Track your progress

Lost 1lb last week! Finally after a few weeks of stagnation, so it seems like my previous plan of going back to cooking my own meals has worked very well. I'm now at a new #weight minimum of 177.9lbs.

A few #lessons that I re-enforced this week are:

  • The magic of super sets continues! Just like last week's lat pulldown and shoulder press, I had a super set consisting of incline dumbbell bench press and one arm dumbbell row. I also hit a new PR in BOTH and I hardly felt any shoulder pain when doing the incline presses as I usually do. I suspect it's because the rows give the chest a good stretch. I also saved 10 minutes on my workout while upping the intensity.
  • Chewing food slowly does really reduce bloating and makes me feel better after my meals. Man, I used to inhale my food but now I take my time.

A few new #lessons that I learned this week:

  • I was finally able to eliminate any dizziness I had throughout the day after heavy weightlifting sessions. The secret is coconut water in my shake (and I suspect it's the extra potassium I needed to keep my electrolytes balanced). My shakes now taste even better. The other secret is reducing my fish oil from 1200mg to 600mg a day. Fish oil is known to reduce blood pressure and since mine is naturally low I don't need as much.
  • Tightening my abs while walking is now becoming second nature and the experiment that I previously mentioned is a huge success so far. My stomach stays relatively flat even after cheat meals and waist looks tighter. I even noticed that my ab workouts are better so this is a huge plus. I also like that  after just 3 days I no longer have to consciously remember to contract them but I do so naturally while walking.
  • I was getting some stomach discomfort throughout the day, and noticed they're worse on my healthy days than my heavy cheat days which was interesting. Upon plugging my food intake in the food tracker (Nutrionix), it turns out I'm consuming around 43grams of fiber a day which is way higher than the recommended 30-38grams. Apparently my morning fruit shake coupled with my salad lunch is already enough so what I did is replacing whole wheat tortillas in my first dinner with a white counterpart. Similarly in my second dinner, I started replacing high fiber breads or brown rice with white low fiber varieties. That's all I did and problem solved. Wow very simple. I suggest everyone use a food tracker just for a bit to detect issues like this. Apparently too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.
  • I learned how to CORRECTLY use a cheap caliper to measure my own body fat at home in a VERY RELIABLE way. I will make a separate post (and a video probably) to share this knowledge. I almost gave up on it because of how inconsistent the readings are but now I figured out the secret. This will be huge for me as now I can track my body fat levels at home without waiting 2 months for a DXA scan.

A few #recurring_problems that I #plan to tackle are:

  • Some lower back pain when doing stomach vacuums. I will experiment with a few different positions aside from standing and maybe squeeze my glutes and see if it helps. I really want to add the vacuums to my daily routine for a more defined core.
  • I wake up at night (usually after 5 hours of sleep) and have a hard time going back to sleep. I am currently experimenting with changing my sleep schedule a bit (pushing it an hour later so sleep at midnight rather than 11PM). I also was changing to side sleeping rather than stomach sleeping because of lower back and neck pain. The issue is that side sleeping causes shoulder pain so I was researching a good multi-pillow setup to alleviate that. I think I have found a good setup but will give it another week before declaring a winner. I also started doing a daily "sleep focused" meditation from the Headspace app (which I've used on and off for 4 years now). Will see if all that will help next week.

One huge #milestone which isn't necessarily physical related is how healthy and SUPER productive I feel overall. I work long hours but don't feel depleted or stressed at all. I never procrastinate on anything and feel very driven to achieve a lot each day. I'm always sharp, focused and happy. I enjoy all the healthy foods I eat, I enjoy walking by the ocean for a total of 9000 steps daily and look forward to my workouts (never dreading the gym). Just figured I share this to remind myself that keeping a health system for long term is easy when nothing feels like a chore. Anyways, see you soon!

Track your progress

My #weight is still at 179lbs for almost a month now #setback. It's not really a huge setback actually since I can see that I'm packing more muscle at the same weight but I prefer to drop that 0.5 inch layer of fat on my abs so that they can show.

I believe the reason for this #recurring_problem is a combination of things:

  • For the past 2 weeks I've been buying my 'healthy' dinners (e.g. Chipotle bowls, Poke bowls...etc.) instead of making them which still can contain extra unwanted calories especially because the cashiers have been extra generous with the amounts once they realize I'm a regular haha.
  • I've been having cheat days instead of cheat meals every 5 days. During those days, I would eat more frequent than my usual 4 meals a day and in huge quantities (I'm actually surprised I'm not gaining weight!!)

The #plan to tackle this is to:

  • Go back to cooking my dinners at least 80% of the nights (I made ground beef tacos yesterday).
  • No more cheat days. But cheat meals every now and then are OK and they will replace one of my pre-planned meals. To avoid making them an 'event that I look forward to' I will just have them every now and then when I feel low energy or strong craving (within reason). To be honest, I notice that 3 days after having a cheat meal I stop craving them so the last 2 cheat days I feel like I forced myself to have them just because they are part of my 5 day schedule. I really enjoy all my regular meals and never force myself to eat anything I dislike so that has definitely helped me stick to this nutrition plan for almost half a year now which is a great #lesson!

This should work, hopefully getting down to 175lbs before the 25th of May when I will do another DXA scan to assess fat loss and muscle gains.

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A new technique that I accidentally discovered a few times before and I now #plan to officially implement in my hypertrophy workouts is to try to go for SUPER HEAVY weights for 1 or 2 reps BEFORE doing my working sets. I noticed that yesterday when I was barbell shrugging towards the end of my workout and I picked up 195lbs and could barely lift it twice. As soon as I was done, I dropped the weight to 155lbs and was able to crank my usual sets very easily. This is in comparison to last week's sets where I struggled even with 135lbs. I believe the justification is that when doing 2 heavy sets I was able to recruit a lot of muscle fibers that were still firing throughout my subsequent workout (I guess kind of similar to why doing isometric holds before hypertrophy work is valuable!). This is a huge #lesson for me!!

So to break it down, for my compound lifts I will #plan to do the following in this sequence:

  • 2 Light Warmup sets: 8 reps
  • 1 HEAVY set: 1-2 reps (I shouldn't be able to do more than 3 reps for this to work)
  • 3 Moderately Heavy Working sets: 6-8 reps
  • 2 Light Drop Sets: 10+ reps

Curious to see the impact of this on my progression.

P.S. For squats and bench press, I probably will use the smith machine just for my HEAVY set for safety reasons! I guess I finally found some good use to the good old smith machine after all haha

Track your progress

Huge #lesson confirmed in yesterday’s weightlifting session is super setting push and pull lifts together! I did it for lat pull down and machine shoulder press for 5 sets. Not only did I save 10 minutes, as I didn’t rest in between sets, but I hit new PRs in BOTH moves!

I always thought super setting helps you provide a different stimulus to the muscles but never knew it actually was overall better. Now my #plan is to utilize more super sets for the majority of my workout, maybe that will help shrink it down from 1.5 hours closer to 1 hour which is one of my previous goals.

Track your progress

Weighed myself after a few weeks and I'm still at a #weight of 179lbs. I'm not disappointed actually as my bodybuilding workout volume has doubled and strength has went up! My workout sessions are now around 1.5 hours each. This is probably a sign of a body recomposition where I'm losing fat and gaining muscle......I hope, but a DXA scan next month will confirm.

Either-ways I admit that I'm eating a bit more than before and having more frequent cheat meals every 5 days instead of 9. Will #plan to make those meals less 'monstrous' going forward and see if that will allow me to lose 1lb a week until I reach my target weight of 165lbs.

Regarding my previous bloating #recurring_problem, chewing food slowly has certainly helped a lot in feeling less bloated during my post-meal brisk walks. Also I measured my waist throughout the day and the biggest variation is an inch which is within what's normal. After doing more research, it turns out that my issue is that I have what's known as "bloated abs". The following 2 videos where super helpful in identifying the issue: Video 1 and Video 2. As a result the #plan for next month is to experiment with the following:

  • Before going on my walks I will stretch my hip flexors for 45 seconds on each side
  • During my walks I will keep my abs slightly tight to keep them flattened. This will hopefully build the habit of keeping them tight all the time and strengthen the transverse abdominis which despite my tough ab workouts might be weaker than needed.

The only worry is that tightening my abs might interfere with deep breathing and relaxation or some other negative side effects so I will keep an eye on that.

Track your progress

Interesting vid regarding improving muscle gains is to incorporate "Time Under Tension (TUT)" training. Basically it's about slowing down sets to like 45-60s during maximum tension. I already happen to incorporate that in my AB training which are responding very well so it's worth adding to my other lifts too (probably towards the end). #plan #lesson

Track your progress

A tangent today is that I am getting frequently bloated which robs away a lot of the hard work I do at the gym #recurring_problems

I've done some research on bloating and my #plan is to do the following:

  • Track my waist size at wakeup and before bed time as well as before and after meals
  • Eat slower and chew food slowly. Assess if the numbers change over a week.
  • If that doesn't work, reduce my fiber intake significantly (aside from my salad and smoothie, all carbs will be the 'white' kind, maybe I'm having too much fiber)
  • If that doesn't work, I will try a digestive enzyme to see if it solves the problem
  • If that doesn't work I will look into a low FODMAP diet and then gradually bring back individual foods and measure any changes in bloating (elimination diet)
  • If that doesn't work I will probably see a doctor. Maybe I need to do a food sensitivity test. Hope it doesn't get to that!

Fellow readers, appreciate any ideas on this :)

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Just putting this out here so I don’t forget. My #plan after hitting my 6-pack 165lb goal is to start lean bulking. During this period I will throw in 2 powerlifting days into my “every other day” rotation (from the starting strength program). So I will have a total of 4 hypertrophic workouts and 2 strength workouts that I complete every 12 days.

Track your progress

Watched this amazing "Arnold's Blueprint to Cutting" video. Through it I learned the following #lessons that I #plan to implement more in my training at the gym:

  • Super set push and pull exercises. I already have been doing that for "pushups and chin ups" and remember it made both exercises easier (so I can do more!). I will apply this to:  "bench pressing" + "one arm dumbbell rowing",  "shoulder press" + "seated rows" and "chest flies and rear flies".
  • Super set "Squats" + "Leg Presses", "Chest Press" + "Chest Flies", "Tricep Pushdowns" + "Tricep Extensions" + "Tricep Kickbacks"

Arnold talks a lot about setting a deadline and having a crystal clear vision on where you want to be which is extremely eye opening in both business and workout world for me. In terms of #goal setting. My original #goal was to get to 165lbs which according to my prior rough calculations should put me in the six-pack league for the first time ever. I'm now trying to lose fat slowly to avoid losing muscles, so losing a 1lb a week is the goal. Being at 179lbs now means I should achieve this goal by my birthday on July 17 actually!

May the pizzas and cheesecakes of the world be repulsive until then :)

Track your progress

I weighed myself today and I'm finally in the 170s league now, at a #weight of 179.1 to be exact!! #milestone. The #plan is still to get a DXA scan once I hit 175 to ensure muscle retention hopefully.

That's where the good news end unfortunately. Over the past 3 weeks I've experienced the following #recurring_problems:

  • I've been a bit fatigued and have only enough energy to workout and get some work done
  • I've been having some insomnia lately and I think it's causing me to be tired during the day
  • My blood pressure was low (specifically the diastolic at around 55). This was accompanied with the fatigue and slight blurry vision.

I decided to have a HUGE cheat meal today (3 slices of pizza, burger, macaroons and some hazelnut flutes) and as I suspected, I felt my energy surging back and so probably it was nutrition related for sure.

To make sure I stick with this for the long term and to fix the above problems my #plan is to do the following:

  • Have a carb heavy cheat meal after 7 days instead of 9 days. During the days I do cheat meals, reduce my protein intake and replace them with carbs. I read about protein and carb cycling somewhere so maybe it's good to give the body a break from digesting too much protein while replenishing my glycogen stores.
  • Reduce my fish oil intake to one pill instead of 2 daily (600 instead of 1200). Fish oil reduces blood pressure and I believe mine is already too low.
  • Avoid drinking water 2 hours before bed (I usually have a glass right before bed and end up waking up to use the restroom).
  • Turn the AC on. I will experiment to find the ideal temperature.

Anyways I hope that this plan improves my sleep and brings back my energy while mostly still sticking to the original nutrition plan that has helped me workout harder at the gym, go up on my lifts and lose weight.