#4weeks2shred: 5% down and 7 pounds shredded

I’m finally back in San Diego! I apologize for being so MIA on my status but as the title suggests – #4weeks2shred is tried and true.

After a short 4 weeks, my weight has gone from 194.7 lbs to 187.7 lbs. What’s even more shocking, is that my body fat percentage dropped from 25.2 to 20.4. What this means is that my “fat-levels” in my body went from 49.1 lbs of fat to 38.3 lbs of fat.

Furthermore, my lean body mass increased by 3.1 lbs, which could really be anything from water content during the time. I’m going to tell myself that it’s all muscle though (positive thinking).

I decided to head to UCSD today and grab lunch with mentors, spend some time with my friends and catch up with a former supervisor. Every person at some point made mention about how I looked fitter and thinner and asked about it. The answer: good time management! The majority of them read my blogs so… thanks all of you! The words and positive thoughts keep me motivated to continue towards my goal 🙂

For the time being I plan on registering for the 6-Week Challenge on bodybuilding.com.. but that’ll be a post for another time 🙂

 

#4weeks2shred: How I handle my meals

Meal prepping for a 4 week shred was intimidating. This shred isn’t too different in ideology from the other “bodybuilding” nutrition plans – high protein, lower carbs, reduced fat. I felt ok about starting it…. until I started it.

The practice turned out to be much different. This meal plan requires you to add no fats whatsoever, and a gradually decreasing carb intake. I realized that I realistically knew nothing about cooking without fats.  Like at all.

The allowed proteins are natural beefs, poultry, salmon and egg whites; allowed carbs are: brown rice, oats, quinoa, and sweet potatoes; and there’s allowed “uncounted” veggies: spinach, asparagus, broccoli, lettuce, and cucumbers. While you’re making sure you hit your protein and carb loads, you aren’t really counting calories. Kris does a good job of explaining everything on the nutrition page, and I recommended reading it (if that wasn’t obvious). I employed the help of MyFitnessPal — which really helped me figure my nutrition out.

Meats weren’t too difficult. I seared my meats on high heats, and let the natural fats coat the pan, which worked well for the steak and chicken. Other than that, I had to tap into my background in baking, and bring out the parchment paper. When proteins roast in the oven (i.e. salmon @375 for 17 minutes),  they come out beautifully cooked — no oils needed.

Carbs weren’t hard, I used plenty of seasonings such as garlic, turmeric, cumin, paprika to cook my brown rice. I purchased quinoa and kale blend from Costco which met the gluten/dairy/wheat-free requirement and I made my oats with stevia and sweet potatoes as is. If I got a sweet tooth craving, I’d throw some cinnamon on the sweet potato, mash it up with a fork, and eat it like a pudding.

Veggies, however, were tougher. I was not a fan of plain boiled veggies, even though I passionately loved asparagus and broccoli. So, I got creative. I snacked on spinach like chips. I seasoned my veggies with some bullion powder (be careful to find a lower sodium, no carb and fat free solution), and  this has pulled me through thus far. When I was dying for something crispy and flavored, I snacked on pickles. Pickles fit the macro profile since they’re just soaked cucumbers (make sure they’re dill and not bread and butter pickles) BUT I’ve tried avoiding processed foods as much as possible in the past 2 and a half weeks. For roasting veggies, I’ve seasoned them like I normally would, used parchment paper instead of foil, and added a Tbsp of water instead of oil, which faux-steams the veggies but produces decent flavors.

Snacking became tricky. Even though I’m in the gym for long hours, Because I’m currently not taking a full course load, simply working full-time was actually tapping on the breaks for me.  That being said, I discovered Quest Nutrition Protein chips — which contain 21 grams of protein, and only 5 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fat. These seriously hit the “crunch” craving for a snack like food – and I much on them a few times a week. I double up on bags, snack on some veggies, and treat it as one of my 6 meals, or occasionally snack on a bag in the middle of the day when I get seriously hungry. I’d recommended getting a few bags. They aren’t your regular potato chip but the price is well worth it… for me at least!

Half way through #4weeks2shred

I know it’s been a week since I posted — thank you for everyone who’s reached out in the past week. I promise I haven’t fallen off the bandwagon! The shred has still been on, but the past week has been brutal.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the doubt that follows along this plan is real. I end up feeling tired at the end of most days so I’ve been a little MIA.

That being said, I’m loving the progress I’ve witnessed so far.  To quote Kris – this is one of those moments where you have to “do as I say, and not as I do”. Being in a temporary housing situation, a scale is something I don’t readily have access to. Thus, I can’t really report any number changes– Don’t worry though, I’ll update you all as soon as I can.

A little fun update – I managed to win a contest for Kris Gethin’s and Kaged Muscle’s brand new supplement stack – pre-kaged in-kaged and re-kaged. More details on this soon but this stack is sick. Check out the details at the link I just posted but I can’t wait to get my hands on them!

 

 

Fitting in an hour of cardio in a day

Kris’s new 4weeks2shred is intense. And appropriately so. The program includes weight training schedules 4 times a week and at least 30 minutes of cardio training 2 times a day, 7 days a week. That means on my lifting days, I can easily need to spend up to 2 hours in the gym.

Yes. 2 whole hours.

For us working folk that spend 8 hours in bed and 8 hours at work, that’s a 2 hours from the short 8 hours of free time that we have. Let me make my life a little more fun for you.

I’m currently at the DC office for NASPA where I’m the Grad intern.  Being an intern on an intern budget, I don’t actually live in DC, but in northern Virginia instead. This means on any given day, I can spend up to an additional hour stuck walking to and fro and deep within the metro system going one way. Yes, that’s an additional two hours down, where I have no signal and can’t get work or really anything done (other than work on these posts….)

So needless to say, when my fellow interns found out that I was embarking on this during my last 4 weeks in DC…Most of my peers thought I was crazy for trying to attempt this. “Enjoy the city,” they say. “You need to get a life,” they say. Well, of course, I got creative.

One of Kris’s periscope sessions gave me the great idea of walking as a form of cardio. So with my obsessive nature to make things more efficient… I walk as much as I can before leaving they actual Washington area…. To the metro that takes me between DC to VA.

Coincidentally, this process takes exactly 30 minutes, the amount of cardio assigned to the PM time. I realized I could just start walking home for cardio! At leat part of the way.

I’ve been doing this since Wednesday this week and it’s fantastic. Not only am I exploring the city and getting my cardio in, by the time I get to the metro, the traffics died down enough to a point where I don’t even mind it. My routine currently includes walking past a slew of museums and the US Capitol. Next week I’m going to try some other routes and see what else I can find.

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Tomorrow I’m making cardio fun but crossing off a “to-do” item. There’s a trail near where I stay that’ll allow me to see airports take off directly from the airport. Updates to come!

3 days into 4Weeks2Shred

I don’t usually post twice in a day but Kris asked how we were doing… so I guess I felt obligated to say something. I’m currently on Kris Gethin’s 4Weeks2Shred program available through his own site (not bodybuilding.com). I won’t lie… it is brutal.

I will say that I don’t whole-heartedly follow an “online trainer” for training, nutrition, AND, supplementation advice, not even Kris during the 12-Week daily video trainer. But I’m making an exception. I’ve dived in the deep end and boy is it deep.

The reduced carbohydrates and going wheat, dairy, and gluten free cold-turkey was a bit of a shock. Day one I kept feeling hungry… probably because my body is used to all the junk. It’s not impossible because I know when I feel “hungry” I just need to feed my body clean calories to shut it up. I’m making sure that I’m feeding myself the necessary macros (230g protein, 130 complex carbs) and eating green veggies to keep me full.

So far I’ve had a back/bicep day, shoulder/tricep day, and active rest day. The workouts are brutal. All the sets follow his DTPXtreme principle, which incorporates the concepts of rest/pause and drop sets. The longer rest time between sets remind me of training for strength — short reps to failure and longer rest time to recover.

It’s a pretty different style from the workout I was previously doing so I’m definitely feeling it — all in good ways of course.

Supplementation isn’t too out of the ordinary but I’m definitely taking more BCAA’s than usual. I’ve officially converted to using his BCAA powder (branded under Kaged Muscle) and it’s pretty fantastic. It’s flavorless so when I take it first thing in the AM, I mix it in my water and take it with my other AM supplements.

While brutal, I’m definitely enjoying myself on this program — can’t wait to see results in 4 weeks!

Fitting in Fitness When You Eat Out

I don’t want this post to end up seeming like permission to eat whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want. I avoid eating out as much as I possibly can. But I’m 22, in school and work full time. I’m already antisocial as it is and don’t need to avoid my friends any more than I already do.

So… I eat out with them because that’s what 20-some year olds do these days… But eating out really isn’t that bad anymore… especially thanks to fad diets like Atkins.

If ANY good has come out of fad diets, it’s the overwhelming availability of low-carb options at most places. At most fast food joints (not that fast food is where I go to with my friends…) there exists a “low carb” button. For example, Burger King allows you to get the whopper “low-carb” where the patty is served atop a bed of lettuce and is given to you in a container. In-n-out also allows you to get a protein style burger that’s wrapped in lettuce (and if you didn’t know about this already, you need to google their secret menu like right now).

At restaurants, I typically go for the meatier options. Steaks are typically available at most place — but I skip this for pricing reasons. Burgers are a relatively safe place to start, as long as you watch the fires. I opt for the sweet potato option since it’s more glycemic friendly, and it becomes more of a fat issue than a carb issue.

This leads me to my next point — planning ahead. When I eat out I know that my meals will probably be fattier than I normally plan for. That said, I try to eat leaner meals throughout the rest of the day. I also try to plan my meals out around my workouts. That means working out in the morning for brunch, and in the early evening if it’s dinner.

Use some common sense when picking items and pick protein heavy items. Always double-check with the online menu if there is one and prevent any hidden carbs. Some of the sauces used are loaded with sugar so I try to ask for the sauce on the side.

Regardless, eating out is no different than regular meal prep — eat lean and eat protein – make good choices!

My Current Program: 4Weeks2Shred

Exciting news! After a month of exploring my new apartment gym in DC, I’m going to be starting a brand new program.

Day 1 was back and biceps with a mix of calves and lower abs. The principles employed by Kris is definitely grueling towards the end. The change in reps is something that I’m not used to but is a great mix up because my body is definitely in shock and it keeps things interesting. Excited for shoulders/triceps tomorrow and what’s next for the rest of the week.

See excerpt below from my Current Workout page:

Excited to be partaking in the 4Weeks2Shred cut program by Kris Gethin, a 28 day shred program developed by Kris himself. The program employs his principles of DTP Xtreme and has a split of:

  • Monday: Back/biceps
  • Tuesday: Shoulders/Triceps
  • Wednesday: Active Rest
  • Thursday: Legs
  • Friday: Shoulders/Abs/Calves
  • Weekends: Chest/Calves

Program Start Date: July 6, 2015

Anticipated End Date: August, 2, 2015

Two Months With an Apple Watch

I’ve had my Apple Watch for about two months at this point as a primary fitness tracker and I don’t ever plan on ever looking back. The Watch has transformed the way that I access and assess my fitness level on a day to day basis — and it’s a little addicting. The at-a-glance approach allows me to see the progress on my move, exercise, and stand goals (lower middle circular graph, outside in respectively)

IMG_3181The watch calculates your “exercising” time based off of your heart rate and movement and also provides information on how often you’re standing in a day. This is also translated and coded into the corresponding exercise in MyFitnessPal. For example if I log an elliptical exercise, it’ll be properly translated onto my MFP.
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A few other things that are really helpful for people who need doses of positive reinforcement is the use of badges. Badges are awarded based on all three types of activity (move, activity, and stand goals) and sometimes a combination of the three. There are  badges that are awarded when goals are met, when goals are met across time, and when new records are set.
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There’s even a list of achievements that you can use as a way to see the types of progress you are making.

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Apple’s attention to detail is pretty impressive. When you click on each badge your name and date is engraved on the back. Even though it’s a small gesture, it makes the digital badge seem all the more real.
IMG_3186The month and week view are also both excellent ways of keeping track of progress. I’ve been making good progress since I’m walking everywhere in DC… but I can imagine that this would be helpful for understanding my activity level when I’m back in San Diego and relying in cars.
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People have their opinions about Apple’s latest product. Being an early adopter of basically any given Apple technology — I’m a huge fan. I use the Watch on a daily basis to interact with my texts, calendar, and other notifications. The huge plus is knowing that whether I’m actively using my watch or not, it’s tracking my activity and helping me stay motivated!

Fitting in Fitness as an Intern

Working 80 hour weeks, boring grunt work, living off coffee and donut crumbs, and having a life that’s dictated by their bosses phone… these are just a couple of things that jump to my mind when I think of the word “intern”. Not much good comes from it. And trying to fit in fitness in that chaos… well that can be tough.

I’m super grateful to work at an association where none of those things actually apply to me.. except the coffee — and that’s by choice. Everyone knows not to talk to me until I’ve had my morning cup of joe. Jokes aside, fitting in fitness while starting my internship in a brand new city has proven to be a lot less difficult than I imagined. For one, I actually work decently regular hours now… and my life isn’t in total chaos. Because I’m simply focusing on the internship, I’m not thinking about course work, readings, or reflections outside of my work hours which has actually been a nice shift in pace.

That being said, a few things I picked up during my busy time of the year has proven to be helpful in figuring out how I work in my workouts and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Keep a calendar. The people who know me (and actually know me) know that my calendar runs my life… sometimes more than it should. If it’s not on my calendar it’s probably not happening. I make sure to keep a calendar of the important things in my life… and on my crazy weeks sometimes that means making sure I block off an hour for gym time.
  2. Meal Prep. Every Sunday I make time to make at least a majority (if not more) of my meals for the week. That way, when I run late in the morning or I’m just too tired to make something for the next day, I know that I can just pop a prepped lunch in my bag. This one helps save money too!
  3. Calendar your meal prep. Yes, I’m combining/repeating 1 & 2 because it’s that important. Cooking a huge amount of food on a Sunday night is the last thing anyone wants to do in their last few hours of rest before a week of work. I get it. I happen to love my job so this isn’t much of a problem… but if you work it in ahead of time then you’ll be ok.
  4. Make a commitment. When I pencil something in with my friends, I don’t bail. I don’t change my plans because I suddenly want to go to the museums. And if something does come up, I try to reschedule. Treat your gym time and meal prep time as a commitment to yourself — to your fitness. Commit and don’t bail.
  5. Be flexible. When I go to the gym, I am more than willing to shuffle around as it is. I know that as long as I get my workouts in… I’m happy. And since my weekends are cardio/active rest days, I’m never too concerned about having two consecutive workouts too close to each other. If I see two guys trying to work in on the bench, I’ll either find dumbells or switch a day at the gym. But never skip leg day.
  6. Remember it’s a lifestyle. Fitness isn’t another chore in your life. Many of you choose to brush your teeth, some of you make your bed, many of you take showers (I hope). Believe it or not, these things are all choices to decide to make. Choices that are a part of your lifestyle. Make it a part of who you are, not another thing on your checklist. See how the shift in mentality can change how you see fitness in your day to day life!

A lot of these things are just common sense for some people, but sometimes it takes hearing it from someone else to get it. Be committed to fitting in fitness and you’ll make it work. My friends and colleagues know that fitness is important to me, so I make it a point to remind them that I am my priority. If you have tips or other thoughts I’d love to hear them below!

Fitting in Fitness on an Intern Budget

Living in DC is by no means cheap. In fact, I think I’ve finally found one place that’s actually more expensive to live in over San Diego, not that it’s something I’m happy about. Throw on the fact that I’m in an internship that allows me to afford the basic necessities, well it’s easy to fitness slip behind. 

One thing that being on a budget definitely helps with — going out for drinks is definitely out of the question. While I try to avoid alcoholic beverages on the regular due to its effects on your fatty acid metabolism (and the fact that its basically pure calories with no macronutrient benefit), it becomes even more of an incentive to not go out when drinks are 10-15 dollars a pop. 

When it comes to my day to day meals, I’ve become grateful to be an owner of a Costco card. I’ve found that my Costco card allows me to purchase giant bags of frozen broccoli for only a few dollars. This is my primary source of vegetables, and complex carbs when I’m having a lower carb day.

In fact, the only thing that adds substantial cuts to my budget are my supplements and meat related foods. I’ve found that by purchasing lean meats in bulk at Costco, I’ve been able to save pretty tremendously. I also purchase rotisserie chickens en mass that are only 5 dollars each – a quick and easy way to get lean protein into my diet.

For my supplements, I’ve reduced to a bare minimum. My pre-workout was a buy-one, get-one deal. My post workout was on sale. My current protein powder is by MusclePharm which is being sold in 5 lb tubs at Costco. This has allowed me to reduce my spending on supplements.

I am using MyFitnessPal to make sure that my macronutrient needs are being met and that I’m watching my day to day food intake since it becomes so easy to over eat carbs when your food is largely prepared.

While i will fully own up to the fact that this probably isn’t the healthiest way, I also don’t have the money to afford fresh groceries, a rare commodity in a city like DC. I’m grateful I’m able to keep meeting my macros and eat delicious foods. I seem to be getting consistent results so I definitely can’t complain!