Monthly Archives: September 2010

Eating out ≠ Eating junk

The next two lines will summarize what this post is about.

Today we all eat out more often than people did earlier – No shit.

It’s impossible to eat clean because we eat out so much – Bull shit.

Here are some common whines from folks trying to eat clean outside home (and my responses).

Whine: I went to a friend’s birthday dinner and unfortunately there wasn’t anything clean on the menu. So I had to eat fried rice and the spice just led me to the fried banana ice cream.

Response: Ever heard of meat (or tofu) and veggies? Any restaurant with a kitchen and a cutting board will be able to give you this. There is ALWAYS healthy/clean stuff in every menu. If you are determined to eat clean that night you will find it and order it. In this case, you just didn’t look hard enough.

Whine: I eat out 5 days a week. Getting grain free healthy food is impossible.

Response: Ever heard of salads? The stuff with vegetables, meat and cheese? Even if you’re eating at McDonald’s 5 days a week there are ways to eat clean. Get the grilled chicken burger without the bun. Still hungry ? Get 5 more. Eat your veggies during dinner.

Whine: Every time I go out to eat with friends my diet is the topic of conversation. People ask me weird questions and make fun of me. I feel extremely humiliated. So I decided to eat like ‘normal people’ during dinner parties.

Response: If you’re friends make fun of you for trying to make a positive change to your lifestyle that will literally keep you disease free, strong, lean and energetic, I wouldn’t really call them friends. If they’re doing it for giggles… just giggle and go about ordering your stuff.

Understand that eating clean is not something to be ashamed of. It is, in every damn way, something to be crazy proud of.

Whine: Customizing orders in restaurants is embarrassing. The waiters don’t like it. The others at the table don’t like it. I feel like such a burden.

Response: Let’s say you want a suit. Do you always have to get the ready-made stuff? Don’t you ever get your stuff stitched? Customizing your order is your bloody right.

Get this straight – YOU are paying for YOUR food which is going into YOUR stomach and will have an effect on YOUR health. You have every frackin right to say how exactly you want your food prepared. If they wont do it that way, they’re not the only restaurant in town.

Whine: How do I count calories when I eat at a restaurant? I have no idea how many carbs or fats are in my food. It’s so stressful! I can’t deal with this nonsense!

Response: Well… don’t count! You order your protein (meat or tofu or eggs), you order your side of vegetables (steamed or sauteed in butter) and you skip their rice/bread/mashed potatoes/pasta.

Life is simple. Keep it simple.

Whine: This is ridiculous! Why can’t I just eat like everyone else?

Response: Sure you can. But be prepared to look like everyone else.

Whine: OK your clean eating thing is a scam. I saw this guy in the next table eating a full pizza and a tub of ice cream and the dude is jacked!

Response: I’m sure he ate all that. But do you have even the slightest idea of what he ate during the other 27 meals that week? Any guesses on how much weight he moves in the gym? Do you have a frackin clue how fast/often the guy sprints? You don’t know shit about him. Stop using him as an excuse to eat junk.

For the non-whiners i.e the folks who genuinely try but fail due to lack of information, here are some useful tips for when eating outside.

  1. Firstly, the key is to not think that you are making a compromise. The key is to ‘learn’ to order menu items (or custom items) in a way that you will totally love it. For example, I love my vegetables sauteed in butter and I ask for them that way. And because I know my awesome buttered vegetables (with some fatty protein) are on their way, the rice/bread doesn’t tempt me.
  2. Secondly, the other ‘normal people’ at the table should try to eat like you because they want to look and function like you. Realize that you are the smarter person at the table making the better food choices. True story – Two friends at a dinner table laughed at my face because of what I eat/don’t eat. Two weeks later, the very same folks send me a personal email requesting a customized diet plan.
  3. Order a glass of one of the delicious dry wines (Cabernet Sauvignon or chardonnay) instead of sugary cocktails.
  4. Skip the bread with olive oil and enjoy some classy aged cheese with your wine.
  5. Every sit down restaurant should be able to provide you with protein (meat/tofu/eggs) and vegetables. If you don’t find it on their menu, request it as a special order.
  6. If the restaurant doesn’t do special orders, find an item on the menu that has protein, veggies and rice. Then ask the waiter to hold the rice and double the veggies.
  7. Salad’s are good if nothing else materializes. Drop the dressing and load up on olive oil/butter, pepper and some salt.
  8. Skip the dessert. Get a bowl of fruit (and top off with some whipped cream if you roll that way).

Summary: Harden the frac up and do what it takes!

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How I went from Fat to Fit in 10 Weeks

OK I have to agree that the title is a bit over the top. I wasn’t really ‘fat’ to start off with (just flabby with a broken elbow and wrist) and I’m not really ‘fit’ now… or at least not as fit as I’d like to be. That said I’ll try to list out what I ate and how I trained during the course of the past 2.5 months.

By the way, if you’re just tuning in, be sure to check out some background.

How and what did I eat?

  • I ate a 90% paleo/primal diet per guidelines from Mark Sisson/Robb Wolf and did Intermittent Fasting per the Leangains (Martin Berkhan) protocol. This had a huge part to play in the success of my leaning out. Richard Nikoley was another source of awesome information!
  • Total calories per day – Did not count. Best guess ~ 1500-2000 cals.
  • Number of meals – 2 (1-2pm and 8-9pm).
  • Protein ~ 150-180 grams per day.
  • Carbs – All from vegetables. At least 2 lbs of vegetables everyday.
  • FatsMostly saturated (coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut milk, butter/ghee etc.). Nuts were minimal.
  • I ate some form of protein ice cream/pudding/cake everyday (I’ve got about 10 delicious protein rich dessert recipes if anyone is interested).
  • Supplements: Fish oil, Multi-vitamin, Vitamin D3, Magnesium, Whey Protein
  • Beverages: 1 Cappuccino/coffee everyday. 4-5 liters of water everyday.
  • Cheat Meals: About every 10-14 days depending on when I started craving sugar.

What was my training like?

  • 5-6 days of training per week. Mostly 3-on-1-off schedule.
  • Strength training: 3-4 days/week (squats, deadlifts, presses, pull-ups, rows).
  • Conditioning: 3-4 days/week (tabata protocols, sprints, rowing, crossfit metcons).
  • Yoga: 2 days/week.
  • The longest distance I ran: 1 mile
  • The longest ‘cardio’ workout I did: 15 mins
  • Weekly routine: See sample below.

Monday:

  • Squats – 2-4 sets of 5 (AM)
  • Lower body assistance work (box jumps, front squats, step ups etc.) (AM)
  • 10-15 min Conditioning Workout (PM)

Tuesday:

  • Presses – 2-4 sets of 5 (AM)
  • Core work – planks, knees-to-elbows etc. (AM)
  • 10-15 min Conditioning Workout (PM)

Wednesday:

  • Yoga/Walking

Thursday:

  • Deadlifts – 2-3 sets of 5 (AM)
  • Dumbbell Rows – 3-5 sets of 6-10 (AM)
  • 5-10 min Conditioning Workout (PM)

Friday:

  • Bench Press – 3 sets of 5 (AM)
  • Weighted Pullups – 5 sets of 3 (AM)
  • Upper body assistance work (dips, towel pullups, rope climbs, ring pushups, dumbbell presses etc.) (AM)

Saturday:

  • 2 sessions of 10-15min Conditioning workouts (AM)

Sunday:

  • Yoga/Walking

Results:

  • Elbow fracture ~ 95% recovery
  • Wrist tendonitis ~ 90% recovery
  • Lower Body Strength – Maintained (I did lose some strength by week 7 but successfully regained it in the last 3 weeks).
  • Upper Body Strength – Maintained (I did lose some strength by week 7 but successfully regained it in the last 3 weeks).
  • Endurance – Considerable improvement
  • Range of Motion – Considerable improvement (Yoga works!)
  • Weight loss – Total 13 lbs in 10 weeks
  • Body Fat % – Visible improvement (See comparison pictures below)

Day 0                                                                            Day 70

Next Steps:

  • End leaning cycle: I’m comfortable with this level of leanness. Chasing lower than current body fat levels requires that I make some diet and health related sacrifices which I am not willing to make right now. Continuing to lean out will also result in affecting my athletic performance negatively which is not desirable.
  • Focus on performance: Specifically strength, strength endurance and speed.
  • Maintain food quality. Increase food quantity. Add-in starchy vegetables post workout for faster recovery.
  • Increase training volume (probably a 5 x 5 protocol) and hit each major body part at least twice a week (HFT)

Goals for Oct ’10:

  • Set PR for 400 m and 1600 m sprints.
  • Set PR for 250 m and 500 m row.
  • Set PR for Weighted Pull-up, Max Bodyweight Pullups and Deadlift.
  • Grip/forearm training everyday.
  • Sept PR for Max plank hold time.

Next Update: Last week of October ’10

Peace out.

11 things that make me want to pull my arm off…

… and beat you with it!

  1. When you think you can eat a whole pizza and burn it off by ‘doing the elliptical’ for 30 mins.
  2. When you ask if it’s better to do ‘cardio’ in the morning or evening when the last time you left the couch was 1982!
  3. When you say ‘Dude! That post on frequent carboloading leading to diabetes was amazing’… as you destroy that plate of cheesecake.
  4. When you say ‘You’ll be proud of me. I had a healthy snack – a fruit smoothie with 2 bananas, 2 cups of orange juice, 1 apple and 2 cups of grapes!’
  5. When you do a quarter squat and take pride in the weight you just moved.
  6. When you say you lost 10 lbs without any strength training and argue that all you lost was fat.
  7. When you eat like a 7 yr old school girl and complain that you can never put on mass.
  8. When you say ‘My dinner has to be all protein today. I’m going to order just lentils and beans!’
  9. When you accuse me of not eating ‘real food‘ because I said no to the pizza you offered me.
  10. When you tell me your body is unique and it needs grains and sugars to stay healthy.
  11. When you say ‘I don’t want any detailed workout program or diet. Just tell me how to tone up.’

But keep the questions coming ‘cos if you ain’t asking me dimwit questions I got no smart-ass answers!

All in good fun.

Take it easy this weekend.

Peace out.

Yoga 101

No health and fitness routine is complete without yoga. I’m not saying this because I’m Indian or because I’m not out of the closet yet, but because yoga is like a breath of fresh air to your suffocated body.

I generally recommend 3 days of lifting, some high intensity days and a couple of low intensity days. Yoga falls into the ‘low intensity’ activity category. Don’t get me wrong, yoga can be done at pretty intensities, but considering the rest of my week involves either tearing muscle tissue (strength training) or high rates of energy production (conditioning) the lower intensity version of yoga sits really well for me.

We all know that yoga has a long list of benefits and some of us have met yogis/yoginis doing some crazy shit like unsupported head stands and other feats we thought only The Mask could do. But what is in it for you and I – the average guy looking to get in shape?

  1. Yoga immensely improves joint health and range of motion (ROM). Yoga stretches out the right muscles for the right periods of time using proper inhalation/exhalation techniques which results in improving/restoring your range of motion. This is key for performance and general joint health.
  2. It helps in developing great core strength which is priceless for anyone interested in performance or even just walking around with a non-messed up lower back.
  3. It teaches you to focus on the task at hand. It forces you to be in the moment. Try doing yoga while you’re dreaming about something else – your body will lose control of posture and you look like a retard.
  4. Pranayama teaches you to control your breath. ‘Prāna’ stands for ‘breath of life’ and ‘āyāma’ stands for ‘restrain’ – Pranayama hence stands for restraining the breath of life or controlling one’s breath.
  5. Asanas teach you perfect posture, especially of the spine. We spend countless hours sitting and most of us either hyper extend or curve our spines which results in stress, pain, reduced ROM and injury.
  6. Yoga is the best way to get an awesome stretch. You can spend 15 minutes after every workout session stretching the muscles you worked but when you sum things up you’d have missed a dozen stretches. Yoga on the other hand stretches the entire body- from toes to tongue – in a very fluid but systematic way.
  7. Being a yoga instructor has perks.

Now I’m no yoga expert (which is pretty sad after seeing the picture above!) and have to try hard to not look like a weasel on wheels. But the important thing is that I’m trying and eventually will get pretty good at it. I realize that flexibility, balance and core strength don’t just show up one morning. It takes tonnes of patience, practice and control and that is exactly why I keep doing it more and more.

Aside from the fact that I do it because I suck at it,

  • Yoga is the only ‘stretching routine’ that makes me cry.
  • Yoga forces me to breathe deep which directly benefits me in everything else I do (squat, deadlift, presses, mas effort sprints/rows etc.)
  • The once or twice a week full body stretch leaves me rejuvenated and ready to kick some serious booty in my next workout.
  • I get injured a lot less after including yoga in my routine (stupid clumsy falls aside).
  • Yoga requires me to hold isometric postures for extended periods of time which complements the strength and speed moves I do during the rest of the week.
  • Most importantly it keeps reminding me that deep breathing and a calm mind makes all the difference in the world.

So what about someone with no past experience in yoga whatsoever? Where should he/she start?

  • In my very honest opinion, start with sun salutations. Surya Namaskara (literally meaning sun salutations) is a series of twelve asanas (poses) strung together so beautifully that you flow from one to the other. Sun salutations are designed such that your spine is alternately stretched forward and backward during each asana and your breathing (inhalation/exhalation) jives with it. They are extremely simple to learn and hence can be practiced in and come with a host of benefits from range of motion to breathing control to body awareness to strength.
  • The other option is to look for an good instructor.

I have to say here that there are many forms of yoga and each form has it’s own set of benefits. Try a few and find what works for you. As for me, Hatha yoga works wonders right now but Bikram yoga (yoga done at 105 F and 40% humidity) comes very strongly recommended by a friend and is the next item on my list.

As a side note, studies show that trainees who have mastered the art of getting piss drunk perform yoga moves with relative ease. Evidence in picture below.

What are your experiences with yoga? Any pointers for folks who have never tried it?

Peace.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Now if only people were able to look below their bellies!

When you absolutely need something, you will figure out ways to get it done. This has been true throughout human history and will continue to be true for ages to come. Be it figuring out how to make fire or finding a way to watch porn at work. Anything is possible and can be accomplished IF the need arises. Because our ancestors already figured out how to make fire and because helping you watch porn at work is currently not on the top of my to-do list, I’ll stick to helping you form a diet based on real foods.

We all have certain foods we eat and certain foods that we don’t. For example,

  • Vegetarians don’t eat animal products.
  • People allergic to nuts don’t eat nuts or foods containing nuts.
  • People with lactose intolerance don’t eat milk products.

Though these folks have these health/moral/religious constraints stopping them from eating certain foods, they still eat darn delicious meals every day! How? Shouldn’t people with greater constraints have lesser food choices and hence find it really hard to eat good food? This is where the necessity-invention thing comes into play.

A meat eater might think a vegetarian’s food life is pretty sad and a vegetarian might think a vegans food life is pathetic. But that isn’t true because people learn to cook delicious meals with whatever foods they can eat. Check out cookbooks for the meat lovers, for the vegans, for the celiacs, for the vegetarians and even for the fruitarians! Amazing isn’t it?!

Unfortunately all our meals for most of our lives have revolved around grains of some form or the other. Now this makes it impossible for us to even consider a meal without grains as a complete meal. I’m not denying that the change is hard. I had to struggle through it too. But the return for investment is so freakin awesome that is all worth it.

So what’s my point here?

  1. Making the change is the investment (time and effort).
  2. The investment is minimal (couple of weeks at most) considering the lifelong returns you get.

The Investment:

The first and most important step is to define your pantry. This is an example of how your pantry (refrigerator included) should look.

  • Spinach, mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower, red pepper, green onion, red onion, garlic, ginger, tomato, zucchini, asparagus, carrots, green beans, avocado
  • Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, cherry, orange, sweet potato
  • Chicken, wild salmon, tuna, sardines, grass-fed beef, omega-3 eggs
  • Shredded coconut, coconut milk, coconut oil/butter, macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, almond butter, olive oil, ghee/butter
  • Whole milk, unsalted cottage cheese, high quality cheese, 80% dark chocolate, coffee, tea, honey
  • Turmeric, cumin, chili flakes, oregano, cinnamon, salt, paprika (or other spices)
  • Rice, bread, pasta, oats, candy, chocolate bars, ice cream, soda
  • Medicine Cabinet: Whey protein, fish oil, multi-vitamin.

Assume you live in a house where only these items are available (that would be my house btw and you would be bloody strong and healthy if you lived in there!).

You’re thinking: “What?! This is all I have to make my meals with??”

I’m saying: “Damn!! You have ALL this to make your meals!”

I’ve listed 49 food items here. Considering all these items taste different and there is sweet, salty, spicy, tangy and bitter ingredients available to play with, there is no flippin way you can tell me this is not enough stuff for an awesome meal. Heck, even if you pick 10 random items from the list, put them in a pot and cook them with salt and pepper you will come up with something that tastes pretty awesome. (Trial before talk please!)

Trust me… once you set your mind that these are the only foods you will eat, you will come up with shockingly delicious recipes! The whole necessity-invention thing again. This article by Robb Wolf on Tem Ferriss’s blog will give you every bloody reason you need to stay away from grains and especially gluten. Very very highly recommended read.

The Return:

This WILL change your life! Food quality is so damn important it’s not funny. The minute you start eating real foods like you were meant to, your body will respond.

Try this for a couple of months. I’m saying…

  1. You will be fueling your body with top class ingredients which are brimming with all the essential vitamins and minerals and proteins and fiber and fats!
  2. You will lose weight without counting calories or weighing and measuring your food (assuming you don’t so something crazy like dump a cup of honey on everything you eat).
  3. Your energy will be up throughout the day. No more post-meal crashes.
  4. Your performance in your sport/activity will sky rocket.
  5. Your immune system will be rocking and you wouldn’t have to worry about the annoying coughing neighbor at work.
  6. You will likely reverse any chronic diseases (asthma, fatigue, PCOS, diabetes etc.) you are currently suffering from.

Worst case: This doesn’t work and you didn’t eat your favorite foods for ~ 8 weeks.

Best Case: You’re a brand new person – disease free, leaner, healthier, stronger and more energized!

Fair deal right?

Peace.

Note: Do not misconstrue the post to mean that I recommend being fruitarian or vegan. Because I don’t. Not in a million years.

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