Monday, January 25, 2010

Exercise Tips: Sustainability

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Here's a tip on exercising and the importance of creating a sustainable workout program.

Make it Sustainable
If there's something you don't like to do (which, on the sliding scale of "work out preferences" basically means the stuff you'd rather just get fat and lazy over instead of doing) then figure out a way to accomplish the same thing in a way that you enjoy or doesn't give you pain. For example: I hate running and think it's one of the dumbest things to go jogging ("I believe it's a soft 'j'"), but if I absolutely have to get my cardio endurance up then I prefer to hit a stationary bike and do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT for short), which is where you go really hard for short bursts and rest for short bursts and over time work your way up to 15 or 20 minutes of working out.Also, my shoulders hurt a little when I do the seated military press, so rather than do that I do the Clean & Press or some alternatives with dumbbells.

There's always alternatives, just think of what the end goal is and figure out a new path that's preferable. The one thing I've learned is that exercising HAS to be sustainable, making yourself do things you loathe will probably end before you've reached your goals, and even then you'll probably probably revert and lose your progress once you've hit the target.

Whatever you do, just ask yourself: Is this something I'll be able to maintain/keep up?
That's the million dollar question.

Monday, January 18, 2010

5 Things That Annoy Me In The Restroom

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The bathroom is a rather vulnerable place to be, it's personal and nearly everyone has different habits. These are things that get under my skin.

5. Knocking.
Okay, you already tried the doorknob, it was locked. What, are you going to bash the door down now? STOP KNOCKING!

4. Not responding when I knock.
I have a sibling who's notorious for staying silent no matter how loud you knock or say his name. Is there some kind of concert going on in there that doesn't allow you to hear me? Does it require that much focus? Is it possible you think I don't know you're in there?? Well I do! And I'm telling the person who's on the phone for you exactly where you are and what you're doing!

3. Water EVERYWHERE
This is no good, no matter where you are. At home? Sweet, hope you like wet-sock. In public? Even better, now your shirt looks like you didn't even make it to the urinal in time. Are there water fights when I'm not around, or is this done by the same monster who puts weird little crumbs in my silverware drawer?

2. Guy in the stall next to me peeing directly into the water
Glad that you're proud of your marksmanship, but I don't really need to hear all that. Plus you're probably splashing your liquids back onto yourself. But hey, maybe this is secretly Halo training, I just happen to think there's better targets.

1. Not washing your hands
ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

Monday, January 11, 2010

Your New Year's Fat-Loss Plan

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I'm not a big New Year's Resolution kinda guy, if I want to make a change then I do it, I don't wait til January 1st. However, I also realize not everyone is like me and that the tradition can help people kick-start changes in their life. Judging by how gyms fill in January, I suspect that one of the more popular resolutions is "getting in shape", or "lose weight", so here's my simple guide to not just losing weight, but getting a better body by losing body-fat.

I was able to go from 227lbs @ 28% bodyfat last year down to 205lbs @ 13% following (albeit with a few lapses in concentration) 3 simple rules. They're easy to understand and easier to get results from.

1. Eat at a caloric deficit
2.
Lift weights 3 days a week
3.
Eat 1g protein per lb of lean body mass


1. Eat at a caloric deficit
By far the easiest part of the process to understand is this: eat less than your body needs to maintain your current weight and you'll lose weight. Our daily energy expenditure is kinda like a caloric budget, much like our government for the past century most people excel at exceeding their budget and therefore they gain weight (go into debt). So the simple process is to figure out your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate, this is the number that basically means how many calories you have to eat on a daily basis in order to maintain your current weight), there's tons of online calculators to help you, I feel like my most accurate number came from this LiveStrong How-To: http://www.livestrong.com/article/31345-calculate-daily-caloric-intake-body/

Once you know your BMR, then you can start deducting calories to set your goals. Take into consideration that 3,500 calories equals 1lb of bodyfat. So, if you cut out 500 calories a day then in 7 days you will have lost 1lb of fat. For instance, my BMR is 2,900 calories, since I want to lose 2lbs of fat per week then I only eat 1,900 calories per day. While there is mathematics involved, the body carries weight kinda funny, so maybe you lost some fat but the body volumized the fat cells with water and the scale doesn't know the difference for a few weeks. Good advice is to not follow the scale as the end-all, give it 3 or 4 weeks before expecting to see the numbers start to drop, and using your clothes and the mirror is the best indicator of progress.

2. Lift weights 3 days a week
Losing weight is easy, just eat less. However, while it takes 3500 calories to lose 1lb of fat, it only takes 600 calories to lose 1lb of muscle. It's real easy to lose muscle mass if all you do is cut your calories, so in order to make sure your weight-loss is actually fat-loss, you need to lift weights to keep your muscles engaged and active and in a mode of rebuilding. Jogging won't do this, resistance training will. Way too often people only do cardio and cut calories so when they lose weight they're losing muscle, not exactly the sexy look I'm sure most people are going for.

3. Eat 1 gram of protein per lb of lean body mass (LBM)
Not per lb of body weight! Your LBM is your total weight minus your bodyfat. So, to calculate your LBM you need to know your bodyfat percentage. Calculating this one can be tricky. I bought an electronic caliper, but you can also get this done at most gyms for free, and I personally think it's an excellent progress checker since it'll reveal whether or not you're losing muscle or fat. My bodyfat is roughly 13%, so here's my calculation of my LBM: 205 (my total weight) x .87 (my bodyfat percentage is 13%, so if I wanted to know how many lbs of bodyfat I have then I can multiply my weight times .13, but I want to know everything BUT my fat, so I subtract 13% from 100% to get 87%, or .87 in order to multiply) = 178.

The protein ensures that your muscles can rebuild, and I think keeping your muscles in a state of repair prevents them from being the casualty of a caloric deficit. Now, 180g of protein (I rounded up from 178) is a lot of protein, while ideally you'd get it from regular food sources (chicken, tuna, beef, eggs, etc) when reducing calories this isn't always very easy, so I use whey protein shakes to help cover about 100g per day. You can find some great deals on whey at bodybuilding.com, I usually go with Higher Power, but there's tons of other options.

There you go. Eat less, lift weights and get your protein.

Notes:
- I didn't include cardio because cardio is not necessary to lose bodyfat. Cardio is used to burn calories, so you can either eat more and do cardio, or if you're like me you'd prefer to not do cardio and just eat less.

- Drink water, it's a great way to cut calories and I hear it's kinda healthy.

- Other than the protein, it doesn't matter where the rest of your calories come from. This is a guide to losing bodyfat, so you could actually eat McDonald's and Taco Bell everyday and as long as you're following the rules then you'd still see your progress. Obviously that's not healthy living, but you're free to live your life.

- A great way to track calories is with LiveStrong.com's Daily Plate. That's been an invaluable resource for me. They've got a database filled with normal foods as well as fast food options, from a baked chicken breast to chicken strip from Chicken Express.

- I no longer place a lot of anxiety on meal timing, frequency or anything other than total calories and total protein intake. But be sure that eating healthier will make you *feel* better, but it's nice to know that I can have some chocolate or a donut and still be on track with my goals. Just be sure you're tracking your calories!

- It's generally not advised to lose more than 2-3 lbs per week, going for more than that will probably result in rough results (starvation isn't the way to go, neither is carb depletion, etc), lasting results take time. Losing that much that fast will also result in losing more muscle than you'd probably like.

- Based on anecdotes from others it seems you can use your calories on a weekly basis. For instance, if I only ate 1700 calories instead of 1900, then I could have a cheat day of sorts where I could eat the extra calories and still be within my caloric range. Obviously don't go too drastic, eating 1000 calories a day isn't healthy on any level and won't help your energy levels.

- I think the importance of "revving up your metabolism" is overblown and an unnecessary/useless worry.

- Bodybuilding.com is a great resource for workout ideas. A simple one that I use is: Bench Press, Clean & Press, Pullups (a great alternative is pulldowns), Dips (use the dip machine to help you), squats (or leg press if this is too difficult), bentover barbell rows. That's 6 exercises that will work nearly every muscle in your body, do 2 sets of each, on Mondays you can go heavy (4 - 6 reps), Wednesdays go light (12 - 15 reps), Fridays go in-between (8 - 10 reps). Simple workout shouldn't take more than an 50 minutes.

- I'd like to say this was all my idea, but I got it here:
I highly recommend reading through as much as you can, lots of fantastic Q&As.

- Of course it's important to note I'm no doctor or certified trainer, just a man who likes to learn and figure things out.

- Most importantly, this is not a sprint, it's a marathon. I guarantee results if you stick with it, commit to 6 months and you won't believe the results.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Ron Paul Fascination

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I'm a big Ron Paul supporter. Upon first hearing about him I reacted much in the way that you react to someone recommending a food you've never heard of, "Uhh, that sounds good but it's not for me. Good luck with that." However, after having a couple people I really respect brought him up during his presidential campaign, I finally decided to look him up and my initial reaction was of suspicion, because it made sense but it went against much of what I'd been used to hearing and even toted myself. I was still hesitant about many of the things he was passionate about, such as the gold standard, but a little reading and listening got me a long way.

Here's some videos of his that I like:



About halfway through you hear Giuliani perfectly articulate the hubris of American politics, that we can do whatever we want and any consequence has no bearing on our own actions, because no one likes to believe we're doing anything wrong or unjust. (Please note: acknowledging consequences is not the same as justifying them.) So one of the other things I like about this is how Ron Paul is saying that we need to stop running other Governments. Most importantly, I like how RP and Hannity get into towards the end of the video, Hannity strikes me as an egotistical, pride-filled man who refuses to listen, but I suppose that's why FOX likes him.
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I like watching Bill Maher, although I very rarely agree with anything he says, but what I appreciate about him is he's a great moderator and actually allows people to speak and be heard and get their views out without being rudely interrupted. RP finishes his thoughts about foreign policy and the consequences of doing whatever we want around the globe.
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Great interview with DL Hughley, he talks about disapproving of bailsouts, foreign policy, government secrecy, the income tax, the Federal Reserve and other topics. He also talks about how our foreign policy affects us financially back home. The most unique thing here is Ron's explanation about how we could've ended slavery without a civil war.
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RP talks about the boom/bust cycle and recessions. You get to see McCain's ignorant comment: "I'm not interested in trading with Al Qaeda, all they want to trade is burkas, I don't want to travel with them they like one-way tickets." It's reductive mentalities like this that keep our politicians in denial (denying any ownership in poor relations with other countries).
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Ron Paul debates Stephen Baldwin about legalizing marijuana and smokes him.
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They read a RP quote where he predicts the economic collapse. On torture, very important to note that torture is illegal in America as well as internationally.
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I'm a big supporter, this is only a taste of his views and thoughts. He has liberating takes on protection of private property (how to defend against Somali pirates), the economy, and how awesome Wes is.