Monday, February 26, 2018

Next: Fitness & Finance

  


Originally I had a goal of running a mile in under 5 minutes... then my brother reminded me that some of the fastest runners have just surpassed 4:30... my cardiovascular system is out-of-date, if the fastest runners are barely getting past 5min, I should look towards something more realistic; 6min. We’ll see how that goes...

But why? I get asked that a lot. Is it cause I love torturing myself? Do I love running? I mean I enjoy it but that’s not the real reason I want to do this. The answer goes back to why I started this blog in the first place; I’m looking to find meaning in life. I’ve tried philosophy (Buddhism), I tried religion, I’ve tried money, none of them have given me a real sense of purpose. The only thing that seems to work so far, is challenging myself to become better. Better at something. It doesn’t really matter what, but for some reason when I feel challenged, I feel alive.

I came up with this idea after reading another person’s blog called Impossible HQ. The author is a genius. You could say he inspired me to do my own Impossible blog. I don’t want to copy what he did, I want to make my own “Impossible” website, my own personal account of challenges in my life that I create. In any case, it’s a good website to check out. Here’s the link, I highly suggest checking it out. Back to the goals at hand; fitness and finance!

Have you ever heard of the Spartan Race or Tough Mudder? I found out about the Tough Mudder by reading the founder’s book, just cause it looked interesting. It’s called It Takes a Tribe: Building the Tough Mudder Movement by Will Dean. Quite the read! He goes through their entire philosophy and why he started it, as well as some challenges they faced along the way. I found about the Spartan Race back when my brother and I were looking to start a life-coaching business. We wanted to use the name Spartan but realized there are soooo many businesses and organizations with ‘Spartan’ in their name. One of which is the Spartan race. 

The premise for either is basically the same; they are obstacle courses for adults. They range from 5 mile races to full marathon races. The key difference is the Spartan race is an individuals race, you don’t get help from other racers and you’re looking to be first to finish (like most races). The Tough Mudder, however, is built on the premise that you make it through the obstacle course by helping each other. There are some obstacles that are almost impossible to pass without help from another racer, and they’re designed that way! I think it’s really cool... they both target specific audiences. I figured I’d try them both :)


How

I’m not sure how I’ll train for either, but I’ll also be training for the 6min mile while I’m at it. My progress and learning will be documented mainly through Instagram. I’ll put some longer videos every once-in-a-while here, but I figure no one wants to read about progress, they want to see it!

I’ll start by doing some research on how other people have trained for the races and copy their workout routines. I’ll of course adhere to a healthy diet as well. I haven’t bought my tickets yet, but I’ll be sure to put them on here once I do, cause I want proof of that for my future self!



Finance

The next topic I’ll be focusing on is something I’ve already written about quite a bit. I’ve been very excited about dividend and stock trading, but haven’t really busted my ass to learn how to make significant money. As I put on an earlier post, I’ve got only about $5,000 in my Robinhood trading app, which isn’t nearly big enough to make money. I make like a few dollars every quarter. Whooo! Watch out Warren!

This is more of a learning goal for me. I’ll post on here if I make any significant gains, other than that, this goal will be a long-term kinda thing. The difference here is that I’m going to put more effort into learning it!

So, that makes 7 goals that I’ll be able to accomplish by the time these are all finished! My unfinished goals now are...
1. Make $1,000 passively
2. Become a certified sign language interpreter
3. Get a B.A.
4. Run a successful blog
5. Run a Tough Mudder
6. Run a Spartan Race
7. Be able to do a double back flip on the trampoline
8. Run a mile in under 6min
9. Write and publish a book
10. Go sky-diving in a squirrel suit
11. Be able to dunk a basketball
12. Learn to plan an instrument
13. Learn to draw
14. Create an app that earns money
15. Earn $1M
16. Learn martial arts
17. Complete Seals Hell week
18. Play in the WSOP
19. Raise $100,000 for a cause I care about
20. Pay for someone I don’t know to go to college
21. Create and sell an original product 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

6-pack: My personal journey of accomplishing the holy grail of fitness


The photo above is my most recent progress photo, at 146lbs. This is indicative of several things; first off, I made it to the holy grail of fitness, the 6-pack! Secondly, I’ve gained a good amount of muscle. The last time I cut really hard, I hit ~133lbs. The photo above is me at a (probably) lower body fat percentage than when I was 133lbs, so I’ve gained muscle!

The Verdict: Is a 6-pack worth it?

In a word: no. I love the way it looks, don’t get me wrong. And so does my lady. The reason I didn’t like it was what it required in terms of my social life.

It may be difficult to understand, but I learned that a large part of anyone’s social life includes food at one point. “Hey man wanna come over and have dinner”, Sure! But only if you cook lean meat like chicken breast, egg whites, or turkey and only include raw vegetables as a side. “...How about we just hang out after you’re done dieting?”— This is a conversation I had often. Sure, you don’t have to eat like that everyday to get a 6-pack. But something many people don’t understand is; being on a diet for more than a month is hard! It’s better to suffer (in my opinion) for a short amount of time, say 2-3 weeks, then eat moderately than to have to diet for months. It’s like how a lot of fitness magazines say that high insensitivity-interval training (HIIT) is better for you in terms of fast loss than cardio. Sure it is, if we’re to consider how much fat you can lose if you use that technique for weeks upon weeks. Problem is, most people can’t stand HIIT for more than a few days. Many people can do cardio 3-4x per week for months, doing HIIT for 1-2x per week for even 2 weeks is difficult. 


The photo above is what I looked like before I started cutting. Not bad, not cut. From this photo, I could’ve lost 5-10lbs and still been ok, and I would’ve looked slightly better. 

The game plan: What did I actually do to get a 6-pack?

I’m going to literally lay it out for you, right here. Because so many people complain that the advice on getting a 6-pack is muddled at best, and doesn’t lead to results fast enough. Now I do lay out the foundations of fat loss here, I’ll use this to detail exactly what I did. That being said, this may not be the best diet/workout routine for you to follow, as such, consult your doctor or nutritionist before considering a diet. This diet/workout routine was a best match for me and me only. It is not intended for others to follow.

Diet

Your diet is by far the most important thing in getting a 6-pack. For most of my diet, I ate ~900-1,100cal, most of those consisting of protein (~215g of protein a day). Proteins like; chicken breast, tuna in water, whey protein powder, lean turkey, egg whites, and sometimes casein protein powder (to get that sweet tooth curbed). I got these numbers from Lyle McDonald’s book, The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook, which I highly reccomend buying if you’re interested in losing a bunch of weight fast. Lyle does suggest that one can eat a limited amount of veggies like, lettuce, kale, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, onions, etc. but I stuck to lean protein and no veggies as long as I could. I also took 6 fish oil pills once a day (per Lyle’s recommendation).

Eating 215g of protein may be hard the first day or two, but after that second day you’ll wish you could eat more; you’ll have strong hunger. That’s an important part of any diet; get used to being hungry. Literally follow that diet plan for as long as you can, until you get to the weight/look you want. Lyle reccomends one go on this diet in specific cycles so that you can reset your hormones. The reccomendation varies depending on how much fat you have, but the common rule-of-thumb is to follow this kind of hardcore diet for a month, eat at maintenance for a week, then go back.

There are all kinds of tricks to keep hunger at bay, such as using caffeine and ephedrine, drinking vinegar, cardio, ice cold water, bromocriptine, etc. but at the end of the day, you’ll just have to be O K with being hungry if you want to drop l o w.


Workout routine

Lyle has a specific workout routine he recommendes, although I used a workout routine that I got from James Krieger on his Weightology website. Essentially, you want to hit all muscles 2-3x per week so that your body doesn’t metabolize it while you’re trying to lose weight, but you don’t want to hit it too hard cause then you’ll lose muscle (because of stress and lower calories). I worked on a lower-body upper-body split, 6 days per week. Science tells us that our volume can drop (number of sets) as long as intensity doesn’t (weight/reps) and you’ll still maintain muscle (if not gain it). So, for example, instead of doing 4-5 sets, 8-12 reps for squats, you can do 8-12 reps for 2-3 sets. Trust me, after a week or so you won’t want to hit squats for 4-5 sets. Again, for a more specific workout routine, I’d suggest contacting James Krieger and investing in a workout routine tailored to you, or reading Lyle McDonald’s book. I don’t receive any money from either sources to mention them.

What now?

Now I’ll be focusing on 7 new goals which, 1 will be in finance, 4 in education, and 3 in fitness. They are; make $1,000 per month passively, become certified in American Sign Language interpreting, get a B.A., run a successful blog, run a Tough Mudder, run a Spartan Race, and lastly run a mile in under 6min. It might seem like a lot of goals to focus on but most of them require very passive effort. For example, getting my B.A. requires me to continue going to school and getting passing grades. This isn’t too exciting to see unfold nor is it too exciting to write about. I’ll write about the big accomplishments (end of a semester, one more year left, etc.), but that’s it. Training for the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and the mile all involve gym time, which is relatively easy to focus on all three at once. Making $1,000 passively requires a lot of education and trail and error, and so does running a successful blog.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The truth of bodybuilding and the resurgence of “Challenges”

I would say that for almost 4-5yrs I’ve taken building muscle as one of the most important goals in my life. And it wasn’t until 6 months ago that I started the most intense muscle building routine of my life. Because I’ve been taking this goal much more seriously, I’ve done extensive research on how much muscle I can gain in a year. Consequently, I researched how much muscle I could gain in a lifetime and.... the results are sobering to say the least. 

Lyle McDonald is nice enough to do some math for us and make some accurate assumptions about how much muscle one can gain in their life. I’d consider myself intermmediate, which means if I’m lucky, I can gain about 1lbs of muscle per month. Per month! That’s kinda insane! Sure, if I work hard, year after year, I can gain 12lbs per year, which can make a significant change in my body composition. But damn! So what does this mean for my future goals? 

Ultimately, I’ve shifted my goals a bit after taking into consideration this new information. Now, I’d like to keep my body fat percentage damn low, low enough to see my 6-pack all the time, then slowly build muscle through various workouts and routines. How is this different? Well, for one; my ultimate goal isn’t to gain as much muscle as I can, anymore. It’s to stay at a low body fat percentage, which will take a lot of commitment to diet. For two; my workouts change quite a bit. I no longer need to spend as much time as possible to build muscle. Rather, I’ll be focusing more on stamina, HIIT, and short weight lifting sessions.

It’s important to realize that this isn’t me giving up, its me changing my goals. I realize that if I work as hard as I can and continue trying to stack on as much muscle as I can, I might be able to get to 160-165lbs with ~9% body fat... that’s a good body, not very impressive in general though. So why spend all that time (years and years) trying to push that number 1-2lbs? I’d rather focus on improving my everyday abilities and skills like stamina and strength in movements I use everyday. Not focusing on increasing the amount of reps I can push 45lbs dumbbells over my head. Who knows, maybe I’ll go back to bodybuilding! Maybe I won’t. Either way, I’m not throwing in the towel.

Update: I now weight 145lbs, down ~5lbs from when I started. I’m beginning to see more definition in various places. My pants are fitting me better and better...
Struggles: Sugar cravings and fatigue are increasing, tolerance for chicken breast is decreasing. All things I’ve dealt with before...


The Challenges are back!

I’ve decided to bring back the original purpose for this whole blog; challenging myself in various ways to help me find meaning. The challenges can be found here, and I’ll be updating the list as I go. You can see that I’m currently working on 4 different goals at once; have a clearly defined 6-pack without flexing, make $1,000 per month passively, become a certified American Sign Language interpreter, and get a B.A. The reason I’m working on 4 different goals at once is because they are all long-term goals that require a little bit of effort everyday. This, I’ve found, is a secret of the successful; work a little bit on your goals everyday. Having a clearly defined 6-pack requires me to diet right (900-1,200cal) and hit the gym. The gym takes about an hour, dieting just requires me to eat the right foods. Done.What about the other 15 hours in a day? Making $1,000 per month passively can be accomplished in many ways. I’m trying to do it in a few; dividend stock, this blog, and my 401(k). Those things do require research and work and take up the majority of my time. But even then, I’ve got some time left over, so I fill that with work (become a certified American Sign Language interpreter), and a bit of online school (get a B.A.).

All-in-all, working on 4 goals is pretty easy. The only difficult part is to resist the temptation of wanting to add more goals cause I’m excited to start on those (like running a Tough Mudder!). The format of this blog will hopefully change as well... I hope to get in more videos of my training, diet, etc. so it’s more of a documented blog instead of me just rambling on here.



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Back to cutting!

Because I gained too much weight this recent bulking cycle, I’ve decided to man-up and start cutting. This time, I’ll cut to a clear 6-pack, eat healthy foods, bulk slow, etc. Why will this time be any different? Cause I’ll be keeping a bet with my brother. If I don’t make a 6-pack by April 30, I owe him $500. And I won’t just withdraw the money if I fail, I’ll withdraw 5 $100 bills NOW, and keep it in a place where we both can see it. I officially start today, 2/14. Valetine’s Day!! OFFICIAL WEIGH IN: 150.6lbs, ~15-20% body fat.

Goals

1. Cut down to a clear 6-pack, requiring no special lighting. Judges will be; me, my brother, my partner. If any one of those 3 says it’s not a 6-pack, I keep going.

2. Cut to a 6-pack by April 30, no later. That gives me a little more than 10 weeks. If I lose 2lbs per week, that’s exactly the amount of time I need to get down to a  d e f i n e d  6-pack.

3. Don’t keep meticulous track of weight. I believed this led to me quitting sooner than I should’ve, last cutting cycle. I’ll make sure to document my weight once a week, possibly on Saturday or Sunday.

4. After cutting down, start bulking slowly. Meaning, increase calories by 100-200 (starting at 1,800), eat vegetables, don’t have a cheat meal everyday or even every week, decrease daily activity slowly, etc.


Diet

I’m gonna start this cutting cycle off with a bang and drop to 900 calories of ~200g of protein and 10g of fish oil fat, 0 carbs. I’m gonna also have a small carb up day this Friday... this is sorta intentional, sorta not. My lady wants to do something special for Valentine’s Day, on Friday. It’ll work nicely with my workout routine.

Workout routine

This time I’m gonna treat the gym a little less important, meaning; I’m gonna stick to the same routine I’ve been doing, but try to lessen the amount of time I’m in the gym. I’ll still do the upper/lower body split 6 days a week, and I’ll add some cardio here and there. I’m gonna try to start listening to audiobooks instead of music, making my time more efficient.

Monday, February 12, 2018

What’s next?

Pineapple stuff... did it work?

Unfortunately I haven’t noticed any difference with my allergies since taking the quercetin, bromelain and MSM. Granted, it’s only been about 9 days... although I did do some math and realized that taking my glucocorticoid nose spray would be much cheaper. I just bought 2 bottles today that’ll last me about 2 months, for $25. The quercetin, bromelain and MSM cost me in total $50 and will last about a month. Sure, I might be able to find a cheaper combination of the 3, but for now it isn’t looking promising. That’s ok, I’m still getting quality sleep! I also realized that although melatonin is a natural sleep aid (I’m a terribly light sleeper), it makes me real groggy if I have to wake up around 6AM in the morning. 

How’s the diet, workouts, etc.?

So far so good! Well, not exactly... the workouts are going great, I’m finally seeing consistent gains in my strength which translates (if you remember) into muscle gains! Only caveat I have to this is my diet. Ladies and gents, there is a reason why we need to increase our calories slowly while bulking... I started my bulking cycle on ~ January 15th at 137lbs. It’s now February 12 (almost a month) and I’m already 150lbs. For those of you slow at math, that’s 13lbs in 1 month! That’s nearly 3lbs a week, wwaayy too much weight to gain in a month. I also realize that I didn’t cut down low enough... you can see my post from January of this year that my although my 6-pack is visible, it isn’t THAT visible... it needs to be pretty damn visible to start bulking. 

All-in-all, I’m upset. I wish I didn’t eat so much! I kind of just let loose when I started bulking and that contributed to like a 5lbs gain in about a week. Sure, a good amount of that might be glycogen and water but even considering, that’s quite a bit. This is definitely the fittest I’ve been at 150lbs.! That’s something to be proud of! I am making progress, even if it’s slow (cause I keep f*ckin’ up).


What to do now?

Around the end of this week (2/18) I’ll start another cutting cycle and cut until I can clearly see my 6-pack in any light! Whew. Another cutting cycle. Hello turkey and chicken breast!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Pineapple to the rescue! How to combat allergies

In a previous post I talked about how important sleep is to a body builder. I also mentioned how I haven’t been getting a lot of quality sleep lately because of my nasal allergies. I quite literally allergic to nearly every species of plant native to Colorado. What happens is, during the day, I can breathe just fine. It’s only when I lay down (even if my head is propped), my nose will plug up and I won’t be able to breathe out of it. This causes me to have to breathe through my mouth, which dries up and wakes me up. I’ve tried a lot of different things; cleaning my pillow case, sleeping propped up, using a Neti Pot before bed to clean my nose up, not consuming diary, etc. The only thing so far that seems to help is a steroid nasal spray called fluticasone. Obviously, as with any steroids, there are unwanted side-effects. Side-effects I’d like to avoid if possible. So while I’ve been on the journey of decreasing my allergy symptoms, I’ve been using fluticasone. What have I been using supplementally?...




Quercetin

Quercetin is an interesting bioflavonoid. It’s got all kinds of good characteristics, such as; anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, anti-oxidant, and much more. It’s found in high abundents like onions and green tea. On it’s own, it doesn’t help with allergies in significant amounts. But when paired with another supplement, it works wonders for nasal allergies...

Bromelain

Bromelain is found in high concentrations in pineapple, especially the stem of the pineapple. It works amazingly for nasal allergies as it targets thinning the mucus specifically in your nasal pathways (exactly where my suffering stems from). When paired with quercetin, it’s power nearly doubles (thats a play on words, I’m not sure how much it’s power is increased with quercetin). In order to get enough bromelain from pineapple to make a significant difference, you’d either have to blend the stem and eat 1-2 of those a day (damn hard, they’re so bitter.... yes I’ve tried it), or take a supplement. There are many OTC supplements that are made with both quercetin and bromelain.

MSM

The last supplement I’m using for this test cycle is called MSM. The longer version is something you won’t take interest in, but what is interesting is it’s technically a sulfur that is used mainly for it’s anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Mainly people use it for arthritis or joint issues. I’m obviously using it in conjunction with bromelain and quercetin to (hopefully) calm my nasal passages down so that I can breathe properly. 


Verdict...?

It’s obviously too soon to tell if these supplements have made an real difference in my allergies, as this marks day 2 of me taking them. I have been sleeping better, but I also took my fluticasone about 2 days ago, so it’s possible that the steroid hasn’t fully left my body yet. However, I have been sleeping tremendously well ever since I took this seriously and my strength gains are back on track to increasing. Today, I had the goal of hitting 85lbs dumbbell chest press at least 12 times, and I got that for 2 sets. !!!! I then went on to do a ~2hrs upper body workout, cause I love being at the gym and feeling that pain.



I’ll update here with any changes. For now, the typical updates...

Weight: 146.6lbs
Calories: 3,000
Workout routine: Upper body, lower body split. 6 days/week, Sundays off
Goal: Countine bulking routine until six pack is no longer visible. Then switch to a cutting cycle to drop to a c u t six pack.
Diet/workout adherence: ~95%

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

No sleep = no gains

Recently, my strength has been decreasing. At first I figured this was due to being such a large caloric deficient. Only I was further confused when I starting eating a caloric surplus (~2,600cal) and my strength didn’t increase back to it’s “normal”. I read an article recently on T-Nation where the author was describing how a 5-10% drop in strength doesn’t necessarily mean a net loss of strength. If your 8 rep max is 100lbs for a specific exercise, and the next time you try that exercise you’re only able to do 6, that doesn’t mean you lost strength. What we have to realize is that if your true 8 rep max is 100lbs, a lot of conditions have to come together for you to get that number. Not getting it doesn’t mean you are getting weaker, rather, some conditions weren’t met. Maybe last time you tried it you were on a different pre-workout, perhaps you got less sleep last night. Maybe you weren’t as confident in your ability to hit that 8 reps, plenty of things could be the culprit. 

With that being said, I wanted to be absolutely sure everything in my health and fitness was on point before I assume I’m not actually losing strength. This was in large part the motivation for writing this blog; slowly but surely get my diet and exercise absolutely perfect, to ensure gains. For the longest time I considered diet and exercise to be the biggest components on physical performance and by extension, one’s ability to grow muscle. I’ve been proven wrong, with the addition of sleep. Sleep is huge yet, for the most part, we don’t understand whyAll we do know is that lack of sleep definitely effects performance. So sleep is a big deal, why am I talking about it? Cause my sleep quality s u c k s!

I don’t sleep so well at night for a variety of reasons;
1. I’m a very light sleeper
2. I have intense nasal allergies, and when they get bad, I can’t breathe through my nose, forcing me to open my mouth. When I sleep with my mouth open, it dries up quickly and wakes me up.
3. My partner is also a light sleeper. When she wakes up, usually I wake up.

I can partially control variable 1, I’m under the impression I can control variable 2, I can’t control variable 3. My plan is this; practice the best sleep hygiene I can, get my nasal allergies under better control. How?

1. Meditate daily. Meditation has been shown to decrease average blood pressure and heart rate, and if I can do that on a consistent basis, the theory is I’ll be able to relax faster, allowing me to fall asleep faster. Meditation will also increase my focus which will (probably) increase my strength gains.

2. Understand what causes nasal allergies and research possible natural ways to combat allergies.

3. Practice good/better sleep hygiene.
   -don’t drink caffeinated beverages. Studies have shown that consistent use of caffeine increases cortisol levels, which make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. My new pre-workout is caffeine free, and it’s B O M B! It’s called Genius Pre. Just like their advertisements say, after trying this, you’ll wonder why caffeine was ever added to pre-workouts!
   -try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time. This’ll be a bit harder to do since my job is 100% on call; I’ll frequently get called into work at 11PM, and won’t get home until 1-2AM. Sometimes I won’t work all day! The goal will be: bedtime @10PM, wake up @6AM.
   -no electronic usage in bed. Even though new phones and tablets have the nifty ability to dim their blue light (the light that keeps your brain awake) after a certain time, I believe using electronics, or doing anything other than sleeping for that matter, in your bed is bad sleep hygiene.