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!

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

Creating my own plan

Creating my own workout plan for the 12 weeks was no straightforward task. Having just come off of a 12-week plan from a successful and well-published plan, I was more than a little nervous to navigate the gym without Kris Gethin in the back of my head telling me to push harder (or on my BodySpace app… you get the point).

In fact, it took me two whole days before I finally mustered up the courage to walk downstairs and see what equipment was available to me in my apartment complex’s gym. Now I realize that this sounds crazy to be writing about… but it was my first time at a new gym since I started my journey about a year ago. It’s also the first time in about 10 months that I haven’t been on a plan by

Needless to say, I was a little nervous. It wasn’t until I finally started out a week after moving in, when I started pacing towards the dumbell rack, that I realized everything I’ve been doing for the past year has only taught and prepared me to succeed in the gym on my own.

And thus, I’ve incorporated the training principles of Kris Gethin and the numerous other bodybuilders that he’s incorporated in his workout programs into my day to day workouts as well.

On any given day, my workout includes 4-5 different exercises that stresses the particular muscle group(s) of the day in different ways. I’ll provide an example. On Tuesdays, I workout my chest and triceps. My workout includes 4 exercises that involve my chest and another 3-4 exercises that work my triceps. The chest workout includes standard bench presses, incline dumbell presses, dumbell flyes, and cable crossovers. Depending on the week I might also add additional dumbell presses, decline bench presses or a dumbell pullover. Because the triceps are a secondary muscle group to most of these exercises, I work them out slightly lighter, with some combination of rope pulldowns, close grip bench  presses, tricep extensions, or skull crushers.

Regardless, I try to mix things up so I always keep my chest working.

I typically start my sets with 2 warm up sets of 8-10 reps and every other week I do reps in the ranges of 8-10 to 12-16 so that I can workout different muscle fibers.

Three weeks in, I can say that it’s definitely been a brutal workout. In addition, instead of logging my workouts on my app or on a notepad, I’m making sure that I’m hitting my rep ranges and completing the minimum number of sets. I’ve found that every week I’ve been able to add an additional exercise.

This is an excellent break from Kris’s workout and an excellent way to keep toned and in shape while I wait to start a new program… once I’m back in SD in August.

My current workout

I decided to add a link on the top of my page to have easy access to my “current workout.”

Since I’m currently in DC, on certain days of the weekend where I know I’ll be touring the city and visiting the museums, I might skip actual cardio time in the gym and opt for some “active rest” instead. These days typically involve me walking well over 15k steps since most of the city is accessible by foot. This is just to give my body time to adjust to the increased amount of walking and cardiovascular exercises that my body isn’t use to.

Below is the excerpt from the page. This page is always accessible through the top navigation bar or directly at:

While I’m usually all over BodySpace (thanks to during the summer I’m exploring some of the equipment I don’t usually have access to during the year. This includes an assisted barbell machine, a lying leg curl machine and a decline bench. My current workout split is as follows:
Monday: Back/biceps

Tuesday: Legs/Abs

Wednesday: Cardio

Thursday: Chest/Triceps

Friday: Shoulders/Abs/Calves

Weekends: Cardio/Active Rest

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 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.

Perspective – Rethinking my Goals for this Program

A few days ago I talked about how I might not be reaching my weight goal… and I think I’ve officially become ok with that. My reason: fat loss.

A few days ago, I weighted 194.9. I was almost certain 190 wouldn’t be a problem by the end of February. Needless to say, I was a little upset when my weigh in came in at 197.3. I reevaluated my goals, and rethought my progress. I questioned myself, until I realized I forgot one little detail — body fat percentage.

My first weigh in was 194.9 at 25.9% body fat, and my latest at 197.3 at 23.3% body fat. After some number crunching, I realized that I’d lost 4.5 pounds of fat.


Before anyone starts criticizing the “variance” in the body fat measurements provided by a foot scale, I’ll be the one to say that I typically don’t consider my Withings Smart Body Analyzer to be the best measurement that I could probably get. That being said, given that the measurements were made under similar conditions at similar times of day. I’m willing to let my pride go a little.

While I’m not sure its possible to lose that much fat within a few days… and I’m curious to know how much of it had to do with the amount of water I had, this was a nice reminder that I’m slowly reaching a point where my weight has less and less meaning.

This is especially important given that I’ve recently started HMB supplements which support muscle growth and prevent muscle breakdown.

More details on HMB supplements later but no — they are not a steroid.

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.