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Encouraging a high protein diet and battling the cravings

I am someone who is naturally what I like to call a carbivore, my body wants and craves carbohydrates more than anything and so refusing them to my body does quite a few things to me such as fatigue, and a craving that I can only familiarise as similar to nicotine cravings.

Of course there are good carbs, and after a lot of battle with myself I’m pretty good at identifying which are good carbs and which aren’t, and limiting which I allow myself. There are those times, however, when after lowering your carbs for your fitness goals the cravings as I’ve mentioned start and you will crack with one big slip up. The important thing is to not give yourself a hard time about it, and just carry on and maybe accommodate for the indulgence in the rest of the weeks diet.

Well last night I cracked. One personal sized meat feast pizza, chicken kickers, and potato wedges from Domino’s. It was a delight, I did feel pretty guilty after it having realised I had gone 600 calories over my daily allowance. But a quick bit of Math and I knew that I had to just eat 100 calories less each day for the rest of this week to keep myself under the weekly calorie goal which isn’t a huge amount of adjustment for each day.

Some people like to be extremely strict and then have one day out of a week which is a total blowout, eat whatever they like but then back to the strict diet. For me this doesn’t work, because I am much more likely to indulge more than on just one day. A stressful/busy day at work or having no energy is my usual battles which lead me into a cheat meal, and this can happen 2-3 times a week for me so I need to adjust my calories around it for the rest of the week.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some crappy food, because it does taste great because its often full of sugar and salt unlike freshly cooked home made chicken and rice. As long as we/I/you learn to have a weekly calorie target and to stick to it then we can give ourselves a break, it’s more important to have hit the target over a week period than to hate yourself after one day slip up.
Why is that? Because we would weigh, or look at ourselves in a comparison to the previous week, not daily.

Whilst trying to avoid lots of these bad carbs which have a crap ton of calories, I have often had difficulty with hitting my daily protein goals. There are a lot of theories out there that suggest consuming 0.8-1g of protein for every lb of weight. For me, this would be anywhere between 128-160g of protein, which is a hell of a lot to get down your throat. For those goals your diet would consist mainly of meats, which can basically just become a real effort, particularly when you’re on a cut as I am it doesn’t leave much room for carbs or fats.
I don’t follow these guidelines. Instead I attach to the golden 100 rule (I’ve just coined it, deal with it) whereby 100 grams of protein is the daily target whether on a cut or a bulk or maintaining. There has been multiple studies as old as 20 years which show no significant differences of muscle growth or muscle fibre changes in general between consuming 0.7g protein per lb or 1g(and higher) protein per lb. Often the recommendation is 0.7g of protein, which for me would equate to around 115g of protein to consume daily.

Often I do go over 100g of protein in a day, but I stick to 100 and I know I can always hit it and provide by body with enough protein to repair muscles. Now it just takes training consistency from me to hit my goals.

One of the ways I have decided to try and make protein consumption even easier is to optimise, just the other day I put an order through MuscleFood for some high protein ready meals for my work lunches, some Muscle Mousse for those chocolate cravings in the evening, and they even threw in a free loaf of high protein bread which will be handy when I’m desperate for some carbs, at least I’ll be getting a hefty protein hit.
If you’re looking for an easy way to get some easy protein into your diet, consider some of these options I’ve taken. If you click to go to MuscleFood through this link*, you can also get yourself a free loaf of high protein bread, another option is four free chicken breasts, result!

(*Full disclosure: Use my link to get yourself a freebie, I also get a kick back if you do! Thanks)

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Putting together a new workout regime

With all the tips, workout programmes, and magazines like ‘Mens Health’, it can be rather difficult to put together a new workout regime that will not only work best for you but also get you the results you are aiming for. Thankfully over the past couple of years dipping in and out of different training regimes I have learnt a lot through both failure and success.

I recently moved into a new area (London), and setup a new gym membership. In my first session I pulled out my phone to check my iOS notes to find a regime that I did previously earlier in the year. It only took a few sessions with it when I felt like it was no longer optimum for me due to various reasons.

Such as having both the proper time, and energy. I realised that the workout regime I was doing took up way too much time. I am a fan of the full body training which uses every body part in some way during each session, rather than having isolation days (which are for competitive bodybuilders – not the average joe) but due to my previous injuries I refrain from any exercise/lift that puts excessive pressure onto my lower back or spine compression.

I realised that I had way too many exercises within one workout, it was a combination of compound and isolation movements to ensure I hit everything but it was just way too many to complete within a reasonable time.

Target to have a routine which takes up to an hour to complete from first lift to last. As particularly when cutting or maintaining your weight, you just do not have enough energy to last longer without overdoing it. This became my issue as I am only eating enough calories to do a cut.

As I’ve said I was doing too many movements, when I could reduce this amount by moving into compound movements where possible. A lot of compound movements I simply cannot do, or will not do until I am 100% certain all my back injury issues have repaired. So it comes down to only needing 5 particular movements which hit these five areas: Quads, Hams & Glutes, Push muscles, Pull muscles, and Core.

I have been able to find suitable quad exercises that are still somewhat compound movements (in that they use more than just one particular muscle which is an isolation) and are still safe for me through just trying things out. So each session involves either a Sumo squat, or a lunge with kettle bells. I alternate these between workouts, as it keeps things interesting and stabilisation muscles will also get some working, such as with my lunges I notice muscles around my knees and even glutes being used which are obviously a tad weaker and are catching up.

The hams & glutes get hit in one movement, weighted hip raises. Currently this is the same per each workout, as I am yet to find another solution that hits these well and is safe. I shall possibly alternate between a variant of this in using a bench under my shoulder blades to give more range of motion but I do want to find a decent variant for this at some point, for now I’m going well adding on weight, and will get into using barbells for this for some further weight.

Then there are two main push movements, the classic compound movement of the flat bench with barbell, and an overhead press. By keeping my core tight and no swinging involved the overhead press is safe enough for me to do, I am switching into kettle bells for as much natural movement as possible with these too. In both these movements secondary muscles get used like biceps, triceps, shoulders etc.

Time to pull something, which for me is dumbbells laid over an incline bench; I can’t do the classic bent over rows as that puts extreme pressure on my lower back. The alternated pull is Pull-downs, nice and simple. Plenty of work in the back for both of these.

Included in my Core category, is both the front in the abdominals with cable crunches and the lower back with hyperextensions holding a plate. It’s important for me to strengthen this area as much as possible, the lower back muscles are particularly weak as any exercise on them makes them scream in rage at me and often needs a long icing after a session.

Looking to simplify your workout? Try some of my suggestions, they are already working very well for me. In and out within an hour at the gym, remember to warm up at the start, and a nice stretch when home – feeling stronger already even whilst cutting.

A lot of credit goes to NerdFitness for a great post on how to create your own workout with very simple advice.

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Becoming the strongest version of myself through strength training

If you’ve looked around the blog, you’ll notice a couple references to someone I consider an inspiration, the man is called Elliot Hulse, who is a former olympic strongman and in recent years runs a highly successful open gym, personal training, and philosophy YouTube channels to share his wisdom.

I call it wisdom, because it is information that is down to earth and highly logical. I am a logical thinker, at least I hope I am, so I attach to those who are outspoken and have strong belief systems in their area of expertise. I do not mean religious views by belief systems, but that’s for another topic.

I have toyed with strength training for a few years now, during which have come to terms with my pre-existing flexibility and spinal issues through injury and rehabilitation, and have found it to be the only reliable and true method of creating a strong mind. I have dipped in and out sadly, likely due to having a very relaxed student lifestyle for most of that time. Now that I am in a more consistent place in my life, I have returned to the variety of heavy objects to lift and pull and push.

The utter concentration required to have good form and technique in order to not injure yourself (which for me, is a daily battle) with the ultimate goal of moulding your body into an aesthetically pleasing one does a hell of a lot more than that, and for those who take it seriously past a point of obnoxious testosterone it in fact becomes a form of meditation. At least it does in my view. Being strong has both physical and psychological meaning, the latter being the most important, there are those (such as Elliot Hulse) who use this meditation technique of striving to be physically strong in order to guide their philosophy into something literal and meaningful to an every day persons life.

My focus is to be as mentally strong as I possible can be, being someone who has dealt with anxiety and panic attacks for the past four years or so, this is the single most important thing in my life at this time, to be completely “sane” so that my future is an untroubled one. The commitment to becoming physically strong, keeps my mind in focus and gives it one thing to put every thought into for an hour and a half three nights a week, releasing it from every other worry, tiring it out, meditating.

I may begin to share my endeavours through the blog, tracking my progress but only now and again. Until next time.

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Frustrating FIFA

Now I’m a football fan, I enjoy the sport I really do. But it is by far the most utterly frustrating sport in the history of mankind. I hate it. But I love it. The featured image for this post is a shot of the newspaper I read today, slating on Arsene Wenger for Arsenal’s poor performance against Chelsea at the weekend. But I’m not here to debate like a football politician, that would be stupid, and a very long post.

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Arsenal lost out at the weekend to Chelsea 2-0, this was a very amusing news story on the Monday.

The same frustration that I feel when your team agonisingly loses out on a technicality or pure bad luck even exists within video games. The most dominant football game out there, FIFA, makes me more angry than any other game I have played. My stubbornness to accept the fact that I have lost online matches due to the game being a total %$&%$^! pushed me to completely give up on the franchise’s last iteration, but I have returned for FIFA 15.

The starting period of the titles is always an unsure one, you can win quite literally a dozen games in a row if you play it right, and then lose near the same amount in a row, as I am beginning to find out despite repeated roster changes of my Ultimate Team.

Now bear with me on this, and I can’t be totally 100% sure, but I’m adamant that the game is designed to be just like the real world of football. Full of drama. Full of frustration. Maybe it’s just the feeling you get as the player on your end, but each loss feels like something has been stolen from you, a piece of you drops off with every loss and so does, nearly, buttons and parts of your joypad as you squeeze it in utter angst.

I’m certain the game has code that fixes game results, a bit like the Italian league. Screw you FIFA. I’ll play you again tomorrow, though.

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Being 20 Something Podcast

Over the past year and a half, I have been an avid listener of the entire catalogue of The Ricky Gervais Show, not just the podcast and audiobooks, but where the show began in early 2000’s on the London based radio station XFM. I still listen to the shows daily, including right now as I type this, as for some reason it doesn’t get boring and I don’t tire from the comedy even after having heard the same jokes and observations dozens of times over.

I find that pure audio has much more repetitive value, like Music, than anything you can watch. I suppose it’s because the eyes are more likely to wander, whereas hearing is effortless. Bit of Science there for you.

More recently, I have replaced the entire catalogue I kept on my iPhone of the show with a handpicked selection of Podcasts that are active now. I never find the time to listen to the radio, but a lot of these podcasts are compressed versions of a hosted radio show. On-demand versions of which, are much more enticing to me.

It’s this consistent listening that has sprouted a desire to dip into this media form myself. I had been considering it for a long time, but with no other significant other to cooperate with on such a project, my recent move to London changed that when my old college friend Ruth (Living Gingerishly) suggested it. I was sold instantly and we’ve been brainstorming ever since.

We have had a few scheduling issues which we’re trying to iron out, it may be a show done over the internet at least for the early stages just to get going, as just starting will get the flow going. One eye and one ear can be kept on the project by visiting the 20-Somethings website, that’s the name by the way, I will of course also update on this here blog as that progresses.

I’m just watching the footy, whilst listening to The Ricky Gervais Show. They’re currently discussing using a pair of tweezers to masturbate, related to a fact about the worlds smallest penis. Happy Sunday.