What it takes

Every day you hear about different diets, lifting programs, fad gyms and supplements that are “guaranteed” to help you lose weight, get ripped, or both. Billions of dollars are spent every year by people hoping to become slimmer, fitter, and healthier. I am not writing here to dispel any of these products. In fact, I can say that the vast majority of them work (barring some with far outlandish claims). So why is that most people fail in attaining their goals if these products work as described? It is because they lack the fundamentals of their lifestyle choices.

This post is about those fundamentals that everyone needs to succeed. These qualities are not for health alone; they could be applied in any context of your life, be it your professional life or your personal. In fact, if you work on these fundamentals in one area of your life, say health, there will be far reaching effects on the rest of your life – for the better. So what are these fundamentals?

Consistency, Patience, and Determination.

Consistency is by far the largest contributor to success in attaining your goals. If you are consistent, you can achieve. Consistency means to adhere to the same course of action repeatedly. When you are on a diet, are you consistent with the principles of that diet, or do you wander off of it (often/occasionally/never). What determines the success of that diet is the answer to that question.

Consistency takes many forms, but in the context of health it would mean preparing your own meals with the right ingredients, at the right ratios (protein/carbs/fat), and possibly even the timing of those meals (such as in Intermittent Fasting/Leangains). You need to be consistent, and remain consistent, to achieve consistent results. Being fit, healthy, and at the condition you desire will require it. You must always remember that this is a lifestyle, not just a passing phase.

“Part of courage is simple consistency.”
– Peggy Noonan

So you have been dieting strictly, getting in the correct number macro’s and at the perfect calorie deficit/surplus all the while hitting the gym on a consistent basis, but you haven’t seen any results. Has it been 2 weeks? 3? 4? Starting to get discouraged? Don’t. This leads me to the next fundamental you need when evolving yourself – patience. Patience means more than just waiting for you to hit your goals. You have to constantly readjust your routines until you find something that works for you. This requires patience for yourself and your body.

You are eating perfectly and hitting them gym, but the scale hasn’t gone down much if at all. Have you been consistent for at least 6 weeks? If not, keep going. If so, it is time to readjust and try again for another 6 weeks. If your goal is to lose weight, and you are obese, did you know your metabolic rate is lower than average? Try out a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) calculator, and if you are over 25% body fat, subtract even more from that because the calculator only gave you an average. Readjust your calorie count and your macro’s. Have the patience to know that you will achieve your goals – it only takes time.

“A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else. ”
– George Savile

Lastly, you need determination. Without this, your cause is hopeless. One thing I have learned over the years of self improvement is that there always comes “a time”. I do not always know when it is going to be for me, but I do know it is bound to happen in everything I pursue. This “time” is when you put yourself 100% into something and you get it done. I have tried dieting, quitting smoking, quitting substances I was abusing, getting rid of depression, all a mind boggling number of times. Then came “the time”.

The thing you need to realize is that there will be a point when you will fail. You will eat like crap, you will miss the gym, start smoking, whatever it is you are trying to change. Do not feel bad, guilty, or ashamed. Every single person on Earth fails. Your determination is going to be what sees you through so that you keep going; you keep trying. I guarantee that you will have a time when you will succeed. Determination, to me, is the act of picking yourself up time and time again, sometimes against overwhelming odds. Cultivate your determination; get psyched up every time you attempt something. Success is guaranteed only when you constantly fail.

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
– Colin Powell

My goal for this post was to touch upon the three things you need to succeed, in almost every aspect of your life, but tailored to people trying to get fit. If you need someone to talk to, about whatever, you are welcome to email me at me@ealfonso.com or leave a comment on one of my blogs. After evolving my life in many different and positive ways I hope I can help others do the same. Good luck to you, in whatever you may be pursuing.

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One Year

I can’t really believe it’s been a whole 12 months since I started losing weight. It still almost feels like yesterday I stepped into Ryder’s gym to weigh in and then hop on the elliptical machine. Wow. There’s a lot I could say right now but a picture is worth a thousand words:

I’m not going write a lot in this post, instead I am going to do something I don’t do often enough – thank my family and friends.

First and foremost, my friend/coworker/cofounder/big brother Dave – Thank you for all of the encouragement and time you dedicated to helping and pushing me. You are by far one of the major reasons I was able to stay the course on my journey. From staying at Ryder on the elliptical machine with me for hours on end when you had better things to do, to signing up at my local gym and hitting the iron with me, and of course always trying to keep me positive and motivated (which can be realllllllllly hard to do sometimes, I know). Thank you. I really do appreciate the effort and time you’ve invested in me. No amount of Seasons 52 could repay you for that.

To my good friend Joe – Thank you for keeping me motivated and always pushing me in the gym. Your ideas, guidance, and routines are awesome and I love bouncing my ideas and research off of you. Go revLife!

To my buddy Mark – Thank you for all the positive encouragement and motivation. I know every time I tell you something that im doing and you disagree with me, I know I must be on the right track. hahahaha =)

To my father – Thank you for constantly being negative. Without you I wouldn’t have realized I was fat and lazy. LOL. In all seriousness though, I can always expect you to be real with me, though I have hated you for a long time because of it, i’ve come to learn to appreciate it in its own unique way. Your still an ass, but I love you. haha

To my family – Thank you for all of the positive words, the motivation, the encouragement, and even the guidance. I appreciate every one of you and you have all helped me in some way achieve my goals. I love you all!

To all my friends and current/past coworkers – Thank you for being a part of my journey and for all of the kind words you have given me.

With that, my one year anniversary is over and I am truly excited to see where I will be a year from now. If the sky is the limit I fully intend on breaking past it. =)

 

 

Where i’m at

Been awhile since I’ve made a post on my progress so I thought it’s about that time. I’ve changed directions quite a bit (in a good way) and will talk about that after the stats:

Current weight: 194 lb
Current body fat: 11.6%

I’m seeing my upper 4 abs & obliques now which is nice, but unfortunately i’m going to need to get surgery in order to remove all of the excess stretched skin caused from being so obese in order to get those last couple of abs to show.  =(

So what about that change in direction? I decided i’m going to attempt an Ironman 70.3! That’s a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run on October 28th – in under 8 hours. That means I have less than 12 weeks left until the big day and i’ve been training like a mad man every day trying to get my endurance up.

Why do an Ironman 70.3?
A few reasons:
1) Because I can (you never know the future and I may not be able to)
2) I feel I can push myself to a new fitness level i’ve never been before
3) I want to try a full Ironman next year (so I can call myself an Ironman!)

We’ll see how it goes!

Killer Cardio Workout

Introduction:
This is a routine I got from Orange Theory Fitness (with some minor tweaks). I try to do it at least once a week and it always feels great for several days afterward.

You need to choose 3 speeds and memorize them before hand.
Base speed: (mph)
– Joggers: 4.0 to 5.5
– Runners: 5.5 and up
Push speed: +2.0 to +3.0 (mph)
All out speed: +4.0 and up (mph)

Example (mine): 6.0/8.0/12.0

Routine consists of 3x 10 minute sets:

60s base
60s push
30s base
90s push
30s base
30s all out
30s walk @ 3.0mph
30s base
90s push
30s base
60s all out
30s walk @ 3.0mph
30s base
repeat

1st set 0% incline
2nd set 1% incline
3rd set 2% incline

Let me know how it works out for you!

Workout by Joe King

Introduction:
Still very much a work in progress, especially legs.  Looking to incorporate negatives into legs (difficult with current equipment).  Also, might work deadlift into pull workout, or alternate squats / deadlift on leg day.  If anyone needs clarification, feel free to comment on this post and Gene will forward it on to me.  Huge emphasis on the failure part, although it’s pretty difficult!
 
Edit: So everyone is clear, these workouts need to be done in succession with no breaks between them (unless it says to break) and there is only one set of each – almost everything must be done to total failure. If doing this with a partner (highly recommended) try to do one person at a time.
 
Split 1: Push (Day 1)
 
Fly
Don’t aim for a particular number, try for a weight where you fail in the range of 8 – 12, unless your gym sucks like mine and doesn’t go that high.  Go at a cadence of explode up, and take about 5 seconds to go back.
 
Incline Bench (Dumbell / Barbell / Assisted Barbell)
This one it really depends, if you’re working out alone, it’s probably best to do the bench on the rack.  With a spot I’d recommend negatives here, (they assist as much as possible on the lift, and let you resist on the way down for ~5 reps, or until you’re useless) otherwise do 8-12 at an explode up, 5 second down pace.
 
Hammer Chest
If at all possible, if you’re working out with a partner do negatives.  Load up on a weight you can’t even lift, and get someone to assist on the lift, and you resist as much as you can on the negative (without a spot).  I can only manage about 5 before I feel like I’m not doing anything.  If no spotter, just do similar to the rep for Fly, aim for 8-12 (to absolute failure, and you can’t lift it anymore) at a cadence of 5 seconds up, 5 seconds down.
 
– 2 minute rest –
 
Tricep extension (I use the cable machine)
If you have a spot, once again do negatives, as many as you can until you fail.  Otherwise go at the explode on the push, and resist for 5 seconds on the negative until failure.
 
Bench Dips (put your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart on a bench, pull up another bench to prop up your feet and dip)
I usually put 2 45lb plates in my lap and go to failure, the reps will probably be somewhat higher here, but follow the general explode up and 5 seconds down approach for this one.
 
Hammer Chest Decline
Follow same instructions from Hammer Chest above.
 
– 2 minute rest –
(Probably the worst part of the workout begins now)
 
Lateral Raise
To failure, this you’ll probably have to aim for higher reps potentially over 20, for some reason increasing weights on this screws up form pretty fast.  So just keep going until you can’t lift your arms out anymore.  Cadence a little faster, explode up maybe 2 seconds down.
 
Overhead Shoulder Press (preferably a machine, or hammer.  Dumbells work, but are pretty difficult) –
Just go to failure, explode up, 5 second negative.
 
Shrugs
Slow cadence (5 seconds up / 5 seconds down) to failure.
 
Push-ups
To near-failure, then hold final push-up to failure.  Hopefully a lot quicker than you’d expect. Throw a 45 on your back if it seems too easy.
 

 
Split 2: Pull (Day 2)
 
Pull Overs
Don’t aim for a particular number, try for a weight where you fail in the range of 8 – 12 (Go until absolute failure, you cannot lift the weight anymore)
explosive lift, 2-5 second cadence on the negative
 
Yates Row
Same as pullovers, explosive lift, 2-5 second cadence on the negative.
 
Lateral Pull-down (negatives)
If at all possible, if you’re working out with a partner do negatives.
Load up on a weight you can’t even lift, and get someone to assist on the lift, and you resist as much as you can on the negative (without a spot).
If no spotter, just do similar to PullOvers/Yates row, but follow a slower cadence of 5 seconds up / 5 seconds down until failure.
 
– 2 minute rest –
 
Preacher curl (negatives)
Same as lateral pull-down.
 
Standing alternating curls
Same as Pull Overs.
 
Close grip pull-down (negatives)
Same as Lateral Pull-down.
 
– 2 minute rest –
 
Seated cable row / machine row (negatives)
Same as Lateral Pull-down.
 
Reverse Fly (cable or machine)
Same as PullOvers.
 
Body weight pull-up (hold)
Hold top of pull-up to failure.
 

 
Split 3: Legs (Day 3)
(Very difficult to go to failure and do negatives. Still working on perfecting legs)
 
Squats (Don’t go to failure here!!)
Slow cadence of 5 sec up/ 5 sec down.
 
Leg Extensions
Explode up, 2-5 second neg.  Go to failure, try to shoot for a weight that will get you in the 8-12 range.
 
Leg Press
Same as leg ext.
 
– 2 minute rest –
 
Walking Lunges (Don’t go to failure here!!)
Just use proper form, and a controlled pace.
 
Leg Curl
Same as leg ext.
 
Leg Press
Same as leg ext.
 
– 2 minute rest –
 
Calf raises
Slow controlled speed to failure (explode up, 2-5 second neg.)
 
Wall squat hold
Hold the squat position against a wall until failure.

Diet

This diet I also got from Tim Ferriss’ book “The 4 hour body” and it’s been amazingly easy to follow and has shown absolutely amazing results. This diet is not for everyone – bodybuilders especially – as it has less than the adequate protein for maintaining a lot of muscle. Bodybuilders need at least 1g per 1lb of body weight (more like 1.5g per 1lb) though you might be able to get close if you modify it a bit. Bodybuilders also need fast carbs for glycogenesis so adding in a little brown rice to this diet would do wonders.

Slow carb diet:

– No bread, pasta, or rice (including brown rice) whatsoever
– Lots of beans (pinto, black, white, etc) [primary source of slow carbs]
– Lots of vegetables (spinach, kale, broccolli, etc) [secondary source of slow carbs]
– Try to stay away from all inorganic/processed food
– Stick to chicken/fish/turkey if you decide to eat meat (I eat red meat once a week or so though because I love a good steak haha)
– Watch sodium intake (should be around 2000mg – 2500mg per day unless you do a lot of exercising in which case you will need to bump that up)
– Dont count calories (you don’t need to)
– Eat as much vegetables as you want (and I eat a TON every day – primarily kale, spinach, lettuce, broccolli, etc)
– Two meals, one day a week I will cheat and eat as much of anything I want (typically saturdays i’ll eat a ton of pizza and a terribly awesome burger for my 2 cheat meals)

I would say my ratio is at: 50%/25%/25% vegetables/beans/meat

My exercise regimen has also completely changed, but I will let my friend make a guest post on here and explain it (as he is the one who devised it). As a little teaser, its ridiculously easy and super fast to perform. 3 days a week – 20 minutes a day. I haven’t been in the gym for more than 30 minutes at a time for awhile now (which to me is awesome). I’ll get him to write something up soon and i’ll get it posted.

Supplements

The following are the supplements that I take along with the cycles they are supposed to be taken. I got my inspiration from “The 4 hour body” by Tim Ferriss along with some things I added myself while learning/experimenting. I did put links to the vitamin shoppe/GNC as a guide for my friends who have been asking me about where to get the supplements. You don’t have to choose those exact products of course and I highly recommend experimenting to see what works for you.

Morning (Breakfast):
– 1x Multivitamin [vitamin shoppe]
– 1000mg or 1200mg Fish oil [vitamin shoppe]
– 1/2x Calcium [vitamin shoppe]

With every meal (including breakfast) (up to 3 meals):
– 1x Green coffee extract [vitamin shoppe]
– 1x Green tea extract [vitamin shoppe]
– 1x Alpa lipoic acid [vitamin shoppe]
– 1x Garlic [vitamin shoppe]
– 1x L-Glutamine [vitamin shoppe]

Before bed:
– 1000mg or 1200mg Fish oil [above]
– 1x Green tea extract [above]
– 1x Alpha lipoic acid [above]
– 1x Garlic [above]
– 1x L-Glutamine [above]
– 2x (20mg) Policosanol [vitamin shoppe]
– ZMA [vitamin shoppe]
– Muscle Milk [vitamin shoppe]

Cycle 2 month on, 1 week off:
– Green tea extract
– Alpha lipoic acid
– Garlic
– L-Glutamine

Cycle 2 month on, 1 month off:
– Green coffee extract

Everything else take indefinitely.

I also take Cellucor P6 which is one of the greatest supplements ever. [gnc]
It is expensive but if you buy it with a Gold card the first week of every month you get 20% off and sometimes they run buy one get one 50% off which is a good deal.
I run it in with my green coffee extract cycle (2 months on 1 month off)

Try to take muscle milk an hour and a half before bed and then ZMA right before sleep because calcium (which is in muscle milk) interrupts the absorption of Zinc (in ZMA).

You’ll notice I dont take any creatine, pre-workouts, post-workouts, etc. and that’s because I’ve found them to be relatively useless with my diet/exercise regime. If anything I would add creatine and some BCAA’s if you are more into bodybuilding. All that other crap you really don’t need. I also take no stimulants. I tried OxyElite Pro before I got onto this regime and it really killed me because of the amount of stimulants (caffeine) in it. I would take it and literally crash after 30 minutes so I decided to give my body a break and stay stim-free until it recovers. I found I actually don’t need stims (the green tea and green coffee has very minor caffeine amounts in it) and i’m energized all day long (if for some reason i’m really dying, for example from partying all night, ill have a cup of black coffee – no cream/sugar).

So yeah that’s it for supps! I will post again shortly on my diet summary.

Update!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update on my progress and I’ve made some incredible changes!

Current weight: 195lb
Current BF: 13%

I haven’t been under 200lb’s since I was 13 years old! The day I saw 199 on the scale I almost choked up it was such a glorious moment! From there I actually dropped very quickly due to my new diet and got down to low 190, but it was too much muscle loss and I looked kind of “stringy” so I did a clean bulk back up to 195 and this is where I’ve been sitting for the past month or so – slowly chipping away fat while building muscle to compensate. I’m even starting to see the outline of my abs which is realllllly exciting! I dont think I’ve ever seen them at any point in my life, haha.

I will make a couple posts within the next few hours on the supplement regimen I am on as well as explaining my diet.

I am in the process of getting a couple different personal training certifications along with a friend of mine. We are doing it just for fun and to learn, but we have an idea on a non-profit business for getting America fit and healthy that we are going to be exploring once we complete our certifications. Being a programmer is going to help us, hopefully, achieve that goal. If I can help just one person to achieve their goals like I did I will feel like i’ve accomplished something great!

Diet/supps posts incoming momentarily.

So close!

Im so close to my old goal of 200lb’s!! I also just reached my original BF% goal!

Current weight: 205
Current BF%: 14.7%

Once again it’s time to readjust my goals, so the new target:

Weight: 190lb
BF%: 10%

I’m taking quite a few different substances (vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc) which are all pretty interesting and ill be writing up a summary within the next few days so check back on that. I am almost completely stim free (no caffeine), and not taking any “workout” supps other than protein.

6 months

It’s been quite a journey as it was just over a little more than 6 months ago that I decided to change my life around and get fit. I started at around 290 lb’s and about 31% body fat – I was huge. Over the past 6 months I’ve transformed from living life as a severely obese person to one that is fit, but more than that I’ve transformed from being ignorant to being well informed in nutrition and fitness through studying and lots of trial and error. I’ve studied pretty much anything having to do with fitness – chemistry, biology, medicine, anatomy, physiology, etc. I have a new found respect for life through my studies – it’s an amazing process. The only other thing I’ve dedicated this much of my life to is computers (for those that don’t know im a software engineer).

I started out doing just cardio – and by cardio I mean jumping on the elliptical machine at my previous employers gym. I didnt really think about diet or supplements, I just decided to hit it hard and try to burn as many calories as I can. I remember the ellipticals had a weird bug in their software and the “calories burned” would always be off (though at the time I was so ignorant I actually thought I was burning that many calories).

Yes that literally says 4,027 calories. That was the highest I ever went – it took me about 3 hours to get to on the highest resistance setting the entire time. Naturally doing this a few times a week I lost a lot of pounds quickly (after about a month and a half I dropped to about 260 – around the time I started this blog).

Then I started hitting the gym.

I went through so many different kinds of workouts, supplements, diets, etc. I posted quite a bit on this blog so just look at previous posts to get an idea what I was doing. I got down to about 240 lb’s within the first couple months. Things started coming together in the middle of January when I signed up for the two fitness contests – Orange Theory and BodyBuilding.com. I was so motivated to win I started really studying and applying myself to working out and having proper nutrition. It’s been quite a journey. My pant size went from a size 42 down to a size 34. I went from wearing XXL (or above) in shirts down to M/L. I can take my shirt off and not be ashamed of my body (though the stretch marks from all that fat is kinda unsightly, lol). Most of all though I am full of energy. Before, I would feel terribly tired all day, no matter how much sleep I got. I had a lot of trouble sleeping and I would always be in a grumpy/bad mood. Now I have a ton of energy most days and though I still find it kind of a pain to fall asleep (I blame the stims) the sleep I do get is refreshing.

I finished up my bulk a couple weeks ago and have since stopped taking most of my supplements (protein being the only one I still use from the bulk). Today starts my 2nd cut ever (the first being when I did Orange Theory). Ill be on an 8 week cycle of Cellucor P6 and a 4 week cycle of OxyElite Pro. 4 week cut, then back to a quick 4 week bulk, and then another 4 week cut after that. Hopefully I can get my abs to show by July 4th =)

Current weight: 213

Body fat: 16%

“Everybody has the ability to transform themselves, it’s only you holding yourself back”