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Journal Entry 264 – Challenge Week 1

This is the first week of the company gym challenge. I have gone to the gym as normal every day of the week so far. I have also busted some plateaus on bench this week, which felt really good. I finally moved up to 200lbs on bench press after hitting 195lbs for 3 sets of 8 reps on Thursday. Very satisfying feeling. My pull workout also saw increases of reps across the board on all exercises. I added a high rep / recovery / isolation day after each push/pull workout. In other words, I do a push workout, next day is pull, next day is recovery, then repeat. The point of this recovery day is to do all the exercises I don’t have time to do on my push/ pull days. I also really liked it. The moves are 3 sets of 12-15 reps and no heavy lifting. Its main goal is to squeeze in some isolations and really just get rid of soreness. It was also really effective at reducing my soreness, because for some reason this week, I was feeling DOMS pretty d*mn bad. Cardio has been done 4 out of the 5 work days this week.

My diet this week has been around 2300 calories a day.  High protein, moderate to high carbs and low to moderate fat. Nothing special in terms of macros, but mainly just making sure I eat enough to fuel my workouts. If you are running in the morning and lifting in the afternoon and don’t eat enough, trust me you ain’t going to be feeling too hot. 😉

Workout Summary:

  • Monday – Cardio and Push
  • Tuesday – Cardio and Pull
  • Wednesday – Cardio and Recovery isolation day
  • Thursday – No Cardio  and Push (same as Monday) – PR achieved
  • Friday – Cardio and Pull (same as Tuesday)
  • Saturday – Recovery Isolation day
  • Sunday – Cardio only
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Journal Entry 254 – PC issues, Madden and Diet Update

This week I have done zero cardio in the mornings. I was having a lot of computer issues and had to do a system restore and then do a ton of updates, which I did when I got home from work and the morning before I left for work. I somehow picked up a virus that attacked my drivers. This disabled my external mouse, trackpad and displays. It also prevented me from doing updates, so I had to restore the whole system back to factory settings. This wiped out ALL files. Luckily I backed up all my files a couple of weeks ago, so I lost nothing. I took the time to organize all of my files on the external hard drive and now my computer is running better than ever. I put all the files on my computer into 4 different folders. Pretty organized looking. 😉

So, the PC trouble was a pain, but ultimately it turned out drastically boosting my computers performance. I also bought Madden 16 for the Ps3 for the first time in 5 years. Fun game, but I remember why I stopped buying it; it’s the exact same game with the exact same playbooks and plays as Madden 12! Buying that game every year is a complete waste of money. All you really need is to download the rosters and load them in the game. Problem solved. Also, Michael Vick is still WAY too good in that game. I like the man because he’s a Hokie, but unfairly good. I was playing on a low difficulty setting though.

As for training this week, I did zero running this week. I lifted every day during my lunch break and have been steadily increasing my strength. My split:

  • Chest/Tris
  • Back/Bis
  • Shoulders/Traps
  • Chest/Tris
  • Back/Bis

Both the chest and back workouts were exactly the same except for a couple of moves. The most important factor of each workout is getting bench press stronger and chinups stronger. Right now I’m benching 190lbs for 8,6,5 reps. This is also going all the way down to my chest. For back/bis, I do chinups with 25lbs between my feet for my around 3 sets of 6 reps. I’ve been feeling these very good, so I should go beyond that this week. I plan on doing my cardio on back to back days this weekend, along with some abs.

Diet has actually been consistent this week, at least in the early part of the day. Really been enjoying it too. I’ve also been eating way more carbs and less protein. Fat is more or less always the same, between 55-70 grams.

  • Coffee – 7:30AM – 11:00AM
  • Meal 1 – 11:00 AM-  2 packets of oatmeal with berries and small scoop of protein powder
  • Workout from 2-3PM
  • Meal 2 – 3:00PM- Bag of Popchips with a Quest Bar
  • Meal 3- 7:00PM – Varies daily – Always a big meal though
  • Meal 4 – 10:00PM – Protein Pudding with Peanut Butter

Carbs between 200-300 grams, Protein 100-120grams, Fat 55-70 grams. Calories between 2000-2200 during the week. Usually much more on Saturday and Sunday.

Journal Entry 252 – 5:2 Diet Revisited

I’m at a much different point in my life that I was in 3 years ago when I started this blog. The idea of tracking every calories, carb, protein and fat gram no longer appeals to me. Neither does turning down every bad cheat food offered to me that I can’t track or doesn’t fit into my rigid meal pattern. I still want to get results and stay lean, but I want to do so in a much different way than I have done in the past. After a pretty chaotic eating pattern the past year, I still want some type of organization that won’t impede my lifestyle and also help me fit my goals. After trying to figure this out, I have basically narrowed it down to one eating style … the 5:2 diet.

The 5:2 diet is pretty damn simple. 5 days eat your normal diet (for me anywhere between 2000-3000 calories depending on the day) and  2 days a week take in under 800 calories on non-consecutive days. These days don’t sound like fun, but after drawing up a meal plan I think it’s going to be incredibly easy. The best way to handle these low calorie days is to basically eat nothing, but vegetables or low sugar fruits. Doing these on a work day also helps a lot since your busy working all day and not sitting around, thinking about food. I plan on doing these days Monday and Thursday. These two days appear right before and after the weekend. It is much easier to eat lower calorie right after a big day of eating. They are non-consecutive and will be cardio only days.

The meal plan will look something like this:

  • Meal 1 – Berry Smoothie with Cashew Milk and Greens Powder
  • Meal 2 – 2 bags of raw veggies for lunch (maybe some low cal ranch on the side)
  • Meal 3 – Vegetable Stirfry (massive pile of non-starchy vegetables)
  • Meal 4 – Berry Smoothie

This chimes in at around 6-800 calories. I will also drink any zero calorie beverage I want on these days, like coffee with light cream and diet coke.

I also made this into a vegetable day instead of PSMF day, because I honestly think it is easier to cut calories using vegetables than eating nothing but lean meat. This day also acts as a detox day from all macros including protein. I have spoken about protein fasting in the past, but have recently ditched it. I honestly think though it does have merit and may even help my body respond more favorably to protein when I do eat it. I like the idea of a vegetable only day for health reasons, especially now that my diet isn’t as healthy as it used to be.

The other 5 days are easy. There is no food restriction or food rules. I simply eat whatever I want as part of my normal diet. The idea isn’t to overeat on these days or feel like your dieting at all. The diet is done on two days a week and then it is over. This way of eating has also been proven to be way more effective at ongoing and maintaining fat loss than traditional dieting or food rules/restrictions because these plans are not sustainable and eventually suck. Even if you are on a diet for 5 years, which is a very long time for most, once you break that diet and start eating a normal balanced diet again with normal calories the weight will return. 5 years is still short term when compared to a lifespan of a human being.

I have also moved my training schedule around this plan. I will lift weights 3 sets of 6-8 reps here recently on just about everything, on all days I eat normally. I also may do some optional morning cardio on those days and simply eat whatever I want, making sure to eat enough. On the diet days, I will only do cardio and no lifting. The goal is to keep my intake under 800 calories and resume normal eating the next day.

Simple and effective. I have also done this to help Sarah lose some stubborn pounds. She is not fat by any means but would like to drop a few pounds. She also feels like she has to be in constant diet mode to see any results, but it’s really not working at the moment. I think this plan will be what she needs to relax on her diet and still get really good results.

 

Journal Entry 249 – New Plan

Average Weight:

177lbs

Average Nutrition:

2100 Calories / Protein 163g / Carbs 233g / Fiber 45g / Fat 65g

Blog:

My plan worked. I did nothing, but run this week and made sure to kept it between 30-40 minutes max. I actually had the urge to lift by Wednesday, but that’s when I realized I haven’t lifted in over a week. My last lifting day was Tuesday of last week, which means it has been 11 days of no lifting.

The goal of restoring my urge to lift has succeeded though. I stumbled on an article I read in the past called Grow Like a New Lift Again by Greg Nuckols. The article presents reasons why you can and should periodize your training to include a good week to a month off training every 6-10 weeks. You should then follow this with a month of heavy volume for each body part (bro split) and then a month of high frequency (full body) training. This not only provides variation but also prevents burnout (which I have experienced recently).

The whole thing looks like this:

  • Layoff
    • 12 days to a month
  • Bro Split
    • Week 1: 3 sets of 5-12 reps and 3-4 exercises per body part. The frequency for each muscle is done once a week.
    • Week 2: Same but do 4 sets of 5-12 reps for each exercise
    • Week 3: Same but do 5 sets of 5-12 reps for each exercise 
      • The Idea is to increase in intensity each week.
    • Week 4: Deload. Use the same exercises and layout, but do higher reps and light weights.
  • High Frequency Traning
    • Week 1: Hit muscles/movements 3 times a week at least
    • Week 2: Same, but increase intensity 
    • Week 3: Same, but increase intensity
    • Week 4: Deload
  • Repeat 

As for the nutrition for this program, he really only stated to be in a calorie surplus during the lifting phase. This means a small deficit during the layoffs and deloads would be a good idea to balance out the fat gains. So if the layoffs lasted 2 weeks the whole cycle would be 10 weeks. 4 weeks in a deficit and 6 weeks in a surplus.

I can see myself doing this. I tend to get very bored doing the same routine over and over and this provides a very simple template to structure training in a way that can provide ongoing gains and variety. I will probably start this at the beginning of next year.

I’m also 99% sure that I will cancel my Gold’s Gym membership and join Crunch Fitness. This is a new gym in my area and they are all new. It’s also very close to where I will live next year and what you get for the money (only $25 a month) is well worth it.

Journal Entry 246 – I’m Engaged!

I got engaged to my girlfriend Sarah last night! This is something we had talked about for awhile, but I wanted to do it before the Holiday’s and before we moved in together. I had the luxury of meeting her family multiple times(which is much bigger and closer than mine) and she has met my parents several times. We were practically living together now anyway, as I would stay at her place half the week and she would stay at mine. I’m really looking forward to starting our life together and just have to stick it out for a couple of months until we get our own place. Depending on where we move I may change gyms, but not sure yet. I love Golds, but there’s a chance that a huge ACAC may be right next to where we live and since I workout in the morning it would be within walking distance.

In terms of training and eating, my weight has been higher on the scale than I would like to be. I weighed in at very high 180lbs earlier this week. I think this is due to my training, to be honest. I also had a BIG eating weekend last weekend, but my training could also use some work. I love making strength gains, but I hate waiting 2 minutes between sets and the neural fatigue that comes with heavy weights. Sometimes it’s hard to motivate myself to go to the gym. Neural fatigue does not mean strength and size gains. Your muscles are well equipped to take a beating, but neural fatigue just makes your body tire not your muscles. I love the rush of moving and sweating when I workout. Going to the gym for an hour and sitting on the bench to lift a heavy a** weight for 5 reps is really losing its luster for me. I do plan to include some heavy sets of barbell bench once or twice a week, but I will probably superset this with a back move and get back to my higher rep training. I will admit even though my strength wasn’t going up when I was doing my lift everyday experiment, my size gains did appear to be way better. I could also eat with reckless abandon and it just didn’t seem to negatively affect me.

So I plan on moving into a daily lifting plan with higher reps and smaller rest periods. Also, I want to run 1-2 miles before each workout. I have been sticking to 6 mph, but I think I’m going to increase this to a 7-8mph to get my speed up. I was talking to someone at work who ran a marathon in 3 hours and 30 minutes, which he said was about 8 mins a mile. That was shocking to me. 8 mph is not easy and to maintain that for an entire marathon is very impressive. I always liked running and was pretty good at it, so I’m definitely keeping running in my workouts. I may take a couple days off from lifting and do some long runs, but I will play that by ear. I also like the luxury of lifting from whatever gym I’m at instead of feeling forced to go to Gold’s to lift heavy wieghts. Sarah’s gym is WIDE OPEN in the morning before work. There is like a max of one person in there and they are usually on the treadmill. An open gym is like a playground for me. It just instantly puts me in a good mood.

As for eating, I don’t plan on changing that much to be honest. Still largely winging it, but I like eating a lot and putting into good use in the gym. The heavy training (at least only heavy training) wasn’t having the effects I was planning for on nutrient partitioning and I just seemed to be gaining body fat.

Journal Entry 242 – New Shift

Starting on the 31st of this month, I have been told my hours are going back to 9-6 Monday – Friday. This has several advantages from a lifestyle standpoint with my girlfriend, because I will get to see her every night. It does prevent an interesting challenge for the gym though. I wrote last weeks post undecided on what I was going to do and I can honestly still tell you I don’t know haha. I will either have to go early in the morning waking up about 7 or after I get off work at 6 PM. I prefer the night approach as of right now because after making a list of pros and cons, the night shift has more positives. The only huge negative of the night shift is the amount of people that will be in the gym at that time. This makes certain exercises very hard to do. The main problem with the morning shift though is I hate the feeling of being rushed in the gym and the only way to avoid this is to wake up really early. Then I feel like I’m forcing myself to get up, when I don’t want to. I also feel the night before I have to go to bed super early, so that I don’t wake up extremely tired. With the night shift I can avoid this by simply getting up at 8 AM or so and just go to bed by 12 AM. This still gives 8 hours of sleep and I can just hit the gym later in the day when I’m more awake. I can also schedule my dinner to be the postworkout period, which I plan on having a huge feast at this time.

Since I will be doing this schedule 5 times a week, I actually have figured out an eating plan that I plan to do with this setup. Basically a modified intermittent fasting plan, that I think will work very well. It’s also very simple:

  • Wake up – 8AM – Coffee
  • Meal 1 –  10 AM – Protein Pudding with berries – 200 calories
  • Meal 2 – 12 AM – Coffee and Quest Bar – 200 calories
  • Meal 3 – 2 PM – 1 bag of Popchips Ridges and Diet Coke – 350 calories
  • Totals 750 calories
  • Workout 6:20 PM – 7:30 PM
  • Meal 4 – 8 PM – 12 AM – Dinner / Postworkout Feast (Mixed Carbs, Fats and Protein) 1000-2000 calories

So no matter what I’m doing in the gym (workout wise) this will likely be the way I eat during the day. As for the feast at night, it will vary probably every day. This is what I call having structure, but also a lot of flexibility. I tend to snack during the day, so that bag of Popchips can last me awhile and kind of fuels me while I work. I also really like having something salty around lunch and I’m trying to avoid meal prep and preparing food during the day, so this is a really good alternative. Also I’m getting about 50 grams of protein during the day, so if there is any advantage of “stoking protein synthesis” then it will be taken care of. The only days this layout wont be in place is on Saturday and Sunday, but that calories will be similar.

As for workout, I have some ideas running through my head, but I don’t want to update the blog until I know for sure that’s what I’m doing. It will include a lot of barbell benching though ;).

Also I want to do a supplement update that I haven’t done in awhile:

  • 5 grams of Creatine Monohydrate
  • 5000 IU of Vitamin D
  • 1 Digestive Enzyme
  • Food Staples daily:
    • 1 can of leaf spinach (for magnesium and many other micros)
    • 3 eggs a day (eaten at anytime during day – for micros)
    • 1 bag of broccoli (micros)

 

Journal Entry 237

I missed my post last week due to vacation at the beach. I also have a wedding to go to in South Carolina next week so will unfortunately miss that post as well. But this week should be fine. 😉

I didn’t workout at all from Friday – Sunday last weekend. On last Thursday I did 30 minutes of cardio and the same on Monday. By Tuesday it had been 5 days since my last lifting session and not going to lie, felt a little stiff in the gym. My workout was fine after I got warmed up, but nothing special. The rest of this week I have done 3 upperbody workouts in a row and will continue this though the weekend. I have also done much less cardio this week. I would say a max of 15 minutes a day of pure running. This isn’t intentional, but for some reason haven’t been getting in the zone like in the past few weeks, so I figured I would just put more into lifting.

I have also been losing a lot of weight this week. I weighed in at 168lbs this morning and dropped 4lbs between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. My body usually doesn’t do that. If anything my workout volume has been less than it was. Nutrition has been about the same, expect I have been eating more carbs as of late. I was starting to get very high in protein intake to the point where I knew it was just too much. I’m talking easily hitting over 220 grams a day. So I dropped it down to about 120 grams mainly by cutting meat and eating more starch, beans (hummus) and vegetables. Also more rice cakes and ice cream to be honest. As a result my body has dropped weight. If I had to wager probably some inflammation from all the excess protein.Kind of fun though eating this way. I actually cut out most of my meat and mainly focused on dairy proteins from powder and protein bars. With all the protein in the other foods I eat, I easily hit 120 grams. Which according to Menno’s protein article, .64 grams per pound was more than enough protein even under extreme workout conditions. I dropped protein mainly based on feel though. If I feel like I need to eat more protein I will, but sometimes I think I greatly overdo it and need other macros to replace it.