Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why Are So Many Vegetarians Still Fat?

Vegetarian and vegan diets are becoming more popular these days. Some people may choose these lifestyles due to personal taste, others due to consciousness of the treatment of animals at farms, others to join social bandwagons and feel "holier-than-thou", and others due to necessity. However, many people choose vegetarian or vegan diets in order to lose weight and slim down. If you fall into this latter category, then this article is just for you.

Aside from aging and genetic factors, there are few reasons why a person on a vegetarian diet should remain fat (or in some cases, get fatter). The problem is other lifestyle choices which make it hard to shed the pounds. Cutting meat alone will not guarantee weight-loss success, and in some cases (if you are not a conscientious objector to including meat in your diet), eating a portion of meat would be healthier than some of the choices that vegetarians make. Here are some lifestyle choices that you might want to reconsider if you are a vegetarian that is having a hard time slimming down:

Watch What You Drink

So you have cut meat out of your diet. Good for you, but are you sitting in coffee shops with the holier-than-thou hipster crowd? Are you sipping on fattening lattes? Sure, there isn't any meat in a latte, but they might still be loaded with empty calories (particularly with all of the extras). You may want to cut back on lattes, as well as soda, store-bought smoothies, and other sugar-filled drinks. Having one once in a while probably won't hurt too much, but if you make it an everyday habit, you probably won't be losing fat anytime soon.

There are 150 or more calories to make you fat in these.

Taste Makes Waste

Everyone likes food that tastes good, but some of our methods to make food taste good are not conducive to reaching our fitness goals. Broccoli smothered in cheese sauce, or carrots dipped in blackened ranch are 100% meat-free, but but those extra toppings add a tremendous amount of calories. Instead of adding all of the extras, try to find a way to mix vegetables together to make them suitable for your palate. If you cannot go without the extras, then try to find low-fat alternatives, or experiment with recipes of your own so you will know exactly what you will be consuming.


Lack of Protein

It is important to make sure that you are getting the right amount of protein, especially if you are trying to build muscle. Protein increases your metabolism since your body has to burn more calories digesting it. This includes non-meat sources of protein such as nuts or beans. Protein is also important in building and maintaining muscle, and as you may know, muscle mass increases one's metabolic rate, even when at rest. Finally, protein can help to reduce the feeling of hunger more effectively than carbohydrates, which can reduce the desire to overeat.

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

If you want to lose weight, you are going to have to get on a caloric deficit. This means that you must burn more calories than you take in. If you cannot do this with diet alone, then you will have to exercise to burn off those excess calories. Exercise can also help you to build muscle, which makes it easier to keep the fat off due to the increase in metabolism that muscle provides, as previously stated.

Whether you are a meat-eater or not, basic lifestyle changes will be necessary if you are serious about losing weight. Eating vegetables just to brag to your friends and feel smug is the same as going to the gym without getting on a treadmill or picking up a single weight, and will not get you the results that you desire.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gym Experiences in China Part 3

In my previous posts, I talked about some the things that I enjoyed about going to the gym in China, and some of the people that I encountered there. Of course, not everything was peachy keen. In this blog entry, I will talk about thing that I did not particularly care for.

The Music

If you thought that Top 40 or Justin Bieber are bad to lift to, you will thank whatever deity you worship for those musical choices should you choose to workout in China (at least at the gym that I went to). The music that they played did not get the blood pumping at all, and would be more suitable for a Chinese soap opera, or during a post-workout massage. To make matters worse, the bros working out often sang along off-key as they lifted. Although my stance on bringing a music player to the gym has not changed over the years, I was tempted to bring my phone just to play some Metallica, Disturbed, or Marvin Gaye (the latter of which would be appropriate in the presence of that hot PT from part two).

The Lack of Cleanliness

Compared to most places in the U.S.A. that I have been to, Japan, and Taiwan, Mainland China generally does not live up to the standards of cleanliness that I am accustomed to. When hitting the gym, especially in the hot, humid environment of Guangzhou, I expect there to be sweat. Unfortunately, there were no spray bottles of sanitizer to wipe down equipment after someone just left a puddle of sweat on them. Luckily for me, the gym provided towels, so I used theirs to wipe up sweat, and my own to wipe sweat from my body.

The Hours of Operation

I like to workout early in the morning before I go to work, so I usually hit the gym around five in the morning, come home, shower, get my protein, then head off to work. The gym that I went to, as well as most of the other gyms in the area, opened at 9:00 and closed at 22:00. I would be forced to go after work, but if I had found a job in Guangzhou with the same schedule that I worked in Xi'an, I would have been confined to hitting the gym on my days off. The upside to this was that the gym was pretty much empty when I went, allowing me to rotate around the equipment without having to wait for others.


If you want to read about my overall experience at my Chinese gym, then click here, and if you want to read about the denizens of the gym that I went to, then check out this post.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Gym Experiences in China Part 2

In the first part of my series about my gym experiences in China, I talked about the overall atmosphere in the gym. In this episode, I will talk about some of the people that I encountered there.

 Most foreigners that talk about working out in China claim that Chinese men only show up to save face and do not actually touch the weights much (similar to the overweight American she-cows that wonder why they stay fat despite spending hours yapping on their phones at the gym). My observations ran contrary to the anecdotes of other foreigners, however. The Chinese dudes that I met in the gym didn't have physiques like Arnold Schwarzenegger or CT Fletcher, but they were all about lifting and making gainz. Unlike many bros in the West, they weren't afraid of the squat rack either, and seemed to work legs more than upper body. Of course, I only hit a few gyms in one city, and one of the bros told me that Guangzhou has one of the best fitness cultures in all of China. He was probably just trying to "rep his city", but given what I saw in the few cities that I've been to and what I've read online, I can kind of believe him. Maybe the guys in Shanghai just sit around on the equipment all day waiting for results.

The ladies at the gym were especially tempting. In China, ladies want to remain feminine, so they usually don't lift heavy weights or do strenuous exercises like some women in America do; most of them didn't seem to need to either. One of my fondest memories from the Middle Kingdom was a delicious-looking female personal trainer that would flirt with me every time I saw her at the gym. Unfortunately, I only knew a few words in Chinese and couldn't converse, but that did not stop her from trying.

Being the only foreigner in a Chinese gym made me a pseudo-celebrity too. I would get stares and lots of thumbs up or comments about my "good muscle". Although I am likely half of his size, I felt like I was as big as Kali Muscle at the gym in China. This was a bit of an annoyance though because people would try to strike up conversations with me in the middle of sets. Meeting kind people in a foreign country is cool, but when I'm in the middle of a set I want to focus on putting up that weight. Oh well, I can't complain too much, or can I? In the next episode, I'll talk about things that I did not like about the gym in China.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Can Taking a Good Dump Alter Your Mind and Body?

When I was but a wee lad, I went to a petting zoo at the county fair. I recall that the goats, pigs, calves, (I don't quite remember all of the animals that they had, maybe seals or something) all came up to me, eager to be petted. There was only one animal in the bunch that did not seem to want to be bothered: a mallard duck.

Every time I tried to approach the duck, it would angrily quack and run away from me. This behavior continued until it released a huge pile of feces. The duck then ran up to me, wanting to be petted along with the rest of its cohorts. Of course, I didn't want to pet the duck anymore after it dropped a deuce, but this episode shows that having a clear digestive tract can alter mood (either that or the duck was trained well enough not to poo on customers).

Personally, I feel much better after voiding my bowels. Having lots of festering food stuck in my intestines causes me to feel sluggish, and in many cases, aggravated. After releasing, I am ready to take on the world once more with increased jubilation. This is why it is important to drink plenty of water and increase fiber intake to cleanse our colons. Not only will we improve our outlook and energy level, but we also decrease the risk of digestive disorders such as cancer or Crohn's disease.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gym Experiences in China Part 1

I'm back in America, and one of the things that I missed about being in the States is my local gym. I've been back at it for about two weeks now, and I'm getting much of my strength and muscle mass back. For the time being, I am on a four-day split, but I hope to get back to a five-day split by the end of next month if my schedule allows it.

Of the three cities that I went to in China, Guangzhou probably has the best gym culture. I visited three different gyms in the Panyu District of Guangzhou, and they all had decent rates and equipment. Unfortunately, the names were all in Chinese or Chinglish, and I didn't note the addresses (I just memorized landmarks in the areas to walk there).

The first gym was about five minutes away from the hotel that I was staying at (assuming lulls in traffic which would allow me to cross the street). It was on the fifth floor of a shopping complex that included a grocery store, so one could effectively pick up their post-workout meals right after lifting. This facility was easily the best of the three, and had redundant weight machines, dumbbells up to 70 kg (that's a bit over 150 pounds), loads of treadmills and other cardio machines, heavy bags, and a boxing ring. This gym really appealed to me because I wanted to get into boxing overseas. Unfortunately, I seemed to be the only person into boxing when I was there, so that didn't become a reality. This gym was the most expensive to purchase a weekly membership at, but had I stayed for a year, I could have gotten in on a special which would have made it the cheapest.

The other two gyms that I visited were in the Panyu Friendship Square shopping center. Both of these gyms were smaller, but had an atmosphere that would appeal to people that are in the gym to do some serious lifting. Dumbbells went up to 100 kg (about 220 pounds; nobody touched these), and the machines, while old, were efficient. one of these gyms was about twice as expensive as the other, and all that they had on the cheaper gym was more treadmills and a single heavy bag. I opted for the cheaper gym at 200 RMB per week (yes, I know, your boy probably got cheated on that one).

This gym did not have air conditioning, so it was almost like working out in a sauna. The humid Guangzhou air made me sweat bullets after the first set. The atmosphere was almost like a dungeon as well due to the dim lights. Some people like dim lights at the gym, but I am used to having a brighter lighting scheme. This doesn't really bother me either way, as long as I can see what I'm doing, but it was a change.

Next time I will talk about some of the characters that I encountered and interacted with at the gym. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

10 Days a (Pseudo) Vegan in Taiwan

As you know if you have been following my other blog (that's right, all two of you), then you know that I have recently returned from a trip to China and Taiwan. By the time that I got to Taiwan, I had lost a lot of weight, and I was not in prime health. This is probably due to the air, the lack of exercise, and of course, the food. As delicious as the food tasted, it did not agree with my digestive tract all of the time.

After bidding farewell to Mainland, I spent about a week and a half with a good friend of mine in Taiwan. Since I wasn't in a position to complain, I adhered to a semi-vegan diet, given that my friend lives a vegan lifestyle. At first, I was skeptical that I would get enough macros to maintain an adequate level of energy, but I was surprised that I felt much more energetic eating little to no meat versus eating huge plates of beef or chicken. I felt much cleaner, and I bounced back from my sickness much quicker than I would with a meat-heavy diet.

Now, I did not do much physical exercise in Taiwan other than swimming, so I can't say that I would be able to lift on the diet that I enjoyed in Taiwan, but overall, I felt much healthier. Now that I am back in the States, meat is back on my plates, but I have been eating less of it and more fruits and vegetables. I probably won't bulk back up as quickly, but overall I feel more energetic, healthier, and cleaner, so it works out for the better. If I don't have the energy to hit the gym because I have a half-digested steak festering in my colon, then that protein doesn't go to making gainz (not muscular, at least), thus, it is a good trade-off.

I might go vegan for a week every two months to detoxify my digestive tract. Maybe I'll incorporate the vegan diet into my bulking and cutting cycles. I'll have to do more research on protein sources and recipes, but in reality, eating vegan (at least the way my friend does) can even be cost and time-effective too since one can just eat raw foods.

If I proceed with this dietary plan, I'll be sure to keep an account here.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Early Morning Non-Stop Workout

I decided to train shoulders and abs with a friend of mine that hits the gym right when it opens at 5:00 AM. I have been trying to reduce my resting periods in my exercise routines. For instance, if I am doing shoulder presses, I'll do my reps, then instead of sitting around for a moment like I used to, I will place a mat on the floor and I might do leg raises for thirty seconds to hit the abs, then get back in the chair and do another set of shoulder presses. This has helped me to condition myself without spending too much time doing cardio (not advocating people to skip cardio at all; I just prefer not to do it at the gym personally), and I am able to use my time at the gym more efficiently given my busy schedule.

Today was a bit different. My friend also likes to train without taking breaks in between sets, but rather than switching the targeted muscle like I do, he likes to train in a circuit, doing exercises that all hit the same muscle group back to back. Today, we did fours circuit of shoulder presses, shrugs, overhead dumbbell raises, lateral dumbbell raises, standing barbell rows, and cable raises. The only rest that we got was the time that it took to move on to the next station. About three-fourths of the way through the first circuit, I felt like I could not go on, but I pushed myself to at least do half of each set with no rest.

To finish things up, we did two circuits for abs. Each circuit consisted of thirty crunches, thirty leg raises, thirty flutter kicks, thirty bridges (also known as butt-raises), and thirty side twists with a ten-pound plate to hit the obliques. in these two circuit, I hit my three hundred reps that I like to do for abs during each workout, but since it was non-stop, it felt much more effective (or at least it made me feel sore much sooner).

I am certainly not at my friend's level yet, but maybe I will be with enough consistency. This type of workout plan seems excellent for building endurance as well as mental toughness, and will be of great value if and when I do get in the ring.