Friday, December 16, 2016

Maintenance: The importance of diet transitioning

Ok, so you've lost all this weight, you're looking spectacular--now you can eat what ever you want, right??


In fact, if your are nearing the end of your diet cycle or have finished it, now is the most important time of your diet. Wouldn't it all feel like a waste of time if you gained all that weight back? What about half of it?? You've worked HARD to lose that weight, now keep it off!!!

Because your body has gone through such a traumatic experience (losing weight makes your body feel like you're starving, which is bad), it's gonna do nearly whatever it can to "help" you gain that weight back.

Anybody remember the show The Biggest Loser...? It was an American show where large or obese individuals would compete to lose the most amount of weight in the smallest amount of time. They had this ridiculous scale where they'd have each member of the other team stand on one side all as a group to see who lost the most amount of weight.

Interestingly enough, as thousands of viewers tuned in to watch obese people lose an unGodly amount of weight, others started to notice something peculiar; a contestant might lose upwards of 200lbs on the show but once the show was over they'd gain most of it back (if not more). It seemed as though their strenuous high-intensity-interval-training, low calories and excess cardio proved little effect on their overall health.

Why did/does this happen??

As many people tend to forget (myself included) is that although weight loss (more specifically fat loss) may be your current goal, nobody wants to immediately gain that weight back. But if you go back to the diet and lifestyle you were living BEFORE the diet, that's exactly what will happen, and it only makes sense! You changed your diet and lifestyle just to lose the weight and now you're going back to the same weight gaining foods??

The Importance of Maintenance

To avoid gaining back all that unsightly weight/fat, it's paramount that one not eat their "maintenance" calories right away. That is to say, don't eat how many calories you've calculated to be your maintenance right after ending a diet because your body has adapted to be in a caloric deficit. What this means is your metabolism has slowed down along with a host of other bodily functions that make your actual maintenance caloric requirement lower than usual. Typically one should calculate their maintenance caloric requirement (14-16 calories per pound of body weight), then subtract 10% and eat that for a week or so. 

I'm 130lbs., 130*14= 1,820. 10% of 1,820 is 182. 1,820-182= 1,638 calories. I'd eat that for about a week before upping it to 1,800 then maybe to 2,000 depending on how my body reacts.

!!!!!FAIR WARNING!!!!!!

Many people react differently after being on a diet for a long time. For example, I know many people who transition flawlessly whereas I want to eat everything in site. Be ready for this!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New progress photo!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

I love progress pics. This is the last progress pic compared to today. Noticable differences in the lower abs!!! Below is today compared to when I first started...

Quite the difference! I'm proud of how far I've come but I still have yet to get that solid six pack which means it's back to the grind!

Yes, thanksgiving is coming and I am excited. If you're going to eat a bunch, maybe it's best you eat very little the day before and after. You wouldn't imagine how many calories most Americans shovel down their gullets on thanksgiving...


Friday, November 18, 2016

Dieting is hard. Period.

Well, here I am. Having dieted for 3+ months (2 months on Lyle's Rapid Fat Loss diet)... with no six pack still

I found this guy the other day who got a six-pack in 2 months. He dropped 34lbs. and went down to 5.4% body fat. That's insane. 

Granted, so far, he lost more weight than I have. I've lost about 20lbs. (155 to ~135). Will I have a six-pack at 125lbs.? Well, at 125lbs. I'll be about 11% body fat. In order to have a six pack for sure, I imagine I'll need to get to 10% or lower. 10% body fat puts me at about 122lbs. Which means I'll need to lose about 13 more pounds!

If I am putting myself in a caloric deficit of about 1,300. If 1lbs. of fat is about 3,500 calories, that means I'll lose 1lbs. in every 2.5 days or 3 days. Which means I'll be at my goal in a month and 10 days. WOW.... that's insane. I've already been dieting for several months now and I've got a little less than a month and a half to go. 

This better be worth it...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Weight loss and supplements

One of the most asked question(s) I get pertains to the usage of supplements. For simplicity, I'll classify supplement as anything that isn't classified as food/beverage that is consumed for weight loss or muscle gain.

There are a variety of supplements on the market nowadays and I strongly urge anyone who is inexperienced to do thorough research before trying any supplement. With that out of the way, here are some popular supplements on the market and my perspective on them;

Protein powder

One of the best supplements one can take for a variety of goals, protein powder helps the body build things like muscle and tendons. When used appropriately, protein powder can help one lose a substantial amount of fat and gain an equal amount of muscle. I take a protein powder that has zero carbs and includes a variety of vitamins and minerals (a bit more expensive, but worth it).


Also a great supplement, creatine is used for those doing weight lifting (generally). Through a complicated process involving adenosine triphosphate (ATP), creatine helps your muscles hit more reps with a higher weight. In essence, it helps you lift a few more reps. Some studies have suggested that long-term use of creatine in lab rats with liver disease caused liver failure, so be wise when using this. It's generally suggested to cycle on and off creatine.


Caffeine is another supplement I take regularly to help me burn a bit more calories throughout the day (when paired with ephedrine). It's easy to take too much caffeine, so start off slow. You can take caffeine in drink form (generally with coffee or energy drinks), pills or powder. When wisely paired with ephedrine, it works wonders on fat loss. But again, DO NOT pair caffeine and ephedrine if you're a first time user. Do your research. I am not responsible for any dumb mistakes anyone makes because of lack of research. 


Generally these are not worth the money. SOME multi-vitamin companies may actually have some worthy pills, but I haven't seen any yet (apart from USANA). If you are eating a good range of different foods, you're probably getting all the vitamins and minerals you need (as long as you don't suffer from some disease that makes you deficient in something).

Fish oil

Another great supplement to take while on a diet of any sort. Omega-3 oils help with all kinds of things, especially losing fat. There is definitely undiscovered potential with fish oils!

Raspberry (or any) ketones

Definitely not worth it. This works off the premise that if you are in ketosis (your body is producing ketones because you are on a low carb diet), you'll lose more weight. Check out Lyle's analysis of whether or not ketosis allows one to lose more weight versus a low fat diet here.

Currently I am taking the following;
-protein powder
-flax seed oil (omega-3 source)

The reasons I'm taking these 4 supplements;

1. I've done my research on the side-effects of any of these supplements both individually and in combination with each other
2. My goal is to lose weight
3. I'm an experienced dieter

Obviously one can spend thousand$ of dollar$ on supplements if one doesn't do their research. There are only a few supplements that have shown their worth through several studies; creatine, protein powder, caffeine/ephedrine. I'd be hard pressed to find research to back up taking anything more than that.

DO NOT take any of the supplements mentioned above before doing adequate research on them and deciding on your own if they will assist you in your goals. I do not advocate the use of any of the supplements mentioned here.

Monday, November 7, 2016

DEXA Body Fat Scan: Why the "Bod Pod" is not at all adequate


I got my second DEXA body fat scan today and I'm proud to say some very visible progress has been happening. BTW, if you don't know what the procedure for DEXA body fat scanning is, check out my earlier blog post here. 

The numbers, in case you can't see the photo above, say that when I got my first scan (August 28, 2016), I was about 146lbs., 23% body fat and a little chubby (photo on the left).

 The second scan I got (today, November 7, 2016) said that I was 135lbs., 18% body fat and noticeably thinner (photo on right).

This gives me a net body fat percentage loss of ~5%! In a manner of two months, that's some crazy progress!

And to think the Bod Pod told me I was at 5% when I was 150lbs.!!! Ladies and gents, don't get your body fat measured with the Bod Pods.... spend the extra money and do it right.

How did this happen so quickly?!?

The sound of progress

 I'm a big proponent of;
1. No excuses
2. Own your $hit
3. Work hard

This means I take responsibility for when I fail or take long to succeed in a goal, admit when I make a mistake and put a lot of work into achieving my goals.

Could I have lost more body fat percentage in a shorter time? Probably. That's something I have to deal with. But I am very proud of the progress I've had thus far.

New Game Plan

The game plan must always be changing because we change! I have to take a 2 week maintenance break before going back into a caloric deficit. This has to do with a variety of hormones and chemicals in my body that need time to reach relatively normal levels before I diet again.
The reason anyone would be encouraged to do this is because your body adapts to the diet as if you were slowly starving. This means your cortisol increases (this is your stress hormone, bad for losing weight), testosterone drops and a slew of other bad things happen that make being in such a severe deficit as I was almost counter-productive.

So for the first week I'll be eating my maintenance minus about 10%. Lyle McDonald suggests you subtract 10% from your maintenance to not gain weight from your body's metabolism slow down caused from the diet. My maintenance is about 1,600 calories. 10% of 1,600 is 160. Which brings me to 1,440 which I rounded to 1,400.

I'll be eating 140g of protein for the first few days and slowly decrease it down to about 120g. This brings me to eat about 88g of carbs and 54g of fat for the first few days. 

After the first week is over I'll go up to 1,550 calories, 120g protein, the rest fat and carbs. 

When the two weeks of maintenance are done, I'll head back to a severe deficit diet but not as severe as the one I just ended.

Stay tuned!!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

General diet thoughts and progress

It is now October 22, 2016!!!!!

I've been dieting for at least 4 months now. I can see why people tend to quit... -.-

I'm now at 140lbs., which means I've lost a total of 15lbs. from the first day I started this (155lbs.) The journey has not been easy.

Main Struggles

1. Food cravings. I'm getting food cravings like you wouldn't believe. This makes sense, granted I'm on a ~700 caloric deficit. 

-Obviously this kind of deficit should not be attempted by someone who is inexperienced with dieting or without consulting a doctor first-

...but seriously. I think about food all the time. Mainly about ice cream and carbs. I get some fat everyday from the chicken and fish I eat (and from the flax oil supplement that I take). But I'm getting absolutely no carbohydrates and it's making me want them!!!

How I deal with it:
Drinking A LOT of water, spacing out my protein meals throughout the day, taking a turmeric supplement, and once in a while I take a bit of apple cider vinegar (its been known to help with food cravings).

2. Energy in the gym. This one is a bit easier for me to deal with than the food cravings. Often times I find myself not really having a lot of energy to finish my workouts 100%. Sometimes this causes me to either leave a bit earlier than I should or having to muster up some serious motivation.

How I deal with it:
I take a pre-workout supplement (Qualia) and in the middle of the day, somewhere pass 12 or 1PM I take a 5-Hour energy shot. Sometimes both of these are unable to give me energy and I kind of just slump on the couch at around 7PM until I go to bed (10PM).

3. Socializing. This one is the easiest of them all but still a struggle. When I go out with family or friends I have to tell them that I either have to go somewhere that offers grilled/baked chicken or really lean red meat/salmon. Sometimes this poses as a problem and I find it easier to just not go out often.

All in all, I feel motivated still to get that six-pack! I was at about 23% body fat when I first got tested and I'm highly anxious to see what the next DEXA scan will show!!! I get my 2nd DEXA scan the 1st week of November. Hopefully by then I'll have the six-pack or at least be ridiculously close. Thanksgiving is right around the corner!!!!!! I also stopped working on my poker goal... I don’t think I’m ready for that. I’ll have to revisit that goal sometime in the future.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Diet & next goal

Today's post is just going to be about updating my diet/fitness progress and announcing my next goal: poker.

Now, more specifically, my next goal is going to be to be able to make money from poker. I will be playing Texas Hold 'Em because I believe I have the best chance of making money from this game. I'll be going to a local casino once I've practiced enough to test my skill and try to make money.

Even more specifics on my goal: 
-make $1,000 profit in one night
-make $10,000 profit in one month

Yes, this will be hard. But who said I wanted it to be easy?!?

But you aren't finished with the fitness goal!

My fitness goal is in large part on automatic. I've been able to maintain my caloric deficit and hit the gym with a lot of time to spare in my day, so I thought I'd up the ante (pun intended) and add another goal.

My plan so far;

1. Learn statistics and probability
2. Learn basic bluffing, betting and folding technique
3. Enter local poker tournaments where the buy-in is either $0 or low.
4. Document my progress
5. Once I've won a large amount of the games I play (maybe 90%), go up to the casino and start out small (maybe $200 the first night) and work my way up.

Fitness progress

Everything is going as planned; caloric deficit as low as I can handle, 180g+ of protein a day, hitting the gym hard, and trying to not succumb to the hunger. I'm currently at 144lbs. and will be shooting for 135lbs. by the time I get my next DEXA scan which is November 10th. Progress pictures come in November!

Hope everyone is enjoying fall!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Sometimes diets aren't so easy...

I can't wait to reward myself with a Krispy Kreme ice cream doughnut...

Anyways, I've realized that the diet this time around isn't as easy as it was my first cycle through. I'm not exactly sure why that is. 

Some reasons I say it's harder; when there is food nearby, I find it harder and harder to deny myself said food, I'm thinking about food more often, etc.

I can do this! If I can do it, you can do it!

Book Goal

I've decided that my "book goal" of reading as many books as I could in one month wasn't exactly a goal, it was more just that I wanted to read more books. I also found that if you're gonna try and read as many books as you can in one month, have plenty already available before you start.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Back at it with the diet, final stretch!

Time to focus and finally get that six pack. I'm finished with my break and ready to hit the gym and kitchen with serious determination.

This time around I will be doing a protein sparring modified fast (PSMF) which means I'll be eating around 180 grams of protein a day and as close to 0 in carbs and fat. Yeah. It's tough. But it's the fastest and most efficient way to lose fat. I'll be eating things like; chicken breast, lean hamburger patties, tuna/salmon, zero carb protein powder and maybe some nuts. I'll also be taking a flax seed oil supplement as well as a caffeinated pre-workout.

Along with a modified diet, I'll have to take it a bit more easy in the gym; do less sets, not as heavy weights, 8-12 reps. I don't want to run my glycogen too low as that can make my body want to digest more muscle. It's a fine line between muscle and fat loss.

Anyways, wish me luck! I've booked another DEXA scan in a month to see how much body fat percentage I will have lost (and muscle).

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Metabolism healing and achieving that six-pack

As I've mentioned before, diet breaks are important. In the time that you put your body through a caloric deficit, one of the fundamentals of fat loss, your body goes through a tremendous amount of stress and change to make you loss weight in the slowest way possible. Evolutionarily, this gives us an advantage (thanks body!). Nowadays, this translates as quite a struggle for weight loss (thanks a lot!). If you want to know the ins-and-outs of specific ways our body's work against us, I'd suggest checking out Lyle McDonald's website here. I've learned a lot from him, and don't receive any compensation for mentioning his website. I just really appreciate the work he's done.

Over enough time, your metabolism begins to slow down to compensate the lower amount of calories you've eaten. Taking a diet-break allows your metabolism to "heal" or go back to a somewhat normal level before hitting it hard again. There are many benefits to having a diet-break, the most important one to me is that you'll see more fat loss when you get back to it (especially if you've gained weight in your diet-break, which you don't want to happen).

After doing this research, I've decided to take a 1-1.5 week diet break where I'll be eating my maintenance calories (2,000), before hitting it hard again. Soon enough, I'll have that six-pack!

Friday, September 30, 2016

First DEXA body fat scan and Resting Metabolic Rate test done

We who are either obsessed with fitness or claim we're just "passionate" like getting tests done. It's usually a good indicator of how you're doing.

For example, a few years ago I got my body fat percentage checked with what's called a Bod Pod.

The Bod Pod is quite inconspicuous and a rather easy test. You'll go into the facility, get your height and weight checked, the attendant inputs those points into a computer connected to the pod, then you dress down to your underwear, put on a swimmers cap, and sit inside. 
The Bod Pod will automatically start filling with air, calculating how much air you displace. It then figures how much of your weight is bone, organ, etc. and spits out a number that should reassemble your body fat percentage.

When I first went to the Bod Pod, I was told I had a 5% body fat when I was clearly over 20%. Quite the margin of error!

I wanted to see what my true body fat percentage was, so I booked an appointment with Body Fat USA


First you have to (obviously) book the appointment. I was told that in Colorado, the use of a DEXA scan requires doctor approval so that needs to happen first (they handle the "doctor approval").

Next, you'll get an email saying you should avoid taking any calcium supplements 24hrs prior to the test and that you should avoid eating big meals 4hrs. before the test.

I read some research on DEXA scan accuracy and found that it tends to be even more accurate if you fast for 24hrs. I fasted for 12hrs which isn't bad considering that my appointment was for 9AM, I just had to stop eating at 9PM which I do almost every night anyways!

Day of the procedure

I showed up with gym shorts and a T-shirt and got my weight and height taken before being shown to some strange looking table with an arm.

The lady asked me to sit real still and the arm moved down my whole body slowly (about 6min) scanning everything.

I was then shown a quick photo of my body in DEXA form, then lead to the RMR (resting metabolic rate) machine.

The RMR test was a bit more, let's say, difficult than the DEXA scan. You have to sit still (albeit on a comfy chair) for about 15min while creating a seal with your lips on a breathing apparatus. The plastic mouth piece makes breathing seem like it's a bit more difficult, but it's not. Many people struggle with the test because it feels like you're out of breath, and your nose begins to throb about 2min in. You have to wear a nose plug to make sure you're not breathing at CO2 out of your nose.

That's what the RMR measures; CO2 output. Using this, they plug it into a formula which calculates about how many calories you're burning in those 15min, then they average it out for the whole day. This gives you a good idea of your maintenance calories.

One needs to know their maintenance calories so they can calculate how many calories they can eat before they start gaining weight.

For example, I was calculated to have a 1,642 caloric daily requirement. This means that if I sat down all day, I'd still burn about 1,642 calories everyday. Taking into consideration the activity requirement of my job, walking to and from my car, walking in the grocery store, etc., I probably burn another 400-500 calories a day. To stay on the safe side, that's to say I probably burn around 2,000 calories everyday (without considering exercise). Considering my daily weight lifting, according to Harvard Medical School, I'm probably burning around 220 calories an hour.

Putting it all together

RMR: 1,642
Regular activity: 400
Weight training: 110/ 30min

TOTAL amount of calories burned on an average day: 2,152

This means that I can eat up to ~2,000 calories a day (if I workout everyday and keep the same activity up) without gaining weight.

If I want to lose weight, I'll eat about 1,500 calories or less. 

Being 23% body fat, that means I have about 33lbs. I know that 1lbs. of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Meaning, if I want to lose 1lbs. of fat, I have to restrict myself 3,500 calories.

Putting that into perspective, if I want to lose 1lbs. of fat a week, I'd have to restrict 500 calories a day (7 days). For me, that means I'd have to eat around 1,500 calories a day to equal a 3,500 caloric deficit a week. If I ate only 1,200 calories a day, that would mean every 4 days I'd lose 1lbs. of fat (hopefully no muscle).

A gift from the company

Body Fat USA gave me a very in-depth report in a binder of my test results. They even had a nice lady explain to me everything that was in it. I'd highly recommend going to Body Fat USA if you're interested in your body fat percentage.

I do not receive any compensation or benefits for mentioning Body Fat USA.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Important fat-loss discovery made

I was doing some research on fat-loss (like I always do) -!: realized that I'd been missing a very important aspect of any fat-loss diet; taking a break!!

Some of you may be reading this and thinking "well, duh!!" But I'd bet you $100 that you couldn't explain to me, with science, why they are beneficial.

Turns out my favorite fitness guru, Lyle McDonald, also believes people should take a break in their diet every once in a while,  he not only explains it herebut also here in another post called "The Full Diet Break".

In summary, after the body is in a diet for a while (more than 2-4 weeks) cortisol levels increase (a stress hormone that makes everything more difficult), leptin (a chemical made by adipose tissue that makes you feel satisfied or full) drops, along with other fat preventing processes.

Lyle explains that about 7 days is sufficient for those levels to return to normal along with other psychological benefits (read the second article I linked above "The Full Fat Diet Break").

This is quite the realization! I'll be utilizing this method of dieting after I do my DEXA body fat scan this Thursday, make sure you come back to see what that's like!. I also have to post this to my Basics of fat loss page found here.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Journey to Success

When I was in high school psychology, we were taught a myriad of "life hacks", if you will. 

It seemed as though scientists were making discoveries everyday about how our brains work and how we can hack them to do what we want. Other, older discoveries seemed to be shadowed and out-dated very quickly.

One particular, older, psychological discovery (or theory) was that of Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. As the theory goes, one cannot (and wouldn't want to) proceed to the next level without satisfying the level they are currently at. The goal is to get as high on the pyramid as you can. If you're unfamiliar with this theory, here's what it looks like;

1. Physiological- the most basic needs are found here. Warmth, hunger, thirst, shelter, pain, comfort, etc.

2. Safety- although this may seem obvious, this can be physical safety, emotional, mental, etc. If you don't feel safe, you can't progress to the next level which is...

3. Social- people at this level are concerned with friendships and relationships in general. You'll know someone is here if they are always trying to date and form a close relationship. They might be expressing a concern about how they've never felt loved, how they can't trust anyone, etc.

4. Esteem- this has to do with feelings of accomplishment, ego, self-identity, and the like. Someone at this level would be seeking acceptance from their parents, trying to impress someone, or perhaps struggling to really define who they are and what they believe in.

5. Self-actualization- the highest point of the pyramid, someone in this region is focused on achieving their fullest potential, becoming the best they can be, enlightenment, complete fulfillment, contentment, etc.

This is important because I have people ask me all the time how they can be more focused on their goals and their life and after observing them for a few days I tell them; "you don't want success, you want ______ (a meaningful relationship, to feel safe, to have people like you, fill in the blank)". 

To be successful, one must reach self-actualization. Although, many people's path to success involve transcending each level until they hit the top.

Why is self-actualization needed for success? Because success, true success, requires that you work on your craft every minute of everyday-- and if you aren't working on self-actualization, you're wasting time satisfying those other levels. On top of that, you have to spend time doing other things as well! Let me explain...

On a daily basis, there are a multitude of things one must do. For starters, one must; eat, work, sleep, go to the bathroom, walk, drive, etc. All of these things subtract from the 24 hours we're told we have to do what we want... we don't really have 24 hours in a day... at least not to work on our dream.

"If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life." -Abraham Maslow

Once you subtract all of these things that we have to do, you're left with a small percentage of 24 hours to work on what you want to do. Maybe 5 hours.... 

If only there was a way to either not do those other things that we have to do (nope, we have to do them) OR a way to work on our dream while we do those other things...

Working on your dream/craft every minute of everyday requires a little bit of creativity. Let me use starting a business as an example, and be warned, this gets a little complicated but if you can follow it though it'll give you some good tools to use in your life;

What kind of business do you want to build, and what skills/resources are needed to accomplish that? This isn't an exhaustive list, but here are some things that anyone wanting to build a business needs;

  • a goal
  • focus (need to be able to focus on your goal)
  • motivation

How can one work on one or more of these while working at their day job?


That's an obvious one... or at least it should be. You can ruminate and devise a specific goal while you're working, no matter the job. For example, I have a day job that requires that I involve a lot of critical thinking and decision making, yet I have time to think about other things. I'm an interpreter, which involves thinking of deeper meanings, translation of words, affect, etc. If I can do all of that and still have time to think, so can you.


Also an easy one. You can develop your focus with really any task you do. With my background in Buddhist meditation, I believe there are two types of focus;

General awareness

Single-mindedness requires you to focus on one thing at a time, for as long as you can. If your mind wavers, gently bring it back to focus. This bringing-your-mind-back-to-focus is exactly what improves your focus. You'll find that with 10min a day on this "meditation", you're focus improves dramatically.

General awareness is when you're just being aware of your senses. Such thoughts in this "meditation" include; cold table, warm hands, bright window, smelling something, shiver, comfort, thinking, tasting, etc. You're essentially noting whatever comes into your awareness.

You can work and improve your focus at work, while driving or eating, walking, and much more. Having improved focus will help anyone focus better at their goal(s), especially an entrepreneur.


This one requires a bit more curiosity and creativity. One of the best ways I like to improve my motivation is by asking myself questions and answering them in-depth. Are you motivated to go to work? Why or why not? What causes your motivation to ebb and flow? You're not motivated today, why?

Answering these questions helps me understanding the link between something like work and motivation itself. You can ask yourself these questions wherever you are. Don't feel like going to the gym? Why not? Because I'm tired? Is that a good enough excuse? Should I base whether or not I go to the gym on if I have energy?

Again, this isn't meant to be an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of how one can work on their dream every minute of every day. There's really no excuse to not be working towards your dream.

"To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him."-Buddha

In conjunction to my current goals (get a six-pack and help someone else achieve their fitness goals), I am adding another goal; read as many books as possible every week for a full month.

My current life goals list is as follows (the underlined ones are the ones I'm currently working on);

  1. build a tiny house
  2. read as many books as possible for 1 month
  3. -write a book
  4. have a six-pack year round
  5. -learn to do a back flip on the ground
  6. -learn to do a double back flip
  7. -run a mile in 6min
  8. -learn how to do the windmill
  9. help someone reach their goal fitness level
  10. build a car from scratch
  11. fly in squirrel suit
  12. -live with no car for 1 month
  13. eat no processed foods for 1 month
  14. learn to surf
  15. visit and vacation in another country for free
  16. -live in another country for a year
  17. -learn good/fluent Chinese
  18. -visit every continent
  19. learn to play an instrument
  20. -make a hit song
  21. learn to code
  22. -make an app
  23. sky diving
  24. make it into the Guinness book of world records
  25. learn to play Texas Hold ‘Em well
  26. earn/save $1 million
  27. -raise $100K for a cause
  28. -earn $1,000+ doing misc. things online
  29. -spend only $100 in one month
  30. -make $20K/year on dividends
  31. Change a stranger’s life
  32. Volunteer 1,000 hours
  33. Give back to parents in sincere way
  34. go to a foreign country with little money, clothes, and resources and succeed
  35. convert a vehicle to travel in
  36. help someone start a business

Of course, this list will change and grow over time. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Habits of productivity and efficiency

Being "productive"

Let me start off by saying that I've read many books on productivity, efficiency, focus, goal setting and accomplishment, etc. and I've learned that being "productive" isn't the same as being productive. Let me explain...

Charles Duhigg explains in his book "The Power of Habit" and his other book that I just finished, "Smarter Better Faster" that many people mistake being busy for being productive.... I couldn't agree more. 

Being busy does not mean you're being productive. 

This may seem trivial but it's an important point. Do not mistake the fact that you're busy doing things for being productive towards your goals.... or else one day you'll realize you did a lot of running around for nothing.

In any case, like I mentioned above, I finished Duhiggs' book "Smarter Better Faster" and I must say I wasn't impressed. After reading his other book "The Power of Habit" I was really looking forward to a strong application and explanation of more powerful habits, but instead all we got was a handful of anecdotes and, if you read the index, some tips on how to improve your productivity.

One thing I did learn; writing down an ambitious goal (he calls these "stretch goals"), then detailing a specific plan for achieving that goal (also called SMART goal setting) is a great recipe for success.

I had heard of SMART goals before, but not in conjunction with an ambitious goal.

Basically, the premise is that you think of a big, lofty goal that you'd love to get accomplished but don't think it could happen. For example, I made a goal of achieving a six pack year round (for me this is 'lofty' because I'd been told my whole life by my family that we "didn't have the genes for six-packs").

After I declared my "stretch goal", I detailed my SMART goals.

SMART goals are;

S- Specific. You must be specific with your goal setting if you are to believe you'll ever get it done. "I want to lose weight"-- perfect! That's an easy goal. Stop drinking water and eating food. Oh... you meant FAT.... guess you should've said that.

M- Measurable. Your goal must be measurable, meaning, you've defined it well enough to know when you've actually accomplished that goal. "I want to lose fat". Oh, ok. Then go run on a treadmill. TA DAH! You've lost fat!!! Oh..... you wanted to lose more fat than that.... "I want to lose 10lbs. of fat"-- good goal.

A- Attainable. The goal has to be possible. If you're 5'2" and want to be able to jump over a 10' obstacle... that might not actually be possible. Make sure it isn't SO lofty of a goal that no one in the world believes it could be done. Although, maybe people have achieved the seemingly "impossible"...

R- Realistic. The goal must be something that you're willing to work at. Don't say "I want to lose 10lbs. in a month" if you aren't willing to eat less food and workout hardcore. It just isn't gonna happen.

T- Timely. You want a realistic timeline for your goal. If you've got no deadline, then that means you have the rest of your life to accomplish that goal, why stress out now to accomplish it? "I want to lose 10lbs. of fat in 3 months"-- nice job :)


Goal: Achieve a six pack and keep it year round in less than 6 months.

S- specific. six pack, keep it year round, achieve it in 6 months or less.

M- measurable. Six pack is obviously measurable. It needs to be clearly visible.

A- attainable. Definitely attainable in less than 6 months. I don't have a tremendous amount of fat to lose so it should be relatively easy.

R- realistic. 6 months is plenty of time. Eat less calories than my body needs everyday, hit the gym and workout everyday, eat enough protein (150g per day), get enough rest, keep up on the latest data on losing body fat and six packs.

T-timely. 6 months. 

Easy enough! Duhigg cites a cool story about how an American company was experiencing serious productivity decline and therefore tried some desperate attempts at getting people to be more productive. Eventually, a man named George Doran invented the SMART way to set goals.

Use it. Document progress. Adjust. Repeat.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Listen to no one... or listen to everyone...?

Today I want to address the concern of where to get your information from.

As anyone who has tried to do anything knows, everyone has an opinion. I mean, everyone. I personally get this one person who's obese giving me fitness and diet advice on an almost weekly basis. O.o

Anyways, it's tough to know who to trust these days. I mean, if you keep up with the science and daily news, you'll know that "in 2015, the New York Times showed how Coca-Cola has funded millions in research to downplay the link between sugary beverages and obesity"

It's an obvious fact of life that any organism will fight to stay alive, and that includes businesses. They'll twist and turn facts and studies to either support their business or downplay their competition, because they're trying to stay alive! Makes sense. But what do we do about all of this mis-information?

It has to do with doing your own research. Yes, it's difficult. Yes, it takes a long time and yes, you have to work at it. Suck it up, get a cup of coffee and hit the internet/books.

Most of my arguments with people about fitness have to do with the fact that they are behind on their research. I'm constantly reading new research about fitness and health so I'm constantly using new information in my workouts and diets.

DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH! Read books, read articles online, talk to people, get involved with the community, etc. Don't rely on quick fixes like online forums where people either give you an incomplete answer or make fun of you. Improve yourself as a human being and learn!!!!

BTW, this study has shown (although isn't conclusive evidence) that a protein sparing modified fast (PSMF) is a very effective way to lose a substantial amount of weight, a majority of it being fat. Lyle McDonald, a very respected fitness/health-nut, has written a book linked here called the Rapid Fat Loss Handbook that describes the PSMF. He takes a more scientific approach at explaining the reasoning behind it all and his recommendations are very safe and have been studied hardcore.

I was a bit nervous as a vegetarian that I'd run into problems doing a PSMF diet, but I've been able to manage! I'd suggest trying it no matter where you are in life, just to see what kind of results you can get. Many people report have little to no muscle loss and a lot of fat loss in a short period of time.

Although just like Lyle, I'd recommend doing a more long term diet focused on changing eating habits. But, if you need to lose a substantial amount of weight and/or in a short period of time, try reading and implementing Lyle's book.

I also wanted to quickly mention this phenomenon of losing motivation or passion for working out or eating healthy.

NEWS FLASH!!!:::: it happens to everyone! Including myself! It's happened to the great Arnold Schwarzenegger, it happens to Usain Bolt; it happens to everyone! And it sucks! 

The trick to it?? Remember; emotions are like clouds, they come and go and don't leave any lasting impression on the sky. Your mind is a cauldron of emotions, hormones and other chemicals that I don't know. The beautiful and eternal You is beyond all of that.

When I feel unmotivated or sad, depressed, angry, etc., what do I do? Go to the gym  r e g a r d l e s s. Don't let emotions dictate what you do.

I'm not going to tell you to "work through them" because I believe that 90% of the emotions we feel throughout the day don't mean anything. They're just reflections of chemicals swirling through our brains. Keep fighting. Keep working. 

I get no financial incentives for mentioning Lyle or his books.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fitness exposed

It's been almost 3 months now (I started this fitness journey in July), and I think I've made considerable progress. Although, I still don't have a six-pack.

But I haven't given up! And neither should you. Giving up is for losers who don't get what they want out of life. I demand from life what I want. Here's the progress so far;

Yes, it's a bit tough to notice a difference but there is one. Of course, if you have to focus hard on the difference, obviously I'm not at my goal.

But if you look closer at my hips (I know it's tough to see my hips in the second photo), you can see that I've lost some pudge there.


Again, the goal is to get to >SIX PACK< then I'll focus on building muscle WHILE keeping my body fat percentage low.

Basics of any (successful) fat loss regiment;

1. Eat less calories than your body needs. First, you'll need to track how many calories you eat a day. I like using My Fitness Pal because they have such a large catalog of common foods eaten and their nutrients. 

Then, calculate how many calories your body needs on a day to day basis using a calculator like this one and start by subtracting 500 calories to that to lose weight. After you lose a few pounds OR are in a plateau, drop those calories even more. Don't drop below 1,200 calories a day.

2. Eat more protein and workout. Most people don't eat enough protein a day. Read; Lyle McDonald's The Protein Book. Generally, you'll want 1 gram of protein per pound of LEAN body weight, not regular body weight, those two are way different.

After you've figured out how much protein you need, make it all work for you and workout! Start by doing the basics; bench/dumbbell press, shoulder/military press, squats, pull-ups/lat pull-downs, etc. You don't want to lose ALL weight, you want to lose fat. Working out and getting the right amount of protein will spare as much muscle as possible while letting you burn that fat.

3. Adjust as needed and keep increasing. As you lose weight, you'll need to adjust your calorie intake. Obviously, if you were once 250lbs. and are now 200lbs., you need a whole lot less calories than just your 250lbs. requirement - 500. Go back to the calorie calculator and figure out how much.

You'll need to keep track of your progress in the gym that way you can keep increasing the weight so your muscles keep getting a challenge. Ladies, you won't become big and buff doing this, trust me. Many women worry about that when it's not a legit concern. To get big and buff, you'd need a particular workout and diet.

4. PATIENCE!!! It takes a long time to lose all of that fat. Think of it this way; you didn't gain all that weight in one month, did you? So what makes you think you'll lose it in one month??

A question I get often is; how fast can I make this fat loss work? Well, as far as fat loss is concerned, you can expect around 1-2lbs. a week at most.

There ya have it! The secrets of all those workout and fitness guru's exposed!!! Any diet (ketogenic, Atkins, doughnut-beer-and-chips, etc.) all work off one main premise; eat less food than your body needs.

Friday, September 16, 2016

First post... what's this about?

This blog is about me challenging myself to be better, hence the name; Be Better. 

I'm going to try and use this blog as a way of tracking my accomplishments, goals, frustrations and other experiences while on the road to success. I'd like something to look back on when I'm older, and if this is something people find inspiring, even better!

My lady and I have another blog dedicated to the building process of our tiny house, if you're interested, check it out here!

As a quick notation, here's what we did;

Yep! Created a tiny house. Check out the blog, seriously. You won't be disappointed. 

We've gotten our next challenge started and here is my before picture;


As you can tell, I'm not in amazing shape, although I thought I wasn't far off.

I'm 5'7", in the above photos I was 155lbs., 24yrs and obviously male. I was getting close to the standardized BMI rating of overweight (my BMI at that time was 24.3 and overweight is 25). Granted, I do bodybuilding/weight training so a good amount of that weight is in fact muscle. I know, you can't tell too well in the photos but it's there, trust me.

I was under the impression that it may take me ~5lbs. to lose enough fat to have a visible six-pack, I was wrong. I apparently had more fat than I thought.

Now, before I go on, let me say that I only want a six-pack because of what it represents; generally, hard work. Six-packs are hard to maintain and even harder to get, especially in my family! So, I've undergone the challenge of getting my body in low enough body fat percentage so that my six pack is visible.

Some frustrations I've faced so far; losing fat is a long process, losing muscle is definitely possible (and probable), it's difficult to see your progress from day to day.

What I've ultimately learned about body fat percentage and losing weight is that you must eat less calories than your body needs or burn more calories than you eat, or a combination of the two to lose weight. For example, I'm now 149lbs., 24yrs old male, 5'7" which puts my caloric requirements at ~1,700 calories a day to just maintain my weight. If I want to lose weight, I should go down to about 1,300. Here is the nifty online calculator I used to figure that number. 

Eating less calories is tough, no matter what anyone says! What I've found that works in suppressing hunger is drinking a bunch of water or caffeinated beverage (like black coffee).