I wanted to start a short series to post on Kim’s blog called “What I wish I would have knew when I started!” I will say I don’t know everything, but I know more now than I did. Maybe if I write one of these 3 years from now. I will go holy cow I really wish I would have known that. But, I think this is good info to pass along to anyone that is looking to make a life change. So please learn from my mistakes.
Supplements: Yo Bro what do you take? Do you take creatine, BCAAs, Preworkout?
If you have spent any time in a gym you have had or have over heard one of these conversations. LOL. Best one I have ever heard was one time a ‘younger’ gym goer looked at his buddy and goes “One time I squatted 315, yeah man I was all natural. I wasn’t on creatine or anything.” I didn’t want to laugh because there may have been a time I might have thought the exact same thing.
Now supplements do serve a purpose. However, to start it is important that you remember that a supplement is just that. It will supplement your diet and workouts. But they will not add pounds of muscle mass or make you super cut with a 6 pack. Supplements make up a very small percentage of what is needed to generate results. Supplements are meant to supplement your nutrition, training, and recovery. However, they cannot replace one of the three.
If only I knew this when we started working out. I remember walking into one of the big box supplement stores for the very first time. I fell hard for the marketing and sales gimmicks. I am the type of person that when he does something he wants to go all in. Well I took supplements the same way. So I wanted the best of everything. I am sure I made the sales person’s day. I think I bought some super gimmick pre-workout with an awesome label, some vitamin pack thing, super special whey protein, and I am not real sure what else. That is money I will never get back.
A few years later I look at supplements completely different. I almost look at them as a luxury item. They are not something that may be completely necessary to being healthy and fit, but they can help you achieve your goals.
My best advice is to become an informed consumer. Do your research before making a purchase. Luckily, there is a ton of info online. I highly recommend examine.com for research.
But I will line out a few things that Kim and I like to use. These are supplements I have researched and tried myself. I would recommend these to anyone if I was ever asked. There are many more out there but these are what we like to use.
So what do we use now?
- Protein powder– This is a staple for us. With our crazy life it is sometimes difficult to get every meal in during the day. Protein powder allows us to grab a meal even when time is short. Also, protein powder is a great thing to use when traveling. It can be difficult to get a high quality protein meal in when you are on the road so protein powders help tremendously with that. Here is also a good tip when eating out-drink a protein shake before going into the restaurant. This will allow you to help curve cravings and allow you to make better decisions on what you eat.
As far as brand or type we just go with a whey protein powder that has very little sugar. We look for something with about 24 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs or less, and 3 grams of fat or less per scoop. We have used a number of different brands in the past including Optimum nutrition 100% whey, MTS whey, animal whey, and a few others. Biggest thing is to find something you like to drink and will serve your purpose.
- Creatine- Creatine is one of the most inexpensive supplements and has been widely studied. Overall creatine is probably the most researched supplement. Creatine can assist with power output while lifting. Also, there have been studies that have shown that creatine can benefit endurance athletes such as bikers and runners. If you want more specific info go check out examine.com.
As far as our own experience I find creatine to be a great supplement. I believe it does help you through hard workouts. Now I don’t believe it will increase your max lifts by 30 pounds. But, I do believe that it may help you get one or two more reps using submaximal weights. We’ll talk more about it in our supplement video!
As far as buying creatine look for creatine monohydrate. It is extremely inexpensive and can be bought in bulk from many different online retailers. Be aware some people will experience stomach discomfort while taking creatine. If you do experience discomfort the benefit may not outweigh the discomfort-start off with a half serving if you are concerned about this.
- Prework-out- prework-outs are probably one of the most talked about supplements. I have noticed that the research can vary widely on the use of prework-outs and their effectiveness. This is mainly due to how much prework-outs vary brand to brand. It seems every supplement brand has their own super-secret formula that is designed to turn you into a monster in the gym.
Now we do use prework-out. I use it more regularly than Kim does. The stimulant effect of the prework-out helps me get in the right mind set after sitting at a desk all-day. We have used many different brands but a few we like are Pre-JYM, C4, and Assault. We have also used a few others that we have liked. Also, there have been a number of times I will take a white zero calorie monster or coffee and mix a little creatine in and use that as a prework-out. As I said before the prework-out is more about the stimulant effect for me.
- BCAAs- BCAAs or Branch-Chain Amino Acids are made up of leucine, Isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids can be found in foods that contain protein. BCAAs can be a great supplement for someone who is unable to get sufficient protein intake. Some studies have shown that BCAA supplementation can promote muscle protein synthesis and increase muscle growth over time. Also, it has been shown that it can help prevent fatigue during workouts.
Now to be fair I should mention that some studies have also shown that the benefits for those individuals who consume adequate protein throughout the day would not benefit as greatly from BCAA supplementation.
I like to supplement with BCAAs for two reasons. For me I use BCAAs to help assist me through long workout sessions. I personally have had some luck with using them to prevent fatigue. However, this may also be a placebo effect. Secondly like to use BCAAs to offset the taste of water. I try to consume at least a gallon of water a day. However, there are times that I just want something different.
I really like Core Nutritionals ABC, BSN BCAAs, and SciVation Xtend just to name a few.
Now this was just a quick run through of a few supplements we like to use. Just remember to get results none of these are absolutely necessary. Kim and I are planning to make a Youtube video to go a little more in-depth on our opinion when it comes to supplements and give y’all a look into our supplement cabinet!
If you have any questions or have used a supplement that you think really worked please let us know. We would love to hear your feedback. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and mine is email@example.com.
Thanks for reading.
With completing grad school I thought it would be a good time to try this blog thing. I have convinced Kim to start a Daniel’s Corner on her blog. I have a lot of ideas and now I have the free time to write about them. I thought it would be good for my first blog to be a retrospective look at my journey. My journey is similar to Kim’s in some ways and very different in others. But the biggest thing is we have always supported each other no matter the goal.
I want to start talking about my journey at the time I started college. When I started at Emory & Henry College, I easily weighed 300 plus. I had an accident in high school were I ran through a glass window during track practice and sliced my arm wide open. My tricep was basically cut in half. Growing up I was always super active. By being active, I pretty much got accustomed to always eating everything I wanted. Well, once I cut my arm I didn’t stop eating. This is what led me to be over 300 pounds.
So what changed for me when I got to Emory & Henry College? Well simple, I took a required health class. I cannot remember the name of the professor. I think he was either a basketball coach or assistant. I owe a lot to this professor. I am sure he is not aware of the profound affect one assignment he gave had on my life. The assignment was simple. All that it required was to track your food and track your activity. Along with tracking food and activity, the assignment called for you to do a certain amount of exercise a day. So during the 3 weeks of the assignment, I tracked my food and got on an elliptical for 30 minutes 3 days a week. This soon turned into 5 days a week. At first, the food part was simple because I chose to change only one or two things at a time. The first thing I cut out was sodas and sugary drinks.
Once the assignment ended I kept tracking my food and exercising. The class assignment caused me to create a routine. One of the hardest things when making a change is starting. The class forced me to start a routine and once started it was easy to continue. You just have to start.
With Kim also starting to focus on health it made my transition to a new lifestyle much easier. At first, we didn’t talk a lot about getting healthier. But, as we both started to focus more on our goals we began to talk about it more and more.
Now lets fast-forward to my senior year at Emory. I walked on campus the first day of my senior year weighing 215. Down about 75 pounds from my freshman year. To get there I mainly just focused on trying to keep up with my routine that I began during that health class. I also kept the soda and sugar drinks out of my diet. Just making the smallest changes can reap the biggest results sometimes.
However, when I went back to school my senior year, I made the BIGGEST MISTAKE I COULD HAVE MADE. This mistake still haunts me to this day. Up until this point I would pay attention to what I was eating but never stress over it. I would eat when I was hungry and never let myself starve. I tried to focus on making what I deemed good choices. I used basic ideas like stay away from to many fried foods and sugars.
Well I began to obsess over the number on the scale. Every day I would weigh myself and if my weight went up I would get on the elliptical an EXTRA 30 minutes that day. At the same time my food for the day consisted of a salad at lunch and a salad at dinner. I would get grilled chicken on my salad and try to choose the lowest calorie dressing. So basically for a normal day I was maybe eating 1300 calories on a good day. But, I would not get off the elliptical until I burned 1000. That is a net calorie intake of 300. However, every person burns so many calories a day even if they just sit. Your body burns calories just by living. This is called your resting metabolic rate. For a 21 year-old male, which I was at the time, that weighed 215 pounds-this number (the resting metabolic rate) is somewhere in the range of 1800 to 2100 calories a day. Now like I said I would only eat 1300 calories on a normal basis and burn 1000 on the elliptical. So really my needed calorie intake to maintain weight would be around 3000. So I should have been eating roughly 2700 calories and I would have easily lost the weight I wanted. Now someone may think, “I want it super-fast so I am going to eat 1300.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. An extreme calorie deficit for a extended period will cause your body to go in to starvation mode and it will hold on to everything it possibly can. Also, when this happens and your body gets even a small excess in calories it will convert them into fat stores as fast as possible because it is anticipating you starving it again. I had starved my body and turned my metabolism into a mess. Also, this type of dieting will lead to binge eating. Basically you will starve yourself for days then your weight won’t go down and then you’re like forget this I am just going to eat. So you choose to eat 5 whole pizzas at once.
By being so obsessive I killed my metabolism. My body went into starvation mode and it hung on to every bit of weight it could. I kept eating less and running more. All I could focus on was getting down to 200 pounds. However, I was stuck at 215 and couldn’t lose another pound. I continued to run this vicious cycle all year. You can’t know what you don’t know, right?
So I graduated Emory & Henry in May of 2013. Then Kim my now wife (swolemate and #wifeybae) decided to pack everything up and move to the big city!!! Now keep in mind with all of this going on I was forced to break my obsession with my weight. I still ran most days and was still sitting around 215-220. But Kim and I were way more focused on the move.
After Kim and I moved my aunt talked us into running the 8k portion of the Richmond Marathon. Kim and I trained 4 days a week for this and were very determined to run it in under 60 mins. It was awesome having each other there for support. We had both been on this journey together, but we were never able to really train together until we moved to Richmond. She began to convince me that my 1300-calorie a day diet was not a good idea. She also had the idea that food could help us in training.
We began to research how food could improve our performance. I quickly realized that she was right and my 1300 calorie a day diet was a terrible idea. I started to add in more calories and began to lose more weight once my body realized I was not going to starve it. I finally reached my goal of being below 200 pounds. On the day of the 8k my body weight was 195 pounds.
After the 8k, Kim and I wanted to try something different. We had found that we loved training together, but we weren’t enjoying running 3 to 5 miles a day anymore. So we started to weight train. We were lucky because the apartment community we lived in had a really nice fitness center. We would go and train everyday. At first we just did everything we could possibly do. It was a blast!
Then a buddy of mine from college sent me a MusclePharm workout program. This is when I began to discover what I loved. Kim really liked understanding the nutrition part of training while I enjoyed the workout programming side. I would spend hours reading about different workout plans and why different things worked. I began trying to create my own workouts. At first my workouts were very random and then I slowly tried to understand why to use different repetition schemes and why/how to pair movements.
Not long after that Kim and I left the apartment gym like we needed to. It was time to move on from the small fitness center. So we joined a commercial gym. This was a drastic change and big improvement for us because it gave us access to a barbell. The apartment fitness center only had a smith machine and dumbbells. We were able to have a lot of success with the smith machine and dumbbells. However, nothing can replace a barbell and what it has done for us.
Kim and I continued to train together and develop different workouts. We researched nutrition, workouts, exercises, supplements, etc. Anything you can think of. The best part about Kim and I working together was we were able to research twice the information and we would spend hours talking about what we learned and what we thought would work. There were many times we would read an article and spend an hour discussing it.
After a few months of staying below 200 pounds I decided I wanted to try to get bigger and stronger. I felt good now because I knew how to lose weight the right way. So I wanted to see if I could gain weight the right way. So between September 2014 and April of 2015 I gained about 20 pounds. I tried to monitor my weight gain and allow myself to gain no more than a pound and a half a week. Overall, I was pretty happy with the results. Not only did I get bigger, but also my lifts drastically improved.
About this time Kim decided that she wanted to compete for the first time. After about 2 weeks of watching her, I saw what having a hard goal can do for you. Her training was super focused and intense. Not long after this I decided that I need to do the same. So I chose to enter my first powerlifting meet.
Once I registered I began to research powerlifting programming and reading every article I could about the sport. I bought a couple of eBooks and tried to learn as much as I could. Having a deadline forced me to focus my training. During this time I also found the importance of surrounding yourself with support. I was lucky to have two awesome training partners that entered the meet with me, and a wife that I could talk to about it for hours.
The day of the meet was one awesome experience. If you ever have a chance to do a powerlifting meet go for it. Don’t be afraid to put yourself on the line and step on the platform. What I found out that is so cool are all types of people (big, small, short, tall, male, and female) compete in powerlifting. Also, there is no such thing as being too weak to compete.
For me personally I also performed as well as I hoped. I went in with a goal of breaking 1200 pounds. I was able to accomplish this goal. I hit a 400 + squat a 300 pound bench and a 500 pound dead lift.
That is my past and now for what I want to do in the future. I have found a real passion for strength sports like powerlifting. I feel like I can really get behind the idea of being strong. Now with that being said, I also want to keep focusing on my health. I started this because I was over-weight and extremely un-healthy. So my number one priority will always be my health.
I also want to continue to learn more. Like I mentioned earlier I really enjoy the idea’s behind training and trying to figure out what works and doesn’t. I plan on blogging about ideas I have concerning the topic of training and different training approaches. One benefit I think I have is that I am by no means set in stone to one particular way. I believe there are many different ways to accomplish your goals. I also plan on sharing things I wish I would have known when I started and new things that I learn. I’m excited to share our journey with you.
If you have any topics that you would like Kim or I to discuss I would love to do that. E-mail us anytime. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you are interested in personal training or custom meal plans e-mail us at email@example.com.
Thank you for taking the time to read.