Lab to 10K

There’s no question on this site how much I love running. None. I’ve decided to take it to the next level.

Over the years, I’ve left the gentle feel of the trails and ground for the hard iron of the weight room. Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit stagnant on what to write about on the site though. And I realized something.

I’m a little bored with it all. The bodybuilding stuff that is. The massive muscles, the supplements, the wild hours in the gym. It’s just all so… monotonous. Lately, I had been feeling the fitness bug and thought that maybe my dedication was lacking. Well, it’s not that at all. It’s that I needed to keep inspired. And counting how many sets I spent on the incline bench just wasn’t doing it anymore.

Boredom is disaster for me. I put running down because I was a little bored with gaining the mileage. But lately, it’s all I’ve wanted to do. Running, unlike bodybuilding, has a very STRONG spiritual / religious aspect to it for me. The prayer I do while hitting the pavement, and the endorphins that arise in my body… it brings me closer to the Lord moreso than any iron ever has. That’s why I can never, ever let it go for long. I’m ready to lace up my sneakers again. But this time, I want to add a new dimension to an old favorite.

I want to compete.

You heard it here folks. I want to run. Like so many of my friends do like Krysten, Hollie and Christina.

As I’ve thought about this more and more, I realize that running and blogging go hand in hand for me. I wasn’t running. So I stopped blogging became lost as a writer and seriously contemplated deleting this blog. I had no purpose in the blogosphere.

As it turns out, running gives me a purpose and part of that purpose is writing. Which brings me to my goal of giving my running a new purpose (I sure hope that wasn’t as confusing to read as it was to write. Oh my I have a headache now!)

On my “regular” runs, (which are cheaper than therapy as my baby would say) I normally run a distance of 5K. I’ve admitted this before, but the fact is I am a S L O W runner. My average 5K time is around 40 min. I’m a bit of a wonderer, so if I happen to take notice of butterflies, cardinals, flowers (I’m a sensitive guy, ya’ll!) It could easily take me 45 min or so. I don’t try to run fast as I don’t want to miss anything. But the way my mind works, “training to run a 5K race” doesn’t compute. That’s silly to me because 5K is for sight seeing, viewing nature and getting a quick workout in.

I used to run 10K distances in grad school. There was a place in Wilmington called “the Loop”. I would head there usually after class, some nights very, very late around midnight and run around twice. That distance was approximately 10K. I lost a lot of weight doing that. The sounds of the beach waters would just amaze me.

I can train to run a 10K race, but I can’t train to run a 5K. So…I’m training to run a 10K. There’s not that many in and around Raleigh, but one thing I have found is this little gem:

This is a 5K at the Fairgrounds on Sept. 13. See all the bright lights? People having a good time? Neon colors traveling at the speed of light? New friendships being forged?

It’s a very, very, very Calvin race.

I think my plan, which was imparted to me by the best woman ever, an athlete in her own right, is to train for 10K. But run a few 5Ks for fun until I can find a 10K to compete in. I have my eyes on an 8K in the area near Thanksgiving.

In short, I hope to use this blog for talking about my great love for the Lord, and all the wonderful things He’s done for me (even today, I got wonderful news!), talk about how in love I am with my baby, and hopefully posts pics from upcoming races. I’ve already started training by running a few 5K practice runs. I’m cleaning up my diet while learning what foods will work best.

What gear will I need? What energy candy will be the best for me? Can I make a personal record? Then beat it? So many things to think about…

My ultimate goal with this? I’m not sure. I think… I think… I want to run a half marathon within 1 year. We’ll see. But that’s the goal. A year from now, as I am really hitting my mid 30’s, I want my life to continually get better.

Here’s a start. Returning to my first love. And competing in it.

Supplement Review: MHPStrong Dopamite

Here it is, a long awaited supplement review, my first in forever. I spent some time on this one because quite frankly…my heart was involved. I have to start out by saying that this particular supplement review would not have been possible without the love and support of my baby. Thank you, sugar for your undying support and unwavering encouragement. I love you! We’re partners so I fully dedicate this post to you and the strong presence of love, faith, truth and joy that you place in my life. Thank you for all that you are…and for never forgetting to wear your invisible crown. You are a princess.

Let’s get right into this.

This year, I wanted to change the focus of the site some, with less emphasis on just pre-workouts but also with other stuff: Proteins, BCAAs, and also Fat Burners. Fat Burners have long enthralled me, and this goes back to my days as an obese 20 year old, entering freshman year at college. The very first fat burner I ever tried was Hydroxycut by MuscleTech. I had long been a reader of Muscle and Fitness as it was my first fitness magazine (trivia point: today I do not read this magazine because I consider the men in it to be too “puny”. This is what happens when your mother’s favorite comic book super hero is the Hulk).

I tried Hydroxycut for a bit in the early Hey days of MuscleTech. Man, that formula was awful! It was like 95% caffeine, 5% other stuff you can’t pronounce. I didn’t lose a single pound on that stuff. Instead, I broke out into a cold sweat, and I started having heart palpitations.  Then of course, there was Stacker and Stacker 2. That stuff was filled with Ephedrine and it was the worst stuff on the market. I’ll never forget, my 2nd week of taking it (this was I’d say near the middle of my first semester of grad school),  I suffered a crazy reaction. I started being able to see sounds and after a few days, I could see about 4 seconds into the future.

Not. Making. That. Up.

So in having the thought of reinstituting fat burners into a supplement stack, I searched long and wide to find one I’d be interested in trying. Sure enough, in looking at the companies that I really love, MHP Stands out. I wondered if they made a fat burner, and sure enough…they did.

I give you, Dopamite.

Going on the company’s site, MHP has uploaded a Youtube video that tells us:

To find more scientific information, you can go to a website, I’ve linked…here!

In layman’s terms, unlike most fat burners which raise your heart rate and resting metabolic rate in order to burn your adipose tissue, this pill works by stimulating the release of dopamine into your system, and activating your pleasure center. Additionally, a feeling of energy is supposed to overtake you as well as reduce cravings. You’ll hear that a lot in the Youtube video above. This in turn is supposed to help you not eat as much since eating is such a pleasurable thing though being on a cut is not. I wondered if those claims were really true. Sure enough, a happy, giggly angel decided to quell my curiosities and before I knew it, Dopamite was in my hands.

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To give basic stats, I’m 5’11 (hold up, now I’ve been 5’10 forever but I come up at 5’11 on trips to the doctor. I’m claiming it, give me my 1 inch!!!) and about 190-192 pounds before taking this stuff. Now, I’m not the delusional type (regardless of the fact that I named my site after a super hero and sometimes I wear a costume at night. Let’s just ignore this, ok?).  It’s unrealistic to take a fat burner and then hope for the best. Instead not only did I take Dopamite, but I am on a bit of a cut right now. I lowered my calories by 500, cleaned up the diet (no more Crown and Cokes, I’m afraid) and increased my cardio. Remember folks, it’s a supplement. It’s supposed to support what you’re already doing, not do everything on its own.

I started by taking one pill a day for a week. By week two I couldn’t “feel” the pill working anymore. So I started taking 2 pills every morning before heading off to school. There’s  a great mood enhancing quality to this supplement. I would almost qualify this as more of a mood enhancer than a fat burner. It felt like I had eaten a whole chocolate cake for breakfast and could come back for seconds. Funny since really, I’m not a fan of dark chocolate. From a starting weight of 192 lbs, my off season weight, I am currently down to 187. That’s remarkable. Cutting calories always is hard. You have to meet your nutritional needs, while not starving but still having enough energy to get through 20-40 minutes of cardio, which in my case was running on a treadmill. I definitely think the mood enhancing qualities helped out a lot. Dropping calories usually makes you grumpy but I felt good all the way through.

Now, here’s the downside. This pill has caffeine in it which is designed to promote your metabolism and give you energy. But I honestly didn’t feel a thing. I flirted with the idea of taking 3 pills at a time to see how it would feel but then thought better of it since this was a gift and I didn’t want to run through the bottle. This is definitely not for someone with a high caffeine tolerance. Also, it’s not for “body sculpting”. It’s to help you get over the mental hump of lowered calories. I didn’t find my alertness or focus anymore increased than before I took the product. Another downside is just basic physiology: if you keep releasing high levels of dopamine, you’re going to need to reduce larger and larger amounts to feel the same amount. So I don’t think this is the kind of pill you take for a long period of time. I think you cycle it and I’d be conservative: maybe one bottle every 4 months if you were just sticking with the MHP Brand.

The price of this is competitive: You can find this on Amazon for around $20-$25. I almost never recommend buying directly from any supplement company if you’re on a budget. In this case if you do, the price jumps to $40. Try to be smart with your finances since supplements can be expensive but I’d say it’s worth the Amazon price.

Overall, you can’t go wrong here unless of course you don’t have a sweet tooth.

MHP will long be one of my favorite brands just because they have superior athletes, great supplements, fairly priced items and was one of the first brands given to me as a gift from the love of my life. So they will always be special. I say give this a try. It’s one of the lower intensity fat burners out there and is probably good for a beginner.

As with all products though, you only get what you put in. Workout, clean up that diet and get 8 hours of solid sleep. Adding this into the mix will easily help you achieve the body you want. Then, like me…you’ll be happy and giggly.

My BSN Care Package

This is too cool to put into words, so I will just show it in a picture.

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As I arrived after midnight to home (which is common for me) this was waiting on me from BSN. A care package of their top supplements: Their BCAA Amino X, their fat burner, Hyper Shred; Their Protein Syntha-6; and their pre-workout that I’ve wanted to try for over a year: Hyper FX.

Slowly but surely they are changing my mind about them for sure. These are all new products for me, so I am hoping that I was wrong about my statement that their products don’t tend to mesh well with my biochemistry. I’m hoping for the best. If nothing else, this is one of the greatest acts a supplement company has done for me.

Expect four separate blogs on each of these products. Summer time is coming, I need / want abs and maybe, just maybe BSN will be the ones that give it to me. That and a lot of time spent in the gym and eating right in the kitchen.

Thank you so much BSN. Thank you, so much.

The Cancer War

Ok, this is a serious post for me.

July is always a weird month for me. It’s like the “Calvin new year’s celebration”. In July, usually good things happen to me and bad things happen to me. My year begins and ends in July.

Today is July 5. It’s my mother’s birthday. Today, she would have been 60 years old. Unfortunately, her life was cut short almost a decade ago due to being on the losing side of a very courageous and valiant fight  against Cancer. She fought it the first time, and she KICKED ITS ASS.

But it returned 5yrs later. More violent. More aggressive. Unyielding. Ultimately, during this 2nd time it was a bit too much for her.

This was all nearly a decade ago. Since then, I’ve grown up, been in love, fallen out of it, gained money, wasted money, worked a lot, had a lot of friends, lost a lost of loved ones and lived life to the fullest. I’ve done this in honor of her memory. I loved her. I love her.

The one thing I want to do more then anything else in life now, is to give back. I want to take my #Fitblog status and make it into something more. Something better. Something so powerful that one day, no child will ever have to think about a world where he saw his mother suffer with a disease that ultimately ended her time here way too soon.

Personally, I try to eat right, exercise, watch the alcohol do the things that will put me in the best shape to be here a while. To fight cancer in my own life.

I do have a villain. And although I’ve swore to fight off fat, laziness and improper nutrition, the biggest villain of all is that jerk called… BREAST CANCER. What an absolute bitch.

There are few things that I hate. I can’t think of any actually. Outside of 1. And I HATE Breast Cancer.

I hate it for what it does to women. I hate it for what it does to families. I hate it for what it does to those left behind.

I’ve had thoughts here and there and what I know at this point is that I wish to DO something… something that both helps to educate to prevent as much as possible Breast Cancer as well as help women who are currently dealing with the disease and need to be reminded that they are not alone and that even now, regardless of what happens to their hair or breasts, THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL.

I’m enroute to entering a Ph.D. program in the fall. But that’s not an excuse. My mother passed nearly a decade ago and I’ve done nothing to give back. So today I start.

I’m trying to lay the plans to open a foundation dedicated towards Breast Cancer research and treatment. It’s the one thing I want to leave on Earth, whenever the time comes for me to not be here anymore. Obviously, I’m naming it after her, my mother.

I’ve never loved so much in my life than that woman, that I can say. As an expression of that, I want all who deal with what she dealt with to know there is at least one person thinking of you and on your side— me. I’ll keep you posted. But a year from today, I want to say I have a tangible organization in which to help Breast Cancer patients, and women at risk.

I want to say that I value my friendship with Krysten, who reminds me that there is always the opportunity to “do more” and not let your circumstances define you.  (Follow her on Twitter!) She has her own story to tell. It’s time for me to catch up to her, who inspires me with every post. She was the first guest post I allowed on here because her story is so compelling.

And of course, I want to write that I still love you, Mama. I always have. I always will. And even now I feel your presence in my life. I am going to do something to keep your struggle and your fight alive. And the time is NOW.

Some thoughts on Intermittent Fasting: Lean Gains

Alright, prepare yourself, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

As you know, I’ve spent some time among the Youtube Bodybuilding community (I even have a brand spanking new channel, that soon will have vids. Go ahead and subscribe now, eh?)

Making it’s way through the Youtube community is a new craze (no, not the preworkout). Called Lean Gains: Intermittent Fasting. The inventor is Martin Berkhin.

There are tons of videos on Youtube about this lastest diet.

There are those that love it (Here, Here) (these have NSFW language so be warned. Also keep in mind the twins are trying to get to 4% BodyFat)

And there are those that do not.  (Here [compared to replicating an eating disorder], Here [Thinks no Serious Bodybuilder can or should do this. At all. Ever] and Here ["IF? Hell No. I'm going to Eat when I'm hungry."]

Also a General Overview of IF. Thanks Campbell Fitness.

Intermittent Fasting: 16 hours no eating at all. 8 hours to eat. Other variations can be 19/5 or however you manipulate.

8 hours to get in all your calories. For the entire day.

Chris Jones states it best.

Burning fat is simple: Calories in vs. Calories out.

Take in more than you need, you will gain weight. Take in less than you need, lose fat. Got it?

Once you get 8% Bodyfat or lower, the harder it is to burn fat, and this is because the body is designed to store energy in the form of fat. Under 8%, it becomes harder to lose weight, as the body tries to hold on to that fat even harder than before. It’s of evolutionary benefit to us to have fat on our bodies.

This Brings us to IF.

I see a few problems with this diet. For starters, when you starve yourself for 16hrs, you are more likely to gorge yourself for those 8 hours you can eat. It’s very difficult to train your willpower to only hold to say 2000 calories, when you will most likely wind up eating 3000 calories longterm. Why? Because you’re STARVING!!!

I think you need food for energy, food for growth, food to help your many supplements work better and to keep your body functioning normally.

Your body hates to burn fat. The chance is too great that you’ll lose weight— but it’s because your body burnt Protein. That’s right, that muscle you’ve been spending all that time in the gym building.

You want to lose fat? There’s much better ways to do so!

1) Fasted Cardio. Cardio on an empty stomach. Burn Fat. Increase cardio time, too, to about 30-40 minutes.

2) Drink more water. Make it COLD. Your body will burn more calories trying to warm it up in your system. This has the additional benefit of turning your metabolism on overdrive.

3) Weights: Low weights, Hi Reps. Burns Fat.

4) Caffeine: Guess what? It burns fat. A cup of coffee is fine, though you can try a great fat burner like Fusion Bodybuilding’s Sub Q or Cellucor Super HD. These are the only 2 real fat burners I stand behind at all. (The Cellucor post is coming, soon) no doubt.

5) Practice Mindful Eating. Don’t just stuff your face. Chew slowly, notice tastes and texture as your begin and continue eating it.

That’s the end of my rant on IF. I think it’s a throw away fad diet that will cause more harm in the long term than good.

There are NO SHORTCUTS. Just hard work in the gym day in and day out.

But to do that work… you need food.

Muscle and Fitness Should Rethink their Standards on Beauty

I’ll give you a bit of context. Here’s the latest issue of Muscle and Fitness Magazine.

It’s a Swim Suit issue. I usually don’t read this magazine, I prefer their body building sister magazine, Muscular Development. It’s just a more fun magazine, with way more information on exercises, bodybuilding industry news and of course the latest supplements. M&D, you’re welcome for the free plug.

Not going to get on any soap boxes, especially since we like to keep things fun and light around here. We’ve dealt with things of a racial matter before Once or Twice . Overall, I think racism, discrimination and the like is a dying phenomenon. Overall. Attitudes are changing and although we have a really long, long way to go, we are so close to getting there. But that makes the instances of it when it does occur that much more visible.

I’m not posting any images of the latest issue because first, that pushes the upper limit of fair use laws, plus I think to get the full effect of what I’m saying, you need to actually pick the magazine up and look through it.

What will become painfully aware to you if you are 1) Not American 2) Objective 3) Not Caucasian or 4) Find women sexier if they weigh more than 103 pounds (I kid…kinda) is that women in the current issue of Muscle & Fitness (July) magazine represent the standard archetypal beauty in America. Very thin, and as one of my inspirations, Genevieve, wrote, not very if at all muscular. There’s no definition, no vascularity…and no diversity.

America has long been a hodgepodge of different cultures, religions, ideals and ways of living. Far from perfect, true, but still the ideal society where our differences allow us to learn from each other and grow. So why is Muscle and Fitness pushing an ideal of beauty that is based in 1950’s America? Especially when the women from that era actually were better looking thicker?

No Seriously, when did it?

That just the first problem with M&F’s latest issue.

There’s also the diversity issue. They couldn’t find 1 African American, Asian or Arab fitness model to place in their pages?

I found a few. You really need not go any further than Twitter to find healthy, muscular women with exotic beauty, both inside and out. This was a simple case of lazy journalism by Muscle & Fitness. They got magazines to sell, so they went with the old tried and true method instead of being a leader in changing ideas of women’s beauty.

I challenge Muscle & Fitness to stop resting on their laurels and to go beyond the usual homogeneous images of women and to make their fitness spreads both more inclusive and more diverse and actually…more healthy. I shudder to think of the diets some of this month’s models had in order to fit into the magazine. Overall health should include great dietary choices which to me, it just looks like the women aren’t making.  We are well beyond the antiquated ideas of what makes women attractive today.

And will someone please get the word out… muscle on women is HOT. One of my favorite blogs demonstrates this daily. It’s okay if women lift iron and do more than just run 13 miles daily.

Supplement Review: The New MuscleTech: Neurocore Pt. 5

Well it has been quite a week of supplement reviews looking at NeuroCore. But we’re not done just yet. I wanted to be sure to get another opinion on this particular supplement. So of course it was time to get on the horn and call an old SideKick from before… None other than Scott Crawford from 11 Squared! He’s stopped by our blog before to aid with an excellent Supplement Review. Recently he tried NeuroCore himself and I thought he would be the perfect person to ask for further opinions.

With out further ado, here’s Scott on his experience with Neuro Core. Take it away, Scott!

Neurocore… where getting on your nerves is a good thing.

To put things into context somewhat, I am a 36 year who starting lifting/bulking, really at the start of the year.  I have never been too much into supplements other than protein and daily vitamin packs.  However, since I don’t make it to the gym until about 9:30 at night, I need something to get me over the heavy eyelids humps to get me to the gym and be productive there.  This is the reason that I have started trying preworkout supplements.

MucleTech’s Neurocore is the third PWO that I have tried.  Like many other before me, I have heard all of the negative comments about MucleTech in the past, but when I saw Neurocore being offered on a BOGO sale at www.bodybuilding.com, and I was running out of my PWO, I figured why not give this preworkout a shot.

I will leave the fancy pictures to TheOrangeMask and give Neurocore a no nonsense review.

Gratuitous Fancy Picture of NeuroCore

I went for the Blue Raspberry flavor, which to my surprise was very tasty!  Of course after trying GNC’s Ravage… anything is tasty!  I did notice however, that the first couple of sips were full of flavor, about the last half of the drink had an almost medicinal taste.  Everything dissolved great, so there was no residue, but the taste of it was there.  It is a little weird.  Nevertheless, I give the flavor an 8 out of 10.

As TheOrangeMask has noted, it does take 3 scoops!  My tolerance for stimulants is pretty high.  I did not feel any “surge” or “rush” of energy, but I did notice that I had energy and was raring to go.  The energy was great I was able to get an hour of lifting in, run a 5K on the treadmill and feel like I could do more.  The energy was clean and jitter free, however, this could attribute to my tolerance level.  I did not experience any sort of crash coming down from it either.  I was able to fall asleep shortly after returning home from the gym, which was about 2 and half hours after taking my 3 scoop dose.

Now, I have tried a couple of supplements (PWO’s and others) that have Beta-Alanine in its blend.  I never once have experienced the tingles or the itchy skin that others have.  The same holds true for Neurocore.  I have read other reviews of Neurocore, TheOrangeMask’s included, where folks experienced severe tingling in their extremities.

With regards to pump, I did experience a decent pump from this product.  I also, noticed some vascularity that was not previously there.  I cannot directly attribute this to Neurocore, as I am leaning up as well.  However, I think it helped some of those veins to perk up a little.

Now onto focus… The focus that I experience while taking this supplement is superb, and this is where Nerocore really does it for me.  Once the headphones were in, it is almost like it’s just me in the gym and I really get into a zone, pounding out rep after rep…. set after set!   The focus was even better than I got from SAN Launch… and that is saying something.

Many reviews will give reviews on strength and strength gains…. I have a hard time attributing all of the strength gain to the PWO.  While I did experience strength gains and a lot of personal bests for 1 rep max’s, I think most of it comes from my personal drive and always upping the weight, forcing my muscles to work harder.  Yes, focus and energy level play a role in strength gains so I will concede those two to Neurocore.

After all of that said, there was one side effect that I experience with this PWO that I have not had with others.  Let me set the stage….  I take Neurocore right before I leave my house to drive the 10 minutes to the gym.  By the time I get to the gym and get my stuff into a locker, I have to make an immediate visit to the bathroom.  That’s right, for whatever reason it forces an immediate bowel response…. Every time!

All-in-all, I like this PWO.  I do have to agree with TheOrangeMask regarding its value.  Taking 3 scoops only gives you 15 servings… so you do the math.  If you are only working out 2 or 3 times a week, then it may be fine for you, but I am currently doing doubles 4 days a week and take a PWO before each session.  At this rate I will blow through a tub of Neurocore in 2 weeks.  That just won’t do!

I think TheOrangeMask’s “mixed review” is fair.  I would rank it 7.5 out of 10.  I will use this product again and it will likely have a place in my PWO rotation.

 Well, there you have it folks. Neuro Core Week comes to a close on the blog. Overall, the feeling is this is a decent workout though there is the question of value given that you need 3 scoops. Also, you need to be near a bathroom taking this stuff as our good friend Scott found out. But all in all, this is a decent product. 

Questions: What are your thoughts about NeuroCore? Have you tried it? How has NeuroCore week influenced your decision? 

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