A November Project Transformation – I discovered something

I discovered something I’d like to share with you: For the entire month of November, I documented every meal I ate and every workout I did, along with other details, and I posted weekly updates publicly here, and along the way, I discovered something pretty cool. I didn’t have any specific goals of muscle building or fat burning, I simply wanted to share an inside look into the life of a vegan athlete, meal by meal, and workout by workout, with full transparency.

Though I didn’t have specific goals, I wanted to maintain my roughly 200-pound size, while also getting a bit leaner, coming off a few months of inactivity in late spring and most of the summer due to an injury. I decided to document all of my health and fitness actions for an entire month to help readers understand what I do on a daily basis to maintain muscle size and strength as a 21-year vegan athlete, currently aged 36 years, but I also did it to help keep myself accountable. You see, I know the power of documenting actions honestly and transparently, because I have done this many times during my bodybuilding career – and while I was a competitive distance runner. I also know full well what can happen if I conveniently avoid acknowledging what I am eating, and carelessly remain clueless of my actual activity level. When I eat poorly for a period of time, and avoid exercise, naturally, I want to forget about these actions, as if they never happened. The problem is our bodies don’t forget about our careless actions, and those actions have health and fitness consequences – whether we want to acknowledge or admit that or not. Like undesirable actions, positive actions produce results and outcomes too. Discovering more of those helpful actions is one key to health and fitness success.

While I was spending part of spring, all of summer and part of fall recovering from a torn disc in my lower back and a case of sciatica on the left side of my entire lower body, I reached an all-time high in body fat and body weight. I peaked at 207 pounds with 23% body fat, exactly three times the body fat percentage I had when I was a competitive bodybuilder at 7.8% body fat. I could still flex and display a level of muscle size, especially from favorable angles, but I found myself in a position I had never been in before: out of shape. Taking nearly half of 2016 off from exercise (and healthy eating) took a toll on me mentally, emotionally, and physically – likely in that order.

Though I am the author of a bestselling book about burning fat and building muscle on a whole-food, plant based diet (Shred It!), I stopped following my own advice because I was feeling down. I was in a lot of pain and wasn’t able to exercise. I got frustrated and didn’t want to lose a bunch of weight after working so hard to build from 165 to 205 pounds over the course of 18 months, following a year of distance running, so I kept eating a lot, even though I wasn’t exercising. And I wasn’t exclusively sticking to whole foods. I was in the process of moving to a new state, buying a house for the first time, and was recently engaged, and I allowed myself to feel pretty stressed out. Consequently, I ate a lot of frozen vegan meals. I loaded up on Amy’s frozen foods like vegan burritos, mac ‘n cheese, Thai noodles and curry, and more. I prided myself on the fact that I maintained my 200+ pound frame, but then I experienced some new territories as a result of my enthusiasm to maintain weight. Clothes stopped fitting – everything from boxers that had their elastic band stretched and ruined, to size large and even a few XL shirts that just wouldn’t fit anymore, including some that used to be baggy on me. I literally went from being a 165-pound distance runner to a 205-pound weight lifter in less than two years, and then a few months later I became a 207-pound inactive person. My clothes changed as fast as my mood, and it was a challenge unlike anything I have gone through. I was still on tour and still trying to spread the vegan fitness message, but I didn’t feel comfortable with myself, knowing I had abandoned my own advice and I was suffering internally and externally. It was time for a change. Enter the November Project.

I thought of the November Project one day in late October while I was sitting in the sauna at the gym. I had been pain-free for most of September and for all of October, and since I was training 4-5 days a week again, I figured it would be interesting to share my training and nutrition programs with others. I was basically starting over, only doing cable and machine exercises, but I was being consistent again, and my diet was starting to get back on track too. I was motivated, happy, and feeling positive again for the first time in a while. When I was required through my own discipline to document all of my actions, it was really eye-opening to see what I was really eating on a daily and weekly basis, and how often I was actually exercising. By documenting these actions, I was able to alter my meals to focus more on whole foods, while avoiding certain processed foods, and I could gauge my activity level and boost it at any time if I felt the need to burn more calories or build more muscle. I also discovered some secret weapons, like using the Stairmaster for an hour at a time, performing fasted cardio, burning 500 calories during a single session, creating puddles of sweat on the machine, while simultaneously melting off fat and toning muscles. By documenting all of these things, I was able to change my health, fitness, and my mood in a very short amount of time.

My journey is still a work in progress, and I continue to do rehabilitation exercises for my back, and I am still working on including more whole foods into my diet (especially salad greens), while eliminating as many processed foods as I can, fighting addictions along the way.

Since I was documenting all of my meals and workouts for all of November, and beyond, I took various food and fitness photos weekly, if not daily, especially with the food photos. I was looking through my phone today to select some photos to promote our new No Meat No Problem clothing, and I scrolled past many of my fitness photos from the past 6 weeks. Here are some of them to show my work in progress:

img_0325

In an upcoming newsletter (click here to sign up for our mailing list), I will be sharing the most important lessons I have learned during this ongoing transformation, as well as my absolute best suggestions from what I’ve observed during my own journey (such as using the Stairmaster as often as possible for fasted cardio, starting every day with water before consuming any calories, and going out of my way to eat nutrient-dense foods such as leafy green vegetables and a variety of fruits – while keeping processed foods out of the house so they are not temptations that can limit progress).

Thank you for reading.

I’ll be in touch again soon with a full recap of the November Project, sharing statistics, highlights, struggles, and lessons learned. It’s amazing how much can change in a short amount of time when you’re being honest with yourself, even if it’s hard to face reality. I encourage all of you to document your meals and workouts for a single week to see how much you can learn about yourself. How about January 1-7? I’ll do it with you, and we can share notes.

Happy Vegan Holidays!

-Robert

November Project Weekly Recap: Week 4

Hello, everyone.

Thank you for following along with my month-long November Project, where I have been documenting all of my meals and workouts for anyone to read. For the entire month of November I recorded all of my meals and all of my workouts to reveal how a long-time vegan athlete eats and trains to maintain muscle mass and strength. This reflects my personal approach and will not be considered as a representation of all vegan athletes. I follow a supplement-free diet (aside from Vitamin B12), for example, whereas many vegan athletes choose to consume and rely on various sports supplements.

With this month-long documentation, I have been sending a weekly recap once per week, and this is my 4th weekly summary of my meals, workouts, thoughts, and reactions. I am not suggesting, recommending, or advising anything. I am simply transparently sharing my daily meals and workouts that I really follow, and I think it can be fairly eye-opening to any reader, encouraging you to look inward and evaluate your own consistency, accountability, and transparency. I have been using Cronometer to track my caloric and nutrition intake as well as my caloric expenditure through tracking my basal metabolic rate combined with my activity level. The numbers will be estimations based on calculations and may not be 100% accurate, but will be as close to reality as possible, given the technology I am using, factoring lots of homemade meals which are tough to count exact calories.

My stats are the following:

Age: 36

Height: 5’11 ¾”

Weight: 202 pounds

Current exercise routine: Weight training 4-5 days per week for 60-90 minutes, occasional cardio for 30-45 minutes at a time

Vegan for 21 years (anniversary on December 8th)


Week 4 Summary – November 22-28, 2016

Here are my numbers that summarize Week 4, which I am referring to as my most disappointing week as far as my food intake that included more processed foods than usual, and my level of exercise which was at its lowest point for the month. I’m not beating myself up for it, nor complaining, I just acknowledge that I am disappointed with the following figures, and I know I can change behaviors and habits in order to reflect the outcomes I desire.

Week 4 Totals: (Note: Some totals might be off by a tiny bit due to some estimations using my Cronometer system, and due to some slight rounding throughout the 7 days, but this is as accurate as I can make it):

Total calories consumed = 21,287

Average calories per day = 3,041

Total from carbohydrates = 3,708 grams

Average grams of carbohydrates per day = 530g

Average percentage of calories from carbohydrates = 69%

Total from protein = 620 grams

Average grams of protein per day = 89g

Average percentage of calories from protein = 10%

Total from fat = 548 grams

Average grams of fat per day = 78g

Average percentage of calories from fat = 21%

Total water intake = 187 ounces

Average water per day = 27 ounces

Total calories expended = 18,138

Average calories expended per day = 2,591

Net caloric intake/expenditure = 3,149-calorie surplus

Average net calorie intake/expenditure = 450-calorie surplus per day

Total time spent weight training (5 out of 7 days) = 6 hours, 34 minutes

Total time spent on cardio (4 out of 7 days) = 2 hours, 44 minutes

Total time spent exercising = 9 hours, 18 minutes

Average time spent weight training per day over 7 days = 56 minutes

Average time spent on cardio per day over 7 days = 23 minutes

Average time spent exercising per day over 7 days = 1 hour, 19 minutes

Total amount of sleep = 49 hours, 30 minutes

Average sleep per night = 7 hours, 4 minutes

One of the things I am pleased with is that I managed to get to the gym for weight training workouts 5 out of 7 days during the Thanksgiving week while we were hosting family, including my 15-month old nephew. Holidays often throw a wrench in our schedules and we typically just brush it off and accept that our nutrition and training programs go out the window – not just for a couple of days, but often for the whole week due to travel or hosting family and friends (for many of us in the USA where this is a popular family holiday). This week of less-than-desired behavior could carry over into the next month with more major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and it makes for a tough time for more than a month-long stretch for tens of millions of people regarding the areas of health and fitness. Our calorie intake often increases dramatically while our activity levels tend to decrease due to holiday gym closures, family or travel obligations, from colder weather keeping us indoors or inhibiting our commute, and from focusing our priorities elsewhere. There is certainly nothing wrong with reprioritizing, especially being present, enjoying the company of loved ones. But for those who have specific health and fitness goals, making it a point to remain active, even if just going for a walk, doing a home workout, performing some exercises like push-ups and squats in the comfort of a living room or bedroom can do the trick.

Like many people, I did partake in eating more processed foods such as a tofu turkey roast, mashed potatoes with gravy, and breaded stuffing – typical vegan Thanksgiving fare. My calorie intake went up and my activity level went down, but I still made it to the gym 5 times for weight training and tacked on 4 different cardio sessions too, so that was one positive aspect of an otherwise rather disappointing week of nutrition and fitness.

The reason I say it is a bit disappointing is because I have actual data from previous weeks. If I didn’t have that data from prior documentation, I could assume I’m doing a pretty good job without accurate information to support my assumption. But in relation to the first two weeks of the November Project especially, I was a little off my mark this past week. So what’s going on here? Well, for starters, my average sleep per night dropped by more than an hour from what is usual. That was partly due to hosting a 15-month old who wakes up hours before me, combined with my desire to get up earlier to spend more time with him – and from his wake-up calls of banging things around and crying. Operating on less sleep gave me more time in the day to do other things, but also left me feeling more tired and less likely to exercise, even on my own using dumbbells in the garage or going for a hike. Speaking of hiking, that is another thing that has almost vanished from my exercise schedule – due to the dropping temperatures, the amount of work related to producing this November Project, and from time spent hosting friends and being more involved with other activities. I will most certainly find myself on the hiking trails again soon – very likely within 48 hours of typing this recap. But if nobody is holding me accountable, I guess we’ll never know if I truly make it back out there anytime soon or continue to stay indoors, working on the computer until the wee hours of the morning.

My week of health and fitness wasn’t all bad, of course – I averaged about 70% of my calories coming from carbohydrates, 10% from protein, and 20% from fat, which tends to be typical. My caloric intake was just about 3,000 calories per day exactly, and that is a good number for me to maintain my body mass of anywhere between 198-204 pounds depending on the time of day. One area of concern is that my water intake was almost non-existent due to an increase in drinking yerba mate tea and other beverages. My overall fluid intake, including water consumed from a high intake of fruits, is still at an acceptable level. But evaluating my water intake exclusively, one will notice a significant decline and much more reliance on the caffeinated and sugar-laden tea – my main addiction I have a hard time kicking. One of the primary reasons for the low water consumption is due to the lower overall activity level. When I am hiking, using the Stairmaster, or sitting in the sauna, I drink a lot more water. And when I’m not drinking tea or juice or coconut water, I naturally drink more water too. Sparkling water tends to help increase my water intake, so you’ll likely see quite a bit of that this week.

Though there are always ups and downs, some much more obvious than the others, let’s go ahead and look at my actual daily breakdown of meals and exercises. I’m sure you’ll notice many patterns from my personal behavior, including specific foods that I focus on for days at a time, often based on what’s in season, what’s on sale, and what’s on my radar at the time.


Tuesday November 22, 2016

Slept from 1:00AM – 8:15AM = 7 hours, 15 minutes

8:45AM

6 ounces of water

9:00AM

Apple

Basket of raspberries

10:00AM

2 bananas

Mixed fruit salad

11:00AM

2 apples

12:20PM

2 bananas

2:30PM

3 boiled potatoes with mustard

8 ounces of yerba mate tea

3:30PM

Half a cookie (my grand-aunt offered me a vegan cookie, how sweet)

3 ounces of water

4:30PM

Bowl of salad with tofu and dressing

Bowl of brown rice with mixed vegetables and curry sauce

1/6 of a vegan burger (took a bite of my fiancee’s burger)

6:40PM

6 ounces of yerba mate

7:03PM

Exercise: Weight training workout from 7:03-8:36PM = 1 hour, 33 minutes

Warm-up:

Hip raises: 25, 30, 30

Arm and leg lifts (bird dog): 15, 15, 15

Push-ups: 20, 20, 20, 20, 20

Biceps and triceps workout:

Machine biceps curls: 70×16, 70×15, 80×12, 90×10, 100×10

Seated machine press downs: 120×17, 140×15, 160×9, 160×12, 180×8

Single arm high position machine curls: 40×12, 50×10, 60×6, 60×6, 60×6

Rope extensions: 75×25, 85×20, 95×20, 105×16, 115×12

Standing cable concentration curls: 35×15, 45×12, 55×6, 55×6, 55×6

Cable preacher curls: 50×8, 50×7, 50×7, 50×4, 40×10

Single arm high position triceps extensions: 50×8, 50×10, 50×8, 40×12, 40×15

Seated cable concentration curls: 40×12, 45×12, 50×8, 60×4, 45×10

Dips: 10, 12, 11, 12, 15

8:40PM

Exercise: 34 minutes on the Stairmaster

9:42PM

Small bowl of green salad

Small bowl of vegetable fried rice

3 boiled potatoes with mustard

Handful of raspberries

15 ounces of water

12:06AM

Orange

Totals:

Calories consumed: 2,889

Carbohydrates: 538g (70%)

Protein: 69g (8%)

Fat: 71g (22%)

Water: 24 ounces

Calories burned: 2,980

Net: 91-calorie deficit

Weight training: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Cardio: 34 minutes

Total combined exercise = 2 hours, 7 minutes

Notes:

For the first time in 8 days I burned more calories than I consumed today. That felt pretty good. I don’t add these numbers up until days after the fact, so I don’t try to manipulate my daily activities by attempting to reach some arbitrary daily goal. For example, I don’t monitor the numbers and avoid eating a final meal to ensure I burned more than consumed, nor do I try to cram in more food before bed to hit any targets. I have no idea what my daily numbers are until the end of the week – which is when I’m writing this recap, a week after this day took place.

I am really enjoying my arm workouts these days. I still primarily use machines and cables as I’m rehabilitating my lower back injury (torn disc in the L5-S1 area of my lumbar spine), and I aim to avoid putting stress on my spine by bending over to pick up dumbbells or other free weights. Of course, part of the fun from using cables and machines is developing the pump that is a byproduct of many of these typically high-repetition, squeezing movements on a balanced plane (smooth cable or machine designed to move up and down in a very manageable way – avoiding some of the awkwardness of picking up, balancing, and setting down dumbbells and barbells).

Raspberries are on sale right now. Bring it on.

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Wednesday November 23, 2016

Slept from 12:30AM – 7:15AM = 6 hours, 45 minutes

Continue reading “November Project Weekly Recap: Week 4”

November Project Weekly Recap: Week 3

Hello, everyone.

Thank you for following along with my month-long November project, documenting all of my meals and workouts for anyone to read. As a reminder, this is what the November Project is all about: For the entire month of November I will be documenting all of my meals and all of my workouts to reveal how a long-time vegan athlete eats and trains to maintain muscle mass and strength. This will reflect my personal approach and will not be considered as a representation of all vegan athletes. With this month-long documentation, I plan to send a weekly recap once per week for 4 weeks revealing all of my meals and workouts for the week. I will be not be suggesting, recommending, or advising anything. I will simply transparently share my daily meals and workouts that I really follow. I will be using Cronometer to track my caloric and nutrition intake as well as my caloric expenditure through tracking my basal metabolic rate combined with my activity level. The numbers will be estimations based on calculations and may not be 100% accurate, but will be as close to reality as possible, given the technology I am using, factoring lots of homemade meals which are tough to count exact calories.

My stats are the following:

Age: 36

Height: 5’11 ¾”

Weight: 202 pounds

Current exercise routine: Weight training 4-5 days per week for 60-90 minutes, occasional cardio for 30-45 minutes at a time

Vegan for 21 years

One thing that I was concerned about when I first got the idea for the November Project, and had thousands of people subscribe to follow along, was that perhaps I was biting off more than I could chew (pun intended). As someone who already works a lot, tours and travels, trains a lot, is active in the community, keeps late nights, and is fairly heavily addicted to the Internet, I wondered if I’d be able to keep up with regular, planned weekly updates. Sure enough, this week I fell behind. The third week of the November Project finished on November 21st, and I’m just now getting my weekly recap finalized on the 26th. I apologize for the delay. We just have one more weekly recap following this one, which will accumulate a total of about 100 pages of summary.

We’re on to our Week 3 Summary. Here’s my recap:

This week was an interesting one, perhaps the most different, or out of the ordinary, since I started the November Project. We hosted numerous friends for meet-ups, meals, hikes, etc. Not that we don’t usually have visitors, but since we moved to Arizona about 6 weeks ago we hadn’t had any visitors, but this week, we had multiple visitors spend significant amount of time with us at our house and in the community. All the while we also geared up to host our first overnight guests – family coming to town for the Thanksgiving holiday. In general, most days throughout the entire year, I work from home and spend the majority of the day at home, aside from trips to the gym, post office, and grocery store – errands I share with my fiancée, taking turns to shop or ship products – aside from the gym sessions which obviously I need to complete for myself. When I’m not traveling or on tour in any capacity, I tend to be at home where I have access to meals anytime I want, and I can plan out a schedule or routine as far as eating, training, working, sleeping, etc. I noticed that this week while entertaining guests I went slightly longer periods between eating meals, ate more processed foods, and missed a planned workout. None of this is that big of a deal, and all part of life, it’s just an observation I made when recalling the past 7 days of the November Project.


 

Tuesday November 15, 2016

Slept from 12:30AM – 9:30AM = 9 hours

10:10AM

6 ounces of water

 

10:28AM

Exercise: 31 minutes on the Stairmaster

14 ounces of water

 

11:20AM

5 mandarin oranges

 

11:57AM

Exercise: 32 minutes on the Stairmaster

20 ounces of water

20 minutes in the sauna

 

12:30PM

20 ounces of water

 

1:15PM

Apple

 

1:55PM

Bowl of green salad with dolmas

16 ounces of yerba mate tea

 

2:40PM

10 pieces of vegetable sushi

 

6:28PM

Bowl of mixed fruit: pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, red grapes

Handful of raspberries

8 ounces of water

 

7:44PM

Exercise: Weight Training from 7:44-9:20PM = 1 hour, 36 minutes

 

Warm-up

Hip raises: 20, 20, 25

Arm and leg raises (bird dog): 15, 15, 15

Push-ups: 20, 20, 20, 20

 

Back workout

Wide-grip machine rows: 70×20, 80×20, 90×15, 100×12

Narrow-grip machine rows: 70×20, 90×18, 110×14, 110×15

High-pulley cable rows: 70×20, 80×20, 90×15, 100×12

High Rows: 140×12, 160×12, 180×10, 180×8

Front Pull-downs: 90×15, 140×12, 160×8, 140×10

Reverse-grip lat pull-downs: 85×20, 105×12, 105×15, 105×12

 

9:14PM

Banana

17.5 ounces of coconut water

15 ounces of water

Mandarin orange

 

10:18PM

Bowl of homemade vegan mac n’ cheese

Bowl of potato and kale vegetable soup over brown rice

 

11:06PM

Homemade vegan burrito

3 small pickles

8 ounces of sparkling water

 

11:40PM

2 handfuls of almonds

2 small pickles

Handful of raspberries

 

1:43AM

Orange

 

Totals:

Calories consumed: 3,405

Carbohydrates: 646g (74%)

Protein: 76g (8%)

Fat: 71g (18%)

Water: 91 ounces

Calories burned: 3,348

Net: 57-calorie surplus

Weight training: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Cardio: 1 hour, 3 minutes

Total combined exercise = 2 hours, 39 minutes

 

Notes:

It felt great to start the day with about an hour on the Stairmaster. It was actually broken into two 30+ minute sections because I had to head home for a furniture delivery (those are finally done for now, and we’re fully moved into our house, minus a few small items like lamps). Ideally, I would start each morning with some fasted cardio, be it a 20-minute walk with the dog, or a morning hike, a session on the Stairmaster, or riding the stationary bike at home while I check my email shortly after waking. I guess the reason why we say “ideal” would be this way or that way, because it often isn’t. As someone who is heavily focused on work, entrepreneurial activities, and marketing and advertising, sometimes I have projects and deadlines I prioritize over morning cardio. Doing this November Project helps me identify what I am truly doing with my time, which puts me in a position to have more control over my outcomes, simply by being aware of what captivates my time and interests.

Overall, today was a pretty evenly matched day as far as my calorie consumption and expenditure. It was almost even, with a slight surplus. This helps me maintain my roughly 202 pounds I have maintained the full 3 weeks into this project thus far. Taking in 3,400 calories is higher than my daily average of 2,900 and 2,800 over the past couple of weeks, so it will be interesting to see what the numbers look like at the end of this week.

I’m also happy to report that after another back workout, my back is still feeling good, despite the ongoing recovery from a torn disc in my lower back. I have been feeling injury-free for something like 6-7 weeks at this point, which is a welcome breath of fresh air and makes all forms of exercise and rehab that much more enjoyable.

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Wednesday November 16, 2016

Continue reading “November Project Weekly Recap: Week 3”

November Project Weekly Recap: Week 2

Hello, everyone.

Thank you for following along with my month-long November project, documenting all of my meals and workouts for anyone to read. As a reminder, this is what the November Project is all about: For the entire month of November I will be documenting all of my meals and all of my workouts to reveal how a long-time vegan athlete eats and trains to maintain muscle mass and strength. This will reflect my personal approach and will not be considered as a representation of all vegan athletes. With this month-long documentation, I plan to send a weekly recap once per week for 4 weeks, revealing all of my meals and workouts for the week. I will not be suggesting, recommending, or advising anything. I will simply be transparently sharing my daily meals and workouts that I really follow. I will be using Cronometer to track my caloric and nutrition intake as well as my caloric expenditure through tracking my basal metabolic rate combined with my activity level. The numbers will be estimations based on calculations and may not be 100% accurate, but will be as close to reality as possible, given the technology I am using, factoring lots of homemade meals which are tough to count exact calories.

My stats are the following:

Age: 36

Height: 5’11 ¾”

Weight: 202 pounds

Current exercise routine: Weight training 4-5 days per week for 60-90 minutes, occasional cardio for 30-45 minutes at a time

Vegan for 21 years


This week started off a little rough. You’ll notice from the date that day 1 in week 2 started on US Presidential election night. I stayed up until 2:30AM that night and didn’t get to bed until 3AM the following night. I know the election was rough on a lot of people for various reasons, and it started my week off with some even later nights than usual. Ultimately, that can have an impact on my energy levels, my workouts, my fasted cardio, and other aspects of training and lifestyle, and it is up to me to overcome those obstacles and challenges.

Here are a few things that I have noticed over the past two weeks:

  1. I deliberately start every day with water before consuming anything else, and I have been able to keep this up every single day thus far and plan to keep it going. This is actually something “new” for me, but something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and the November Project inspired me to finally become accountable in this way.
  2. I continue to follow my “no processed foods before noon” approach, starting my day with fruit, tea, oats, potatoes, etc. Again, I have been able to keep this up for two consecutive weeks, and it’s part of a morning fast and part of starting my day eating lightly, while focusing on nutrient-dense whole foods.
  3. There are days when I have intentions of getting to the gym, or going out for fasted cardio in the morning and it doesn’t happen. I imagine a lot of people can relate to this. Other obligations pop up, surprise visits from friends, dinners that last longer than usual, and a gym that closes earlier than preferred, are all factors that occasionally see me missing something I had good intentions of doing.
  4. Though I got off to a late start many days due to keeping lots of late nights, I actually averaged more sleep per night during week two. Sleep and rest are important components in muscle recovery and growth, so though I spend a substantial amount of time sleeping/resting (as it is revealed even more than I thought – and perhaps more than most people get), I am okay with it, knowing the health benefits that adequate sleep and rest provide. I also get a lot of brainstorming done when I drift off to sleep, something that helps me write books and grow my business.
  5. During week 2 my water intake, as well as my total exercise, both slightly declined. No big deal, just an observation and something that stands out to me as I review my week 1 and week 2 results.

 


 

This is what week 2 looked like:

 

Tuesday November 8, 2016

Slept from 1:05AM-10:05AM = 9 hours

 

10:55AM

3 ounces of water

4 ounces of yerba mate tea

 

11:25AM

Exercise: 25-minute dog walk

16 ounces of water

 

12:24PM

Apple

2 oranges

4 mandarin oranges

 

1:14PM

Banana

Handful of almonds

Bowl of potato and kale vegetable soup

 

2:15PM

16 ounces of yerba mate tea

Handful of almonds

 

2:48PM

2 carrots

 

3:39PM

Banana

 

5:06PM

17.5 ounces of coconut water

 

5:16PM

Exercise: Shoulder workout from 5:16-6:40PM = 1 hour, 24 minutes

Warm-up

Hip raises: 15, 20, 25

Arm and leg raises (bird dog): 15, 15, 15

Shoulder workout

Cable overhead presses: 40×30, 50×25, 60×15, 70×12, 80×8

Push-ups: 20, 20, 20, 20, 20

Machine overhead press: 70×12, 90×10, 100×8, 105×6, 110×4

Neutral grip machine press: 70×10, 80×8, 80×10, 90×10, 100×10

Dumbbell overhead press: 30sx25, 40sx15, 45sx15, 50sx10, 50sx12

Dumbbell lateral raises: 15sx15, 15sx15, 20sx12, 20sx12, 20sx12

Dumbbell front raises: 15sx15, 15sx15, 20sx12, 20sx12, 20sx12

 

7:22PM

Apple

Banana

Handful of almonds

 

8:11PM

Plate of polenta loaf (polenta, brown rice, beans, olives, avocado, tomato sauce)

 

10:00PM

Plate of polenta loaf (polenta, brown rice, beans, olives, avocado, tomato sauce)

 

1:30AM

Orange

Persimmon

 

Totals:

Calories consumed: 2,892

Carbohydrates: 515g (67%)

Protein: 80g (10%)

Fat: 81g (23%)

Water: 19 ounces (+ 20 ounces of tea and 17.5 ounces of coconut water)

Calories burned: 2,599

Net: 293-calorie surplus

Weight training: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Cardio: 25 minutes

Total combined exercise = 1 hour, 49 minutes

Notes: I started my workout at the gym on election night, just as results were starting to trickle in. I was honestly surprised by how busy the gym was given the popularity of this year’s Presidential election. I hammered through a few gym exercises and then headed home to follow along with the election results, and I used my own free weights at home to complete the workout. Whether the gym is closed, or for some other reason I prefer to be home during a certain time period, it is nice to have some (limited) gym equipment at home to train with in the living room, the backyard, or in the garage.

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Continue reading “November Project Weekly Recap: Week 2”

November Project Weekly Recap: Week 1

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Hello everyone,

Thank you so much for your interest in my November Project. As a reminder, this is what the November Project is all about: For the entire month of November I will be documenting all of my meals and all of my workouts to reveal how a long-time vegan athlete eats and trains to maintain muscle mass and strength. This will reflect my personal approach and will not be considered as a representation of all vegan athletes. With this month-long documentation, I plan to send a weekly recap once per week for 4 weeks revealing all of my meals and workouts for the week. I will not be suggesting, recommending, or advising anything. I will simply transparently share my daily meals and workouts that I really follow. I will be using Cronometer to track my caloric and nutritional intake as well as my caloric expenditure through tracking my basal metabolic rate combined with my activity level. The numbers will be estimations based on calculations and may not be 100% accurate, but will be as close to reality as possible, given the technology I am using, factoring lots of homemade meals which are tough to count exact calories.

Here are a few things to know:

On May 2, 2016 I tore a disc in my lower back, so for the past 6 months I have avoided free-weight exercises and have not trained my legs, back, or abs once since that day. I took 5 consecutive weeks away from exercise, had many doctor appointments, and have been doing rehab for my lower back ever since. With the support of my doctor, I started training 6 weeks after my initial injury, doing basic cable and machine movements, and again aggravated my back issues, developed sciatica, and ultimately had to take another 2-3 weeks completely off from exercise. Over the past 4 months, once I got back into exercise, I have primarily trained chest, shoulders, and triceps with machines and cables, and over the past 2 months, biceps as well. Though I experienced this set-back, I maintained my 200-pound frame, continued to tour around the world, and have posted weekly photos on social media showing my physique, still maintaining muscle, though I never talked or wrote about my injury publicly (until now, and in a forthcoming article in Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine that should hit store shelves any day now).

I mention that so when you observe my training journal and might wonder why I am avoiding certain muscle groups, and why I am using mostly machines and cables when my book Shred It! heavily promoted a lot of free-weight exercises, now you know why. My lower back has been feeling good for the past 4 weeks, and I plan to start to incorporate some free weight exercises back into my training program soon. Though my training has changed due to the torn disc in my spine, I have still maintained muscle and will transparently show the type of training I have been doing over the past 6 months, and a sneak peak into my typical free-weight training as I slowly incorporate free weights back into my routine during this November Project.

The following is a complete recap of the week from November 1-7, 2016. I hope you find both the meal plans and workouts interesting. If you find this information helpful, please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to follow along with my November Project as well. Here’s that link again: http://tinyurl.com/zhrluoa

 

November Project Data

Robert Cheeke

Age: 36

Height: 5’11 ¾”

Weight: 203 pounds

Vegan: 21 years

 

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Tuesday November 1, 2016

Slept 1:45AM-9:30AM = 7 hours, 45 minutes

 

10:00AM       20 ounces of water

11:15AM         Exercise: 34 minutes on the stationary bike

12:00PM        Bowl of sliced grapefruit

Bowl of oatmeal with blueberries

12:45PM         Bowl of oatmeal with blueberries

Bowl of pineapple

2:00PM          Apple

3 bananas

20 ounces of water

4:15PM           Handful of black olives

Handful of peanuts

10 ounces of water

4:30PM          Exercise: 1-hour hike

6:00PM          Bowl of beans, rice, tomato, corn

Bowl of green salad

7:15PM           Bowl of sliced grapefruit

Apple

7:40PM          Exercise: Weight training from 7:40-8:46PM (1 hour, 6 minutes)

Warm-Up:

Hip raises: 15, 20, 25

Arm and leg lifts off floor (bird dog): 15, 15, 15

Push-ups: 15, 15, 15

Chest workout:

Machine incline chest press: 40×30, 60×25, 80×15, 100×10, 120×6

Hammer Strength decline bench press: 90×25, 180×10, 180×10, 180×10, 180×10

Hammer Strength incline bench press: 90×15, 140×8, 140×8, 140×10, 160×6

Pec Deck flys: 100×12, 115×10, 130×6, 130×6, 130×4

Machine flat chest press: 110×12, 130×12, 150×10, 170×5, 200×3

Seated cable flys: 50×15, 50×20, 60×15, 70×8, 70×12

30 ounces of water

8:50PM           Exercise: 35 minutes on the stationary bike

10 minutes sauna

10:00PM         2 plates of homemade vegetable fried rice with tofu

11:30PM        1/3 of a cucumber

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Totals:

Calories consumed: 2,857

Carbohydrates: 534g (73%)

Protein: 82g (10%)

Fat: 56g (17%)

Water: 80 ounces

Calories burned: 3,482

Net: 625-calorie deficit

Exercise: 3 hours, 15 minutes combined

 

Notes: Today’s accumulated exercise time is a little higher than usual which put me in the 600+ calorie deficit. Also, with a focus on consuming large quantities of water, it can inhibit my total caloric intake by suppressing my appetite, which it seemed to do at times today. Known for my small bladder, I don’t drink a whole lot of fluids throughout the day, but now that I am living in Arizona, I am making a point to drink more water. Though 80 ounces (16 ounces more than half a gallon) isn’t that much in general, it is for me. I get a lot of additional water through consuming high water content foods, especially large quantities of fruits.

Continue reading “November Project Weekly Recap: Week 1”