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Update time! What’s up everyone? Have a good New Years? I did. New Years Eve actually turned into an epic 3 a.m. snowball fight. Havent had a shoulder that sore in a LONG time…

This time of the year a lot of people assume that I receive a really high influx of new clients due to the whole resolution thing. But honestly I don’t. Especially now with the new focus being working with athletes, it is actually pretty steady year-round because an athlete is either working with me mid-season or trying to make changes in the off season. And with the ever-rotating cycle of sports (soccer, football, hockey, wrestling, swimming, baseball, basketball, etc.) it stays interesting because their nutrition and exercise programs are all so different. That’s what’s going on from a business standpoint, but the title of this post is 180 for a reason.

I finally got my weight up to 180 lbs and am about 15% body fat. I’m carrying a bit of a pooch there around the old waistline, but am ok with it because I’ve seen some really good gains in size and strength in the gym. I don’t think I’ll get to 185 by January 15th (well, not healthily anyways) so I’m pushing back the deadline to “however long it takes to hit 185”. Although I think I can hit it by early to mid February. Then the cutting will commence! So far it’s been pretty fun really. I’ve never weighed this much in my life, but at the same time that’s cool because its from the right stuff. I thought I’d miss the cardio more than I have (I’ve essentially gone to 0 on the cardio scale). I suppose it’s because I’m research oriented that I enjoy experimenting on myself so much and I think I’ll keep the experiments coming. I figure if anything, it gives me a personal perspective into what a lot of my clients are doing or are trying to do.

So with all of that being said, when this current experiment is all said and done what should I try next? I’m taking suggestions.

Also, I’m going to try to be more consistent on this whole blogging thing. I get caught up so much with life that I tend to forget about this on here. That and this blog doesn’t get me any money so…

Bulking up is hard to do

Ok guys, I thought it was about time to give a brief update on my progress. I think in my last post about my journey to bulk up and then cut, I made a comment near the end that it was difficult to eat so much food. And in reality, it should’nt be. When trying to put on size it should be done with the same approach as when trying to lose fat… modestly. So normally you just bump up your daily calorie intake by about 500 kcals. Thats equivalent to about 5 1/2 tablespoons of peanut butter or about 4 tablespoons of olive oil (any oil really, but I prefer olive). That’s not that much over the course of 24 hours.
And in theory this should put on 1 lb per week of weight. But sometimes its not that simple. There is a term that is thrown around a bit that is known as someone being a “hard gainer”. This refers to someone who struggles to either put on or maintain weight. And you know what? I dont know the mechanism or reasoning behind it. I suspect it has to do with individual metabolisms, underestimating energy expenditure (usually it’s the opposite) and our body’s tendency to find it’s set weight point. But who knows, I could be way off. Wouldnt be the first time.
Anyways, this applies here because it seems I need more than 500 kcals on top of my normal eating habits to attain this 1 lb per week gain. Not a big deal or issue really, but like with my vegetarian 30 day trial thing, I’m learning more and more about this stuff from a 1st person standpoint, not just from reading the literature. Makes a difference.

Oh, I’m kinda stuck around 175 lbs right now. Trying to get to 180 by January 15th. We’ll see how things shake out. Thanksgiving sure was fun though!

Ladies, lift some weights already

So my plan for this blog was to discuss how to navigate Thanksgiving. How to prevent adding that dreaded holiday weight gain. I decided that was played out. You know to eat less and you’ll be in good shape, right? Of course you do. So I decided to change that up. Here goes.

Ladies, get off the treadmill already! I can’t tell you how many women tell me that they avoid weights because they don’t want to get “bulky”. Well I have news for you. And here it is. Guys have more than 10x the testosterone as you. A lot of them work their a** off trying to put on muscle. Their weight training routine is focused on hypertrophy (muscle growth). Their diet is dialed in (hopefully). And you know what? Many of em struggle to put on muscle.The bottom line is that you just don’t have the hormonal profile to get bulky. What you will get, however, is an increased metabolic rate, toned arms, butt, and legs. But that probably isn’t what you’re looking for…

Need help getting started? I can help with that.

New experiment

For anyone who has kept up with my blogs, you know that in January of this year I spent 30 days going strictly vegetarian. I did not do a very good job. I lost muscle, gained fat, and felt pretty awful during those 30 days. But I also ate a bunch of processed fake meat stuff and junk like that. Done properly, a vegetarian diet is extrememly healthy and I condone it. But I likes me some beef and chicken sooo…
It was an experiment and one I’m glad I did because it gave me a glimpse into what my vegetarian clients go through. I can now, at least somewhat anyways, empathize with them. That may have started something because now I want to do a bunch of other stuff like that. So with that all being said, I am announcing my next experiment on myself. Drumroll…….

I’m trying to gain weight. Not a bunch of weight or anything like that, but put on some pounds. I have a reason for this, but I want to give a quick history lesson here first.

In high school, around late freshman year until late junior year I was “doughy”. I have pictures, but I’m not putting em up here. I ate too much. I played soccer, but my diet was just too many sodas, sports drinks, and cookies/pies/cakes (My mom is a fantastic baker. She even makes a homemade Twinkie cake that is unreal). So I had little muscle and plenty of padding. I didnt lift weights and only ran because we had to in soccer. Then late in my junior year I developed a severe case of mono. It lasted about 3 weeks and I literally could barely keep water down. My energy was so low that I had to take 2 breaks getting from my bedroom upstairs to the kitchen downstairs. Needless to say, I lost a lot of weight. At rock bottom I was 139 lbs. After getting healthy again, I took advantage of my situation, began eating better and exercising more. Since then and all through college, I sat right at about 160-165 lbs.  My goal is 180-185 lbs by January 15th. At that point, I am going to cut back down to 175 lbs. This is where I want to remain. So the question you may be asking yourself is, “Why?”

Well I’ll tell you, cause I’m that kind of guy. I’ve studied and worked with the concept before, but have never tried to “bulk” and “cut” before. To put on muscle, you need a caloric excess each day to provide enough energy to build new muscle tissue. Unfortunately, this also means that you’ll likely add some fat too. So you begin a hypertrophy weight program (hypertrophy is just a fancy way of saying that you are increasing the size of your muscles) and alter your macronutrient profile and amount and boom, you put on weight from both fat and muscle. Once you hit the upper range of your weight, you begin cutting calories (keeping protein high to prevent atrophy) to get to your ideal body fat percentage. If my numbers are right, I need to get to about 180-185 and about 15-16% body fat before cutting back to 175 and 9-10% body fat. I’m 3 weeks in and here are the numbers per my super cool awesome scale:

October 15:                                                      Nov 6:
Weight                  171.4 lbs                            174.4 lbs
Fat %                    12.6 %                                13.2 %
Muscle mass         142.4 lbs                            144.0 lbs

I’ll do quick blog updates every 3 weeks, but so far, I’m dead on with my 1 lb per week goal.

Of note: Gaining weight is not enjoyable as I thought it most certainly would be. I am full all of the time and not used to this, so the cutting phase might be interesting and more difficult than I thought. I guess time will tell.

Maintain… don’t gain

Today is Halloween. October 31st. As a dietitian this is essentially like Armageddon. Starting today and leading up until January one is when most folks really fall off the wagon. Aside from witnessing it firsthand in my profession, I have other proof that it occurs. I have friends who are commercial airline pilots who tell me that they calculate the average weight of passengers to be 10 lbs heavier over the holidays than at other times during the year. Weights and balances are critical to the safety of a plane in flight. Heck, the phenomenon is so prevalent that studies have been conducted on it! Although, the research shows that my aviation comrades are miscalculating slightly. It seems that most of us don’t put on 10 lbs each year. It’s more like 2-3 lbs. That’s the good news. The bad news? We don’t take it back off.
So here we go again. Let’s run the numbers. For each decade that we make it through, many of us will be 20-30 lbs heavier on average! Think about that for a minute. No, seriously stop reading and think about it. 

Crazy, right? This is why during this time of year I preach “Maintain Don’t Gain”. And I think this is reasonable. I mean c’mon. Halloween, Thanksgiving (probably mulitple ones), and Christmas paired with cold weather, lack of motivation, shorter days, etc. It’s no wonder we pack on a few. I used to be of the mindset of “It’s Thanksgiving for crying outloud, enjoy it!” Well that has since changed. And the reason is that it can become a slippery slope in a hurry. First it’s Thanksgiving, then it’s another Thanksgiving at another family members’ house, then it’s the leftovers, then it’s leftover Halloween candy, then it’s…. you see what I mean? Same thing for exercise by the way. I actually had this conversation with my mom the other day. My dad had a deep chest cold and wasnt feeling great, but went swimming at the pool anyways. He admitted that he didn’t go as fast or as far as usual, but he still went. This left my mom perplexed. “Why didn’t he just take a day off?” was her statement to me. I smiled, nodded, and simply said “because he had to”.

Take home message here is to stay the course. 8 weeks may not seem like much, but damage can be done… potentially irreversable damage if you believe the studies. Hey, you can do anything for 8 weeks so why not make it eating healthy and exercising when others aren’t? Get a head start on ’em and enjoy the gym while it’s empty! Trust me, it won’t be come January 2nd. Been there, worked that.

Quick note: If you run into me and I seem a bit pudgier than usual, it’s on purpose. I’m actually going the opposite direction of what I just spent the past 15 minutes typing about. I’m attempting to put some weight on my skinny frame. There is a method to the madness. Maybe I’ll detail it in my next blog.

7 nutrition mistakes you’re (still) making

Maybe you heard it on the news. Maybe it was in a fitness magazine or from your trainer at the gym. It registered with you. After hearing it, you probably thought to yourself, “yeah that makes sense!” And yet for some reason, your behavior towards what you heard and agreed with didnt equate to behavior change. Shame on you. Nah, not really. That’s what most of us do, actually. Me included. Why knowledge doesn’t necessairly mean behavior change is a mystery to me. But if anyone out there has that answer please let me know and I’ll give you 10% of my earnings every year. You’ll be a multi-millionaire.

This won’t be an exhaustive list and there are many that won’t be included. That being said, if there is anything NOT on this list that you would like me to write about in the future, just leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to talk about it.

So here they are:

7 Nutrition mistakes you (might be) making:

1. Your breakfast sucks. Toast and/or fruit with coffee or juice just isn’t gonna cut it. The good news is that you are at least eating breakfast…. You ARE eating breakfast, right? I just attended the Food and Nutrition Conference Expo in Philly this past weekend and listened in on a lecture on recent research on breakfast. Turns out, 30 grams of quality protein in the A.M. leads to significantly fewer calories eaten later in the day and particularly snacking late at night. Think eggs, lean ham (Canadian bacon) or turkey, Greek yogurt, and even high protein cereals with milk.

2. Your lunch isn’t much better. A small salad, glass of tea, and sugar free pudding cup. Does this sound like your lunch? If so, you arent having enough and your metabolism hates you for it. Especially if your the one who had just a slice of toast and coffee at breakfast. You’ll eat too much tonight, wake up not hungry, have a piece of toast and coffee again, not have much energy, feel gulity if you have a burrito at lunch, so you get the salad again, and… you see what’s happening here?

3. You eat too much at night. This just seemed like the perfect transition from #2. I see so many clients, friends, and just people in general who, if watching their weight, abstain from eating too much throughout the day to only finally give in to the copius amounts of ghrelin in their system (it’s a hormone that tells you “eat stupid, I need fuel!”) and load up on a ton of food. I think that by now you can see how to fix all of this.

4. You go into your workout on empty. I’m a firm believer that the most important meal of the day is breakfast. What’s the second? What you eat before and after your workout. Too many people dont fuel properly before hand. This just leads to a lousy workout, one where you can’t really put your full effort into it. Fueling after your workout is crucial. Think carbs and protein and little to no fat within 30 minutes of finishing. A nice 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein is ideal. Look to get 20-30 grams of protein.

5. You’re still drinking calories. Cream and sugar in your coffee. Sugar in your tea. Lemonade. Soda. Sports drinks. And who could forget… Booze! Water, water, water. Can’t emphasize it enough. For most of us, a good rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces each day. Keep in mind though that fruits and veggies contain water as well. If you are drinking your calories, take one week off from them and switch to water only. You might be surprised at what transpires.

Ok, so the post says 7 things you’re doing wrong and there’s only 5, but I’m tired of typing. My bad. Look for another post in 2 weeks!

Sorry for Partying

Well hey there! How have you been? Long time, no talk.

It was March 1st of this year actually since we last chatted. I went on a bit of a sabbatical there didnt I? Well it’s been a pretty fun and interesting 7 months. Here are 10 things that have taken place over the spring and summer:

1. Went to a bunch of weddings (one even had its own ferris wheel… awesome)
2. Did a triathlon in South Beach. Almost didnt do the race because I wanted to chill on the beach instead. Was talked out of it.
3. Road tripped to Baltimore for a sports nutrition conference. It’s farther than I thought.
4. Bought a house
5. Discovered PB2… check it out
6. Started cycling with creatine… seems to work with me.
7. Landed a recurring spot on channel 13 news… havent slipped up and cussed yet!
8. Raced in the Tough Mudder. Wasnt impressed. Poorly run event.
9. Turned 28
10. Decided I should get back to blogging

So there you have it. I’m back. The goal is 2 blogs per month. So keep an eye out.

What have YOU been up to?

The 30 day turnaround… results from my 30 days back to meats

I’m going to make this really short and sweet today. As anyone who followed my 30 day vegetarian diet knows, I didnt do so great with it. On January 31st I switched back to my normal diet to see how my body would react and change. And change it did. Check the numbers below:

                                          January 25th                March 1st

Weight:                                 164.2 lbs                     162.6 lbs
Fat %:                                    15.1 %                        11.5 %
Fat Mass:                               24.8 lbs                       18.6 lbs
Muscle Mass:                        132.4 lbs                     136.8 lbs

Now to be fair… I cheated. You see, I went to school for 5 years and then did a 1 year internship followed by passing a national registration exam and needing continuing education credits at the rate of 75 hours per every 5 years.

This being National Nutrition Month, I thought I’d use this as an example of showcasing the skills of Registered Dietitians, the nutrition experts. Make an appointment with one today!

Some things I like… and you should too

I felt it was time to do a positive blog. I’ve discussed in the past certain things I don’t like (e.g. exercises). But I’d like to focus this particular blog on food. Foods I like. And who doesn’t like food?

1. Flat Out wraps: For about 100 calories you get 8-9 grams of fiber (nearly 1/3 of your fiber needs for the day). And they are pretty delicious. Great substitute for your usual whole wheat bread and also works really well for a base to a healthy personal pizza.

2. Quick oats: They can be Kroger brand or name brand… just doesn’t matter. And a $2 tub lasts at least a month or more. A great start to the day and another fabulous form of lasting energy and fiber.

3. Individually wrapped guacamole packs: Ever make or buy guac and it went bad in a few hours? Even with adding some lemon juice, its shelf life is hours. But Wholly Guacamole makes 100 calorie individually wrapped packs that are great for adding to those Flat Out wraps. Just add some turkey and veggies and you’ve got yourself a solid lunch.

4. Fage 0% Greek Yogurt: Again, at just 100 calories you get a great source of dairy. Did I mention it has no fat, contains postassium, and about 15 grams of protein? If you are looking for a new snack idea, just throw some fruit in with this and you are golden.

5. Pomegranate seeds: They now package these. You no longer have to do it yourself! Pick them up where you find the blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries at your grocery store. Remember how I said add some fruit to the Greek yogurt and your set? These seeds are perfect!

6. Salsa: And I suppose you can include hot sauce here too. It’s a perfect way to add flavor to a lot of meals without adding calories. And it counts as a vegetable serving too. How sweet is that? One example is salsa on eggs in the morning. Another is mango salsa in a baked sweet potato in place of brown sugar.

7. 2% reduced fat cheeses: Name brand or store brand, you can now find cheese in a reduced fat, made with 2% milk version. Why is this so great? It cuts out about half the fat yet still tastes the same and melts really well. Fat free? Not so much. Full fat? Too many calories. The 2% is the perfect medium.

8. Non-stick cooking spray: Ok, so it’s not technically a food. It is however, a great way to cook food without adding additional calories. So as much as I talk about using vegetable oils, if you are looking to cut back on total calories, this is a great way to do so… especially when cooking on the stove top.

9. Steamable vegetables: Again, these come in store brand and from Green Giant. Avoid the ones with sauce and you have a ton of fiber, nutrients, water, and few calories in about 90 seconds. Need I say more?

10. Quick cook Quinoa/rice: They now make steamable rice and… my favorite… quinoa. In 90 seconds in my microwave I have a great source of whole grains, fiber, and protein. All of that without cholesterol and fat. It’s the busy man’s best friend.

Vegetarian for 30 days… I made it!

As I’m typing this I am eating a vegetarian house-made pizza from Fresh Market (great grocery store!). But what I really went there for isn’t currently on my plate.

I picked up 4 chicken breasts, a package of turkey bacon, and 2 filet mingon skewers. Yeah, you could say I missed eating meat.

My plan is to grill out tomorrow night since the weather is supposed to be nearly 60 and sunny. I will BBQ the aforementioned chicken breasts (And I’m good on the grill by the way. It’s my specialty. Seriously, you should try it.)

I want to make one thing clear though. I could have continued my vegetarian journey. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. But I found myself eating too many processed foods. Therefore, I’m happy to return to my fish, chicken, turkey, and occasional beef. In my professional opinion, it’s healthier. And much more palatable.

So, as I sign off on my 30 days of pure vegetarianism, is there anything I missed? Could I have done it differently?

I will update again after 30 more days on my original omnivore diet. I suspect to get some lean tissue back. Don’t really care what the weight is.

What do you think?

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