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    Tuesday
    Jul292014

    30 Days of Fitness: Day 15

    Hey folks, and welcome back to 30 Days of Fitness, the start of my journey to be less of a fat dude. As always, the rules are that I need to stay under 1500 calories per day and work out in the mornings from Monday through Thursday. Let's get on with it!

    Day 15: 7/28/2014

    Coming off of my cheat weekend, I was feeling pretty good, and I think my attitude might have just been a little too lax. I was at the halfway point, and I figured, "Okay, I get this. I know the drill - just gotta keep at it." As a result, I think my workout yesterday, while certainly fine, felt a little less than. Here's what I did:

    • 125 Calorie Burn on Elliptical
    • 50 Freeweight Curls
    • 125 Stomach Crunches
    • 50 Leg Lifts
    • 100 Hip Abduction Reps
    • 50 Leg Presses
    • 125 Calorie Burn on Exercise Bike

    I ended up taking my brother's advice and adding a lot of weight to my hip abduction routine, and simply increasing the weight, so I went from 200 reps at 110 pounds to 100 at 150 pounds. I think I need to increase it a little further, but I definitely felt a similar burn while spending way less time. And I think the lesson from this workout is that I need to apply the same formula to the rest of my routine. My time on the elliptical felt like autopilot, as did the bike, the leg presses and even the ab stuff. Well, maybe not the leg lifts (though they ARE getting easier), but I certainly wasn't feeling the same exhaustion heading towards the showers that I felt during Weeks 1 and 2. Going in and weighing myself pretty much confirmed it. For those of you who didn't read yesterday's post, I went from 10.5 pounds lost last Friday to only 8.1 pounds lost on Monday morning. Clearly something here has to change.

    This actually goes back to something I was talking to my brother about - he mentioned "routine boredom," which is when you get so used to your sets and exercises that you kind of start spacing out. You're doing the same things, but because it's gotten so easy, you don't have to be as engaged, and as a result, you're going to end up treading water when it comes to building muscle and burning fat. I figured I was far off from hitting that wall, but I guess I'm already there. So I'm really going to try and add new exercises, increase my weights/resistance levels and just generally push myself a little harder. Clearly I can take it. I actually did this a bit with today's workout, but I'll cover that in my Day 16 recap tomorrow.

    Now onto the food:

    • Breakfast: Small Fruit Loop'd Protein Shake w/Almond Milk (160 Calories)
    • Lunch: Chicken Quinoa Bowl w/Spinach, Baby Carrots and Sriracha (400 Calories)
    • Snack: Bag of Dried Apricots (400 Calories)
    • Dinner: Scrambled Egg Whites w/Parmesan and Sriracha (260 Calories)
    • Snack: Kale Chips (150 Calories)

    Total Calories: 1370

    Like I mentioned yesterday, I'm trying to shift my heavy eating into the afternoon when I'm active and burning more calories, rather than at night. So I had a pretty light dinner with a little later, and I felt pretty satisfied. I just need to stick to that routine. By the way, those scrambled egg whites were super delicious, so if you need a low-cal, high-protein meal, here's all you need:

    1. (6) Large Eggs, Egg Whites Only
    2. Shredded Parmesan (I don't remember exactly how much I used weight-wise, but I remember that it was 150 calories' worth)
    3. Black Pepper for the Eggs
    4. Some Sriracha for Added Flavor

    Just throw those egg whites onto a pan, scramble 'em up, then reduce the heat and throw in the parmesan. Once it's nice and melted, get that sriracha and pepper in there and toss it around a little to get an even spread. It's nice and gooey with a lot of savory flavor. I'm thinking it'd probably go great on a pita - the egg and parmesan mix together really well, so it'd work great as a low-cal homemade pizza. Plus it takes less than 10 minutes to put together with easy-as-hell cleanup. Get at it!

    Thanks for reading, folks! Come back tomorrow for Day 16!

    Monday
    Jul282014

    30 Days of Fitness: Days 12-14

    Hey folks, and welcome back to 30 Days of Fitness, my journey to being less of a fat dude. For those of you unaware, the rules for this month are simple - I can't consume more than 1500 calories a day, except for my cheat day on Saturdays, and I have to work out four times a week, from Monday through Thursday in the morning. So let's recap this past weekend, Days 12-14!

    Day 12: 7/25/2014

    After having a really tough day on Thursday, last Friday was a really relaxing return to form. I slept great, and my energy level was exactly where it needed to be. Here's what I ate:

    • Breakfast: Chocolate Protein Shake (160 Calories)
    • Lunch: Kimchi Quinoa Bowl (380 Calories)
    • Late Afternoon Meal: 2X Bowls of Raisin Bran w/Almond Milk (440 Calories)
    • Dinner: 2X Salmon Patty Burgers on a Whitebread Bun w/Spinach and Sriracha (450 Calories)

    Total Calories: 1430

    Looking at this breakdown, and thinking about my eating habits in general, I think I'm a little bottom-heavy with my eating. I should really be focusing more on eating in the earlier part of the day when my metabolism is faster, and then having something light for dinner, rather than the opposite. It's something I'm going to try and change this week.

    Day 13: 7/26/2014 (CHEAT DAY)

    Ahhh Cheat Day. My girlfriend went blueberry picking with her friends, so I decided to spend my Saturday morning and afternoon, well, eating like an asshole. That night, I hosted a party in my pack patio for Jon's girlfriend, Katie. It was her birthday, and we had a great time. So here's the breakdown:

    • Breakfast: 1 Biscuit, 1 Slice of Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake at Bang! Bang! Pie Shop
    • Lunch/Dinner/Post Drinking Eating: 1 Large Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Papa Johns
    • Nighttime Drinking: 3 Beers

    There's no two ways about it, that pizza is like dropping a fat bomb into your stomach. I'd been craving its awfulness for a few days, so I figured I'd just dive in. But as I'll get to later, I honestly overdid it with this cheat day, and I think next time, I'll show a little more restraint.

    Day 14: 7/27/2014

    I woke up pretty late (for me) on Sunday, and I didn't end up eating until the afternoon. I think I still had (and have, to be honest) that pizza in my stomach. Here's the breakdown:

    • Lunch: Chicken Quinoa Bowl w/Spinach, Baby Carrots and Sriracha (400 Calories)
    • Pre-Dinner Snack: Low Fat Potato Chips (150 Calories)
    • Dinner: Jalapeno Turkey Burger in a Pita with Avacado (300 Calories)
    • Desert: 1 Cup of Mashed Sweet Potatoes (250 Calories)

    Total Calories: 1100

    Not too bad, but again, too much eating later in the day. I really need to focus on that.

    So let's get to the not so fun part. I should start by saying that I actually weighed myself on Friday morning at my house since my gym's scale's been acting weird lately (it'll show your weight for a few seconds, then give you a Low Battery message - I guess it needs to be charged? I dunno). On Day 12, my weight was 228, which was 10.5 pounds down from my starting weight. So let's look at the breakdown from this morning post-workout:

    Starting Weight: 238.5 Pounds
    Current Weight:
    230.4 Pounds
    Weekly Weight Loss:
    2 Pounds
    Total Weight Loss:
    8.1 Pounds

    A few things popped in my head after seeing that this morning, and seeing that I'd gained 2.4 pounds since Friday:

    1. I overate this weekend and I've put on more fat than I was able to burn off in the mean time.
    2. I need to switch my routine up. It's getting too easy and I'm not exerting myself like I should be.
    3. I took in a lot of food this week and a big portion of it has been converted into muscle weight.

    Truthfully, it's probably a mix of all three, but there's really one thing I need to keep in mind above all else:

    • My weight is going to fluctuate, and I need to accept that. It's still a net loss week-to-week and this is a marathon, not a sprint. I can't get discouraged.

    It's hard, though. I really wanted to show off passing the 10-pound milestone today, and it sucks that I won't be able to do that until next week (hopefully). Maybe this extra weight will evaporate over the next couple days, but I think the main lesson here is that I need to move forward and focus on staying healthy, feeling good and getting more fit.

    Thanks for reading! Come back tomorrow for Day 15, when we'll be talking about boredom and the need to switch up your routine.

    Friday
    Jul252014

    30 Days of Fitness: Day 11

    Hey folks, welcome back to 30 Days of Fitness, the start of my journey to be less fat. As always, if this is your first blog, the rules are that I can't consume more than 1500 calories per day and that I have to exercise Monday through Thursday in the morning before work. So let's get down to it and talk about Day 11!

    Day 11: 7/24/2014

    Day 11 was probably the toughest day of this diet so far. For a lot of reasons, really, but I think the core problem yesterday was that I didn't start the day with the right amount of energy. Only having taken in around 800 calories on Day 10 left me more tired than usual, but I figured it was probably just because it was my last day of the week working out. So I hopped on the train and made my way to the gym. This was my workout:

    • 125 Calorie Burn on the Elliptical
    • 50 Freeweight Curls
    • 125 Stomach Crunches
    • 50 Leg Lifts
    • 75 Lat Machine Reps
    • 125 Rowing Machine Reps
    • 125 Calorie Burn on Exercise Bike
    • 50 Freeweight Curls

    I actually felt like my time on the elliptical was pretty easy, and I'll probably raise the resistance on it next week (though I'll probably still shoot for 125 calories burned for time constraints). But once I started doing my upper body exercises, I just felt like I wasn't able to use my muscles fully, like something was weighing me down. As a result, everything else I did that day, floor exercises aside, took much longer than usual, and my regular 55-60 minute workout ended up taking nearly 80. I hit all of my marks, and ultimately, I'm sure the workout did its job, but it was much more grueling. And I'd bet my life that it was becuse I didn't have my usual amount of caloric energy.

    Calories are painted as the enemy in weight loss. After all, to lose weight, you've gotta burn calories and watch your intake to make sure you're not over-indulging. But at the end of the day, calories (and sodium and fat and a bunch of other so-called dangerous substances) are 100% necessary for you to function. We all know this, but really make sure you understand that you NEED calories, and that depriving yourself isn't going to do any favors. This was an accident on my part - I fell asleep before taking in my last two meals and didn't have time to recover before my workout - but I still definitely paid the price. As a result of being malnourished, my whole day yesterday felt groggy, a bit nauseous, and full of headaches. I tried to compensate with more meals, as you'll see below, but the damage had already been done, and I didn't fully recover until I took the time to relax when I got home.

    The lesson here is simple - dieting is important and making sure you're not over-eating is vital, but under-eating is just as bad, and will actually end up making you feel worse. And since the key goal for exercise and eating healthy should be to feel better, under-eating is only going to get in the way of your ideal body and state of mind.

    Having said all of that, let's get to the food:

    • Breakfast: Chocolate Protein Shake w/Almond Milk (180 Calories)
    • Lunch: Chicken Chili w/Cheddar and Greek Yogurt at Protein Bar (380 Calories)
    • Lunch Snack: Cheddar Multigrain Chips at Protein Bar (220 Calories)
    • Dinner: 2 Bowls of Raisin Bran w/Almond Milk (440 Calories)
    • Pre-Bed Snack: 1 More Bowl of Raisin Bran w/Almond Milk (220 Calories)

    Total Calories: 1440

    Yeah, I ate a lot of cereal last night. I was just feeling tired, and I didn't feel like cooking, so there ya go. I should note that, on the way home, I picked up some new almond milk which actually has less calories than the last batch I bought - this one is only 30 as opposed to 40. Not much in the grand scheme, but it tastes pretty much the same, so I won't complain. And it lets me eat more cereal, so it's a win-win, if you ask me.

    The important thing here is that I was much closer to my goal of 1500 calories, which left me feeling satisfied and energized this morning after a good night's sleep.

    Thanks for reading! Come back on Monday as I round up this weekend and reveal my next weigh-in!

    Thursday
    Jul242014

    30 Days of Fitness: Day 10

    Hey there, everyone! Welcome back to 30 Days of Fitness, my month-long kickoff to being less of a fat guy. The rules are simple - 1500 calories per day and four hour-long workouts from Monday through Thursday in the morning. Today I'll be going over, you guessed it, Day 10.

    Day 10: 7/23/2014

    My start was pretty normal other than that I didn't get to make my protein shake because I was over at my girlfriend's. It wasn't a big deal, though - Protein Shake's options are solid, if a little higher in calories than the ones I make at home. But that's why I hit the workout a little harder. And being leg day, that meant raising the weight on my reps. The routine itself stayed the same, though.

    • 125 Calorie Burn on the Elliptical
    • 50 Freeweight Curls
    • 125 Stomach Crunches
    • 50 Leg Lifts
    • 200 Hip Abduction (Weighted Thigh Crunches) Reps
    • 50 Leg Press Reps
    • 125 Calorie Burn on Exercise Bike

    Talking to my brother later (who's had lots of success with his own weight loss in the past), he was a little taken aback by my rep numbers. "Why so many? Isn't that overkill?" he asked. And maybe he's got a point. My motto's just been, do it until you feel like you need to stop. And I was able to hit 200 reps on the hip abduction machine fairly easily - it didn't really start to get hard until the last 50 or so. He mentioned that I should just double the weight and halve the reps. Maybe I'll try that next week.

    The leg lifts are also FINALLY getting a little easier. It's still tough to hit 50, but whereas I've usually done one set of 20 and three sets of 10, this time I was able to do two sets of 20 and one set of 10. Maybe in another week, I'll actually be ready to do more, or start hitting the same number while being weighed down. We'll see. I just know my abdominal muscles are usually contracted to half their size. And I've definitely noticed my waist getting a tad thinner. So I know it's working.

    Now onto the food!

    • Breakfast: Fruit Loop'd Protein Shake at Protein Bar (240 Calories)
    • Lunch: Tofu Quinoa Bowl w/Carrots, Spinach, Parmesan and Sriracha (420 Calories)
    • Snack: Nacho Cheese Kale Chips (150 Calories)

    Total Calories: 810

    And that's actually all I ate yesterday. Not on purpose, though. After having a snack, I decided to watch a little TV in bed, and I just passed out until my alarm went off this morning. Since I started getting up at 5AM and exercising, falling asleep once I'm laying down has actually become super easy (it's getting to be a reflex) - which is great for when I'm going to sleep for the night, but sometimes a little frustrating when I just want to lay down to relax. So I definitely didn't get the calories I needed last night (and I didn't get to make my lunch for today, so I'll have to go to Protein Bar) and it showed in this morning's workout, no doubt. I'll talk about that more tomorrow.

    I also got some great kimchi from my girlfriend, who stopped off at one of Chicago's Korean markets. Can't wait to cook with some - it's only like 12 calories per serving and it's so goddamn delicious. For those of you who don't know, kimchi is basically just fermented cabbage, sometimes with other veggies added. It's spicy and adds a lot of flavor to whatever it's cooked with. So I know it'll be great to throw into a bowl.

    Anywho, that'll wrap up today's blog. Thanks for reading, and be sure to come back tomorrow when I go over the effects of not getting enough calories!

    Wednesday
    Jul232014

    30 Days of Fitness: Day 9

    Welcome back to 30 Days of Fitness, my journey into healthy eating and a less fat body. For those of you just starting, I'm spending a month eating no more than 1500 calories per day, and working out Monday through Thursday for one hour in the morning. There's a lot to talk about today, so let's kick things off with my exercise routine:

    • 125 Calorie Burn on Elliptical
    • 100 Freeweight Curls
    • 125 Stomach Crunches
    • 50 Leg Lifts
    • 125 Reps on Rowing Machine
    • 75 Reps on Lat Machine
    • 125 Calorie Burn on Exercise Bike

    Yesterday was back to upper body workouts, with a boost in my freeweight... weight... and continuing my higher reps on the rowing and lat machines. The rowing machine in particular really had my beat by the end. But it's all having the desired effect, so that's what counts.

    Speaking of the gym, I wanted to take a minute to talk about confidence. I'm not talking about "Be yourself and she'll totally be into you" confidence (I tricked my girlfriend into liking me and she's stuck with me now, muahaha, so I don't really care how I'm perceived by other women) - I'm talking about confidence in yourself to hit your goal marks at the gym. Whether it's 20 minutes on the elliptical or 200 thigh crunches or the dreaded 50 leg lifts, it's pretty often that I think about just quitting. When I'm just starting my cardio for the day and I'm still warming up and I haven't gotten into a rhythm yet, it's so tempting to jump off, head back home and back into bed. It would be so easy, and other than some brief disappointment, it wouldn't even matter.

    But the thing is, it does matter. Not just every week, when I look at my weight loss, and not even every day, when I avoid the temptation to eat a greasy, delicious cheeseburger - it's every minute that I'm making the conscious decision to be healthier, to be stronger and to be better. I made the note on Twitter yesterday that exercising doesn't get easier. I never get out of bed glad that I'm missing two hours of sleep to go work out, and other than the endorphine high after I finish exercising, I've never fetishized the process. I don't enjoy it. But I enjoy its results because those results make me better. So no, exercise doesn't get easier, but you get stronger. And that strength has to start with confidence.

    Now onto the meals!

    • Breakfast: Chocolate Hydrowehy Protein Shake w/Almond Milk (180 Calories)
    • Lunch: Tofu Quinoa Bowl w/Carrots, Spinach, Parmesan and Sriracha (420 Calories)
    • Snack: Pro Power Protein Bar (210 Calories)
    • Dinner: Tofu Quinoa Bowl w/Carrots, Spinach, Parmesan and Sriracha (420 Calories)
    • Snack: Pro Power Protein Bar (210 Calories)

    Total Calories: 1440

    With my new cooked meals, I realized that I wasn't getting close enough to my goal of 1500, so I decided to eat a couple protein bars yesterday to get me a little closer. Generally, I wouldn't eat what's essentially a protein-packed candy bar with over 200 calories while on this diet, but I needed the energy, so there it is. Also, I need to start making different things for lunch and dinner. Having the same exact meal twice yesterday was a bit unappetizing and I'm starting to lose my affection for quinoa. I unfortunately have that same meal pre-packed for today's lunch, but for tomorrow, I'll be switching up the formula to allow for more variety. After all, I still have a ton of stuff from grocery shopping this weekend.

    Speaking of quinoa, I wanted to take a minute to dispell something I read online about cooking quinoa. Since Sunday was my first time making it myself, I was curious what the water-to-quinoa ratio ought to be. I've always used 2:1 for water and rice, but I wanted to be sure. And that's when I read a couple articles stressing that quinoa apparently must be kept dryer when cooked, lest it be soggy. I listened to these people, and used 0.75 Cups of Water for 0.5 Cups of Quinoa. The result was edible, but a bit pebble-like, and definitely not the fluffy goodness I was expecting. I rectified this the next day, and sure enough, the 2:1 ratio works like gangbusters.

    Thanks for reading! Come on back tomorrow for Day 10 when I'll be a third of the way there!

    Tuesday
    Jul222014

    30 Days of Fitness: Day 8

    Welcome back to 30 Days of Fitness, my journey to being less of a fat guy. Yesterday, I went over my weekend R&R, but I'm back in the thick of it, so let's go over Day 8!

    Day 8: 7/21/2014

    Yesterday was the first time that I didn't get up right away when my 5AM alarm went off. I think it's because the newness of this routine is fading, and so I'm not getting the immediate adrenaline kick from this being fresh and exciting. So I slept in around 20 minutes later than I should've. In the larger scheme, it doesn't really matter, because I still had plenty of time to work out and head into the office. But I need to be careful to not get lazy about getting up on time and staying consistent.

    On to the exercise routine!

    • 125 Calorie Burn on the Elliptical
    • 50 Freeweight Curls
    • 125 Stomach Crunches
    • 50 Leg Lifts
    • 200 Hip Abduction (Weighted Thigh Crunches) Reps
    • 50 Leg Press Reps
    • 125 Calorie Burn on Exercise Bike

    Coming off of the weekend, I wanted to hit the gym hard, so I've moved up the bar a little. I'm now doing an additional 25 caloric burns during my opening and closing cardio, I've added 25 more stomach crunches, and as you can see, I went a little nuts on the hip abduction machine. Last week, when I used that machine, my legs were basically raw meat for two days. But this time, I didn't feel the burn nearly as bad, so I just kept going until I felt like I couldn't continue. 200 reps seemed like a nice round number, so I shot for that. Leg presses weren't quite as easy, so that's remained the same. Oh, and yeah, leg lifts are still fucking hard.

    Yesterday was also the first day that I started eating my own meals:

    • Breakfast: Chocolate Hydrowhey Protein Shake w/Almond Milk (180 Calories)
    • Lunch: Tofu Quinoa Bowl w/Shredded Parmesan and Sriracha (520 Calories)
    • Snack: Apple (95 Calories)
    • Snack: Nacho Kale Chips (150 Calories)
    • Dinner: 2 Small Bowls of Raisin Bran w/Almond Milk (460 Calories)

    Total Calories: 1405

    I'd intended to eat another apple before going to bed and hitting a perfect 1500, but I never really got hungry, so I figured I'd hold off until the morning. Oh, and as you can see, almond milk has found a great place in my diet. There was an article recently about how drinking almond milk is dumb because there are only a handful of almonds used, and it's mostly water, so why not just drink water, etc etc. What the author doesn't realize (or is ignoring) is that almond milk also tastes great and is really low in calories. So it's great for people who don't want the high calorie count in 2% milk, the water blandness of skim milk or the weird estrogen content in soy milk.

    My unsweetened almond milk is 40 calories per cup, which means I can put two cups of it in with my protein powder and have a filling breakfast for way less calories. And I'm already getting most of my nutrients from my powder and other meals anyway, so the so-called lack of nutrition isn't a concern. Anyway, what I'm saying here is that if you want a great alternative to 2% milk, try some unsweetened almond milk. You might be surprised.

    And that's Day 8. Come back tomorrow for a return to upper body workouts and conquering a lack of confidence!

    Monday
    Jul212014

    30 Days of Fitness: Days 5-7

    Hello and welcome back to 30 Days of Fitness! Today, I'll be rounding up my journey to be less fat from over the weekend. Since my workout days are Monday through Thursday, Friday through Sunday is my rest and relaxation period, especially since Saturday is my Cheat Day. So there won't be any exercise breakdowns today, and definitely not any caloric breakdowns for Saturday. Having said that, let's get started!

    Day 5: 7/18/2014

    • Breakfast: Froot Loop'd Protein Shake at Protein Bar (240 Calories)
    • Lunch: Spinach Pesto Bowl at Protein Bar (480 Calories)
    • Dinner: Chicken Pita w/Assorted Veggies and Moroccan Aioli (~700 Calories)

    I found out about midday that my girlfriend and I were going to go hang out and grab dinner and drinks that night. Now, on my diet, drinking alcohol isn't really practical (empty calories, and I'm way more likely to snack when I'm drinking), but I figured, having only had 720 calories that day, that if I could make it to dinner without eating anything else, I could find something on the menu that would keep me under 1500. We went to Harding Tavern in Logan Square, and I got the chicken pita. I was worried primarily because their menu specified that the chicken was thigh and because of that ailoi. The pita was going to be around 160 calories, and the thigh was going to be like 450, which only left like 120 calories for the ailoi, the vegetables and any butter they might use during the cooking process.

    Luckily, the menu online was wrong, and it turned out they actually use chicken breast, which cut about 200 calories from the meal. With the pita+chicken combo at only 410, and the moroccan aioli only adding 160 calories (thanks, Google!), I figured leaving 150 calories for vegetables and butter was a reasonable allowance. I'm sure butter was used, so I'm estimating that meal at around 700 calories.

    Total Calories: ~1440

    Not so bad, right? Well, I honestly didn't handle that day very well. See, I ate lunch around 11:30, and we didn't end up eating dinner until about 8:30. So I went a full nine hours without eating, and having only had around 700 calories that whole day, I was feeling a bit light-headed. My girlfriend told me I needed to eat something, just to keep going, and that there was no health benefit in starving myself. But I'm a stubborn idiot and I just kept stressing that this was the diet I chose, and I was going to stick to it. I made it to dinner all right, and within five minutes of eating, I was back to normal, but there was really no reason to do what I did. I could've had an apple and gone 35 calories over my limit and I would've been fine. We actually ended up doing some walking around the neighborhood later, so I would've burned off those calories no-problem. But part of the reason I know I'm going to finish these 30 days also makes me blind to reason sometimes, I guess.

    What it comes down to is, the whole point of this diet is to be healthier, and starving yourself to hit an abritrary number isn't healthy. Lesson learned.

    Day 6: 7/19/2014 (Cheat Day)

    Fuckin' cheat day hell yeah eat dat shiiiiiiiiit!

    So yeah, I was looking forward to Cheat Day. Other than the psychological benefit of diving back into unrestricted eating, it also plays the vital role in keeping my caloric burn rate high. See, since I've started eating less, my stomach's going to try and adjust by burning calories slower so that my weight is maintained. But since I'm trying to cut weight, cheating on my diet once a week fools my stomach into thinking that nothing's changed, and I'll continue to burn off fat as planned.

    I also celebrated my six-month anniversary with my girlfriend this weekend. It was actually last Tuesday, but since I wasn't able to eat anything at a restaurant, we put off celebrating it to Saturday. And celebrate, we did! After brunch and an afternoon snack, we went to Avec, one of the best restaurants in Chicago and had a feast for the ages. Afterwards, we went out for a drink and hung out in Lakeview before hitting up a midnight screening of Labyrinth at the historic Music Box Theater.

    • Brunch: Espresso French Toast w/Maple Syrup, Glass of Orange Juice
    • Midday Snack: Gummi Lifesavers and Ritz Cheese Crackers (Fuckin' Sue Me, I Like Them)
    • Dinnner - Appetizer: Cheese Plate w/Bread and Almonds
    • Dinner - Wine Pairing: Two Glasses Each of Red and White Wine (Fancy, Expensive)
    • Dinner - Main Course 1: Farmer's Steak w/Kale Chips
    • Dinner - Main Course 2: Squid & Chorizo Sausage in Squid Ink
    • Dinner - Desert 1: Housemade Nutter Butters
    • Dinner - Desert 2: Amaretto Cake w/Creamy Goat Cheese
    • Post-Dinner Drink: Founders All Day IPA
    • Pre-Movie Boost: 1 Medium Coffee w/Cream
    • Movie Snack: 1/2 Bag of Popcorn

    The steak I had at Avec is probably the best steak I've ever tasted in my life. And the cheese was phenomenal, holy crap. I'm not a wine guy, but they had some great stuff. Those nut butters are ridiculously tasty (and rich), and we were so full, we only ate like half of the amaretto cake. I should note that this isn't just me eating this - this is split between my girlfriend and I. Avec is a tapas restaurant, so everything is meant to be shared. The squid and chorizo was good, but everything else was just on another level. I can't recommend Avec enough.

    As for the midnight screening of Labyrinth, that movie is bonkers, and you'll definitely hear me talk about it on the next BOP.

    So that was my cheat day. It was epic and soul-enriching and my girlfriend and I had a great time. I felt renewed the next day, both physically and mentally. I think that's the most you can ask for out of a Cheat Day.

    Day 7: 7/20/2014

    Sunday was basically the hangover of an epic cheat day. I didn't literally have a hangover (after that crazy dinner, we didn't really have room for more than one drink). But we slept in super late, and ended up taking another nap shortly after breakfast. Yesterday was also the day I did my massive grocery for the week so that I wouldn't have to go to Protein Bar every day to stay on track. So my calorie intake yesterday was actually super low. But seeing as how I wasn't very active, and I felt fine before I went to bed, I don't think it's a big deal. Especially since I'm sure I consumed, minimal, 3000 calories the day before.

    Before I detail what I ate that day, I thought it might be cool for me to share my grocery list with you:

    • Baby Spinach
    • Quinoa (Both White and Tri-Color)
    • Baby Carrots
    • Low-Fat Shredded Parmesan
    • Lean Chicken Cutlets
    • Lean Ground Turkey Breast
    • Tofu
    • Almond Milk (Unsweetened)
    • Salmon Burgers (Frozen, Trader Joe's Brand)
    • Eggs
    • Nacho Cheese Kale Chips (Trader Joe's Brand)
    • Raisin Bran
    • Hydro Whey Protein Shake Powder (Chocolate Brownie Flavor, Brought at GNC)
    • Apples

    I also picked up some good lunch containers to bring my food to work. So last night, before going to bed, I cooked my lunch for today. And before I left for the gym this morning, I made my protein shake for after my workout. Everything I bought yesterday came out to around $100, and considering around $45 of that was my protein powder at GNC (which I'll only need to re-purchase once a month), that's not too bad at all.

    So here's what I ate yesterday

    • Breakfast: Egg Whites From 4 Eggs, Added Chili Sauce (68 Calories)
    • Midday Snack: Nacho Kale Chips (150 Calories)
    • Dinner: 2 Small Bowls of Raisin Bran w/Almond Milk (460 Calories)

    Total Calories: 678

    And that was my weekend. Not too bad, really. Oh, but before I close this entry out, I wanted to update you guys on my weight:

    • Starting Weight: 238.5 Pounds
    • Current Weight: 232.4 Pounds
    • Weight Loss: 6.1 Pounds

    Thanks for reading! Come back tomorrow for my Day 8 roundup!

    Friday
    Jul182014

    30 Days of Fitness: Day 4

    Hello and welcome back! For those of you just joining us, I'm on an epic journey to be less of a fat dude. For 30 days, I'll be limiting my caloric intake to 1500 per day, and working out four times a week, from Monday through Thursday. The quest to get down to 185 pounds will be much longer, but these 30 days will set the primer. Now onto Day 4!

    Day 4: 7/17/2014

    Yesterday was probably the hardest day I've had at the gym yet. Working out three days in a row left me a bit more sore in the morning than I'd expected, but I pushed on anyway. Since I'd taken a day off of upper body workouts to do leg stuff, I was back into incorporating the rowing machine and pull downs for my routine. Here's what I did:

    • 100 Calorie Burn on Elliptical
    • 100 Freeweight Curls
    • 100 Stomach Crunches
    • 50 Leg Lifts
    • 75 Pull Downs
    • 125 Reps on Rowing Machine
    • 100 Calorie Burn on Exercise Bike

    I think I may have overdone it on upper body stuff yesterday. My arm muscles likely hadn't fully recovered from Tuesday, so pushing them that hard yesterday perhaps wasn't the best idea. They're not super sore this morning, though (just the regular amount of sore), so we'll see. Leg lifts continue to be hard as shit, but I'm gonna try to up my number to 60 for next week's workout. Speaking of upping my numbers, it's time to move the caloric burn goals on my elliptical and bike routine, too. I'm hitting 100 too easily now, so as of next week, I'll shoot for 125.

    Now onto the food!

    • Breakfast: Fruit Loop'd Protein Shake at Protein Bar (240 Calories)
    • Lunch: 2 Bootlegger Club Sandwiches on Lettuce Wrap, no Tomato, EZ Mayo, No Cheese at Jimmy Johns (235 Calories Each)
    • Snack: Apple (95 Calories)
    • Dinner: 1.5 Servings of Vegan Bento Box w/Brown Rice, Carrots, Spinnach Dumplings and Corn (320 Calories Per Serving)

    Total Calories: 1285

    I came in under again, but the truth was, that Vegan Bento Box was super filling (I couldn't actually finish the whole box of two servings) and I just wasn't hungry the rest of the night. Normally I would've had an apple as well, but I just didn't need one. Speaking of vegan food, I would never actually become a vegan, but looking through the vegan section at the store yesterday, there were a ton of options for meals within my needs. Vegan food just happens to be high protein, low-calorie, and low-sodium.

    And that low-sodium thing is important. Especially after the fuckup I made yesterday. See those two lettuce wrap sandwiches I got from Jimmy Johns? I was looking for a change from Protein Bar, and for the hell of it, decided to check out the nutritional breakdown of my favorite sandwich at JJ's - the Bootlegger Club. Obviously the french bread options was out (it's like 450 calories by itself), and so was the multigrain bread option. But there's barely anything harmful in lettuce, so what's left is some deli sandwiches and some low-fat mayo (which still accounts for like 80 calories, honestly). No big deal, right?

    Yep, big deal. Because I wasn't paying attention to the sodium levels in the sandwich. A Bootlegger Club, even when you break it down that much, still contains over 800 MG of sodium. The recommended daily intake of sodium is 1500, and it's not recommended you go over 2100 on the high end. But right there, I was having well over 1600 MG. Needless to say, I'm going to keep a closer eye on the sodium levels of my food from here on out.

    Before I close this blog out, though, I should note that I made another change to my daily routine. Those of you who know me a bit know that I work in the tech sector, and as a result, sit at a desk all day. Well, it's no secret that sitting for that long every day messes with your posture, the health of your back in general, and drastically reduces the amount of calories you burn. So last week, I put in the request for a standing desk, and it arrived yesterday afternoon. So far I've only used it a couple of hours, but I'm interested to see how it affects my energy level, my sleep, and how much weight I lose.

    Come back Monday as I round up the weekend and my first cheat day!

    Friday
    Jul182014

    BOX OFFICE POISON: EPISODE 86

    Welcome back to Box Office Poison! This episode, Karl, Jon, Mike, and Stan get together to discuss Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Snowpiercer, Life Itself, and a whole lot more. Then in our second segment Jonny joins us to talk about his pick for Movie of the Month Contact!

    Next episode we are gonna go through another batch of listener mail so send in your questions/comments/concerns to crosstawk@gmail.com or hit us up on Twitter (@crosstawk). See ya then!

    Direct Download

    Thursday
    Jul172014

    30 Days of Fitness: Day 3

    Hey, everbody!

    For those of you just starting to read these, I'm on a quest to be less of a fat dude. It's not gonna happen in 30 days, but for the next month, I'm on a very specific routine that I'll be sharing with you. The rules are pretty simple. I can't exceed 1500 daily calories and I have to work out four times a week in the mornings, Monday through Thursday. So let's kick off the roundup on Day 3!

    Day 3: 7/16/2014

    First up, if there's any fitness meme I could never get out of my head, it's been "Bros don't let bros skip Leg Day." We've all seen those weird pictures of Hugh Jackman, right? Basically, he's build like a brick wall from the waist up, but has tiny little stick legs. There's a pretty good reason for this (basically, you almost never see Wolverine's bare legs, so why wast time?), but it looks kinda odd. My legs have always looked pretty decent (holding up the rest of my body is a pretty good workout, I'd imagine), but hey, who am I to skip Leg Day? My upper body needed a rest anyway. So my routine was as follows:

    • 100 Calorie Burn on Elliptical
    • 50 Freeweight Curls
    • 100 Stomach Crunches
    • 50 Leg Lifts
    • 100 Thigh Crunches (Weighted Machine)
    • 50 Leg Presses (Machine)
    • 100 Calorie Burn on Exercise Bike

    Speaking of leg presses, I had a bit of an embarrassing scenario happen. So, before I saw that there was a much more handy leg press machine, I decided to try the regular leg press. It's pretty much the same, only you have to put the weights on yourself, rather than just putting the stopper into the right hole. You're also reclining back with the weighted press aimed pretty much right at your face. Only the stopper in the mechanism is preventing it from crushing you if you take your legs out.

    Unfortuntely, like, as soon as I did a full leg extention, I dunno, somehow that stopper like flipped upside down, and when I brought my legs back in, the press went pretty damn close to my face. It wasn't hard to push it back out, but now there was no stopper to keep it in place when I was done. At this point, I looked around and saw a couple other people nearby. I thought about asking for a little help, but I guess my embarrassment won out and I stayed quiet. I decided to bring my legs back a little further and try to just sideways-somersault out of there, but thankfully, when my knees where basically toucing my chest, there was another stopper (an emergency one, I'd guess) that kept it in place, so I was able to just get up, no problems. Now I was really glad I didn't ask for help. (NOTE: You should always ask for help, though. My place to escape was pretty dumb and I could have really hurt myself if that other stopper hadn't been in place)

    The rest of the workout went great - after I found that leg press machine, I was able to do the rest of my exercises and I went on my merry way. Now onto the calorie breakdown:

    • Breakfast: Large Comiskey Cocoa Chocolate Protein Shake at Protein Bar (300 Calories)
    • Lunch: Healthy Parm Bowl at Protein Bar w/Quinoa, Chicken, Parmesan, Marinara Sauce (390 Calories)
    • Snack: Apple (95 Calories)
    • Snack: Small Fruit Loop'd Vanilla Protein Shake at Protein Bar (160 Calories)
    • Dinner: Spinach & Pesto Bowl at Protein Bar w/Spinach, Basil Pesto, Quinoa, Chicken and Shredded Parmesan
    • Snack: Apple (95 Calories)

    Total Calories: 1520 Calories

    I ended up going over yesterday, but 20 calories is pretty negligible in the big picture, and since I'd come in under the previous two days, I figure it all kind of evens out.

    So you might notice (aside from the shitton of Protein Bar that I ate yesterday) that I started incorporating protein shakes into the daily intake schedule. I just wasn't sure if I was getting my daily protein dosage correct (though I probably wasn't too far off). I figured, since protein is a great way to satisfy hunger, I ought to just drink a protein shake. The chocolate one was really tasty, but the Fruit Loop'd shake has way less calories, even in its larger form, and it actually has a tiny bit more protein. Needless to say, it's what I had this morning instead.

    Be sure to check back tomorrow to find out how the rest of Day 4 goes!