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 3  (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 are  > (greater than)  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!

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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!