The Fitness Masochistic Paradox

I’m thinking that getting bulky was exceptionally easy for me.  However, getting lean is an entirely different story.

It seems that there’s a reason why people are always wanting to give up when they are attempting to lose weight on shows like “The Biggest Loser”.  Losing weight takes a lot of discipline!  The reason why gaining weight was so easy for me?  It took consistency and dedication, but no discipline for me.

I would eat whatever I wanted to gain weight.  I’d eat a lot, and gaining weight just depended on me lifting weights at a progressive overload.  Of course, I didn’t care as much about the cardio because I was trying to get big!  That’s not to say I didn’t do cardio to minimize the fat gains.  It just wasn’t top priority, and it was a lot more challenging.

Doing cardio and eating clean?  That sounded brutal.  I’ve done it before, and I honestly thought it sucked.  Oddly enough, that could be because I get addicted to crap foods and not because eating clean is actually horrible.

It does feel like a mission, though, and while bulking required the consistency, cutting is requiring a lot of discipline.  I am doing my best to develop the discipline needed to lose weight, and honestly it feels like some weird masochistic effort.  That is, I’m inflicting all of this pain on myself in the moment during my training and I’m depriving myself of the crap foods.

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..the crap I used to eat provided by FreeImages.Com

So why do I call this masochism?  I like doing it!  It’s a challenge.  I’m putting myself into challenge and I’m going to come out of this a lot stronger than I was when I started..

It’s a paradox because it may be hard now, but it only gets easier as I continue to push myself and succeed at my goals.  Before too long, I will be bigger, faster, stronger and as lean as can be!  I believe I can achieve my goals through a little pain and hardship now…

and you can too!

My mile times are speeding up, I’m eating fewer calories, and I’m beginning to feel like a healthy individual.  Progress is, as always, a matter of consistency and discipline.  I’ll keep grinding, and I hope you do too.

Practicing What I Preach

Almost every day I write a post about fitness, Crohn’s Disease, and life.  Almost every day, I try to share advice that was given to me, research, and my personal opinions on the above topics.  That does not mean that I am a testament to this perfect, idealistic version of me that I am trying to assimilate in this blog.

However, every day I keep in mind of where I’m at and I remember my end goals.  I remember that eating a nearly perfect diet that I believe in will further my goals, that pushing out the extra rep will also help, and that blogging is my form of expression and a means to an end for going the extra mile until I choose to go even further.

Not having these things all figured out oftentimes makes me feel like a hypocrite.  I’m reminded of a quote from Jesus in the Christian’s New Testament:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

That’s Matthew 7:3-5 in the New International Version of the Bible(crazy how many different versions there are!!).  I was raised in a fairly religious home, thus I remember random scriptures often that I sometimes relate to things I’m going through in my life.

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I chose this image from freeimages.com because the bar looked like a barbell

However, if those words were taken literally I wonder if there would be a single person willing to preach.  That’s where Christians believe in grace and moving forward, even when they make mistakes.  That’s where I believe in getting up, even when I fall down, and continuing to blog while simultaneously fighting to improve my life into that idealistic version I spoke of in the first paragraph.

So what is the idealistic version of myself?

Idealistically, I’m going to continue blogging and working out, running, and dieting, studying nutrition and also furthering my career.  I will turn into someone I would proudly call a role model.

I will practice what I preach.

It’s going to happen!  I believe in myself and I know I can do it!  Since I wrote the series on diet last week, I have made a lot of healthier choices.  I’ve been running a lot more and eating cleaner just like I said my character Jimmy would as compared to Carl who only likes greasy, nasty food.

So as long as I talk bad about Carl, I’m going to be a Jimmy!  While practicing what I preach, I’ll continue to keep you posted and share content.

 

 

National IBD Awareness Week

What does the purple ribbon stand for?  That’s a pretty common question, right?  Everyone knows that the pink ribbon is a symbol of breast cancer awareness and prevention, so what about the purple ribbon?

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The purple ribbon stands for lots of things!  Some of which are Alzheimer’s disease, domestic violence, anti-gay bullying, and cystic fibrosis.  However, this week from December 1st until today it has stood for IBD awareness.

IBD stands for Irritable Bowel Disease!  Irritable Bowel Disease is somewhat of a blanket term Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.  If you’ve been following my blog, you know I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease five years ago(if you didn’t know that, then HI!  Welcome to my blog!)

Today, I’d like to tell you that I’m a little upset.  I’m upset with myself!  I was focusing on work and lifting last week and I forgot all about it being Crohn’s Awareness week.  At least I can forgive myself since I am posting about it today and giving IBD a little bit of the recognition it deserves!  We need to recognize that these diseases exist and work together to rid the world of them.  I’m about to tell you why this should matter to you even if you don’t know anyone who has IBD(besides me LOL).

Crohn’s Disease is a debilitating illness.

When I was 15, I started having some stomach problems.  At a time when I should have been happy and healthy and careless like everyone else, I was going to the bathroom 10 or 11 times a day.  There was blood in my stools and I was malnourished.  I didn’t want to eat but I forced myself!  I knew that if I didn’t eat but kept going on like that, that I would die.  I was losing weight insanely fast.  I was turning into a skinny-fat, malnourished mess.

..I was turning into a skinny-fat, malnourished mess.

me when i was sick

This was 8 days after I turned 16.  ..The calm before the storm.

I remember being six foot tall(1.82 meters), and older than most of my friends but being insanely weaker.  If they wanted to bench press or play sports, I wouldn’t have the energy or the strength.  I went to the doctor for all of this and after an initial lower GI they concluded that I was suffering from hemorrhoids. 

They gave me suppositories and sent me on my way.  I wanted so badly to believe them that I went my whole freshman year without getting any better.  I just sucked it up and dealt with it.  I’d go to the bathroom a lot but I think most of my teachers understood that I wasn’t healthy.

Finally, just eight days after I turned 16 I had gotten my license and it was a big day for me…but getting my license was the only reason I wasn’t in the hospital.  I didn’t want to wait, and I had gone my whole freshman year without treatment, so what was eight days?

Long story short, I waited way too long to get real treatment and I could have died.  As you see me in the photo above, I was very skinny-fat and it was hard to smile with all the pain I had in my abdomen and back.  Somehow, when you have a bad crohn’s flareup you can also have other digestive problems such as pancreatitis and gastritis.  On July 21st, when I was admitted to hospital, it turned out I was suffering from all three.

But this story doesn’t end negatively!  I was treated and given corticosteroids when I was in the hospital that healed my colon and digestive tract.  I started feeling better and over the years they experimented with different drugs.  However, also over the years I have discovered that drugs are bullshit.

I am still on one autoimmune suppressor and it’s called Remicade.  I get Remicade treatments once every two months and honestly, I don’t want them anymore.  I know that this sounds bad, but I have spent months at a time without my Remicade or other drugs and remained healthy.

Is this partly due to the residual effects of the drugs?

Sure it is!

But I firmly believe it is more because of how I handle stress, my environment, and my daily habits.  I used to be inactive, I had a lot of family problems that a 15 year old shouldn’t have to worry about, and I ate awful food.  Over the years I’ve learned a lot and I find that I may someday be a testament to the possibility that all of these illnesses popping up have more to do with processed food and less to do with bad luck.

If we continue to talk about these illnesses and even cancers, then maybe we can have the right people do real research on the significance of our diets.  I hope we can all further the discussion and possibly donate to Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America to further awareness and possibly help a young kid going through what I went through!

Remember that if the diet we eat is causing a rise in these types of IBD and cancers, that research and discussion could save lives and ultimately help us all live healthy lives.

To donate to CCFA, click here.

Edit:

I think I also need to leave a disclaimer!  I doubt anyone would read my post and think I’m saying they need to quit taking medicine, but just in case, don’t quit taking your medicine!  At least not without your doctor’s consent.  Try to do everything by the book.  If you do everything right and try your best, then you’re blameless among your physicians.  Keep that attitude and build a relationship with your doctors so that they can better help you.

 

Week Recap

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This week I had a great time going over dietary choices with you!  We talked about calorie control, the basal metabolic rate, eating clean, health disorders, and macro-nutrients.  I had a great time doing it too!

With all of this information, it would be silly if I didn’t walk the walk as much as I talk the talk.  As I said in my last post, it’s better to be like Jimmy(who likes eating healthy) than Carl(who eats loads of crap).  I am doing my best every day to eat as well as I say you should, and I hope we can all grow stronger together and help each other make better choices.

I also wanted to mention a few ideas that were presented to me via the comments this past week:

  1. One of you mentioned doing karate and MMA.  You told me it would be a great way to do my cardio.  Thank you for the suggestion!  I really think that sounds like a great idea and I’ve actually been considering it lately.  A few guys I know from a town about 20 minutes away attend a gym that’s very highly rated for its Mixed Martial Arts.  I know I’m not going to be like Chuck Norris in a couple of weeks, but I’d love to learn some self defense and enjoy the sport(..and learn how to kick heads…Just kidding )
  2. I was told to try a vegan diet.  I’ve also thought about that lately.  I think vegan-ism is becoming more popular because of people like Vegan Gains on YouTube.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all!  He seems to be a bit of a sociopath, but other that he gives a great message and raises awareness of animal cruelty.  The animal cruelty aspect alone is a great point for many who have forsaken animal products, but the dietary effects seem to be great also!  I can see how eating a plant-based diet would lower bad cholesterol, decrease cancer risk, and alkalize blood.  However, I honestly haven’t done a ton of research on this diet.  I am mostly stating hearsay, but I do really like what I’m hearing and you may see a post about it from me in the future!

In conclusion, I really like all of the feedback I get from you and I love having the conversations with you.  I hope to continue making progressively healthier choices, and I want to refocus my attention on Crohn’s Disease and auto-immune disorders.

I did, after all, start this blog in response to remission from my Crohn’s Disease.  I want to help others who are suffering with auto-immune disorders and raise awareness.  If you’d like to help with that, send me an email or reblog some of my posts.

All of that being said, I think Crohn’s Disease has a huge link to diet along with other auto-immune disorders.  My assumption is strengthened with personal experience.  I did the Paleo Diet and I know it is completely anti vegan but both diets are great for banishing processed foods.  Cut out the processed foods = healthier life.  Thanks for reading and feel free to join the conversation!

Not All Calories Are Created Equal

You want to get lean?

That’s great!  You are a part of a great club of people who all want to better themselves, and making the decision to start trying is the biggest step to take in your fitness journey.

If you’ve been following this blog for long, then you know that I’ve been writing up a series on health, wellness, and nutrition this week.

In my first post, I talked about how I wanted to find a Subjective Diet Format (SDF), a diet tailored for me specifically.  I factored in my weight, my current eating habits, the amount of ambition I have along with my goals, and my Crohn’s Disease(to read that post, click here).

In my second post, I talked about finding the amount of calories you should be eating by using your Basal Metabolic Rate.  I left a link to a Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator, but you could also find one with a quick Google search.  To read that post, click here.

In the last post, I talked about the obvious but oftentimes overlooked..

Eating clean!  The best first step you can make is not cutting your calories or upping the cardio, although those things are both important.  The best first step is cleaning up your eating choices so that you know, despite any extra pounds, that you have a healthier body.  To read that post, click here.

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image courtesy of SimpleReminders.com

..and today’s post naturally picks up where yesterday’s post left off.

I want to drive home a point!  Not all calories are created equal.  Let’s compare Carl to Jimmy:

Carl eats two pounds of macaroni and cheese, and a pound of boneless chicken chunks from Walmart’s deli.  This adds up to about 3,000 calories!  For an active male who works out, this is probably within his basal metabolic rate.  For the sake of this post, let’s say Carl DOES in fact work out.  Carl is possibly eating under his active Basal Metabolic Rate and will lose weight….but is he as healthy as Jimmy?

Jimmy eats five meals.  These five meals are each an eight ounce chicken breast with a serving of broccoli, a serving of green beans, a serving of carrots, and a serving of fruit.  Jimmy MAY indulge once in a while with a starchy white potato.  Overall, Jimmy may be consuming close to the same amount of calories as Carl but I would bet his left arm his diet is going to make him a LOT healthier.  Before you ask…NO, I would not bet my own left arm even if I’m guaranteed a win!  Screw that!

..but my point is this!  Carl’s meal had literally no vegetables and was full of fat and carbs.  He easily got his protein requirement but he didn’t get crap for heart health.

It is important to track protein, carbs, and fat!  However, there’s also factors that most people overlook like sodium and cholesterol.  According to the National Institute of Health, cholesterol plays a MAJOR role in heart disease.  In layman’s terms, lower your bad LDL cholestrol and increase your good HDL cholestrol.  You can do this by avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat and eating more unsaturated fat through walnuts and almonds.

In conclusion to this week’s discussion on diet, I say “BE LIKE JIMMY!  AND DON’T LISTEN TO CARL’S NUTRITIONAL ADVICE!”  I would yell that on every rooftop in town if I thought….you know…people wouldn’t think I’m crazy.

While we know that Carl and Jimmy will both lose weight by eating less calories, we should all agree that Jimmy has the better strategy.  So be like Jimmy, or vegan-paleo-pescatarian Jimmy, and eat healthy.  Not only will you look great, but your body will thank you!

Know Your Body And Know What Works

This is part 3 of this weeks series on diet and nutrition.  As I’ve been writing these posts, I’ve been researching the content therein on websites such as the National Institute of Health.  Not all articles will post a source but if I dive deeper into the nutritional aspect of things, then I will also leave some source material.

As I said earlier, diet is more subjective than objective.  There are certain rules that apply to everyone such as dropping calories to lose fat.  Yet, there are also things that are very dependent upon genetics.

Genetics and illness play a huge role in how we should shape our lifestyle and our choices in food.  If you have Crohn’s Disease, like me, then you should cut out the processed garbage and learn to eat more naturally.

I noticed that I went into complete remission when I went on the Paleo Diet.  That is in huge part due to a switch from fast food over to foods that I cook at home.  Anyone can do the same thing and will notice an overall improvement in their physical well being.  I think a step further than that would be cutting out the meat and dairy entirely and eating my protein from plant based foods.

So when I break this down, at least in my own mind, it seems that eating more naturally would be better for anyone and not just someone with a serious illness.  Not to make this completely objective and say that everyone should eat the same way, but this particular point is fairly obvious:

Cut out the processed junk food!

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In general, eating cleaner and eating around your Basal Metabolic Rate will help you achieve whatever goal you are hoping to achieve.  Also, remember to eat 500 calories under your BMR for cutting fat and 500 calories over your BMR for bulking season.

But you also DO have to keep in mind your medical conditions.  When I found the paleolithic diet for my Crohn’s disease, it was after weeks of research and having finally said “Enough is enough!”  You have to really dig deep into studying the possibilities of what may be causing illnesses for you and also keep in mind any medical advice you have received.  So in finding a proper way to handle your medical conditions with an effective diet, I’d list the steps like this:

  1. See a doctor.  Although no one likes a doctors office visit, it is better safe than sorry.  If you can be diagnosed and know what your bill of health is like, then you have made positive steps in knowing your body and can begin treatment.
  2. Study nutrition so that you can prevent any illnesses from becoming worse and to prevent others from cropping up.  For example, a study on The National Institute of Health had some evidence showing a link between certain cancers and sugar intake.  If you were to know this in advance, then you’d be able to eat less sugar and processed junk thus lowering your cancer risk.
  3. Set your heart to seeing out the diet you choose, and stick to it!  There are plenty of diets out there that all claim to do the same thing, which is helping you become the healthiest version of yourself.  Your best bet is to go with a diet that reduces inflammation so that you can live your life with less pain and more activity.  Going vegan(added bonus of preventing animal cruelty) or paleo is a great idea, but make sure that what you do is something you can maintain.

In conclusion it is always going to be your choice what you do for your diet.  However, I hope I helped in giving you testimony and information today.  Stay tuned the rest of this week for more information on diet and health/wellness!

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To read part 1, click here.

To read part 2, click here.

Lastly, here is the link to the National Institute of Health study that I found:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21328345

The Basal Metabolic Rate

This is part two of this week’s series on diet.  To read part 1, click here.

Yesterday, I talked a little bit about how finding a diet that works for you can be both objective and subjective.  Finding a diet is objective because we all have to eat the same types of macro nutrients to survive, but it’s subjective because we don’t require the same amounts and some of us have to avoid specific foods.  For the purpose of this week’s series, I focused on finding the Best Subjective Diet (BSD) for myself and left you with some ideas for finding your own BSD.

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If you read the post, then you know that I factored in several factors to find my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  Basically, by factoring in details like your height, weight, and body fat % you will find a rough estimate of your BMR.

So what is a Basal Metabolic Rate?

The Basal Metabolic Rate is how many calories your body can typically burn in a day while at rest.  While your BMR may be somewhat low, with moderate activity you can expect to have more room for calories in your diet; but keep in mind that going too far over your Basal Metabolic Rate each day will lead to fat gain.

It’s probably best to eat within 500 calories of your Basal Metabolic Rate for any situation.  If you are trying to gain weight, stick to eating about 500 calories over your BMR.  If you are trying to lose weight, stick to eating about 500 calories under your BMR.

Here is a calculator you can use to calculate your own Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):

Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator

View Source…

Displays calculated BMR.

Female
Male
Weight  Inches
Height  Inches
Age  Inches
Result

Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator

Since wordpress.com will not let me use my own html widgets, click here to calculate your own Basal Metabolic Rate.

Keep in mind that there is also a Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) but it is a slightly less accurate number than the BMR.

Finding The BEST SUBJECTIVE DIET

Hey all!  It has almost been six months since I started lifting and the journey to being at peak physical condition has turned out to be most like a roller coaster.  It’s had its ups and downs, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

..and although I’ve written a lot about exercise, my Crohn’s disease, lifting weights, and nutrition I have never actually sat down and mapped out what will work best for ME.  Keep in mind when reading today’s post that what works for me may not work for you, and that finding a proper diet is probably more of a subjective issue than something that is objective, i.e. clearly defined and universally set in stone.

So the best subjective diet…What is it!?

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While I cannot get into all of the details today about nutrition and science, I will dive into finding what works best for me and possibly a Subjective Diet Format (SDF) that works for anyone trying to decide upon their ideal dietary needs.  I will be posting every day this week with new information on diet that will help us all find out what works best for us.

So if this week is like a seminar on diet, consider today the introduction.

..and as I said, I will start by identifying factors that will best help me find a diet that is subjective to me.

For starters,

I am 21, I am lifting weights for about an hour every day, I am highly active, I am slightly overweight with a body fat percentage around 15 to 20%, and I have crohn’s disease.

So we can conclude that I am highly active and I should probably look the part, but I am not quite cutting it!  Which is possibly what I need to do…a cut.  So that leads me to assume that I should be dropping my caloric intake.

After doing a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) calculator, I have found that I need about 3,000 calories a day to be at maintenance.  For the means of losing fat and looking my best, I will have to eat about 2,500 calories a day and continue my activities.

I have also figured in my Crohn’s Disease, and I should eat less processed food to make those 2,500 calories a day more nutrient dense and fulfilling.

Here is how I added all of this up into what I am calling my Subjective Diet Format:

  1. Age
  2. Activity Level
  3. Body weight, fat percentage, and height
  4. Any health conditions

It’s really all pretty simple and I think it was a good outline for me to use my basal metabolic rate along with remembering my Crohn’s Disease.

I hope this helps you and tomorrow we will go a little more in depth!

 

To Bulk Or Cut First

Should I cut or bulk first?

Almost everyone asks this question when they are starting out and the answer is quite simple..

it’s all subjective!

Do you want to bench three plates and you don’t care about being lean?  Then go ahead and do a sloppy bulk my friend!  Lift hard and in a few years you will be insanely strong!

Do you want to be strong but you care a lot more about having a six pack?  Then cut out the hot dogs, the twinkies, and the bullcrap! 😉  You need to restrict your calories to about 500 below your basal metabolic rate(BMR) and go somewhat light when you lift weights.

Now how about all of you in the middle ground who want to be somewhat lean but also strong?

Welcome to my world.  We can do this together!  However, this is still somewhat subjective and ultimately weighs down on the body type you have already.

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I had just gotten out of the hospital and I had a little extra fat but absolutely zero muscle to cut into, so I went straight to a bulk and I am almost content!  It’s almost time for me to cut down my calories.  My strategy is to attempt about 15-20 reps of my 70% max lifts until I am done cutting.  That way I stay strong and quickly lean out.

As for you, if you have a lot of extra fat and some muscle then go ahead and cut.

If you are lean but you’re weak, go ahead and bulk.

All of us can get stronger and max out our muscles!

Join The Conversation On Leg Day

Today is the day I am going for 265 lbs (120 kg) on squat!  That would be my new personal record and I’d be happy with that weight.  When I started working out, I could barely squat 95 lbs!

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image courtesy of memegenerator.net and lovethispic.com

Deadlifts were low too.  When I started working out, I believe my deadlift max was 135 lbs with bad form.  My bench press was the highest(still with bad form) and was around 155 lbs.  I’m glad to say that those days are over.

I went from gym newbie to average gym goer in six months.  That seems pretty average, and I’m happy with that because now I am training to be above average!  Realistically, I think that’s what we all shoot for once we get used to lifting weights.

So today I wanted to ask you a few questions:

  1. How long have you been lifting weights?  If you don’t lift weights, what do you do to avoid being sedentary?
  2. Do you enjoy your weight lifting or other activity?
  3. Do you put a lot of emphasis on working legs(mostly directed toward weight lifters but sprinters and other sports also)?
  4. Are you happy with your progress?
  5. What leg workouts do you do the most?
  6. Any recommendations(broad question)?