Friday, December 23, 2011

Get out of your Comfort Zone!

No body likes doings they aren't good at. That's a simple fact. Especially when you're training yourself it can be easy to tend to avoid the things you hate/suck at doing. Some people don't like running, others aren't fond of weight training. I believe it's important to incorporate the things we aren't very good at into our routines because it forces us to react and adapt to new / uncomfortable situations and it builds mental toughness. There's nothing better for your self confidence that crushing a workout you would have deemed impossible earlier on.

I would recommend at least twice a week incorporate your most disliked exercises into a workout and tough it out. Give it 4-5 weeks and you'll be surprised at how your body is adapting to the new stimuli. If you don't like running, take one day this week and run a block or a mile longer than you have before. Force yourself out of your comfort zone and push yourself. You can't truly know your limits unless you find them once in a while. Always remember to be safe first and foremost. If you're lifting heavy, lift with a spotter. Common sense is king.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Little History about Myself. (Story behind my decision to join Pararescue written 1-21-2010)

I figured I'd share a little backstory about myself on here to let you guys know who I am. This was written 1-21-2010.

I haven't always been a big kid, for a long time I was skinny as a rail. My distaste for physical activity at the time, and a insatiable appetite have left me where I am now. I'm about 220 as I write this. While that might sound like alot to some of you I used to be 300-315. Years of no exercise and eating whatever I wanted to left me feeling sick most of the time, and dampered most of my social life throughout middle/high school.

When I finally got out of school I really didn't look into the future much.. I guess I wasn't the most motivated of people, but due to unforeseen family circumstances I have had to remain here and help out for the last 3 years. I don't mind living with my family still, but it's given me alot of time to think about what I want to do with my life.. which brings me to my point. I've decided that I'm going to become a Air Force Pararescueman. While this sounds a bit drastic for the normal "fat guy finds his higher calling which allows him to do what he loves while maintaining a level of fatness" let me explain..

At the end of 2007 when I was becoming a legal adult "yay".. I started getting alot of mail from the military about joining up. At the time I shrugged it off because I wasn't looking for something like that, and I just ignored the calls and letters for the time being. It slowly died down as the year progressed and I put it into the back of my mind while I focused on other stuff (online gaming). Towards the middle of 2007 I decided that I was tired of being in generally poor overall shape.. and I began to change my habits around with the help of my Step-dad. I started eating right for the most part, drinking mostly water.. and occasionally working out. It didn't take long for me to start feeling better and I decided that I was going to stick with it. By the end of 2007 I had dropped about 30lbs and was sticking to it for the most part.

In 2007 I was working for a cleaning company, and I wasn't very happy with the job. I started to think about what I wanted to do with my life and started to consider the military as a possible option. January 2008 came around and I decided that I would go talk to a Marine Corps recruiter.. (yes it was the dress blues with the sword commercial). I weighed 269lbs and couldn't do more than 2 push-ups when I went in there, and he made it clear I would have to really up my game to make it in the military. I still lacked the hardcore motivation to make myself do things on a daily basis, but I was making myself do more, it just wasn't enough. I hit a wall around the end of 2008 and I couldn't seem to make myself do what I knew was right. Things stayed this way for months untill April 2009.

April 2009 was the first time I'd heard about airsoft on a large scale, I'd known about the cheap walmart guns for a while but never got into it much. My friend Jonathon (Apollo on Airsoft Ohio) told me there was a game in April that he was attending and wanted to me to go with him. We had no idea that Crimson Dawn 2 would be as much fun as it was. Ever since that day I've been hooked on airsoft. It was a fun hobby and great exercise.. and It really hooked me on the military. I'd been debating with my step-dad on the idea of joining the Marines because he didn't want me to go in for infantry, he said "If you're going to join you should find something you can make a career out of". I thought about what he'd said and as I talked to more and more former military members they all seemed to validate his point. I started looking around at different jobs in the Marines but nothing really seemed to peak my interest.

During the Summer of 2009 I started seeing commercials on the military channel for a new show coming out called "Special Ops Mission" and I heard the phrase Pararescueman. I looked it up on wikipedia and was surprised to read about what seemed to be some of the United States most elite soldiers. My interest in the Pararescue program was fueled throughout the shows airing and it stuck with me ever since. I wanted a way to be able to really test myself physically, mentally, and to make a career out of my time in the military. I found that in the PJ's. From the time the show ended in Fall 2009 to now I've done a lot for myself physically. I couldn't do a push-up when I started working out again, I'm up to 15 without a problem now. I feel and look a lot better than I ever have, and I plan to continue until I reach my goal. I know it's going to be a long and arduos road ahead of me, but I intend to stick with it and do something I can be extremely proud of.

I think that if it wasn't for my step-dad really pushing me towards looking at other options I wouldn't have found what I consider the perfect job for myself. I'm willing to get up everyday and work my hardest knowing that someday I might be able to save someone's life. It's their duty to put other people before their own comforts and desires, and I plan to make it mine as well. I will write more blogs to keep up with physical progression of myself as time goes on, as of the moment I can do 15 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, 30 4-count flutter kicks. I'm no where near the physical shape I need to be.. but it's 80% mental right?.. I can fix the 20%.

I'd like to say thank you for anyone who is currently serving or has served, you guys are the real deal and I have nothing but respect for you, and thank you to anyones who's encouraged me so far.. I appreciate it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How to Gain Weight.

The title of this article may be a little misleading to some of you. Gaining weight is generally looked down upon because modern society tells us that being thin is the way to be. There's a few different kinds of weight that you can gain. There's muscle mass, retained water, and plain old fat! In this article I'm going to mainly focus around gaining muscle mass, with a little bit of fat as well.. and I'll explain why.

While there are many different complicated equations and calculations that can be made for weight gain, one of the simplest is to eat 500 more calories a day than you burn. To figure out how many calories you burn daily while you're resting, multiply your weight by 11 to find your REE or Resting Energy Expenditure. For example, I'm 170 pounds. So 170 x 11 would be 1870 calories burned daily just through breathing and being alive. These numbers tend to fluctuate when you add in activity levels but if I wanted to gain weight I'd have to consume around 2300 calories a day on days with low activity levels. Here's a frame of reference for figuring out caloric intake based on different activity levels. (Resting Energy Expenditure x Activity Level = Recommended Caloric Intake)
  • Very Light - Seated or standing activities, driving, or playing video/card games fall into this category. Multiply your REE x 1.3.
  • Light - Walking, sailing, carpentry, or golfing fall into this category of activity. Multiply your REE x 1.6
  • Moderate - Carrying moderately heavy objects, jogging, light swimming, biking, and body-weight exercises fall into this category. Multiply your REE x 1.7
  • Heavy - Carrying loads uphill, rowing, digging, climbing, running and most sports fit into this category. Multiply your REE x 2.4
  • Exceptional - Running/swimming races, carrying heavy loads uphill, biking uphill, hard rowing fall into this category. Multiply your REE x 2.7
While you may be wondering, will I gain fat along with muscle mass on a weight gaining routine? The answer is probably yes. Gaining lean muscle mass is harder than, although not impossible, gaining weight with additional fat gain. I recommend eating at LEAST 1.0g of protein per pound of body weight or more. The rest of the calories should come from complex carbohydrates to slow insulin release, and fats from meats and fish, or nuts. If you're having a sweet tooth, it's okay to consume 50-75g of Sugar very shortly after a intense workout to stop muscle catabolism (the breaking down of muscle tissue for energy) and to restore the depleted energy stores in the muscles. There is less of a insulin response when the muscles are depleted because the body doesn't need to force feed the muscles, they're starved for energy and absorb these simple sugars like a sponge.

Sleep is a very overlooked, but equally important component in weight gaining. When you sleep your body goes into a anabolic or regenerative state. It recovers from exercises during the day, and builds new muscle tissue. While you're sleeping your body also is outputting it's maximal amount of growth hormone. Sleep is also very important to your brain. While you sleep it replenishes multiple neurotransmitters that you need for a active lifestyle. A lack of sleep could result in loss of focus, motivation, or attention. It could also cause depression and a overall lack of energy. Sleep is a very very vital function and it's recommended that you get between 8-10 hours every night.

This brings us to our last, but certainly not least important weight gain component. That is the routine. Weight Training is hands down the best way to gain muscle mass. Compound Exercises that utilize more than 1-2 muscle groups are ideal for mass gaining. This includes but isn't limited to the big three (squats, deadlifts, and bench presses) overhead presses, clean and presses, dips, and pull-ups. I'd recommend following the guidelines in my article outlined here for hypertrophy if you're looking to get big.

In short, Lift Hard, Eat Big, and Sleep Well. These things will allow you to gain muscle fast and efficiently. Remember that trying to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time is like taking two steps forward, and one back. Instead you could focus on eating above caloric expenditure, and focus on training hard without worrying much about the little bit of extra fat that comes with it. It's much easier to lose weight, than to gain muscle.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Water - The Fountian of Life.

The human body is comprised of 55-75% Water based upon the size of the individual. It's role in the body is essential. It helps to regulate our bodies temperature through sweating, which rids us of excess heat. Water also serves as a transporter for nutrients to our cells and helps to lubricate our joints. It also provides moisture for our respiratory systerm, and is essential for our digestion. Water is also a major component in the structure of our muscles and has a great effect on their functioning. Without proper hydration, our body cannot properly function. This is especially true under the rigors of a exercise program. I recommend between 2-4 liters a day for both Men and Women.

Human beings have no built in way to store or conserve water, so we must drink adequate amounts of it during the day to make sure we stay hydrated. This is especially true in warmer weather, and while exercising. Our bodies began to be dehydrated at just 2% of total fluid lost. If you feel that you are thirsty, you're already showing the symptoms! Some of the symptoms of mild dehydration include fatigue, irritability, thirst, chills, dry mouth, and head rushes. At 5% of total body fluid lost you may begin to experience the symptoms of severe dehydration such as an increased heart rate, muscle cramps, decreases sweating, nausea, headaches, and tingling of the limbs. Above 10% dehydration is going into the fatal level where you could experience seizures, difficulty breathing, chest and abdominal pain, vomiting, and the eventual loss of consciousness.

While you may be wondering what you can do to make sure you're properly hydrated, one of the easiest to learn and understand methods is one of the most widely used and efficient, although one of the least pleasurable to explain to someone. You can check your urine color to see approximately how hydrated you are. As a general rule of thumb, going to the bathroom once a hour is properly hydrated.

If you're having trouble drinking enough water daily remember this simple tips.
  1. Drink water in intervals throughout the day. 2-4 liters only breaks down into 8-16 Cups of water a day. If you drink 2-3 cups a hour every hour your awake this breaks down very easily.
  2. Keep water with you all the time. Keep a bottle on you so you can stay hydrated on the go. Keep a glass on your work desk so you can take regular drinks when you need to.
  3. Consume 2-4 cups of water an hour before you exercise. You should also drink 1/4-1/2 cup every 15 minutes during your workout. 
Please send any questions or comments to

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Motivation - The Driving Force Behind Everything.

Motivation is the driving force behind human beings. It could be summarized as simply as the basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, personal desires and goals. It's very hard to have a set formula for motivation, as many different people are motivated by different things. There's 2 basic types of motivations.
  • Intrinsic. This type of motivation exists within the individual, and requires no external pressures. Intrinsically motivated people find it easy to motivate themselves to achieve desirable results. Intrinsically motivated people also tend to believe they have the skill that will allow them to be effective agents in reaching desired goals. They also are interested in mastering a topic, rather than just role-learning to achieve good grades
  • Extrinsic. This type of motivation comes from sources outside of ourselves. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money, grades and competition. Competition encourages the performer to win and beat others, not to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of the activity. A crowd cheering for the individual and trophies earned are also extrinsic motives. 
It's not uncommon for someone to be both intrinsically, and extrinsically motivated especially when it comes to fitness. Some individuals are in it purely for themselves, while others love the competition which makes them strive to push themselves. Once you determine what you're motivated by, it's easy to set realistic goals and motivate yourself towards them. Here's some easy ways to help you stay motivated and working towards your fitness goals year round.
  1.  Set Realistic Short and Long Term Goals. This is very important because without goals, there's less motivation to stick with a routine. Long term goals could be anything from running a 5k, to something more significant such as losing 50lbs. It's best to break large goals down into smaller, more easily achieved short term goals like running 3 times this week, or going through this whole week without cheating on your diet. Once these things are established as habits, they become a staple of your daily routine. 
  2. Reward Yourself. I'm not going to go into great detail here. If you're new to starting a diet and exercise routine the hardest part may be giving up all the comfort foods you've come to enjoy. This is true for everyone, myself included. I still have craving for chocolate milk, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. So what do I do when the cravings kick in? I splurge on them after a particularly grueling workout session, or after I've accomplished a certain goal I was shooting for. One or Two cheat meals a week is acceptable, reward yourself when you feel like you've earned it. This will motivate you to work hard to get the things you really want. 
  3. Communicate with People with Similar Interests.  This is going to be particularly important for people motivated by competition and the social experience of working out in a group. Many gyms offer classes that you can attend with other people, such as cycling, yoga, or dancing. You can join internet forums and websites as well. There's many fitness websites and blogs out there just like this one you can subscribe to. The goal is to meet people you can talk to, and share experiences with. There is infinite knowledge that can be gained this way. 
  4. Break your Workouts into Shorter, Higher Intensity Ones. If you're a busy person and have trouble making time for workouts you can utilize this option. You can get the same hormonal response in 2-5 minutes of training that you can in a 60 minute session. A good rule of thumb is to do as much quality work as possible, while remaining as fresh as possible. This option also allows for multiple training sessions per day as your body becomes more accustomed to exercise. 
  5. Start a Collection of Motivational Quotes and Videos. I'd like to think this is pretty self explanatory. Find quotes that speak to you on a personal level, and commit them to memory. When you're having trouble motivating yourself repeat the quote in your head and see if it helps. Here's a couple good examples worth sharing. "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not a act but a habit" - Aristotle. "Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you." - Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Success must be felt within before it can be seen on the outside." - Anonymous. "There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don't allow yourself to become one of them." - Ralph Marston
  6. Have fun with it. This is probably the most under-rated motivator of them all. Find sports or exercises that you enjoy and create plans around them. You'll be much more likely to stick with a plan that you find interesting and fun to do. There's many forms of exercise out there, it should be easy to find something you enjoy doing!
I really hope this article helps you stay motivated and on track with your fitness goals. Remember to look at how you're motivated to better understand how to get yourself up and moving. Everything is about making small, consistent changes over time. This will yield great results in time, all you have to do is stick with it. Experiment with different workouts and exercises to determine what you enjoy doing, and allow yourself to enjoy the comfort foods you miss from time to time. All of these things will help you along your fitness journey.

Questions and Comments please send to