M1.9 & Three-Quarters (A Recap of M1 year)

Hey everyone! It’s been too long since my last post and I apologize for the long hiatus. Many things have happened in my life, since my last post and It’s great to be back on here doing what I love to do the most: write. As some of you know, I decided to embark on this crazy journey towards medical school last year, and I’m back again to enlighten you all on what my M1 year was like.

As I stare outside the window of my kitchen, I can see the rising summer heat permeating through the south Jersey horizon. Unfortunately, another summer is slowly coming to an end and these last nine days mark the end of my last free summer for the rest of my life. I know, it sounds tragic, but the fact of the matter is that as a medical student and future physician, the days of having a free summer are going to be a thing of a past. But I don’t mind, because it only means that I’m taking one step closer to achieving my life long goals. Now back to the story of my M1 year.

A lot of people wonder what medical school is like and to put it in the most reassuring way I can; It’s like being in a perpetuating realm of quicksand. With every swift movement of your extremities, you sink even faster and faster, until you’ve vanished. Medical school is a place like no other; A place where the top of the top attend. For a lot of medical students in high school, they were the top of their class, with good grades, and top-notched GPA’s. In college, they did the same as well, and continued to ascend academically. Well, close your eyes, and imagine the brightest college students across the globe sitting in one room, aspiring to be physicians. A room full of mostly, type A, perfectionist, people pleasing, and ‘genuine’ individuals. And now, add evaluations, teams, standardized exams, a rigorous curriculum to the mix, and what you get is a war. A war to see who is number one. But this war isn’t one of physical strength or manipulation, but one of the mental kind. Medical school is the war of the wits. A war to see who is the smartest, has the highest grade, has the most community service hours, is liked the most, and will get the highest board score. And If I’m being honest, I wanted to win that war, when I first started my M1 year. Why shouldn’t I? I did go to nursing school for four years and worked as a registered nurse for two years. I graduated at the top of my class, and saw things that none of my peers would see until they graduated medical school. So why not me?

But then the quicksand of medical school pulled me in, and it pulled me in deep to the point where I was lost. I can remember the first day of lecture at medical school. The first lecture was about the nucleus and I remember sitting there thinking that this was a joke. As soon as the second lecture came on, let’s say I came back to my sense. Let’s say that things went from 0-100, real quick! (kudos if you got the drake reference). To make matters worse, this first block of medical school was genetics, and all I could tell you about genetics at the time, were pea plants and punnett squares. For the first time in my life, I was learning too much information at once; and I couldn’t handle it. I thought I was losing my mind. Two hours of lecture, then two hours of lab, then two hours of research articles, then two hours of team based learning, and this was only for one day of the week. But despite the chaos going on inside me, all my classmates appeared calm, and almost un-phased by the work we were dealt. At this point, I thought something was wrong with me, and maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. And I let this mentality haunt me into my first exam. As a result, I did not do as well as I’d hoped and it crushed me. I was even more lost than I was before and I was so annoyed.

But then I decided that I was going to do something different, moving forward. I was no longer going to try to be a soldier in the war of the wits, and focus more on the bigger enemy: MYSELF. I was the one who doubted myself; I was the one who let the ambiance around me dictate my mentality; I was the one who had unfortunately lost myself. And I was destined to find myself back. So for the next block, which was biochemistry; I did things different. I woke up earlier in the morning, went to school earlier, read more, and put in the work. I gave every ounce of energy into that block, and I didn’t care if I looked odd to my classmates. I decided to avoid my classmates and stay in my lane, because only I know what works for me. And while I was taking that second exam, I knew I found my swagger back. And when I got my results, I knew that the work I put made a huge impact for me. So moving forward, I decided to stay in my lane and focus on my one goal: And that’s being better than the person in the mirror. Each day, I will strive to improve myself and be the best I can be. My competition aren’t my peers, but my competition is the person staring back in the mirror. And time after time, I’ve broken myself, to only build myself up again to be stronger and more resilient.

Yes, a lot of what I write may sound cliche and corny, but this is what the medical school life is like, at least in my opinion. It’s not as lavish, and carefree as many think, but its more demanding than I would have ever thought. I think the biggest difference for me, is realizing that from this point forward, I would be in charge of my own education. Gone are the days when you could sneak to the professor and whine, ‘This wasn’t taught in lecture, so I’m not responsible for knowing it.’ Why? Because in the field of medicine, there are no excuses. We’re all responsible for knowing as much as we can about everything possible that is health related. Do I know everything? Absolutely not! But my M1 year has put me in a position to become one step closer to my goal of becoming an even more well rounded physician.

But all in all, every block in medical school has its lists of demands and its a never-ending cycle of early mornings, late nights, skipped meals, and perpetuating stress, as you try not to be consumed by the quicksand. I was fortunate enough not to be consumed by the quicksand during my M1 year, and as I stand on platform 1.9 and three-quarters; I’m optimistic to begin my M2 year on the right foot. With the biggest exam of my life and career coming up in the next 10 months, USMLE Step 1: I’ve got to be sure to be on my game and not take any days off. As the amount of information I have to learn piles on, the quicksand becomes deeper and deeper; But I’ve learned something from my M1 year thats proven to be quite useful. Control the controllables, and the rest will take care of the rest.

For my incoming M1 readers or prospective pre-med students, there are a few several things that I recommend for surviving medical school. First and foremost, NO READING during the summer before. There’s no point. Trust me! And chances are, you don’t know what you’re reading. Number two, use the USMLE First Aid book in coordination with your blocks. This will be one of your main resources during your Step 1 exams, and being familiar with it early on will make your life easier come the end of your M2 year. Next, learn the material well, the first time! If you can’t teach the material to a grade school child, then you don’t really know it. Don’t BS yourself into thinking that you know the material, because in medical school exams, concepts are heavily tested. So if you don’t understand the basics concepts, chances are your scores will reflect. Those are the basic tips I have for all my incoming medical students, but if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. Understand that the first year of medical school is for you to discover what way of studying works for you and figure out a system.

So there it is! I can see the M2 train coming down the platform. Goodbye to summer and farewell to the last free summer of my life.

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Happy Holidays!!

Hello Everyone, It’s good to finally be back on here. To be honest, life has been crazy the past few months as medical school has proved to be rigorous. But at the same time, I’ve learned a lot of things so far on my journey. Today, I wanted to briefly discuss my contest results and plans moving forward.

So, my contest was an epic fail, if we’re talking honesty. Being completely objective, I definitely came in not as conditioned as I wanted. At the same time, I was on orientation for my medical school, and I was limiting myself to 1500 calories a day, on an insane diet. As a result, I damaged my metabolism and screwed the last few days leading up to the show. I came in to the show looking alright but I could’ve came in a lot better. As a result, I came in 6th out of 13 competitors. I was definitely upset, but I learned a lot and now understand what needs to be done to improve from here on out. I plan to compete again in June of 2015 and I’m going to redeem myself from a poor showing.

Some hints for those of you planning to compete in an NPC or related show will be included in the following paragraph. The biggest thing is to be realistic about your plans and goals. If this is your first show, please give yourself about 16-20 weeks to prep. Why? Because it takes some weeks to adjust to a contest related diet and you’re not going to be perfect leading to your show. This allows for some error and allows you to not screw up completely due to one bad week. Next, I suggest doing IIFYM or flexible dieting. Why? because its much better losing weight (fat mostly) with a high/ moderate carb intake rather than completely restricting carbs. The low carb diet is painful and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. IIFYM allows you to lose weight and also enjoy lots of carbs. I’ve heard of people losing fat while eating 300 grams+  of carbs which is remarkable. One more thing to add is to make sure you lay off the salt/ electrolyte tweaking. Don’t mess with it period. There’s no point in messing with all those stupid techniques. If you’re lean enough, you’ll be fine on the contest day. If you didn’t put in the work, don’t expect to see results out of no where.

As for my plans, I’m about 26 weeks out, so I’m hoping to start prepping again for the show in June. I’m hoping to drop to 200 pounds even, maybe even a little less. Like I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I’m a mesomorph; so I have a solid muscular base, so it’s pretty much burning the fat that I need to do.

As far as med school, It’s nice to not even think about it at the moment. I will try to give some insight into life as an M1 student and things that future M1’s can do to start off their medical school careers on the right foot. Till then , enjoy your holidays and enjoy time with your family.

M0.9 & Three-Quarters

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Hello Everyone!

I’m back again with yet another post; I think I’ve posted a lot in the past eight or so days, but as my summer comes to an end, I’ve found posting on here to be quite cathartic. So here I go.

As the summer’s tachycardic pulse is slowly succumbing to the bradycardic rhythm of fall and winter, I’ve found myself at a major crossroad. In about ten days or so, my whole life is about to change forever. No longer am I the same college kid who was naive and overly optimistic about my career goals. On my brief stop at the platform right before med school (Platform M0), was my short career in nursing. Working as a nurse for a few years was a wake up call. A lot of medical school hopefuls have an ‘opaque’ view of what a career in healthcare really entails. With shows like ER, House M.D., Scrubs, Niptuck and the show with that McDreamy guy (that all you ladies love) dominating the media’s thoughts, its no wonder why not many prospective doctors aren aware of the rigors that it takes just to get an M.D. next to your name. Some people think they’ll get through medical school and residency programs easily, and make a million dollars by becoming a surgeon/ specializing in something very lucrative [Its not that easy!]. By no means am I judging any of my fellow pre-meds or matriculating M0/ M1 students, but I believe its safe to say that not many people are aware of how damn HARD Medicine is. I’m thankful that my brief stop in nursing has opened my eyes and showed me how arduous a career in Medicine will be.

The illusion of easily diagnosing patients with rare diseases as you berate your colleagues and dean of Medicine are merely fictional. If a physician like Dr. House actually existed, he’d probably be in jail form being sued so many times. The reality is that the life of a physician is far from lavish,  and I say that loosely, since different specialties have different lifestyle requisites. Let me take you back to 2011, when I interned in the intensive care unit. There was this great Intensivist, Doctor M. He was probably the best physician that I’ve ever worked with (He saved me from having a rapid response during my orientation as a new nurse)…Why? Because he’s one of the few physicians who worked hard around the clock and actually cared for his patients. Every morning, Dr. M would come to the hospital between 5 and 6 and start rounding on his patients. He would start on the ICU and work his way down to the medical-surgical floors. By noon, he was usually out of the hospital and went to his office to see his patients. He’d be there till about 6PM and then come back to the hospital to check on new consults and also follow up with his patient’s progress. He’d work until about 10PM or so and go home. Guess what? He’d be back the next day at 5AM doing the same thing over again. Funny thing is that he is happily married and has kids. I know what you’re thinking…’But Dr. House doesn’t do that,’ ‘That’s not what happens on scrubs’. But the truth is that the life of a doctor isn’t what you see on TV. On a side note, don’t even let me get started on why they insist to shock patients with asystole on TV shows…But thats a topic for a different day. My point is that the life of a doctor is one that perpetuates; It’s non-stop. For the most part, there’s no punching in or out, you may have to take call for the night (and get ridiculous calls), and there are no days off. No Thanksgiving, no Christmas, and no birthday off. It’s not a forty hour full time job like most people work, but its a perpetuating career that doesn’t cease until the old ticker stops. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the physicians I’ve worked with: It’s all about balance. 

As thoughts like this unravel through my mind, I come back to a quote that I read in The Great Gatsby. ‘I was within and without.’ As I’m about to devote my life to a career in Medicine, I’ve come to the realization that the rigors of the field may make me compromise who I am as a man, thus far. As much as I’d like to say that I’ll remain the same me and have the same optimistic outlook that I currently have, I have to be realistic and admit that medical school WILL change me. It is my hope that I can remain the same person but I believe that experiencing certain things will make me ‘within and without’. To be within the moment where I can bring a failing heart back to life, and be seen as a hero. But to be without the corruption and unethical behavior that the field may bring up. To be within the moment of objectively treating an ailment, but to be without the subjective feelings of the relationship I’ve developed with my patient. So as I ramble on, it is my hope that my fellow prospective M0/M1’s to REALLY think about Why you want to become a doctor?

If it’s because you want to save lives, be prepared to be disappointed. Only a higher being can save lives (If you’re not an atheist). Medicine, CPR, ACLS, merely prolongs life. We can give all the vaso-pressors in the world, but we can’t save lives. Does a beating heart really suffice as ‘saving lives’? Because my experience as a nurse as taught me otherwise. If anything the ‘quality of life’ matters as much as a beating heart. Let me ask you this…If you couldn’t walk, talk, eat for yourself, or perform your regular activities of daily living, but your heart beats, would you want to be alive in a bed for years? These are things that cross my mind and are things I’m going to have to deal with in the future. As much as it may feel good to prolong a life, it is with the same straw that you realize that there is usually only one outcome in the end: Death. 

If it’s because of the money, don’t think it’ll be that easy. The fields that make the most money are usually the ones with the most rigorous lifestyles. Neurosurgery comes to mind right now. After four years of med school, you have seven years of residency. Those seven years are full of 430AM till 10PM days. Before you even get to residency, you have to pass the medical boards exams, which consist of multiple choice questions that have up to ten different answer choices. The road to medicine is filled with endless exams, and your reasons for pursuing this field better be more than the dollar bill. 

I guess what I’m saying is that if you don’t love the intricacies of the human body, and understand the sanctity of the human life, the road to becoming a physician will be hard. If you can’t relate to people, or you judge them based on your biased views; You probably won’t get a patient to trust you. But if you ask me why I want to become a doctor…I couldn’t give you one, two, or ten reasons. There are tons of reasons why I want to become a doctor.

The least cliche reason? It’s because for some odd reason, Medicine is the one thing that makes sense to me. It keeps me up at night..It keeps my mind engaged. It illuminates my soul. It forces me to think outside the box…It forces me outside my comfort zone. It forces me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It allows me to impact the world with my love for science and people. It puts me in a position to transcend conventions.     

So as I’m here standing on platform M0.9 & Three-Quarters [Kudos if you get the Harry Potter reference], getting ready to hop the train to Platform M1 (Year one of medical school), I’ve looked back and seen how far I’ve came. My brother and I were just talking about the journey we made from being boys to men, who will hopefully make an impact in this world. I remember the days when times were rough, but deep down inside, I knew things would get better. I remember the first time I failed to make the basketball team, and found a way to make it the following year. I remember my journey to losing over 30 pounds over the past year and a half. I remember my college’s pre-med advisor telling me that I wasn’t good enough to go to medical school in the United States. As I’m slowly jogging through memory lane, I’m humbled to have been given challenges and opportunities to fail. Without failure, I may not be where I am today. Time and time again, I’ve been challenged and Time and time again…I’ve overcome those challenges. But these challenges are unlike the biggest challenge that I’m about to encounter: Medicine. To succeed in this field, I have to face my biggest opponent..Self doubt. There are going to be times where I feel like giving up, but then I will remember the journeys I’ve taken to get to this point in my life. If there’s anything that distinguishes me from most people, it’s my ability to remember. I remember everything: Good times, Bad Times, People that were there for me, People that weren’t. People that said good things. People that said bad things. Remembering my younger days keeps me grounded, and no matter how rough the road is, or how successful I become..I will always remain humbled. Because I know what its like to hit rock bottom. I know what its like to be at the cul de sac with no options ahead. I know what its like to be in the darkness with no source of light around you. But if there’s anything I’ve learned: When you’ve reached your darkest hours and its all glum, theres only one thing left to do…ILLUMINATE! And It’s my hope that I can successfully board the M1 train and illuminate all the way through M4. 

 

A Day in the Life…

Hi guys,

It’s been a few days since my last post, and as medical school and the competition approaches, I wanted to give you guys a glimpse into a typical day for me. The more I think about it, I think the purpose of this post is to really emphasize a principle that I’ve believed in since I was a little kid: ‘If you want to succeed at something, you have to wake up early’. Why? Well, think about it…We have 24 hours in a day. A typical person sleeps 6-8 hours, so that leaves about 16-18 hours of free time. Obviously, a lot of those hours can be allotted to work, eating, naps, and so on. But my point is that when you wake up early, you have a head start on utilizing every ounce of those precious 24 hours. So here’s what my day looks like…

Depending on whether or not I’m working out at a further or closer gym, I’m usually up at 345AM or 430AM. Some of you may think that this is ‘insane’ or crazy, but to be honest, I’m sure I’m not the only one that does this. Also, I work nights at my job, so waking up before the crack of dawn isn’t something that I would perceive as labor intensive. After waking up, I usually do my typical morning routine such as wash up, take vitamins, and so on. Then I’m on the road and headed to the gym. Usually, If my gym partner and I are going to the further gym, we usually start working out at 5AM. If we’re in our town, then we usually start at 530AM. Either ways, I’m usually there before my gym partner, so I can get a good full body stretch and warm-up. So we meet up and usually work out a body group for 45mins-60mins. This morning, we hit biceps and forearms from every angle, and it was VERY intense! We went for about 50-55 minutes today, and then we did a 15 minute abdominal circuit. We’re usually out of the gym by 7AM or a little after that, if we happened to do too much that day. Either ways, both of us are usually leaving the gym VERY SORE!

After leaving the gym, I head home, reevaluate my workout, and hit the showers. Shortly after, I’m in the kitchen planning out my food for the day. Ideally, I plan my macros days in advance, but with the restrictive nature of the ultimate diet 2.0, I don’t have to luxury to be very lax with my meals. This means having to calculate every single macro to the exact tee. This week, I’m eating 1519 calories, with only 20% of the calories coming from carbs. Unfortunately, those carbs are either from my quest bars (Thank God for them!), vegetables, or trace amounts of carbs in my whey/casein protein or non-fat greek yogurt). Either ways, I’ve got a few more weeks of this before I’m back at my 3000 calorie maintenance diet (Yay!). But today, I decided to go with 3 servings of low-fat string cheese, 5 servings of canned tuna in water, 1 serving of greek yogurt and casein before bed tonight, 1 scoop of whey protein, 1 quest bar (Apple pie), 2 servings of Mayonnaise with olive oil, 3 boiled eggs, and some cooked collard greens with spices. So this lovely combination of meals put me at 1360 calories, 47g Fat, 52g Carbs (14%), and 198g protein. Though the caloric intake is low, the high protein intake and fiber will keep me satiated.

FYI, some of you may be thinking, ‘Don’t eggs have a lot of cholesterol?’ Yes, they do. But…you have to look at the other variables. First and foremost, my total fat for today (47 grams) is WAY below my typical intake (70 grams) and the egg yolk fat is relatively healthy. Two, a high fiber intake usually compensates for a high cholesterol intake. To sort of break down the biochemistry/ science mumbo jumbo, the fiber ideally absorbs any excess cholesterol in the intestines, and makes having high cholesterol unlikely. Unless there’s a severe familial history of hypercholesterolemia; I wouldn’t necessary see eating eggs as taboo. Also, it is been shown that the HDL (AKA good cholesterol), VLDL (Very Bad cholesterol), and triglycerides, are better indicators for the risk of coronary artery disease. So theoretically, you could have a high total cholesterol, but if your HDL was extremely high, and you VLDL & triglycerides were low, your risk for heart disease would be relatively lower than someone with a lower cholesterol and borderline VLDL & triglyceride levels. As you can see, I’m off on another tangent, so let me stop and get back on topic.

After my meal prep, I usually study and review for medical school or research of a variety of topics. This summer, I must admit that I took the time to review very basic things from my undergraduate years, since I’ll be learning the same things in detail in a matter of weeks. For example, I was learning about the human cell, DNA, human metabolism and the good ‘ol Kreb’s cycle. I never appreciated the amount of precise detail that went into breaking down glucose/ sugar. If you guys took the time to read the stuff, your minds would be completely blown. With that being said, I think I’m finally starting to understand what is considered ‘high yield’ or I think I do [Medical student inside joke]. But anyways, after reading, I make it a point to take at least a 30 minute nap. Realistically speaking, that 30 minute becomes an hour or two. But Hey! A bodybuilder needs his rest. 

After I wake up, I usually take the time to either read some more, watch some Netlfix or prepare for work. If I’m not working, I may play some games, or head to the gym to get in a good cardio session. If I’m working, I usually eat then head off to work from 7P-8A the next day. If I’m not working, I’ll head back from the gym, and eat dinner. So tonight, I’ll eat the eggs, and collar greens. Then at about 8PM before bed time at 9-10PM, I’ll take my casein. I usually sleep from 10PM till about 3/4AM (5-6 hours of sleep) and I found that I actually wake up before my alarm rings. Yes, I’m not sleeping 8 hours, but my mid-day nap usually compensates for the remaining 1-2 hours. Also, I function well off 6 hours of sleep, due to my years of working night shifts. So this is a typical day for me, and It’s not very arduous in my opinion.

Even on my off days at the gym, I’m usually up before 7AM and I’m well rested. So, anything later than that (7AM) is considered late by my standards. A few months ago, my brother said that he woke up early that day, and I asked him what time he woke up. He then said that he woke up at 730AM. I looked at him and shook my head as I ironically said…’That’s late bro..The day’s already gone by then. And I may be weird (Probably am), but I think that waking up early puts you ahead of most people, in terms of productivity & efficiency. I need to wake up early because the very thought that someone out there is working harder than me, irks me to be honest.

So you guys have a glimpse into a typical day for me this summer, and it’s fairly relaxing to be honest. The hours in the gym, and the lack of calories are tough, but I’ve become accustomed to it. I guess the purpose of this post is to motivate some of you to wake up earlier and start having more productive days. But by no means am I saying that waking up early is the requisite to success. I think it’s more of a vehicle than anything, and waking up ‘earlier’ literally gives you more hours to do things throughout the day. I’ve been waking up since 5AM for years now (not every single day) and it’s done me wonders. I plan to continue this when medical school starts and I’m actually looking at possibly waking up at 3:30AM, if it means having a chance to fit in 90 minute workouts throughout a hectic medical school curriculum. I hope you enjoyed this, despite my few ‘off-topic’ tangents and I hope you all have a good week. Take care!        

 

 

22 Days out…

Hey Everyone!

I’m back again with another post. I just finished a leg session at the hotel I’m staying at. The hotel’s gym is quite abysmal, but I was able to create a formidable workout. For those that care, my workout is below:

Leg Curls (10 sets [40lbs-170 lbs])  [<30 second rest between sets] *Hold at top of contraction!

Leg Extensions (10 sets [40lbs-170 lbs]) [<30 second rest between sets] *Hold at top of contraction!

Stair-stepper (35 minutes)

2.5 mile Jog/Run (25 minutes)

Anyways, back to the post. My progress so far has been quite decent to be honest. There have been ups and downs, but I’ve noticed that I’m bigger and stronger. Ironically, I’m also lighter and in better shape. I’ve lost a lot of weight since I started from the beginning of the summer and I’m about 7 pounds from my competition weight, so I feel extremely good going into the final 21 days or so. After the competition, I’ll let you all know the specific biometrics and progress I made. 

Diet wise, I’ve been doing the ultimate diet 2.0, which I talked about the previous post. It’s worked extremely well for me and I’ve lost strictly fat. It works so well that last week, I gained a pound of muscle (not intentionally), and lost a pound of fat. But the goal doing this diet, is to lose as much fat as possible for the next few weeks, and then peak week is where the real battle begins. For those that don’t know, peak week is the final week before a competition where competitors get into ‘competition shape’. This is the week, where many things are done from water, salt, potassium depletions/ manipulations to carb loads and so on. For me, I’m not sure what peak week will bring, but I’m ready for the challenge. My friend that is prepping with me has some pro-secrets that I can’t disclose to you guys, but I’m going to try it and let you all know how it works out. Just so its out there, I don’t believe in any un-natural preparation of any kind and that includes all performance enhancers, steroids, and all that garbage some guys take. For me, the satisfaction comes from genuinely working hard and changing your body gradually in a natural way. But in reference to peak week, I really don’t know what to expect. I just know that by 7 days out, I’ll be so lean that I may not even have to worry about any kind of peak week manipulations/ tricks. The only thing that is a bit perplexing is the whole tanning situation, and shaving my whole body. But I’ll figure that along the way. 

Other than that, I’ve been working hard in the gym with my friend. We’ve been going extremely hard and killing ourselves day in and out. We work out very early in the morning and we just feed off each others energy and drive. Thank God for pre-workouts! The intensity we have is so high and it’s like working out with him has taken my mind, body, and focus to a whole another level. I have to admit that I’ve found out my weaknesses from working out with my friend and I’ve also realized that I’m stronger than I thought. It’s up to a point where both of us break our records from the previous week, regularly. I hate to boast, but we’re both pretty insane in the gym. With that being said, please keep in mind that form beats weight all the time! We lift heavy, but the form is correct. I’d rather have someone lift 10 pounds, 20 times correctly than lift 20 pounds 10 times incorrectly. Form rules! and form will shape your muscle better than doing a heavier weight incorrectly and force you to use accessory muscles. The perfect example is the ‘macho guy’ trying to do the barbell bicep curl. They put 25 pounds on both sides and get one or two good curls. After that, its down hill; they lift with their back and arch it and now, there is no emphasis on the bicep any more. I’m not perfect and I do it sometimes. But then I realize that its better to lift smarter and then I go down in weight. I don’t let my ego get in the way of my weight lifting. It’s not worth the injury! It’s funny the looks I get when I’m curling 15 pounds when doing dumbbell bicep curls. They expect me to grab 50 pounds and gut out 6-8 reps, but I’m smarter than that. I’d rather do 12 sets of 12 curls with 15 pounds, than 4-5 sets of 6 curls with 50 pounds. Trust me, the pump from the volume (especially with less than 10 second breaks between sets) is INSANE! I dare you to try Serge Nubret’s workouts and tell me what you think! 

I see that I’m going on a tangent, so I’ll wrap it up. As far as my goals for the summer; I’ve achieved them. My body fat is under a shade of 10% (9.62%), my back is bigger and well-defined, but can be better, and I’ve got the 6-pack I’ve dreamed of. To be honest, the 6-pack is over-rated but It’s crucial for me to win the contest, and the ladies seem to like it lol. But It’s been a tough summer mentally. A lot of people think its tough waking up early and lifting for an hour. But that’s the easy part; It’s the other 23 hours thats hard. Dealing with life, but remaining focused on the competition, keeping the motivation, dealing with stress, trying to eat right, and so on. Sometimes in the next few days, I’ll post what a typical day has been like for me this summer, so you can see what its like. But I’ve had fun this summer. I’ve changed a lot and I’ve evolved. Anyways, thanks for reading my little rant and I hope you all enjoy your weekends.  

What is UD2.0? Amongst other things…

Hello Everyone!

I’ve been on a long hiatus due to getting ready for medical school to start, work, vacations, and also preparing for my body building physique competition. This weekend, I actually have some free time, so I thought I’d post a little something useful for you guys in the mean time. Last time I posted, I talked about a special diet that I was doing: The ultimate diet 2.0.

Ironically, I was about 8 weeks from my competition and was doing some late night reading. I happened to come across a book by Mr. Lyle McDonald and he goes in depth about fat loss (not weight loss) and how our bodies hate us (YES! It kinda does). So I read his whole book, and he proposed this diet called the ultimate diet 2.0, which would allow you to lose strictly fat, every week and spare muscle mass. Being a person in the medical field, I did my research, and a lot of what he said in his book was valid and legit, so I said why not try it for fun. 

So, I did and it was probably the worst thing I’ve ever tried in my life. Let me explain: First and foremost, the diet is severely restrictive: at least from monday to thursday. Let me explain in detail. The way it works is that you take your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure) [calories body burns in a 24 hour period] and divide it in half. So if you were a person that had a TDEE of 3000 calories, you’d be now eating 1500 calories during monday to thursday. For bodybuilders like myself, 1500 calories is NOT enough. I know I preach about flexible dieting and eating ‘sanely’, but my sole purpose of pursuing this diet was to challenge myself mentally and to lose fat as quickly as possible. But anyways, back to the diet breakdown. So for the 1500 calories, you have to follow IIFYM/ flexible dieting principles…sort of. First, you must calculate your protein intake. Ideally, you’d find your lean body mass. A lot of people guesstimate, but I’d suggest buying cheap calipers and getting an accurate measure. So for example, If you were 200 pounds with 20 percent body fat, you’d have 160 pounds of lean muscle and 40 pounds of fat (0.2x 200= pound fat). So this person would eat about 1-1.25 grams per pound of lean muscle. So the person in the example would eat 160g-200g protein. For carbohydrates, they must be allocated in a way, where they are no more than 20% of your diet. Why? It involves a lot of biochemistry, but to make a long story short, it allows your body to deplete its glycogen stores (glycogen is glucose in a different from that the body converts to use as energy) quicker, so your body can burn its fat stores as energy instead. Also, for maximal effects, its suggested that the most of the carbs come from veggies. Mr. McDonald suggests that you should’t go under 50 grams of carbs because it’s not going to make a difference. For fats, the idea is to keep them moderate at best. Why? Because the goal is to burn fat as efficiently as possible. Also, resort to healthier fats, such as coconut oil or olive oil or oils from lean meats. 

So my diet from monday to thursday for the past few weeks has been like this: 1539 calories. 184g protein, 55g fat, 77g carbohydrates. For anyone that tracks macros, this is a killer! Honestly, I’ve probably eating 1300-1400 calories. It’s draining and mentally challenging, but the results do show. My body fat percentage and weight has went down drastically, and I’ve become more vascular in the process. Though the diet is tough, the friday-Saturday re-feed is the staple of the diet.

Since you’re practically eating like a mouse from monday to thursday; if you’ve dieted correctly, you’ve depleted those glycogen stores. So the purpose of the re-feed is to refill the glycogen stores. How do we do that? EAT LOTS OF CARBS!!! I’m talking up to 3000 calories worth…well it depends on your lean body mass. But you can eat anything (but have to watch the fat content, since you’re trying to lose body fat) and fill those glycogen stores. For the weekend, you pretty much eat at a maintenance calorie range and ease yourself into the restrictive diet the following monday. This diet has a lot of details and requirements, so I’d suggest you to read it. But It works! I know that after my competition, I’ll go back to flexible dieting but once i compete again, I’m going to use this diet in the last few weeks before any competition.

So this is the ultimate diet 2.0 in a nutshell, and I know I missed certain minor things. But its 6AM on my end, and I’ve got to get this early morning workout in. It’s the dreaded leg day. But I’m going to deplete myself as much I can, and I’m looking at refilling some glycogen stores today. I’m thinking Popeyes with a Lot of RED RICE & BEANS! Be Jealous. lol. But I hope this post was informative at the least and I’ll post about my competition prep later today.  

Forever Small…

Hi Everyone!

It’s been a while since my last post. In between prepping for the show, work, getting ready for medical school, some vacation, and so on, I haven’t had the time to post very much. But nonetheless, my summer has been going well so far.
This past saturday marked 7 weeks before my contest and I’m still prepping for the show. Things are going as planned, but the process has become gradually tougher as game day approaches. I decided this past week that I wanted to speed up the process and I decided to partake in the ultimate diet 2.0 (which I’ll go into detail in another post). The gist of the diet is that it’s a ketogenic based diet, but I eat half of my maintenance caloric intake (about 1500 calories right now) for 4 days out of the week. The following day and a half is dedicated to a wonderful high carbohydrate re-feed and then 2 maintenance calorie days. My first week doing the diet was brutal, but showed great results. I dropped a lot of weight and maintained my muscle mass, but the mental and psychological effects of the diet can’t be neglected. But I’ll save the details for another time.

This brings me to the topic of today’s post: being forever small. So, this past week was a great week for me in prepping for my contest. I had a chance to workout with my workout buddy’s close friend, who is (as of last night) an IFBB professional. He taught me a lot of things, and gave some tips on where I need to be in a few weeks. But anyways, he invited me to come to his show which was yesterday. So, I enter the show and the second I walk in, I notice guys that are HUGE. I’m a pretty big guy myself, but walking in that building made me feel like a kid in a candy store with all the adults buying candy. However, these adults were sponsored Bodybuilding athletes that happened to weigh at least 50-100 more than me. These guys had biceps that were triple the size of mine and I’ve been told I have big biceps. Some had triceps that pointed out while they weren’t even flexing and my arm was just ‘there’. I thought my legs were pretty well developed. Nope. I was wrong. My legs look like pencils compared to those guys. Then I came to the sad realization: No matter how much I lift, I’ll be forever small. Why? Because I don’t aspire to have arms as big as my head, two, I’d never consider taking any un-natural substance to enhance my growth, and three, my idea of the ideal physique is more svelte than it is ‘Monstrous’/ ‘beastly’. Despite the fact that I felt small, it was a great experience for me personally. I had a chance to root my good friend as he earned his IFBB pro card, and I had a chance to see what I needed to bring to the stage. Those things are a beautifully sculpted six-pack, a perfectly wide and muscular back, a tiny, tapered waist, confidence, and a LOT of MUSIC!!! Not literal music, but the ‘ripples’ or ‘motions’ that you make as you pose. Posing is the make it or break it deal, in the physique competition. It’s crucial to have an ideal body, but you must figure out how to perfectly display that physique and how to use the art of posing to show the world that beautiful body.

Anyways, as the competition is coming closer, I wanted to spend my energy and mental reserves on the important things. For that reason, I decided that I’m not going to post anything until after the competition. This past weekend made me realize that I need to rid a lot of distractions and just focus on myself. Building a physique is not easy and I have to be meticulous about my approach to this process. I have to be selfish and focus on winning the competition. Right now, I can honestly admit that if i competed, that I’d get my butt handed to me. I’ve never been good at accepting losing, so I’m giving these last weeks everything I got. I’ll be sure to keep you up to date with everything that happens along the way.