Optimally Non Optimal
Weird double negatively titled posts aside. Life’s been a little strange lately and I did something I’m not proud of, I stopped writing about it. I feel into a trap, the trap of waiting until there was “something good” to say, forgetting that all the “good” things I have to say are pretty much about sucking, and failing, and being sub-optimal. I definitely took for granted how much freedom my first job out of school gave me for competitive exercise, and meal prep, and mobility, and sleep. This semester is kicking my ass on most of those fronts. Unfortunately burning the candle on both ends doesn’t really bode well for the candle, even if you double the light; they leave that part out of the metaphor. I’m rambling now so I’ll be a little more specific.
Since missing two and a half weeks of training over the holidays, I was expecting to come back and have no excuses, put my head down, hit the ground running, get back what I’d lost and then some. It’s really not happening that way. I got sick twice, I lost a day or two to school assignments, a day or two for social engagements, the list goes on, and really doesn’t matter. The point is my obsession with optimality was easy to manage when I had virtually unlimited time and energy, but as the demands grow, it’s become harder and harder. This really doesn’t matter either, the point is, everyone has their issues, its part of being human, none of us are optimal. That doesn’t mean we can’t seek it, indeed we should, but conditionally, in such a way that we’re being as optimal as we can be given our set of circumstances. Case in point, today I got busy with school, forgot to eat after my AM session outside of a small snack before class, turned in my assignment at 2:50 PM and realized my last whole food meal was at 5:30 AM. Instead of trying to go train, probably suffering through a miserable session, and being upset; I opted to eat, catch up on my blogging, do some work, probably take a nap, and free up some time so that later in the week, when I’ve slept and eaten properly, I can be once again be optimal.
I guess the “take home” here is that it’s fine to seek optimality, but its also important to recognize the associated costs, and sometimes the marginal return isn’t worth the extra costs.
Let’s talk about something more interesting… I got an e-mail the other day about my diet, specifically what it looked like, and how you could go about adjusting your own to meet your training demands. I’ve based my diet off a couple of sources, namely a number of Consultations with a Nutritionist who works with a number of Crossfit Regional athletes, Mike from Dynamic Nutrition; and the Renaissance Periodization diet. The principles are similar, so I’ll stick to some broad generalities so as not to “ruin” either of their products, if you’re interested check them out for more detail.
First calories are set by a basic estimation of your basal metabolic rate, plus some multiplier for activity level, in my case this came out to around 3800 calories a day when I train, and about 500-800 less when I’m not training. The next consideration is macro nutrient balance, once protein has been met at an evenly distributed level, for me it was something like 225-250g a day, then remaining calories can be split between carbs and fat. The minimum level of carbs, depending primarily on activity level should be equal to grams of protein, with the max being around double that, so for me thats 225g-500g a day, again based on intensity and volume. Finally whatever is left is distributed to fats. From a timing perspective, its the traditional logic, protein and carbs are weighted more heavily to the intervals around training, protein and fat are weighted more heavily to the intervals furthest from training. Put it all together, split between 4-5 solid food meals, and 3 shakes, it’s a pretty constant stream of food. For simplicity I put it in pictures.
Breakfast is juice w/MCT oil, oats, 3-4 eggs, and black coffee.
Post training is a shake
Snack before class, and two lunches that look like this, 8ish oz of sweet potato and 6ish oz of shredded beef.
Pre training is another quick carb top-of. Post training is another shake, same as the AM.
Dinner is a slightly larger portion of sweet potatoes and shredded beef.
Finally last thing before bed is a casein shake and some small paleo treat, usually cookies lately, sometimes if my volume is low, I just do the shake, but after Italy trying to put some weight back on, I’ve been cookie-ing a lot. So thats a typical Thursday, though most days look more or less like this when my shit is together.
Truthfully I have no clue where I left off with training, but I’ll highlight some things from this last week and we can go from there.
Front Squat With Reverse MICRO MINI Bands (doubled over the rop of your rack at about 7′) – 1RM
Wall Balls (30/20)
Rest 10 Minutes, then:
Toes to Bar
2 Rounds for Time:
25 KB Swings (70/53)
20 Shoulder to Overhead (115/85)
15 C2B Pull Ups
Rest 5 Minutes, Then:
2 Rounds for Time:
20 KB Swings (70/53)
15 Shoulder to Overhead (115/85)
10 Bar Muscle Ups
Rest 5 Minutes, Then:
100 Double Unders
75 KB Swings (70/53)
50 Shoulder to Overhead (115/85)
Box Squat with Giant Cambered Bar + 55% Bar Weight + 25% Hanging Chains – 10×2
255 + 50
Bench Press with Straight Bar + 25% Hanging Chains – 1RM
I’m really enjoying the modularity of having a highly predictable strength program like Conjugate, with a separate conditioning piece that I can add to without concern of what’s coming the next day. Further, the extra gymnastics volume from Sean Lind has been really helpful and I’ve already noticed a pretty solid improvement in certain movements. Now I just need to follow a little more predictably… looking back at my spreadsheet just now, I have yet to complete a full week of the program without missing a session somewhere along the way; which is frankly rather surprising and a little disheartening. But it is really fun playing with bands, and chains, and getting to do a little more bodybuilding type stuff, even if it has a pretty sour reputation in the “functional” world.
I’ve got a really exciting review in the works too. It’s the next round of the Skins vs. Bodyscience review I did awhile back. Skins and Bodyscience have both recently redone their products, so I’m going to give them both the once over. This time I hope to include a third new company Virus. So stay tuned for that in the next week or so I hope. My phone alarm is going off telling me to eat again…guess that’s it for now!
Have a good week internet!