Tag Archives: fitness

Mass Building One Month Progress

7 Nov

A month ago I switched over to a mass building focused workout plan. I’m doing it while: 1) eating paleo, 2) taking creatine and BCAA supplements, and 3) a high quality whey shake. For the last month, I have not been counting calories, but rather relying on my paleo diet regulated hormones to tell me to eat when I’m hungry. It turns out, I’m eating a TON! I’m going to track calories for the next week or so to get a benchmark, but I’d guess I’m 2900-3500 calories a day. I’m also guessing my macronutrients are around 20% carbs, 40% protein, 40% fat.

My workout is based on volume training. Lower weights, for high rep/set counts. My split consists of Chest & Back, Legs & Abs, Arms & Shoulders. My workouts are about an hour each with the bulk of the workout being a push-pull alternating superset, with ten reps and ten sets. For example, my chest routine is a flat bench, followed by machine row. 90 second rest periods, for the ten set rotation. I then finish off with 3 sets of 12 reps incline dumbbell flies and lat pull downs.

Here is my 30 day progress:

Day 1

Day 1

Day 30

Day 30

A bit of visual progress perhaps… I’ve noticed that I’m adding muscle for sure. My arms and chest are definitely “thicker” looking and feeling. I’ve also noticed a difference in my glutes, quads and hamstrings.

My plan is to keep at this mass building through Christmas.

The “Gluten Free” Myth

24 Oct

When my family and I started eating paleo, I checked out the “gluten free” section of my fancy grocery store. While I knew that paleo is largely about eating natural, single ingredient whole foods, I figured that there must be some goodies tucked away in the “healthy” gluten free section of the grocery store. I was WRONG!

As I picked up a variety of gluten free products (breads, cookies, cereal, pastas, etc.), and read the ingredients, I quickly found out that wheat and gluten were just replaced with another type of filler ingredient. A processed food is a processed food — take out the wheat, and the food companies simply replace it with soy, rice, potato starch, or some other undesirable item.

The up side to my grocery store misfortune was unexpected. When I got home and told my wife what I discovered, we decided to start making our own high quality snacks and paleo-friendly recipes together. We now make large batches of paleo cookies, dinner recipes, nut bars, and other tasty treats using quality whole food ingredients. We make large batches and use our vacuum sealer to freeze things for later use. We get the kids involved too. My girls, ages 5 and 7, help to measure, stir, and add ingredients to our paleo concoctions. We have turned our healthy eating food prep into quality family time! Instead of taking the easy route and buying processed foods in a box, we are now all living healthier, and happier together!

Eat Fat, Get Lean

22 Oct

Too good to be true? Can you REALLY eat fats to get lean? OF COURSE!

We have been indoctrinated as a society to believe that “low fat” and “no fat” foods are the way to go for being lean and healthy. Just walk through your local grocery store and pay attention to the marketing of low fat foods. On that same trip, look around at the people shopping for these low fat foods. How many of them look lean and fit? Probably not many!

I myself falsely believed that low/no fat foods were “healthier” than their full fat alternatives. I had to do a lot of research on my own, and try out a higher fat diet, to find out for myself if fats were my friend or enemy. Here are my top reasons why you should ditch the low fat foods and embrace a big fat intake in your diet:

1) Low / No Fat Foods are Junk – when companies market low fat foods, they are actually removing something healthy (the fats) and replacing them with fillers that are not (such as soy, soy derivatives, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or chemicals that you can’t pronounce).

2) Fat is FULL of nutrients – gram for gram, fats are more nutrient dense than protein or carbohydrates. Not only do fats contain numerous vitamins and nutrients, they also have another interesting benefit. Many vitamins and minerals are actually fat-soluble, which means that eating fat increases the bioavailability of nutrients of other foods. In other words, eating fats allow you to get more nutrients out of the non-fat foods you are eating!

3) Fat DOES NOT make you fat – this is probably one of the most common misconceptions. I’ll say a couple of things about this. First, fat is very satiating which means it makes you feel full, thus it prevents over eating. This is especially true when you are paring the consumption of fat with a low-carb diet (like paleo). Second, study after study shows that high fat and limited carb diets improve your body’s ability to access stored fat you already have for energy. This has the result of improving body composition (increasing lean muscle mass and reducing body fat percentage).

4) Fat DOES NOT increase cholesterol and clog your arteries –There are no studies that link the consumption of fat to increased blood cholesterol. In fact, the best studies available indicate that cholesterol is most negatively impacted by high carb diets that are wheat based. Similarly, clogged arteries are caused by inflammation (which is also the number one cause of all diseases in the body). Inflammation is much more causally linked to the consumption of wheat and carbohydrates. You don’t consume fats that in turn get poured into the blood stream and plug things up… it just doesn’t work that way.

5) Fats make hormones – hormones are pretty much in charge of doing EVERYTHING in your body. Dietary fats are a key structural component of hormones. Having your hormones in proper balance, and in adequate supply, are critical for sex drive, building muscle, regulating your mood, etc.

EASY Paleo Honey Lemon Chicken

21 Oct

I find that eating healthy, whether it is Paleo or not, is always easier when preparing meals that are a) delicious, and b) made in bulk.

I tweaked a few recipes I found online to come up with the perfect combination of flavor and ease to make this delicious crock pot honey lemon chicken. I make a big batch with about a half dozen or more chicken breasts at a time, but you can make more or less depending on your needs.

Ingredients

4 skinned chicken breasts
1/2 cup of lemon juice
1/4 of raw honey
1 tsp of minced garlic
Olive Oil

Directions

Cover the bottom of the crock pot in a layer of olive oil, mix the lemon juice, honey and garlic until combined. Placed breasts in the crock pot and drizzle them with the lemon and honey mixture. Cook on low heat for 3.5-5 hours.

To make sauce, remove cooked chicken from the pot and pour the remaining juice into a sauce pan. Over medium low heat, add 1 tblsp of arrowroot powder and stir regularly for 2-4 minutes. Let cool to thicken.

I usually make at least double this recipe. I find that freezing two breasts in a vacuum sealer and freezing them works great if you want to make a very large batch and have delicious healthy food ready for later!

Mayonaise… It’s good for you???

16 Oct

Don’t let the title trick you… mayo can be good for you… delicious, and healthy! This recipe is loaded with healthy fats from egg and olive oil, and it has none of the junk ingredients and fillers found in store bought mayo.

Doing paleo, sandwiches are out, but I make a delicious chicken salad using homemade mayo. The stuff in the store is just garbage. I checked out leading brands, and the best names and most expensive are loaded with bad ingredients. Cain’s “with Olive Oil” mayo for example has soybean oil as the first ingredient!

This recipe is awesome! Tastes just like the jar stuff, but it is healthy, and paleo friendly. Make sure you keep it in the fridge, no longer than 72 hours.

Ingredients:

1 egg
1 tblsp of apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

In a blender, blend well egg, apple cider vinegar and sea salt. SLOWLY add the olive oil in a thin stream while blending. Continue to blend on low/medium setting until it reaches the consistency of mayonnaise.

Paleo Progress… and ideas

15 Oct

So, I’m about two weeks into my “hardcore” Paleo challenge. I feel AWESOME… strong, lean, and full of energy. I’m looking better too. Not quite time for comparison photo against my last entry, but that’s coming soon.

I got a haircut today and got to chatting it up with the girls in the salon. I mentioned “paleo”, and suddenly I was the Most Interesting Man in the World. Some knew a bit about it, others knew nothing. They asked for my explanation and peppered me with questions. After telling them you can eat all sorts of meat, veggies, fruit, nuts and tubers, the question that struck me was, “So, what do you actually eat?”

Obviously, eating paleo is hardly a limiting diet. There are literally thousands of foods in MILLIONS of combinations! That said, I do find my self struggling with food ideas sometimes. Like a lot of people, I fall into patterns of eating things that are easy, already prepared, or familiar. My wife especially struggles with this “what do I eat now” dilemma. Here are some tricks I’ve developed for keeping your taste buds excited on paleo:

1) Try new things — given that there are literally thousands of foods that are OK to eat while doing paleo, don’t be afraid to try new things! I found out that I love brussels sprouts, salmon, and kale. I had literally NEVER had any of these foods in my life, and now I am eating them daily or weekly. Give new foods a chance!

2) Get a paleo cookbook — I bought a great Paleo cookbook and I frequent the authors site for new ideas. I have tried about half the recipes already with great success! One thing paleo has showed me is that good food can also be prepared in exciting ways that is also DELICIOUS! The internet is also FULL of sites and blogs with paleo recipes you can try out.

http://www.amazon.com/Paleo-Cooking-Elanas-Pantry-Gluten-Free/dp/1607745518

3) Make food in bulk — This is smart for any “healthy” eating plan. Every couple of weeks, my wife and I have a bulk food prep day where we make large batches of things so they are “ready” when we want them. I’ll make a tripe batch of meatloaf and then freeze individual serving sizes so I can take them to work. I’ll make a giant batch of paleo nut bars for snacks. I find that bulk food preparation is a great way to make sure you have things to eat when you need it, but also a great way to stay on track with your nutrition.

Going Paleo

10 Oct

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Luckily, I’ve only been lazy keeping a blog, and not my workouts!

A lot has happened for me health wise. In the last few months, I discovered the Paleo diet. I also changed my workout routine. I’m not a guy who jumps onto hot new fads typically, but after reading Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution, and giving this style of eating a try, I was hooked!

I won’t get into a detailed explanation of Paleo eating here. It is essentially eating a diet of single ingredient whole foods, like our prehistoric ancestors ate. It includes lots of meats, vegetables, fruits, tubers, and nuts. It avoids ALL processed foods of any kind, dairy, wheat, soy, and legumes. Read Robb Wolf’s book for more specifics.

I’m doing Paleo because I’m looking, and feeling AMAZING! My experience has been that it takes about a week to adjust — at first, you feel a bit cranky from wheat withdrawal, coupled with trying to figure out what foods to eat. After that first week, you notice normal body “bloat” start to vanish. During weeks two and three, I felt like was losing body fat on a daily basis, especially around the waist. My weight, and body fat, got to the lowest level it had ever been after sticking to a very hardcore paleo regiment for about 30 days. Also, after the first week or so, I noticed that not only did my energy levels improve, they stayed very steady throughout the day. No highs and lows anymore… no crashing feeling during the afternoon. Over the last few months I’ve been on and off Paleo, but as of Sunday, October 6, 2013, I’m all Paleo, all the time. Our son was born so things got hectic, and I also experimented by reintroducing non paleo foods, mainly wheat, to test their impact. Immediately felt bloated, had erratic energy, and just didn’t feel my best.

My workouts have also changed. I’m seven weeks into a classic 5×5 strength building routine. I just haven’t felt “strong” enough for my liking, so I picked this program to help me with that. The workout uses compound lifts, heavy progressive weight loading, for five sets of five reps. I’ve been thrilled with the workout so far, having added weights to my lifts every week. My plan is to keep going with eating Paleo, and adding weights until I really plateau… if it ain’t broke….

Finally, I’ve hired an online fitness “coach” to help me along. I had a Skype chat on Monday for an hour to go over my current status, goals, etc. She endorsed Paleo, and my 5×5 routine with enthusiasm. I’m planning to do a monthly check in with her to see how I’m progressing. Knowing I have to face her will also keep me accountable!

Finally, it’s hard to do, but I’m posting an “accountability photo” here so I can compare every thirty days. My goal is to be stronger, and have six pack abs, by June 2014!

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