Now I know you're thinking, "but Ryan, you have to eat a LOT if you want to get stronger and gain weight. How are you going to eat 'clean' on an AmeriCorps volunteer's wages?" And you'd be right. I do need to eat a lot and it will be(and has been) very difficult to do so in a way that I can live with mentally and physically. In my first month and a half of eating "clean", I accidentally cut out too many carbs and I lost 10 pounds. Oops. I'm down to 192 at the moment. In my defense however, I didn't lose ANY strength. I actually continued to get stronger in the Squat and Deadlift. You know what that means? That fat doesn't make you stronger. Excess body fat doesn't make you a better athlete. It didn't give me any more leverage on a lift. It serves no functional purpose. Unless you're a huge, body-type: "bowling ball", fat guy who loves to bench press. Then I suppose being rotund shortens your range of motion and makes the lift a bit easier, but come on, do we really wanna be that guy? Waddling to a heavy bench press is not athletic, and it's certainly not going to win you favor with the ladies. At least part of my personal journey is to be a sexier, stronger me. Eating processed garbage, corn and soy-fed meat, farmed fish, chemically doused and genetically modified fruits and veggies, pre-packaged meals, and sodium & sugar filled "food products" is not conducive to that goal. It's just not.
I remember in high school I went to, I think a Disturbed concert, and the opening band was this group I had never heard of called Operator. The lead singer of that band came out and owned that stage. He took control, got the crowd pumped, and in just 5 songs, had the place cheering and screaming for more. I loved the music, but what really drew me to the band was the singer's presence on stage. His confidence was infectious, and to a 6'1" 165 pound high schooler, his physique was inspiring. After the show I looked up the band and found out a lot about "Johnny Strong's" personal philosophies. he was a lead singer in a rock band, an actor, an MMA fighter, and a health nut. Here's a bit of why I really admire this guy and why I'm going the direction I'm going with my training and lifestyle.
-1/2 cup of plain oatmeal with cinnamon, honey, chia seeds, and a big spoonful of peanut butter
-4 strips of turkey bacon and 2 fried eggs
-Coffee with whole milk
-2 pieces of "California Style Complete Protein" Ezekiel bread with cream cheese, natural peanut butter, and natural jam
-1/2 pound of lean steak chunks pan fried with lots of broccoli, peppers, and garlic. served over a 1/2 cup of organic brown rice
-Big glass of whole milk
Afternoon Snacks (eaten throughout the afternoon):
-Big handful of jalapeno roasted almonds
-Organic blue corn tortilla chips with roasted garlic hummus
-Probably the same as lunch, but with more veggie variety
Over the next few months, my goal is to adjust the portion sizes up and add in other foods to start gaining weight. I also would love to find ways to cheaply enhance my diet by finding somewhere to buy affordable grass-fed beef, or a local person with chickens to get eggs from. Waterbury, CT isn't exactly teeming with farmer's markets and high quality grocery stores. This is going to sound really "hippie" of me, but I don't care. I know the effect of individual decisions/purchases on my own health, the health of the animals I consume, the health of the ecological and economic systems surrounding those purchases, the health of the workers involved in production and transportation, and the health of our planet as a whole. For those reasons, I am not eating cheap, unsustainable, unhealthy in any scale, garbage food anymore. End of rant.