Got cravings? Got Exercise!!!

A big worry that many of us who wants to eat healthy have, especially at the the beginning, is how to deal with cravings. There are a lot of answers given – eat enough calories, eat a high-carb diet (preferably fruit), make sure to get a savory meal like a stew, many different answers to many different cravings, but one that I have noticed recently is actually exercise. As I have continued on this exercise regimen and gained strength I tend to subconsciously evade many of the less than optimal foods that I have eaten before as they will directly interfere with my fitness regimen. Especially fat, there really is something at work behind the scenes making me not buy the nuts, the avocados and many other high-fat foods as they would not work as well as what I’m doing now. Of course I might have a handful of nuts, a little of nut butter or some nut milk every once in a while, but somehow it’s subconsciously kept within the limits in a way that no amount of “willpower” managed to do before. This despite the fact that due to economical reasons as I eat more cooked foods my caloric intake has lowered a bit. I find this extraordinarily inspiring.

2 months of adaptations

I just went through my training log today and compared how I’m doing now compared to when I started this regiment at the beginning of march. While I am still mostly on the first progressions and a lot of work remains to do, I really have come far. I almost never get any back pain nowadays before either, which I used to before. So glad I stuck with this program, only wish I had found it earlier. Looking forward to what results the future will bring.

Beginning of march:

Squats (1st progression)

1×8

1×15

1×26

Pull-ups (1st progression)

1×24

1×26

1×26

Push-ups (1st progression)

1×15

1×11

1×15

Leg-raises (1st progression):

1×10

1×10

1×10

Calf Raises (1st progression) :

1×21

1×31

Now:

Pull-ups (second progression):

1×26

1×23

1×22

Squats (first progression)

1×33

1×33

1×31

Push-ups (1st progression):

1×50

1×42

1×43

Leg-raises (1st progression):

1×19

1×18

1×17

Bridges (1st progression):

1×39

1×35

1×35

Calf raises (1st progression)

1×30

1×28

1×26

1×26

What sort of exercise should I do?

Usually when we get into fitness regimens we do so with some kind of purpose. Unless this purpose is to get better at this particular activity, it can often lead us to question what particular activity would be best for us. I’ve been there. I’ve trued going to the gym, running, swimming, lots of things to help me loose that backback on the front. The fact is that as long as it is an activity that exerts you it does not really matter what you do, you will get leaner in time. The most important aspect is consistency and for consistency there is one single thing that matter – do you enjoy this activity or not? If this activity makes you smile you will return to it in a couple of days, next week and next month. For me, this is bodyweight training. Going to the gym cannot compare with the fun (and results) I get out of doing some bodyweight calisthenics at home. And I’m seeing great results too. It needs to be progressive though, in other words get harder as you get strong. There is a book called Convict Conditioning which has very good explanations for these progressions for 6 major exercises. So far I can do 5 of them, not strong enough in my back to get up to a handstand.

So whatever activity you do make sure you enjoy it with a smile. That said we should try to do activities from a few different areas. There are 5 areas really: strength-, endurance-, cardiovascular respiratory-, flexibility- and what is known as neurological training or simply neuro training. I will be discussing my views of these in some following posts from material I have taken in so for now let us just focus on the first three. First off I do not necessarily obsess over the difference between strength and endurance. Yes, the standard view is that strength is built when you lift a weight no more than 6 times and the more you do above that is endurance training. I believe it’s true definitely, but not set in stone. Say a guy could do 6 one-arm pull-ups and he were to increase this to 15 one-arm pull-ups – is he just building endurance? I don’t think so, that is a massive Strength movement. In fact, the two are inseparably linked. Especially in progressivist bodyweight training that is based on a double progression. Since you cannot just increase your weight by adding 5 kilos, you increase the weight a LOT by changing the exercise a bit so you must work a lot at the range known as “endurance”, but of course it builds strength as well. If you cannot do 20 full pushups, the chances of you being able to do 10 repetitions of the next progression is slim.

So what about cardio, is it important? Yes. It is vital that you enjoy the activities, but the benefits from training differs a lot between “weights” and “cardio” activities and they are benefits we all sorely need so it is important that we get some mix of both. It does not need to take a lot of time either. I take 30-40 minutes ever second day to do calisthenics and the days in between I go for a bikeride (pacer recommended so you can objectively measure how you are doing, they are pretty cheap and sold at good bike shops). I’ve ended up doing this for about 6-7 days/week for the past couple of weeks (before I biked every day, which did not give enough recovery) which works very well for me. So to answer the question of which comes first, it doesn’t matter. Start with one activity to get the ball going. Once you have adapted to this activity so it is easier for you to do it than not then add the other type of activity. Always make sure it is one you enjoy. I find cycling a lot more enjoyable than running and it is low-impact so I can do it more often and a lot easier to perform if you are not lightweight. But if you enjoy running more and is fit enough to do it – go for it. Do the activities you enjoy with a smile and you will see improvements. We are in this for the long haul. Just as we did not get to where we are today in one day of not working out it will take a couple of years to become truly fit, but we will see some improvements along the way. It’s just important to bear this in mind and not get sucked into the short-term perspective that is so prevalent in our society.

Going to head out for a 14k bikeride after I finnish my water now. Have a great day 🙂

Chai datorade and “how do you get enough protein for recovery?”

If you look around yourself in the locker room of a gym you will undoubtedly see quite a few people chugging down protein drinks in hopes of gaining strength. Problem is that this is not really doing much good, because muscle isn’t build totally from protein. Not even a third of muscle is made up of protein. More than seventy percent of healthy muscle is water. In fact, there’s barely eighty grams of protein in a pound of muscle – certainly no more than a hundred grams. if the extra intake of one-hundred and forty grams of protein advised by modern writers was really added to water and turned into muscle, a guy consuming this much protein would gain more than six-hundred and fifty pounds of pure muscle in a year. To put it another way, he would have five or six times as much muscle on his body than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime as Mr Olympia – after only twelve months of training. Even if you somehow lost more than three quarters of this protein as energy or through faulty digestion or via inefficient tissue-bulding, our average two-hundred pound bodybuilder would still become easily the most muscular man on the planet within a year, if all this extra protein was transformed into body muscle. In fact, as research like the China Study has found, the optimal range for protein intake is around 5-10% of calories from plant sources, which is easily found is almost all whole foods. There are a few, like dates, which are lower, but eating a variety of whole foods and you will get enough.

In fact when we work out we primarily use our muscles and the fuel for this is glycogen, a simple carbohydrate that fuels all our cells, including muscle cells. In order to recover properly from the workout, one must supply the carbohydrate lost during the workout. The most easily assimilable source is the simple carbohydrates found in fruit. Now I know, you do not want to become a raw vegan, I understand, I’m not 100% either, but I do eat fruit after workout. But if this is impossible, make sure to resupply with a meal of complex carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, oats, even some rice noodles, legumes (they are a bit higher in protein, but predominantly carbohydrate). I will give you some interesting recipes for this as we go along, but for now hold steady with a chai dateorade.

250 grams dates (about 20 iranian)

spices – cinnamon, powdered ginger, cardamom

1 liter (more if you like) of water (I substituted about half of the water with homemade oat milk to increase the calorie content

– Blend, blend, blend. Pour into a jug and then enjoy while doing something productive or just relaxing. Writing a blog post like this for example.

Training

Good morning everyone!

Hope you have had a good nights sleep. I managed to get to bed decently early so I feel pretty well-rested today and motivated to get going with my fitness regimen after I finnish drinking my liter of water. I’ve been going to the gym haphazardly for years without success yet this bodyweight program I’m on now is getting me far greater results. This is due to a few reasons one has to remember about getting training to work (that I have learned through not doing it).

        The first one is that you have to enjoy the kind of training you do. If you do not enjoy it, you will not do it. Or at least do it often enough and consistency really is the most important aspects of building fitness in my view. I used to work-out less than 1 day/week on average (though more in periods), of course I could not build fitness on that. I heard Doug Graham say that fitness development follows the formula F.I.T. – frequency, intensity, time and I agree with it so it is not the only variable, you start cycling every day you are not doing strength, then once you have adapted you increase time, then you increase intensity.

        The second thing I have learnt is not to make any big promises. Or rather commit to these things when you are in action committing to them. I have for all my years of failed gym going had an expectation that I would go 5-7 days/week and train. That expectation was too big. It was too far removed from what I was actually doing that I actually ended up not going at all. Do not commit to doing this when you are sitting in front of the computer, do not make big declarations. Just make the steps. When I do my bodyweight training I do not commit to doing bodyweight training every day, I commit to doing this is the new. Similarly, when I go for a bike-ride I commit to cycling in that moment. When I finnish training I commit not to make a perfect diet for the rest of my life all my time. We are not perfect, this is not possible, but I commit to making a smoothie for my athletic recovery. Now if you excuse me I am going to commit to doing some calisthenics…

Training must be FUN

When we hear the word training what do we think about? For some it might be martial arts, tennis, biking or some other sport, but for me it has really always been associated with the gym, lifting weights or hitting some machines. During some periods I have been able to temporarily raise some motivation about my training and sometimes even getting some meager results, but for most of my life so far I’ve been postponing the training until “tomorrow”, though at times getting some more days it it has never been consistent. I’ve always blamed myself for that, thought I lacked willpower to get as fit as I really can be. This is as much true as the fact that you can shred overweight by training without having a healthy diet accompanying it. The truth of the matter is that I haven’t really enjoyed it. I always thought that gym was something I had to motivate or push myself to go to, but I realize that when training is fun it isn’t this way. I’ve started swimming now, partly it was my own wish and partly it was a suggestion to improve my mobility issues and I’m having so much FUN every day. Yes true I’m frustrated over how much I lost since my kiddie and teenage years, that was really a reality check slap in the face for me, which I couldn’t explain away unlike the gym so I don’t do as well as I should, but I’m enjoying rebuilding my fitness in this way. I’m going on almost a daily basis and am enjoying researching through videos and other stuff on how to improve my technique to become more efficient, e.g. I learned that a true breaststroke is really mostly underwater and that the core needs to be the main active part in propulsion as if it’s passive the arms need to do too much work and you tire much faster (and you get slower). This kind of research into the mechanics of the sport I have never done on this level before and I’m just having so much fun doing it. So everyone, no matter what state of fitness you are at, if you wish to improve make sure you pick a training form that you truly ENJOY, because that is truly the only thing necessary to improve and get fitter, because everything starts and follows automatically from there.

Stepping up my game

I did my first day of Robert Cheeke training menu today. This means going back to training different body groups every day rather than everything every day. This is more effective, but I don’t regret doing it this way until now, since it allowed me to get consistency into my training. How I wish I could have had some of that insight in high school. I thought I was doing theory then, but really it was dogma. I didn’t do my training consistently enough and thought that just because the theory was good I would see results (I didn’t). I remember one incident at gym class. We were supposed to have one lesson each which we were to lead the activities in. Mine was strength. I followed the theory and did a few reps and sets of one muscle group exercise at low weight and then did nothing, even when a classmate talked to me about this. The answer is my core strength sucked, my discipline in training consistently sucked and so did my non-existent drive to go to true intensity so I could never gain any strength.

The theory is really good though, because it forces you to work out 5 days a week, rather than 3 and this is very powerful. At 3 days/week the body gets the signal that there is some pressure a few days every week, but all in all the body prefers to be sedentary. At 5 days a week you send the body the signals that you means serious busines

Anyways, I tried his menu and I couldn’t hold up the reps at all. The warm up was supposed to be 20 minutes stairs running – I managed two and a half – hahaha. The rest of it I managed closer to what I was supposed to anyways, but not as much as I should have. This is a good thing. Well, not that I have a week physique, but rather that I have some OBJECTIVE way to measure when I have gained a decent amount of strength. This will also be my cue to start thinking of returning to a gym again (which I will have to when I want to step up my game even further, but I want to gain some strength first)

So I will continue with this routine so since when he requires a run or something else he often uses distance, not time (a very good idea, you need objective measurements) and since my idea of that is totally off I needed to go buy something. It ended up being one of those “step counters”. Hate the concept – the thought of basing your exercise around how many steps you take is like basing your calorie count by counting your grapes or dates, instead of weighing them. It works out now though, because I could get a distance counter with it. So I headed to my sports store. Crappy weather outside, since the snow is melting so water had formed into big pools so I had to raise my legs every time I rode my bike over them. After I while I went into kid-mode tho’ and youst went “weee”, hahaha. Anyways I found a very good distance counter there (hopefully).

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