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:
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
6 ounces of water
Basket of raspberries
Mixed fruit salad
3 boiled potatoes with mustard
8 ounces of yerba mate tea
Half a cookie (my grand-aunt offered me a vegan cookie, how sweet)
3 ounces of water
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 ounces of yerba mate
Exercise: Weight training workout from 7:03-8:36PM = 1 hour, 33 minutes
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
Exercise: 34 minutes on the Stairmaster
Small bowl of green salad
Small bowl of vegetable fried rice
3 boiled potatoes with mustard
Handful of raspberries
15 ounces of water
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
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.
Wednesday November 23, 2016
Slept from 12:30AM – 7:15AM = 6 hours, 45 minutes
Continue reading “November Project Weekly Recap: Week 4”