Journey to Build a Healthier Lifestyle

Mohamad Ayyash ·

This will be my experimental lab as I test new diet changes, muscle building workouts, sleep hacks, and activities that reduce my stress and increase my long term happiness.

Had a tough gym workout yesterday! I blasted through it but was too tired that I couldn't finish all the exercises. This is a first for me but I think it's because I'm overtraining so instead of taking just 1 day off every 8 days I'm going to do 2 and see if that feels better. #experiment

It could also be because I've been working late at night since I feel much more productive this way but this could interfere with my sleep schedule. Regardless if I keep working late I will aim to be consistent to avoid this disturbance.

I randomly watched this video about being clear about a goal weight in a specific time frame. Since my goal right now is to lean out, getting a visible six pack ab seems like a good goal to attain. So according to the recommended calculations in the video, in order to get to 13% bf (where a 6-pack will be achieved) then my target weight should be 165lbs. If I'm at 190lbs right now and losing weight at the rate of 1.5 lbs per week, then it will take me around 18 weeks or 4 to 5 months to get to my #goal which is perfectly just in time for mid spring 2019.

A 1.5 lbs a week seems to be a sustainable goal for me and allows me to maintain my energy levels while enjoying my favorite foods regularly. I won't try to get there faster because I know better from past experiences to maintain a long term perspective.

The past week I slipped on my nutrition plan (my nightly snack was on the sugary side) after 6 weeks of perfect execution. It happened after I finished a big work project that I spent months working on. #setback

I was trying to understand this anomaly but couldn't understand why this happened. Luckily I feel like I have regained my energy and now I am excited to start a new big project and get back on track with my plan. It could be that this was my body and mind's way of forcing me to take a break (given that I don't usually take days off).

The #lesson learned from this is I need to get better at maintaining my momentum after successfully finishing big multi-month tasks. My #plan and #experiment for next time this happens is to temporarily reduce the work load for 3 days (but NO FULL DAYS OFF), coupled with changing my daily routine by visiting a new place and doing new activities for those 3 days before continuing work. Curious to see if that will solve this problem.

The good news is that my weight is still at 190lbs so I maintained my weight loss and now I can get back on track. I'm interested to see if my work momentum will recover tomorrow as I still have a lot of important work that I need to finish before the holidays this year. This work will be vital in deciding how my startup is going to succeed so I am keen on finishing it quickly to score some wins in the "work-life" department.

Still going strong on the diet! I'm at 190lbs now and my next checkpoint is when I hit 185lbs.

I've had a cheat meal last Saturday that was quiet heavy and frankly made me a bit sick for the next day or two (an entire medium pizza and 3 pieces of dessert). I felt like I need to shock my metabolism to bring back my energy but it ended up backfiring. Even my workout the next day wasn't great. The #lesson I learned is to start small (in terms of exceeding my planned calorie limit) and then adjusting based on how I feel and my progress.

Today I ended up taking a slightly early cheat meal in the evening (was supposed to wait until Monday for a full 7 days but felt really low energy today). I was much more moderate this time and just had a slice of pizza and 2 small dessert items. As I was eating the second dessert item I felt like I am already full so my #plan for the next cheat meal (every 5-7 days) is to just have 1 dessert item instead to stay at maintenance calories (which is around 800 calories more than what I'm eating on a regular day). Will reconsider the exact proportions once weight loss is stalled.

Having just 1 dessert item every 5-7 days is going to also train me to get better at moderation when it comes to dessert (especially as we approach the holiday seasons) as I had a bad habit of always over-indulging with 3-4 dessert items whenever I decide to have dessert. #goal

Finally my new daily step #goal is now 8000 steps instead of 7000.

I'm  still sticking with the nutrition and workout plan as before but my weight is still at 193lb (so I didn't lose nor gain any lbs this week). #setback

This might be due to the fact that I was using an antibiotic in the past week for a throat bacterial infection. I have already bought a powerful probiotic (40 strains and 150 billion CFUs) that my #goal is to take this month instead of my usual 45 billion CFUs one. I also bought some bone broth and fermented vegetables for daily consumption during this month for the same purpose.

Research shows that gut health is important for metabolism and regulating hunger hormones and since antibiotics destroy the good bacteria in the gut, it could lead to long term digestive and metabolic issues that should be addressed quickly with a good probiotic and a sustained healthy nutrition plan. Saturday is my last dosage of antibiotic and I will monitor the progress for another week after the treatment is over before I make any changes in nutrition or workout. I will do my best to avoid any sugar-heavy cheat meals for this month as I've read that sugar feeds the bad bacteria in the gut.

I've already had 2 cheat meals in 3 weeks which felt great the day after. I'm glad I was able to bounce back to my plan the day after the cheat meal. This used to be an issue for me in the past especially during the night but I have found that having a scheduled 450 calorie meal at 9PM has massively helped me in overcoming those cravings. This is a confirmation that I'm on the right track.

Still going strong on the new nutrition plan! Lost 6lbs in total in 2 weeks so far and I'm at 192.5lbs as of today. I love that my energy levels are actually higher than before and I'm sleeping so much deeper. Stress levels are low and happiness levels are much higher so this is working and I can see myself following this plan forever! #milestone

Speaking of nightly routine, I've been enjoying taking a cup of chamomile tea at 11PM and I've been somewhat consistent in sleeping between 12-1AM so this probably helps as well. I also use orange lights in my room and on my macbook (use an app called flux), all this coupled with no heavy mentally draining sessions after 11PM has helped me sleep and relax better.

I've been consistent on walking 7000 steps a day (usually 45 minutes before my 6PM dinner) in addition to my workout routine to destress and lose more weight so that's great!

I tried walking at 10:30PM (close to bed time) one day but that kept me awake past my bed time so I won't do this again #lesson

I had 2 cheat meals (dinner and nightly snack) last Saturday where I ate lots of carbs and sweets. The reason I did that is because I felt a bit tired the day before so that certainly helped and didn't really impact my weight loss (I gained 1lb the next day which I eventually loss later). But it's good to know that I have a guilt-free breathing room every now and then. #lesson

Another #lesson I learned is to take 2 days a week off from weightlifting and cardio. My previous workout routine involved alternating days of weightlifting and bike rides but I noticed that after a while of following this routine I start feeling low energy during the day. My new routine cuts my cardio days in half, so within 8 days, I weight lift 4 days (40-50 minute sessions on alternating days) and I do cardio only 2 days (30 min bike rides). This has helped maintain my energy levels during the day and I no longer feel tired after a while. Again I'm looking for a plan that I can stick to forever, so this certainly works well!

My current weightlifting workout routine is the following with the focus on maintaining my strength during this weigh cut. For the heavy lifts such as deadlift, bench press and shoulder press I aim for 3 sets of 8 while focusing on increasing the weight with 2 minutes rest. For the rest of the exercises I aim for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps with 1-1.5 minute rests. As a skinny-fat guy this has been working very well for me so far:

I use the strong app during my gym sessions.

Once I hit 185 lbs my #goal is to do another DXA scan (body spec) to hopefully confirm that most of the weight loss is fat and not lean muscle. For the record this is my last DXA scan result from August 28 where I was at 25.3% body fat percentage at 198.4lbs:


I'm no longer tracking my #number_of_work_sessions as it's successfully on auto-pilot now. Time for a new habit now. #milestone

The last week I got sick (had a nasty fever and sore throat) and for the first three days I had no appetite for food. However, I have learned a valuable lesson in turning adversity into a very positive thing. I used my limited appetite to re-evaluate my nutrition plan which has been failing me recently and I made the following changes that I have stuck with for 10 days now and have already dropped 7 lbs:

  • Added a basic multivitamin (Amazon basics). Just to make sure I'm not missing anything.
  • Added a Vitamin D + Calcium supplement (from Thorne Research) as I have limited dairy intake
  • I added a fish oil supplement (Amazon basics)
  • I moved my 500 calorie afternoon snack (oatmeal and nuts) into my last meal at 9 PM. I did this accidentally in my first couple of days of sickness and then I realized that since all my cravings happen at night then this should help control it and boy did it help the most!
  • I'm becoming more flexible in my nutrition plan to allow myself junk food without ruining my daily caloric intake. For example, my last two meals are 600 and 500 calories each so if I was craving a pizza (1000 calories) now I can schedule it as a replacement to my last 2 meals without feeling guilty that I'm behind my fat-loss plan. I can also switch my last meal into a waffle or cookie or ice cream with no negative consequences. Actually just knowing that I am not limited in my nutrition plan makes me NOT want to have those unhealthy snacks as bad as I used to when I would strictly prohibit them. This certainly is a great #lesson I learned.
  • I was forced to cut sparkling water for the first few days and then I realized that I'm less bloated. I did some research and turns out sparkling water is indeed the culprit. There were also studies that show sparkling water can induce more hunger so I'm glad I've cut that seemingly healthy habit of drinking 5 cans a day. Now I have 5 cases of Perrier that I need to get rid of!

This is an update on what my new diet looks like:


Daily Status Update:

#number_of_work_sessions: 2 (Success)

Daily Status Update:

#number_of_work_sessions: 1 (Fail)

Daily Status Update:

#number_of_work_sessions: 1 (Fail)

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Wed Aug 29 2018 21:19:24 GMT+0000 (UTC)

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