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”. 

Results, a day or two late but what the hell.

Results, a day or two late but what the hell.

I sort of fell off the grid after my day 3 post. Things got busy, and there was little time for blogging. But I kept at it. I had a bump up and then down, then up again, then down. It was quite the roller coaster. Around day 4 I was gnashing my teeth in frustration. But I held the course. The end result is 2.2 pounds in 8 days (I cheated and waited an extra day.). Fairly respectable I must say and I am proud that I pulled it off. Would I do it week over week? If I absolutely had to, then yes. But that would have to be cutting for some type of event that has a weight class. And seeing as how I am not a body builder, or a power lifter and I gave up the strongman stuff, then hell no, I would not keep up that high of a pace for weight loss.


There was some learning this week. I have developed an introspective diagnostic tool that I plan to keep in my back pocket should I again end up in a spot where I am trying to drop weight and I am yo-yoing or just not seeing results. I am a Planning Analyst after all. I spend all day doing stuff like this at work, so why not put it to good use? The first one is a rookie move that I fell victim too. I should have known better.

First, (and this applies to either short term or long term weight loss goals) I need to do measurements as part of my baseline. It’s another metric that I wish I had last week. Especially on days 4 and 5 when my weight bumped up yet I dropped a belt notch. I missed that sign completely.

Second, I need to more consistently track water intake. Tracking with an associated goal pushes me to drink more water. For a while I thought I was but I really wasn’t. Weight loss is a lot more efficient when you are fully hydrated. Plus the more you drink, the less you retain.

Third, the next time I try something like this (I may do it again in a few months), I need to spend at least ten days to two weeks eating at or slightly below my maintenance level. It will give my body a chance to reset and replenish before I start forcing it to consume itself.

It was a fun week. I was shocked at how easy it can be to deprive yourself sometimes. Especially after being a month into having a daily caloric deficit. Your hunger can sort of shut off which isn’t good, especially when it is post-workout. Then you need to force yourself to eat something when eating is the last thing on your mind. Then that triggers the hunger and a viscous cycle starts over.

The last official night we had pizza and wings. My deficit for the week was around 7050 calories. So I ignored everything I was seeing and just trusted in that when we decided on dinner.  That takes into account “exercise earned” calories that MyFitnessPal adds in when I log cardio. In reality the deficit was bigger. I did three weight training sessions and the App isn’t great at tracking that so I don’t even try. That helps account for the extra .2 pounds. I ate very mindfully and exercised restraint on pizza night and made sure I drank a lot of water along with it. Even with pizza and boneless Buffalo wings I still did well calorie-wise for the day. Of course, since I ate something with bread, the next day brought on the bloat but that quickly faded. Maybe I have some type of minor gluten intolerance?

Sorry I was a few days late. I took some time to process all that. Blogging during the evenings is hard. The puppy and the wife demand attention and by the time I get home, there isn’t a lot of time between hanging up my keys and bed. More to come though. My 2017 goal is to blog more.


Day 3

Day 3

I need to clarify something about day 1 and 2. I did not lay out proper ground rules for myself before starting. So officially, I have decided my New Year’s Day weight doesn’t count. My official starting weight will be the morning of day 1 (1/2/17). So truly there was a little bump up between day 1 and day 2 weigh-ins. That was erased and I was back to baseline the morning of day 3. My deficit for day 2 was 430 calories less than day 1. So I was incorrect, they were not nearly the same. Tracking this as a trailing indicator and blogging about it the next day got a little confusing. So I created a little table in my workout journal and I am tracking my progress there for reference.

So, day 3 is now officially in the books. Quick shout out here to Public-Supply for these pretty cool 5×8” journals I got. I love these things. I started out at my baseline weight again this morning. As I mentioned earlier, the slight weight bump went away. I woke up this morning and my back is feeling much better. I did some good stretching and used my trigger point roller to work the kinks out. No gym today though. By the time I got home from work my back was starting to get achy again, and i didn’t want to tempt fate at the gym. 

My deficit for today ended up being 1130 calories. that includes this little gem, the chocolate peanut butter protein brownie:

1 scoop Muscle Milk Genuine Chocolate protein powder

2 tbs PB2 powder

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup whole milk (or more as needed to achieve  batter like consistency)

Mix all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl until its a batter-like mixture. microwave for 30-60 seconds. It should rise, then shrink as it cools. It should be firm towards the sides of the bowl and slightly molten in  the center.