Nutrition Strategy

Just like exercise or fitness programs, I experiment with food, nutrition and dietary styles. I enjoy food; I love cooking & baking; experimenting with different ways to prepare food.

I keep a busy schedule so on work days I bring lunch & snacks with me plus a pre/post workout meal since I go to the gym right after work. I also started bringing breakfast with me too since mornings suck and I sleep until the last possible moment lol. Finding the most efficient ways to get the most amount of nutrients is key. This includes smoothies, and soups or chilies; quick & portable meals.

I have food intolerances (dairy/lactose and gluten) making the option of ordering out or delivery difficult (not to mention expensive), meaning I need to keep on top of meal planning and preparation. I also eat a primarily vegetarian based diet with some meals being vegan but on occasion I’ll consume fish (salmon, tuna, and sushi). Variables such as money, access to food (fresh produce) and time for meal planning/prep and cooking play a big role too.

Nutrition with regards to health and wellness can be as subjective as fitness is. The variables previously mentioned as well as work life, age, sex, daily commute, recreational activities, basal metabolic rate, type and duration of workouts. My dietary needs will look different from some one else’s. Your workout goals will also determine dietary needs and goals. Someone trying to loose fat mass is going to have different needs than someone trying to gain muscle mass. Let’s take a look at what’s involved in our nutrition and diets.

Table of Contents:

  1. Essential and Nonessential Nutrient
    1. Macronutrients
      1. Carbohydrates
      2. Proteins
      3. Fats
    2. Micronutrients
      1. Vitamins – water and fat soluble
      2. Minerals – electrolytes and trace
      3. Water
  2. Fiber
  3. Cholesterol
  4. Prebiotics and Probiotics
  5. Caffeine

Legend Key:

  • DV = daily value,
  • DI = daily intake,
  • DRI =Dietary Reference Intakes,
  • RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance,
  • AI = Adequate Intake,
  • g= grams,
  • µg, ug or mcg = micrograms,
  • mg = milligrams,
  • ml or mL = milliliter,
  • BW = bodyweight

Components of Nutrition:

First up…

Macronutrients are nutrients our body needs in large amounts; they provide our bodies with energy (calories).

Carbohydrates -> Glucose 

Roles: provide fuel during high intensity exercise; spares protein (to preserve muscle mass during exercise); provides fuel for the Central Nervous System namely you brain.
[1g of carbohydrate = 4 Calories]
DI: Sedentary Individuals: 40-50% of total daily calories should = carbohydrates. Exercises Regularly: 60%. Athletes or persons involved in heavy training: 70% (3.5-4.5g of carbs/lb. of BW).

Proteins -> Amino Acids 

The body needs to consume proteins with enough essential amino acids to synthesize the non-essential amino acids. Amino acids are our building blocks. A complete protein is comprised of 20 amino acids; 9 essential and 11 non-essential.

Roles: precursors for amino acids, tissue structure (organ tissues, muscle, hair, skin, nails, bones, tendons, ligaments & blood plasma); part of cell plasma membranes; metabolic, transport, & hormone systems; make up enzymes that regulate metabolism; acid/base balance maintain neutral environment.

[1g of protein = 4 Calories]

DI: Sedentary: 0.36g/lb BW. Recreational Athlete: 0.45-0.68g/lb BW. Competitive Athlete: 0.54-0.82g/lb BW. Teen Athlete: 0.82-0.91g /lb BW. Body Builder: 0.64-0.91g/lb BW. Restricting Cal: 0.364-0.91g/lb BW. Max body can utilize: 0.91g/lb BW.

Fats -> Lipids


  • Linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid – Found in fish, flaxseeds and walnuts
  • Linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid – Found in nuts, most vegetable oils and some whole grains

Roles: energy reservation, protects vital organs, insulation and transports fat soluble vitamins.

[1g of fat = 9 Calories]

DI: 20-35% of your total daily calories should = fat, <10%  should = Saturated Fat (coconut & palm kernel oil, shortening, butter, cream cheese, full fat dairy products). Sources: Oils, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, dairy; micronutrients.

Next up…

Micronutrients are nutrients the body needs in smaller amounts; they enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development.


Most vitamins are essential, but a couple are made in the body. Ex: Vitamin D is synthesized via skin cells using sunlight. Biotin is another that is not essential because it’s made in your intestines by gastrointestinal bacteria. Other vitamins, like K, are made in the body but still need additional daily recommendations for intake.
  • Vitamin A (beta-carotene, retinol)
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin)
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid/ folate)
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Vitamin D (ergocalciferol D2, cholecalciferol D3)
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol)
  • Vitamin K (naphthoquinoids)

Water Soluble: 

Fat Soluble:


Electrolytes and Trace Elements are the 2 main groups of minerals. Electrolytes are needed in larger quantities than trace elements.
  • Calcium (Ca) – Functions: maintains teeth & bones, helps clot blood, and helps nerves & muscles function. DV: 1000mg Sources: dairy milk & fortified non-dairy milks, dark green vegetables, sardines, clams, oysters, legumes, and almonds.
  • Chloride (Cl) – Functions: balances fluids, essential role in production of digestive juices in the stomach. DV: 1800-2300mg; 3400mg in Cl form. Sources: sodium chloride = table salt
  • Magnesium (Mg) – Functions: supports 300+ biochemical reactions, muscle and nerve function; keeps heart beating regularly; builds strong bones & boosts immunity; important for enzyme-catalyzed reactions; keeps kidneys, heart and brain healthy. DV: 350mg Sources: Beans, nuts, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, nuts, soybeans, legumes, bran cereals and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower & flaxseeds).
  • Phosphorus (P) – Functions: helps build strong bones & teeth, produces proteins body needs & repairs cells; helps cells function and make energy. DV: 700mg Sources: mushrooms, meat, poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts & dairy products.
  • Potassium (K) – Functions: regulates water balance in cells, helps nerves function, and is important for heart rhythm. DV: 3500mg Sources: oranges, bananas, cereal, potatoes, and dried beans.
  • Sodium (Na) – Functions: regulates water balance and stimulates nerves. DV: 2400mg Sources: table salt, bread; almost everything
Trace Elements:
  • Chromium (Cr) – Functions: known to enhance action of insulin. DV: 120μg Sources: broccoli, potatoes, garlic, basil, meat, whole grains, apples, bananas, and green beans.
  • Cobalt (Co) – Functions: major role in the process of erythropoiesis (erythrocytes or RBCs are produced). DV: 3-5μg Sources: meat, milk, green leafy vegetables, liver, clams and oysters.
  • Copper (Cu) – Functions: aids in iron absorption and works with iron to help form RBCs, also helps keep blood vessels, nerves, immune system, & bones healthy. DV: 2mg Sources: beef liver, sunflower seeds, lentils, almonds, dried apricots, dark chocolate, blackstrap molasses, asparagus, mushrooms, and turnip greens.
  • Iodine (I) – Functions: production of thyroid hormones; healthy skin, hair & nails. DV: 150 μg Sources: fresh seafood, kelp, iodized salt, Swiss chard, spinach, turnip greens and summer squash.
  • Iron (Fe) – Functions: forms blood cells and transports oxygen throughout the body. DV: 15mg Sources: Dark green vegetables, whole-grain cereals, whole grains (brown rice & quinoa), legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and animal proteins.
  • Manganese (Mn) – Functions: combines with other minerals & promotes a healthy immune system; useful in producing sex hormones, blood clotting and for healthy skin, nails and hair. DV: 5mg Sources: Green leafy vegetables, avocados, blueberries, pineapples, kelp, green tea, eggs, fresh beetroot and wheatgerm.
  • Molybdenum (Mo) – Function: to act as a catalyst for enzymes & help facilitate the breakdown of certain amino acids in the body; combines with sulfite oxidase to catalyze sulfur-containing amino acids that are crucial for human health. DV: 75μg Sources: beans, lentils and peas as well as cereals and leafy vegetables; liver (but animal products are generally poor sources).
  • Selenium (Se) – Functions: anti-oxidant; vital for proper functioning immune system and thyroid gland; protects cells from damage. DV: 35μg Sources: organ meats, seafood, dairy, brewer’s yeast, butter, sesame seeds, garlic and Brazil nuts to boost content.
  • Zinc (Zn) – Functions: aids in transportation of carbon dioxide and healing wounds; forms enzymes. DV: 15mg Sources: whole grains, dairy milk & fortified non-dairy milks, and legumes.

Water, while not a ‘nutrient,’ almost all bodily processes require a watery environment.

Functions: moistens tissues (ex: mouth, eyes, and nose), protects body organs & tissues, helps prevent constipation & dissolve minerals & other nutrients to make accessible to body, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, lessens burden on the kidneys & liver by flushing out wastes, and carries nutrients & oxygen to cells.

Dietary Fiber is essential for health; not absorbed by the human digestive tract but assists digestion and helps remove toxins and wastes. There are 2 types: soluble and insoluble; both are important for health, digestion, and preventing diseases.
  • Soluble – attracts water and turns to gel during digestion, which slows digestion.

  • Insoluble – adds bulk to the stool and can help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells of the body and is needed for body processes. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need, 800mg per day (making it non essential) but you can get some from foods (dietary cholesterol).

Functions: make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods.

DV: a density level of 50-200 mg per 100 ml of blood = optimal; consumption of 200-300 mg per day or 1 egg yolk is more than enough

Probiotics vs Prebiotics: 

Function: acts as a central nervous system stimulant. When it reaches your brain, the most noticeable effect is alertness. DV: Up to 400mg appears to be safe for most healthy adults


Caffeine is known to have ergogenic benefits and can improve physical performance during endurance exercise.

“The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recognized that a cause and effect relationship has been established for caffeine intake and increased endurance performance and endurance capacity (in both cases for 3 mg/kg body weight 1 hour before exercise), and reduction in perceived exertion (4 mg/kg body weight 1 hour before exercise).”

The effects of caffeine on short-term high intensity exercise remain inconclusive.

I got all this information from medical and scientific journals, articles and dietary regulation websites through a google search 😀 and as you can see it’s a lot of information to process. Things like the recommended daily values have changed over time, making keeping up with guidelines tricky sometimes. It’s helpful to keep up with things like this and adjust accordingly with your personal variables and goals.

I found, what works best for me, is having about 5-6 small meals throughout my day (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, pre/post workout meal, dinner). I drink about 60-76oz of water daily (based on my weight and how many cups of tea or coffee I have). I usually have 1-2 (12oz) cups of tea almost daily and 1-2 (4-6oz) cups of coffee weekly. I will also drink the same amount of water as how ever many oz of coffee I drink to balance hydration since caffeine/coffee can dehydrate you. I also try to include all macros and micros in every meal. Sometimes it shakes out that my breakfast/lunch/dinner meals have all my macros and some micros while my snacks/workout meals tend to have more micros. As mentioned earlier, I eat primarily a vegetarian based diet with some meals being vegan based & on occasion I’ll enjoy a salmon or tuna dish or even sushi. This gives me a pretty balanced amount of food sources, as long as I’m able to get to the grocery store and not have to rely on a Family Dollar or something that doesn’t have fresh foods.

My daily caloric intake varies based on what my exercise goals are; when trying to loose weight (fat mass) I consume less overall calories but I pay attention to what type of calories I’m consuming. When I’m training for something like a marathon or if I’m weight lifting more, my calorie intake will often increase and the amount of macros changes.

Currently I am participating in a 12-week study for weight loss intervention with the 23andMe team to see how DNA/genetics affects things like weight loss, diet etc.. I was placed in the study group that is to add or increase their fiber intake, decrease fat intake from animal sources, and continue (or increase) physical activity. We check in at lease once a week with our progress via surveys and about once a week the 23andMe team has a webinar with a trainer or scientist etc.. I’m going into the fourth week, we’ll see how things conclude. 😀


Are You Fit?

That’s a loaded question, right?

  • What is fitness?
  • How do you tell whether someone is or isn’t fit?
  • What does it mean to be healthy?
  • What are the components of fitness, of health and well being?

These just a few questions, we and the fitness industry continue to define and redefine. This term also means different things to different people/ cultures. Qualifications for “being fit” for the average human adult are different than those for the various military branches and for athletes (the vary based on sport) etc..


  • the condition of being physically fit and healthy
  • the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task
  • an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment
  • CDC defines physical fitness as the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies


  • the state of being free from illness or injury
  • a person’s mental or physical condition
  • WHO defines health as the “State of complete physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” as a dynamic condition resulting from a body’s constant adjustment & adaptation in response to stresses & changes in the environment for maintaining homeostasis

Common Components of Fitness: 

  1. Cardiorespiratory endurance – typically measured by how long / fast a person can perform an activity & impacts on HR and O2 consumption; ex: cooper run
  2. Muscular endurance – typically measured by how many reps of an exercise a person can perform; ex: push ups
  3. Muscular strength – typically measured by how much weight can be moved in relation to reps; ex: squats or bench press
  4. Muscular power – typically measured by how much force can be generated during an activity.
  5. Flexibility – typically measured by how far a muscle group can be stretched or joint can be moved; ex: sit & reach test
  6. Balance – typically measured by how long a particular position can be held with or without some type of activity being performed; ex: standing on one leg or standing on an unsteady object while trying to catch a ball
  7. Speed – typically measured by how quickly an individual can move from one point to another; ex: 40-yard dash
  8. Body composition – this is the amount of fat on the body versus other tissues such as muscle, bones and skin. Measured through a variety of tests and devices; simple tests use equations or calipers, advanced tests use underwater weighing. Ex: bioelectrical impedance

A closer look at weight lifting …

Olympic Weight Lifting = a registered sport incorporating the use of two independent lifts requiring the athlete to lift a loaded barbell from the floor to an overhead position in an explosive manner.

The ‘Clean & Jerk’ & the ‘Snatch’ are explosive movements; they require a combination of maximal strength and maximal speed.


Powerlifting = an individualized sport where competitors attempt to lift as much weight as possible for one repetition in the squat, bench press, and deadlift 

Since this is the weight lifting type I work with, I’ll stick to this category


Average Standard for an Adult Woman (I looked at Body Weights of 148-165#):  

Bench Press: 

  • Untrained = 75-80#
  • Novice (training for 3-9 months) = 90-95#
  • Intermediately Experienced (training for 1-2 years) = 105-115#
  • Advanced Lifter (training for 2+ years) = 135-145#
  • Elite (competes) = 165-185#
    • Jennifer Thompson, a 132# powerlifter, broke her bench press record and set a new record by bench pressing 300#, ~2.3 times her body weight


  • Untrained = 65-70#
  • Novice = 120-130#
  • Intermediately Experienced = 140-150#
  • Advanced Lifter = 185-200#
  • Elite female who competes = 230-255#






  • Untrained = 80-90#
  • Novice = 150-160#
  • Intermediately Experienced = 175-190#
  • Advanced Lifter = 240-260#
  • Elite female who competes = 295-320#

General Lifting: 1.25 x your body weight = You’re average.
1.5 x body weight = You’re pretty strong.
2 x body weight = You’re a beast!

Some Notes/Suggestions on Bench Pressing (can be applied to squats and deadlifts too):

  • Switching from 8-10 reps to 5 helps build endurance; with fewer reps you can add in more weights, so the muscles become stronger and bigger.
  • Lifting 3 sets of weight at 30% of your 1-rep maximum makes for more muscle gains than lifting at 80 percent of your maximum.
  • You can increase bench strength by bench pressing at least 2x/wk with a rest of 3-4 days in between.
    • Bench press warm-ups include initial lighter sets. Gradually add weight until you have reached the work weight. Recommended warm-up with an empty bar before bench pressing.
    • Having an improved bench press form increases its effectiveness. Weight lifting becomes easy when the bar moves the shortest distance from the chest. This enhances stability and prevents injuries. An improper form may cause impingement of the shoulder, wrist, elbow and lower back.
  • Micro-loading refers to addition of <5lb/2.5kg in each workout. It directly elevates the bench pressing by slowing the plateaus. Plateaus can be delayed by smaller increments, because it slows down your progression. Adding weight becomes easy when you bench press heavy.
  • It’s essential to rest for 5 minutes between each set of heavy bench press. Resting for a longer duration increases the ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which will make the rep harder.
  • Whether you are doing shallow, parallel or deep squats, and regardless of your weight placement, you want to make sure the weight you are squatting is challenging enough to complete 8-12 repetitions before feeling muscle fatigue.
    • When can easily complete more reps, gradually increase your weight by 5-10%
  • If you are training with bench, squats & deadlifts, then once a week 60min for each lift is very adequate. If you are not doing bench and squats, then you can deadlift for 60min – 3x/week. If you are adding squats, then train deadlift routines once a week.


Push-ups are also a way to measure muscle strength and endurance. According to The American College of Sports Medicine, here’s how many modified push-ups you should be able to do based on age:

Age            Push-Ups

20 -29          17-33

30-39           12-24

40-49           8-19

50-59           6-14

60+               3-4

For full push-ups with toes on the ground, not knees, the average would be lower, but, hopefully, you’re working towards doing full unmodified push-ups.

If you can do 8-10 unmodified push-ups, you’re doing better than the overwhelming majority of women. The ability to do push-ups is an excellent indicator of overall muscle strength and endurance.

VO2 max:

Defined as the max amount of oxygen your body can utilize during exercise.  It’s a combo of how much O2-rich blood your heart can pump, & the muscles efficiency in extracting & utilizing the oxygen. These are relative VO2max scores, in the units of mL’s of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (

Suggested Strength Goals:


  • Bench press 75% bodyweight for 1 rep, or 85% of that number for 5 reps
  • Deadlift pull 150% bodyweight for a 1 rep, or 85% of that number for 5 reps
  • Barbell back squat 125% bodyweight
  • Standing Barbell Press at 60% of body weight – working up to a weekly 3-5 rep max on the standing barbell press then backing the weight down significantly & performing 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps.
  • Complete 10 Barbel hip thrusts at 1.5x bodyweight – pyramid sets, performing a set of 10, a set of 8, a set of 6, then a set of 15 reps
  • Perform 10 standard push ups
  • Complete 1 bodyweight chin up
  • Hold a plank for 2 min
  • Clear a 20″ box jump – strength (the ability to produce force) is very important, women should also focus on developing & maintaining power (how quickly and explosively strength is expressed).
    • If you’re new to jumps, start with a 12-inch-high surface, get your technique down, and then go from there. Try 3 sets of 3-5 jumps prior to your lower-body workouts, and try to progress the surface height every other workout

Fun Stuff…

Top 10 2012 CrossFit Open Men/Women:

Top 10 2014 CrossFit Open Men/Women:


There are many ways to look at fitness. It’s good to check out all the different qualifications of fitness and figure out for yourself what your goals are based on what it is your trying to accomplish. For myself, I’m looking for functionality – functional fitness. My motive for working out is to have a healthy and balanced life. I feel pretty good about where I’m at right now and where I stand strength wise. These numbers are a good way to track my success, set goals for myself and keep improving in the areas I need to!

2017 Fitness Recap

While I’ll focus on reviewing my overall fitness progress in this article I think looking back at / reviewing all aspects of your life each year is a good way to, see how far you’ve come and help set new (attainable) goals. Even though it’s been over a year since that SUV hit me, I’m still recovering (physically/ mentally/ emotionally) and it can be overwhelming at time. Fortunately I have a good support system in place and writing blog articles like this helps me keep me positive and encourages me to keep moving forward.

Anyway, here are the fitness stats…

Fitness: 1562.68 total miles that I biked, hiked, walked, and swam

  • January – 187.43 miles (biked), 11.8 hours/15 workouts (active 14 out of 31 days), ~8354 calories burned
  • February – 144.26 miles (biked), 9.3 hours/10 workouts (active 10 out of 28 days), ~5606 calories burned
  • March – 63.17 miles (biked & walked), 5.58 hours/21 workouts (active 16 out of 31 days), ~2744 calories burned
  • April – 50.68 miles (biked & walked), 10.85 hours/30 workouts (active 20 out of 30 days), ~2817 calories burned
  • May – 90 miles (biked & walked), 28.92 hours/36 workouts (active 19 out of 31 days), ~6066 calories burned

  • June – 97.5 miles (biked & walked), 22.42 hours/39 workouts (active 21 out of 30 days), ~7094 calories burned
  • July – 134.22 miles (biked, hiked & walked), 29.33 hours/52 workouts (active 26 out of 31 days), ~8527 calories burned
  • August – 84.14 miles (biked, hiked, walked & swam), 21.93 hours/42 workouts, (active 21 out of 30 days) ~6350 calories burned
  • September – 241.07 miles (biked & walked), 45.82 hours/62 workouts (active 27 out of 30 days), ~15679 calories burned
    • Note: this month, I started going to a gym
  • October – 170.56 miles (biked & walked), 38.3 hours/50 workouts (active 30 out of 31 days), ~14294 calories burned
  • November – 147.09 miles (biked & walked), 38.95 hours/49 workouts (active 26 out of 30 days), ~13536 calories burned
  • December – 155.56 miles (biked & walked), 41.57 hours/47 workouts (active 28 out of 31 days), ~14805 calories burned

Final assessment check in for the year: Weight: 155# BMI: 26.6

Measurements: final inch count 224″

  • Neck: 13″
  • Shoulders: 44″
  • Chest: 38″ (-1 inch from last month)
  • Biceps: 11″
  • Waist: 38″ (+4 inches from last month)
  • Hips: 42″
  • Thigh: 23″
  • Calf: 15″


Barbell Max Reps: 

  • Bench Press: 110#
  • Bent over Rows: 110# (best this year and 5# away from best PR)
  • Dead lift: 215# (New PR!)
  • Squat: 145#


Dumbbell Max Reps: 

  • Arm Curls: L30# R25#
  • Arm Extension: 45# (new PR!)
  • Shoulder Press: 45# (new PR!)
  • Shoulder Shrug: 85#
  • Lateral/Frontal Shoulder Raise: 15#


Stacked Machine Max Rep:

  • Leg Press (new machine): 260#
  • Calf Press (new machine): 295#
  • Leg Extension: 155#
  • Prone Leg Curls (new machine): 120#
  • Chest Press (new machine): 85#
  • Lateral Pull Down: 95#


As far as my inches go the gain of 16 inches from last year is 😦 but I only care about those of my bust/waist since that’s where health problems can occur. As far as my 1RM’s I am very pleased!

2018 Goals: 

  • Complete the 12-week Weight Loss Research Program I started with 23andMe
  • Good dietary habits – work on consistency
  • Continue the good exercise habits I have:
    • I’m walking everyday; goal = 10K steps; this goal is about getting up and moving more than it is about the actual steps
    • I’m biking 3-4 times a week mostly on my home trainer now & participating in biking-related events like mountain bike classes
    • I’m lifting 3-4 days a week
  • Continue to gain strength while maintaining muscular balance, joint flexibility and mobility
  • Once the weather fairs up again – do more exercising outside: trails, racing, camping, touring etc.


Heading into Winter Bulking


Weight: 154# BMI: 26

  • Neck: 13″
  • Shoulders: 44″
  • Chest: 39″
  • Biceps: 11″
  • Waist: 34″ (-1 inch from last month)
  • Hips: 42″
  • Thigh: 23″ (+1 inch from last month)
  • Calf: 15″

Strength 1RM’s: 


  • Bench Press: 110# (have reached my best PR)
  • Bent Over Rows: 100# (best so far this year, 15# away from best PR)
  • Dead lift: 210# (have reached my best PR)
  • Squat: 120# (+5# from Oct, 25# away from best PR)


  • Arm Curls: 30#
  • Arm Extension: 45#
  • Shoulder Press: 30#
  • Shoulder Shrug: 85# (kettlebell)

Stacked Machines:

  • Leg Press: 185# (+25# from Oct)
  • Calf Press: 325# (+40# from Oct)
  • Leg Extension: 160# (+15# from Oct)
  • Prone Leg Curls: 110# (+10 from Oct)
  • Chest Press: 90# (+30# from Oct)
  • Lateral Pull Down: 80# (-5# from Oct)
  • Overhead Press: 45#
  • Cable Biceps Curls: 60#
  • Cable Rope Tricep Overhead Extension: 50#
  • Cable Rope Tricep Push Down: 80#

Muscle Balance: 

  • My hamstrings are 69% of my quadriceps strength. I found more research giving a ratio of 50-80%; 75% I think is ideal; both are gradually increasing in overall strength.
  • My biceps are 67-75% of my tricep strength. Ideally this should be a 1:1 ratio, so I’ve been working to increase strength in my biceps.
  • My back muscles are 91% of my chest strength. This should also ideally be a 1:1 ration and if not the focus should be on strengthening the back muscles and looking for a 2:1 ratio. I’ve known this and continue to increase strength in my back; fortunately my back has increased quite a bit of strength these past few weeks.
  • The strength of my contralateral (left to right) muscle groups have evened out and are more 1:1 ratio now.
  • The strength-to-body mass ratio of my upper body is 59.5% of my lower body, which is on point in the 40-60% range.

Overall starting to feel noticeably stronger and better. I’ve been regularly lifting 3-4 days a week at the gym and cycling 3-4 days a week for the past couple months. I have a good foundation and lifting form. My posture has improved and it shows during lifts. The hard part now is really honing in on a proper and consistent diet.


I did a Thing…

In addition to experimenting with foods / diets that work best for me, I like investigating different health related fads. One such fad I have been curious about, is completing a juice cleanse/fast/detox. I have seen a lot of mixed reviews and results from juice cleanses. Generally I see this fad used as a way to loose weight fast, which works until you stop the cleanse, then all that weight and more comes back. In some cases person’s become pre-diabetic or diabetic due to the increase of sugar levels.

$$$Cost $$$: This largely depends on factors including how many days you want to fast, where you buy your ingredients from – online customized juices or make it yourself and buy everything from a store, and whether you have a really good juicer or need to buy that too. Typically cleanses are done in 1, 3, or 5-7 day lengths to start and those cost a couple hundred dollars. There are longer cleanses/ challenges that last about a month or longer and that is more in the thousands of  dollars cost range. I was able to do this because I found a sweet Groupon deal online.

Do Your Research: I read up on some of the benefits; the potential harm or risks if done incorrectly; the different companies to get juices from etc.. I also looked at what other people have done to do to prepare, how people have completed cleanses safely, cautions to be mindful of; post cleanse care






Pre-cleanse: decrease solid food intake about a week before the cleanse; doing a 24-48 hour solid food fast before the juice cleanse; doing some sort of colon therapy before a juice fast (this can help not to overload your gut with toxins as you’re trying to rid of them)






During the cleanse: hydration is very important – water consumption is very important, hot tea is okay too, maybe soup for 1 meal; if doing a 3-day cleanses do so over 5 days with a day of recovery in between juice days if can or doing so over a weekend where there’s less energy expenditure






Post cleanse: do a gradual re-introduction of solid foods;  avoid processed foods & high sugar content foods particularly right after the cleanse (this will undo any benefits gained from the cleanse)

Current Eating Habits:

I’ve been eating a vegetarian based diet for about 5 years now and very recently have added fish/seafood (namely sushi, salmon, tuna, & occasionally scallops). I still primarily eat vegetarian based meals but occasionally 1 meal has fish.

  1. My breakfast is usually a yogurt & fresh fruit or a smoothie when I plan ahead, maybe a small cup of coffee; a chai or matcha latte and some sort of pastry (scone, croissant) when I can’t plan ahead
  2. I have a morning snack of granola or nuts or protein balls when I plan ahead; chips, popcorn or a pop tart if I can’t
  3. My lunch is tricky during my work week since I have to bring it to work or put together a lunch from the family dollar store (no bueno). When I plan, I have a variety of veggies/fruits with rice & some sort of protein… often left overs from the previous night’s dinner end up being my lunch… if I’m unable to plan I usually have top ramen or soup
  4. My “afternoon snack,” usually post workout during the work week is protein balls or protein shake and sometimes fruit; my off days I usually have tea or a smoothie or no snack at all
  5. Dinner is usually some rice and veggie combo with a protein like beans/legumes/fish when planned ahead; mac n cheese or pasta of sorts if not.
  6. Before bed I try to have a cup of hot tea (this is a new habit I’m working on)

Dietary/lifestyle changes I’ve been working on or want to improve:

  1. Portion control – being mindful of what I eat and how much based on fitness goals
  2. Decrease caffeine intake, particularly with coffee
  3. Decrease sugar intake = VERY HARD TO DO because this stuff is in EVERYTHING but gotta do it!
  4. Decrease process food intake – again VERY HARD TO DO for many reasons that are worth a whole separate post
  5. Decrease dairy intake because mild-moderately lactose intolerant depending on the dairy (mostly it’s the milk that gets me). I’ve been doing this for years now but still something I’m always trying to be mindful of.
  6. Decrease simple carbohydrates (fits into decreasing dairy, sugar etc.)
  7. Decrease wheat, grain, and gluten intake because I have realized that I’m really gluten intolerant and my digestive tract hates it when I eat things with gluten

I did a 3-day cleanse/fast/detox (whatever you wanna call it). My order came with 6 juices for each day – to be consumed every 2-3 hours. Instructions suggested a schedule of 7am, 10am, 12pm, 3pm, 5pm, and 7pm intakes or what works best with my schedule.

Meet the Juices:

  1. Sunrise = blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, greens, apple, oats, flax, banana, chia
  2. Power green juice = apple, celery, cucumber, kale, spinach, chard, lemon, parsley, habenero
  3. Recharge = spinach, mango, avocado, celery, orange, apple
  4. Roots = carrots, celery, orange, apple, pineapple, ginger, turmeric, lemon
  5. Passion juice = watermelon, cucumber, strawberry, apple, triphala tea (with added cranberry & hibiscus)
  6. Puri Tea (best heated in a mug, sipped) = fennel, coriander, cumin, senna, cayenne, lemon, turmeric, ginger, apple

Here’s how it went

For breakfast I had the “Sunrise” juice along with a cup of hot tea & water. I usually walk to work each and this morning was nice since it helped work through the energy of the juice. For my morning snack I had the “Power Green” juice. I felt really hungry (stomach growling) around this time and afterward I felt a little light headed like I drank too much too fast, which is why I then added extra snacks of popcorn and a granola bar. My lunch was a little later than usual today, normally I eat around 2pm but today was around 3pm. I had the “Recharge” and some dumpling soup for this meal. I started feeling good again after lunch. No gym workout today so my afternoon snack was had later at home and it included the “Roots” juice and a little granola, nut and berry mix. For dinner I had the “Passion” juice with some top ramen noodles minus the seasoning packet though (I probably shouldn’t have but I needed something soup like with the juice). Unfortunately I was unable to consume all 6 of the juices for this day as it got to be too late for me to have the last juice; “Puri Tea.”

Notes from D1: I had a bowel movement after I woke up, a little soft but good color, girth etc. … no other BM’s for the rest of the day though. I felt a little light headedness and sleep deprived but I also did not get a full night’s rest so the tiredness and fatigue were more likely to due actual lack of sleep rather than the cleanse. A bit of a rocky start but overall not as terrible as thought.

My Day off! this means I got to sleep in; I definitely felt better after getting a full night’s sleep. My period also started (a couple days early). I hadn’t really accounted or thought of the affects this might have and most sites suggest holding off on a juice fast until after the menstrual cycle is complete as this is already a natural detox for my body (my uterus in particular). However, since I had already started the fast I decided to continue and add a little more foods/ snacks such as soup and an assortment of nuts.

For brunch I had a small latte (with almond milk) and a zucchini chocolate chip muffin from Black Forest Cafe along with the “Puri Tea” that was meant for last night oops! I also drank it cold instead of heated as suggested. My juice schedule will be off a little bit today so I did my best to have a juice about every 2 hours. I felt really hungry by afternoon lunch time; had the “Sunrise” juice and a chipotle burrito bowl (white rice, pinto beans, sprinkling of cheese & lettuce plus the new queso because I had to try it lol). My afternoon snack was the “Power Green” and today I had an early evening snack; the “Recharge” and some nut/berry mix. For dinner I had the “Roots” juice and a small glass of cashew chocolate milk. I also had an post dinner snack; the “Passion” juice and a cup of strawberry yogurt. I also added a bowl of oatmeal to add some extra fiber.

Notes from D2: I had a good BM in the late evening. I did complete all of the juices but the order was a little wonky – had the Puri Tea meant for last night this morning and did not have the Puri Tea juice meant for this day.

Another say off! slept in again till about the same time. Had a morning BM and it was looking good. Feeling good today. **My computer went wonky and deleted my nutrition log so this day won’t be as detailed as the other two. **Brunch was the “Sunrise” juice and some water. Ate soup and had the “Power Green” juice for lunch. I had the “Recharge” juice for my afternoon snack and the “Roots” juice a couple hours later. I had the “Passion” juice for dinner along with some white rice and a cup of cashew chocolate milk a little after.

Notes from D3: I had 2 BMs this day. The first was had earlier in the day (was a little more runny but expected due to consuming mostly liquids for the past couple days). The second was sometime in the evening (more like my normal BMs).

Overall I think it went alright, some hiccups along the way (period started during the fast; juice schedule got mixed up; ate more solid foods than anticipated; the fast fell on Halloween weekend and finished the day before Halloween, which made keeping good habits really difficult). I feel more sensitive to things like caffeine and alcohol. Going into this my main thought process was that I wanted to change my diet / habits and use this as a way to transition from old habits to new.

Some immediate changes:

  • Cut caffeine intake down to coffee only 2x a week with a matcha/chai tea once a week. Drinking more tea – green & herbal.
  • The sugar/ process food/simple carbohydrates intake is still a struggle but I’m paying more attention to what and how much I eat in order to limit this.
  • I’ve decrease my wheat/grain/gluten intake some but will really need to work on this one.

I’d considered doing another (3-day) fast with better planning haha and/or doing a 1-day or 3-day fast like once a month or something.

Fitness Strategies

As an exercise scientist, I enjoy experimenting, especially on myself. I’m getting back into training and am looking for what works best for me. For those who read my posts (thanks!) bear with me as I work through my thoughts and such. I like writing things out so I can plan ahead and keep track.

Previously, I was VERY focused on loosing the fat mass I gained over this past year, regaining my strength and speed lost over this year that I lost sight of the bigger picture stuff. I got distracted trying to calculate exactly how I can loose 10-15-20 pounds of fat as quickly as possible, while ALSO trying to gain the same strength & flexibility as quickly as possible. While ALSO trying to be mobile in any way possible as much as possible. While ALSO thinking about how I miss running, biking, and racing. I miss competing and being able to go everywhere I want whenever I want on my bike. I was spending too much time thinking about the wrong parts of getting back into shape. Thinking about everything I lost and how quickly I wanted it back. SO… I got out of my head for a bit then redirected my mental & physical efforts.

I have my list of goals of course:

  • I want to run my first ultra marathon (50K or 31.06 miles)
  • I want to bike my first century (100 miles)
  • I think it’d be cool to bike the Pittsburgh marathon course then run it
  • I want to do more bike touring – I’d like to bike from Pittsburgh to DC, across the US (west coast to east coast or vice versa), and get into international bike touring
  • I want to finish a triathlon for real (completing the swimming portion)
  • I would like to reach my ideal racing/competing weight, which is ~132 pounds of bodyweight at ~14% body fat
  • In general, I’d like to get more trail time and compete again (running, biking, mud runs)
  • I want to hit my previous lifting, running etc. PR’s
  • I would also like to compete in power lifting

These are the things I want to accomplish but before I can even consider that, I must get back to basics. I started with smaller, more obtainable goals. Walking ~10,000 steps a day via my commute to/from work & recreational walks. Biking more with a trainer at home, a stationary bike at the gym, and the occasional group ride around the city. I’m pausing on any running for now. Then added on weight lifting regularly.

It’s been over a month since I’ve started everything and I’m feeling good. I’m using proper form when lifting and creating goods habit via going to the gym often. Additionally I have noticed improvements in my posture as well as a decrease in chronic pain in my neck, back and knees (big thanks to the chiropractic treatments!). I am now starting to just weight training at the gym while cycling on my home trainer; alternating days. This should maximize my efforts for fat loss and muscle gain.

I’m working on correcting some muscular imbalances:

  • I have rounded/ hunched shoulders = poor posture; tight pectoral muscles;  lordosis, sway back, forward head.
    • To correct this I need to strengthen my back muscles (upper, mid, and lower) while stretching & improving flexibility in my chest via doing more back exercises with only 1-2 chest exercises.
  • I also have a weak core particularly my abdominals (i.e. rectus, external & internal obliques), weak posterior chain muscles (i.e. glutes & hamstrings) and tight hip flexors (i.e. quads).
    • To correct this I need to strengthen both of these areas

Body Type:

There are 3 main body types:

  1. Ectomorph – the naturally-slim person, smaller bone-structure and seem to “eat whatever they want and not gain an ounce”
  2. Endomorph – the heavyset end of the scale, typically gains & holds onto fat easily and has a harder time losing it, tends to carry more muscle mass than the ectomorph
  3. Mesomorph – the naturally muscular person, characterized by having broader shoulders & a narrower waist (known as a “V” taper), gain muscle easily & lose fat easily

Here are my body type results…



Endomorph: You struggle to lose fat but can usually gain more muscle than the other body types. Strength training should be done to get a better muscle-to-fat ratio, which will help to boost your metabolism. Use moderate weights at a fast training pace, allowing for very little rest between sets & exercises. Get your heart pumping by engaging in some form of daily activity such as brisk walking or biking. Maintain a calorie intake at or near maintenance, and if you’re looking to lose fat, be prepared to eat in a caloric deficit. Sugar, sweets, and junk food may hold you back more than they do for a mesomorph or ectomorph, so be prepared to seriously cut back on them when weight loss is the goal.

Mesomorph: You have a naturally fit body but, to maintain or improve it, you should adopt an exercise and diet regimen that compliments your build. You can strength train more often and for longer periods of time, but be careful not to overdo it. Train with moderate to heavy weights and keep a moderate pace, making sure not to rest too long between sets. If you train and eat well, you may find you gain muscle quite easily. When you’re happy with your muscle size, simply train to maintain. Stick to a good, healthy diet to stay lean and muscular, and watch for any slow-creeping fat gains. Engage in and enjoy aerobic activities, but be careful not to overdo it.

Types of Cardio Training:

  • Low-Intensity – walking or slow cycling, can be done almost every day for longer periods of time. Very easy for the body to recover from. Will have little negative impact on muscle gain & can help burn calories for fat loss.
  • Moderate-Intensity – jogging or swimming, done less frequently. Requires more energy both to perform and to recover from. If trying to lose fat perform 4-6x/wk for 20-30 minutes each session. If trying to gain muscle reduce to 2-3x/wk.
  • High-Intensity – sprinting and interval training, running up/down hills, done less frequently. Is the most difficult but greatest/fastest results, do as hard as you can for a short period of time. Intense weight training with short rest periods is very good for cardio capacity. It is extremely effective for fat loss = burn a lot of calories during the activity, raises metabolism for a long time post activity. If trying to lose fat perform 2-3x/wk. If trying to gain muscle reduce to 1-2x/wk.

Previously my cardio program had been based on whether I was training for a 5K or a Marathon or a bike race. Since I’m not really racing or competing in anything at the moment my cardio is health based. That is reducing rates of health risks, improving VO2 Max rates, etc.. Right now I’m doing weight training 3-4 days a week and low-intensity cardio 2-3 days a week. This looks to fit alongside with the research I did for my body type and goals.

Some Credit Shout outs: and NCBI – National Center for Biotechnology Information and other related articles on exercise science/physiology for help with research on programs, benefits, workouts etc.

Physical activity isn’t the only part of the equation to being fit, healthy, and strong etc.. Diet plays a very key role in obtaining and sustaining a healthy life. More on my struggles and strategies in another post.

Check In. Check Up. Part 2

Measurements and 1-RM’s: 

Weight: 155# BF%: will be getting a caliber (6 Best Weight Lifting Tracker for the Gym) BMI: 27 

  • Neck: 13″ (same as Sept; has remained consistent, month to month – year to year)
  • Shoulders: 44″ (same as Sept; stays fairly consistent, usually within 40-44 inches)
  • Chest: 39″ (up 2 inches from Sept; tricky to measure accurately but averages ~36 inches each year – since 2013)
  • Biceps: 11″ (same as Sept & has been throughout 2017 so far; stays fairly consistent, usually within 10-12 inches)
  • Waist: 35″ (down 3 inches from Sept; also tricky to measure accurately without help and tends to yo-yo depending on training & diet)
  • Hips: 42″ (same as Sept; range 37-42 inches)
  • Thigh: 22″ (down 1 inch from Sept; stays fairly consistent, usually within 21-23 inches
  • Calf: 15″ (same as Sept; stays fairly consistent, usually 14 or 15 inches)

Lost 2″ overall since last month (aka since I started going to the gym and biking more)


  • Bench Press: 105# (regaining strength; down 5# from best PR 110#)
  • Bent Over Rows: 95# (regaining strength; down 20# from best PR 115#)
  • Dead Lift: 185# (starting to regain strength; down 25# from best PR 210#)
  • Back Squat: 115# (maintaining strength; down 30# from best PR 145#)


  • Arm Curls: L30# R25# (lost a little strength in my right arm)
  • Arm Extension: 45#
  • Shoulder Press: 30#
  • Shoulder Shrug: L65# R60# (lost a little strength in my right shoulder)

Stacked Machines:

  • Leg Press: 225# = 160# (this was done on a incline so this number gets multiplied by 0.707 to account for the 40° angle; lost quite a bit of strength; half as much as best PR 450# =320#)
  • Calf Press: 405# = 285# (same x0.707 deal as leg press; lost more strength here than I realized; down 270# from best PR 675# or down 190# from 285#)
  • Leg Extension: 145# (lost strength here; down 55# from best PR 200#)
  • Prone Leg Curls: 100# (lost strength here too; down 85# from best PR 185#)
  • Chest Press: 60# (this was measured on a new machine so not sure can compare to previous maxes but this is down 65# from my best PR 125#)
  • Lateral Pull Down: 85# (this was also taken on a new machine but is comparable; down 31.6# from best PR 116.6# – the add on weights are 5# not 3.3#)


Keeping track of my progress/ training and de-training has become really important to me. It definitely is a shocking feeling to wake up one morning and realize how out of shape I am and how it happened. A lot of things led up to this point but I’m on the right track now and moving forward. I’ve been getting treatments with a chiropractor and it has helped a lot with the pain and has been improving my posture. This will be a tremendous help during my exercises and help get those lost gains back in a healthy way.

In an effort to makes things simpler for my brain and get started in doing any physical activity, I made the mistake of oversimplifying what I know to be a more integrated process. This had an overwhelming effect on my motivation seeing as in spite of simple math, calories in calories out, burning 500 calories each day through diet and exercise etc. I had zero results. Moving forward with my recovery and physical fitness game I need to consider and work on the following…

10 “Commandments” of Fitness:

  1. aerobic endurance
  2. anaerobic endurance
  3. agility
  4. balance
  5. body composition
  6. coordination
  7. flexibility
  8. power
  9. speed
  10. strength

Muscle Balance:

Current standard ratios recommended for agonist-antagonist muscle groups are:

Muscle Group

Muscle Balance Ratio

1. Ankle Inverters & Everters 1:1
2. Ankle Plantar Flexors & Dorsiflexors 3:1
3. Elbow Flexors & Extensors 1:1
4. Hip Flexors & Extensors 1:1
5. Knee Flexors & Extensors* 2:3
6. Shoulder Internal & External Rotators 3:2
7. Shoulder Flexors & Extensors 2:3
8. Trunk Flexors & Extensors 1:1
  • The hamstrings should have at least 75% of the strength of the quadriceps’ strength.
  • The imbalance between the strength of contralateral muscle groups (left vs. right sides) should not be allowed to become greater than about 10-15%.
  • The strength-to-body mass ratio of the upper body should be at least 40-60% of the lower body relative strength. Ex: compare the bench press 1-RM/BM to the 1-RM/BM to that of the Leg Press.

Any muscular dysfunction caused by muscular imbalance will require 2 or 3 sets/exercises on the weak side/group for every 1 performed on the strong side until balance is obtained.

VO2 Max:

How To Improve Your Cycling VO2MAX

How To Increase Your VO2MAX
An in depth look at a VO2 max test
Here’s what a few articles I found online have to say about detraining and loss of fitness gains. Normally I’m one for listing sources because credit but since there’s a lot of info bullet pointed below just do a quick Google search on muscle strength loss, fitness loss etc. and you’ll find what I found…
Anaerobic/ Strength Gains:

  • You can lose up to 80% of your fitness level in as few as 2 weeks if new to exercise.
    • If incredibly fit / been training for years, can lose in ~3 months.
  • Detraining can lead to muscle strength loss within 2-6 weeks.
    • However, your age, exercise program and fitness level play significant roles in how long it takes you to detrain.
  • Competitive athletes may experience muscle loss after 2-4 weeks of no exercise, and recreational athletes between 6-31 weeks.
  • Your training program impacts how quickly you detrain and lose muscle.
    • Endurance athletes may experience muscle atrophy slower b/c their muscles are leaner and predominantly slow-twitched muscle fibers vs. power athletes, who predominantly have fast-twitch muscle fibers.
    • Endurance athletes take up to 12 weeks to lose muscle mass & slow-twitched muscle fibers.
    • Power lifters/ competitive weightlifters can lose muscle strength as early as 2 weeks with inactivity.
  • Muscle loss with an increase of fat in the muscle, aka sarcopenia, is a common aging process.
    • The elderly may experience quicker muscle loss or more muscle loss during inactivity compared to younger individuals.
  • Competitive athletes appear to lose muscle quicker than recreational athletes, but their strength levels are typically higher.
    • Competitive athletes also tend to regain muscular strength levels quickly during retraining.
  • Different muscle groups can experience atrophy and strength loss at different rates with inactivity as well.
  • Detraining influences muscle size and strength as well as muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness.

Aerobic/ Cardio Gains:

  • There are 2 “types” of fitness (when it comes to running or cardiovascular based activities): aerobic fitness aka endurance and your orthopedic/ structural fitness aka the ability of your muscles, bones, tendons & ligaments to withstand the impact of running.
  • For most runners, it takes ~ 7-14 days for aerobic fitness to start declining.
    • Initially you lose the gains made in the last several months of training.
    • If you’re a lifelong runner, you’ll retain much of your aerobic fitness for several months.
    • The better shape you’re in, the more fitness you’ll hold onto when you’re not running.
    • If you run consistently / have a higher level of fitness than a beginner, you won’t lose your gains as much as if just starting out.
  • Structural fitness is critical for injury prevention. It helps absorb the impact of running without suffering an overuse injury.
    • It takes longer to gain structural fitness as opposed to endurance. Many runners experience more rapid declines in this area as well.
    • This means that for any period of inactivity, your body’s ability to tolerate running declines more quickly than its ability to run. This puts you in the injury danger zone.
    • But after a week of faster running and feeling good, aches and pains pop up. You may even experience an injury because your structural fitness is much lower than your aerobic fitness.
  • During any period of inactivity, a small amount of strength work can help you maintain your body’s ability to withstand running. A short gym workout or a series of medicine ball exercises can often mean the difference between staying healthy and taking even more time off because of a running injury.

Weight Loss and Gain:

  • Skipping a few gym sessions won’t derail your weight loss efforts, going 2 weeks without breaking a sweat can though.
    • In addition to taking a toll on your physique, physical fitness & strength, it will take you triple the amount of time you were inactive to regain the muscle mass that you lose after a 2-week hiatus.
  • The old adage “use it or lose it” really does hold true.

Am I A Natural Athlete?


Looking to work smarter and harder to correct current muscular imbalances, improve overall fitness and health, gain the strength loss and lose fat mass. Once I’ve maintain a strong foundation, I’ll be able to accomplish my all fitness goals and then some.