7 hours ago
I hope everyone enjoyed the most epic cheat day possible on Thanksgiving this week! I am staying with my family and absolutely annihilated a load of Turkey, grilled ham, potatoes, biscuits (American ones), cookies (as in biscuits for my non-US friends), ice cream and pie. And that's a good thing.
I actually managed to get to the gym that morning to work up and extreme appetite, so everything worked out fine! I definitely suggest that when you have cheat days it is on a day that you work out instead of a rest day so all that extra food might get put to good use. Another trick is to make sure that you have a mental cutoff so that you can keep yourself from thinking "oh my diet is ruined so I may as well just keep eating like this."
One cheat day or cheat meal isn't going to ruin your results. In fact, it can help keep your metabolism from slowing down due to the caloric deficit on your diet, so it's good for you! Just remember to keep yourself in control and only do it once a week or less, and a cheat day can be an awesome reward for a week well done!
As for my workouts this week, they've been great! I realized yesterday morning, though, that the Smith's Machine at my old gym in Boston has a 60-pound bar instead of a 45-pound bar. Which means I accidentally did two deadlifts at 255 pounds. So I accidentally improved on my old weight, but with the caveat that it was on a smith's machine since my old gym doesn't have a freestanding barbell for some reason, so my stabilizer muscles didn't have to do as much work. Either way when I'm home I'll try to do a single of 265 just to see if I can.
Enjoy your leftovers, everyone, and remember portion control as you work through them all!
5 days ago
So today I decided to do meal prep for the first time ever. I usually don't simply because I enjoy cooking day to day, but this week I'm trying to save up some money and even though I hit my pre-Thanksgiving goal weight (195 pounds, I'll talk about that later on) I do understand that Thanksgiving is going to be a hell of a lot of food, and I'll be traveling and hanging out with friends (read: beer, mead, whiskey, rum and anything else that can get me drunk) so I'm trying to create a buffer.
So what I made was a bunch of stir fry. This recipe is very adaptable, first off I'll tell you guys what I actually used and did myself:
6 chicken breasts
2 turkey thighs
6 bell peppers (2 each of yellow, orange, red)
3 heads of broccoli
1 box of spinach
A combination sauce of ketchup, dijon mustard and BBQ sauce
I started by mixing my condiments together and hand-saucing the chicken and turkey before pre-baking them at 350 for about 15-20 minutes while I chopped all of the vegetables listed above except the spinach, which comes into play later on.and put them in containers for later use.
When the chicken and turkey were done baking I took them out and then quickly fried them for a minute or two on each side and cut them up into pieces (the baking and frying helped to remove a lot of the fat). Then I did a quick fry of all the vegetables and, finally, mixed all of these ingredients into one large container (in this case my empty chili pot).
At this point I added more of the combination sauce and all of the spinach, then thoroughly mixed all of this together. I then fried it in as large a batch as possible (about four batches) and put them into containers. I filled three tupperwares with the equivalent of two meals each, and at the end about enough to fill one more tupperware was left which is today's lunch and dinner. I've had the lunch and am excited for the dinner.
Now let's get to the fun bits: How you guys can screw with it to fit your goals!
Honestly, the turkey and chicken just happen to be what I used in this one instance (I meant to use all turkey breast because that's a very lean protein source but when I went to the store all the turkey breast and all but two turkey thighs were gone). It can be modified for taste if you prefer beef, or if you're a vegan it can easily be substituted with tofu. I don't know how to cook tofu so you'd need to look that up somewhere else, but it would definitely work alongside the onion and peppers especially with the sauces.
If your goal is to get big rather than to lean out you might need to add extra carbs to your diet. This would work just fine with white or brown rice, and if you did that it would last longer than the four days I have calculated out due to the extra food and be great for a "clean bulk" which is a post for another day. I'd say a cup and a half of rice (measured dry) more or less if you were going to add it to the amount of food above and that should last for most of a week, probably like 5 or 6 days if you eat the amount that I do, perfect to go along with a cheat day once it runs out!
It would have been no additional trouble (if a bit of extra money) to also buy a handful of jalapenos and habaneros to give this stir fry a real kick. I would definitely suggest, if you do that, you do it along with some white rice to keep the flavors from getting overwhelming.
I bought all these supplies, easily 2 meals for 4 days and possibly more depending on appetites, for about $55USD. If you added rice it would be a drop in the bucket since using a cup and a half of rice per week, if you buy rice in bulk, would last you a good long time so you would probably only have to buy bags every few months if they were big enough. If I had gone for all thighs instead of breasts it would have been even cheaper but a little bit higher in fat (but this pre-baking, frying and refrying method kind of negates that problem).I should also note these are H-E-B prices. Your nearest or preferred supermarket may have less or more per item (for example, if you get all organic from a farmer's market I guarantee this would be way more expensive). Total time invested into cooking a good chunk of my week's meals was about an hour and a half, maybe a bit less.
In addition, you can string this out farther if you have smaller portions. I have a huge appetite so I'll be eating a lot of this at once and make it last for exactly four days so that I'm on point until Thanksgiving day. So this, plus oats to eat in the morning for carbs, means that if we round up you can eat healthy for about $60USD per week.
I really hope this is helpful to someone, but if nothing else I can attest that it's tasty!
1 week ago
"So congratulations, America. We’ve successfully wrested the title of “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” from France. Enjoy it."
Basically, this week America proved we will gladly put aside human decency at the first sign of fear. We're all bluster and no substance who have, after years of saying "if you give in to terror then the terrorists win" given in to terror and made sure everyone knows it while simultaneously puffing out our chests and saying we're the best and the bravest. The land of the free wouldn't consider the openly Nazi-inspired option of demanding a special ID for members of a certain religion (does the star ring any bells, guys?). The home of the brave wouldn't refuse widows, orphans and refugees because other brown people attacked someone else (as Scalzi points out, more American citizens per capita commit murder than the refugees have been accused of failed terror attacks).
So yeah. Nothing else to really say except we've proven that our government are useless cowards who are perfectly willing to sell out to terrorists despite their rhetoric. I hope every single person who voted with the same mentality that would make it okay to leave a baby on a rock to die of exposure because they *might* grow up to be a bad person gets voted out. I also hope they go to jail, because innocent people will die from this. Either when ISIS uses it to prove that America hates Muslims so they get new recruits or simply from people who could have been saved if our government weren't a bunch of black-hearted cowards starving.
So next time you hear someone say "land of the free, home of the brave" just remember that if that was ever true it's a bald-faced lie now. If after the next election cycle we don't improve (Ha! I know, right? That would require unpatriotic thoughts by acknowledging we have a problem so don't expect that) then I'm out to a country with any goddamn balls and any moral fiber. I am depressed knowing that as an American citizen and taxpayer I am party to this kind of cowardice and bigotry. Get your shit together, America, because I'm fucking sick of this.
1 week ago
So this week has been pretty interesting. It's the start of Phase 4 of the program I'm on and I'm really feeling it, especially in my legs. I also learned that on average the amount that I walk to the gym and back along would burn the average person about 700 calories, not even including the workout and my morning walk.
Today was arm day and I have Chest & Back day 2 and Leg day 2 ahead before I can call this week done. I need to figure out how I'm going to split my time next week considering the holiday, and I think next week since it is Thanksgiving I'll probably talk about food, especially as it relates to money and cheating. Because while Zach Anner may have mentioned that eating healthy is more expensive than eating junk, I have eating well on a budget pretty much down to a science.
But this time I kind of want to talk about attitude. A lot of us are internet people by habit, a lot of us are artistic or academic people who live in our heads. There are definitely people who think of their body as a utilitarian vehicle to get their brain places, superflous flesh they would be fine without if only they could get their consciousness from A to B without it.
I think it's fine to think about your body as a thing to be used, but to continue the transport metaphor, you have the ability to turn the clunky, beat-up jeep into an awesome, badass, custom pimped-out head-turner. So why not put in the effort?
And since Zach Anner mentioned body positivity a bit I think it is important to realize that your body is changeable. You may only get one unless technology marches on a lot faster than I expect, but remember that you have the ability to improve it. So don't worry about it, it's going to take time but as long as you're consistent, even if you just do a half hour walk and some push ups every day and cut soda from your diet, you will improve and you'll feel better.
And you will feel better. Physical activity is linked to dopamine and endorphin reactions in the brain that make you happier. Actually, since I mentioned living in our heads there's a lot of really neat information relating to nutrition and how things effect the hormones in your body. You don't need to know it really unless you want to be a professional, but I think it's fun to know. For example, did you know oats reduce the stress hormone cortisol? That's kinda neat, it made oats my go-to carbohydrate source. You can find lots of ways to make eating healthy and working out fun if they don't start to become that way for their own sake, so don't worry if it's a drag to get to the gym, I'm sure you'll find something!
Remember also that since this has become a community thing you have a lot of people to turn to for tips, support and ideas if you get stuck, so be sure to use it!
This one's kind of rambly because I'm tired after my arm workout, so I'll wrap this and head to bed.
1 week ago
So I want to talk about something that I don't know if people think about too much, and that's progress pictures. I take progress pictures of myself at the start of each week on the Buff Dudes 12-week program, one of my front, back and side each. Nobody is going to see these or, if they do, it's only going to be the first and last ones. So you might wonder why I bother taking them.
I take these for me. Not out of a vanity thing (trust me, even ten weeks in I don't have any cause to be vain yet) but to motivate. This morning when I woke up I really felt like I wasn't making progress, that I'd hit some kind of rut and stopped moving forward. I personally thought that the cortisol from the stress at my job was starting to get to me and cause me to weaken and gain fat back. But when I took my progress pictures and compared them with the last few weeks I saw that, objectively, I actually do look leaner than I did even just a few weeks ago. Progress is still being made, my goals are still a go.
So I suggest taking progress pictures, wholeheartedly. To keep your brain from lying to yourself and thinking it's all for nothing and you're stuck, or to show yourself where you need extra work (my back pictures are, as expected, still not up to par with the rest). You don't have to show them to anybody, you don't have to even let people know they exist, but I find that they help when things get rough.
2 weeks ago
An important thing to remember, ISIS also attacked Muslim gatherings in recent days. Look at the bigger picture, they want to radicalize everyone, and to kill anyone not like them whatever their religion. They are insane, the worst of the worst, that they happen to be an offshoot of Islam is a coincidence of geography combined with turn-of-the-century colonialism and it's consequences.
The west made this monster by colonizing and nationalizing a society where that social structure can't work, and it's killing people of every skin color and creed it can get it's hands on. I'm sure obsolete media will spin it to more Islamophobia, and I'm sure mainstream conservative candidates will take a page from Steven Harper's book to turn open racism into votes from the ignorant and the scared. But just realize for every anti-Muslim or anti-Arab racist thing you say, for every politician who says that Mosques should be monitored and Muslims should be assumed to be terrorists and gets more votes because of it you're playing right into what ISIS wants: an irreparable division between Muslims and the rest of the world to make their "Islam vs. the World" self-pitying bullshit mentality real.
So please, before you say we need to kick out all Muslims or send the refugees back where they came from, think hard about it and choose, instead, not to help ISIS.
2 weeks ago
Hi everyone! I hope Buff Buddies week one went well for you, if you're participating, or was entertaining to watch if you aren't!
These last few weeks were definitely interesting. I'm trying gradually re-introduce carbs into my diet and to do that I'm having a really simple light lunch every day of a serving of oats, a dash of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla protein powder. My dinners, as always, are usually meat, egg and vegetable, normally chicken and broccoli with some condiments. Pretty simple meals, yeah? I actually recommend simple meals as a rule, since it's easier to keep track of what you're eating if you keep it simple. Hopefully if I keep gradually increasing I can call my diet "finished" the day before Thanksgiving. The last time I ended a serious diet I jumped back into eating carbs really quickly since I went to a conference and was eating pretty much exclusively con and hotel food and ballooned right back up, and I want to avoid that this time by keeping it simple.
As for my workouts, well that's where the title comes from. Today is the last day of Phase 3 of the twelve week program. Phase 4 is the most difficult both because it has more days where you work out and because the different movements get more and more complex in order to boost you from a beginner to an intermediate. In that way, it's kind of like school - I probably won't use most of these movements but I'll be glad for what they teach me just to have it. Or, well okay that's not like my experience of school back in the day at all since it has some value and lasting benefit, but you get the idea. Like if you went to schools that were actually good, I mean. Then after that I'm going back to basics for really simple movements (and by simple I mean fundamental rather than easy, like bench and deadlifts).
Either way, I'd say week 1 went pretty well. Feel free to try the oats recipe above! I say things like "dash" or "a bit" a lot since I don't measure out, but overall half a cup of dry oats, a full cup of water and the cinnamon and protein powder to taste ought to do you good for a light lunch or easy breakfast!
Hope your fitness adventures are going well, tonight I crush legs (hamstring focus) and then the weekend is mine to rest up for Phase 4. Bracing myself!
2 weeks ago
So Guardian applications go up soon. Not sure what I plan to do with that. A lot of my friends are recurring guardians (shout out, y'all rock) and they always call it a great life experience, but a lot of work on what may ostensibly be vacation time.
RTX has always been a break for me, when I can sort of put down my troubles and allow myself to relax among friends I don't normally see. In previous years it's been my literal vacation - flying from Boston to Austin for a week of friends and alcohol. Last RTX I started drinking at 10AM pretty much every day, and outside of special occasions I really have put away my hard-drinking ways overall. Now I live in Austin and I'm really not sure what I should be doing with it.
Maybe the compromise will be a SideQuest Spectre, although I actually value the time at SideQuest more since it's a lot more "let's all hang out and be friends in person for a weekend" than "let's wait in the line for an hour then see something awesome for an hour, rinse, repeat." I'd be much more comfortable needing to pass on a funny panel or event than not be able to wholly immerse myself in the inevitable catching-up that happens at BarLympics and the Auction.
Basically, not sure what I'm going to do yet. It may be my new PAX East where I just take Friday and Monday off and go nuts all weekend as always, but it just as easily may be something else. No right or wrong answers here, no good or bad decisions. Just food for thought as to what RTX is going to be for me.
Also whether or not I should rent a bed at the Firehouse just to be nearby for the weekend or if I should take the hour long trek from my apartment the entire time, that's another important question. It's only like 20 a night or thereabouts in the really stuffed rooms.
3 weeks ago
Yeah the title was low hanging fruit, deal with it.
So I am fully on board with doing this whole Buff Buddies thing, and I think it'll be fun in my case because I'm actually approaching the end of a program and am going to be switching to a different one midway through the Buff Buddies 16 weeks. So here's the plan so far:
So as some of you already know I am currently following the Buff Dudes 12-Week Program 2.0, Gym Edition. This program is designed to get people to lose fat and build some lean muscle along the way so that they get lean instead of skinnyfat. Today was day 5 of week 8, which places me squarely in phase 3. This program is really good for beginners or early intermediates since phase one starts off with very simple, fundamental movements three times per week then gradually amps up. As you'll see in the link, phase 3 is five days per week and phase four is a whopping six days per week! In addition, I live an hour's walk from my gym and I walk both ways, which means I have two hours of low intensity cardio every gym day. I also take recreational strolls every single morning for a half hour around my neighborhood.
My attitude towards it so far is "only deviate it it makes it harder." This is the first program I've ever followed and I'm following it as close to the letter as possible. I do add pulldowns to one extra day per week because my pullup game is weak as hell, and if I can't perform an exercise due to lack of equipment I'll throw in something else that works the same muscle groups (the program is built for versatility).
Only, if I'm 9 weeks in to a 12 week program, where will that leave me after week 3 if this is a 16-week event? Well there is a program I've seen that I want to try next, The Tiger Fitness Muscle and Strength Program because I'm a "have your cake and eat it too" kind of guy. I'll be on that for at least a few cycles until I hit my goal weights and size. But that will come when it comes.
I've also been dieting (with a few stumbles) since September. On November 5th it "ended," by which I mean I am still dieting. Er, let me say that in a way that makes sense. I am carb sensitive, if I eat carbs I gain size. In good ways and bad. So when I diet I do so by reducing my carbs and sugars, so little to no bread, pizza, rice, noodles, things of that nature. Tortillas tend to get a pass. Sometimes. My proteins and fats I try to keep clean, and whether I'm dieting or not I try to eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables every day. At this stage in my life I try to eat clean all the time, even if I'm not trying to get lean. Like Josh, I am a queso addict so I have one cheat meal or cheat day depending on my week (that counts on diet or just generally eating clean). Starting this week, I've been very gradually introducing more carbs into my diet, so that it will be officially "over" on Thanksgiving Day. The reason for that is the first time I seriously dieted I gained all that weight back when it ended, since I jumped right back into high carb meals when my body wasn't ready for it. From there I will be eating healthy but with an eye still towards maintaining, since I will be on the brutal phase 4 of the Buff Dudes program and working out six days a week so will probably still be shedding a bit of excess and just need the extra calories anyway. When I start the TF Muscle and Strength program, I'll up my calories a little more to allow me to gain size and strength but no so much that I gain a lot of fat. That's going to require some precision.
I don't track exact calories and macronutrients (protein, fats, carbs), instead preferring to eyeball it and go with my gut. I would probably see faster results if I did but I would also enjoy fitness much less.
Either way I have a ton of healthy (and healthy-ish) recipes I'm sure I'll share over time. Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint, and I have a lot to do tonight. Maybe I'll do a food journal series?
1. Pullups. This is always a goal. As Arnold said, "If you are 240 pounds then you should have the strength of a 240 pound guy." So by the end of this my dearly held hope is to be able to do 10 pullups (supinated grip) unassisted. We'll see if that plays out, I'll even call 5 a victory.
2. Current weight goal: I started at 205 pounds, and I think I was about 20% bodyfat. This was after a healthy summer that ended on two binge weeks, RTX and the first week I lived in Austin where it was just a constant stream of booze, BBQ, tex-mex and booze (I started drinking before 11AM every day of RTX). I want to get down to 190 at 15% bodyfat or lower, preferably lower. I am currently at something near 195-197, but the scale at the Gold's locker room is a bit wonky so I'll just ask if I can use their fancy personal trainer desk scale on the very last day of the 12-week program. This goal, at the end of the program, will change to an increase in weight while maintaining or lowering bodyfat percentage, but I can't set that goal until I see where the 12-week plan drops me.
3. Big 3 lifts increased. Squats I really don't think about too much, but I want them to go up for sure. I want to be able to deadlift 315 lbs (or three big plates each side) or more by the end of the Buff Buddies run in 16 weeks, and to do 5-10 reps of bench press at 190 or higher.
4. Build a better back. @DiMono and the trainer I got two free sessions with at Golds have both confirmed what I already know - my back is a weak point. And it's a pretty big weak point considering how large a muscle group it is, which is why I add pulldowns and rows to days when I'm only working small muscle groups.
So one vital thing to remember is that what works for one person does not work for all. You might not gain as much weight from carbs but be really sensitive to fats, or you might see better results from lower-volume training programs. Find something that works for you, even if it doesn't work for anybody else, and own it!
Never compare your lifts to other people. You do you, everyone was a beginner once. Just because that one guy is deadlifting 495 pounds doesn't invalidate my accomplishment of 245, he's just been at it longer. and if you try to go too heavy because you're worried someone else is doing more and you don't want to look bad, you could just injure yourself, especially with the Big 3, and that's way worse than the alternative.
So finally I'll just list some youtube channels that provide either good motivation, good instruction, good recipes or some combination of all of them: CT Fletcher Motivation, Buff Dudes, PumpChasers, Physiques of Greatness, Maxx Chewning, Strength Camp, Furious Pete/Furious Pete Talks, and Big J's Extreme Fitness. I'm subscribed to all of those and even if you decide you want to get fit using methods other than weight training I find all of these channels very entertaining.
Best of luck everybody! I'll try to check in once a week and do a journal.
3 weeks ago
Yeah I'm lost and in a hurry, but if anyone knows where exactly to report a bug please let me know - I've finally encountered one that is a significant issue for me in particular (namely, there are two groups called RT New England and the one I help run isn't found, instead it brings me to the other RT New England when I click on it).
I write books. That will always be the most important part.
When I'm not writing books, I like the usual, I guess. Reading, video games, etc., even though the writing and the day job means I only get to play those rarely.
Huge fantasy nerd. It's what I love to read and what I love to write, but as you can see above historical and sci-fi are also favorites even though I've written sci-fi only rarely and my only attempt at historical fiction was the worst book (thankfully unpublished) I'd ever written.
I prefer to know people before friending them, either in person or through interacting meaningfully on the site, FYI.