When Am I Strongest Throughout The Week? What To Put On Mondays In Your Split

I’m obsessive about getting things out of the way on Mondays. If I can get all weekly maintenance done on Monday then I the rest of the week is a victory lap, no waiting, no dreading.

And it makes perfect sense for Monday to be the day of the week that I fast since I’m coming off a weekend of cinnamon buns and gelato.

I used to put bench press Mondays after work but I thought I’m not in any danger of putting off bench whereas I put off swimming all the time so Monday became swim day which is better because if I’m fasted I can swim but strength training bench when I’ve been working fasted all day isn’t great.

So I thought maybe I can get it out of the way even earlier! I’ll go hit the gym before work – get bench out of the way, go to work and get my weekly cleaning done and out of the way, then swim after work and get that out of the way, all while not eating! What a sane use of everyone’s most hated day.

Stay tuned for how this turns out

Book Review: The Virility Paradox by Charles J. Ryan

The title sounds like a paperback thriller but it’s the subtitle that hooked me; The Vast Influence Of Testosterone On Our Bodies, Minds, And The World We Live In.

And of course the book proves its point, I’m astonished at the effects of testosterone. What’s most interesting is when you give test to low test people they become more focused on systems and less on feelings.

People with what Chuck calls the Virility Triad (high fetal testosterone, high androgen receptors – meaning the body’s ability to receive test -, as well as high testosterone itself) get tunnel vision, collect things, love to win, track numbers, etc.

The thing is, it’s true regardless of gender. In fact if you simply give a woman with baseline female levels of testosterone a bunch more she’ll become more systematized and less empathetic. And feel an increased love of winning.

Testosterone and dopamine are closely linked and there’s a feed-forward mechanism with both, the more you get the more your body designs itself to receive. So winning at something gives you a boost of testosterone which makes you more likely to win, and to want to win, at something else. You want to know who has high levels of testosterone? Trial Lawyers. Makes sense now doesn’t it?

Now of course female athletes have more than average testosterone and success tracks upward with it, some even have T levels that are naturally as high as if they were doping and are so successful the sports don’t know exactly what to do about that. It’s a natural advantage like height or muscle fiber so you don’t want to dampen it but if no amount of training will get other women up to that level then should they be allowed to supplement?

Maybe in the future instead of gender-based divisions in sport it’ll go by base-testosterone.

Just when the book has you convinced that boosting your testosterone would be inherently great it gets into the effect on rape and massacres so don’t go running to your pharmacist. But a little boost, by working out or priming with virile images, can help you get stuff done.

It’s also interesting that lowering testosterone, which happens naturally to men as they age, makes one more nurturing and interested in the feelings of others. The book has a bit to say about the role of grandfathers from an evolutionary perspective that’s quite touching.

Speaking of touching, oxytocin causes T levels to drop as well, which again makes sense because evolution wouldn’t favor someone being organized and aggressive when cuddling his mate or offspring.

All in all, great book. Read it if you see it.

What You To Do If You Have To Cut Back On Coffee

Maybe it’s bags under your eyes, maybe you just feel stressed out and jittery, or maybe it’s the chest gripping feeling that you’re not breathing, but at some point most people say they need to cut back on coffee.

All the health benefits of coffee are in the 1 cup range as far as I’ve heard, I’ve never had that few (or haven’t since I was 14) but that’s what I hear. Mine consumption of magic morning not-kill-you juice averages 3 cups then goes up and up and up until I’m having panic attacks then I quit for a week or two.

Story of my life, full speed or full stop. But here’s what I found helps mitigate that and live like (sigh) adult.

Step 1: Theanine. It’s the reason people think tea is softer than coffee, it’s not, tea has more caffeine than a typical cup of joe but it also has theanine which takes that edge off. Theanine also protects your adenosine receptors from developing caffeine tolerance so one cup should always work.

Luckily it comes in pill form. Take a theanine capsule with your first cup and you’ll find you don’t feel like having a second because the rush isn’t there, there’s no dragon to chase. And I know, we all love that speedy feeling like you could take on the world but this for when you have to cut back because the world is on your chest.

Step 2: A cup of beet juice. I trained myself to drink it for the nitric oxide benefits for running, it’s not delectable. But before you shake your head you know what? You trained yourself to drink coffee. We trained ourselves to drink booze. We trained ourselves to take in, and later love, a lot of toxic shit. So why not put that skill to use for the light side of the force and train yourself to like beet juice and avocados and whatever else healthy thing you act like you’re too good for.

Anyway beet juice is a vasoconstrictior, just like coffee. This will stop you from getting withdrawal headaches. In the daily presence of coffee your blood vessels have stopped dilating on their own, just like most things in your body if it’s always coming from an exogenous source then your body stops using it’s endogenous systems.

So pop a theanine and wash it down with beet juice.

Then Step 3; before, during, or after your single cup of coffee – which by the way I hope is fresh ground and french pressed because if you’re only having one make it amazing – have a square of dark chocolate.

And I mean dark. Anything under 70% and you’re a pussy. Go 90, that’s where I’ve found love.lindt_excellencebar100g_90cacao

It’ll give you an energy boost, it’ll be rich and dark and satisfying (after you’ve trained yourself to enjoy it. If you’re going from milk chocolate to Supreme Dark it will, according to my girlfriend, be like eating dirt) but most importantly it will give you a hit of dopamine. You are coming off the drug of caffeine, your body is going to give you feelings of deprecation and craving when it doesn’t get its fix. It will withhold positive neurotransmitters even when you do feel good because it will have forgotten how to feel good without the presence of your drug.

But it can’t fight chocolate. Get that mood boost.

So theanine, beet juice, dark chocolate, then savour your coffee. Pretend – as I often do – that you live in a coffee commercial. Take your favourite mug outside or near the window, watch it steam, take deep breathes, and love it. Love the coffee.

Look at your coffee right now and tell it you love it.

Why We Should Buff More Than Nerf

I linked to this video (Why We Should Buff More Than Nerf, a video about pro fighting game culture) in my Videos I Liked This Week a while ago and said that while it felt important I couldn’t quite express how it was related to Health & Fitness.

Then I was reading about pooping and it all came together.

Really I was reading about digestion and the consequences of a high protein diet but it was poop-motivated, shall we say.

And I added some pre-bed magnesium citrate to my routine. This qualifies as a buff, something added to make one stronger.

Whereas to Nerf is to make one weaker. Running shoes have nerfed our feet, they are weaker because of the raised heel and excessive cushioning. But really to back away from anything is to nerf. If you hit the treadmill and later your knees hurt so you think treadmill’s not for me and give up on cardio then you have nerfed yourself. I’m not saying fight through the pain, I’m saying adapt and learn and get stronger – i.e, buff.

A lot of people nerf themselves because they don’t want to be too different from their peers. It can be hard to say I’m not going to eat this or that because I want to look better around your friends who are broadcasting that they’re totally fine with how they look. So we nerf ourselves.

We can back away from things we want to do because we might not succeed and therefore confirm our loserdom. So we nerf ourselves.

But not everything that makes training easier is a nerf. I’m reading Road To Sparta by Dean Karnazes currently and just passed the section where he writes about the importance of keeping one’s feet dry and changing one’s socks during ultramarathons to prevent a host of problems (what a thriller! I know). So extra socks isn’t a nerf even though it seems a bit like comfort-seeking. Extra socks is a buff because preventing blisters and trenchfoot is going to make you run stronger, longer.

Now I think there is a danger of turning anything into a nerf and I’m thinking of people who bring an energy gel for every 10k of a race. It’s a mental crutch at that point, no one needs that much nutrition.

So you might be bringing all these socks with you everywhere thinking it makes you stronger but really it’s preventing you from ever tapping into your strength. Are you living this life or are your socks, man?

And now clearly this is about alcohol. Or any drug, really. But mostly alcohol. The great social lubricant can get a person out of their shell and into the conversation so it’s a buff but if you always use it and never your own strength, it’s a nerf. Especially once you believe you can’t do something without it.

So, are you buffing or nerfing? Are you adding things that make you stronger or are you hiding behind things that make you weaker?

I Think I Got A Touch Of The Keto Flu Yesterday

I keep it super low carb during the week – no grains, no starches – but I decided to give up fruit as well this week. The only thing that change was no morning banana.

I usually show signs of entering ketosis on Tuesday or Wednesday, I can tell – based on limited, self-diagnosing research – that my glycogen stores are depleting.

Now, I actually woke up Wednesday with a lot of energy – usually a sign of a low carb break through – but in the afternoon I just crashed. I suddenly felt like I was struggling to stay awake even though I was up and moving around, all my muscles hurt, and I was out of it – when I got home to my apartment door I first pulled out my wallet like I was going to sign in with my gym card.

I drank an electrolyte water and took a nap and felt back to baseline but it was mighty spooky. If that’s the keto flu I can see why so many people back off ketosis.

That daily banana must have been providing enough potassium to prevent the total crash from happening.

So this post has a clearer take away I’m going to say this: If You Go Low Carb, Go High Electrolyte.

Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium. Seeds and nuts are great sources, any commercial electrolyte product is going to contain sugar, probably a lot.

How To Have Good Mornings When You Get Up Really Early And Are Pressed For Time And Life Is Awful

If you’re into self-improvement at all or just have an ear to the hustle culture getting up early is presented as essential, like you’re a complete waste if you’re not up before the sun cranking out burpees, meditating, and having a smoothie within 8 seconds of waking.

Which is true so get your shit together.

The notion that some people are early risers by nature is bullshit. We learn to love it, (human beings usually learn to love whatever habits they develop) and yet I know I’m still going to slide into sleeping late and skipping the routine if I relax too much. Even for those who love it getting up early and being productive is a choice everyday.

And you want to make that choice as strategically easy as possible, like any difficult choice. Using booze as example: you have to choose not to drink – and it’s a hell of a lot easier to choose not to drink if you choose not to go to the bar, or you choose to buy a soda at the gas station before the part of your walk home that takes you by the liquor store.

So the first choice you have to make to have a good morning is to remove all choices. Decide on the weekend what you’re having for breakfast and doing for a work out every morning this week. It can be the same everyday or alternating or different every time but make the choice and set it mental stone by Sunday night.

Each evening lay out your clothes and anything you need. No matter how tired you are before bed you’re going to be more tired in the morning.

And make the choice now that you’re not going to engage with any time-sucks. No internet. Not on your phone or your computer. I know, you’re thinking you’ll engage with something easy while you shake off the zombie dust but you won’t, you’re really heaping it on and fucking up your day. Social media will only ruin your mood and any information one might pick up will come to you in a minute of small talk with an actual human later in the day regardless.

So that’s the what-not-to-dos and let’s start the to-dos:

Get yourself a sunrise alarm. Mine’s from Philips, it’s great. A half hour before its set time it starts getting brighter with its gentle yet powerful orangish light. This means that when I wake up throughout the night I know how close I am to having to get up and can fall back asleep instantly. No anxiety clock checking mental math countdown dread, just peace. Then at its set time it’s at peak brightness and birds that sound like the Swedish Chef fade in.

Because of the brightness of the Philips it’s easy and practical to keep it far away so one has to get out of bed to turn it off and bam, you’re up, and the first experience of the day is still gentle and pleasant.

If you want to go full bore (a term I realize now is ironically ambiguous) you can also get a full spectrum light. I have a Veralux Happy Light next to the sunrise lamp that I turn on when the Swedish birds get turned off.

So from the perspective of choices; I have no choice but to turn off the bird sounds and since I’m right there it’s extremely easy to choose to turn on the Veralux.

Now, my lights are both visible from the kitchen but you have to prioritize if you don’t live in a storage folder. Best to put the full spectrum light in the kitchen, right next to the sink because that’s the first place we’re going, the first super action health station.

Where you’re going to put some salt in some water and drink it. Get sea salt or Himalayan salt or a product called Half Salt which has potassium and magnesium added, and pour it, swirl it, chug it.

As any good alcoholic knows, dehydration isn’t about water. It’s about electrolytes. Drinking a glass of water first thing is mandatory, salt water is next level, then full bore is adding chlorophyll or any other hippie voodoo magic you feel like.

Then start coffee. I know this is 700 words so far but we’re still under the first 2 minutes.

While the coffee brews; work out. Whatever you want to do. Engage your body. Then shower, then eat.

Yes eat, even if it’s really small and even if not eating breakfast is a type, in the habit forming stages of this it’s mandatory to eat. We usually boil and peel eggs on the weekend and store them in salt water. Bam, takes 2 seconds to pop one in your mouth.

Day one you won’t feel magically bright and shiny, in fact you’ll tell yourself you feel worse (which you don’t. If you had felt good you wouldn’t be changing) and by day ten you’ll be so used to feeling good in the morning you won’t notice.

Until you blow off some part of the morning and sleep in and backslide and notice that, yeah, that sucks, so you’re excited to stay on the path.

Why I Think Everyone, Meaning You, Should Be Taking Creatine Everyday

Everyone, whether you work out routinely or not, should be taking creatine.

There’s a lot of talk about it’s benefits for the brain and anti-aging properties I’m seeing lately and I’ve read that everyone over 35 should be taking it to help prevent muscle wasting but it seems to me that everyone should also be using it for it’s baseline, intended, athletic purpose anyway.

Your muscles naturally hold about 2 grams of creatine but they can store around 5. You’re running a deficit naturally all the time because it’s not possible to get enough from dietary sources – you’d have to eat a kilogram of raw meat to get a teaspoon – so you should supplement 5mg a day.  It usually comes in a powder but I’ve heard of (and would love to find) it in pill form.

We imagine creatine is great for those of us who crank out reps but I think the exact reason you need it is you don’t do reps of the heavy things you lift.

When you pick up something heavy the first system activated is the creatine monophosphate system. It turns some ATP into ADP and then back again producing energy and contracting the muscle, this all takes place without oxygen which is good because you’re not breathing heavy before you pick up the end of a couch or something. In weight lifting the first 3 reps are coming from your creatine supply then you get into your carbs. Well all of life’s lifting – groceries, water jugs, dead bodies, whatever – is under the 3 rep range, you’re waiting and hoping for other systems to kick in and your body to warm up when you could just supplement a little creatine and move quicker and more confident through the day.

Pair that up with Qu10 and you’ve got the strength energy for whatever you’re likely to do in a day, you can live like it’s the end of pain-killer commercial all the time, gleefully dropping kids off at soccer practice and whatnot.