Erik S.

Erik S.


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Congratulations to everyone who completed Iron and reached his or her goals! I see some serious changes in people so I expect there are smiles and high fives all around today!

I hit all my goals as far as weightlifting goes. Putting up the same numbers I did when I used to work out regularly in college, so feel great about that. I am bummed I never made it to 2000 skips in 20 minutes. I think all the bodybuilding just threw my coordination off as we entered the final month so there were no more clean sets of skipping. Before I would do hundreds without a fault. Toward the end I could barely get 40, often not even that. I’ll take that back up after some rest. I still want to hit that goal and make that a regular thing if possible.

As far as body comp goes, I lost a good deal of fat (though I still can’t quite find my abs haha) and gained a lot of muscle. The last two weeks made a big difference for me. Over the past 90 days I went from a pear to a triangle in general body shape, so I’m not going to quibble too much about the bit of fat left around my waist on graduation day. I may take issue with that after a week of rest and enjoying a more relaxed diet however.

So it’s time to reset my goals. What’s next? Yes, I want to slim down a bit more before summer, so I’m planning a two week strict diet with lots of morning rope work. Muscles are fine but I think I’ll add a bit more to the chest and arms so if I’m caught without a gym for a few weeks this summer I won’t regress too much. So maybe a week off then two more hard weeks to make up for the two weeks I lost in the middle.

Overall I liked this program a lot, and more than KB. I don’t like bands. I do like free weights. The diet was nuts in KB. Iron was too much food but more reasonable. I never got sore on KB, and spent about half of Iron sore - not sure if that’s a plus or minus tho 🤪.

The workouts were pretty insane, especially the final month. Insane. Probably a bit too much. I went full throttle and maxed out in all my workouts but was rarely able to do all six during the final month - there was always a crash day or just a day I needed to be there for the other people in my life. Rest was key!

Overall I’m very happy with the program and my progress on it. Thanks to Scott and everyone who posted comments and blogs that helped us all through - even Fish (maybe especially Fish). I would definitely do it again. Iron baby. Next up today? KB - Kenzai Beer! 🍻 Cheers everyone!

KENZAI! Fight On!


Total Monday

Today was a total Monday. So hard getting through that workout, but I did it. 😤

Supersets that include lunge jumps (which are hard enough on their own!) suck. New discovery: egg whites in my protein shakes do not suck.

Almost everything in my diet is AMAYW now. I feel like an adult. 😊


Two to Go

Can’t believe we’re already just two weeks away. I’ve bulked up quite a bit and am back to pushing almost the same amount of weight I did in college - I should be able to get there in another month I think. It feels great.

I’m planning to finish strong, take a few days rest, then keep pushing for the next couple of months until I head home this summer. I’ll set some specific weight goals then as far as bench press and squats. This is a great “primer” or “base coat” as the painters say, but I’m planning to put a nice glossy finish on over the next couple of months, and keep working on the waistline. I’m thinking hit the gym 3-4 days a week and do 20 minutes of rope, push ups, and 8 minute abs the other days. I need to add a lot more to the pecs, a little more on the arms and legs, and I’ll be happy. It’ll be good to see what the combo exercises do for me over these last two weeks of the program. I’ve always been the type to do weights like an aerobic program - very little rest, often doing “combo” exercises but alternating arms and legs for example and calling that “resting” the muscles I’m not working on while I work on another muscle group so this should be fun - and of course since it’s Kenzai, challenging, bordering on masochistic torture! Starting the biceps workout with six sets of barbell curls to failure really sent a message: “Warm up by completely depleting your muscle reserves, then we’ll begin today’s workout.”

🤔 🤨 😢


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Amazing all this food and I’m still nowhere near my protein grams! There are two thick slices of a nice wholesome bread under there somewhere and I’m still a few grams short on carbs too, but this is about all I can stomach! Will have to throw some extra eggs in somewhere this afternoon. Check my sneaky “indulgence” in the salad - three homemade tortilla chips, I’m such a REBEL!


I wonder if my legs will get so big my skinny pants won’t fit anymore?


Came down with this awesome flu (both kids had it) the Sunday night before Week 1 Day 1 - bummer. Have been completely laid up, no exercise Week 1, but woke up today and said if I don't get into the gym I have to delay the program and the brain pulled the body along as I was NOT going to let that happen. So after a full shower to wash all the germs off and get the energy level up, into the gym I went. Thankfully it wasn't too busy so I was all alone in the cage and far enough away from others that I didn't have to worry about spreading this thing around and thus could focus on my first Iron workout.

Dude, it was tough. My legs were all wobbly after the squats and lunges - with no weight on the bar. I stumbled dizzily over to the dumbbell exercises, which weren't quite as challenging as they were less full body and more isolated muscle work, very manageable. Floor exercises were all ok too except for the planks, where I couldn't get past 20 seconds (was supposed to be doing 30-45). Post-workout stretches were super-necessary, especially for the legs. I basically did four to five sets of everything instead of the full five or six, but it felt good to kick this off, and I was careful not to overdo it as i know this is a marathon, not a sprint, and the bulk will come soon enough so long as I avoid any injuries that will knock me out of contention. Its like college football - a loss in week one will be mostly forgotten by the end of the season, so don't give up because of an early stumble, just keep your nose to the grindstone and fight on.

Diet was good despite the flu. A couple of early "indulgences" (uh, daughter's birthday cupcakes anyone?) but overall very good right from the get go. Today its all real again. I can't quite put down as much as I'm supposed to but am keeping the ratios correct. Fruit is easy but dairy not so much. Hoping my breaking out to get to the gym has me waking up well on the other side of this thing tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Hope everyone is getting their diet straight as that's the biggest challenge for most. Seems like this is a team of Kenzai veterans and I'm the novice here, so I'm guessing I have to worry a lot more about myself than the rest of my team! Stay healthy everyone!


Welcome to Iron

Looking forward to getting huge, responsibly. Let's go team!


Is this a good thing? I've mostly done weights, sports, swimming, and yoga in my life. This is the first time I've ever gone to the point of collapse on a regular - scratch that - daily basis, but am never really sore the next day (or the next or ... you get the point). Is this normal Kenzai? Is this because of all the 🍎 🍌 🍳& 😴 ?

🤔

As I've said in previous posts, I know my form is good - this ain't my first rodeo - and I work till I drop on every set. My muscles, especially my legs, are very "tired," but in almost 40 days I don't think I've ever really been "sore." Definitely not that post-weights sore, and I'm even working some weights in now on top of the regular Kenzai workout.

This reminds me of after college, when you first start making money and enjoying superior quality adult beverages (i.e. just say "no" to anything with Cuervo, or worse, Montezuma! Have some class, man!) and my buddies and I would all drink (and drink and - again, I'm sure you get the point) but the next day, magic! no hangover! Awesome!

So if this is just me I'm going to be really worried that I'm doing something wrong.


I'll keep this one simple, two things -

1. rubber bands. Big ones. Big ones with handles. Hate 'em. Well, I don't hate them, they're great for on the go or in a pinch. So much better than nothing. But then again, power yoga fits that bill too, and with even less equipment. You know why resistance bands are lucky they don't have an ass? Because free weights would kick it.

2. All the dishes from all the meals and snacks! I feel like the dishes never stop. Its madness.

Shocking how many things I'm NOT fed up with. The constant barrage and denial of temptations? The jump rope? Egg whites? Oh yeah, I'm fed up with egg whites too (and tossing yolks out!).

You know what all those extra egg yolks could be used for?

Butterscotch pudding. Mmmmmmm.


Yesterday was a good one... I finally hit 200 in a row, and didn't just sit back happy with that, I went and did it again! That's twice in one workout! 500-700, then 800-1000 were perfect sets. Amazing. Set a goal, focus, fight, and achieve!

I think I was hyped because I finally screwed the band this week. Ahem. What I mean there is that I started doing my workouts in the little gym by the pool in my community because there are a few exercises where I really don't like the way resistance bands work, and there's no replacement for real bars when you're doing dips. If I had my own choice, I would have skipped Kenzai Body and gone straight for Kenzai Iron or Kettleball!

I overdid it a bit on a few exercises, as I was excited to be back using plates and free weights so where I was waffling between using the 20's or the 25's, I went with the 25's every time, but in two days I've pretty much figured out the appropriate weights for where my body is at right now, so I will be more responsible going forward to avoid possibly overdoing it and thus possible injury and all the set-backs that would bring. Bands are great for travel or when you couldn't make it to the gym and I won't give up on them completely, but I definitely prefer free weights whenever available.

Definitely seeing some big changes starting to happen. After the big workouts the past two days I also slept 9 hours straight last night, which was a surprise. Its been a while since I've done that! I woke up thinking it was 6 or maybe 7, but it was 8 already! Must have built up a lot of muscles overnight!!! Looking forward to biceps at the gym today, and will likely put in a few additional sets again, as I have the past couple of days.

Rock on A-Team, change is in the wind.


Almost... not quite. One notch tighter is still just a tad too tight ... But my wristwatch is now down a notch so I'm clearly losing body fat all over. The love handles are still going strong, but I think those don't appear any better because they're now contrasted against everything else that is looking better. They must have shrunk a bit (there's positive (delusional?) thinking exemplified!). Add that up with the new board shorts I bought in April needing to be tied tight instead of having some spread, and the changes are clearly in the works!

I've been going for 200 straight skips this week but continue to fall short. 192 is my record. Yesterday I got 136, 121, then a mere 106. The last set was an extra one after the stretching just because I was angry I haven't hit 200 yet so I went for one last set. Fell way short.

In other "I'm a failure l" news (hahaha), I had a another beer last night. Crap. But damn it was good. But crap. Some days you just need a little relief. Maybe the extra 106 skips on the rope made up for that? Ah, more delusional thinking on display. Today will be better. Bigger, stronger, faster, the Six-Million Dollar Man (more accurately, men and women of Andromeda) in the making!

Fight On, Go A-Team, KENZAI!!!


Indulgence day...

Pale ale? IPA? Porter? Stout?

Vino? ? ?

WHISKY!!!

Winner winner chicken dinner! Wait, enough damn chicken dinners.

T-bone, salted nicely, seared and bloody rare! I'm going to feel awesome tomorrow!

It was fun pretending.


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Free-range organic chicken breast filet on Italian sandwich roll (a dense sourdough) with sun-ripened on the vine tomatoes and locally-grown red onions, and a fresh salt-free pesto spread. Accompanied by a side salad with organic extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette. The pesto spread, which has parmesan and another, secret cheese in it, totals less than 5g of a 500g meal. Its even better with avocado but I'm fresh outta those today! -$15 (hahaha)


This came from a post to a friend of mine who eats and drinks out 24/7. It may be useful to others so I'm reposting here just in case...

Here are a few tips to get you started in the kitchen:

General Tips:
1. Prepared (peeled, sliced etc) fruits at the market cost a lot more but will save a bunch of time in food prep, and time is a challenge with this program so cut where you can. Plus you can give pre-sliced fruits the smell test - if they don't smell great, they were probably not ripe etc. Buy 2-3 days' worth and put them in those Snap'lock boxes immediately when you get home in portions - those boxes are awesome at keeping stuff fresh so buy a few, see what sizes work best for you, then buy a bunch more of the right ones.
2. I wouldn't do the same with veggies because they dry out so buy those whole. These you'll have to prepare yourself. Watch a good youtube video on knife skills for proper handling and with the regular practice this program requires, you'll get really good within a month. Either Zwilling or Henkels has some good ones that run through different veggies and how to cut them.
3. Invest in a decent knife set and sharpener. If it costs less than $500 for a set of 5 knives its probably not worth it. If you spend more than that, you may well keep them for the rest of your life.
4. Get ready for a big market trip!

At the Market:
First off, go to the spice aisle if you don't have any of the following already, or they're more than one or two years old: Oregano, Thyme, Paprika, Chili Pepper, Cayenne, Cumin, and mixed peppercorns with a grinder on top. Any other spices you want to try will add to variety but these are the basis of many different kinds of food and are all Kenzai compliant.
Vinegars in order of importance: Red wine, balsamic, white wine, apple cider.
Good quality Extra Virgin olive oil for raw use.
Light olive oil for cooking with.
Real breads - sourdough, whole wheat, French / Italian country bread, etc. Slice into portions, box or ziplock, and freeze right when you get home, these will taste perfect defrosted even after weeks of storage.
A few different pastas - I'm partial to spaghettini, penne, bowties, and fusilli. Pasta is quick and easy carbs, and can be mixed with any stir-fry for a complete meal.
Garlic, limes / lemons. For garlic, I get the loose unpeeled ones, you can go pre-peeled but Youtube had videos on easy ways to peel and the flavor is better with fresh-peeled. Peeled do save time tho.
Tons of veggies you like. Get both leafy and solid / root veggies, and get various colors and shades.

Cooking Tips:
Salads
Lettuce is the base so buy a lot (again various colors and shades), even pre-washed will work and save time, but they'll be huge salads without end if you don't add some of these to get the weight up:
Tomatoes, bell peppers, radish, carrots, red or white onion (soak then drain sliced onions in water for a few minutes to take the edge off, improves flavor immensely), raw or lightly steamed veggies of any type you like.

Stir fry:
Easy to just roughly chop a 1-5 heads of garlic to taste, use light olive oil at a mid to mid-high heat (high heat ruins olive oil so if you see smoke its too hot, but veggies should sizzle when you toss them in), then add almost any veggies, particularly leafy ones like cabbage, bok choy, spinach, kale (various colors), but you can also, separately start with the same garlic and oil base and do hearty veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts etc. I usually start by heating the oil, then add the garlic, brown it a tad, then add in whatever prepared veggies I have, but you could put the garlic and veggies in at the same time if you want, especially if you're going to steam at the end. Stir while frying (that's why they call it "stir fry"!) until a little brown shows up on the edges, taste test to see if they're done, and if not you can toss in a couple tablespoons of water, cover the pan with its top, then turn the heat to mid-low and steam for a few extra minutes to cook them through. Cracked pepper and one or two spices can be sprinkled on top at the end. Lots of weight here and will be easy to meet the portion requirements. These don't taste so good cold tho, so stick to breakfast and dinner for the stir-fry.

Potatoes, especially mashed ones, are an easy way to get the veggie weights in, and keep for 3-5 days in the fridge. Wash, peel if you want, slice into thirds (by weight not inches), put in a pot, cover with one inch of water above the highest potato point, then cook on the stove top on medium heat. By the time it boils (20-25 minutes or so) they are likely done, or very close to done. Stick a sharp knife into the middle of a chunk or two to check. There should be some resistance, but not a lot. If still hard, they're not done yet, your heat is too low, turn it up a notch and try that same heat next time. Once they're done, strain out the water, add some olive oil (less is better in the beginning, you can always add more) and any combination of the spices (rosemary is great for potatoes too) but again, I almost always add cracked pepper and paprika. These are ok hot or cold so you can take these along to work.

Basic Dressings:
A few tablespoons of olive oil for a big salad, plus a few dashes of the various vinegars to your own taste, basically used in proportion to the order I put them in - most red wine, least apple cider. Use in different combinations for variety. This is the base. You can soak a half a clove of garlic in this base for additional flavor, but don't put that in your salad. Add at least one or two of the seasonings listed above each time for different flavors. I use paprika and black pepper always, with some other flavors added in. Cayenne will give you a spicy salad, oregano and thyme will give an Italian flavor, etc. Squeeze in some lime occasionally (especially with chili pepper and cumin for a Mexican flavor). Mix it up! These same rules apply to meat marinades. I like to add a little apple cider vinegar to my Mexican marinades, but otherwise don't usually put vinegar in any meat marinades.

Chicken breasts:
Buy boneless breasts then slice them in half down the middle the long way so you have two almost identical filets, or have the butcher do this - this takes some skill and a really sharp carving knife. Make a couple marinades in separate stainless steel or pyrex (glass) bowls with olive oil and any mixture of the spices above, but some simple suggestions are paprika and pepper (always) plus either thyme and oregano, sage, marjoram, or rosemary (italian), or cumin, chile pepper, oregano and cayenne (mexican) (see a pattern here?). You'll get the hang of it quickly. Let those sit for a while on the counter if an hour or less, or in the fridge.

To cook, grill, fry in light olive oil, or broil, at medium high heat for 6-7 minutes (always pre-heat whether grill, toaster oven, or pan) depending on the thickness. If they came out dry, temp was too high, and if there's any pink in the middle it was too low. Let chicken sit on your plate (while you get everything else together) for 3 minutes after you're done cooking before you eat or slice to allow the juices to reabsorb or it will feel dry. If you're eating the chicken and find there's not enough flavor add more right on top, and add more to the marinade next time. Use these on pasta, in sandwiches, stir fry, etc - anywhere.

I do 8 breasts on Sunday morning, which after filleting turns out to 16 portions. Marinate them overnight, or even up to a few days, cook them all at once, put a few in boxes in the fridge and a bunch wrapped individually in foil in the freezer, and they last all week. If you are going to cook them same day you marinate (i.e. Sunday), you can add minced garlic and a ¼ to ½ lime, and / or vinegar to each bowl to add flavor in a short amount of time, but don't leave lemon or garlic in a marinade for more than an hour for lemon, a few hours for garlic.

If you've never cooked before and follow these instructions you'll be well on your way. You're cooking for yourself here so use the spices you like, even those not included on this list. Cardamom and turmeric are a couple others that go well together and can create more middle-eastern / south asian flavors. Add cumin to make more ME-Med flavors. Don't be afraid of the occasional failure, that's how we learn!

A final note, take it or leave it as you wish. Kenzai requires we keep oils to a minimum, but olive oil has a lot of good stuff in it so stick to that, and try to minimize it to stay within the dietary guidelines. Frankly, I don't really believe in this limitation, but then I've been eating healthy for most of my life so maybe others need to be told. I think you should eat as much high quality fresh extra virgin olive oil as you can handle. Its good for you, it fills you up, and its fats satiate you - with good fats that our body needs. It will improve your skin, finger nails, and hair if you eat a lot. But you're not paying me for any advice and I haven't built a successful program around my diet so what do I know!?


While the leg circles were a new form of torture to me, the workouts are nothing compared to the challenge of the food packing going on here. With our December completion date, I feel like I'm going to be playing Santa Claus this year!

"Ho Ho Ho! You'd better be good boys and girls, Santa is watching your Kenzai blogs and knows if you've been good or bad!"

Hahaha.

Seriously, I honestly can't even imagine going downstairs for breakfast today. I'll do my best. Breakfast the past couple days has been an 🥑 with 🍋 , 🍞, and 🍳 🍳

Need to change things up but veggies for breakfast has always been a foreign concept to me. What else would I eat for a breakfast veggie? Normally I just have fruit and yogurt, maybe a little granola sprinkled on top. Maybe I should switch the breakfast and morning snack order? No, then I'll be too full at lunchtime - I already am as it is. Oh woe is me!

Hope everyone is doing better with the food than I am. Rock on A-Team!


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