Journal Entry 330 – Snowed In / Workout Update

Another week in the books. We had some winter weather come through this weekend, so Sarah and I went out early on Saturday to knock out our running for the week. Grocery stores were, of course, packed beyond belief and there was a serious meat shortage. The only meat that was readily available was 80/20 or fattier cuts. Aldi is great for buying a ton of groceries for cheap, but there is always the risk there that they don’t have an important item that you need.  This means you need to run to another store and this week happened to be meat. So we ran to Kroger and got some lean beef for some chili we are going to make. Besides the insane amount of people we had to deal with, I think it will be worth it. A cold day with the NFL Playoffs on, chili sounds great. Not that I’m knocking Aldi. I love that place and we also got a ton of groceries for about $60. We have saved countless amounts of money shopping there on a regular basis. It’s also hardly ever packed and very easy to get in and out.

The gym has been decent even with “New Years Resolutioners” coming in. The only day that sucked was Monday because all of the benches were taken. When one of your only moves is Bench Press, that kind of presents a problem! I ended up doing a high rep upper body workout. My routine going forward is to do a 3-day workout on M, W, F and rest TU, TR. I want to be at full strength for my main workouts. I will have a Workout A and Workout B as shown below:

  • Workout A
    • Barbell Bench Press 3 x 6-8
    • Chinups 3 x Max with Bodyweight
    • Cable Crunch 3 x 8-12
  • Workout B – Wednesday
    • Dumbbell Incline Press 4 x 8-10 reps
    • Chinups 3 x Max with Bodyweight
    • Cable Crunch 3 x 8-12
  • Rest Days
    • 100 Pushups throughout the day
    • Stretching

Simple just how I like it. If all of the benches are taken on Monday again, I will likely just do chinups first or maybe do Workout B twice that week and do Workout A on Wednesday. Simple adjustment. Rest days are going to be exactly that. I will do some pushups and maybe go to the gym to do an incline walk, but that is optional. My bench is currently at 235lbs for 6 reps. I would like to get this up to at least 250lbs for 6 reps. I mainly just don’t want my rest days to interfere with my recovery from heavy benching.

Diet is going to going to be high protein and lower carb as always. This is my go to and always seems to work for me. Protein high, carbs around 50g to 150g on a higher day (I would say 80g on average) and fat falls wherever. I don’t really worry about fat. I will easily eat higher fat foods, but prefer leaner meats most of the time. I reread “How Many Carbs Do You Need?” by Lyle Mcdonald this week. He said even just eating 15g-50g of carbs can severely limit (if not completely limit) the body’s need to pull from protein as an energy source. What a huge advantage you have in knowing this. Not only for protecting muscle mass when losing weight, but also as a daily eating strategy to know that the protein you are eating is not getting burnt off as an energy source for the brain and can do its main job. I love Lyle Mcdonald’s work and he is one of my favorite nutritionists.

Journal Entry 329 – New Year

Even though it was a Holiday last weekend, it really didn’t feel like it. My good friend had a bachelor party and a small wedding. Sarah and I also held a small party after the wedding for a small reception/New Years Eve party. We had a great time and it was fun meeting his family and also hanging out with close friends. But it was a lot of work setting up the house and then cleaning the house after both the bachelor party and reception on New Years. Worth it, but 5 days off never felt so quick!

Luckily the work week was short the first week back. Went back on Wednesday and it was a pretty steady week overall. The only problem was I had a hell of a time falling asleep last week. I think it had a lot to do with the drinking and messed up sleep schedule of the previous weekend. I would literally almost get an adrenaline rush as soon as I went to bed. I think this was almost a panic reaction of realizing that I would not be able to fall asleep as quickly as I wanted. Every single morning last week, I literally felt like a zombie going to work. My eyes felt half open. Not a fun feeling. I slept in this weekend both days so far to try and recoup some sleep. I hope this doesn’t happen again next week.

My gym performance wasn’t too bad this week. I’m benching 235lbs for my top set of 6 reps. I then drop down to 225lbs for about 8 reps and finished with 135lbs for as many reps as possible. Usually end up somewhere in the ’20s for this. I then finished with either lat pulldowns or chinups. I would really like to get my chinups rolling this year. 3 sets of 15 reps is my goal for the end of the year. Chinups are also a whole lot easier the less weight/fat you have on your body. Especially if your strength levels stay the same.

Little Luke got fixed this weekend and that requires some periods of low activity to ensure nothing messes up the stitching. We took it easy this weekend both to recoup from last weekend and to watch Luke. We haven’t eaten out at all since Wednesday, which is a long time for us. My parents are coming over here this weekend instead of vice versa due to Luke not being able to play with the other dogs. They are bringing over Grapevine, which is hands down my favorite restaurant currently. Besides Chipotle and Mezeh of course. 😉

 

 

 

Journal Entry 322 – Updates

Since my last post, I decided to update the site a bit. I updated the background to look more like an actual journal and took down some pages that I thought made the blog look crowded. As a minimalist, I like the upgrade a lot. After reading some of my older articles, I’m not sure I agree 100% with all of them anymore, but it contains good information nevertheless.

Last weekend Sarah and I went to a co-worker and friend of mine’s wedding. It was great! The venue was a country setting and somewhat isolated from outside distractions. Everyone had a good time and the food and drinks were on point. 🙂

Unfortunately, this past week was very stressful. This is my long weekend and dear god it could not have come sooner. I really just felt like I needed a break. A break to get things done and just to relax and get out of my everyday grind. I think both physically and mentally I was starting to wear down. My gym performance is still plateaued, unfortunately. I plan to keep roughly 2 heavy days a week and the rest are going to be bodyweight movements and stretching. These movements have felt fantastic recently and heavy lifting has not felt so good. I think the extra rest from constant heavy weights every day is going to help break me through my plateau.

My diet has been so-so for the past week. I’ve been craving more oatmeal recently and I must say it is delicious. It’s also very filling. I have about 100-150grams to play with each day, so it is pretty easy to fit in. As for the brand, I always go with Quaker Oats Weight Control or Lower Sugar Maple and Brown Sugar. Hands down the best ever.

Sarah and I went to Grapevine Wednesday night with Sarah’s mom Laura and her Grandma. It was a great dinner! I think they now like the restaurant as much as we do. Sarah and I also had a date night last night. We went to Cooperhawk for some wine tasting and then went to Plaza Azteca for dinner. Copperhawks’ wine this month was not good haha. They usually have at least 3-4 wines that are good, but this month it was a very weak selection. We didn’t end up eating dinner until like 9:30-10:00 PM either. It was very delicious though.

Other than that I plan just to take it easy for the rest of the weekend. We are having some people over tonight for drinks, so that should be good times. Until next week!

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!

Journal Entry 309 – Returns For Time Invested

I’m still trying to find a workout that provides the best returns for the time invested. I really don’t like going to the gym and feel like I’m wasting my time with ineffective exercises that are barely doing anything in terms of body composition and time spent doing them. Gone are the days when I enjoy spending hours in the gym. My day no longer revolves around my workout, so I really want to create a workout that hits everything I want to be hit and then I want to move on with my day. I literally want to get in and get out. I love the benefits working out provides and I fully plan on working out for the rest of my life, but these benefits can be achieved in about 30 minutes a day.

The best feeling for me in the gym is getting stronger. It’s instant feedback that you are doing something right. I designed a routine and schedule that I think will carry me into greatness at this point in my life.

MC’s Minimalist Routine:

  • Incline DB Bench Press 4 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Chinups 4 sets of AMAP with bodyweight
  • Dips 3 sets of AMAP with bodyweight
  • Isolation of choice 3 sets of 8-15 reps
    • Optional depending on time

This workout will be done Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. It gives me a solid 48 hours between workouts and then I hit it again. I will sub in barbell bench press once a week, but no more due to shoulder issues. My main goal is to get stronger and do more reps on all of these exercises. Don’t let this workout fool you though, it’s not easy. It’s simple on paper, but not easy. This workout can be completed in under 40 minutes, which makes it perfect for me. It also hits every muscle in the upper body. I will also do cardio a few times per week, mainly on the weekends. When Sarah and I move into our house, we are going to buy a treadmill. Once we do this I will likely run every day that I don’t lift.

I’m still playing around with diet, but it is high protein as always. I still backload most of my calories to dinner as well.

Sarah and I have also recently had an offer accepted on a house! We have both the inspection tomorrow and meet with the mortgage office to sign the loan. I have heard signing a loan is a miserable process, unfortunately, but we have to do it at some point.

 

Journal Entry 298 – Short One

Finished training last Thursday, so my schedule will go back to normal this week. Sarah and I went to Greensboro last week and did some stuff for the wedding. It’s only a couple months away, which is strange to think about.

In contrast to last week, I actually lifted every day last week doing a full body workout every day. Enjoyable, but the problem was I would get pretty sweaty at the gym and then have to go back to work after. Not fun.

My bench press has been going back up and right now stands at 215lbs for 8, 5, 5 reps. I literally have done heavy bench every other day and it seems to be going up pretty steadily. I have also done very little cardio, except for some light walking all week. When I got back to my new schedule, I will start doing cardio again. I have also incorporated some legs back into my routine and the soreness is already gone.

My diet has been pretty high protein and calories have been around 2000-2300 calories a day. This seems to be a good amount for me to stay around most of the time. Good energy, good strength in the gym and since I eat pretty balanced, I can pretty much eat whatever I want within this calorie range.

Journal Entry 294 – Getting Organized

Missed last week’s blog post because I went to Chicago with Sarah to see my niece. She cried a lot when she first saw me haha. Sarah didn’t have better luck though. Abby is very attached to her mom at the moment, but I’m sure the next time I see here that will be a little different. I also realized when I was holding her, that I have zero experience with children. I mean I have been around infants before, but never taking care of them. I held Abby and fed her a couple times, but I let Rebecca do most of the work haha. She has way more experience than I do. The rest of the trip was pretty relaxed for the most part. My brother cooked a lot of food and we didn’t go out much except to the gym.

I have really been in a rut with Gold’s Gym recently.  It has been beyond packed no matter what time you go. I also feel like I have been rushing my workouts since I go on my lunch break and haven’t really been engaged in my workouts recently. My strength is good, but the enjoyment is not. I’ve decided to try and cut out Gold’s for a couple of weeks and see what happens. The only thing I’m worried about is losing bench press strength because I do not have access to a heavy bench anywhere else.

I decided to workout Sunday through Thursday and take Friday and Saturday off.

  • Weekend
  • Sunday – Push – High Reps
  • Monday – Pull – High Reps
  • Tuesday – Cardio
  • Workweek
  • Wednesday – Push – High Reps
  • Thursday – Pull – High Reps
  • Friday – Off
  • Saturday – Off

The only other variation I may make is to change to 3 full body days and 2 cardio days, but the schedule would look largely the same. This routine is challenging though as I’m taking almost every set to failure. This is pretty easy to do with high reps without burning out. I feel good after my workouts and my pump is so intense it almost hurts. That being said I’m not overly sore after my workouts. To me, this is an enjoyable form of training though because it is so different than what I was doing before. I’m not rushed with these workouts because I’m not “on the clock” like I was with the other ones.

As for diet, I’m sticking with the high protein / low-mod carb / low-mod fat diet. This is by far the easiest way to control calories, look the best, feel the best and control my cravings. I can pretty much eat whatever on this plan within reason since it allows for both carbs and fats instead of going high carb -low fat vs keto. For example, if I want pizza or wings for dinner then I simply eat high protein, low fat, low carb all day and then eat whatever for dinner. This automatically balances out macros. I really don’t have a calorie goal at the moment. I’m just kind of eating based on what I feel like I need. Some days are much higher than others and that tends to be what works best for me. Also, some days can be way higher in carbs or fats, but the theme is that protein is there.

  • Go-To meals at the moment:
    • Protein Pudding (Long time stable)
      • 55 grams of Elite XT (Mix with small amount of cashew milk)
      • 1/3 cup of berries on top
      • 1/3 TBS of peanut butter on side
    • Asian
      • 4-5oz of Tyson grilled chicken strips
      • 1/2 bag of broccoli
      • 1 Crab rangoon
      • 1 egg roll (Optional)
      • Teriyaki Sauce
    • Eggs (Usually bring this to work)
      • 12 hardboiled eggs (1 yolk, 11 whites)
      • 1 bag of Brussel sprouts
      • 2 Tbs of Bolthouse Ranch
    • Greens
      • 1 bag of Broccoli or Brussel Sprouts
        • Heat up twice as long as recommended. All the water comes out and tastes like its roasted
        • Some type of sauce
    • Berry Milk (Dessert)
      • 1 cup of Cashew Milk
      • Handful of frozen berries
      • 2 Splenda
      • 1 serving of fat/free sugar/free jello mix (Aldi Brand)
      • 2 Tbs of Cocoa powder
    • Lazy Meal
      • 1 can of beef soup (lower calorie brand)
      • 1 can of green beans
      • 1/2 can of white potatoes
      • Mix together
    • Snacks
      • Jerky
      • Our Little Rebellion Protein Crisps
      • Pretzel sticks
      • Rice Cakes
      • Mixed Nuts (At work)
      • M & M’s plain
      • Apples
    • Eating Out
      • Chipotle (highly customizable)
      • Mezeh
      • Which Wich
      • Kickback Jacks

This basically sums up my diet at the moment. I usually have a really big cheat day on Sunday in which my weight always spikes. It’s usually pancakes for breakfast, a healthier lunch and a feast at dinner at my parent’s house. I had to eat at least 200 grams of carbs worth of pita bread alone. I also dipped this in a ton of Tzataki sauce. I do feel bloated the next day, but the weight drops off very quickly when I resume my routine.