I have spent most of my life in an average physical frame. Some have called me slim or skinny but I feel I have a pretty average body. In the height of my junk food vegan/vegetarian days I tipped the scales at an unhealthy 205lbs. Once I found intermittent fasting in 2014 and lost most of my fat, I was able to drop down to the 160s without any effort. For the past 2+ years, since I integrated a daily plant-powered smoothie, I have stayed within about 5 lbs of 175 lbs(172-177). For me the combination of a plant-pure smoothie and intermittent fasting has been the magic bullet to keep my body trim, have nearly unlimited energy and able to eat pretty much anything for dinner each day.
About 30 days before Spokane VegFest 2017, I began working out very lightly for the first time in a year. In 2016 I got really excited about my Concept 2 rowing machine but life got busy and so it began to collect dust again in the corner after only a few months of use. Well this year I started really simple, I just used my bench press once every few days. My first bench of the season I was only able to press it 8 times. Over the course of 2 months I did my bench 1-3 times a week. As of 2 weeks ago my 8 turned into 18 reps. Every other time I got on the bench I gained a rep. To me this was just another outstanding benefit of a plant-powered diet, gaining muscle is like drinking water if you want to put in the time and energy.
2 weeks ago, my good friend David Young of the delicious cheese manufacturer Fauxmage Vegan Cheese Co. moved to Spokane. While we were unloading his furniture from his the moving truck we were talking about the idea of getting in shape again. We have talked about health and fitness over the years, and and the possibility of creating a vegan health podcast together but we thought it would make sense to get fit first. So a few days later I turned my weight bench room into a full circuit training center. His wife and him ran a Pilates gym in Seattle for years making him an incredible workout partner and trainer.
What has been so incredibly shocking is not only my gains on the bench but my overall gains in body weight. From 2 months of very minor work I have gained over 6lbs of muscles. My scale for the first time in years started tipping over 180 a few weeks ago and I am now averaging around 182lbs over my former 175lbs. This initially really made me really nervous because it seemed like too much weight too fast. I had not seen the scale touch 180 in years! I religiously weigh myself 2-5x a week so I am pretty confident on my gains. My arms are noticeably larger, my pecks are much more defined and areas of my stomach are solidifying practically over night. I am not yet comfortable to actually share any photos because I am incredibly self conscious but in time, as long as I keep it up, I will.
Why Bulk Up?
I feel I have many more reasons to not bulk up, than to. Being a mechanical engineer I have to always critically analyze almost everything I do in my life. To me I feel bulking up is very ridiculous and in many ways waste of energy. I believe in being healthy and doing normal cardio to keep the heart and circulatory system in peak condition, but not huge muscles. They are simply extraneous. If you take a moment to think of it, having a body with sub 10% body fat is very logical. The human body wants to have a good amount of fat stores for emergency even though we are almost always surrounded by a surplus of foods. Without working out heavily I have stuck right around the 10% level with my lowest at 9%. I have chosen to not bulk up for the same reason that a part of me wants to bulk up, ego and vanity. I have been so conflicted over the superficial want to be sexy and ripped. I think that is one of the many reasons I have stopped many times before. The difference between my previous attempts and now is that back then I was still heavily addicted to milk and cheese. While consuming dairy at nearly every meal and eating very few vegetables, I never saw the gains I am receiving today.
For me, almost anything I do has to be bigger than me. I have a very tough time doing things for just myself. Today, we live in a protein obsessed culture and most men and many women still look up to big muscles. As ridiculous as it is, that is how things are. So I feel that unless I gain a higher level of physical fitness, I will always be overshadowed and not taken as seriously as the countless animal advocates who also have decided to include their physique in their activism. Today I try to explain the lack of need of protein and people simply overlook me and my knowledge. I want to embody something that cannot be extinguished 🙂
So this is hopefully the beginning of a nice long journey into muscle building.
As you might expect me to say, the proper nutrition, lots of whole plant-based foods, is the #1 most important tool for quick powerful gains but then you have to actually put in the work in to get the results. These are my tools:
- Weight Bench( Currently maxed out with 120lbs of weight, I need to buy more)
- This is probably the most powerful and inexpensive tool I have ever seen!!! We got ours for free. I started using it 3 weeks ago and it is not just powerful but incredibly fun. I have done 20 minute sessions listing to awesome music and wow, I feel it every time! You are able to wiggle and move muscles in ways that no other workout can easily achieve. It is not hard, you just jump on and then dance, wiggle and move 🙂
- Concept 2 Rowing Machine
- My Concept 2 Model D Rowing machine has long been one of my favorite tools. It utilizes 90% of the muscles in the body and it helps sustain a strong lean physique. I spent over a decade wanting one and 3 years of solid watching Craigslist until I got mine for the price I could comfortably afford.
- These are so useful becuase you can do so many different workouts with them. I have both solid weights and an adjustable set of Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells. They are great because they are able to adjust from 10lbs to 52lbs.
What I have noticed So far
On top of the noticeable changes in my body and weight I have also noticed something very interesting, no carnal craving for protein! HAHA!!! Hearing people whine about protein is just like nails on chalkboard to me. So far I have not adjusted my dietary habits since I began. I may have increased my protein content by 10g a day, max by eating a tiny bit more food. I am still beginning my breakfast around 1-3pm and snacking normally until 11pm. I know the snacking is not great and sometime I may cut it out again but for now I am in a decent balance. What I have noticed in the past which continues today is that if I do not get enough calories in a day, my body craves sweets and other things later in night before bed. I have been doing much better than my super stressed pre-Spokane VegFest time of the year where I regularly do eat an entire pint of ice cream per night. I have been averaging about 300 calories of junk(ice cream, chips and salsa or cookies) on most nights.
What About Protein?
I went into this wanting to prove that many protein obsessed athletes are full of themselves when they believe they need 150g+ a day to make gains. I would guess that most days I am eating 50-70g which is pretty much exactly what most humans need. The most important thing is that I am not counting or even thinking about protein at all. I simply eat and eat well. I am never hungry and simply eat my daily routine of 32oz of tea when I wake up, followed by my elixir of life smoothie and then dinner around 6-9pm. Raw until dinner is amazing for the body and really easy to do when utilizing smoothies for the raw hours! Every day is different and I completely listen to my body to know when I need to eat. I am still early in my journey but so far I am very pleased with my results. I have increased my banana count from 2 to about 5 per day. Part of this is because I am now 2 years into eating smoothies every day and I wanted to make them even more palatable also a greater understanding of fruits and their role in a human’s diet. When I began making smoothies years ago I was sort of afraid of fruits because I still had a lack of understanding relating to plant nutrition. Now I fully embrace fruits!
Moral of this story: forget the protein shakes and powders! They are a waste of money and probably just packing on the lbs of fat on your body. There is this misconception that protein is naturally passed if not used but instead what often happens is it is converted and stored on the body increasing your overall weight. When I do add some protein powder in my smoothie, it is very little and just for taste. I have amassed over 10lbs of protein powder and so I do throw it in from time to time for flavor, not for anything else. When I add them, I use a maximum of 10g to my shakes. If they were not gifted to me, I would not buy them. I have had a few clients who were trying to loose weight while drinking protein shakes regularly. This is counter productive. Go lean and stick with about 80/10/10 for maximum weight loss gains or power gains. Your exertion will dictate your physical results.
I am not totally sure where I want to go with this. I have always believed that if I was ripped, I would be about 185-190lbs. With these initial gains, I do not know exactly where I am planning on going to finish. In the past, I usually stopped working out shortly after I start seeing good results because life had thrown something in my direction. Often I would be single and then I would get a girlfriend or work would get more stressful so I did not feel like I had the time to continue. Today, I cannot think of anything that would come my way and stop my progress, especially with such an amazing training partner 🙂 So in a few months I expect to have a flat stomach, bigger arms and an overall better physique.
As I progress I will add a few more posts so stay tuned 🙂
Here is one of my favorite inspirational videos from YouTube. Enjoy. 🙂