Journal Entry 321 – Final Fantasy XV

For the first time in awhile, I started playing a Final Fantasy game. The last one I can honestly say I enjoyed was Final Fantasy X, which came out 17 years ago. Since then when I have played Final Fantasy it was a remastered version of an old game. I’m currently playing Final Fantasy XV for the PS4 and it has been good so far. The graphics are incredible, the fighting is fun, but can be confusing and the storyline is average so far. I like the characters, but they are far from my favorite. So far I would say 7 out of 10. I haven’t finished the game yet, so the rating may change, but this is an early impression.

Hokies had a big game last night and played great in the first half. Went into self-destruct mode in the second half. Sometimes it is hard to watch. The Giants have a big game against Carolina today. We are 1-3 so far this season, but a great way to think about it is we still have 75% of the season left. Plenty of time to turn things around and start scoring some points and winning games. After 15 years of being a Giants fan, I still delude myself into high hopes no matter how bad my team is. ūüėČ

Nothing exciting to report in the gym. My strength is about the same. I did feel very weak earlier in the week, but got stronger towards the end. Diet is still low carb of around 100g a day and I have not cheated at all this weekend. Had a decent amount of wine last night, but technically that is low carb. ūüėČ Weight has been going down over recent weeks and seems to have settled around 177.5lbs. I did reach a new low of 174.4 lbs last week, but it was due to major dehydration and not an accurate representation of weight.

Next week is one of my friend/co-workers weddings. I can honestly say weddings are one of my favorite things to go to. Everyone is in a great mood and it is always an incredibly fun time.

 

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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 315 – 3 Week Hiatus

Today marks the end of my 3-week hiatus. I’ve had a lot going on recently and never really had a chance to sit down and write a post. Over the past 2 weeks, Sarah and I bought a dog! It is a shih-tzu / bichon mix that is 100% hypoallergenic. This was more for Sarah than for me as I’m not allergic to any dogs. We named him Luke after Luke Skywalker. Coincidentally he was born on 5/4/2018, which is Star Wars day and the date of our rehearsal dinner. Not going to lie, he is a lot of work. More work than I thought it would be and I’ve had dogs my entire life, but it has been awhile since I had a puppy and I forgot the amount of energy these dogs have. Also, he’s a lot of money. I know startup costs are high, but if you are running low on money and are thinking about getting a pet, I highly recommend thinking again.

I do have good news to report in terms of my lifting progress. I set a personal record on the bench press for 225lbs at 6 reps. The bench has felt fantastic recently and I actually did that with a cold. I’ve been sick since I left the beach last weekend, but it did not seem to affect my lifts. Recently I’ve been prioritizing the bench above all else in the gym. The prioritization has paid off. My goal is to get my bench press to 225lbs for 3 sets of 8 reps with ease. Once I hit this, my bench lifting goals will pretty much be complete. Funny enough my weight has been going down as well. I’m sitting at roughly 179lbs. I’m benching more at this weight than I was at 185lbs. My goal is to get down to the 170-175lbs range, while continuing to increase my strength. My overall volume in the gym has been low recently. My diet consists of a ton of protein and little carbs and moderate fats at the moment. This is my go-to when trying to lose fat and look my best. Since my volume is low, my strength has still been going up as there isn’t a ton of muscular damage to repair. I have barely run at all recently as well. I think once in the last month.

My workout schedule is heavy bench 3 sets of 6-8 reps 3 times a week every other day. I then do a Pull movement for 4 sets of 6-10 reps (heavy) and then an abs movement for 3 sets of 6-10 reps.

On the days, I’m not doing a bench I do the same setup scheme, but usually either an Incline Dumbell Press or Pushups instead of flat bench. I’ve found that by keeping the volume low each day, I can come back the next day and hit it hard regardless of what I did the day before. Obviously works since my bench has been skyrocketing recently.

My diet is pretty simple at the moment:

  • 2 12oz Coffees with half and half
  • Protein Shake
  • 2 hardboiled eggs
  • WORKOUT
  • *Our Little Rebellion Protein Crisps 1 5oz bag (eaten throughout the day)
  • Nicotine Gum
  • 12oz of either ground Turkey Meat or Beef with cheese and small amounts of vegetables
  • Protein Pudding with blueberries

That is pretty much it almost every single day. Sounds boring, but I really like it. It’s helping me shred fat and increase my lifts at the same time. Don’t mind if I do.

 

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 284 – Winging It

Not going to lie, I get very bored with training¬†and dieting at certain points in my life. I almost have to change up what I do to prevent this from setting in. Training with low volumes and long rest periods can be fun when you are getting stronger week to week, but dear god it is boring. It’s like can I just hit the gym, get a great pump and move on with my day. It’s just so slow. Eating the same foods can be very similar to this. I start to eat the same foods over and over and crave them less and less and it all just gets so boring.

I’m going to wing it for the time being. I want to keep one boring strength day in the gym to keep my strength and the other days will be higher volume full body lifting. Cardio will be done when I have time, but I’m not going to stress about it.

As for nutrition, the same logic applies. I simply want to eat what I feel like eating without overeating on crap. Eat foods I enjoy and move on with life. The majority of the time I undereat during the day and eat more at night. This is by far the most enjoyable way of eating I have found. My stress levels tend to decrease when I eat like this. I usually have 2 protein puddings and some random stuff during the early part of my day for roughly 800-1000 calories. Then at night I eat whatever I want or feel that day. This eliminates cravings and doesn’t make you want to binge on the weekend or your cheat day. You are quite simply spreading all the food you like throughout the week and eating it in a much more enjoyable fashion. It also makes you appear more of an enjoyable person, who isn’t constantly¬†obsessed with maintaining¬†some lame diet plan that no one cares about.

Random Tidbits:

  • Joe Rogan’s podcast continues to provide me with hours of entertainment
  • Age of Empires 3 is a great game
  • Giants SUCK!
  • Carson Wentz is a BEAST! Really impressive to watch play. He’s a very accurate passer and tough runner.
  • Hokies are playing awesome!
  • Apparently, there is such a thing as a grey Jedi with a white lightsaber. They are neutral, who simply try to maintain the balance between the two sides. This is awesome.
  • Random pushups are incredible for an energy boost when you feel out of it.

 

Journal Entry 283 – Bench and Chins

Workout:

My strength is starting to go up after I made an important change on my rep range. Recently, I was trying to get 8 reps for 3 sets before moving up in weight. This was largely to keep form very good and not letting sloppy form take over when the weight was too heavy. I decided to drop the range to 3 sets of 6 reps to break a plateau and the difference has been dramatic. I’m already up 10lbs on the bench and 5lbs on Chins. The first time I benched 205lbs with 3 sets of 6 reps, I thought I had the wrong weight on the bar it felt so easy.¬† My workout is as follows:

  • Push (Day 1 / Day 2)
  • BB Bench Press 3 sets of 6 reps
  • DB INC Press 3 sets of 8 reps / Dips 3 sets of Max reps
  • Lateral Raises 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Flys 3 sets of 10 reps /¬†Skull Crushers 3 sets of 10 reps

 

  • Pull (Both Days)
  • Chinups 3 sets of 6 reps
  • Preachers 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Face Pulls 3 sets of 10 reps
  • DB Curl 3 sets of 10 reps

I found this way of working out to be the best for my current schedule. I can easily complete this on my break from work. The first move takes the longest, but the last two are a breeze and I superset them. It’s also very easy to tweak certain things to keep strength going up.

I have also added in Cardio 2-3 days a week and I swear I feel like it made me stronger in my lifts. (At least last week)

Diet:

My weight is right around 185lbs right now. It fluctuates between 182-187lbs. I think I may have found a connection between processed sugar and my psoriasis flaring. Not necessarily carbs, but processed sugar. It was the same feeling I had when I had my Bachelor Party. I’ve been reducing, so my carbs are at more of a moderate range and I have increased fat and protein a little bit. Recently I have been eating Sardines, which are very good. They may stink, but they are nutritional powerhouses and have a really nice texture. I may try to cut out the excessive green vegetables and stick to more simple meals as well.

Life:

Last weekend Sarah had her bachelorette party. She was gone for 4 days, but I missed her a lot! While she was gone, I actually took off early on Saturday and went to the Wine Festival in Powhatan. It was actually pretty good.

Giants finally won a game last night. They actually played really well on defense. Offense still looked pretty inconsistent, but they scored a modest 13 points against a really good defense with a ton of injuries. So it could have been MUCH worse.

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.