8 Nights With Leigh Peele: Porky Pineapple

I love food. Going to the grocery store is almost a religious experience for me. When standing in the meat section, I can often be found with my arms outstretched, spinning around in a circle like a kid hopped up on Captain Crunch in amazement at all the delectable treats that surround me.

But I’ll be honest – my foods choices are boring as hell. I pretty much eat the same thing, or a slight variation of it, every day of the week. Adding honey or brown sugar to my oatmeal is like venturing into a brave new world for me, so I set out to change this with the help of my friend Leigh Peele.

She’s put together a great series of cookbooks that offer a wide variety of great tasting, healthy recipes, ranging from 10 minute quick and easy meals, unique protein powder recipes, vegan/vegetarian and a whole lot more. I know that I’m not the only one whose dietary intake could use a kick in the butt cheeks from a variety standpoint, so I wanted to bring you along with me on this fantastic voyage.

Every other Wednesday, I’ll be posting a new recipe from one of Leigh’s cookbooks to give you a sampling of the goodies from all of the different flavors that she’s offering. My feedback will be honest and true, as my pallet is quick to let me know if a food isn’t all that and a bag of potatoe chips.

Enough of the jibba jabba – time to move on to our first recipe: Porky Pineapple

Ingredients:

1 8-oz can of pineapple circles, drained (save juice)
454 g or 1 pound of pork chops, boneless, fat trimmed
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. Add pineapple, 1 tablespoon of pineapple juice, and ginger together in a bowl

2. Sprinkle salt and paper (or seasoning of your choice) on both sides of chops.

3. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Set at medium-heat and add chops once hot. Cook each side for 4 minutes.

4. Add pineapple juice that is remaning and cook for 2 minutes. Turn and cook for 1 more minute.

5. Top with pineapple (optional: grill it for 3 minutes per side on medium-heat beforehand).

Yields 4 servings:

1 serving = 189.5 calories
24.75 grams Protein
6 grams Fat
7.25 grams Carbs
0.5 grams Fiber

Entire Recipe:

758 calories
99 grams Protein
24 grams Fat
30 grams Carbs
2 grams Fiber

Magnific!

This recipe was the bomb! I normally just eat my pork pan-grilled and seasoned to keep it simple as possible, but I choose this specific one for several reasons:

1. I wanted to make something quick before I went to work.

2. I already bought some pork chops the night before.

3. I’ve never pineapple before (insert shock and awe here).

The mixture of sweet, juicy pineapple and warm meat, for lack of a more refined food critic description, will explode in your mouth like a bomb filled love, respect, and everything that is delicious in the universe. The pork is already tender because of the pan cooking, but by cooking it in the pineapple juice it becomes even more so. Due to my manly appetite, I could’ve eaten at least 2 full servings of this…and will do so next time.

I give this recipe 2 thumbs up, and that’s only because I haven’t figured out how to grow more hands yet.

That’s it for today. If you too have found yourself stuck in a cooking rut, you owe it to yourself to diversify your stomach’s ecosystem and check out at least one of these excellent book. The food is delicious, the layout is top notch, and for less than $10 you’ll be providing yourself with a months worth of yum yum for your tum tum. Check out the books that she has to offer by clicking this link.

Affiliate note: If you purchase any of her cookbooks by clicking the links on this page, I’ll get a small portion of the sale, but this in no way biases my review. I’ll never promote something on this site that I haven’t used personally or that I don’t think will be a great benefit to you all. That is my promise to you, and if you ever see me slipping on it PLEASE be sure to shamefully call me out on it.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Lift Light

I’ve traveled far and wide to acquire this information. I’ve eaten fish with a Kodiak bear, drank tea with a Tibetan monk and even exchanged iced-out watches with aliens on Pluto, all so that I could return to give you a powerful tool to add to your fat loss arsenal. Are you ready?!

Descent Into Madness

If I had a dollar for every time I read or heard someone say that you need to utilize high reps in order to loss fat or “cut up”, I’d be riding around town in a rocketship because that’s just how pervasive this myth has become. Take a look around your gym, or perhaps even your own routine, and I’m sure you’ll find several examples. A sample workout of someone subscribing to this kind of dogma probably consists of 5 different bicep curls, plus every bench press variation known to man, repeated forever and ever and ever until the end of time.

While the above is (mostly) in jest, there is a serious point to be made: the way most people train for the goal of fat loss is counterproductive, but you know what? I don’t blame them, as I too was a victim of it and did my fair share of spreading misinformation back in the day. With the rise of this new, hip thing called the internet, great information is easy to find, but so is the nonsense. When you look at weight training from a simplistic point of view, it almost sounds like it would make sense.

Strength training = calories burned
Strength training + a never ending amount of sets = even more calories burned
Even more calories burned = FAT ANNIHILATION!!!

Right?

Nope.

When your goal is to lose enough fat to look good naked, or at the very least in some form fitting clothes, the last thing that you want to do is engage in a constantly in light weight, high rep training, and here is why.

1. It provides no inventive

If you’re cutting calories like you’re supposed to be doing, then proper strength training is one of your greatest allies in the battle against the chub, emphasis on the word proper. Unfortunately, doing nothing but the type of training described above doesn’t cut the cake as far as proper goes and may very well leave you looking like a smaller, weaker version of your current self.

In a caloric deficit, your body is like The Blob – it doesn’t care if the weight that you’re losing is composed of muscle or fat and it will gobble up whatever it needs to in order to provide itself with what you aren’t giving it. Sounds pretty lame, right? Luckily there is an easy solution. By training with heavy weights and compound movements, coupled with sufficient protein intake, you’re waving a fiery torch of doom at your body, keeping it away from your treasure trove (muscle) and steering it towards a less important resource (body fat).

Unlike lifting a light weight dozens of times and not stressing your system, training with heavy weights provides your body with a physiological incentive to hold on to the muscle that you have because you’re demonstrating that you actually need to keep it around. In the end this is what you want, because muscle + reduced bodyfat is responsible for giving your body the definition and “tone” that most men and women are looking for.

Yes, it is true that if you don’t use it, you lose it.

2. It compromises recovery

Imagine that your muscles are like a sandcastle, and every time you train and allow time to recover, your sandcastle comes back bigger and better than before. This is how things normally go, but things aren’t normal when you’re trying to lose fat.

Your recovery is already hampered because you’re eating less than you’d need to maintain your current state, plus you’re demanding more of it by adding more for it to recovery from in the form of higher reps. This would be the equivalent of me drop kicking your sandcastle right of the middle of you rebuilding it – one step forward, two steps back.

Now what kind of person would I be if all I did was tell you about a problem and just stand there in my b-boy stance without providing you with any kind of a solution? A person composed entirely of dubious and questionable morals, and that just won’t do!

Enter The Pyramid

The most effective training method that I’ve ever used to pack on size or maintain my strength and muscle mass while dieting is called Reverse Pyramid Training, which is a simple training philosophy that I first discovered through Martin Berkhan which side steps the pitfalls of the constant high rep/low weight training.

General Rules:

  • Use this for only one or two (compound) lifts per session in order to avoid burnout.
  • Choose a predefined rep range (anywhere from 1-10 reps depending on the exercise), only increasing weight when you get to the upper end of that range.
  • After a proper warm up, your first work set will be your heaviest set. This is what you want to focus the majority of your efforts towards progressing on.
  • Drop the weight by 10% or so each subsequent set in order to get +1-2 reps compared to your last set

Here is a page from my training log as an example plus a video of me training in a goofy looking hat.

Chin Ups: 2 x 3-4, 1 x as many as possible

Set #1: Bodyweight + 100lbs x 3 reps

Rest at least 3min. Drop that weight about 10% and terminate the set after you get +1-2 reps from your last set.

Set #2: Bodyweight+ 75lbs x 4 reps

Set #3: Bodyweight x 11 reps

Done. Rest 3-5min before beginning the next compound movement (if you have another one).

Front Squat: 2 x 3-5 reps

Set #1: 305 x 4 reps

Rest at least 3min. Drop that weight by about 10% and terminate the set after you get +1-2 reps from your last set.

Set #2: 275 x 5 reps

Rest at least 3min. Drop that weight by 10% and terminate the set after you get +1 rep from your last set.

Set #3: 225 x 5

On some days this may be my entire workout – brief, intense and effective. This is how most my sessions usually turn out, and I’ve managed to maintain my strength and muscle mass despite being in a severe caloric deficit at the time. You can add in a few assistance exercises as well, but I’d keep it limited to 2, 3 at the absolute most, and stay within the 6-10 rep range. Cut out the fufu exercises and keep your training centered around the big movements.

As a side note, if can’t perform movements such as chin ups, deadlifts, squats and the bench press for some reason, all is not lost. You still have the option of using the lat pulldown  weight-assisted chin up machine, leg press and push up variations, just to name a few. The key is to simply use a heavy enough weight to maintain intensity, regardless of the actual exercise selection.

Photo Credit: MayWong

Friday Freestyle Volume 2

Tales From The Hip:

Since my camera is MIA, leaving me without wonderful impression footage until I find it, I thought I’d share with you all a wonderful splattering of what gets me through my workouts these days.

What’s flowing through your ears these days? Be sure to leave some suggestions in the comment section!

 

 

 

Testify: Confess Thy Food Sins

Did you shove several pieces of something regrettable down your gullet that had no business being there?

Have you found yourself falling victim to The Itis one too many times lately?

I’ve done it, you’ve done it, and your friendly neighborhood postman has done it. Don’t let your food overindulgence fester and transform from one moment of weakness into a week, month or year long descent into decadent debauchery.

Come forth, oh gluttonous one, and confess thy dietary sins – the truth shall set you free!

The Straight Dope: An Interview With Korey Marciniak

Whenever I see someone using a barbell for anything other than bench pressing, it shocks and compels me into action. I talk to them, and sometimes, just sometimes, they speak words back in my general direction. This is one of those moments.

——

Rog Law: What’s up, Korey! Could you tell my readers a little bit about yourself and how you first got into lifting weights?

Korey Marciniak: I am a thirty year old man working in the computer industry; when people ask me what I do with computers, I just tell them “I fix the internet.” So, as you might imagine, I am a bit of a nerd. I am 6’3″ and I currently weigh 193lbs. I first got into weightlifting a few years ago, I knew nothing about it, I just knew that I was not happy with how I looked or felt. I was miserable all the time and I felt weak. I started off simple by just working out with dumbbells and a jumprope in my living room. I was picking compound exercises based off of exrx.net and doing the exercises to fatigue. It was a mess. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was losing weight, so I was pleased with the results when I went from 218lbs to 170lbs.

I started doing P90X after that, and although a lot of people may balk at it, it helped me understand how and what I should be eating. I did that for about 4 months, never really getting stronger, but losing weight, and when I hit 161lbs I decided it was time to try something more in line with my goals. I liked the variety, but I wanted to be stronger and more useful as an adult man. I tried CrossFit, and that is honestly what I feel marks the first time I got into lifting weights, because before then the most weight I had lifted was 55lbs. I enjoyed CrossFit, but I realized two things about it: I loved the Olympic lifting, and at month four I was only slightly stronger than when I walked in the door. I don’t regret my choice, because I learned a LOT about weightlifting very quickly, I realized it was time to do this right so I stopped exercising, and started training.

RL: It’s awesome that you aligned your action steps with your goals – that’s one thing that I see most people NOT doing in the gym and in life. Did you have a lot of hands on coaching when you were at the CrossFit facility? Your lifting technique is pretty damn dope.

KM: When I initially signed up for CrossFit, I was required to take an introductory class on how to lift before I could participate in the workout of the day. I stupidly scheduled it for 6am on a weekday when I was on vacation. I remember basically nothing from the class other than that I was very tired and wanted to go back to bed. I don’t fault my instructor for that, and I am giving myself a mulligan, since no one can be expected to learn how to perform dozens of exercises with great form in an hour.

I had assumed that the classes would be group-led and very hands on with an instructor correcting my form, however I was sadly mistaken. I think a lot of it had to do with the CrossFit facility being new, and not a well-oiled machine yet, but that was a big motivator in my move away from CrossFit. I watched a lot of videos and read a lot about lifting after I realized that I was not going to get much coaching. Don’t get me wrong, everyone there was very nice, and I did receive some tips and hints that helped, but the majority of my time there I found myself left to my own devices slogging through a workout without any idea of what I was doing.

The videos online were really what helped me learn how to lift, and I believe strongly in the phrase “Perfect is the enemy of good.”

RL: What was your next step after CrossFit?

KM: I was doing CrossFit for about four months before I wanted to get stronger. I was tired of struggling with a 115lb push press when a random off the street would show up on day one and be able to push press 155lbs, all because he weighed more than me. I realized that having abs was not as important as the ability to lift furniture and push a broken-down car. So with the consent of the owner’s at the CrossFit facility I began Starting Strength. I reset every single one of my lifts a huge amount, and I began doing the most methodical simplest workout ever conceived.

It was all very systematic. I showed up, wrote some numbers down, moved a lot of weights around and left. I was worried at first about my weight, I didn’t want to become fat, but I ate clean and I focused on getting enough of the foods I needed. I didn’t do the oft-recommended ‘gallon of milk a day’ but that was because I was eating so much I was gaining a pound a week without it.

I started to hit PRs very very quickly, and even though I was much weaker than a lot of the people at the gym I had added a lot of weight to the bar in a short amount of time. I had picked up a shoulder injury at the tail end of doing CrossFit and still had it as I began Starting Strength, but my doctor told me what equated to “sometimes these things take time to heal, man up and keep lifting weights,” and after about three weeks into the program all my pain had gone away.

I ended up switching gyms after about six months, when I started to see the shortcomings. I was squatting and benching heavy without a cage or spotter, and although no one ever said anything to me, I felt bad that I was taking up a bar and squat stands for up to an hour and a half at a time, when most workouts were under 20 minutes there. I learned very quickly how hard it is to find a good gym.

RL: Strength training is addictive, isn’t it? The good thing about it is that even if your goals are purely physique related, the stronger you get the more likely you are to look like you actually life weights.

What were your starting numbers at the beginning of Starting Strength and what are they looking like now?
KM: It is very addictive, and it’s nice to know that it’s applicable in every day life. I definitely took a less physique-oriented path, as I perform a lot of low-repetition exercises, but the results are still there, and strength and physique are not mutually exclusive things which is rewarding in it’s own right.

 

My numbers at the beginning of Starting Strength were sort of all over the place. CrossFit is very randomized, and at about four months in I knew it was time to focus on my weaknesses. I had some decent numbers for a 171lb guy who wasn’t lifting heavy. My deadlift was 275lbs for a set of three, my squat was 230lbs for a single rep, but the depth was terrible so I’d guess it was closer to 195lbs if I am being brutally honest. My best snatch was 105lbs for a single set of three, and my power clean matched my bench press at 135lbs. My overhead press was realistically about 95lbs. I had a bit of a rough start to the program initially as I was dealing with a shoulder injury, and I was not familiar with spending that much time under the bar.

Once I ironed things out and focused on being smart about it, I started with a 175lb squat, a 120lb bench press, a 225lb deadlift, a 115lb power clean, and an 85lb press. Pretty sad numbers, but I was used to doing a single set or using only weights below 115 for CrossFit workouts. As they stand right now, my bests are a 275lb squat, a 180lb bench press, a 355lb deadlift, a 175lb power clean, a 125lb power snatch, and a 137.5lb press. I have gone up about 22lbs since starting the program, but my waistline has remained identical. I am not a genetically gifted weightlifter by any means, and my height puts me at a disadvantage or a lot of  the lifts, but I’m pleased with the progress. I hope to beat my deadlift in a few weeks as I pulled 345lbs last week without any issues, and my press and bench press records are new as of the last two weeks.

My program has had to evolve as the weight has gone up, and I’ve switched to a formula called the Texas method. I would have loved to have kept doing Starting Strength, but I noticed toward the end fatigue was beginning to pile up on me and I was not making any forward progress after several resets. I could always have tried this or that and made a bit more progress, but I wanted to being incorporating the Olympic lifts more prominently in my program, since that was what interested me in the first place.

RL: What has been the biggest payoff or benefit (physical/mental or both) that’s come from your training experience?
KM: The biggest payoff has been the gain of an emotional high from training. As my work capacity increased I was adding in more time and more days, which led to a whole lot of overtraining. When I switched to Starting Strength, I thought for sure I’d be fat in a month, and that simply hasn’t been the case. The extra time away from the gym has helped me emotionally, and it’s much easier to psych myself up for a quick set of max lifts than it was for forty minutes of burpees. The rush from things like deadlifting is a wonderful thing.
RL: Do you have any specific goals that you’re getting after now?
KM: My specific goals for right now are close at hand. I am hoping to hit these numbers by this year: 200lb clean, 200lb bench press, 300lb squat, 400lb deadlift, 150lb press, and a 150lb snatch. I have some more abstract long term goals planned, but things rarely go as planned. I’d like to see a 300lb clean, 300lb bench press, 400lb squat, 200lb press, and a 200lb snatch, but I am not sure how long that will take me to achieve.
I’ve veered away a bit from conditioning goals, as I’ve come to realize that there simply isn’t a need to be able to run a five minute mile for someone who doesn’t run marathons or play competitive sports. I’ll likely have to add some level of it back in as I begin to get closer to my genetic max.
RL: What advice would you offer n00bs who are just starting out?
KM: I’m going to try to keep my advice to n00bs simple and concise, because I could go on for hours and hours on this topic. So here goes:

 

Take everything you read, hear, and see with a grain of salt (yes, including this). Male or female, we all need to eat right, lift smart, and focus on goals that matter to us as individuals. You’ll never stop being a novice, it’ll just stop being easy to make gains. Range of motion matters, and no one gets strong over night. Oh, and for god’s sake squat like it matters.

RL: And now that we have all these silly questions out of the way, what’s your favorite video game and favorite food?

KM: Ahh! A change of topic, okay, let’s see. My favorite game of all time is a tough one, I’d have to say right now it’s Half-Life 2. I know there’s a lot of talk lately about how video games may or may not be art, but once I played Half-Life 2 I knew it was. I had felt pangs of guilt and sadness playing games like Final Fantasy VII, but Half-Life 2 put everything in my hands. The character interaction was so subtle due to the silent protagonist that it made me feel like I was truly filling the role of Gordon Freeman.

Favorite food for me is simple. When my diet changed to something more than random garbage I re-heated in the microwave, I had to start eating breakfast. I began to eat oatmeal then, and it’s stuck with me since then. I sometimes can’t stomach another egg, and I’ve been sick of chicken as of late, but oatmeal always works. I eat the instant oatmeal that I am sure the oatmeal purists think is heretical, but I love the hell out of it.

Photo Credit: Incase