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. ย 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. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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 341 – Game of Thrones

Another week in the books. Sarah and I went to Cooper’s Hawk on Friday for date night followed by Mezeh for dinner. Yesterday, I played tennis for the first time this year against one of my good friends. We both entered a tennis tournament at work, so trying to get some practice in. Tonight we are having people over for a Game of Thrones watching party. Final season and the first episode in what feels like a very long time. I expect good things though.

Workouts were great last week. I decided on switching to a Push / Pull routine. This was mainly to break monotony, but also to introduce some novelty back into my workouts. I have a very simple routine each workout and I can actually knock them out pretty quick.

Diet has been consistently low carb. I have been increasing my intake of whole eggs recently and I honestly feel like it is making a difference in the gym. I usually have 2-3 before I go to the gym and did this consistently on every workout day. My goal is to continue eating 3 a day and maybe bump that up provided my strength continues to rise. I have also been increasing dietary fat in my diet as well as sodium. This has greatly helped my workouts. My weight is currently at a solid 180lbs and slowly decreasing.

The new trailer for Star Wars Rise of Skywalker has been released. Not going to lie, it looks pretty damn good. I really hope they give the Skywalker Saga a proper sendoff my incorporating all of the movies together.

 

Journal Entry 339 – Low Key

Another week in the books. This week started off as crazy busy and then gradually slowed down each day. I think March Madness may have had something to do with slowing down traffic towards the end of the week. My brother really wanted me to make a Bracket, so I spent about 3 minutes making picks on my phone before the deadline. So far I’m in 8th place out of 14 and have already lost my fair share of games. As long as Duke wins, I have a chance though. I’m not a big basketball guy, to be honest, so losing means nothing to me.

My sports hierarchy NFL > College Football > Tennis > Everything Else. This does not mean that I don’t care about other sports at all, it’s just that I barely follow other sports. I have had the urge to get into Professional Soccer recently, but have not made the leap yet.

Been a good weekend so far though. Really nice weather and Saturday was a nice chill day. Friday we did a date night to Coopers Hawk and then went Burger Bach for dinner.

Recently my diet has been borderline Keto for the most part with dramatically reduced fiber. The low fiber has really helped with my digestion. Basically been eating high fat and high protein foods with very low fiber and my stomach has felt like it has already shrunk an inch. Plan on keeping this approach up. My carb totals have been under 100 grams almost every single day with most days under 60 grams. Weight is down to around 180lbs from 186lbs earlier this week as I was kind of bloated at the beginning. Been making an extra effort to add more fat to my diet though and not just jacking protein through the roof.

The only problem is my strength is down a bit. I still benched heavy 3 times last week and my totals are going down. I really need to cut down the heavy days to twice a week max. I also need to bump up sodium with my carbs as low as they are. My hunger has been pretty low for the most part. It really is amazing to me how if I eat a high carb meal, even when high in protein my hunger can skyrocket and I stay hungry for the rest of the day. As long as I keep carbs very low in my diet, this feeling does not occur.

 

Journal Entry 336 – 90th Birthday

Not going to lie, this week was a long one. I woke up every day very tired in the morning and it took me a couple of hours to wake up. I also felt really bad on the bench press this week. My normal weights felt significantly heavier although bodyweight movements felt pretty good. My desire was there to actually work out, its just my performance was no bueno. I’m going to chalk this up to an off week. The weather has been miserable, which definitely didn’t help. Taking the weekend off, except maybe for some pushups and then eating more than usual to see if that helps.

Alex Jones, who is a popular ex-Youtuber, was on Joe Rogan this week. One of my favorite podcasts I’ve heard. Alex Jones is crazy for sure, but always has a wealth of information to speak about and is hilarious. I haven’t laughed that hard at a podcast ever. They cover some strange topics, and the podcast went for about 4 hours and 40 minutes. Very entertaining.

I’ve been watching some NFL Combine highlights and I’m still not impressed with Dwayne Haskins. Not being mean, but the man appears to be out of shape. He looks pretty pudgy, was missing throws and ran a slower 40 time than Eli Manning. Ummm am I the only that thinks this guy is overrated. He played one season in college. A great one for sure, but only one. I watched several of his highlights and he comes from a spread offense and most of his throws were capable of being made by almost anyone. Several of his touchdowns came from 10 yard throws the receiver took 70 yards after the catch for a TD.

I’m obviously still biased towards Eli Manning and I think the media want you to think he is on the way out. I still say if you improve the offensive line and draft a defense that isn’t complete garbage, we would be a great team with Eli leading he way. Picking a QB in the first round with 6th pick is a waste. Especially on Haskins. I think Murray from Oklahoma is far better and more experienced. Daniel Jones from Duke also looks like he would step into Eli’s shoes far better. He’s also more athletic and again more experienced. I guess we will wait and see.

This Saturday we celebrated my grandma’s 90th birthday. Sarah, my parents and my cousins all came to the assisted living home and got some Mellow Mushroom Pizza for it. Sarah also devoured some cake, because she has a very big sweet tooth. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  It was a good time though. It was nice seeing everybody as we don’t see them very often anymore.

Journal Entry 334 – Sarah Trip / Nintendo Switch

Thanks to President’s Day, Sarah and I are off from work on Monday. Long weekend! Sarah went skiing with her dad and brother in Colorado for the next 5 days. I have no experience with skiing and really had zero interest in going. A friend of mine had an accident where he broke his neck snowboarding about 10 years ago. Sure it was a freak accident, but since it happened, I really just never wanted to try it.

I bought a Nintendo Switch on Thursday after some peer pressure from my friends, who thought I would enjoy it. They were correct! I’m currently playing Zelda Breath of the Wild and it’s one of the best games I have ever played. The handheld console is nice. I don’t remember the last handheld I have owned, but the Switch deserves its very high reviews. Sarah was even stealing it from me one night and played it before she left for her trip. I also bought Super Smash Bros but have barely played it. I’m way too into Zelda right now.

As for my workouts, I plan to adjust my benching down to two times a week instead of three. I also play to supplement with two recovery days, which will be chest flys, reverse flys and some extra back work that is higher in reps. One day will be off in the middle of the week and the weekend will be bodyweight days.

  • Heavy Day – Bench and Chinups / Stretching
  • Recovery Day – Flys/ Reverse Flys / Back Hypertrophy / Stretching
  • Off
  • Heavy Day – Same as above
  • Recovery Day – Same as above
  • Bodyweight Day
  • Bodyweight Day

 

 

Journal Entry 333 – Sickness / Kingdom Hearts 3 / Diet and Workout Update

I missed my post last week due to being sick all week with a cold/sinus infection. I’m actually still dealing with a few symptoms from it to be honest, especially in the morning and when I lay down at night. I took off Friday last week and took it easy for the whole weekend. Luckily, Kingdom Hearts 3 has finally come out so I had something to do.

Kingdom Hearts 3 has been in development of the last 10 years. The original game came out when I was like 13. I have played both Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 and I enjoyed this game. Several features of the game are tailored towards a younger generation for sure, but I would say over half of the people that played the first two games are my age or older. KH3 is heavily skewed towards Disney and way less towards Final Fantasy. The mix of the two is what drew my interest in the first place. That was a huge negative of this game in my opinion. They had 9-10 worlds focusing on a different Disney movie, but couldn’t allocate at least one to Final Fantasy? This game is made by Square Enix not Disney. Square Enix (used to be Square Soft) is the creator of Final Fantasy, so it had every right to jam as much Final Fantasy as humanly possible into this game. Other than that I found it to be an enjoyable game. The graphics were great, you got your money’s worth in terms of content, good characters and most of the game was fun. I would probably rate it 8 out of 10. I will admit, I definitely got absorbed into this game. This does not happen to me often anymore. Also, not to spoil anything but there definitely seems like another one coming out in the future. Hopefully not 10 years from now.

My workout schedule has been very simplistic as of late, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it. Here it is below:

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
    • Bench Press (Pyramid)
      • Warmup – 135lbs (10 reps)
      • Top set 240lbs 4-6 reps
      • 2nd Work Set 225lbs 6-10 reps
      • 3rd Work Set 185lbs for 10-15 reps
      • Burnout Set 135lbs for AMAP (usually get between 20-30 reps)
    • Chinups
      • 4 sets of AMAP with bodyweight
    • Stretching
  • Tuesday and Thursday
    • Rest Day
      • Optional Incline Walk
      • Optional Pushups
      • Stretching
  • Saturday and Sunday
    • 150 Pushups
    • 50 Chinups
    • Stretching

Nothing groundbreaking here. My bench continues to rise. I have noticed if I overdo the pushups during the week, my shoulders can hurt on bench press the next day. I usually just take a rest day completely off from the gym on Tuesday and Thursday. Typically, I’ll run errands that I don’t want to do on the weekend or I’ll go get a light lunch. Also, I usually only do that bodyweight workout one of those weekend days. Not both.

Calories fall around 1700-2000 calories during the weekdays with most of those being eaten at night. Then on the weekends, I’m around the 2000-2500 calorie range. I still keep track, but I really don’t care where they fall. I seem to be in a good place with an intuitive style approach right now. My vice is alcohol on the weekends that can get high pretty quickly. :0 Protein is where it needs to be, fat is moderate and carbs are the same. So balanced!

During the week my diet layout looks like this most of the time:

  • Head to Work
  • Coffee – 50 cals
  • Protein Pudding – 150 cals
  • Enlightened Beans – 450 cals
  • Home from Work
  • Vegetables with Ranch or Hummus / Chips and Salsa – 200-300 cals
  • Dinner – Varies – 5-800 cals
  • Protein Pudding with berries- 200 cals