazing. I drank a decent amount of wine on Thanksgiving as well. I feel like it goes very well with the food.

I also went to a tailor to get fitted for a tux. My waist measured 35 inches was sounded really big to me, considering I wear 32-33in pants. I looked it up and apparently, vanity sizing makes clothes smaller than they actually are. So your waist is always 2 inches bigger than your pants size. Kinda sketched me out though at the time, because I haven’t really noticed any fat gain recently, but usually when your waist size goes up that’s usually a fat gain issue. I don’t feel like I’ve gained fat, but may need to shed a few pounds of goo. I’m currently around 185lbs give or take a few pounds. May need to get the scale around 177-180lbs to get that waist measurement where I want it.

My workouts have been good and I’ve been getting very sore after every session. The only thing is sometimes I run out of energy before the end of my workout. The pump hasn’t been as good as the first time I did the workout. My best pump, strangely enough, has come from this workout I did in the past:

  • BB Bench 3×6 reps
  • Dips 3 x AMAP
  • Skulls 3×10 reps

Pretty simple, but it works.

Diet has been good, but nothing special. Still loosely tracking my intake, but apparently gained a few lbs of non-muscle. May add back in some cardio because I have been doing it maybe once a week. I plan to keep eating a lot of carbs though, because my energy really starts to drop when I take them out. May reduce dietary fat a little because I have been eating a lot more than usual recently. Probably close to around 70 grams a day sometimes more. Some fat is good for energy, but I don’t really need a ton of it. Cutting excess fat vs carbs helps my energy in and out of the gym.

Journal Entry 287 – My Birthday & FST-7

I missed my post last week due to my 27th birthday. Sarah took the day off and we hung out and ate a lot of food. I ended up taking a rest day from the gym and we went to Whole Foods for lunch. We split a plate of food from their food bar, which cost about $15 a plate. Good thing we shared. I tried mochi for the first time, which apparently is Japanese ice cream and it did not disappoint. It tasted like a doughnut hole with ice cream in it. After Whole Foods, we went to Vitamin Shoppe and got some Birthday Cake Quest Bars and a Pumpkin Pie Halo Top. Both were as good as they sound. My parents came over after work (this was last Tuesday) and we all drove to Stellas in Richmond. It’s a very authentic Greek place that is pricey, but worth the money. I was so stuffed at the end of the meal, all I wanted to do was lay down ;). We had hummus, tzataki, pita bread, homemade bread, tiropita (one of the best foods ever made), a greek platter, baklava and coffee to end the meal. I ate so much, I think I’m still working off that fat gain haha.

I recently decided on a more organized workout routine. I stumbled upon FST -7 after watching some random documentary on Netflix. It’s a very high volume “Bro Split” that apparently many bodybuilders use to increase their size. The main focus is staying in the hypertrophy range with a mix of compound and isolation movements. The goal is to stretch the fascia tissue of the muscle, which can lead to more growth. So far I have done the Chest and Back workouts and I have been very sore afterward. I took about 4-5 days off before my first serious lifting workout because I wanted to change what I was doing in the gym. Since I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I wanted to be fresh when I finally figured it out. These workouts are actually fast enough to complete on my break. This is mainly because your only working one major muscle a day. This is far from a strength program, so I’m interested to see what happens to my current 210lb bench if I lay off of it for awhile. I also plan to do about 30-40 minutes of cardio on my 3 rest days. I haven’t done a bro split in a while, but I think I’m really going to enjoy it as I have in the past. May not be “optimal” but doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, I have stated in my previous article The Bro Split.

Sample Workout:

Chest

  • BB bench press 3×8-12 (normal rest)
  • Machine Flys 3×8-12
  • Incline DB Press 3×8-12
  • Cable Flys 7×12 reps (30 seconds rest)

Current Schedule:

  • Sun – Cardio
  • Mon – Shoulders / Abs
  • Tues- Cardio
  • Wed – Arms
  • Thurs- Cardio
  • Fri – Chest
  • Sat – Back/Traps

My diet has been pretty high protein and low carb following my birthday. My energy has not been fantastic on it, but I was mainly trying to cut some of the bloat, which is basically gone. I plan to move back to a balanced diet to get through these workouts. Trust me if you don’t eat enough going to into these workouts, your intensity will die out somewhere between the end of the second and the beginning of the third exercise. The volume is way higher than I’m used too and the food is needed to not only get through the workout but to recover. It’s a shame I didn’t do one of these workouts on my birthday ;).

Other Life Stuff:

The Hokies really don’t look great right now. We won on Saturday, but it was not very impressive. Our offense looks very stagnant and predictable. I also have a coworker who is an extreme UVA fan, so I really want the Hokies to dominate them when they play on Friday.

The Giants finally won! It wasn’t a very high scoring game, but the game was actually more entertaining than the score would lead you to believe. Eli led the team to a win in OT. I really hate McAdoo, but he seemed to show a lot of emotion in this one and I’m sure it felt good for him to beat a good team.

I start my Taltz injections today. I really can’t wait. After reading some reviews, the medicine seems to work pretty quickly for the vast majority of people. The only time it doesn’t seem to work is if they have a long history of using other injection type of drugs. It would be really nice to have clear skin again and get rid of this nasty problem.

 

Journal Entry 286

Been sticking with the upper body workout every day.  I like it so far and I actually gained 4 reps on my bench press. I’m at 210lbs for 3 sets of 7, 6, 5 reps. Chins are roughly 50lbs for 6, 5, 4 reps. The rest of my moves are anywhere from 3-4 sets for 10-12 reps at the moment. Light enough to get good form, but heavy enough to really feel the muscle working instead of just going through the motions.

I seemed to be getting more psoriasis flares a few days ago and I have cut a lot of carbs since then. It has had a pretty dramatic short-term effect on my flaring. I read a blog where a lady ate nothing but steak for a month and her psoriasis drastically decreased. I seem to be experiencing something similar. This skin disease is really starting to drive me nuts. I would try anything I can do reduce its symptoms until my medicine arrives.

My meals recently have basically been meat, green veggies and some sauce. I still eat my protein pudding with some low sugar fruit. My goal at the moment is just to keep carbs lower and monitor my skin’s progress. I’m keeping the protein and fat higher to support my workouts.

The Giants have once again eclipsed rock bottom. I really hate the current head coach (Ben McAdoo) and cannot wait until he gets fired as he greatly deserves to be. He even said he doesn’t care about Eli Manning’s current starting streak of around 208 consecutive starts and would consider benching him to win a game. First of all benching Eli is NOT going to help us win a game and no rational human being would think that. Second, you basically just slapped a seasoned veteran across the face by demeaning a very impressive string of starting games. Stop pointing fingers at everyone but yourself and get the hell off my team. Sorry for the rant ;).

 

Journal Entry 285 – Sarah’s Birthday

Workout wise has been a continuation of the winging it high volume approach. As long as I don’t go too heavy it’s been easy to recover from. It’s also been very fun so far.

My diet has only one rule at the moment and that is to hit at least 2200 calories a day and no more than 2600 calories. (I’m currently not doing any formal cardio, expect normal walking around and going to the gym.) I also try to eat the bulk of my calories at night. Other than that it doesn’t have any rules. Honestly, still eating plenty of carbs, but my psoriasis hasn’t been flaring too bad. The biggest factor it seems with psoriasis is when I get hot. No bueno.

Sarah had her 25th birthday this week! I made her some pancakes before I went to work then took off half a day. We hung out the rest of the day and went to Sushi for dinner. I admit I wasn’t a huge sushi fan, but never really gave it a fair chance. It was awesome and may have to get it more often. I ordered sum yum yum sauce on the side and it was a game changer. We went to Publix after and Sarah got carrot cake for dessert and I got some chocolate chip cookie cake. It did not disappoint.

 

Journal Entry 284 – Winging It

Not going to lie, I get very bored with training and dieting at certain points in my life. I almost have to change up what I do to prevent this from setting in. Training with low volumes and long rest periods can be fun when you are getting stronger week to week, but dear god it is boring. It’s like can I just hit the gym, get a great pump and move on with my day. It’s just so slow. Eating the same foods can be very similar to this. I start to eat the same foods over and over and crave them less and less and it all just gets so boring.

I’m going to wing it for the time being. I want to keep one boring strength day in the gym to keep my strength and the other days will be higher volume full body lifting. Cardio will be done when I have time, but I’m not going to stress about it.

As for nutrition, the same logic applies. I simply want to eat what I feel like eating without overeating on crap. Eat foods I enjoy and move on with life. The majority of the time I undereat during the day and eat more at night. This is by far the most enjoyable way of eating I have found. My stress levels tend to decrease when I eat like this. I usually have 2 protein puddings and some random stuff during the early part of my day for roughly 800-1000 calories. Then at night I eat whatever I want or feel that day. This eliminates cravings and doesn’t make you want to binge on the weekend or your cheat day. You are quite simply spreading all the food you like throughout the week and eating it in a much more enjoyable fashion. It also makes you appear more of an enjoyable person, who isn’t constantly obsessed with maintaining some lame diet plan that no one cares about.

Random Tidbits:

  • Joe Rogan’s podcast continues to provide me with hours of entertainment
  • Age of Empires 3 is a great game
  • Giants SUCK!
  • Carson Wentz is a BEAST! Really impressive to watch play. He’s a very accurate passer and tough runner.
  • Hokies are playing awesome!
  • Apparently, there is such a thing as a grey Jedi with a white lightsaber. They are neutral, who simply try to maintain the balance between the two sides. This is awesome.
  • Random pushups are incredible for an energy boost when you feel out of it.

 

Journal Entry 283 – Bench and Chins

Workout:

My strength is starting to go up after I made an important change on my rep range. Recently, I was trying to get 8 reps for 3 sets before moving up in weight. This was largely to keep form very good and not letting sloppy form take over when the weight was too heavy. I decided to drop the range to 3 sets of 6 reps to break a plateau and the difference has been dramatic. I’m already up 10lbs on the bench and 5lbs on Chins. The first time I benched 205lbs with 3 sets of 6 reps, I thought I had the wrong weight on the bar it felt so easy.  My workout is as follows:

  • Push (Day 1 / Day 2)
  • BB Bench Press 3 sets of 6 reps
  • DB INC Press 3 sets of 8 reps / Dips 3 sets of Max reps
  • Lateral Raises 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Flys 3 sets of 10 reps / Skull Crushers 3 sets of 10 reps

 

  • Pull (Both Days)
  • Chinups 3 sets of 6 reps
  • Preachers 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Face Pulls 3 sets of 10 reps
  • DB Curl 3 sets of 10 reps

I found this way of working out to be the best for my current schedule. I can easily complete this on my break from work. The first move takes the longest, but the last two are a breeze and I superset them. It’s also very easy to tweak certain things to keep strength going up.

I have also added in Cardio 2-3 days a week and I swear I feel like it made me stronger in my lifts. (At least last week)

Diet:

My weight is right around 185lbs right now. It fluctuates between 182-187lbs. I think I may have found a connection between processed sugar and my psoriasis flaring. Not necessarily carbs, but processed sugar. It was the same feeling I had when I had my Bachelor Party. I’ve been reducing, so my carbs are at more of a moderate range and I have increased fat and protein a little bit. Recently I have been eating Sardines, which are very good. They may stink, but they are nutritional powerhouses and have a really nice texture. I may try to cut out the excessive green vegetables and stick to more simple meals as well.

Life:

Last weekend Sarah had her bachelorette party. She was gone for 4 days, but I missed her a lot! While she was gone, I actually took off early on Saturday and went to the Wine Festival in Powhatan. It was actually pretty good.

Giants finally won a game last night. They actually played really well on defense. Offense still looked pretty inconsistent, but they scored a modest 13 points against a really good defense with a ton of injuries. So it could have been MUCH worse.