5×5 workout

Body weight is determined by your diet.  It is around a 80-20 split between diet and exercise in determining your weight.  Yes, if you go crazy with cardio and never let up you can get away with eating bad food consistently.  I am doing the opposite and eating right, but I am exercising too.  I consistently walk for about an hour a day in total and S Health on my phone monitors it for me.  The main area that I have been working on has been in resistance training in the gym.  I am trying to up strength while keeping a slight downward trend in weight.  So far it has been working.  I have kept under 190 for about two weeks now and my lifts are slowly going up.  I am doing a simple routine that takes about 30 minutes twice a week.  It is a combination of machines and free weights.  It’s four exercises for 5 sets of 5 reps each.  I start with 5 sets of 5 reps of squats using two 55 lb. dumbbells.  I alternate those sets with one arm bent over rows using a 55 lb. dumbbell using a bench.  I count my breathing one on an inhale and two on an exhale up to 30 in between reps. After the squats and rows, I go to the leg press machine and have moved up to 5 sets of 5 reps at 330 lbs. (the max is 350 lbs.) up from 270 lbs. when I started a few weeks ago.  I attempted 350 lbs. for the first set today and it was too much.  After squats, I move to the fly machine and dot 5×5 at 150 lbs.  I have steadily been moving up at the fly from around 90 lbs. as I am somewhat double jointed at the shoulder.  I have been really happy with my progress and I feel like in the months since I started this 5×5 routine, I have been getting way more compliments on how I look.  The goal is get my metabolism burning more fuel so that I can chow down on some healthy proteins and fats and not have to worry about counting calories too closely.  I am logging everything on MyFitnessPal.  Logging has been giving me a good intuition on how many calories are in standard things I eat which makes me very positive for my future.

Meditation, Self-Esteem, and Focus

I have mostly written about my physical body so far.  The mind is what is driving the body, so if it isn’t focused then any practice that you are trying to implement on the body will be half-assed.  About four months ago, I started meditating daily in the morning.  I use the app Headspace which provides good instruction.  Doing it first thing in the morning gives me a goal that I accomplish every day.  Headspace starts out just building a meditation routine for you, but then it transitions to working on specific skill sets.  I am working through the Focus pack right now and have been noticing some benefits.  The goal is to slowly extend the time I can work on any one task without a loss of focus.  Since going to a sugar/carb free diet, my short term memory has improved and with the addition of a mindfulness, I feel that my future productivity will continue to increase.

New Measurements and a Better Crunch

In an effort to measure stats other than weight that I am interested in, I have decided to measure some key areas.  The one that I am most concerned about it getting the sttomach circumference to be reduced.  Stomach is 40″ around at the navel with a t-shirt on.  Left bicep is 13.5″ around at the center.  Left thigh is 22.5″ around.  Waist is 37″ with clothes on.  Wrist is 7″ around. Hip circumference is 40.5″ with clothes on.

I an effort to tighten the stomach I have been doing two new exercises for the abs every day.  I bought a BOSU Ball: https://www.amazon.com/Bosu-72-10850-PKIN-Parent-Balance-Trainer/dp/B00ODWO5RK and have started doing the myotatic crunch.  It involves sitting on the ball with your hands stretched out above you and then leaning back to touch your fingers on the floor to a count of 4.  Then straight back up to perpendicular and repeat for 10 times.  I have also been doing an exercise where I sit on all fours and then exhale completely.  I pull my belly button up inside me with my muscles as hard as I can for 12 seconds.  Exhale twice and then repeat on the second exhale for 10 reps.  My weight has stabilized and I’m happy about that, but am looking to start a protocol to get a slow reduction down to the low 180s.


Good Fats, Bad Fats, Smart Fats, Body Fat

Fat has been vilified in this country.  It has been come clear from the literature that good fats are key to proper nutrition.  Many people have reported that it has been much easier to achieve and maintain a goal weight when processed carbohydrate has been given up and good fats are consumed instead.  How can you get good fats?  Using olive oil instead of hydrogenated vegetable (really seed) oils is one way.  I have been feeling much better since I have taken to using olive oil to cook things such as zucchini which I turn into zoodles as detailed in an earlier post.  Overall, I’m on track to get  to 180 lbs. which is my goal weight currently.  It was 200 lbs. at the beginning of the year, but I hit that easily.  I’m down after the weekend for the first time all year.


I wonder if it’s just a fluke or if it’s because I consciously ate better this weekend.  I was going out, but ate a meal at home before hand on both Friday and Saturday.  I will leave you with this quote that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately:

“People say that what we are seeking is a meaning for life.  I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking.  I think  what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.”  – Joseph Campbell

Ultimately, I think the purpose of endeavors such as this blog is to share knowledge with others and generate an experience of purpose greater than ourselves.  I know that I feel like I’m living life more fully now that I have lost weight and feel healthier.



Constructive Feedback

Lately,  I’ve been getting a lot of positive comments on the weight I’ve lost so far. It has gotten me thinking about how important constructive feedback is to your general health.  We are social animals and having our positive behaviors be reinforced ultimately makes behavioral change much easier.  I have decided to try and compliment friends of mine whenever they make any positive change in their lives.  I feel as if the positive vibes I put out to others will return to me many times over.  My weight is holding steady at 192 lbs after a long and heavy Memorial Day weekend.  However, I have bought some new shorts that are 2 sizes smaller (4 inches) around the waist and already they are sliding down.  I started doing squats last week to go with my new lifting protocol in part to try and build up my gluteus maximus. More on the new lifting regime is to come.


I am going strong this year without carbohydrates.  I typically keep under 50 g of carbs a day and many days I am under 25 g.  I think men can handle a persistent very low carb lifestyle better than women from the research that I have read.  The bottom line is that I feel great, but I do miss bread and pasta.  A delicious plate of pasta with a nice red will call to me from time to time.  I feel like I can’t even step inside an Italian restaurant.  The gelato alone would be calling to me from the freezer case.
A big advance that I have made lately is to start making my own noodles from zucchini squash.  You will need a spiralizer.  I got mine from CVS for $15.  Heat a pan with extra virgin olive oil on Med-High heat for a couple minutes and use the spiralizer on the pasta. Put the zoodles (zucchini noodles) into the pan for four minutes and turn often:


You can go down to Med heat after you get cooking.  I heat up some marinara at the same time.  I have been really digging Uncle Steve’s Arrabiata: http://unclestevesny.com/product/arrabiata-sauce/.  It has some kick and tastes super fresh and healthy.
Take the noodles off the stove and add the sauce:


It feels like you are getting away with something.  It really tastes that good.  When I used to eat pasta,  I would usually feel tired afterwards as I came down off the blood sugar high from the processed carbohydrates.  Now I don’t feel that at all.  I just feel great.  I ended up pairing my zucchini noodles with some pork ribs and had a wonderful dinner:


9 Hour Feeding Window

I have been eating in a 9 hour window from 11 AM to 8 PM for 4 months.  It is an easy way to get into intermittent fasting.  It has a bunch of other positive benefits.  When you are out and about on a Saturday night and your old friend Jumbo Pizza slice calls to you, it is just not an option to eat it.  I tend to eat a meal with plenty of fats around 8 PM on a night that I’m going out so that I’m still burning through that fat and am more able to deal with temptation.  I haven’t given in yet.  The key idea behind the feeding window is that your establish a clear time to fast.  When you wake up in the morning before you break your nightly fast with breakfast, your body will be operating differently.  For many people, this is the only time that they may possibly be running off ketones (or have a higher level of ketones which are a product of burning fat).  My feeding window has also changed the way I feel about eating by transforming it into something that is under my control.  It’s no longer chaos.  Depending on the meal plan that I decide on at the beginning of the day, I will be eating either 3 or 4 meals and that is it.  I know what the meal plan is from the jump.  It then makes it easier for me to also regulate what the content of my meals will be.  It is meat and veggies for me for now.  A few berries, which are lower in sugar, have been finding their way in lately and I have been loving them.  I’m trending down, so I’m happy with that.


The Weekly Weight Cycle


It seems that every Monday I wake up to find my weight has gone up over the weekend.  I can see from my graph that there is a weekly periodicity to it.  It makes sense that I eat more over the weekend and I know that I drink wine then, so I have clear contributing factors.  It is frustrating to see the pattern and I worry that it is the beginning of a relapse to bad habits and a return to my old weight.  I decided I need to break the pattern, so I have started an intermittent fast today.  I think once a week I will do a 24 hour fast.  No food until 8 PM.  My buddy the Media Addict at: http://media-addict.blogspot.com/ has had good success with it and has put me on to some good resources.  This once a week fast will let me dip my big toe into the pool of Intermittent Fasting (IF).  Wish me luck.  One other big change this week has been to find sardines in olive oil.  It’s a great fat source for a meal that kills hunger for a long time.  Sardines are also delicious.  It’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids and they come in at around 265 calories for a tin.  I’ve been eating Wild Planet wild caught sardines lately and ordered this big box of them through Amazon for under $3 a tin:


BBQ Superfood

BBQ is not a superfood like blueberries or avocados are marketed,  but if you are eating out and want meat and veggies,  then it’s near perfect.  How did it get a bad reputation?
Part of the reason is that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat were unfairly villainized. We now know that cholesterol is largely produced in the liver as a response to inputs. You should eat a couple of eggs especially ones rich in omega-3.
Now that we know that cholesterol and fat aren’t the problem when eaten in the right amounts through the day, BBQ starts to look as well as taste great. This weekend I went to Texas Jack’s BBQ in Arlington, VA. I got a half pound of brisket, a quarter pound of pulled pork, and some Brussel sprouts. The hidden surprise of the meal were the siraccha pickles which were amazing. They were so crisp with a great blast of heat.

Afterwards, I felt great and didn’t get hungry again for a long time because the fat is slowly broken down. For now BBQ is going to be part of my diet a couple of times a week.

The Liquid Diet

Liquid diets can be controversial.  There are definitely a lot of fad diets out there that can hurt you.  You want your macronutrients to be where you want them while trying to lose weight on a liquid diet.  No protein for a long period of time can be very injurious to your health.  If you are active at all and want to go the gym, then you need protein.  It can work to go very low protein if you just sit around and don’t break down any muscle.  I think keeping modest protein levels 60g-70g/day and exercising is the way to go.  A liquid diet worked for me.  It was doctor recommended and had the vitamins and minerals needed to function. I know there are a lot people that freak out at the thought of not consuming any solid food, but you quickly get used to it and you don’t feel as bloated.  My mental state changed for the better as well.  Cheers!