Journal Entry 276 – Chicago

Life:

Last week Sarah and I went to Chicago to visit my brother Justin and his wife Rebecca. We haven’t been up there since he moved, so we wanted to visit his new house. Awesome city though. I have been to a few big cities and Chicago is one of the cleanest I’ve seen. It has about 3 million people living directly in the city and a lot more on the outskirts. Much less than New York, but way nicer and more affordable. Lake Michigan was Bahama water blue and basically looked like a beach. If this “lake” was in Europe it would be called a sea. It was a massive body of water. There was also a river cutting through the city, which is actually disconnected from the sea due to keeping the lake clean from the river’s toxins. That being said the river looks very nice cutting through the city.We ended up going on a boat tour through the river and a bus tour through the city. Both were nice, but I liked the boat tour better as we didn’t have to weave through traffic. The last day we went to Wrigleyville and saw Wrigley field. Cool town even though I’m not a huge baseball fan.

I recently got a promotion to shift lead, so my schedule is no longer 9-6 Monday through Friday. It is now 1pm-12am Wednesday through Thursday and 9am-8pm Friday and Saturday. I’m looking forward to it though as the job comes with more money and more responsibility.

Food:

Chicago’s eats didn’t disappoint. The first thing I wanted to get there was deep dish pizza. It took about an hour to get, but it was awesome. Reminded me of pizza, lasagne, and pie mixed together. We got cookie dough ice cream, burgers and fries from a place called Shake Shack, carrot cake from Mandy B’s and biscuits from Crosby’s. I was convinced I just didn’t like biscuits, but these were life changing. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Really good. Mandy B’s was a dessert place that pretty much served everything. Sarah is the one that loves sweet’s, so I told her to get whatever she wanted and I would share it with her. It didn’t disappoint.

For my normal diet, I have started to add in some kefir to my diet. After doing research on it, I think it can really help clear up my psoriasis. One of the most potent probiotics on earth, mainly because it has 15-20 billion probiotics per cup and since it’s also a prebiotic, the probiotics don’t get destroyed in your stomach, before they actually reach your intestines. This is supposed to fix a lot of issues with digestive enzymes, leaky gut, skin issues, bloating, energy and mental health. Looking forward to seeing the benefits. My plan is to pound it pretty hard the first month or so and then back off to maintenance dosages.

Macro wise has been much higher in carbs, moderate in fat and somewhat lowish protein for me 90 to 120 grams.

Workouts:

My chin-ups have finally progressed up past 3 sets of 8 reps with 30lbs to 3 sets of 12 reps with 30lbs. My accessories have also increased.

My bench press is sadly still the same, but still feels good when I’m doing it. My dips, however, are way up at almost 3 sets of 20 reps. I’m not adding weight to dips, but instead I’m adding a lot of reps. Really good pump from these.

Barely been doing any cardio recently, mainly because my gym has been packed at 7am when I usually go run. Luckily, I dont have to go at the time anymore, so I will probably pick up running 2-3 times a week again.

 

Journal Entry 275 – Vino

Life:

Last week Sarah and I went to Charlottesville for the weekend. Kind of spontaneous trip as we didn’t really have an itinerary to follow, but it basically turned into a wine tasting trip. Besides being a little hot outside the wineries were really nice to visit and it’s actually the first time I have been there in summer/spring time. The last time I went was in the middle of winter and it was definitely a different experience. We met and talked to a lot of people while we there and ended up visiting 7 different wineries over two days. Unless you’re on a wine tour, 3-4 is probably all you can do in one day, especially if your driving cause the wine tastings can really add up. We ended up going to Jefferson, Trump, Blenheim, King Family, Grace, Stinson and finished with Whitehall.

Best Views: Jefferson, Trump, and King Family Vineyards

Best Wine: Whitehall

Trump also only had 4 wines on their tasting list, but they filled it up way more than anyone else. I was kind of surprised how much they were pouring haha.

We also went out to eat for almost every meal. Bodo’s Bagels was very good, but was insanely packed. Panera is honestly just as good if you’re just getting a bagel and maybe even cheaper too. We also ate at the hotel for 2 days, but I’m not a huge breakfast person so I just grabbed some hard boiled eggs (which nobody else was eating) and a bagel with cream cheese. It was actually a good combo. For lunch, we actually just got something at the wineries, which was way overpriced but also helped to sober you up a little bit. The taste was decent there, but nothing special. For dinner, we went to Crozet Pizza the first night, which was very good. Sarah and I finished off the pizza in one night. Half chicken and veggies on one side and BBQ chicken on the other. Their ranch was awesome. We also went to a place called Kardinal Hall, which was alright, but I wasn’t overly impressed. The Downtown Mall area though was awesome. Very cool town. The last night we, unfortunately, got back kind of late and had to go to Chipotle in order to get back in time for the Game of Thrones premiere.

Diet:

Calories were unknown last week as I was just trying to enjoy myself. I estimated and logged each day, but it was super loose. This week has been pretty low in calories as I just want to get a bit of fat off. Averaged around 1500 calories for the past 5 days. This is much lower than I have been for awhile and I was definitely feeling it in the gym and at night.  That being said I look noticeably leaner and I’m down 5lbs already. Interestingly enough I really didn’t get hungry at work. I amazingly haven’t eaten a protein bar for 2 weeks. An impressive accomplishment for me, because I almost consider myself mildly addicted haha. Also, sliced apples are really good in terms of taking the edge off of hunger and giving you energy. They have helped a lot this week.

Workouts:

Unfourtnaly nothing great in terms of lifting progress, especially after a low-calorie week. I also didn’t get any pump at all, which really sucks, but I wasn’t expecting much.

 

Journal Entry 272 – Higher Reps

Workouts:

Bench is still hanging in the 200’s for between 5-8 reps. I seem to be stronger at the end of the week for whatever reason so I may move this workout to that day. Weighted chinups are also still sitting at the same with 30lbs for 6-10 reps. My lighter days though have all been progressing in strength. I like to keep the reps around 12-15 for these movements. I have also been using much higher reps with arms instead of the heavier reps I have done in the past. That being said I still like this split a lot and have stuck to it longer than almost any workout I can remember. 3 moves a day for 3 sets. Done.

As for cardio, I did 2 sessions this week on Tuesday and Thursday. I also played tennis yesterday and will play again today. I’m also getting pretty tan playing tennis every week, which is an added bonus.

Eating:

Macros this week are 133 / 260 (48) / 66 – Protein /Carbs (Fiber) / Fat and Calories at 2100. I must admit though, that these numbers are what was tracked and I probably ate much more than this amount. Nothing exciting with dieting though. I have decided to stop eating all pork/pig products. Not that I really ate that much before. After seeing some documentaries and realizing that pigs have very similar qualities to humans, I feel really bad what this industry as turned into. It’s disgusting and it doesn’t need to be that way. I’m also cutting back on the red meat too, but I still eat dairy and will continue to eat poultry. Another nasty industry, but I just can’t see myself realistically not eating anything, but fish. Especially with all the nasty toxins fish can hold. Not saying I’m turning into a vegetarian, but the livestock industry is disgusting and cruel to top it off. I’m by no means turning into an organic hippie, but some of this stuff just comes from a natural human emotion of caring for other creatures and I don’t want to be a part of this industry. Especially pigs, because they kind of remind of my dog bandit without hair. 🙂 I mean the Chinese eat dogs and think nothing of it. This s$it needs to stop.

Life:

Really considering a new laptop. My laptop now is still good, but it tends to freeze up a lot and is very slow when booting applications. It’s also 3.5 year old, so I’m really tempted to buy a new one.

Finished Berserk season 2. Gory show, but really awesome. I was even thinking about buying the video game, but it looks a little repetitive.

Sarah and I had our first premarital counseling session. It was actually interesting in some ways, just to talk about certain aspects of your relationship. We seem to be very close though in almost every way. 😉

Journal Entry 271 – Another Week

Another week in the books. We had spirit week at work, which was a lot of fun. Basically, we had 6 teams of 10 people each and had 4 events each day of the week. The team with the most points won. My team lost, but we had a pretty epic tug of war to finish off the events. We basically were at a dead standstill for a good minute to a minute and half of just pulling as hard as you could. The other team was probably twice are size, so it was a pretty epic matchup. My team went 3-2, but lost overall. Still the most fun event by far. Doing weighted chin-ups and biceps beforehand was probably not the best idea, but it really didn’t affect me that much. My biggest problem was my damn shoes that were extremely flat on the bottom so I couldn’t dig in. I don’t have cleats anymore and all of my shoes are “gym training” shoes. If I had a stronger grip with better shoes, I would have been much better off.

This week in training, I was able to increase my INC DB BENCH up to the 75s. I got 70s for 12, 12, 11 so I’m going to bump it up next week. CHINS were about the same and so was BARBELL BENCH. My accessories went up though. I’m also doing LATERAL RAISES  for my main shoulder move and I’m already close to bumping those up to 25’s for 3 sets of 12 reps. It will probably be awhile before I eclipse that mark though. Cardio was done 3 times this week and I will probably stick to tennis and bodyweight exercises this weekend. Not a formal bodyweight workout, but just spread through the day.

Due to time demands with my field day events this week, I started eating apples for breakfast a couple days this week. My energy was nothing short of amazing all day. I think this is due to liver glycogen that my protein pudding does not fill up, but even in the gym, I felt very very good. I basically sliced up 3 small apples, put in a bag, and threw in some Splenda and cinnamon. Very delicious. I also dipped them in some JIF to go peanut butter. It’s also a tremendous amount of volume for the calories it provides.

This week was a little lower in calories at 2000 on average over the week. Macros were 132 protein / 231 carbs / 54 fat / 45 fiber. My weight was down a little this week at 177.5 lbs. Monday I was really busy and underate unintentionally. I wasn’t really hungry the whole day though, so it didn’t really matter to much to me. Friday was kind of similar to Monday, but I ate a huge Chipotle bowl with extra pinto beans since I hadn’t really eaten much the whole day.

Random: Forgot to mention this last week, but Nadal dominated Wawrinka in the French Open in straight sets. BEAST. Also, I’ve been watching Berserk recently. It’s a Dark Anime show that is really really good. I always really liked Japanese style anime shows for whatever reason. I think they just make better shows than we do.

Journal Entry 270 – Short One

Another week in the books.  I had a really good time at the company party but was pretty out of it on Sunday. I also spent a large part of the weekend getting maintenance done on my SUV. What started as a tire alignment and oil change, ended as a new battery and 4 new tires. Still only cost around $600 total for what I had done to it. Not bad at all and I don’t have to worry about those things for awhile. Three of my tires were absolutes garbage. If I had hit a sheet of ice, I would have gone sliding because there was zero tread on my tires. I also learned a useful tip about AWD cars and that is that all four tires need to be the exact same tire or the alignment gets really thrown off. Getting air in your tires every month will also help prolong the life of your tires as well as tire rotations every oil change.

Nothing special in terms of working out this week. Cardio was done a couple times during the week and I played tennis on the weekend. All lifts were about the same this week, expect I was able to bump up DB INC PRESS to 70lbs for 3 sets of 12 reps instead of the 65’s I was using earlier. I also gassed out fast on BB BENCH PRESS and on my third set I got a whopping 3 reps. This was also on Monday, so I was still recovering from the weekend. Diet this week was around 2300 calories on average. Carbs 270 grams / Protein 140 grams / Fat 70 grams.

Journal Entry 269 – Heavy / Light Day

Another week in the books and strength is still going up. I’m down to about 179lbs of scale weight and feeling leaner than previous weeks. I decided to add in a light day for both push and pull workouts to replace one of the heavy workouts. I’m doing less cardio than in previous weeks at maybe 3 times a week. Sarah and I have also started playing tennis on the weekends, so while not formal cardio, it still counts, especially when it’s hot out. Diet has been around 2100 calories a day with Protein at 145 grams / Carbs 250 grams / Fat 65 grams.

Diet has been around 2100 calories a day with Protein at 145 grams / Carbs 250 grams / Fat 65 grams. My energy and well being is much better with more carbs and fats in my diet without adding in super high amounts of protein. I also noticed I really don’t eat a ton of meat anymore. I have a pretty good sized serving once a day and that is about it. A lot of my protein comes from protein powder, vegetables, and protein bars. Not saying that I have been actively trying to cut meat out of my diet, it’s just that I have unconsciously reduced it.

As for my workout, I moved some things around:

  • PUSH – HEAVY
    • BB BENCH PRESS – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
    • INC PRESS MACHINE – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • DIPS – 3 sets by Max
  • PULL – LIGHT
    • CHINUPS – 3 sets of 6-8 reps 1 set with bodyweight
    • LAT PRAYERS 4 sets of 12 reps
    • SEATED INC CURLS – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • SHOULDERS/ABS DAY
    • DB LATERALS – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • REAR DELT MACHINE – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • CABLE PULLS – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • MACHINE CRUNCH – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • CABLE CRUNCH – 3 sets of 12 reps
  • PUSH – LIGHT
    • DB INC BENCH – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • CABLE FLYS – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • EZ SKULLCRUSHERS – 3 sets of 12 reps
  • PULL – LIGHT
    • TBAR ROWS – 4 sets of 12 reps
    • LAT PULLDOWN (VARIOUS GRIPS) – 4 sets of 12 reps
    • DB CURLS – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • WEEKEND
    • TENNIS, CARDIO OR LIGHT CALISTHENICS

Other than that Sarah and I are going to a company party this weekend. My company reserved Brown’s Island in Richmond for 4 hours and provided us a hotel to stay in downtown. Also, food and drinks are free. I think it should be a good time and my company is awesome. Probably go downtown after it ends, which is like a 2-minute walk from where we are. Should be a late night, but a really good time.

Journal Entry 268 – Beach Trip And Feeling Good In The Gym

I missed my post last week due to a beach trip with Sarah’s family for Memorial day. I was introduced to Bocce ball, which is actually really fun to play on the beach and got some good food at some of South Carolina’s local restaurants. I also got some really nasty sunburn in a few places, which may have actually been sun poising because I’m starting to get these itchy bumps right over where the sunburn is. Today it finally looks tan and not burnt, so it should be going away soon. It was a 6-hour ride from our place, so while fun, it also makes the weekend fly by and before you know it your back at work again.

The gym has been good this week though. I felt really strong yesterday and I have been more or less eating the same way, except for the beach trip last weekend.

Diet more or less every day:

  • Morning Run (only did twice this week though)
  • Coffee
  • Breakfast 11 AM – Protein Pudding with berries and peanut butter
  • Workout 2-3PM
  • Lunch 3 PM – 5 serving bag of Popchips (600 calories) or Bag of Rice Cakes (420 calories)
  • Snack (Throughout the day) 1.5 – 2 Protein Bars
  • Dinner 7:30-8 – Balanced meal that varies daily, usually between 600-1000 calories (Been eating out a lot for this)
  • Dessert – Cashew milk with berries and SF/FF Jello mix and crumble some protein bar in it (Very Good)
  • Calories at the low end is around 2000 calories and high end is 2500 calories during the week. The weekend is almost always higher than 2500 calories.

Still benching 200lbs for about 3 sets of 8 reps, but I expect to bump this up soon. I may mix two different push/pull days and keep one heavy day and one lighter day. On the weekend, I also may add some iso 5×10 work for extra hypertrophy. I eat a lot on the weekends and want to take advantage of the extra calories instead of only doing cardio.

Journal Entry 267 – Protein

Last week was way better in terms of working out. I finally felt strong again and got back to where I was before that weird performance decrease took place. I have done cardio everyday this week, except for Wednesday.

For dieting this week, I have changed my breakfast back to protein pudding instead of oatmeal. I usually drink a decent amount of caffeine in the morning before my workouts and have increased the size of protein pudding to about 40grams worth. I actually think this has made a tremendous difference in terms of working out. I really feel stronger with this breakfast vs doing the exact same thing with oatmeal. I think the carbs preworkout may not be the best thing for me, so I will just eat them later in the day.

It kind of got me thinking though, about my protein intake. It has been on the lower side recently and I wonder if I should bring it back up to a gram per pound at least. I know all the science of protein and it does seems to be on the firing block here recently, but it does have tremendous benefits that can’t be ignored. Especially in terms of body composition, even blood sugar levels, taste, volume of food at meals, very high TEF, and never being stored as fat. A Recent study has found that people were able to lose more body fat and build muscle by jacking up their protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound vs .8

A Recent study has found that people on a very high protein intake were able to lose more body fat and build the same amount of muscle by jacking up their protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound vs eating .8 grams while also eating 500 more calories a day. While it may be true that you only need .8 grams per pound to build muscle, that says nothing about burning fat at the same time. Also, the other two macros are way more likely to be stored as fat, especially in a surplus, so take what you hear with a grain of salt.

 

Journal Entry 266 – Strength Plateau / Carbs / Random …

This marks my 5th week at my current split. Last week started horribly in terms of lifting. Everything felt heavy as h@ll and I didn’t even want to go to the gym. I tried to go lower carb last week with higher fats and let’s just say that didn’t work out too well. Towards the end of the week, my strength was much better, but that is mainly because I started to slam carbs again. Also, the pork rinds experiment was kind of a fail, because they taste horrible. 😦

So, I decided to start eating carbs every meal and increased my calories. My weight has been a rock at 181lbs. I’ve eaten around 2400 calories every day this week with well over 200 grams of carbs a day. Fat has also been higher at about 70 grams and protein has been between 120-145 grams. I really want to start throwing up some heavier weight though. I’m tired of getting stuck on the same weights and the only way I see this is going to happen it to keeping bumping up my calories and carbs til I find every day in the gym see’s some type of progressive overload. I honestly think it is possible to see this if you are eating enough.

I have noticed some interesting benefits recently though. I can put down a serious amount of food and wake up looking pretty good. I used to diet super “clean” all the time and every time I had a cheat meal with too much “carbs, fats and sodium” I would look like bloated mess for maybe up to 2-3 days. And then I would then go back to the low-calorie diet and the cycle would repeat. I can only attribute this to higher testosterone. Carbs and fats increase testosterone and protein decreases it in a dose-dependent fashion. I like protein, but there really is no benefits to overeating it, when all you likely need is more carbs.

Random Reading:

https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=157454583

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/gain-35lbs-in-6-weeks-naturally

If those aren’t interesting reads, then I don’t know what is. 😉 My goal in the not too distant future is to bench 225x 8 reps for 3 sets. I really want to hit this as soon as possible. Also, ran into an old friend yesterday who is probably 200lbs and under 10% bodyfat. He was one arm shoulder pressing 80lb dumbbells and benching 380lbs. Yeah holy sh!t. Made me feel like a weakling. I need to step my game up. 🙂

Journal Entry 265 – Challenge Update / Pork Rinds

I missed my post last week because Sarah and I went to Greensboro NC so that we could visit her family. We also had to pick out some wedding cake and get a few things straight. I missed my training signup at Gold’s last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That means I’m already 4 points down just from missing signing up. I’ve been monitoring the signup names and there is only one other person that has been as consistent as me in signing up. He did miss yesterday though. So I can still win as long as he drops zero weight and I can manipulate the scale by at least 5 pounds. Monday morning I will get up and clock 5 miles or so, just to sweat out a bunch of weight. I will then eat a super light breakfast and probably go the gym early so that I can weigh in before really eating much of anything.

 

I’ve been doing some more reading on the benefits of glycine. Which if taken regularly can have TREMENDOUS benefits: Dr. Axe – Glycine Benefits and Valtsus Blogspot. Turns out pork rinds are one of the best sources of this critical amino acid. For optimal benefits, you want to have 10-13 grams a day. Pork rinds have 12 grams per 3.5oz. They also have zero carbs, 5 grams of fat with a mix of mono and saturated fat and 7 grams of protein per serving of 1/2 an ounce. A perfect food for a higher fat and lower carb diet. It also has decent sodium, which is really important on lower carb diets to prevent flushing electrolytes out of your system and really feeling like crap. The only thing about the protein is it does not have essential amino acids in it. This isn’t a huge deal though, because this protein spares the essential protein and taking in more of this protein and less “essential amino acids” has been shown to have better anabolic potential anyway. Glycine is also extremely anti-inflammatory and if there are negatives to eating a bunch of muscle meat, glycine seems to balance this out. Something tells me switching to pork rinds over popchips for lunch may have some interesting benefits. 😉

My workout split is still exactly the same and the goal is just to keep increasing in strength.