Fitting in Fitness for two months away

Being in DC for two months made me nervous for a variety of reasons. For one, it’d be my first time away from San Diego, which has become my home in the last 5 years, for an extended duration of time. I was also going to be starting my internship in a national association that worked with professionals in my field. There was also a small level of uncertainty when it came to my housing situation and who my roommates would be. It didn’t help that the internship came with intern income and DC does not have a low cost of living.

Knowing that I’d be away from the gym that I’ve become comfortable with made me nervous. What was I going to do without my shelf of supplements? Will the dumbells work the same? I ended up realizing that I had a good amount of supplements from my previous order. I would have enough whey to last me at least 2 weeks, and some protein bars to last me the duration of summer.

Thanks to the speed of Bodybuilding.com’s fulfillment I was confident in my ability to start my new orders once I arrived. I decided that this would be a time for me to try out new supplements and step out of my Muscle Pharm comfort zone, and experiment with supplements that were on sale.

This strategy worked for a number of reasons. Thanks to Southwest, I got 2 checked bags. The food and supplements that I brought over would end up being luggage space for the things that I’d want to bring back with me like accumulated stuff that comes with traveling and souvenirs for the roommates.

Since I’ve arrived, I tried BSN’s Syntha-6 protein, TrueGril Pre, and I’m planning on getting a new post-workout/BCAA supplement when my Muscle Pharm Hardcore Gainz runs out.

Shoutout to Bodybuilding.com to helping me make it through the 2 months and Kris Gethins for teaching me to control my environment and face fear!

I’m in DC! Yay steps!

With the end of my Spring semester throughout the past couple of months, blogging has been a luxury that I could not afford. At least not at the cost of my gym time. I’m grateful to say that I’ve finished my second round of the 12 week plan liked I had planned and I’ve officially started my internship in Washington, D.C.!

DC has been interesting to say the least. I miss my car a lot, but my Apple Watch seems to love the fact that I’m walking more. I’ve managed to hit my move goal on a near-daily basis since the first day I’ve been here – Yay!

I don’t have a scale during my time here so my weight won’t be recorded… But I can definitely say that I’m noticing changes in appearance and in how my clothes are fitting as well.

In many ways, my training hasn’t changed in intensity, but I’ve added additional cardiovascular workouts through the amount of walking that happens. Yesterday I managed to walk over 5.5 miles, but because I rely on the metro and walking to and from the station to work and home…. I try to work in power walks to amp up my low-intensity cardio and raise my heart rate just a little to get some work out in.

This alone has made recovery a little easier because the blood is pumping all the time… and the calorie burn has allowed me to feel good about trying new eateries in the city.

If anything, this has become motivation for me to walk more and move more when I return to San Diego so I can gulf down some carne asada fries here and there!

Using Addapp to make sense of your health data

The majority of my readers know who I am. And if you don’t there’s one thing you should know about me — I love gadgets. I’m well known for being an Apple fanatic, but when it comes to health and wellness I have a plethora of trinkets that collect a variety of data to help me stay motivated.

At the end of the day though, if your data isn’t being used for anything, it’s just a bunch of numbers sitting on your phone screen… or somewhere. Between the smart scale, apple watch, MyFitnessPal, and sleep tracker, almost every detail of my life is being tracked from the number of hours slept, weight, steps, calories burned, heart rate (active and resting) and my caloric and macronutrient intake.

Realistically, this data is all simply information that’s “nice to know”. I highly doubt any of the competitive bodybuilders from a few decades ago were actively tracking this information. That being said, now that fitness trackers are on the rise and everything has to be “smart” and connect with your phone, I also think it’s more important than ever to make sense of what everything actually means.

A good analogy that struck me while I was on my commute today involved the assessment cycle. There’s this notion that assessment occurs on a cycle instead of a linear pathway, where once you’ve collected and analyzed your data, it’s important to utilize the data to change your program or services. Typically, this involves a survey and using the survey data to actually improve programming instead of just saying “well that’s great, we did a survey!”.

On the research end, just imagine if Darwin spent years collecting specimen, and simply said “well great! I have tons of pretty pictures in a book, my work here is done”. Well evolution would probably have been coined by someone else.

An exaggerated example aside, the importance of using data can be demonstrated, albeit in a relatively obnoxious fashion. The app that I use is to do this is Addapp. Addapp utilizes all of the data that you may or may not track and create meaningful connections and suggestions (that they call Action Points) to actually use the data to improve your health.

addapp screenshot

So far a lot of the information is “relative” to other users, but what the app currently offers is promising. During the few minutes I have off work, I check the app to see what new insights have been generated to see if there are any actionable things that I might consider changing, or if it’s simply time to reinforce that I’ve been doing good.

Given that the app is free, I’d recommend you to check it out — who knows, with time the app might just provide more insight that creates powerful connections across your different habits!

Day 1 of Round 2 – 12 Week Daily Video Trainer with Kris Gethin

My 12 week program ended a week ago and I’ve taken the liberty to have a week to myself to recuperate and rest. Today was day 1 of my second round of the 12 week daily video trainer with Kris Gethin.

I got my best friend, Jerry, to join me for this 12 week challenge which will lead me up to the day that I leave for my internship in DC. Yay for the next 12 weeks! Who else wants to join us?!

Normally people say that you shouldn’t stick on programs for more than 3 months at a time because your muscles get so used to it but Kris’s program is separately made up of individual programs that take up 2-3 weeks at a time. This means that realistically, I never do the same work out at any point in the 84 days.. Brutal huh?

I’m excited to start this program with a workout buddy. Even though we’ll be working out at separate gym, it’s nice being able to connect over the program, even if its just through text! This motivates me to push myself harder through the bodyspace app by bodybuilding.com. Here’s to a successful day one, and can’t wait for chest/triceps tomorrow!

Fitting in fitness when work wants to take over

I’m a career-oriented person. There’s no doubt in that. I make the work that I do a priority in my life because I care about the students that I work with and I understand the impact that I can have. People definitely notice the attention that I give my work and I do my best to remain connected to my personal life but at the same time there are days when it seems ridiculous.

This morning I found out I would have to head into work early for a series of interviews that I wasn’t planning to sit in on. While it seemed like a no brainer in the moment that I should be there for my students, I lived with the guilt of missing my morning leg day workout the entire drive, and walk to work.

Those of you who know me know that I need a certain amount of routine in my life and I have my moments of being stubborn. When work interfered with my gym life, I felt like I was betraying myself. My gym time was time I dedicated to myself and time I allowed myself to take away from work.

I had to quickly refocus though. Even though I had to let my work take over for the morning, when I returned in the evening I’d be pushing myself 110% in the gym. I had to remind myself to use this as a form of motivation to push even harder later on. Gym time might have to wait, but it will definitely happen at some point.

There are times where different parts of your time will be pulling you at different angles trying to spread you as thin as possible. Your job, when this happens, is to be flexible, and get creative. Don’t give in, and hang in there. That’s what I have to do, even if it just takes a little writing to get there.

Goals and Expectations

For those of you student affairs folk, the idea of “SMART” goals aren’t unfamiliar. When we do goal settings with our students we always talk about having goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Timely. We talk about creating goals that are achievable and realistic. Most importantly, we always talk about goals and outcomes and their impact.

When I first started my DTP portion (last 4 weeks) of the 12 week program, I was weighing around 195 lbs. I thought it would be a realistic goal to be at 190 by the end of the program. Since then, I’ve started taking HMB supplements which have helped a lot with muscle retention and growth, but my weight loss has stunted.

I think I’ve reached a point where I need to be more realistic about my goals and expectations. It’s a little frustrating to weigh and not see changes in my scale even though I feel like I’m killing myself in the gym with DTP. Kris mentioned its time to cut out the creatine in our diets at this point to lose some water weight. While that’s definitely an option, I don’t want to lose weight for the sake of losing weight. If I’m losing weight, I want it to be fat.

I hope the slowed weight loss I’m experiencing isn’t a plateau and more so due to the HMB. Taking HMB has definitely been an interesting process. 6 additional pills a day is a little hard to keep on schedule but the results have been phenomenal. For the first time I feel like I’m noticing results at the end of each workout and I definitely feel a little strong even when I’m working out in a fasted state. Its probably the most expensive supplement that I’m currently taking but with the results that I’ve been getting, I’d definitely say its worth it.

That being said — my goal was to weigh 190, due to fat loss not muscle loss. At this point I’m becoming increasingly less confident about this goal. That being said, I don’t expect to slack off. I plan to push as hard as I can in the next two weeks and see where that takes me. The DTP process is definitely challenging and my body has responded in weird ways. I don’

When this program ends, I plan on taking a week off from the gym, resting and allowing myself to reset. From that point forward, I plan on starting a new program to continue this process. I’m thinking of something completely different, something I’ve never done before. If a plateau is what I’m experiencing, its time to reset my metabolism, and challenge my body in new and unexpected ways.

Not meeting a goal isn’t an excuse to give up. Not meeting a goal is reason for pushing harder. One of my amazing colleagues and I agree that the SMART model is a little flawed because often times if one of the 5 elements of the SMART acronyms go wrong, you might be less inclined to fulfill your goal. I won’t let this stop me. I will push harder.

If I don’t meet my goal, I know its because I’ve gained muscle mass, not because I’ve gained fat. I know that I’ve done my absolute best and all I can do is continue to do that. Recomposition is something unique to people new to bodybuilding, and if anything I should be grateful that I’m gaining lean mass while I’m on a calorie deficit, not complaining.

Thank you to all of my friends who’ve supported me through this process. Even though I’m doing this for me and myself alone, the words of encouragement help fuel the drive that I have.

Reflecting on this week

“If you want to look like most people, don’t. You have to do what most people won’t” – Kris Gethin

I’m officially 2/3s of the way in Kris Gethin’s 12 week Daily Video Trainer from bodybuilding.com, after finishing my 8th week on the program and starting the first week of the Dynamic Transformation Principle. Kris Gethin is well known for his DTP program which he developed for transforming bodies… One week in… I can definitely see why. I’m noticing changes in my body and the day after working out reminds me of my first week back in the gym.

DTP involves working out alternating muscle groups in supersets with no rest in between. Man…. is it a workout.

Even though my entire body is sore,. I remind myself that this was the feeling that I missed when I had my shoulder injury. That being sore is an indicator that I pushed myself… that I’m making progress.

Trainer and writer for bodybuilding.com Ashley Conrad once said”Being forced to struggle is truly one of life’s greatest blessings, depending on how you deal with it.” She made me think about people like my roommate of four years in college who ate whatever he wanted and managed to keep his 6 pack. She made me realize while I would probably save a lot of time in the gym and preparing my meals, it was the hard that I put in everyday that makes me grateful for the results that I get.

Although I’m a little scared for the next 4 weeks of the program, I’m also excited for the results that it could bring. Here’s to the DTP program and making progress!

When the cravings hit….

Photo Creds: Michelle Shih

Photo Creds: Michelle Shih

“You aren’t dumb. You know what’s good and what’s bad for you. You can’t live in denial and trick your physique.”

“Your body is going to be screaming for calories both good and bad, and you need to keep stuffing only good ones into it until it finally shuts up.”

My custom engraved bodybuilding.com ring reminds me to not just start something… but to finish something. Here’s to some midweek motivation to keep me through the temptation of restaurant week. Shoutout to my best friend who’s staying strong and resisting the hot cheetos.

Thank you Kris Gethin… can’t wait for your 12 week Muscle-Building Trainer when I’m finally ready to bulk!

Fitting friends into fitness

When I first started going to the gym, I was afraid I would have to sacrifice even more of the scarce amount of time I had to spend with my friends. I knew I’d be able to schedule the occasional “group” workouts, but I knew that my gym and meal prep time would cut into my personal life.

What made things worse was that I never did well working out with other people — when plans would go wrong, I’d feel less compelled to complete my workout. It didn’t help that all my close friends lived at least 20 minutes away from me.

It’s not impossible, however to make it work. A few months into this journey, I’m glad to say that I’ve been able to inspire a few other people in my life to eat better, start exercising, or simply finding a new them. Being their inspiration consistently motivates me.

My best friend, Jerry, recently told me how he wanted to make a change like I did. He got a gym membership, started a Bodyspace, and started asking me about foods to eat and good protein powders. I encouraged him to start easy, eat clean, and try the delicious cookies and cream combat powder from MusclePharm that’s available from Costco. We were both happy when we found out that it was on sale for 35 for a 5 lb tub, down from the original cost of $44.

We went back to my place and I showed him proper form for his first chest day ever. He was so intimidated by the idea of a bench press that he started his warm up with 10 lb dumbbells. He ended up realizing he could press 50. We both ended up with a great chest day, although he claimed his triceps were so sore he had issues moving them when we started cooking.

I wanted to teach him how easy it was to make food that was not only good for you, but food that tasted great. We had a lean “cut” meal including steak, smashed cauliflower, and steamed broccoli under an hour.

Nights like this make me realize that it’s not impossible to fit friends into fitness… Having my buddy on a bench next to me gave me the motivation I needed to push hard even after a long day at work. His reaction to beta-alanine was also hilarious. Tell me, how do you fit friends into fitness? I’d love to hear from y’all!

Planning Ahead

A lot of people always talk about how its too hard to fit eating healthy into their busy lifestyles. I don’t claim to be the busiest of my friends. But I do keep pretty busy. Two assistantships, volunteering as a advisor in my fraternity, and being a part of my professional associations are only the “job” parts of my life. I have to find time to do homework, apply for internship, attend my graduate school full time, and somehow live my life. Ok so maybe I’m a little busy. But I’m not here to brag about schedules and trust me when I say no matter how busy you are, you can fit fitness into your life. You just need two simple words in your life:

Plan ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely understand that if you’re stranded at the airport and you got snowed in for 3 days and you’re all out of packed snacks and foods, it’s ok to visit the different stores and restaurants and test out your options. But for the most part, you can plan your meals and snacks ahead of time.

I’m currently in the middle of Palomar Mountains at the Palomar Christian Conference Center for a weekend retreat I planned with my Greek Life team. The retreat will last until Sunday around noon and all our meals are being prepared. I’ll be far up a mountain without my own form of transportation and eating at the cafeteria. I’m pretty much stuck right? Wrong.

I’ve packed all my supplements in a pill container so I don’t miss a single supp. I have ziplock bags of pre-measured protein powders so I can still hit my macros. I brought beef jerky and my favorite protein bars from MusclePharm that I ordered from bodybuilding.com ($29.88 for 12 at the time of this post), dried seaweed, and dates to cover all my bases between flavors and textures. I also plan on eating primarily proteins and focusing less on the carb-heavy foods, limiting myself to 1 full plate at the buffet. I planned ahead.

My workout routine was shifted so I have two rest days between today and tomorrow, and when I return tomorrow I can finish up with Back, Biceps, and Abs on day 42 of Kris Gethin’s 12 week daily video trainer. While I’m up here, I plan on taking power walks during my break time when I’m exploring the scenery of the conference center to make sure I hit my 10,000 step goal.

In fact, I even made an effort to make sure this blogpost was planned out. Wednesday night, a friend, whom I had not talked to in a few years, sent me some words of encouragement, reminding me that there would always be obstacles in this process. It made me think about how I could do my best to… you guessed it… plan ahead. I sat down and proceeded to write out my blog post, setting the publish date to “Friday, January 9 at 6:00 PM”.

So yes, this post was written 3 days ago. Writing as if I were 3 days ahead was (is?) weird, and took (is taking….?) way too much proofreading (I guess thats why we don’t do it).

My bad symbolic gestures aside, my point is that my friend was correct in saying that obstacles would come up and it would be hard to overcome them each time… Instead of being afraid of challenges and failure, you have to embrace the ambiguity and do your best and plan for the best. I treat my workouts and meal prep like every other meeting and engagement — it’s an event in my calendar. I make sure to plan ahead.

If you think of being fit as an added “something else” to your life, it will be hard. But plan ahead and making it part of your life will make it seem effortless that much easier to incorporate into your everyday living.