Journal Entry 307 – Wedding and Honeymoon!

A lot has happened in the last two weeks. I married the love of my life on May 5th, 2018! The weekend of the wedding was hands down the best time of my entire life. All of our friends and family were there and I couldn’t have asked for a better time. Laura Mincher, Sarah’s mom, was nice enough to organize the whole thing, which I know required a lot of work.

The Rehearsal Dinner was great and we had some awesome food and great speeches. My pumpkin chocolate chip Groom’s cake seemed to be a crowd favorite as well. It had VT (Virginia Tech) on it with a Spider (Richmond Spiders) in the corner of it for Sarah. After the dinner, all of the wedding party when out for more drinks in downtown Greensboro. We ended up drinking a lot (mainly craft beer. Just like Richmond, Greensboro seems to be big on this.) and I didn’t go to bed til around 4:30am.

On the day of the wedding, we woke up the around 9am and all my Groomsmen went to Kickback Jacks around 1130am for some food and drinks. The wedding was at 6pm and everything went smoothly. After we took loads of pictures, then everyone headed to the Reception. The Reception was amazing. We didn’t eat much food at all besides appetizers, but the club packed us some food for after the wedding. We did drink plenty though and it seemed like everyone that came had a really good time. After a lot of dancing and socializing, Sarah and I left for Charlotte, North Carolina. I ate way more than she did of the food because she wasn’t hungry, but that food tasted amazing. The sushi was especially good. Neither of us really had a piece of cake though. We had that initial bite when first cutting the cake, but that was about it. I believe some was saved for us though so we can eat it at some point!

The Honeymoon was also a great time. We left our hotel in Charlotte, NC around 730am and booked an early flight to St. Lucia. It took about 4 and half hours to get there. We then went through customs and had an hour bus ride to the resort. St. Lucia is a third world country for sure. I didn’t really think about this til we landed in the airport and went through Customs. As we drove through the island, I was a little worried we made a huge mistake going there. However, once we hit the Sandals resort, it was amazing. We arrived around 4-5PM on Sunday. The views of this island are really great. One of my favorite parts about the trip. Our balcony also had an amazing view. The food was also really good and there was a lot of it everywhere. I didn’t drink nearly as much as I thought I was going to. We had more drinks when we first got there and less towards the end of the trip. We also took a boat tour of the island, which was pretty fun. I will say most of the local citizens and/or Sandal’s employees of this country were extremely nice. I don’t know if they were told to be this way, but it was noticeable.

There were some negatives about the trip, unfortunately. I actually think I picked up the flu about halfway through it. We went on that boat tour and as soon as we got back, I felt horrible. I had chills, super weak joints, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, etc. It took me about 2 days to bounce back. The weak joints worried me. I felt like an old man and super lazy and that’s the complete opposite of how I normally feel. Another negative was that Sandal’s is an all-inclusive resort, but there are constantly people there trying to sell you something and they are relentless. It really started to annoy me. I mean when you are on your Honeymoon, you shouldn’t have to deal with that kind of crap being thrown in your face. I almost felt like I had to avoid certain areas of the resort just so I didn’t have to talk to these people. It basically just felt like a cash grab, even though we already dished out a handsome sum of money to be there. There was one other big negative and that was the number of insects. When you were eating outside there were a lot of flies around the tables. There was also a lot of insects on the balcony off our hotel. I feel like pest control could have been a lot better. The final complaint I had was going through Customs in the St. Lucian airport. Yikes.

I would rate our Honeymoon 8 out of 10. I had a really good time overall, expect for the negatives I listed above. I did really look forward to coming back to the US at the end of our time there. It’s nice being able to get your own food and drinks, use unlimited WiFi and just be comfortable knowing that you are living in the best country in the world. One other thing I forgot to mention, the local diet soda their tastes horrible. Very flat. I had two Diet Mountain Dews when I got back and words can’t describe how good it tasted.

After all this, Sarah and I are starting the house hunting process. We didn’t get back til 2am on Sunday morning, so we took Monday off to knock out a lot of stuff we need to get done.

I also plan to get my workouts rolling again and start putting on some muscle, I feel like I lost some size recently and this needs to get fixed! I plan on doing Chest/Tris and Back/Bis days twice a week with a Shoulder/Traps day in the middle. I’m also going to up the calories and protein. More on this next post!

One final thing I wanted to bring up. Being married to Sarah feels no different than before, which is a good thing to me. The biggest thing I have to get used to is her name changing to Mrs. Cocchiola and calling her my wife and not fiance!

Journal Entry 296 – Too Much Fiber

So I’ve been hitting a calorie deficit for about 2-3 weeks without really cheating in awhile. I’d have a day where I would eat more, but not really a cheat day. Yesterday I decided to have a large cheat meal of whatever I wanted. I decided on Cheese Fries from Kickback Jacks along with a Chicken Ceasar Salad and some wings. I woke up this morning looking much fuller than I have in awhile. I actually look like I lift again! It’s amazing what flat looking muscles can do to your physique and mind when cutting. Not fun.

I was really pumped to get back into a higher protein / lower carb way of eating, but realized I was overdoing it on high fiber / low carb food items. This really can wreck your digestion and make you bloated. I always love how Nutritionists latch on to certain ideas like “Fiber is the best thing you can eat” or “It’s almost impossible to get too much fiber, because it’s good for your gut bacteria.” Um yeah, actually it’s extremely easy to get too much fiber and getting too much can literally wreck you. When you add in high fiber tortillas/bread on top of fruits and vegetables and high fiber protein bars (almost all of them in today’s world), then you have just very easily hit well over 50-60 grams. I think I even hit 80 grams one day. I swear it felt like it took me 3 days to clear my bowels and just to feel like I didn’t have a full stomach all the time. After it finally was clear, I decided to go on a very low fiber diet and I felt very good and I looked even better. My stomach was consistently flat all day. I used to wake up with a flat stomach and go to bed looking like buddah. With low fiber, it’s always flat. It’s easy to overlook factors in your diet that you associate with being healthy when in reality they can be a problem. High fiber leads to almost constant distension and a not very aesthetic appearance.

Some foods I have found to be very beneficial to this way of eating AKA non-bloat:

  • Wings
    • I’ve really been into wings recently. A little bit higher fat, but I always save some room for fattier items in my diet.
  • Peanut Butter
    • Doesn’t bloat me at all.
  • Meat
    • Mainly eating Tyson chicken strips, but digests well.
  • Egg Whites
    • Can make you a little gassy, but not overly bloated.
  • Berries
    • Small handful. Berries don’t bloat me like other fruits.
  • Green Vegetables
    • Well cooked and only small amounts at once.

 

Journal Entry 264 – Challenge Week 1

This is the first week of the company gym challenge. I have gone to the gym as normal every day of the week so far. I have also busted some plateaus on bench this week, which felt really good. I finally moved up to 200lbs on bench press after hitting 195lbs for 3 sets of 8 reps on Thursday. Very satisfying feeling. My pull workout also saw increases of reps across the board on all exercises. I added a high rep / recovery / isolation day after each push/pull workout. In other words, I do a push workout, next day is pull, next day is recovery, then repeat. The point of this recovery day is to do all the exercises I don’t have time to do on my push/ pull days. I also really liked it. The moves are 3 sets of 12-15 reps and no heavy lifting. Its main goal is to squeeze in some isolations and really just get rid of soreness. It was also really effective at reducing my soreness, because for some reason this week, I was feeling DOMS pretty d*mn bad. Cardio has been done 4 out of the 5 work days this week.

My diet this week has been around 2300 calories a day.  High protein, moderate to high carbs and low to moderate fat. Nothing special in terms of macros, but mainly just making sure I eat enough to fuel my workouts. If you are running in the morning and lifting in the afternoon and don’t eat enough, trust me you ain’t going to be feeling too hot. 😉

Workout Summary:

  • Monday – Cardio and Push
  • Tuesday – Cardio and Pull
  • Wednesday – Cardio and Recovery isolation day
  • Thursday – No Cardio  and Push (same as Monday) – PR achieved
  • Friday – Cardio and Pull (same as Tuesday)
  • Saturday – Recovery Isolation day
  • Sunday – Cardio only

Journal Entry 256

Another week of grinding. I have really been bumping up the carbs in my diet recently. I’ve noticed a lack of hunger way more often and the feel of being truly satisfied after eating. Really nice feeling. Workouts have been good as well. Strength is still slowly increasing, although I feel like my muscular endurance could be better. After my 4th – 5th set of a compound move, I’m basically done at that point. I can hammer out some light reps with an iso move, but it still feels pretty tough at that point.

Weekly Split:

  • Chest / Tris
  • Back / Bis
  • Shoulders
  • Chest / Tris
  • Rest
  • Rest
  • Back / Bis

Cardio was done on 4 days a week. Got the runners high every single time too. I’ve started to mix in an incline walk after a couple of miles or so just to mix it up. I’ll probably add back in some cardio every day again, though. Really feel mentally sharp at work, when I do this.

Had a high weigh in of 185lbs this morning. Been hovering around 180-182lbs, but I had a lot of food yesterday, easily exceeding 3000 calories. Since my focus is building muscle, I really don’t care that much. I still look just as lean as I usually do. 😉

Journal Entry 254 – PC issues, Madden and Diet Update

This week I have done zero cardio in the mornings. I was having a lot of computer issues and had to do a system restore and then do a ton of updates, which I did when I got home from work and the morning before I left for work. I somehow picked up a virus that attacked my drivers. This disabled my external mouse, trackpad and displays. It also prevented me from doing updates, so I had to restore the whole system back to factory settings. This wiped out ALL files. Luckily I backed up all my files a couple of weeks ago, so I lost nothing. I took the time to organize all of my files on the external hard drive and now my computer is running better than ever. I put all the files on my computer into 4 different folders. Pretty organized looking. 😉

So, the PC trouble was a pain, but ultimately it turned out drastically boosting my computers performance. I also bought Madden 16 for the Ps3 for the first time in 5 years. Fun game, but I remember why I stopped buying it; it’s the exact same game with the exact same playbooks and plays as Madden 12! Buying that game every year is a complete waste of money. All you really need is to download the rosters and load them in the game. Problem solved. Also, Michael Vick is still WAY too good in that game. I like the man because he’s a Hokie, but unfairly good. I was playing on a low difficulty setting though.

As for training this week, I did zero running this week. I lifted every day during my lunch break and have been steadily increasing my strength. My split:

  • Chest/Tris
  • Back/Bis
  • Shoulders/Traps
  • Chest/Tris
  • Back/Bis

Both the chest and back workouts were exactly the same except for a couple of moves. The most important factor of each workout is getting bench press stronger and chinups stronger. Right now I’m benching 190lbs for 8,6,5 reps. This is also going all the way down to my chest. For back/bis, I do chinups with 25lbs between my feet for my around 3 sets of 6 reps. I’ve been feeling these very good, so I should go beyond that this week. I plan on doing my cardio on back to back days this weekend, along with some abs.

Diet has actually been consistent this week, at least in the early part of the day. Really been enjoying it too. I’ve also been eating way more carbs and less protein. Fat is more or less always the same, between 55-70 grams.

  • Coffee – 7:30AM – 11:00AM
  • Meal 1 – 11:00 AM-  2 packets of oatmeal with berries and small scoop of protein powder
  • Workout from 2-3PM
  • Meal 2 – 3:00PM- Bag of Popchips with a Quest Bar
  • Meal 3- 7:00PM – Varies daily – Always a big meal though
  • Meal 4 – 10:00PM – Protein Pudding with Peanut Butter

Carbs between 200-300 grams, Protein 100-120grams, Fat 55-70 grams. Calories between 2000-2200 during the week. Usually much more on Saturday and Sunday.

Journal Entry 245 – Morning Workouts

This marks the third week of my push/pull split. I have been making slow and steady gains in strength across the board on all exercises. The minimalist nature of it allows me to put full effort into all of my exercises. My push workouts are hands down my favorite of all time. I have reduced my first move from 4 work sets to 3 work sets and kept the second move at 4 sets. I considered the DB incline press the main muscle builder and wanted to allow a little more energy for that. Although, the barbell bench is still of prime importance to me. I also plan on switching chin-ups with DB rows, so heavy chin-ups will be my main move and DB rows will be my main accessory. DB rows remind me more of a DB incline press and I don’t think going too heavy feels all that good or effective. Chin-ups are easier to add weight as well, by just putting weight between your feet or wearing a weight belt. I also changed shrugs and cable rows out for T-bar rows and standing lat preachers. Biceps are still the same. If I have time at the end of the pull workout (or any energy left for that matter) I will add in shrugs one day and rear delts on the other.

I will admit though these workouts as simple as they look can be very draining. I even bonked out at the end of my push workout yesterday doing DB skullcrushers. Meaning I couldn’t even lift the 20’s for reps haha. I have also been running at least a mile before each session. I missed one day of working because I stayed up to watch the election, but it was just a cardio day, so it wasn’t a huge deal.

My diet has averaged 2500 calories this week with 287g Carbs / 77g Fat / 172g Protein. These are shear estimations with lots of potential error factored in. The way I have been eating recently has been pretty relaxed. My main focus is body recomposition with mainly muscle gain. What this means is my goal is to gain muscle, but if I notice I start getting fat then I will scale back a couple of days to drop some fat and water and then resume normal eating. Pretty effective way to eat. I have noticed though I have lacked control over my appetite at times. For example, put any dip such as cream cheese / hummus / salsa / sour cream and I will devour it in seconds with no regard. Especially hummus. I’m not sure what my deal is with that stuff, but I have zero self-control when it is around. Pizza is the same way and recently sweets have been going down in similar fashion. I can think my girlfriend Sarah for some of these issues ;). Don’t really mind at the moment though. Muscle gains occur mainly through eating enough food, so as long as I get my 4 lifting days spread throughout the week then I’m sure a large percentage is going to muscle.

Journal Entry 238 – Post Wedding / Bro Split

I was at a wedding in South Carolina last weekend and didn’t get a chance to blog. It was an awesome time and the wedding was really fun. I got to experience southern hospitality at its finest. I also ate a lot of food and most of it was junk haha. They actually passed out happy meals as parting gifts after the wedding. I ate my burger and left the fries which were pretty soggy at that point. I “roughly” threw my calories in myFitnesspal and I got about 3000 calories each day I was there. This included decent amounts of alcohol though as well. What’s funny is I got back and didn’t feel super bloated or guilty at all. I’ve been eating more food overall recently then I have in the past, so I attribute this to a faster metabolism.

If I had to guess my body fat is probably around 12-13% at the moment. I have noticed some interesting effects though visually. My muscles are bigger than they have been before, so even though I’m at a higher body fat, I look better visually. Especially my chest, shoulders, upper back and abs. This could be do to just a  higher testosterone level. A girlfriend, more carbs and fats and a higher calorie diet explains this well. I will say my lifting every day experiment may be coming to an end. The main reason is because my lifts are actually down strength wise and I don’t want to let that happen. I’m mainly talking about the 6-8 rep range, but still. I did bench press and could only manage 185x 6,6,4. That’s not very good. This was after a weekend of partying, but my DB rows were also down. I think I need more rest time.

I was also talking to Sarah’s (my girlfriend) uncle and the man is “jacked city”. He had at least 16-17in arms and said this was the smallest he’s been in a long time. He basically said he’s done a 4 day bodybuilder split with one muscle group a day most of his time lifting. At the moment he’s doing two a days, but that’s because he has time. He built most of his size on a 4 day split. It was funny though because I was talking to him at the rehearsal dinner and the wedding and noticed he wasn’t eating much of anything. He was drinking beer but not eating. Then when we got home he had a massive meal of Chickfila nuggets the first night and a huge bowl of chicken and rice the next night. I think he likes doing an  intermittent fasting style of eating.

I decided to modify my routine to get back on this style of lifting. I want to get my strength back up as well as my size. I have written out some plans of what I want to do and I think I have my lifting split down:

  • Chest/Tris
    • Only one move for Tris
  • Back/Bis
    • Only one move for Bis
  • Shoulders/Traps
  • Arms
  • Cardio or Off the other 3 days; Also do 1 mile cardio on each lifting day

As for diet I plan to eat a modified warrior diet style everyday expect Saturday. Saturday I eat at much as I want when I want. The other days though will be two scoops of protein powder with berries during the day and some beef jerky or Costco canned chicken at work. This is roughly 600 calories or so. I may thrown in a Quest bar as well for a grand total of 800 calories. This allows me to hit most of my protein for the day and a huge dinner full of carbs and fat. Not only does this work from a lifestyle standpoint is works well from an enjoyment, appetite control and food prep (or non food prep) standpoint as well. This big meal could be anything I want, either homemade or eaten out. I actually did this this week and had a big Chipotle bowl with all the toppings (Rice, chicken, double beans, veggies, salsa, corn, lettuce and sour cream) twice and a medium pizza from dominoes. Last night I had 4 slices of Mellow Mushroom medium pizza with light ranch and a Guinness. 😉

I wouldn’t exactly call it intermittent fasting, but pretty close. The enjoyment of that last meal sure makes it feel that way though. I will admit though, around 5-7 o clock I start to fantasize about food a little bit and my hunger starts to kick in big time. Luckily I eat soon anyway so it doesn’t really matter. Also I really don’t have a calorie goal each day either. If I had to estimate its probably in the 2000-2500 calorie range everyday with 1-2 days of being closer to 3000. At the moment I really dont care what it is. As long as progress is being made, I’m enjoying the meal plan and getting results.

 

 

Journal Entry 237

I missed my post last week due to vacation at the beach. I also have a wedding to go to in South Carolina next week so will unfortunately miss that post as well. But this week should be fine. 😉

I didn’t workout at all from Friday – Sunday last weekend. On last Thursday I did 30 minutes of cardio and the same on Monday. By Tuesday it had been 5 days since my last lifting session and not going to lie, felt a little stiff in the gym. My workout was fine after I got warmed up, but nothing special. The rest of this week I have done 3 upperbody workouts in a row and will continue this though the weekend. I have also done much less cardio this week. I would say a max of 15 minutes a day of pure running. This isn’t intentional, but for some reason haven’t been getting in the zone like in the past few weeks, so I figured I would just put more into lifting.

I have also been losing a lot of weight this week. I weighed in at 168lbs this morning and dropped 4lbs between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. My body usually doesn’t do that. If anything my workout volume has been less than it was. Nutrition has been about the same, expect I have been eating more carbs as of late. I was starting to get very high in protein intake to the point where I knew it was just too much. I’m talking easily hitting over 220 grams a day. So I dropped it down to about 120 grams mainly by cutting meat and eating more starch, beans (hummus) and vegetables. Also more rice cakes and ice cream to be honest. As a result my body has dropped weight. If I had to wager probably some inflammation from all the excess protein.Kind of fun though eating this way. I actually cut out most of my meat and mainly focused on dairy proteins from powder and protein bars. With all the protein in the other foods I eat, I easily hit 120 grams. Which according to Menno’s protein article, .64 grams per pound was more than enough protein even under extreme workout conditions. I dropped protein mainly based on feel though. If I feel like I need to eat more protein I will, but sometimes I think I greatly overdo it and need other macros to replace it.

Journal Entry 236 – Upper Body Gains

Another good week in training:

  • Sunday – 4 mile run
  • Monday – 5 mile run
  • Tuesday – 2 mile run and machine weights (upper body 3 sets of 10 reps) 1 mile walk
  • Wednesday – Same as Tuesday
  • Thursday – 2 mile run and Upperbody free weights (3 sets of 10 reps)
  • Friday – 3 mile run and Upperbody Free Weights (3 sets of 10 reps)
  • Saturday – 2-3 mile run and upper body free weights (3 sets of 10 reps)

Been focusing mainly on upper body, while saving my legs for running. I can’t stand when my legs are so sore that walking becomes difficult. In my opinion, big legs don’t look good anyway, so I don’t see the point in doing super heavy and high volume days with legs. My upper body has been responding nicely though. I think the reduced workload on the legs besides running has helped my upperbody progress a lot. I have mainly been focused on rep goals again and sticking with 3 sets of 10 reps, while hitting the upper body 5 days a week.

Rep goal means once you hit at least 30 reps with a certain weight, you then increase the weight used. So if I hit 34 reps (70lbs x 12,11,10 – total reps 34) with 70lb dumbbells on a flat bench press, I then increase to 75lbs and stay with that weight until I get at least 30 reps. This is good for size and strength and still focuses on progressive overload. I’m still steering away from heavy weights though. 10 reps feels good and I want to keep it around that. Also on the first set of each exercise I try to get as many reps as I can. So instead of stopping at 10 reps like a traditional 3×10 workout, I just go as many as I can get. I got this from Menno Henselmans and recently worked it back into my routine.

Diet has been high protein, moderate carb and low to moderate fat just like in other weeks. One day I ended up hitting close to 250 grams of protein. A little too much but whatever. I feel really good in the gym and my size seems to be improving without fat gain. If I had to estimate, calories are around the 2200-2400 calorie range for the week. Appetite is still very strong. I was thinking of doing an epic cheat day soon, because some days I feel like a bottomless pit, but I may let that day find me instead of planning it for a certain day. I honestly think with the work I’ve been doing recently, it would provide some favorable effects for me.

My weight is holding steady around 171-173lbs on average.

Journal Entry 235 – Sticking with Full Body and New Breakfast

I decided to stick with the full body approach vs the split routine. I did cardio on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. On Tuesday I did Full Body and I have done Full Body on Thursday, Friday and will finish on Saturday. I actually organized my workouts this week into a template that I really like. It’s fatiguing, but avoids super heavy weights in order to prevent neural (CNS) fatigue. I read a very interesting article (based on hypertrophy) that was talking about how you can overdo strength training and all your really doing is making your self super fatigued from stressing out the nervous system, while the muscles can actually handle way more volume. The way around this is to avoid heavy weights. Since I have the tendency to overdo it, I decided to stick with 10 reps to stay away from those heavier weights. I have been pretty sore, but it feels awesome to train this way.

My setup looks like this:

  • Push Move – 5 sets of 10 reps (one of the below)
    • BB Bench, INC DB Bench, BB Shoulder Press
  • Pull Move – 5 sets of 10 reps (one of the below)
    • TBar Rows, DB Rows, Chinups
  • Legs Move – 5 sets of 10 reps (one of the below)
    • BB Squats, Leg Press, Lunges
  • Upper Shoulders – 5 sets of 10 reps (one of the below)
    • Lateral Raise, Rear Delt Raise, Shrugs
  • Fluff – 3 sets of 12- 20 reps (pure pump) (one exercise for each)
    • Biceps
    • Triceps
    • Abs

This routine has a lot of volume, but due to the reps being lighter and staying the hell away from heavy weights, its actually very fun to do. My midweek workout was all on machines which was alright, but I do like using free weights for at least 2 of the 3 main moves. Hard to tell, but I usually do free weights with 2 out of the 3 main movements and a lighter move for the third. For example, if I did INC DB Bench for Push and DB Rows for Pull then I did a lighter leg press move so I don’t overwork myself.

I do 3 of those in a row during my weekend and one during the week. I think going above 4 days may lead to some burn out. I do some big eating after these workouts to compensate. One thing I don’t do though is overdo it on carbs. I really don’t think you need to stuff yourself with excess carbs to recover and grow. I do think you need some but just balance it out with the rest of your diet. I think I’m done with the whole “refeed” like crazy after your workouts. I just eat the same all the time, which is just straight balanced. Also I have heard the more you do Keto, have a history of low calorie diets or your genes are subpar, then you are far more efficient with glucose than others. Meaning I may not need nearly as much as other people. Anecdotally I have noticed this. Yet protein seems to be an endless fuel for me and I feel fantastic after eating higher protein meals. So instead of leaving protein the same or even lowering it on a bulk like many people do. I plan on raising it, while still keeping moderate carbs and fat in my diet. Just they way I like to do it ;).

New go to breakfast though which almost always ends up being my preworkout meal. Two 100 calorie packets of oatmeal (roughly 30 carbs) cooked in 1 cup of water for 1-2 mins in microwave. Mix in 1 scoop of protein powder after cooked and top with berries. This mean has like 350 calories and literally is like rocket fuel for the gym. Its also very volumetric and if you get the cooking down, it tastes  like cake. I also noticed after eating this and hitting the gym I’m literally full for like 7 hours after eating it. Pretty amazing to be honest. I then usually feast at night on protein and veggies and have a big protein type dessert.