Journal Entry 364 – Coronavirus / Youfit

A lot has been going on in the world recently. Coronavirus has spread across the globe and turned into a pandemic from its previous epidemic status. It has caused all major professional and collegiate sports to suspend and as you might imagine, this causes billions of dollars of lost revenue. The market has also been tanking, schools have shut down for 2 weeks to a month, universities have shut down and moved all course material online, stores are running out of supplies, especially toilet paper (not sure why). It really reminds me of a scene out of a movie. People that are unsure of what the Coronavirus holds are freaking out and apparently taking all of their money out of the market. They also turn to financial advisors as to what steps to take next.

Most office workers are also allowing their employees to work from home. This is to prevent the spread of germs and limit close contact with others as much as possible. Personally, I think its a good idea. If you are able to work from home, why risk it? The vast majority of the year you are at the office so taking some time to wait out the storm to die down and prevent as many people from getting sick as possible should be priority at this point.

Some people are saying its all a hoax and stating that its fear-mongering by the media. Also, saying that only a small fraction of people have died from it. However, I’m not sure this is a good idea to hold. People like to act like experts when in reality they have no clue about the implications of this sickness. I think it does need to be taken seriously. Some experts predict it to be far worse than the flu and others think its a politically motivated scare tactic. The truth is usually somewhere in the middle.

I also ended up quitting Gold’s Gym. A 7 year run (about) but I needed a change. The gym was getting insanely packed, the equipment was all thrown together, it smelled bad and honestly started to become a chore to even go. So I ended up joining Youfit instead. It’s certainly a different type of gym and attracts a different audience. However, it pretty much has everything I need. It’s much cheaper at $12.99 a month instead of $30 (which is one of lowest rates possible at Gold’s), has plenty of room, machines, dumbbells up to 90lbs, benches, squat racks, etc…. 12-4 is their slowest time, so perfect for myself.

 

Journal Entry 361 – New Treadmill, Book Recaps: Waking Up, A Brief History Of Time, Change Your Mind, Eli Retirement (Long One)

Sarah and I decided to get a treadmill for the house. I haven’t really done legit cardio with any consistency since we moved into the house about a year and a half ago. We got one that is about 165lbs assembled. After researching treadmills, you either go really small and it will likely fall apart soon or you go with the BIG ones that are very expensive, fancy and take up a whole room. Luckily the one we found was in the middle. It has all the same features and look of a bigger treadmill, but it’s like a fraction of the size. Personally, I used it 5 days in a row last week and then got super burned out the last day. I have always enjoyed running but just like anything else, when you do it too much, you get burned out, bored, etc… So as of now, my routine will be balanced between 2-3 days of cardio, 2-3 days of lifting and 2-3 days completely off. All of these different days have benefits and ensure I don’t burnout towards any one way of training.

As I stated in my previous post, my plan was a book a month. I have already read 3 books. These are not easy reads either. I write down important notes, look up words/topics/people I’m unfamiliar with due to the fact that the authors have a very advanced vocabulary. (Not sure if it’s just to show off or they genuinely use those words.) I’m also trying to change the subject of the book each time, so kind of like exercise, I don’t get burned out on reading similar topics even when I find that topic very interesting.

Books read so far:

Waking Up by Sam Harris – This is a book that explores the various religions of the world and its main focus is on meditation and the author’s experience with it. He explores Eastern Meditation more specifically a couple forms of Buddhist meditation. These people try to transcend through meditation leaving the ego (the self) and all of the worldly pleasures behind. Transcend being a spiritual term, something that happens to you mentally through intense effort and when you pass away. He stated that most westerners have likely achieved a similar state when on LSD or Psilocybin. If taken responsibly with a guide/expert/therapist/etc.. (not the way they usually are) they can be a very transformative experience that quite literally help to interconnect your brain.Β  I don’t want to go too indepth here as the topic was complex and the book was long. To say the author’s vocabulary was impressive would be an understatement. I would recommend it if your interested in mediation. I myself have not ever meditated on purpose, even though it is rapidly growing in popularity. A bit slow, but I like the author. I would say like 7.5 out of 10.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking – Holy hell this book was insane. He presented it in a very simple to grasp way, but I had to take a lot of notes on this one. He goes into various topics of evolution, God, Physics (Obviously), the future of our race, etc.. The Universe is made up of Matter, Energy and Space. Mass and Energy essentially being light and living organisms. Space is a vast store of empty negative energy. The Universe is actually in perfect balance between positive and negative energy. The Universe likely started about the size of a proton and Quantum Mechanics may explain the Big Bang. At the beginning of the Big Bang, Time began. If you traveled back in time, the universe would collapse in on itself being reabsorbed to a tiny singularity (huge mass of energy and gravity in a tiny amount of space) beginning point. Similar to what you would expect a black hole to do. A Black Hole is a star that collapses in on itself with gravity so powerful, light (the fastest thing in the universe) can not escape.

Hawking, does not believe in God. His main argument as I understand it is that time started when the Big Bang begin (a singularity). Which means God would have had to been around before this event took place. But based on the laws of nature and matter nothing could have existed before this time, as there was no time or nothing to exist in. Just reading this gives me a headache, but personally, I don’t feel this is a strong enough argument to disprove anything. If you believe that the universe was created out of randomly appearing protons through the very confusing nature of Quantam Mechanics, you can’t rule out a supreme power either. (I take a very agnostic approach to all of this.) This book is WAY too dense to cover it all here. These reviews or recaps if you will are just to provide some really interesting takeaways I got from each book.

A few other interesting tidbits were M-Theory. A Complete Unified Theory – which suggests that the universe may have a very large number of possible histories. A multiverse theory if you will, where everything that is possible may have happened in an alternative universe. Kind of a scary thought if you think about it. That means I could be contemplating suicide in one universe after a terrible life and a multi-billionaire in another. Not sure how I feel about this theory.

Consciousness likely is tied to intelligence somewhere in our evolution. All conscious beings have a huge percentage of processes that happen subconsciously, but the ability to perceive our environment and surroundings is a conscious activity. Millions of years ago we had to pass down intelligence through DNA. In the last 10000 years, we haven’t actually gotten any smarter from an evolution standpoint. However, due to written language and passing down knowledge from one generation to the next as well as technology to assist, our intelligence as a species has increased dramatically. Genetically modified humans (DNA alteration) will be a thing in the future. This means humans that have no diseases and can potentially live hundreds to thousands of years among other favorable traits. We will not last long as a species if we do not stop destroying the planet, however. Due to the sheer size of space and our current technology, we are on pace to destroy ourselves faster than we are to travel space with any real success.

I will finish with this interesting statement, wormholes are still poorly understood and not likely to be a method of travel (as of yet) so the fastest we can go is the speed of light (670,616,629 mph). This means the nearest star is 8 years away at that speed and to reach the center of this galaxy, which is a tiny speck in terms of the size of the Universe, it would take 50000 years. You’re head hurt yet? Mine sure as hell did. I don’t think I have ever had my mind blown so many damn times in my life. HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book. It’s not too long either, but you will likely need to look up stuff, write facts down and re-read statements a few times. I would rate this book 9.5 out of 10.

Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan – This book was somewhat off the coattails of Waking Up. The author looks into the history of psychedelic drugs, how the stigma around them was created and their use today. The history piece was pretty interesting at first, but some of it felt it dragged on too long. Psychedelics have been around for a long time and used in cultures all across the world in various forms through Peyote or Mescaline (American Indians and Mexican Cultures),Β  Ayahuasca (South America), LSD (literally from a fungus called Ergot) discovered on accident only 100 years ago and made popular around the 60’s. If there are any Hippies reading this, you are likely familiar with this one. Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms) this one has been around a LONG time. Most researchers say in the BC period. Made popular to Westerners in the 60’s through Tim Leary, a Harvard Professor who started taking a lot of drugs and started the counterculture movement. This drug was just legalized in Colorado and California. Believe it or not its almost impossible to overdose on LSD and Mushrooms from a physical standpoint. That being said people should proceed with EXTREME caution when taking these. They are not to be taken lightly and while they can be transformative to people in a positive way (more loving, less selfish, more creative, stronger spiritually, even increased intelligence if used correctly) they can also incite terror while the subconscious parts of your brain come to the surface and force you to deal with things that you may not be ready for. Time is distorted, which can make the experience endure for much longer than you would like.

He basically then goes to say there is an underground network of therapists who use these drugs intelligently to help transform the lives of people with mental issues, PTSD, Depression, Cancer and there seems to be a very promising success rate to cure these people. He also cautions that if you have any history of Schizophrenia, stay the hell away from these things. The brain has a Default Mode Network. This is quite literally your ego and “normal reality” that everyone is used to. When this goes offline (through the use of drugs) your brain becomes more interconnected and your perceptions can change drastically. A good read. I obviously do not use these drugs as they are still highly illegal in this country. However, he presented a good case for them to be used appropriately given a certain situation.

I have a theory about the powerful effects of these drugs. Especially about one he mentioned called 5-MEO-DMT, which is from the venom of a specific Toad native to Colorado and South America that you then have to dry its venom in the sun and then after the venom has been removed, you smoke the after-effects. (How the hell do people figure this out, am I right?) I think these drugs may have somewhat of a Near Death Experience to them acting as short-acting poisons. Not enough to kill you if you get the dose down (again there is almost no amount of LSD or Mushrooms that can kill you from physically taking the drug) but affecting your brain in a similar fashion to those that pass away. However, since you are not dead, your ego is still fighting to hold on to you. This creates an interesting interaction between your brain in this reality and the “next realm/reality/spirit world” if you will.

Overall a good read. May have been a bit slow, but the author did a LOT of research on a subject that is not easy to research at all. He did a great job presenting it over the 400 or so pages. I also learned a lot from this book. 8.5 out of 10.

My main goal of this reading frenzy project is to simply learn a lot. Especially about things that I’m unfamiliar with. You can only read so many nutrition and exercise books. πŸ˜‰ As I finish a book I will write up my recap, so that I don’t have 3 books in one MONSTER post.

Eli Manning – My favorite player of all time and personal hero Eli Manning retired yesterday. To say I’m happy for him would be a massive understatement and I’m really glad he decided to retire. His contract was up, there was no market as there are a LOT of young QBs coming up through the draft, and he can finish a New York Giant. It’s rare for a player to spend his entire career with one team. The Giant’s have also retired his number 10. He has nothing left to prove to anyone and won his team two Superbowls in a 16-year span. Understand that this is more than half the teams in the NFL have ALL TIME. Winning a Superbowl is no small feat. I have watched literally every single game Eli Manning ever had in the league. Certainly had some ups and downs, some good Giants teams and bad Giants teams and rode the waves of the angry media and fans that Eli took on full force. Eli’s is 7th all-time in passing yards and 7th in touchdowns. When other players talk about him, it’s nothing but overwhelmingly positive. Eli made a lot of players better. Especially receivers. He was a great team player and will certainly be missed.

Journal Entry 353 – New Split, Giants Pre-season, Stranger Things

Another week in the books. I was off this Monday because Sarah and I went to visit family in Greensboro, North Carolina. Always good to see everybody.

I have once again adjusted my routine in the gym so that I’m really only expecting to lift 3 days a week. I only have two workouts: Workout A and Workout B. Check it out:

  • Workout A
    • Bench Press 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps
    • Chinups (Weighed)Β  – 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps
    • Cable Crunch – 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Workout B
    • Dumbbell Incline Press 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps
    • Trap-bar Deadlift 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps
    • Cable Crunch 3 sets of 8 reps

Getting back on the progressive overload grind. These workouts are rotated every other workout. Meaning: A, B, A, B, A, B…. I have already run both of these workouts and it may appear simple, but the heavy loads are not easy. The trap-bar deadlift made me brutally sore for the next two days. Mainly my upper back more than my legs which surprised me. The trap-bar deadlift works every single muscle in your body, except maybe chest. Love it. The heavy cable crunches at the end are for core strength. My rest days will be the weekends and Tuesday and Thursday. Rest days I plan to do 100 pushups, stretching and light cardio.

I have watched both Giants pre-season games so far this year. I like what I see. The defense is still a bit of a concern, but not all the starters have been playing. Eli looks good and so does Daniel Jones. A lot of fans are jumping the gun and are all over Daniel Jones, but I think he needs to sit at first. Only if Eli is really playing bad (not likely) would he start. Without Odell (Drama Queen) Beckham, I think this team is much better off. We have Saquon Barkley, who is literally amazing at running back, a really improved offensive line (the most important upgrade) and average wide receivers. I think the average wide receivers is kind of a good thing though. You don’t have to force the ball to these people, which creates turnovers and awkward experience for everyone. Without Odell on the team, this is not going to be an issue.

Sarah and I have also been started watching Stranger Things recently. I really like it so far. It is kind of hard to describe though. I think it has something to do with LSD experiments, mind control and contact with aliens. It is a darker show, than I thought it would be and certainly has that overtone when watching. The show also focuses on kids, which is a new one for me.

Journal Entry 352 – Company Party

Another couple of weeks in the books. Missed my post last weekend because we had our annual Company Party in Downtown, Richmond. My company goes all out for these parties and spends a lot of money. This year was an 80s / 90s theme and there was no shortage of food or drinks. I would say a good 80% of all employees show up to this party each year. This year there were a ton of games set up including Flip Cup (drinking game), Ping Pong, Arcade Games, Jenga, and many others. My favorite game was Flip Cup and my favorite feature they had there was a Speakeasy setup, where you would order your drink from an IPAD and 15 seconds later, a bartender would slide the drink out to you behind a wall. We all had a lot to drink and were up til about 2 AM.Β  I did try to preempt my hangover by chugging a huge container of Pedialyte, but it did not help the next morning. 😦 We drove back Sunday morning and Sarah and I went to IHOP to get some pancakes, but it was so crowded we couldn’t even park. We decided just to go home and make something instead. Sarah and I never go out for breakfast, so the one time we did, that had to happen. Not fun.

Other than the party, things have been pretty normal over the past two weeks. My desire for alcohol dropped to almost zero after the party until this Saturday afternoon (So literally an entire week). Sarah and I went back to Cooper’s Hawk for the monthly wine tasting and honestly, this month was not that great. We were walking around the mall before we went and it was really hot yesterday, so I don’t know if the dry wine just wasn’t doing it for me at that point in time. The White Sangria was really good though, so we ended up picking that for the bottle.

Workouts have been about 3-4 days a week. It varies every time I go though. My bench press is still roughly 225lbs for a solid 6 reps on average over 3 sets. I’m still trying to do Push/Pull in the same workout. I have not been incline walking as much after though because I just sweat too much now. I think this has to do with the very hot temperatures outside.

Diet has been very consistent. I pretty much eat the same way every day and then my dinners vary each night, eating whatever I want. Dinner is always the bulk of my food.

  • Coffee
  • Orgain Superfoods Powder (It’s a protein and superfood powder)
  • Our Little Rebellion Chips (No preparation snack before and after the gym)
  • Snacks – Carrots Sticks / Egg Whites / Hummus
  • Dinner – Anything I want / Biggest meal of the day
  • Orgain (Chocolate) with berries

That is my diet almost every single day except for the weekends. I like the idea of eating “Superfoods” powder every morning. I get Orgain from Costco and its a really good deal. To consume on a daily basis (5 out of 7 days anyway) I think its better than slamming down normal protein powder as I’m getting a billion Probiotics and thousands of micronutrients.

Sarah and I have recently started watching “The Boys” on Amazon Prime. Really awesome show so far. It’s about Superheroes that basically commit crimes and a large corporation called Vought, basically sweeps it under the rug. The Superheros also do some good, but collateral damage and hurting innocent people largely get ignored by the media and public opinion. The Superheros are also insanely selfish and don’t really care about people. They mainly save people to make themselves look good in front of the public. The Boys are a group of rebels that lost a loved one to the careless actions of the Superheros and are now fighting back against them in a careful and controlled way. Only one season out so far, but has been great so far.

Journal Entry 351 – Stony Point Wine Festival

Another week in the books. Very stressful start of the week, but a really nice end to it. Yesterday, we went to Stony Point Wine Festival with a group of friends. Most wine festivals are outside but luckily this one was at a mall and they put it inside. Considering it was 100 degrees yesterday, we were all pretty happy to learn that once we arrived. We got there about 1 PM and it ended at about 5 PM, but dear god that day flew by. Directly after we went to Mexican to sober up a bit and Sarah and I shared some Chicken Fajitas. After this we went back to our place to pick up Luke, then we all went over to a friends place. Busy day and a lot of drinking, but it was a lot of fun.

In terms of or working out, I have really been enjoying incline walking recently. Something about the blood flow just feels really good on my lunch break. Most days I also lift doing 4 sets of 10-12 reps for a Push movement (any move I feel like) and 4 sets of 10-12 reps for a Pull movement (any move I feel like) then I just finish off with incline walking. I also do 100 Pushups a day almost every day in addition to these workouts.

Diet has beeen more of an intuitive approach recently with a balance of all macros. More or less just eating how I feel based on the day. Protein has probably been on average a little over 100 grams each day but nothing super high. During weekdays, I was always like eating light during the day and then having a big dinner. My dinner is always different but I like the flexibility of having whatever for dinner and being able to pretty much eat whatever. Weekends are not structured at all. Again pretty intuitive overall.

Next weekend, we have my annual company party in Downtown Richmond, so definitely looking forward to that.

Journal Entry 349 – Clean House

Another week in the books. This week at work was much better than it has been and felt far less busy and stressful. I actually missed my post last week, because I had a really strong urge to “Clean House.” I was looking in the kitchen and realized that some of our cabinets were absolutely packed. Considering we don’t use that many kitchen items this didn’t really make sense. I decided to go through and organize everything as well as trash some stuff we no longer use. It turned out to be a really good idea. All of the cabinets are organized and I got rid of a decent amount of things, that was literally just taking up space. I extended this cleaning to the closets, the utility room, and the bathrooms. Had about 4 bags of trash worth and the house looks much better now. The main thing I want to add to the house is a liquor cabinet. We have a lot of liquor currently and it would be nice to have something to organize it all.

Anyway, that house cleaning ended up taking the entire weekend, but again I think it was worth it. Sarah and I did end up having a date night last Saturday. We went to Cooper’s Hawk and then got Grapevine to go. Both were great as always. This weekend is going to be a bit more laidback.

I’ve actually hit the gym almost everyday last week. Literally just hitting full body every day doing higher reps and lighter weights. I wanted to take a break from heavy lifting for at least a week, so decided to more or less just “play around” in the gym with no real goal or priority. As for diet, been keeping carbs low this week. I started bringing some hardboiled eggs to eat with me each day during the workweek. This past week, I’ve been eating about 6 whole eggs a day for lunch. Super easy and cheap meal.

Next week is a short one. Only three days for me due to the July 4th Holiday, so really looking forward to that!

Journal Entry 345 – Can’t Hurt Me – By David Goggins / End of Game of Thrones

On the way back Scotland, I started reading a book from David Goggins called “Can’t Hurt Me.” I actually finished reading the book this morning. I would give it a 10 out of 10. I first heard about David Goggins on Joe Rogan’s podcast and he was one of the most motivational and unique people I have ever heard. Here is a brief summary/review:

David Goggins is a retired Navy Seal and ultra-endurance athlete. The book is about his life and the challenges he faced and overcame. He had a horrible childhood with a very abusive father, but a very supportive mother. They left his father when he was young and they were dirt poor. His father had a clear impact on his psyche and it clearly affected his pain tolerance, which he would push to the brink several times in life. He was not a good student in high school and faced some discrimination due to the fact that he grew up in a very rural area in Indiana. He did not use this to become a “Victim” or become part of the “Victim” mentality that is common in today’s society. He admitted at the time he felt like one, but quickly realized this was a long path to nowhere and used the experience to “callous his mind” and make him stronger. After high school, he had a period of time where he gained weight to the point of obesity and was working a very uneventful job that provided some money and job security but little else. He wanted to seek more meaning in his life, so he joined the Navy Seals. Prior to joining the Seals the first time, he had to pass two tests. One was a written exam. The second was to lose over 100 pounds in 3 months. He was able to do both. The first two times he joined the Seals he was discharged due to injury. But Goggins desperately wanted to become a Seal and had to pass Hell Week 3 times and was the first person to ever do so. After becoming a Seal, Goggins became an ultra-endurance athlete. This came about as a result of running for charity to raise money for the military, specifically for families of fallen soldiers. Goggins realized ultra-endurance races required an immense pain tolerance and insane levels of physical and mental strength to complete. So he was all about it. During the novel, Goggins recalls several stories of mental toughness and pushing himself to the edge. He completed several ultra-endurance races, winning several, became an Army Ranger in addition to being a Seal, a famous recruiter for the military, a wildfire fighter, broke the pullup record and several other accolades. Some more interesting facts about Goggins is that he said stretching and flexibility literally saved his life. Due to exercising at such an intense degree, his body had become as tight as “steel cables.” Goggins had reached a strange point, where he was beyond fatigued every day so much that he thought he was going to die. Stretching out his tight body, resurrected the blood flow in his body and literally released knots of tension he had throughout his body. I found this very interesting. Also, while Goggins has a very large Social Media following, he literally hates it and follows no one. He mainly uses it to inspire people as it is easy to reach a large number of people by using it. Overall, his drive is very inspiring and considering he is now currently 44 years old, has a whole lot more he plans to accomplish. He’s already accomplished more than 99.9% of people will in an entire lifetime. My review is very much a summary and the book is about 364 pages. I certainly can’t do justice with a short summary, but I highly recommend reading it.

After reading the book, I don’t plan to join the military or run in ultra-endurance races, but I really connected with several tips he was saying. The exercise he did was a tool he used to get his “mind right.” I do plan to start stretching more, implement some of the tools he uses and probably start doing a lot more pushups and pullups.

Today is also the end of Game of Thrones. A lot of people hate this season. My biggest criticism is that it does indeed feel rushed, which is a shame. I want to give the show a chance to finish, before ripping it apart, however. A lot of whiny people I hear complaining about it did so in the third episode. The season is not over. Once it is over and everything is resolved then you can start whining about it. I expect the series finale to be a good one and HOPEFULLY resolve the show in a positive way. I will admit that I am very excited about it.

This was my first full week back from Scotland. I hit the gym 3 times lifting heavy and also won my first tennis match in our tournament at work. My diet has been pretty low carb and very high protein. Overall, I have felt pretty good this week. After reading Goggins book, I plan to keep reading and likely will try to read at least one book a month.

Journal Entry 344 – SCOTLAND

For the past week, Sarah and I decided to go to Scotland for our First Anniversary Trip. It was really an awesome experience! Scotland looks and feels like “Lord of the Rings.” The landscapes have mountains, rolling hills, green grass, flowers, lakes, rivers, livestock, small houses and huge castles strewn across its land. One of the most picturesque places I have ever been to. That was also my first trip to Europe, so I think we picked a good place.

We were able to see a pretty decent sized piece of Scotland for the time we had, which was about 6 nights. We started in Edinburgh for the first two days and toured the entire city. Edinburgh has a ton of history and very old building structures that are still in use today by several pubs, restaurants, and stores. We walked everywhere in this city and even did a “Harry Potter” tour. Apparently, J.K. Rowling wrote the first 5 books in Edinburgh and also got much of her inspiration from the city. Edinburgh Castle was also massive and nice place to visit.

After Edinburgh, we went to Hertz to rent a car. It was a relatively painless process and for four days with insurance cost us about 364 pounds or $473. Unfortunately, the pound in the United Kingdom is worth much more than the U.S. Dollar. This meant Scotland was not a cheap place to visit, but it was a vacation so I didn’t let it bug my frugal mind too much. I will say though that driving in Scotland (or Europe) is an eye-opening experience at first and not to be taken lightly. You drive on the other side of the road, the signs are different and it can be pretty scary. Driving is largely a subconscious activity once you know how. I consider myself a talented driver and driving over there will take some getting used to. This trip was based on driving though as we wanted to visit several places. It would not have worked without driving, so I mastered it pretty quick.

After we got the car on the third day, we went to Stirling Castle. Stirling Castle was an awesome place with a rich history. A very important Stronghold in Scotland. Later that day we also visited William Wallace Monument. A huge and very steep tower dedicated to the Scottish Hero. It had both his Claymore (two-handed sword) and Robert the Bruce’s Sword. Really cool to see. Once you made the very long and steep climb to the top, you were treated to a pretty awesome view.

The fourth day we went to Loch Lomond and then hiked (or should I say climbed) a mountain that was part of the “Three Sisters” in the Glencoe area. After a 3 hour hike, we drove to Corran and stayed at a hotel that was right on a lake. It was a really nice place, but the restaurant near it was closed so we had to drive about 15 minutes to the next closest town to eat dinner. Scotland has a lot of small towns and windy roads. It is very easy to get lost. I do want to mention that before hiking we stopped at a cafe for food and I got a Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Cream Cheese. Not going to lie, it was one of the best things I ate there.

The following day we left and headed up North to Inverness, which is the city you can reach. Before Inverness, we stopped at Urquhart Castle. A castle that was a ruin, but had a great view. Many castles are positioned on the very edge of a cliff for defense purposes. It also gives a tremendous view of the area. After purchasing a decent amount of gifts from the shop here, we passed by Loch Ness and then finally hit Inverness. A much more moderate city than Edinburgh, but a nice one. It featured some pretty nice shopping centers that we went to and had a more modern castle in the middle of the city. We did visit this place as well. For dinner, we went to “The Castle Tavern” which was built in the 1700s. We tried Haggis for the first time here and I honestly thought it was good. Haggis is made from sheep intestine or stomach (gross I know), but its a local delicacy. It tastes kind of like sausage. We also went to a bar afterward for some drinks.

The next morning we had breakfast at the “Rona’s House”, which was the B&B we were staying at. Funny enough the owner of the house has a daughter that lives 20 minutes away from where we currently live in Virginia. The B&B was very nice and I had a Full Scottish Breakfast here with some of her homemade bread. Sarah had Museli with yogurt and fruit. This started the last day of our Scotland trip.

We drove down to a distillery called Dalwhinnie and did a tour of the Whiskey they made there. Interesting process. We also bought a “Game of Thrones” themed Whiskey there. Apparently, 8 Distilleries in Scotland each have a house from the show. Luckily we got the best House, “House Stark” from this distillery The reason they were House Stark was that it is the coldest Disterlly in Scotland, which is fitting of the North the Stark’s are from. After this, we hit a Chocolatier run by a French couple, which was too expensive and not great, unfortunately. We then hit our final castle tour, which was called “Castle Menzie.” This was referred to as a “Tower House” and was literally in the middle of nowhere. The closest town was Aberfeldy, which we randomly stumbled upon once leaving. The owner gave us a pretty interesting History lesson, about the Clans of Scotland and said most of the Castles in Scotland were actually called Tower Houses. These differ from the more well-known Castles because their location is more centrally located inland, not surrounded by huge walls and were mainly Clan houses that acted as defense from other Clans. Scotland as a long history of warring Clans (different families) that fought over pretty much everything.

After the last Castle, we drove back to Hertz and turned in the keys, which marked the end of the trip. We stayed at a Hotel near the Airport for our last night and paid for some overpriced food from the Hilton Hotel restaurant. It was just far too convenient not to stay there because we could walk to the airport. We had a shuttle flight to Dublin, then the main 7-hour flight from Dublin to Washington DC, then a 3-hour drive home. We got home around 7:00 PM. However, that would have been 12:00PM Scotland time. Scotland is 5 hours ahead of us, so we lost that time on the front of the trip and gained it back at the end. This meant we were pretty hungry when we got back as we had been up for a very long time.

Here are some final points I will end with:

  1. My favorite part about the trip was the scenery and history. It really was an amazing place to see. Some places look better in photos than when you are actually there. Scotland looks better in person. It just has a different “feel” to it than the U.S. probably due to the very old history.
  2. Driving is essential here. If you really want to see the country, then you need to get out of the major cities and not spend too much time there. That being said, driving is NOT FUN at first. You will need some time to adjust and it can be scary. Once you do get the hang of it, driving and seeing the country is a pretty rewarding experience.
  3. The travel there and back was not fun. The 5-hour time gap can mess with you big time and you can expect to lose a full day from travel from the U.S. Unless you are lucky enough to get a direct flight there, which would be IDEAL. It would cut travel time and headache in half.
  4. Β The food was good, but not great. Sarah and I both agreed it would be rated 7 out of 10. We stuck to local places and really tried to order local Scottish fare. Haggis was good, but not amazing. The Meat Pies were both of our favorites. I think I had some form of potato every single day. Scotland also has a ton of Oatmeal bars. It has very few “high protein products”, such as protein bars, protein powder and stuff I normally like. This is very different than the U.S. Also, the coffee was horrible. I will come out and admit it. Toward the end of the trip, I just stopped drinking it and I drink A LOT of coffee. You basically had to brew your own and I really didn’t care for it. Also, this country does not have Ranch dressing haha. Dear God what a sin.
  5. The Local Beers were excellent. I had at least two beers a day from the draught menu and I really looked forward to those each day. I drank way more beer than liquor (hardly drank any) and almost no wine. This is mainly because Scotland certainly doesn’t specialize in wine and I was trying to get the “Local Fare.” However, still rare for me as beer is usually the lowest on my totem pole.
  6. Scotland is expensive. There is no getting around this one. The country uses pounds, which are more valuable than the dollar.
  7. The internet is spotty here.
  8. The countryside was my favorite by far.
  9. Some people say Scottish people are really nice. I certainly noticed that in some cases, but nothing out of the ordinary. I think it’s pretty similar to America in that its mainly based on the personality of the person and not a general rule.
  10. Certain peoples accents were so thick, I could barely understand them.
  11. Would I come here again? Absolutely. I would prefer to visit Ireland or England as well though and maybe even first. I would certainly do some things differently the second time around, especially with the travel piece, but would certainly revisit. We had a blast and time FLEW BY.

Sorry for the very long post about I had a lot I wanted to get down in this post!

Journal Entry 343 – NFL Draft

It has been a great weekend so far with damn near perfect weather. The NFL Draft was this weekend and I think the Giants had a good draft but not great. They drafted Daniel Jones very early, who I do like a lot. He looks like Eli Manning Jr. in a lot of ways. He’s a very balanced player with underrated speed, very intelligent, a good but not huge arm, and good accuracy. Some critics complain of his stats, but he is coming from Duke, which is not a big football school. The team around him was not good. People were comparing Dwayne Haskins stats to Daniel Jones and thought the Giants were insane for not taking Haskins. People, it’s pretty simple. Switch these two QBs teams and see what would have happened. Daniel Jones would have been playing with 5-star recruits and the best coaching that College Football has to offer. Dwayne Haskins would have been playing on a weak overall team that is not the typical “spread” offense that allows for a ton passing stats to be earned each game.

We drafted a big and fast DT for Clemson, a CB from Georgia, a CB from Notre Dame and an LB/ Edge rusher from Old Dominion. All of these players are likely to be starters immediately, which will really help our trash can of a defense. The one thing I’m disappointed in was the fact that we did not get an Offensive Tackle until round 7, which was a big need for us. We also only got one Line Backer. We REALLY need a pass rush and I’m not convinced we got that here. Another strange move was that we got 3 Corner Backs and 2 Defensive Tackles. We already have a couple of good DTs on our current roster. It’s like the players were good that we drafted, but we should have taken a different position. I would grade it like B- or C+. I think it will help the team this year but probably wasn’t enough. I could talk all day about the Giants so I’m going to stop here, but I do think this will be Eli’s last year. 😦 I see the Giants being very eager to see what Daniel Jones has in store.

My tennis tournament at work starts next week. My first match is on Wednesday at 12 PM. Not going to lie, feeling pretty confident about winning. Sarah and I are going to hit around with a couple of friends today. My friend Cameron hasn’t played in a long time, so he’s probably going to be rusty. After tennis, we are going to out to my parent’s house and then it’s Game of Thrones time!

 

Journal Entry 342 – Protein and Chinups

Four day work week last week. I must admit the extra day off was nice. Sarah and I went to trivia night at Don’t Look Back on Thursday night with some good friends and got second place! On Friday night we went to California Pizza Kitchen because my friend’s sister was bartending. That was the first time I had ever been there. No clue as to why haha. It has been around this area for a long time, but I never went for some reason. The pizza was good and we got the BBQ Chicken Pizza with a cauliflower crust. 8 out of 10. I will admit that it was much more expensive than I thought it was going to be. Tonight, Sarah has some friends in from out of town so we will be going out again. Expensive weekend haha.

In the gym, I have been doing a ton of bodyweight moves. I decided to do at least 3 sets of chinups every single day for the foreseeable future. I actually love bodyweight moves when at the gym, because it has gotten so packed recently, I can go upstairs away from it all and get a pretty intense workout by doing bodyweight moves to failure. I was doing Push/Pull, but due to the traffic at the gym, it becomes nearly impossible to stick to my routine as all the equipment is taken. My gym also jams equipment way too close too each other and you feel like people are standing on top of each other. I hate that feeling. I like to workout alone and have some room. Chinups have been working great though and my back and abs have been very sore. At the moment, it is the only “back/bicep” movement I have been doing. For push moves, I rotate between pushups, dips and bench press. No direct abs, no isolation moves. Just chinups and compound push movements with about 90% bodyweight moves.

For diet, I have been jacking protein through the roof recently. My goal is to eat very high protein meals, with low carbs and fat. I eat like this for every meal until we go out somewhere or I just want a big meal and then I’ll eat whatever. Mainly just very high protein and carbs and fats vary on the day. On average, I want to keep fat around 50 grams, Carbs 50-200grams (usually only 200 grams on the weekend and closer to 50g during the week) and protein over 200grams. I have been drinking a decent amount of alcohol recently, which do not fall into these categories. πŸ˜‰

My main foods recently have been dark roast coffee, egg whites, protein powder (Elite XT currently), Costco mixed berries, Quest Bars, Tyson Blackened Chicken Strips (Costco – Really good), lean ground meat, steak, green vegetables, Our Little Rebellion BBQ Chips. The rest of my food is usually eaten out.