Don’t wear Sex Panther in the gym…

This is just a brief update to yesterday. If ever there was a day where the stress level was high, it was yesterday. It was like the universe was conspiring against me. From work, to traffic, to weather, every input in my life seemed to be a negative force. But these days happen to us all. You can sit back on your haunches like a donkey, and bray about the universe not being fair, or you can weather the storm armed with the knowledge that it must eventually end. And end it did, or so I thought when I got to the gym.


I decided not to do strength training. I was going straight for a full body workout and conditioning improvement. The best way to do that is circuit training. But I wanted it to be short, intense and not involve a lot of equipment. So after a few revisions, I came up with a quick and dirty Crossfit inspired workout. A 20 minute AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) of the following:

10 Close grip (diamond) push-ups on a med ball

15 Kettlebell goblet squats

20 Crunches

Jump rope 30 singles-this was my “rest period”


If you have never done push-ups on a med ball, you should try it. It is the best way to determine if you have true core stability or not, and it also requires a ton of dynamic stabilization in your shoulders as well just to stay steady on the ball.

I wasn’t trying to break a land speed record. The whole purpose was just to keep moving at a decent pace the whole time and work multiple muscle groups. Somewhere around the 3 minute mark, I developed a pounding headache that really slowed me down. I couldn’t figure out why. The closest I can come is that I have been a bit sniffy lately, so maybe I was developing some sort of sinus thing??? Or maybe I didn’t warm up for this good enough. I am still not sure. I didn’t have any indication of a headache before I got to the gym. I wasn’t malnourished or dehydrated. And I can’t blame my pre-workout because I am used to it. This was made worse by the constant parade of elderly racquetballers leaving the gym. They streamed past me while I was deep into it, with the raging headache, which was made worse by the noxious  and overwhelming scent of the gallon of really cheap aftershave/cologne they must have sprayed all over each other in some sort of bizarre World Series locker room champagne celebration. It remained in the area long after they did.


I made it through despite all that.  I was psyched that I managed to turn myself into that sweaty of a mess in just 20 minutes. I celebrated with my new favorite thing: the sauna. However, I believe the elders disposed of their empty cologne bottle somewhere under the bench in there. It reeked. If I ever thought it was bad in the open air, it was worse in a dark, 170 degree closet. That sort of chopped down my time.

Health club tip: when showering after a workout, stick to just some deodorant/antiperspirant. Whatever olfactory madness you wish to partake in, do it out in your car.

In other news…..

Yesterday I posted a smoothie recipe. I have made an improvement to it. I added a tablespoon of unsweetened Ghirardelli Cocoa powder. Hello anti-oxidants. It also blended well with the vanilla protein powder, yogurt and coconut milk. It’s not for everyone, but it is interesting.



Down Time

Down Time

I took a week off last week and it was glorious. Hell, I didn’t even go to the gym like I had planned to continue doing. The best part was doing some mobility work this morning and having no aches, pains or tightness. Mentally, it’s nice to take a break from the grind as well. Now I know there are a lot of fitness people who will say that if I am viewing it as a grind, then I am approaching health and fitness from the wrong perspective. I say THAT is the wrong perspective. You do anything long enough, I don’t care how much you love it, once in a while it’s gonna feel like a grind. The power of positivity only gets you so far.

All that is in the rear view now. A new week, and we are back at it. I am going with a modest calorie restriction for the week. Nothing too crazy. I have substituted breakfast Monday through Friday with this high protein mixed berry and greens smoothie that I saw on YouTube. I was skeptical having seen versions of this before, but figured I would give it a try.

1 scoop vanilla whey protein

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups Super Greens (Kale/spinach /chard mix)

1 cup frozen mixed berries

½ cup Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

Works out to 350 calories, 30g carbs, 12g fat, 37g protein. A lot of good fats, high in potassium, and really high in Vitamins A and C, and 9g of fiber (so in reality 21g Net carbs). I tasted it to see if any sweetener was needed, because in the video they said some people find it a little bitter. But it tasted fine to me. Pretty good actually. I could use a better blender but that’s not so much a fitness issue as it is an “I like kitchen gadgets” issue.

I like this break thing. I may do it again in a few weeks. Like 4 weeks maybe….I will play it by ear and see what my body tells me. There was a break in the clean eating Friday night and again on Saturday. Saturday we had pizza and wings, and there were snacks involved. It was a game night with a bunch of people, so social grazing was in full effect. That has resulted in a little bit of bloating from all the processed carbs and nitrates. But I know that if I stay clean for a few days then that issue takes care of itself.

For now, I am back to moving relentlessly forward to my 2017 goals. Like the shark, keep swimming or you sink and eventually die.

Taking a break

Taking a break

I made a strategic decision on Sunday. And it has had unintended consequences and that’s not a bad thing. I decided to take a week off of purposeful calorie restriction. I figured I had been going at this for a bit, and my body (and my mind) could due for a bit of R&R. So my plan is still to keep working out, after all it’s not a total week off and I enjoy it so. I am still tracking my food and I am still eating healthy, high protein and good fats, low amounts of high glycemic carbs, etc. etc.

The only change I made was I started wearing my Fit Bit again. I realized I wasn’t being as active as I would like during the week. So I decided to start tracking to see where I can improve. This is where the first unintended consequence kicked on. I forgot that my Fit Bit app talks to the MyFitnessPal App. That on its own is fine. But what it does is it automatically factors in the subtraction of activity calories from what you have consumed. As an example, before I took it off yesterday, I had logged just under 7,000 steps. The Fit Bit translated that into another 560 calories I could consume and still meet my daily maintenance goal. Oops, got to turn that one off. That plays in to the second unintended consequence.

My body has made more of an adjustment to calorie restriction than I had anticipated. As such, I am having a lot of trouble eating my daily maintenance calories. I still fast from 8 PM till 9:30 AM every day. I still eat about the same amount of food for breakfast and lunch, plus something small in the afternoon and I am quite happy with that. I have a lot of energy…I don’t feel sluggishly full. It works well for me. So around rolls dinner time, and I have an obscene amount of calories left over. I eat a big dinner and still haven’t closed then gap. Now I am full, with a lot of margin left over.

In order to compensate, I have increased what I am eating for breakfast and lunch. I doubt by the end of the week I will have this dialed in, but at least I can narrow the gap. I have personally never tried a”bulk” before. I know and follow a lot of people who have. All I can say to them is I have a newfound respect for you all. Not eating when you are hungry is hard. For some it can be challenging. But the other side of the spectrum is no joke either. I read an article detailing what Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson eats in a day in order to maintain that much muscle mass. Granted, he has a chef or a nutritionist who provides the 6 meals a day this guy eats (healthy ones too), but there has got to be times where he sees eating as a chore.

the rock.png

So much for a week off. I have to shovel down more food, but avoid cookies? Aw man!I call Bulls%^t! See you I a few days.


2017 Fitness Goals

I have put some thought into what I want to accomplish for my 2017 fitness goals, so I will break them down for you. I kept it simple. My selection criteria were pretty basic. First, it had to be specific, it has to be measurable, and reasonably achievable within the given timeframe. Second, it has to be something that creates a compelling vision for me. I want my goals to be something that will pull me to them, rather than me pushing towards them. My intent this year is to slay some annoying dragons that have been following me around for years now. No more playing around, wishing I could do it. This year I will.

May I approach the Bench?

For all the strength I have gained over the years, this area is perhaps one of the weakest. I focused mainly on functional movements, like squats, deadlifts, or even more functional things, like flipping tires, clean and jerks, logs, kettle bells, etc. etc. etc. I never considered the bench press a functional movement.  I have a general idea where my one-rep max is, but I will need a retest to find out. Right now I know where my 5 rep max is, so I will start from there. My goal: By December 31 2017, bench 315 for 10 reps. I don’t plan on maintaining that level once there, so I will taper it back down a little. But I just want to say I can do it. I want those 6 plates.


City of broad shoulders

For those of you who follow or do Crossfit, I am a huge Rob Orlando fan. He is the one who really turned me on to the concept of functional strength. I like his style of training and his lift heavy things philosophy. One of the most impressive things I saw him do was a video of him on YouTube doing shoulder presses at around 225 pounds. I thought that was just fantastic. Hitting that goal will cause me to have to focus more on my shoulders, which I must admit, I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more rounded. My goal: By December 31, 2017, strict barbell shoulder press 225 for 5 reps.  I am coming for you Rob…..just kidding.


Hanging at the bar.

No, not drinking. Although, I don’t mind that at all. When I was younger and foolish, I could do pull-ups like a mad beast. I was a lot lighter, but in some ways proportionally stronger in certain areas. Pull-ups were one of them. My last year in the Army I attended Air Assault School while I was stationed at Ft. Campbell. Every day time you entered school grounds, you hit that pull-up bar for a set of 10 (with your pack on), and you did it when you left. Every time, without fail. If not then the price you paid was far worse than 10 pull-ups. The instructor shack had a window facing the pull-up bars and someone was always watching. I have been neglectful of my pull-ups. As a result, my ability to perform this dynamic movement has been lost. In Crossfit this was my goat. I had to use a resistance band for pull-ups. I was improving, but then I hurt my shoulder and that sort of sealed my fate. Well, my shoulder is slowly getting better and I am regaining that dynamic strength.  My goal: By December 31, 2017, 10 unbroken pull-ups (completely unassisted).   Of all my goals, I feel that I am closest to this one in terms of time it will take to pull it off, yet farthest away in terms of level of effort. It is perhaps the simplest; however I am a lot heavier than the skinny-muscled 21 year old maniac I used to be. So I expect this one to be first, yet most painful.


On a more non-specific note, in terms of nutrition, my goal is to maintain my healthy eating (40p/40f/20c macro ratio) and a daily caloric deficit along with it. Not much of a deficit, but constant. This will help keep the fat loss going through the year, and will force me to be much more consistently mindful of what I am feeding my body, reinforcing healthy eating patterns. And that can’t hurt at all. At this time, I have a specific weigh in mind, however, I want to ease into it and play it by ear. This way I can base my goal on how I look rather than a number on the scale. That is a much healthier approach.

Well, that about sums it up. Nothing really groundbreaking here. Now I just have to do it. No “resolutions’ this year. Just goals.

Your cheating heart…..

Yesterday, I made an executive decision. i had been eating clean for two solid weeks (except for the occassional snack here and there). So I decided to reward my efforts with what we all refer to as a cheat meal. In reality, I failed to plan anything for dinner for that night when we did the weekly gorcery shopping, and leftovers just didn’t sound appealling. I had been solid all day and felt good aboupt my progress over the last few weeks. Unless I ate some bizarre man vs. food 10,000 calorie challenge I was in pretty safe space. 

So I went big. I went for the gusto. I had a “Garbage Plate”. For those of you who went to college, grew up around, or otherwise spent any of your formative drinking/partying years from your 20’s into your 30’s around Rochester NY, you know exactly what I am referring to. That pile of meaty, carb and fat filled goodness, covered in hot sauce…served with a roll. ohhhh my. If you are not from around here, it sounds gross. It looks worse. It’s traditionally only served in greasy spoon late night diners. Usually served starting at closing time, when the bar crowd is headed home and they want something in their stomachs to sponge up the alcohol. Many of us have partaken in this ritual. Sitting crammed into a booth with our friends, re-telling the nights activities, voicing our regrets or our triumphs. all the while shovelling down this perfectly timed culinary creation. It is also a welll knwn fact this prevents hangovers (maybe).

Let me break it down. Take a plate. Drop on a generous scoop of macaroni salad. next to that, your choice of homefries or french fries. Pretty good so far right? on top of that place your choice of two of any of the following: hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, or even italian sauage. Wait for it……….now cover the whole mess in a ground beef-based tangy, yet sweet hot sauce. You will also have the option of adding chopped onions, and then drop on some ketchup/mustard. I like to add a little Redhot at that point. There it is in all it’s glory.

Guys/girls, if you are on a date, this is the “good night kiss” kiss of death. Don’t even consider trying it, unless your date ate one too, in which case it is totally cool.  The perfect after-drinking food. NYC may have the moster slice of greasy pizza, we have this. I also recommend it post-race for you 5k runners.

So I saddled up and had at it. It was magnificent. I think at some point a single tear of joy may have rolled down my cheek.  Normally, I would crush one of these in one sitting. The new me however had other ideas. I made it halfway through and had to call a stop to the festivities. I was a little shocked. My wife was too. My new relationship with food, eating and portion control has apparently re-aligned my body.That to me is surprisingly good news. I didn’t try to push myself, even though it was hella good. They got the hot sauce just right.  I just dropped the rest into a container and into the fridge it went. It ended up being a late night snack. They are even better when you let them sit for a bit.

So here I am the next day. My body is asking me “what the hell just happened?”. Slightly bloated but otherwise no regrets. I am fasting a little longer than usual today. Lots of water to help flushnthe system of all that salt, and lunch was a double scoop protein shake. Cheating can be done. It’s a nice safety-valve so to speak. It keeps you from feeling too deprived and helps your body sort of reset itself. It should not be used as a reward for eating healthy or going to the gym, as that alters our relationship with food and or working out. It should just be something that you do. almost a scheduled activity once in a while. It shouldn’t be a whole “day” and it should be book-ended by healthy behavior.  

You gotta find your joy where you can. being helathy doesn’t have to be one continuois “suck”.