Getting Invested with a “21 Day Challenge”

 

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Hey everyone, during my “Pilot” post I mentioned that I was going to cover mental, physical, and financial investment. And, in my “Week 2 Progress Report” I mentioned we were going to cover my “21 Day Challenge.” Well, on this very snowy North Carolina day, I figured today was a great day to discuss the mental and physical investment of transforming your body and eating healthier and how that can be developed through a “21 Day Challenge.”

The first thing I want to point out is that this is A “21 Day Challenge” and NOT THE “21 Day Challenge.” There are many out there with many different rules, but this is the one that I AM DOING and one that I developed on my own. The reason you’ll notice that there are a fair amount of 21 Day Challenges or a lot of other programs that key in on the number, “21” is that it is commonly believed (not correctly, mind you) that if you do something for 21 days, that activity becomes a habit. To learn more about the myth of this habit and how to actually form good habits just in life in general, check out this Forbes article.
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Still, 21 days or three weeks is a good extended period for you to make changes and a good period of time for things to come up where you have to say “no” and stay committed and remind yourself of your goals both short and long term. If you do something for three weeks every day, you’re more likely to stay committed to it. That’s your mental or psychological investment. Your thought will be something like, “well, I’ve done it for this long…might as well keep doing it.” The physical commitment is that you’d be taking in the same calories or going to the gym day after day for 21 days so your body just gets used to working out and your body just gets used to a consistent caloric intake. It becomes your routine. Humans by nature love routines and are creatures of habit. A very easy example of this is when someone asks you, “what’s your drink?” Everyone has a drink and everyone has a story behind why that is. We want to repeat positive life experiences and forget negative life experiences.

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Okay, okay. I know, just get to what the “21 Day Challenge” is, Cal! I got it, I got it. Here is what I’ve been doing and the rules I’ve been living by since January 2, 2018 and what I plan to be doing all the way through April 1, 2018:

  1. No Soda
  2. No Fruit Juice
  3. No Coffee (can’t say “No Caffeine” because some of the supplements I’m taking have caffeine in them)
  4. No Alcohol
  5. Only consume water (or soda water if you must) when drinking fluids. Liquid enhancers like MIO are acceptable. DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES!!!
  6. No Meals after 9 PM
  7. No Meals before 5 AM (notice that this is ideally eight hours without food. Ever wonder why they call it BREAKFAST? You’re supposed to “break” the “fast” while you’ve been sleeping. Check out the Wikipedia page if you don’t believe me.)
  8. 16 ounces of water before every meal and 16 ounces of water during/after every meal
  9. Get an hour workout in (or an hour-long equivalent workout in) everyday for 21 days.
  10. If you must snack, try to do it before 9 PM and only do it 2-3 times throughout the day. Make sure it’s not over an appropriate serving size. ***On the nights where I may work past 9 PM, I have a homemade casein protein shake with a homemade casein protein bar…and yes, I’ll have a video on how to make both in the near future!***

Okay, so there you go. For me, I’ll be following all of the nutrition rules for the full 90 days. For the working out, just 21 days in a row. You need rest days, one-to-two ideally. You need recovery days so that you can continue to improve your workouts, but working out for the first 21 days is one way to get in the habit of getting yourself moving for 60 minutes a day.

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Week 2 Progress Report

Hey everyone, welcome back to “Rebuilding Rome!

The week two progress report is in and the results are encouraging and expected after eating for a full week after doing my juice cleanse. My weight stayed pretty much the same, as I’m at 173.6 pounds as of today and I was at 173.2 pounds last Monday. This is two weeks in and no one said this was going to be easy. I’ve done this before and I know that the first month can be the most discouraging in terms of you are working really hard with your diet and exercise and you may not be getting the exact results you want in the mirror, on the scale, or both. The key to remember is that this is a process and you have to trust it. Enjoy the journey. Hopefully, your workouts are getting better and you are gradually increasing the intensity which will in turn help you burn more calories and fat and the results will gradually be in your favor as well as long as your diet is on track.

I’m going to try my best to spread this week’s posts out a bit more evenly than last week’s and I’m going to cover the topics of my own personal “21 Day Challenge” and what that looks like and covering the two 80/20 rules.

Have a good one!

Supplementing your Diet and Workout

Let me start off this post by saying that I am actually not a big fan of supplements. In my opinion, the only supplements that you should take are a daily multivitamin and a low-calorie protein shake within 30 minutes of your resistance training workouts to help replenish and repair those muscles to get the most out of your workouts. With that being said, I’ve taken several different types of supplements in the past and usually the reason for that was that I had a certain fitness goal in mind. If you’re aiming to maintain where you’re at, then I’d stick with just the multivitamin and post-workout protein shake.

The reason that I don’t like to use too many dietary supplements normally is that I believe you should be fueling your body with the right food daily and you should be depending on your natural metabolism to get you through a workout. People can become dependent on supplements to get them through a workout and that is not what we want. It’s as much a mental dependence as a physical one and that is why I agree with most supplement companies when they tell their consumers on the bottles of these supplements to cycle off the supplements for at least a month after using them for eight weeks. For me, I’m only going to be doing my supplement stack for a month instead of two because, again, I do not want to become dependent on the supplements for my results. They are called SUPPLEMENTS for a reason. They are designed to SUPPLEMENT your diet and workouts, not to make up your diet and workouts. For another view on the love-hate relationship on workout supplements, check out this post by Fit Dad Nation.

Okay, without further adieu, here is what my supplement stack looks like:

supplement_stack
From left to right: Cellucor NO3 Chrome Nitric Oxide Pump Amplifier, MusclePharm Combat Powder Post-Workout Shake, GNC Mega Men Sport Multivitamin, MusclePharm Assault Pre-Workout, EVLUTION NUTRITION TRANS4ORM Thermogenic Fat Burner.

Okay, great, so now you can see everything I’m taking. But when do you take them and what does each do? Glad you asked, I’m about to break it down for you starting with the nitric oxide booster.

Cellucor NO3 Chrome Nitric Oxide Pump Amplifier: So, the first thing you should know is that when you take a nitric oxide booster, you are not actually taking nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a gas and I’m not about to inhale a bunch of nitric oxide like a kid inhaling a bunch of helium from a balloon inside the bouncey house at the local neighbors kid’s birthday party. Instead, I’m going to go ahead and take two of these little pills to help boost the levels of nitric oxide in my blood which in turn is supposed to help muscle growth, strength, and performance. Luckily, Cellucor NO3 Chrome Nitric Oxide Pump Amplifier contains Arginine Nitrate and Citruline Malate. Arginine and citruline are both amino acids that help in muscle recovery. Forms of arginine are found in a lot of nitric oxide boosters because there have been studies that show arginine supplementation can increase the amount of nitric oxide in your body. However, some people don’t have any reactions to arginine. This article goes into how citruline may be a better option for attempting to increase your nitric oxide levels. So, my nitric oxide booster has both. I take the nitric oxide booster only on my resistance training days about 60-90 minutes before my workout. Again, not depending on these supplements for my results, just looking to them for a little extra help.

MusclePharm Combat Powder: MusclePharm is probably my favorite supplement company. They make a great, safe product and they used to be the official sponsor of the UFC. The reason I like the Combat Powder is that it has 25 grams worth of five different proteins that fuel your muscles throughout the day. Additionally, it has BCAAs and Glutamine to help your muscle recovery further and it is only 130 calories per serving. In my opinion, using MusclePharm Combat Powder as your pre-or-post-workout shake is a no brainer.

GNC Mega Men Sport Multivitamin: I know, I know…GNC is overpriced. That may be, but this multivitamin is great if your training and want your daily vitamin to give you a little something extra. GNC Mega Men Sport gives you your daily vitamin, plus it has a good amount of amino acids to help with recovery and antioxidants to help protect your body from free radicals. There’s nothing ground-breaking or crazy about this vitamin, but it helps supplement your overall health, athletic performance, and your immune system.

MusclePharm Assault: Assault for years was voted best pre-workout formula on multiple body building sites. It still finds itself in top 10 categories all-across the internet, but it’s one of the most studied formulas on the planet and since MusclePharm is a 100% safe company, it doesn’t get rave reviews from muscle heads as they would prefer a stimulant-rich pre-workout that makes them feel jittery. Not for me. I prefer the scientific research and the guarantee of a safe supplement. You can’t go wrong with MusclePharm Assault to fuel your workout. Make sure to take one dose about 20-30 minutes before your resistance training workouts.

EVLUTION NUTRITION TRANS4ORM: I usually make it a mission to not invest in supplements that use all caps and replace letters for numbers in their product spelling. There is something rather tacky and sixth-grade-AIM-away-message-status feeling about it all. With that said, I did my research on EVLUTION NUTRITION TRANS4ORM and it constantly got good reviews and it’s a safe product. If you’re noticing a recurring theme of using safe products, it’s because in the past I took a fat burner that was not safe. While I remained fine and the product worked really really well, I was naive and young and the product has since been taken off the market. You have to be SUPER careful with fat burners. DO NOT depend on them to burn your fat for you. Your best bet is to find products through bodybuilding.com and GNC as they will carry safe products. Work hard and take two of these pills with breakfast. This fat burner acts as a thermogenic, which works well to heat your body up to burn more calories and keep your metabolism up. But, approach fat burners with extreme caution. I like to take these in the morning with breakfast so I have the whole day to use up all of it’s nutrients and not have trouble sleeping. Would NOT recommend taking these at night time. Please use responsibly.

Well, there you go. There’s a glimpse of how to go about stacking supplements. There are definitely others you can use and there are ones you can choose not to use. Again, these supplements are best for MY GOALS. Be sure to check out the Week 2 Progress Report tomorrow here on “Rebuilding Rome.”

You are what you Eat!

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It’s a total cliche title for the post, I know, but it’s TRUE! Here’s another tried but true saying, “you get out of it what you put into it.”

Now that I finished my first week with a good base, I wanted to start developing healthier eating habits. My diet in the past hasn’t been terrible, but my biggest issue was portion control. Following up in a close second was late night cravings. So, I identified the problem and went out to find a solution. The easy answer to this was meal prep. Meal prep is an awesome concept and I do know how to cook (quite well, I might add), but I also know I wouldn’t enjoy cooking and trying to calculate how much fat, carbs, calories, etc. was in each of the meals I was making. Too much math for me. So, I let someone else do it. Enter BistroMD.

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Just a snapshot of the meals I get to eat on a day-to-day basis!

What is BistroMD? BistroMD is one of those meal-prep food delivery companies. Why I chose this one? It was the right one FOR ME. BistroMD believes in “eating better, not less.” Although, I am eating substantially less that I previously have, but that’s probably a good thing. Remember, it’s all about moderation, not restriction. Anyway, the founders of BistroMD are a husband and wife duo. Dr. Caroline Cederquist and Ed Cederquist wanted to develop a weight-management program that didn’t sacrifice taste for nutritional quality. They go by “the foodie & the M.D.” and I love their concept. Dr. Cederquist studied bariatrics, which is the study of medical weight management. Dr. Cederquist’s extensive work with patients and knowledge of bariatrics is what created the nutritional foundation for BistroMD. Ed Cederquist is the foodie and CEO. Ed came up with the idea of combining his wife’s nutritional expertise with his love for food and BistroMD was born. BistroMD hires nutritionists to come up with menus that have the right balance of macronutrients for healthy weight-loss. Ed and Caroline emphasize (and this is something I 100% agree with) that BistroMD is not a diet, but a healthy lifestyle change. Once, the menus are made, the BistroMD chefs go ahead and make the dishes and Ed is often in the kitchen to make sure that the food tastes good too. The concept they have really is genius.

Additionally, BistroMD comes up with a menu just for you. And the best part, you can edit it. You can change out the food for other delicious substitutes on a week-to-week basis to fit your food preferences. Each meal varies in calories, but on average it comes in around 300 calories per meal and I’m on a plan where I get 20 meals sent to me a week. BistroMD builds in a “My Night” where you get a structured break from your plan. Note: this does NOT mean pig out and eat everything in sight. It means you can go out to a restaurant and eat something different and maybe something a bit bigger. I wouldn’t advise having 20 wings and four slices of pizza. That is a bit much. The program costs about $200 a week, so that averages to $10/per meal and the first week is about $130. Again, you get out of it what you put into it.

Be sure to check out my post tomorrow where I go over all of the supplements that I am taking with my food and workouts to get maximum results!

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Week One Progress Report

Hey everyone, welcome back to “Rebuilding Rome!

Thanks for checking back in with me through week one after my juice cleanse. In one week I’ve lost 9.4 pounds and I feel great! I ate today for the first time and it’s been really justifying to eat smaller portions and feel just as full as when I had larger meals prior to my juice cleanse.

In the video, I go over my week one progress, answer a few questions I’ve received concerning videos in the future and when to weigh yourself, interviewing people in the field of nutrition, fitness, and health, and addressing what is to come in this week’s posts.

Enjoy!

Workout Gear Essentials

Hey guys, since we are still in week one of “Rebuilding Rome,” I figured it’d make sense to make a post about your workout gear essentials.

When you decide that you’re going to go ahead and start working out regularly, you’re going to need to go ahead and get some things you might not already have.

So, in the above pictures I’ve included what I need to get through a workout and I’ll go through each of them with you. The picture on the left includes each outfit that I workout in. I personally have six (6) workout outfits, which is on the higher side, though I’m sure I have some friends that have more. I would say the minimum needed is three (3). Now, you don’t need these outfits color coordinated and everything like I do in my picture. You just need something that fits right and is good to move around in. How many outfits you have or get will largely determine on how often you do your laundry and how often you workout. I do my laundry once a week and I try to workout six days a week, so for me, six outfits are perfect. What you wear to a workout may not seem like a super important thing, but as Deion Sanders once said, “You look good, you feel good. You feel good, you play good. You play good, they pay good.”

For the photo on the right, it includes the rest of my essentials. In there you’ll see my gym bag, my fitness tracker, my Master Lock, my phone armband, my shaker bottle, my headphones, and my shoes.

If you’re going somewhere to workout, (ie: a gym), then you’re going to need a gym bag. Which one you get is up to you. My sister got me an Arizona State University gym bag as a present one year and it’s pretty awesome. I keep my wallet, phone, and keys in there as well as my ab wheel, protein powder, and shaker bottle.

Now, if you’re bringing a gym bag to the gym, please bring a lock. It truly shocks me how many people throw their personal belongings in an open locker and do not lock them. That’s just stupid. Sorry if you’re one of those people, but it’s true.

I already went into my Fitbit Charge 2 in my previous post, “Day One,” and I will touch briefly upon it here. The Fitbit Charge 2 is a pretty simple fitness tracker to use that I really enjoy using. The app is great and is available in the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. It counts your steps, monitors your heart rate, monitors your sleep, tracks all different kinds of workouts, counts floors you’ve climbed in a day, calculates calories burned…and so much more.

The next thing pictured in the image on the right is the VUP Wrist Phone Holder. Frankly, all workout armbands are so similar it really doesn’t matter which one you get…but I chose this one because it can rotate 180 degrees and has a wristband option, which I have. It also allows me to keep my LifeProof case on my Google Pixel, which is an added plus.

A shaker bottle is useful for a couple things. Basically, its for any powdered drink you decide to supplement your workout with. We’ll go more in-depth about supplements and supplementing your workout in a future post soon. It can also be your water bottle if you want it to be. My brother got me a sweet Sun Devil shaker bottle for Christmas and I love it.

Now, to the most important piece of gear. Your shoes. The fit of your shoes and the type is so important for the quality of workout you are going to get. For me, I wear the Asics Gel Kayano 24’s. They offer a lot of support and are good for off-road and on-road training. They are great for flat-footed runners, which I am.
The final item in the image on the right is my Plantronics BackBeat Fit Wireless Bluetooth Headphones. You can find them for around $50 on the web. I’ve searched far and wide for good workout headphones and it hasn’t been an easy search. They’re not the coolest looking and not the best sounding, but they allow full range of motion, they are simple to use, and I’ve had no hardware issues with them. I did a little hack with mine and bought some Yurbuds covers and put a small slit in them and fit them over my BackBeat Fit buds and I now have great sound. It amazes me the amount of runners I see without wireless headphones still today. I get so annoyed with the wire when I’m running and it affects your running form. Trust me, getting wireless bluetooth headphones is a wise investment. If you’re interested in the other ones that I tried and didn’t enjoy, Connect with Me!

My Workout Playlist
Running to music at a louder volume and at a faster pace has shown to increase a runner’s speed and heart rate.

Obviously, if you’re going to wear headphones, then you’re going to need music to listen to. I personally only like to listen to music when I go for a run, so this is my workout playlist. It can be easy to get tired of your running playlist, so try to update it every now and then. Find music that has a tempo of 140 beats per minute or so, as studies show that your speed tends to increase when your music is at a faster pace.

Well, there you go! Those items are what I would consider the essentials when it comes to gear. Make sure to check back in on Monday for my week one progress report. It’ll recap the completion of my juice cleanse and we’ll compare the Day One body statistics to Week One’s body statistics.

Day One

Before
Day one of my body transformation. (In desperate need of a tan.)

So, today was day one. I hate day one.

In the past when I’ve tried to get back into my healthy lifestyle, I’ve kicked it off with a five-day juice cleanse. This time will be no different.

And right off the bat I want to say that you have to make sure you are doing the juice cleanse the right way. By “right way” I mean that you do the cleanse the way it was intended to be done. A juice cleanse floods your body with vitamins and minerals to rid the body of all of the toxins it has gained through you shoving that vending machine cinnamon roll down your gullet. Don’t worry, I’m not judging you, we’ve all indulged at one point in our lives.

What a juice cleanse is NOT meant for is losing weight. Yes, you will lose weight when you do a juice cleanse, but that is just a bonus. The juice cleanse is intended to motivate you to eat healthier and to reset your body. You’re metabolism will get rebuilt and there’s a good chance you’ll experience a heightened mood and deeper sleep. You’ll also start to develop withdrawal headaches from sugar and caffeine during days three-through-five and yes, you’re going to become new best friends with your bathroom. Don’t get me wrong, the weight loss is great (I lost 10 pounds while doing my first one and eight pounds when I did my second one). The juice cleanse is simply a jump start to helping you achieve your nutritional and physical goals.

Now, as far as where I go to do mine and what you should do during the cleanse is up to you. For me, I’m a little extreme. I did my first two juice cleanses through Nekter Juice Bar headquartered in Santa Ana, CA. I became familiar with Nekter when a college buddy took me there after a night of drinking in Scottsdale, AZ. Nekter gives instructions to pretty much follow the juice cleanse as is, but if you do get hungry (um, who wouldn’t?) then they allow you to have a handful of almonds or half of an avocado as a snack. I never did that. As far as exercise goes, they said if you do any exercising then you should limit yourself to light cardio. I didn’t do any exercising during my first two cleanses, but I am going to go ahead and do that this time.

For this cleanse, I decided I wanted to go somewhere local. A Clean Juice had just opened up about five minutes from my house in Morrisville, NC…so I decided to check it out. Clean Juice got it’s start in Huntersville, NC (about 20 minutes from Charlotte, NC) and now has over 90 locations in 13 states. The price of the juice cleanse was fair (anything in the $200-$250 range is standard) and so I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. Now, Clean Juice actually suggests that if you drink a morning coffee, to continue to do so during the cleanse as to avoid getting the withdrawal headaches. I’m going to politely disagree with Clean Juice here because the whole point of a cleanse is to rid your body of the toxins. Eventually, the headaches will subside. Please don’t take over the counter medications to relieve your headaches, you’re just reintroducing drugs into your system that you’re trying to flush out. Clean Juice also says that you can continue your normal exercise routine when it comes to working out, but to be smart while doing so. I guess I’m okay with those instructions, but when you’re doing a cleanse you don’t feel like doing much of anything. Kudos to the person in my hot yoga class who did a whole 45 minute session and didn’t eat for a whole week. You are a freak of nature and I admire you.

You would think that a five day juice cleanse would be enough, right? Not for me. Day one actually doesn’t consist of any juice for me. In fact, no sustenance at all. Day one for me included an hour on the elliptical and drinking nothing but water. Essentially, I add an extra day to my cleanse and hydrate with water the whole first day.


As for the actual numbers of where I stand, here’s a snapshot: Day_One_Statistics

As you can see, I have a goal weight of 160 pounds. I’m currently 182.6 pounds, so I’ve got 90 days to lose roughly 22.6 pounds. As evidenced by the image, I have a Fitbit. Now, a Fitbit isn’t a required piece of gear, but I would definitely recommend getting some sort of fitness tracker as it helps keep all of your daily stats organized in an app on your phone, tablet, or computer. More specifically, I have a Fitbit Charge 2 and it is perfect for what I want and what I need. In a perfect world, you would wear the fitness tracker on your non-dominant wrist as it gives more accurate readings, but I have a couple of nice watches I like to wear, so I wear my Charge 2 on my dominant right wrist.

If you do get a Fitbit and you use the app, the home screen is a dashboard that looks similar to the image above. One of the options is to log your weight, but it also additionally adds the option of logging your body fat percentage. I looked up how to calculate body fat percentage and it’s not the easiest process. If you’ve ever been to a decent gym and had a good personal trainer, they will know how to do it or they will have this tool which is WAY easier, but just slightly less accurate:

OMRON Fat Loss Monitor
A fat loss monitor like this one isn’t as accurate as calculating body fat percentage yourself, but gives you a good indicator of where you’re at.

A couple months ago I went ahead and bought an OMRON Fat Loss Monitor just to get a ballpark of where my body fat percentage was and where my body mass index (BMI) was. Don’t buy anything that’s above $50. Currently, my body fat is at 18.5% which isn’t terrible, but isn’t great either. My BMI is 27.8, which puts me in the overweight range, but then again you shouldn’t read TOO MUCH into BMI.

So there it is. Day one is in the books and I’ve got my initial readings and a good understanding of where I need to get to in the next 89 days. Wish me luck!