Friday, April 27, 2012


You know that hottie's number you got on Saturday night? Yeah, that's an example of a good number.

Waiting those 3 days to get in touch with him/her? First off that whole 3-day rule is bullshit, and also an example of a bad number.

As an engineer, my world revolves around numbers. The good, the bad, the real, the imaginary - yes, liberal arts majors, there are such things as imaginary numbers - √(-1). As with the rest of my world, body transformation and physical training is number-centric. There are good numbers to keep track of and bad numbers. From what I've noticed, most people get wrapped up in the bad ones because they are the most basic ones to follow.

Bad number –
Scale weight. I’ll admit, when I first started, I was completely wrapped up with the weight on the scale. The more I learned, the less I tracked it. The only real time I do is during my annual bulk cycle. As I approach my goal for the summer, I check it less and less. Wait, what? Yup. Scale weight isn’t what you should be following, there are way too many factors to bring into the equation in order to get a consistant reading: what you had to eat before, how much water you’ve had prior, hell – even if you’ve gone to the bathroom right before stepping on there. It’s too reliant on too many variables.
Good numbers  -
Body Fat % - When it comes to weight, this is what most people should be tracking. “Oh, I just want to lose 5lbs.” If that 5lbs is muscle, then you actually end up with a higher body fat % than when you started. Now, not all of us have access to a Hydrodensitometry Weighing tank (uses water displacement) – which is one of the most accurate methods. For us normal people, Calipers work well as long as you have someone who has been trained to use them. Now, I don’t have my own personal trainer to take these measurements for me (I’m a cheap bastard), so I primarily use a body measurement tape (or tailor’s cloth tape) and take readings from different parts and then plug them into the body fat calculator at This, obviously, is prone to some error because you might not get the exact same place every time, but it’s still good just for general tracking.
Bad number –
Lump sum for the day. As I discussed in The Basics, your body needs a certain amount of calories per day to not kick into starvation mode (which is NOT a good thing – the first thing your body will do is break down muscle for energy, not fat). For me to cut up for summer, I need to eat between 2,000-2,500 calories a day – which after my 3,500-4,000/day I needed after my bulk cycle, is kinda hard. Now your normal large thin crust pizza has about 2,000 calories in it. Can I just eat one of those a day and still cut fat? Hell no. Plus, I’d break out from all the grease. Not sexy. The quality of the calories matters too. “Clean” foods – baked chicken and fish, steamed veggies, fresh fruits (only right before and after lifting)…these are the sources that you should be relying on.  It really all comes down to…
Good number –
Macronutrients. This is the percent breakdown of protein, carbs, and (healthy) fats that your calories come from. The general rule of thumbs for each are:
Protein: 1 to 1.5 times your body weight in grams (1.5-2x if you’re bulking). I’m 185, I should get between 185-280g/day.
Protein is 4 cals/g, so I should be getting 740-1120 cals/day from protein.

Fats: 0.5 time your body weight in grams. I should be getting ~90-100g a day.
Fats are 10 cals/g, so 900-1000 cals/day from them.
Those two, you do not touch during a cut phase. If you’re cutting, you adjust the carbs – but do NOT cut them out completely. Your body needs them for basic brain and physiological functions.
Carbs: So since I need 2000-2500 (for this exercise, we’re going to go with 2500) cals a day to cut fat healthily, and, on average, 930 cals from protein and 950 from fats, that leaves 620 cals for carbs which, at 4 cals/g, works out to ~155g of carbs, less if I go for the 2000cals/day.
So instead of being wrapped up in the “OMG! I can’t believe I weighed 182 today, I was 178 yesterday!” mentality and then eat nothing but celery for a day to get back to 178, take a step back, breathe, and do the math…
and make sure to hit the head before you do actually weigh yourself.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


"Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, just transferred"
First Law of Thermodynamics

The human body is a prime example of all things physics. I could get into the whole "a calorie is the amount of energy to raise 1g of water 1 degree Celsius" and how a "food calorie" is actually 1,000 thermal calories, but I'm pretty sure that'd put you to sleep. I'll leave that job to the sheep and melatonin.

This is going to be more about drawing energy from non-tangible things in life and turning them into something positive. Everyone has a bad day at work, gets a parking ticket (I may or may not have included a line item in my monthly budget for these thanks to the fine, thorough parking enforcement officers of DC), an unexpected happens. Think about it, that frustration, anger,'s all a form of energy. Well, more appropriately, it's how you're deciding to utilize the energy that you have.

I tend to over analyze situations. What can I say? I'm an engineer (as if the Thermo lesson earlier didn't give that away), analyzing is what I do. While I still do it from time to time, I've also gotten better about realizing what is within my sphere of control to change and what isn't. This doesn't mean that I'm over the situation, though. Emotions still linger, but instead of getting mad at getting the ticket, use the energy you'd spend being pissed on something productive. 9 times out of 10, I usually hit the gym if I'm mad or frustrated over something. 1 time out of 1000, I *might* clean...I either need to get pissed off more or hire a maid because my place is a mess. I choose to transfer the bad energy into something positive.

One thing I've noticed is that I always lift heavier, run faster, or play harder in the (extremely off) chance I'm not in a good mood. It gives me a focused outlet for those emotions. Not saying I'm looking to not be my normal happy-all-the-time self, but that I take that negative energy and put it towards accomplishing my goals - enter the eternally angry "Moto Lift Mix" on my iPhone - which provides me with that added push that being angry usually does. As the wise sage, Elle Woods once said, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't."

Three birds, one stone. You get a great workout in, your body releases chemicals to put you in a better mood, AND you don't shoot your husband. Everyone wins.

Long story short, you can choose to let the bad things that happen in life affect you or you can choose to transfer that energy into making them get you closer to your goals.

It's your call.