Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Importance of Keeping a Log

There are times when working out can feel like a really big drag. That you aren't getting anywhere and that you have been doing this FOREVER with no results. The truth his you probably have been making progress, but you might not notice. This phenomenon happens all the time to people with kids (also pets, if you've had them since they were very young). You see your child (or pet) every day, and you don't really notice that they're getting bigger, and then all of a sudden they no longer fit where they used to, and you have the magic epiphany of: OMG he/she is getting so big! In fact this same phenomenon is often times why we don't notice that we are gaining weight until all of sudden that pair of jeans that we've had forever are "suddenly" way to snug! It's because of this phenomena that is absolutely vital that you keep track of your progress (or lack thereof).

By jotting it down, you can actually see that you are indeed making progress, and that changes to your body are actually happening! Sure they may not be as fast as you like, but progress is progress, and that's the goal. It's a motivator, it keeps you from giving up when you feel like this whole thing isn't worth it. It simultaneously gives you data to make other changes to perhaps push yourself through a plateau!

Plateau busting can be one of the most frustrating aspect of Muscle Building or Weight Loss. You get to a point where it just doesn't seem that you are getting anywhere. It can go on for days, weeks, even months! Keeping a log allows you to see things that may be causing your plateau. You can look back to when you stopped making gains or losses and see what perhaps might be causing that. Maybe you stopped doing an exercise. Maybe you started doing a little less or more time on the elliptical. Maybe you started eating a different kind of protein bar as a mid afternoon snack.

Being able to take in this data, and synthesize it into useful information to help you get to your goals is the name of the game! Big companies use this all the time, they call it analytics! But in order to analyze why things may not be working as well as you'd like you need to keep your data somewhere, and you need to keep it in a consistent manner. You don't have to use anything fancy I used a Mead Composition Book for years! You can get a 5 Pack of them here from Amazon for about $9.

So keep a log, take as many measurement as consistently as you feel doing. Using data to drive your goals is the optimum way of achieving them.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Break down your bigger goals

If you want to lose weight one of the best ways to help is to break down your bigger goals into smaller ones. Losing, for example, twenty pounds is a big challenge! After all, in a healthy world you only really want to drop 1 to 3 pounds a week. That means twenty pounds should take about 10 weeks.

10 weeks is a long term goal. It sounds so achievable at the beginning. That 10 weeks seems so far away that you are very likely to "take it easy" because you "have plenty of time!" Four weeks later, when you have been very lax on yourself and if you are lucky you may have dropped a couple of pounds. But now you have 6 weeks to lose 18 pounds! That's on the upper end of healthy and now it's a very hard to achieve goal!

So how should you break this down. Well it depends on you. I've found four week intervals to work the best. Four weeks is just long enough to give myself a little leeway for lapses in my goal, while simultaneously giving me the kick in the pants that I "ONLY" have a few weeks left! In addition it allows you to use another mind trick: the "I can do it for X" mind trick, because after all it's only a month, you can be super strict for a month!

By the time the end of that month rolls around hopefully you will be so well on your way to your big goal that you will just let it keep going! After all you already showed that you can be super strict for a month, and it wasn't so bad! So break up your big goals into incremental smaller ones. Gauge where you are when you get to that smaller one and adjust accordingly. Losing weight and keeping it off is a bunch of incremental changes over time! Going for the big bang is dooming you to failure before you even start.

Mind Trick: I can do it for "X"

I REALLY used to dislike cardio. I mean I had a serious disdain for the whole activity, the intense sweat, the shortness of breath, the constant monotony of being on a machine. I tried to take it outside, and run, but I was big, the concrete pavement hurt my knees and I live in the Atlanta Metro area. The Atlanta Metro area has some SERIOUS air quality issues. Running outside at the wrong time made me feel like I had been sucking on a tail pipe. So I stuck to indoor equipment. The thing is most of the time I was ready to give up after about five minutes. That's when I discovered this little gem of a mind trick.

I realized that every time I got on a piece of cardio equipment (usually a treadmill), I'd get to about 3 minutes and 30 seconds and want to get off. My head would be hurting, my knees began to whine, I was out of breath, the sweat started pouring from my brow, and my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. In my head the cursing would begin. I would just tough it out, call myself a wuss. You know the typical macho crap that you see on all those workout posters. When I reached about 7 minutes miraculously my head would be clear, my knees didn't hurt, my heart and breath evened out and the sweat only bothered me a little.

Now usually I'd only last another 7 minutes from that point and then cool down (I was almost 300 pounds at the time...), but I figured out something. If I could get past the initial 5-6 minutes I could do my cardio! I further went down the road of, its only 5 minutes! That's not so much! Anyone can do 5 minutes that's not so bad!

Fast forward 10 years (or so) and I still use this trick today! I've run a half marathon using this trick. In fact I used it this morning! I was 45 minutes and 6 miles in to a run on the treadmill. I didn't want to do anymore. I was tired, and I could already taste my after workout refuel. But I said to myself, come on Alex, just do five more minutes. It's five minutes, that's not too much longer! I ended up doing that a few more times pushing myself to 9.5 miles over and hour and ten minutes! Maybe that's not super quick, but believe me its one of my better times!

The best part about the trick is that it doesn't just work for exercise it works for your diet too! I did a juice fast a year or so ago. I used the same trick with the mindset of "It's only a week. I can do this for a week! It's not that long!", and you know what? It wasn't! I ended up doing it for two! So if you're dragging don't feel like exercising or sticking to your diet, just break it down to a tiny time frame. It will make it seem much more reachable and much less harsh.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gym Etiquette 101 or How not to be an Ass at the gym

I know when you pay for a service you feel entitled to certain benefits, but here are a few things at the gym that I have PERSONALLY witnessed that I feel are just unacceptable behaviors. Bottom line is, everyone's time is valuable, and we are all trying to keep up our intensity. So let's be mindful of our fellow gym members.

Rack Your Weights

You would think this one would be self evident, but apparently some people feel that they work *SO* hard that picking up their weights after they're done is just too much. Or maybe they feel that the gym staff is there to pick up after them, like Mommy used to. Look if you don't want to pick up after yourself, please get a home gym. This is an area for all of us. We're all busy and we all get tired at the end of our sets if we're doing it right. Cleaning up after yourself is just common fucking courtesy.

Wipe Down Sweaty Equipment

Do I really need to explain this one? I mean look I get tired after running for 10 miles too, and I sweat profusely! But you know who doesn't like to be covered in your sweat? Anyone else! So please take a moment and wipe up after yourself...

It's a Workout Buddy, not Workout Buddies

I guess I could understand three people doing a workout together, but anymore than that and split it the fuck up! I've seen 4 guys standing around a bench watching a fifth guy do a set. It just looks weird, creates a crowding around other (unused) equipment and quite frankly totally decreases the intensity you could otherwise create in your workout.

The Gym is not a Social Club

If your tongue is getting more of a workout than any other muscle, you are doing it wrong. It's perfectly fine to have gym friends or a workout partner, but the reality is that when you are on the gym floor you should be there to work! Not to be seen, heard or gossip... You can always chat AFTER your workout. Preferably off the floor in the locker room, in the lobby or outside.

Wear Proper Attire

I'm not going to dignify this one with an image. You know what I'm talking about. Certain clothing just gets in the way, and certain clothing is literally worn just to scream "LOOK AT ME!" You should be there to work not make a fashion statement or "get noticed".

Personal Hygiene

You are going to the gym. You are going to work hard. You are going to stink afterwards. But you know what lets try to minimize the offense to all of our olfactory senses and not go into the gym smelling like we just got out of a manure field. I'm not saying to take a shower before you go, but clean clothes and a couple of wet wipes go a long way.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Use Little Tricks to Push You

I use an app on my phone called Fitocracy (Fitocracy on iTunes / Fitocracy on Android ) to keep track of my workouts. It's not the best tool for this function but it does have on interesting feature that I love. They use the concept of points to rank your workout. After you achieve a certain number of points you "level up".

If you have ever played a video games with levels then you know just how addictive it can be to "level up". I played EverQuest (You know, before World of Warcraft even existed!) for years, and the time trap you would find yourself in was just trying to get to the next level, or to get the next piece of gear.

So why does this help with your workout? Let me give you an example. I was exhausted this morning. The day hadn't started right, I didn't have headphones, and it took me longer to get to the gym than expected. I plowed through a pretty decent workout, but I was going to skip my after weights run. So i entered what I'd done into Fitocracy, and lo and behold I'm 94 points short of a level.

I looked at it for a second and said well fuck, I guess I'll get that tomorrow. I walked ten feet, and said to myself damn it! Its 94 points! I can get that with one more hard set of exercise. So I turned my ass around and worked a little bit more. It was a little trick, but it caused me to push myself just a little further and get me closer to my goal just when I needed the inspiration the most. If I'd worked myself hard enough I would have been satisfied, but I hadn't, so I wasn't and that little 94 point reminder gave me the push I needed today.

Being Vegan in a Hostile Environment

For those of you outside the United States you have to understand that when I talk about the South I mean Florida, Georgia, The Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia . I grew up in the South. At age 11 I decided to become a vegetarian. My parents were supportive, although I'm sure they thought it was just a phase and it was probably a pain in the ass for them to figure out meals.  

The interesting thing about growing up in the South is that there is literally meat products in EVERYTHING. I mean traditional southern cooking involves vegetables being cooked in pork fat! So as you can imagine being a vegetarian posed some problems. There have been times when I have been unable to eat at a restaurant because even though they had vegetables on the menu, they weren't vegetarian vegetables.

The fact that I even had to write the phrase "vegetarian vegetables" kind of epitomizes the idea of a hostile environment to a vegan diet. When you have to question the green beans at a restaurant, you really do have to wonder how the hell you can keep a animal product free diet.

There are two ways to go about handling this. One is to question everything, and I mean literally everything. You will be a royal pain in the ass, but you also will only have to ask the questions once. If you don't want to ask at a restaurant then call ahead and ask. We live in a wonderful age where we have the Internet in the palm of our hands. Usually you can look up a menu and a phone number within a few minutes, and take care of your dietary needs even before you walk through the door. It's a lot easier than what I had to do growing up, and you can feel safe in knowing that you actually talked to someone who knows, versus the waiter, who depending on their mood may lie to your face (I've had that happen).

The second way to handle it is to just not go out to eat. Pack your food and bring it with you. I'm pretty sure I could live for two days with the food I have at my desk at work, and not necessarily in a totally unhealthy way! I have a fruit bowl, soups, protein powders, soy milk, raw vegan meal replacement bars, and cereal. My work bag always has a vegan meal replacement bar in it, as does my workout bag.

Bottom line, like everything about living a healthy lifestyle, you have to plan ahead a little bit. Know what you are getting into, where you are going, and think of your needs. Don't be afraid to be a pain in the ass, and don't be afraid to say no. It's your life and your health, choose what's important to you!

Finding Motivation

I wake up at 5:30 AM every weekday morning to get my ass to the gym. I REALLY DO NOT LIKE GETTING UP IN THE MORNING. This is usually compounded by the fact that I have a toddler who I'm convinced could keep himself awake for a week straight if we didn't force him to lay down in a dark room, and by my teenager (I mean he's a teen... need I say more?). It really isn't uncommon for me to finally hit the bed at 11:00 PM, and sometimes even later.

So every morning when that fucking alarm clock goes off (and I do hate that fucking alarm clock), I immediately start dealing with my brain saying "what the fuck?" That's right, the first thing in the morning I have to deal with is my inner monologue coaxing me back to sweet slumber. And the first thing I have to do is to tell that inner voice to go to hell. You know what? It's really fucking hard. Every. Single. Day.

I wish I could say I always come out victorious in that battle, but the reality is I lose sometimes. That's OK, as long as I don't let it happen to often. The thing is, in order to truly beat that inner voice, the one that tells you that you can't do something, you have to find some reason to latch on to that says you can. I know, it sounds completely cliche, but its the truth.

Steve Jobs said (and I'm paraphrasing, but I included the video below) that in order to achieve amazing things as an entrepreneur you have to have passion. Passion for what you do, passion for what you are trying to create. The reason you need that passion is that being an entrepreneur is hard! You have to be a little crazy to be successful, because otherwise you would just give up!

The reality is that finding your motivation to be healthy, and make lifestyle changes is a personal thing. You have to make the time to find it for you. You have to believe it, totally and entirely, because in reality that's the thing that will get you to achieve your goals. That's the thing that drives you to get out of bed at 5:30 AM and hit the gym. That's what makes you say no to the birthday cake being passed around the office. Willpower alone just isn't going to cut it.

[I decided to embed the Steve Jobs YouTube Video]

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Unhealthy Vegan

I've heard many people say being a vegan is unhealthy. As a general rule I find this to be an odd phenomenon. Generally when you dig into this person's statement about veganism being unhealthy, it usually ends up being due to one of two things. Either they have are completely misinformed about nutrition and veganism in general, or they have a friend/family member/acquaintance who is a vegan and is unhealthy. They then proceed to base their entire outlook of this lifestyle on this unhealthy individual.

There are some seriously unhealthy vegans out there. Being a vegan does not directly equate to being healthy, just as being an omnivore does not equate to being healthy. The human diet is far more complicated than that. If you are going to "go vegan" for health reasons, just cutting out the animal products is not going to make it so!

Look, I've met the unhealthy vegans too. The ones who live on white refined bread, candy, white rice, semolina pasta, french fries and processed soy products. Refuse to eat any kind of vegetables because they don't like the taste. You know what? If you added meat to that diet it would still be unhealthy!

The bottom line is this, just being a vegan does not make one healthy. It helps as usually it does force you to eat more vegetables. However if you do not cut down on processed foods and continue to eat like crap then not eating animal products is not going to help. So next time you meet someone who has a friend/acquaintance/coworker/family member who is a vegan and is unhealthy, ask a little bit more about their dietary habits. Perhaps you can educate them a little more about the importance of a balanced diet, even as a vegan.

Monday, September 16, 2013

No Sugar Added Gluten Free Protein Vegan Waffles

1/2 cup of gluten-free flour (I use Bob's Red Mill - Gluten Free "Sweet" White Sorghum Flour or Bob's Red Mill Organic Buckwheat Flour )
1/2 cup of Vanilla Pea Protein Powder (I use Pure Vegan Pea Protein Dietary Supplement - Vanilla )
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of Milk Alternative (I prefer soy, but this works with Almond and Coconut as well)
1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar ( I like Bragg's Apple Cidar Vinegar )
1/4 cup of Ground Flax Seed
1/4 cup of Bakeable Blend Stevia Sweetener
2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil

Sift all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Place milk into a separate bowl and add apple cider vinegar. Whisk the wet ingredients and leave for a minute. This makes a non dairy buttermilk. Proceed mix all the wet ingredients into the milk mixture, and then add that to the dry ingredients.

Follow the ingredients for your electric waffle maker. I personally have the Oster Belgian Waffle Maker.

Gluten Free Vegan Protein Pancakes

1/2 cup of gluten-free flour (I use Bob's Red Mill - Gluten Free "Sweet" White Sorghum Flour or Bob's Red Mill Organic Buckwheat Flour )
1/2 cup of Vanilla Pea Protein Powder (I use Pure Vegan Pea Protein Dietary Supplement - Vanilla )
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of Milk Alternative (I prefer soy, but this works with Almond and Coconut as well)
1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar ( I like Bragg's Apple Cidar Vinegar )
1/4 cup of Ground Flax Seed
2 Tablespoons of Agave ( I like Agave In The Raw )
2 teaspoons of Coconut Oil

Sift all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Place milk into a separate bowl and add apple cider vinegar. Whisk the wet ingredients and leave for a minute. This makes a non dairy buttermilk. Proceed mix all the wet ingredients into the milk mixture, and then add that to the dry ingredients. Mix until non lumpy. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Losing Weight

When I first tell people that I used to be 320 lbs (145.5 kg), the usual reaction is: No way. You couldn't have been that big, you're so small! At 5 foot 8 inches (1.72 meters) I don't really like being called small, call it a Napoleon complex or something, but in general I understand what these people are saying. They have a hard time imagining a person my height weighing that much, and who now weighs quite literally half of that. Usually the next question is: How did you do it?

How did You Do It?

Wow is that a question I sometimes dread. Not because I mind answering it, I'm an open and honest guy. I'll happily tell you what I think about most any subject and I'm not afraid of offending someone. The reason I dread the question is because sometimes it's from someone who wants to use my secret themselves, or who wants to pass it on to the friend/family/coworker. The problem is that there is no secret. They already know the answer, they just may not know how to implement it.

The truth is I busted my ass and changed my entire lifestyle.

I'm not trying to come off like a pompous ass, or to discourage anyone, but in total honesty that's what it took! Try telling that to someone who is looking for help, who wants something, anything to help them change their bodies. Sometimes its fucking heartbreaking. In all honesty that's one of the reasons I started writing this blog. I want to help!

It All Happens Over Time

Now I don't know about you, but I didn't gain weight overnight. I mean it's not like I was sitting there with six pack abs as a teenager, went to college and fucking ballooned up to 320 lbs on pizza and beer as a freshman (though admittedly, the college lifestyle didn't help my situation). It was a gradual process compounding year over year over year. 

So if it takes that long to do the damage to yourself, and to create the body that you don't like, then quite frankly you can't expect any pill or magical formula to take it off that fast. It's a process, it takes time. You know why most diets fail? Unrealistic goals. If you expect to lose 5 lbs (2.2 kgs) a week for the next four weeks, then let me tell you right now you will be sorely disappointed. If anyone promises you these kinds of results (short of life-endangering stomach stapling surgery), just walk the fuck away. Losing weight is easy at its core: Burn more calories than you take in.

So Where Do I Start?

Well what got you here in the first place? What's your motivator? I know what mine was, I remember the exact story when I hit rock bottom, and I know that fueled my initial drive to make changes. If you can't find something to drive you, then you are going to fail. You need that motivator, that story, that memory to keep you going when the going gets tough, because it is going to get tough! It also can not be superficial. If you are doing it for some guy, some girl, because of some ephemeral "Life will be better if..." this is not going to work. Period. End of Story. Find your motivator, stick it on your phone, your mirror, make it your drive.

I've Got My Motivator Now What?

Well I'll give you a hint, your current diet and exercise routine aren't working. So how about we start there! Now remember this is a marathon not a sprint. Don't try to make a bunch of changes at once, because guess what? You will fail. When I first started I began by only starting on the exercise routine. Here's the thing though, I sat on my ass all day. Not totally my fault, I'm a Software Developer, and before that a college student who majored in Computer Science, loved video games, and delivered Pizza to make money. All of those things kind of largely involve being really good at sitting on one's ass for an extended period of time. I am quite exceptional at sitting on my ass, I've had a lot of practice, and I get paid to do it.

So first thing I did was to get off my ass. I joined a gym. I signed a fucking year long contract, and got a years worth or personal training. I didn't have to do it, and quite frankly when I started I didn't even have the money to do it. I went in to debt to do it! That's how powerful my motivator was for me. I was an entrepreneur and I was investing in me, and I was going to give it all I had.

The thing is though, I didn't expect miracles. I'm honestly not really sure what I expected at all. I hated the gym. I loathed cardio, and I had no clue what I was doing. None. I mean I didn't know anything about being physically fit, it had never been a concern before! So in the beginning I used a trick I had picked up when I first hated my job delivering pizza. I used mind tricks. 

Mind Tricks and the Importance of Exercise AND Nutrition

I used to hate going to deliver pizza. I mean it was boring, monotonous, and in the Florida sun, hot, sweaty and generally unpleasant. Top that off with living in a "rough" area, and you can imagine that it was neither lucrative or enjoyable. Calling it a job was not helping, so I began to refer to it as "my hobby". It kind of became a joke between my roommate and myself. But god damn if it didn't work. I started looking at it differently and it became bearable. 

I used that same trick in the gym. I hated going there in the beginning, but I played various mind games with myself and made it into a place I love to go. To this day I love the gym. I love hearing the clanking of iron. I love running on a treadmill for hours (Yes I have run on the treadmill for hours!). If I don't go to the gym for any length of time now, I actually get a really strong longing to go back! That's how powerful this trick is. I could fill posts with various mind tricks (and I probably will, in the future), but needless to say I had to find the tricks that worked for me, and everyone is different.

Convincing myself to go to the gym became easier and easier. It became a joy every day. My Personal Trainer at the time helped me through some of the initial learning curve, and to keep my on track in the beginning, but I soon came in regardless of if I had an appointment or not. I pushed myself, but not too much, after all I didn't want to hurt myself and then not be able to go back that week! 

From there I learned about what worked for my body. What I responded to and I saw weight drop off quickly. Probably because I was no longer JUST sitting on my ass. It was huge ego boost, and then I plateaued. 

That was frustrating. The weight was coming off but not as fast for a while, and then it just stopped coming off. I worked harder, but nothing happened. It was about that time I realized that I had been leaving out the other part of the equation. I was burning a shit ton more calories in the gym, but I was eating like a complete moron.

Ever try to lose weight while drinking two liters of soda a day and eating whatever sweet thing was in front of you at the time? I did. It didn't work out so well. So I made changes. Little ones. Substitute a salad for a meal here, switch out coffee for soda. Making sure that I ate vegetables, the Green Leafy ones! 

You can guess what happened, then weight began to slide off. Each little change made changes to the plateau until all I could think about was how to keep this awesomeness going! I read as much information as I could. I know more about Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Paleo, and god knows how many other diets than I should probably know. It's been a fantastic journey.

It took me a Year and Half

That's right a full 18 months. That means I lost a little under 9 lbs a month, or a little over 2 lbs a week. It was not a short path, but the reality is I have kept that weight off for the better part of a decade. I'll be honest, I'm a little up from lightest, but I still weigh less than when I did in high school. I've also had kids since then, and you try and keep up a daily exercise routine, and perfect eating habits with kids, it isn't easy. And that's just it, there is no easy way. It wasn't easy putting it on, you just didn't notice. Trust me if I actively tried to put on 160 lbs, I'm pretty sure it would take me more than a year, and I'd plateau a few times in the process, and I'm a professional Ass Sitter! So next time you feel like you can't do it, and that it's too hard, just remember it's all in your head. It's as hard as you make it to be. And if you need some help or motivation send me a message and I'll try to help as best I can.

Using Protein Powders in Recipes

If you are like me, you like to give in to temptation sometimes and eat something delightfully decadent, and yet not good for you waist line. You may also have children (like me) who are vegetarian and yet you do not feel they are getting sufficient protein. I submit the following solution! Substitute some protein powder for flour in some of your baking recipes!

I know this sounds too good to be true, but I promise you it works amazingly. Doing this I have actually made some pretty tasty waffles, pancakes, donut holes, cakes, cookies, breads, and muffins! My current personal preference is to use Pea or Rice Protein. It's quite easy to do, just substitute part of the flour that you are going to put in the recipe with an equal part of one of the above proteins. If you are making something sweet I recommend the Vanilla flavor. If it's something savory I recommend the unflavored. That's all there is to it!

Now you can go out and make some delicious treats for yourself (maybe your kids too. If they're good :-) ) and feel somewhat good about it knowing that you are adding some protein to the recipe, you know, for health! Heck you can even enjoy a protein cookie after a hard workout!

I posted my Pancake and Waffle recipes!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Where do you get your protein?

A question that I get asked a lot when I tell people that I am vegan, is where do you get your protein? The truth is it really isn't that hard. Generally I don't eat crap food, and the crap food I do eat is usually some kind of protein bar.

So first of all lets focus on what it is that we do need. According to this study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics, a grown adult only needs about .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight to basically keep breaking down muscle mass. So lets add .1 for good measure for the following calculation. As a 160 lb man, I would need 80 grams of protein per day!

So then how do we get to the magic number of 80 grams a day. Well for me, I always like to start my day with a protein shake. It was something I started when I began to focus on the nutrition aspect of weight loss, and I've just kind of kept up with it. I vary which one I use on a regular basis, but I usually rotate through the Vega One Nutritional Shake-Berry, Vega Sport Performance Protein Vanilla, Vega One Nutritional Shake-French Vanilla, Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal - Vanilla , Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Powder - Vanilla , and some other Hemp, Pea, and Rice proteins that I come across. So that's usually good for about 20 grams of protein in the morning. Hey look at that I'm already a quarter of the way to my daily protein intake and I haven't even chewed yet!

Now where do I get my protein when chewing? Well this part is easy. I eat food, mostly plants. That means I don't eat that prepackaged frozen food. and I really don't eat much pasta or bread! So lets look at some nutritional facts.

1 cup of spinach has a 1 gram of protein.
1 cup of kale has 3 grams of protein.
1 cup of chopped broccoli has 2.6 grams of protein
1 cup of chopped carrots has 1.5 grams of protein
1 cup of shredded cabbage has 1 gram of protein
1 cup of shredded onion has 1 gram of protein
a cucumber has 2 grams of protein
a tomato has 1 grams of protein
1/2 cup of corn has 8 grams of protein

HOLY CRAP IS THAT A 20 GRAM OF PROTEIN SALAD BEFORE DRESSING!?!  Now add some black beans (21 grams for 1/2 a cup!), or lentils (25 grams for 1/2 a cup), or even on the lighter side some sunflower seeds (7.25 grams for a 1/4 cup), and you have just made some protein awesomeness!

 But for the sake of this article lets not add beans to the salad because guess what were having for dinner! That's right, lentils and quinoa! If you've never tried it, its awesome and as easy to cook as brown rice. Give it a try its awesome. Anyway a cup of quinoa and a 1/2 cup of lentils, and boom! 49 grams of protein.

So lets add that up shall we? 20 grams from the morning shake, 20 grams from my awesome lunch salad, and 49 grams from dinner! Look at that I'm over my requirement! I'm not even taking into account the fact that I put soy milk into my coffee, or that I have a protein shake after I workout, or that I sometimes have a shake or a Cliff Builder Bar or ProBar Core Bar if I get hungry during the afternoon! I've also been known to eat an apple and almond butter as a snack! Trust me I get WAY more than 80 grams of protein a day and I don't even try!

That leads me to the athletics side of things. I've read in a few places that you should aim to get 1 - 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight if you are "an athlete", and that consequently that's why its so hard to be a vegan athlete... I submit the above as testimonial, that in reality its not that hard. It does however require planning and forethought. Now one other thing to mention is the fact that vegetable sources of protein don't have the "essential amino acids". These are the ones the body can't produce. But there's a simple solution to this! You eat a variety of plants, which each have different amino acids, and presto you can ensure that you get the variety of amino acids that your body needs! Well hell our salad was a good mix! In fact I don't think we had any protein from the same source all day today! So bottom line is that it can be done. So eat vegan and thrive!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Quick Introduction

So with thousands of blogs about health and fitness already in existence, why did I feel the need to add my voice to the cacophony? I'm not a famous athlete, or coach, or personal trainer, or a nutritionist, or other health practitioner. So who am I to share knowledge, health and training advice? Let me to tell you a little story, and then maybe you will understand.

A long time ago (well maybe not that long ago, but stories always seem to sound better like that), there was a 5 foot 8 inch man graduating from college at a slightly hefty 320 lbs. There was no accident in getting to that point, no injury, no health issue, it just... happened. Now I know a lot of people wonder, how people can get to be so big. Well I'm sure you've heard the saying that if you put a frog in boiling water it will jump right out, but if you put him in there and slowly raise the temperature he will stay in there and get cooked. For me, getting that big was like that. I was a big child, a big teen, and when I graduated college, a big adult.

I'm quite sure if I hadn't had a little wake up call, I probably would have gotten bigger. The reality was I wasn't taking care of myself because I didn't see the need. I could play Ultimate Frisbee (not well), play basketball (again, not well), and swim. I was ridiculously flexible (I could perform full Chinese splits), and capable of running enough to do all the stupid things that you might do during college. My weight rarely impacted me (though breaking a toilet seat in the middle of the night should have maybe been a warning...), so I didn't see it as a problem. Sure I knew I was "big", but I didn't really realize how big.

Fast Forward 10 years and I am no longer "big". In fact, I am quite literally half the man I used to be. I do my best to take care of myself (although I may or may not have a small coffee addiction... I will neither confirm nor deny that one!), and I try to work out at least 3 times a week. I have learned a lot in the last decade, most of it the hard way, and all of it from experience. So what makes my voice useful in this case? I've been there, I understand, and I just hope I can help.