I’m Getting A Sandbag!

Heavy-Hitter---400lb

Brute Force Heavy Hitter I sandbag (image courtesy of Brute Force).

I’m going to partake on a new challenge later this year (around summer). I’m going to get myself a sandbag for my birthday and start doing dedicated strength training and bodybuilding using sandbag training. This is something that I’ve been meaning to do forever now but haven’t had the chance to because of lack of proper equipment and because I didn’t have my diet dialed-in yet. The diet thing I’ve got under control (I’m finally fully-Primal/Paleo!) but I still have yet to get the proper equipment and that’s finally going to happen soon with the sandbag. I live in an apartment so that means I don’t have room (or money, for that matter) for traditional weights or anything like that (you know, traditional gym equipment).

A sandbag is the perfect solution to this problem – its inexpensive and its portable, so that means I can also take it with me anywhere and doesn’t take up much room. Through research, I found out that sandbag training is in a lot of ways more superior to conventional training. Sandbags help with stimulating several muscle groups at once, something that traditional weights cannot do. Its also more challenging than using traditional weights because the contents of the bag (the sand, in this case) shift around a lot and that also means that you have to use different grips – which also means a more intense workout (which is what I’m looking for). This type of workout simulates lifting heavy things in real-life, which are also variable, unlike traditional weights which are much more rigid. Sandbag training also happens to be one of the oldest (if not the oldest) form of training – before gyms and weights came along, we trained with sand.

The primary reason that I’m doing this is to build more muscle mass, and then of course, the second reason I’m doing this is to build more strength. I’ve always been a ‘smaller’ guy and I’ve always hated it. I’ve always felt insecure about it and it just doesn’t reflect my personality very well. I still have yet to fill out my shirts, in fact, I often try to avoid wearing certain types of shirts (like t-shirts) because they make me look skinnier. I’m very much looking forward to changing that. I have engaged in strength training/bodybuilding before, however, I’ve never engaged in it to this degree. The last time I did it, I used bodyweight exercises to do it. But over time, I’ve found out that they don’t really challenge me to the degree that I want. I thrive on short, intense exercises (I even have more energy afterwards) and bodyweight just doesn’t cut it. I’ve also never engaged in a dedicated long-term strength training and bodybuilding program before and so this will be my first time doing it and are also very much looking forward to making this a regular routine (I’ve done something like this but with bodyweight exercises once, but that was only for a brief amount of time).

Overall, I’m really excited to start this new challenge and build my dream body. Gaining muscle isn’t easy, it takes a lot of work (its much easier to lose weight than to gain it, especially when we’re talking about building muscle). I’ve finally got my diet dialed in, now its time to get that sandbag and get to work! I can already see myself having a great summer! (I’ll also be posting updates on my progress when I start.)

If anyone’s interested, this is the sandbag I’ll be getting. Here’s an article detailing some of the benefits of sandbag training.

Give Us A Break

On Friday morning, I read the “Ask Ping” column on Racer X Online. The part of the column that really caught my eye was the first one – the one about Justin Barcia’s meldown at the Houston Supercross last weekend, as well as Justin Bogle’s meltdowns during his first SX Lites season. After reading that part, I couldn’t concentrate on reading the rest of the column, so I had to close the internet browser and put down the phone I was reading it from. It really made me re-evaluate myself and the way I’ve acted in the past and how damaging it could’ve been (as well as how stressful it was). But the thing that really bugged me is when the reader (the person who composed the letter) called them, and everyone else who acts out like that, punks (it might as well have been directed towards me).

Let me tell you something, just because someone acts like that doesn’t mean that their always like that. It doesn’t mean that they’re a punk (you might as well call me that while we’re at it). It doesn’t mean that if they didn’t have nothing to amount to that they would end up in an adult education program because they either dropped out of high school or they were about to drop out (just like it doesn’t mean that all high school dropouts or those who didn’t graduate high school or didn’t almost graduate (like me) are stupid – in fact, a lot of times its the complete opposite) and live a life of crime. I hate how judgemental people can be – I really do. I’ve dealt with this myself and I’m so sick of it.

They need to look at the big picture. In this case, they need to find out more about these two (here’s this article to get you started). In addition to that, they need to take an evaluation of themselves in order to see that they too acted like this when they were younger (or at some point in their lives, and I’m assuming that this is coming from an older person), and if they’ve never been in this situation then they need to get into the sufferer’s mindset. Believe me, I’ve had my share of meltdowns, I’ve had my share of these mistakes (because that’s what they are, mistakes). But the most important thing we can do is learn from our mistakes. That’s something that I’m currently doing. I’ve really been working on this for the last few weeks and have done a very good job until just this past Thursday. But I’m not sure if that counted as I was extremely stressed out back there – I moved into a new place on Saturday, I had to deal with two ailments – Leaky Gut Syndrome and a cold – during that time, and I was still trying to figure out how I was going to get the foods I need to get healthy.

So give these two a break, they’re young (Justin Barcia is only two years younger than me and Justin Bogle a few more) and they’re still learning. I was (and still am a bit) in their shoes and can relate to them (I’ve acted in similar ways to how they acted quite a few times, including on this blog, on Twitter, and on the thinkpads.com blog and forum. In addition to that, we share the same personalities). They are actually really nice guys and it’s preposterous to call them punks (if you’re going to call them that, then you might as well call me that). It’s very hard when you’re not reaching your own potential and when you have all this pressure surrounding you that sometimes you just lose it and get caught up in the moment – even though you didn’t mean to. It’s hard to know that you’ve made a mistake that could have been prevented, if only you had the tools/resources to do so. I’m not glorifying their meltdowns, all I’m trying to say is that we’re all just human, we’re not perfect, we all make these mistakes from time to time.

And to make things clear, I’m usually a very happy, easygoing person. I’m not angry all the time and I’m not always snaping at people. In fact, a lot of the times you’ll see me with a smile on my face. When I do get angry its usually because I have faced an injustice and I want to let some steam out and let my voice be heard (read the “About” page on this blog). I have no other way to express my frustrations but to get angry but I’m working on better identifying my emotions and letting my frustrations out in more constructive ways (I would really like to create some great art with that). I may dress like a “skate punk” (you know, wearing “skater” clothes) but that doesn’t mean I’m a punk.

So give us a break.

Primal Blueprint Challenge Update

I will be restarting this Primal Blueprint challenge…for the third time. After the first week, I was forced to introduce modern foods into my diet because of financial constraints (I really hate to have to do this but I had no choice). I am happy to say that our financial situation has improved since then and is continuing to improve. I really hate how this has turned out because I have some health issues that I need to take care of.

Its not all that bad, re-introducing modern foods into my diet gave me an opportunity to see how I react to them. Here are some observations:

  • Modern foods disrupt my circadian rythmn – they make me want to go to sleep later and stay up late, while Primal foods make me want to sleep earlier and on time.
  • Modern foods slow down my recovery time – from workouts and illnesses like the cold.
  • Modern foods make me hungry every 3 hours and I never feel satisfied eating them.
  • Modern foods are responsible for my Leaky Gut Syndrome (which include the other stuff I had as a result of it like corn/wheat allergies, gluten intolerance, eczema, chronic fatigue (both mentally and physically), gastrointestinal distress, and nose issues).
  • Modern foods affect my productivity in just about everywhere. My times (for thinking, reacting, following-up, etc.) are slower. I also have more trouble focusing, concentrating, and relaxing. The quality of my work is lower than I’d like and underestimates my potential. My energy levels are lower than I’d like and truly capable of, so I don’t feel like doing much work – even though I love my work. I generally always feel tired and runned-down. This is all very bad because my work is mentally demanding. This is unacceptable when you’re doing work (or are trying to do work) that is at the higest quality possible – doing work at this level requires that you be in top shape.
  • I have to clear my throat every morning. This very annoying because the mucus stuck in there is hard to get out. In addition to that, I risk damaging my vocal chords (which is bad if you’re using, or are planning on using, your voice for a living).
  • Modern foods make me crave carbs, while Primal foods make me crave fat (I can’t wait to start craving fat again).

During this time, I also browsed the Mark’s Daily Apple forums and got to learn more about eating and living Primal. Here’s some stuff I learned:

  • I don’t need to worry about caloric intake. It will vary each and everyday depending on my activity/energy levels. I just need to follow my instincts. I don’t need to worry about getting fat or overdoing it because I’ll be eating low-carb and real foods. Calorie counting was designed for the Standard American Diet because of its emphasis on high-carb and proccessed foods.
  • The reason I was feeling low on energy the second time I started the PB was because I wasn’t eating enough fat. I originally thought that it was the low carb flu but I’ve been eating low-carb for quite some time (I’ve never exceeded 200g or 300g for that matter otherwise I would be fat right now), especially recently, so it didn’t make sense.
  • If I want to gain muscle mass when I start strength training, I will need need to eat about 3000 to 4000 calories during that time (for at least 12 weeks or until I arrive at a body composition that I like) – but I know how to do that without counting calories. I can do this by eating a dozen eggs and a big piece of meat as a snack, and taking a protein supplement after my workouts.
  • If I am forced to eat conventional meats (which I will have to do temporarily), I will need to take 3 grams of fish oil everyday and trim excess fat.
  • During the first 2-3 weeks of transitioning (or should I say, “re-transitioning”) I will need to stock up on Primal foods because I will experience cravings (this has happened to me during the last two times I did this), and I can eat as much as I want because I will be eating Primal foods and excercising Primally.

So once again, here are the reasons I’m switching from modern to Primal:

  • To get rid of my Leaky Gut.
  • To have higher energy levels and be more productive.
  • To get rid of my sinus, skin, and gastrointestinal issues.
  • To get better sleep.
  • To recover from workouts and illnesses faster.
  • To gain more strength and muscle mass (I need to gain more weight).
  • To eat higher quality foods and eliminate grains and processed foods from my diet (I’m allergic to them).
  • To live a long, vibrant life

Primal Blueprint: First Follow-Up

A little background information:
• Before the Primal Blueprint, I found out that I was eating low-carb (under 150g) this whole time but I wasn’t getting enough fat. Even worse, I was eating the wrong types of fat (mostly vegetable oils). My fat intake was anywhere from 30-50g, which is way to low for me (I found out that I should probably be getting up to 170g of fat right now!). I was pretty much eating all of the protein that I needed all along (right now its 81g but will increase later on. Before it was 75g, and then 78g).
• During 2011, there were a few times were I ate “Primal” meals. I noticed positive effects right away…I had no allergic reactions.
• In mid/late-October 2011, I went strictly Primal for about 2 1/2 weeks (no grains, legumes, processed foods, and vegetable oils/bad fats). Afterwards, I had to re-introduce grains and all of that Neolithic stuff to my diet because of financial constraints (but except that this time, I was consuming Olive Oil along with them and stayed away from the bad fats as much as possible until mid or late-December when my Olive Oil and money ran out). This also gave me an opportunity to see how I react to grains some more, this time with a new perspective (which let to the conclusion on last week’s post). Unlike before the PB, this time I ate grains more sensibly. I think that I have actually eaten grains sensibly this whole time, especially in recent years, because of my grain allergies/intolerances, and because I found real foods to be tastier. I would have to say that I was “part-Primal” or half-Primal” this whole time.
• When I went strictly Primal in October 2011, I noticed that my cracked and dry fingertips started improving. In addition, my dandruff started subsiding and my scalp felt stronger (I was shedding less hair). It must have been the Olive Oil and I think even the Almond Butter, as well as the elimination of Neolithic foods.
• Before the PB, my fitness wasn’t really an issue but I was finding ways to improve it. After finding out about the PB, (In 2011) I incorporated Primal Fitness laws into my lifestyle and I saw significant improvements. My resting heart rate was around the 60s before the PB. Afterwards, it was (and still is) 42 beats per minute. In addition, I’ve put on some more lean body mass. I was already lean before but I found out that there could have been some improvement. I’ve lost a total of 2ibs. of fat and put on a total of 7ibs. of lean body mass (I don’t need to lose weight, by the way)…so that’s 7ibs. gained and approximately 30-35 more pounds to go (I’m the “old” face of poverty, which is skinny). Finally, I found out that I was moving around a lot at a slow pace this whole time.

Primal Blueprint 6-day follow up:
I “re-entered” Primal eating on Sunday, after getting an week’s supply of meat, coming to last week’s conclusion, and after learning more about the PB and self-experimenting last year. This time, I had to be semi-strict, meaning I had to eliminate grains and processed foods but not legumes and vegetable oil. The reason I can’t eliminate legumes and vegetable oil at this time is because of financial constraints (I need to eliminate legumes too, because of the high carb content and possible lectins, and vegetable oils because of the high Omega-6 content). We barely have any veggies (if any) around here and I need to get my carbs from somewhere. I think that legumes are a more sensible solution. I seem to be more sensitive to grains than to legumes, but I’m eating them sensibly. Here are some results and findings so far:
• I’m craving fats…really craving them. Thursday, I was thinking about eating fats like coconut oil/milk and I had the same thoughts Friday morning, right when I woke up, and this time grass-fed butter and nuts were included (I know this sounds weird to some of you who are not familiar with the Primal/Paleo lifestyle). I was also thinking about almond butter this whole time (since early in the week). After visiting the Mark’s Daily Apple forums and re-visiting MDA blog posts & comments, I found out that I may not be eating enough calories, which explains why I’m feeling low on energy and craving fats (something which I’ve always felt, except that back then I was craving carbs). At first, I thought that this was the low carb flu, until I came upon this. I don’t think the low carb flu makes sense in this case since I’ve pretty much been low-carb (but also low-fat) nearly all of my life. (I think that this is more of a “low-fat flu”.)
• I’ve learned to listen to my body more. I knew this the whole time but I wasn’t really sure how to do it until now. I know now that the reason I’m craving fats is because i’m most likely not getting enough.
• Grain/carb cravings are at their lowest levels ever. I’m barely getting any. Instead, i’m getting (good) fat cravings now.
• I seem to have put on some lean body mass. Earlier in the week, I’ve noticed that I might have put on some more lean mass in my stomach area (it looks leaner). On Friday, I’ve noticed that I might have put on some lean mass on my lower arms (it doesn’t look and feel as skinny as it did before, and feels & looks much leaner). I need to go weigh myself soon.

Things I’m working on right now:
• Getting good fats. I think that this will be my first priority once our budget clears up a bit (since fats make up the bulk of my calories). I’ve discussed this with my mom on Thursday and she agreed to help me buy some good fats for me to use once our budget clears up.
• Getting some grass-fed eggs, canned seafood, herbs, spices, and Primal snacks and other Primal foods. I know where to get them, I just need money.
• Getting some dietary supplements. I need to get a multivitamin with antioxidants, probiotics, protein supplement, and fish oil. I really would like to get these supplements from the Primal Blueprint website, but that’s out of my reach for now (but that’ll change somewhere in the near future).
• Getting more veggies. I want to see if its possible for me to join a CSA once our budget clears up (and maybe even after I get my Driver’s License). I would also love to have my own garden but that’s out of my reach for now (but that’ll change somewhere in the near future).
• Seeing how much my performance in intellectual tasks has improved. I am really curious to find out about this. I expect it to improve once I make the full transition to Primal. (This might take a while…)
• Getting rid of my fatigue and systemic inflammation. For this to happen, I need to increase my (healthy) fat consumption and balance my Omega-3/6 ratio. (This might also take a while…)
• Gaining more weight by putting on more lean mass. (Once again, this might also take a while…)

Finally, an Answer!

It looks like I might have found the answer as to why I’ve been struggling with extreme shyness (Selective Mutism), especially when I was younger (note that I don’t really “have it” anymore). Three days ago, I found out that the reason why I might be/have been struggling with SM. I have spent several years searching for the answer to this question, and it looks like I’ve finally found the answer. The reason why I might have been struggling with SM this whole time is because of a “leaky gut” and systemic inflammation, which are the result of my grain consumption. Now, I actually talked about this issue before, but this just confirms it.

Ever since I first found out about the Primal Blueprint, i’ve been finding answers to my questions about health and well-being, including finding out clues to the reason why I’ve struggled for years with a condition in which a person actually suffers in silence. It also answered other questions that I might or might not have had. Another thing that i’ve always struggled with is underperformance. I’ve been trying to find out the reason for my underperformance in everything, and why I am so slow to get anything done. Little did I know, until just three days ago, that I’ve been struggling with fatigue the whole time, another explanation why I have/had SM. Because of my leaky gut and the systemic inflammation it caused, my immune system was being compromised, meaning, it was being overworked (I have what is considered an autoimmune disorder), so my energy levels where low (and it makes sense because I didn’t exactly feel physically energized). In addition to that, I have allergies to corn and gluten, which contributed to the problem.

As a result of these low energy levels and allergic reaction(s), I underperform. Social settings become overwhelming to me (and I know it’s not supposed to be that way for me. I mean, I really want to socialize with people). The quality of my work lowers. I’m slow to get things done because my energy either runs out or its not there (even though I really, really want to do it). I have trouble focusing and concentrating on doing tasks that I want (even though the enthusiasm is there), because of my fatigue and reaction(s) to a food. I know that it is not because of my lack of ability (compared to what those nuts over at the public school district that I used to go to as a kid said)…I know that I’m capable of doing a lot, and at high levels – levels that are higher than anyone could possibly imagine.

I sometimes feel like no one else knows how it’s like to be someone who is performance and quality-oriented, yet is getting mediocre results in anything they undertake…even though they know they can do better, they certainly have the ability to go out and be on top every time, the enthusiasm is there. You’re doing the best you can, only to come up short. I feel just like Chad Reed (one of my favorite Motocross athletes) did back in 2010, when he had what was possibly the worst year of his career. He was underperforming (he’s one of the top motocrossers out there) and it turns out that the reason for that was because he had the Epstein-Barr virus (http://www.racerxonline.com/2010/07/23/a-letter-from-chad-reed). This discovery finally puts to rest all of the assumptions and allegations that I might have a mental disability (like I was told when I was in grade school – take that, school officials!). After spending lots of time reading and researching how diet affects these type of things (which began in 2009), I strongly believe that our modern diet is the root cause of my Selective Mutism and underachievement. I also believe that it is the root cause of most other mental disorders (like ADHD).

My number 1 priority right now is to get 100% healthy. I know that if I don’t take care of this issue now, I am going to underachieve in my dream career of music and design and running a business, and whatever else I desire to do in the future, and things will be running slow…and not to mention that my gut health will deteriorate further, and I will possibly develop a severe allergic reaction to corn and gluten. In addition, I’ll keep having nose and skin issues, all which will hinder my ability to go on stage and perform. I am going to follow the Primal Blueprint eating and lifestyle plan in order to achieve maximum health (and eliminate grains from my diet). I expect to my performance to improve drastically once I make the full transition. I am very excited about this and I am looking forward to the future – I know I have a very bright future ahead of me. I would like to thank Mark Sisson (the creator/author of the Primal Blueprint and the blog, Mark’s Daily Apple) for helping me make this discovery, and for his generosity in giving this type of information to people. I highly recommend his work.

Will the Primal Blueprint fix my “Selective Mutism”? Is the modern/standard American diet the root cause of my SM and energy issues? How long will it take before I see improvement? How will it be like once my health is restored and once I get back to doing my work (i.e. music)? Will my performance improve and if yes, how much? Will I finally “get things done”? I guess these questions and more will be answered once I get started…at least I’ve finally found an answer to my question (see the first paragraph), as well as a solution to fix the problem.

Screw the Modern Diet!

Yesterday, I bought “The Primal Blueprint” book. I’ve been following Mark’s Dalily Apple since August of last year (2010), so I know about the effects of the Modern Diet and how The Primal Blueprint works, but the book goes into further detail. Everything it says makes sense. I’ve been able to comprehend what my body and mind are feeling and how they are being impacted by the Modern Diet (or Standard American Diet). Now I really know why I have Selective Mutism, why I seem to be low on energy all the time and feel like taking a nap (and I don’t have depression, by the way), why I have irritation in my nose and eczema, and why I can’t seem to focus on finding a job and on making and learning more about music (sounds like ADHD, dosen’t it?).

I just don’t have the energy to do anything for a substained amount of time. To tell you the truth, I rather just nap than look for a job, or work on my music, or do anything! So much for trying to get over SM and making a living out of music!  I feel cranky and I just don’t have the patience and energy to deal “certain kinds of people” sometimes. I just get overwhelmed by all the stimulation around me. I get so overwhelmed that I just want people to leave me alone, and get away from everything sometimes.

How do I know that it’s my diet that’s causing all of this? Let me give you a real-life example: This morning, I are some mac & cheese with some ground beef (It’s that processed junk), and then I ate a piece of bread. Afterwards, I felt like napping. I felt overwhelmed by everything and everyone around me, I just wanted to be left alone. I can’t even focus long enough to do something (because of the low energy). I even had a hard time making this blog post and I probably don’t even know what I’m talking about! I also found out earlier this week that I’m gluten intolerant. It’s amazing how something as simple as diet can cause big problems.

I can’t wait to go Primal. I’m very excited about it and the results that it’s going to bring. I’ve been very unsatisfied with my performace (in terms of productivity, mostly in my work and social life) that the Modern Diet has brought for years. I know that I can do better than that. I know that I have huge potential and The Primal Blueprint will help me bring out the best in me. I see a very bright future ahead of me!

So screw the Modern Diet!