Memorial Day Reflection

May 25th, 2015: 0030 hours

American Flag

May 23rd, 2015: 0935 hours

I just want to stop. The second mile of this hell is the hardest single mile I’ve ever run. My lungs struggling, my legs are burning, and my brain is screaming at me to quit. But I can’t. I absolutely cannot quit. Because he didn’t. Because they didn’t. Because I won’t quit when it’s my time.

Saturday May 23rd, 2015 — 0900 hours:

My wife, a fellow police officer, and I are in my garage. I’ve started the music and my wife prepares the clock. We are about to begin “Murph.” It is the quintessential Memorial Day workout: one mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 body squats, one mile run. It is a mammoth of a workout. As prescribed it is done with a 20lb weighted vest. I’ve never met anyone in person who has done it prescribed. I’ve met few who can actually do all the movements without scaling to some degree. It’s fucking hard. But it’s important.

“Murph” was Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy of the United States Navy. Murphy was only the third serviceman to receive the Medal of Honor since President Bush sent troops to Afghanistan in 2001. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on June 28th, 2005. On that fateful day, Murphy led a four-man SEAL team into the Hindu-Kush Mountains in Afghanistan, tasked with capturing or killing a high-value Taliban target. Three of the four team members, including Murphy, were killed after being ambushed by overwhelming Taliban forces. The team killed an estimated 30-40 enemy fighters and inflicted an estimated 80 casualties. Murphy, despite severely critical and eventually fatal injuries, fought to high ground to call for help from the only spot his radio could get out (Navy Seals). He fought until his last breath and died with his selector switch on fire and surrounded by a pile of brass. He was a warrior. He was the warrior. He was what all of us warriors should strive to be.

I started as a police officer in August of 2012. I was trained how to fight. I was shown how to train. I experienced the camaraderie and true brotherhood (I’m not forgetting my sisters) of the Thin Blue Line. But every time I read a story about an officer dying or being killed, my heart breaks. Unlike the general population, I know that each and every one of us who wears a badge has a heart, a mind, and a family. My heart bleeds blue for the survivors. The hurt I felt while struggling through “Murph” doesn’t even touch the pain I feel at a police officer’s funeral. Because of that I promise something to every warrior out there:

I will not quit. When God decides it’s my time, fine, but I’m not making it easy on him. Everyone who stands on the line with me will get the best warrior I can be. And I will fight until my last breath. For my family, for you, for your family, and for everyone on the Officer Down Memorial Page, I will fight. I will train to be the baddest I can be. I will not let my training or physical fitness be a liability. My spirit will not wane. I love every one of my brothers and sisters, and I will fight beside them until the end. The Good Lord will drag me kicking and screaming from this world.

Take a moment this holiday and every Memorial Day that follows and consider what some have given. What we may be asked to give. I will gladly give all for all of you.

Quote of the Day:

“All gave some; some gave all.” – Howard William Osterkamp

Macros Part I: Brotein – The Building Blocks of Your Performance and Gains

May 24th, 2015: 2200 hours

I told you that a post on macro-nutrients was coming. But the more I researched, the more I realized that a single post on protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber would be monstrous and damn near impossible to read. Therefore, I am introducing a series of posts on macros. Part I is on, what I consider to be, the most important macro-nutrient — protein.

If you told me that you would only track your intake of one macro and asked me which one to use, I would, without hesitation, tell you to track your protein. Two main reasons exist for my conviction on this point: no other nutrient plays a bigger part in muscle-building (i.e. your performance) and there’s a pretty good chance that if you are trying to get more muscle, you aren’t eating enough protein.

It’s common knowledge that protein is the main player in tissue repair. For example, Mongo lifts heavy-ass weight. This workout causes Mongo’s muscles to tear. The body uses protein to repair the muscle tears. Mongo’s body is smart though. It realizes that it needs to improve to meet the increasing demands put on it by Mongo’s workload (i.e. weightlifting). The body will build Mongo’s damaged muscles bigger and better than they were before in order to meet a potential increase in workload. But Mongo needs to make sure he eats the right foods in the right amounts to help his body.

Your body is really fucking good at repairing and building itself. There are eleven Amino Acids (building blocks for protein) that your body makes naturally. If all you did was eat some food and lift weight, you would get stronger. That’s pretty good. But there are nine other Amino Acids that your body can’t make — you have to get them through your diet (Nerd Fitness).

Dietary protein, like all good things in life, varies wildly in quality. Ice Cream actually has a lot of protein, but you wouldn’t want to make a diet out of it. Well, you might want to, but you know can’t and maintain performance and/or any appearance standards. So what’s the short list of quality protein sources? Everything PETA screams about — chicken meat and eggs, beef, and pork are the three main staples used here in the Midwest. If you are in an area with fresh fish available, eat the hell out of it if you like it. If you don’t like it, grow up and learn to like it. Fish is ounce-per-ounce (only The Rock eats meat in pounds at a time) the best source of protein when you consider calories and fats. Fish has fats you need (don’t worry, Fat is the next part in this series). Eat animals. They are tasty and nutritious. If you are a vegetarian, honestly, find another blog. I don’t hold anything against you, but I don’t, currently, have the knowledge to help you. Some day I will.

So how much protein do you need a day? This is an ongoing debate among the health and fitness community. The Center for Disease Control says an adult female needs 46 grams a day and an adult male needs 56 grams per day (CDC). The CDC is definitely a credible source, but we have one problem: the CDC cares about survival, not performance. The 56 gram estimate is an absolute minimum for your body to function correctly. I’m looking for better than that. I’m looking for the amount of protein that will add muscle to your frame and increase your performance. For better or worse, we turn to a lot of Broscience on this point.

There are massively ranging estimates, as you can imagine, when you turn to bros for official numbers on anything, let alone science. The general trend in Broscience seems to be between one gram of protein per pound of lean body weight and one gram per pound of body weight. My body weight is in the neighborhood of 300 lbs. My lean body weight is in the neighborhood of 210 lbs. Depending on who you ask in the bro community, I should be eating either 210 grams of protein or 300 grams of protein daily.

There are more reputable sources who advocate along these two lines of thought. Eat to Perform is a website and company based around eating to fuel performance and workouts (hence, the name). They advocate eating one gram per pound (ETP), but they also state that larger individuals may want to consider lean mass instead. Two other reputable sources are Nerd Fitness and Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple, both are research based and very knowledgeable. Both of these two advise eating one gram per pound of lean body mass (Nerd Fitness, MDA). Which one is correct? I don’t know that one is better than the other. Depends on your goals. As law enforcement officers, we need to treat our bodies like athletes and both of these options are suitable. I personally follow the one gram per pound of lean body mass guideline. For now.

Since I’ve increased my protein intake, I recover from workouts faster, and I am noticeably stronger (though the my weight program obviously affects this). The main takeaway here is to track your protein and see what your daily intake is. If you have never used MyFitnessPal or any other tracker, don’t let it overwhelm you. Start slow. Just focus on protein for now, and we can work the other macros after we get protein under control.

Eat animals. Lift weights. Happy hunting.

Workout for May 23rd:

Murph–

  • Run one mile
  • 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 body squats (broken up as needed)
  • Run one mile

A reflection post on Murph and Memorial Day is coming right after this one.

Quote of the Day:

“I do what I do because it is the right thing to do. I am a warrior and, and it is the way of the warrior to fight superior odds” – Paul Watson.

Nutrition – The Elephant in the Room

May 6th, 2015: 0200 hours

Warning: This is a longer post and has a fair amount of nerdy, science shit. If you are into the science, please continue. If not, there is a tl;dr section at the bottom (too long; didn’t read). Also, after I undertook tackling nutrition, I realized that this is too broad and deep a subject for one post. More posts on individual subjects within nutrition are coming. This is very introductory.

Nutrition is simultaneously the single-most important and the single-least understood facet of physical fitness. It’s impossible to outrun, outfight, or outwork your plate. My research is scientifically based so let’s check some numbers, shall we?

There are 3,500 calories in a pound. Therefore, if you want to lose/gain a pound in a week, you must burn/earn 3,500 calories than you ingest. If you eat 500 calories less/more per day than you burn, you burn/earn a pound a week (7 days x -500 cal/day = -3,500 calories). That’s the simple version. No matter how you eat, if you burn 3,500 calories more/less than you ingest over whatever period of time, you lose/gain a pound. How do we burn fat and not muscle? I’ll get into that in a future article. For now, this is introductory based on getting smaller or bigger, depending on your goals.

Let’s start with the first step of this equation — how do I burn/earn 500 extra calories a day? Simply put, the two venues are diet or exercise.

First, we must figure out how many calories you burn in a day just being you. There are two lines of thought here. The first is that by calculating your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories you burn by simply existing in your current state on this Earth — in your day-to-day activities, this is how many calories you burn. Here is a link to a calculator, but, honestly, just Google it and you can find a calculator with ease. I pimped the calculator for MyFItnesPal because that is the site I use for food logging. We’ll cover that in a second, too (seriously, this is a really long read — tl;dr section at the bottom).

(Note: I’m tired of using slashes for losing/gaining weight. This article will be written from the perspective of trying to lose weight. If you are trying to gain, a lot of the same principles apply — just reversed.)

Once you have your daily BMR, you have a starting point. Subtract 500 calories from that number, and you have a daily goal for a weight loss. You can achieve that through diet or exercise. Using a site like MyFitnessPalyou can see how much you eat every day and what your calorie count is. Quick prediction: most of you eat more calories than you think. Track every single bit of every single thing you eat every day for a few days. If you don’t want to track long term, fine, but people generally have more success when they track. Do it for a few days just to get a general picture.

Once you have determined how much you eat every day, subtract 500 calories. Eat at that level for a few weeks until you can eat less and less until you reach 500 calories under your BMR. At that point, you will see weight loss in the realm of one pound per week. Some people can go from 4,000 calories per day to 1,800 overnight through sheer willpower. God bless those people. That shit sucks. That shit is super difficult. If you don’t have the willpower of a badger, stick to the longer-term approach I listed above.

The second train of thought regarding your starting point revolves around Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). The actual term TDEE belongs to Eat to Perform. Their calculator is here. Eat to Perform has a great explanation of TDEE on their site, but for those of you who hate science/reading, here is the summary: Your body burns more than your BMR on a day-to-day basis. Carrying laundry down the stairs, picking children off the floor, and mowing the lawn all impact your daily calorie burn outside of BMR. This is especially true for athletes and/or people who work out frequently and/or super intensely. TDEE is a number that may more accurately reflect your daily calorie burn.

The same process for losing weight from TDEE applies as BMR — eat less than TDEE and you lose weight. The theory is different and if you actually want to understand the science, Google is your friend.

A picture of LEOs winning for a mental break:

Want to be fit yet?

Method 2: Exercise.

It’s important to note that exercising for more calories only really works for losing weight. You can’t exercise more calories into gaining weight — kind of. The type of exercise matters. Yet again, we’ll get to that later (a post on exercise is coming).

In order to burn an extra 500 calories a day, you could exercise enough to burn those calories. But burning a high number of calories through exercise is tougher than you think. Possible? Certainly. Suck ass? No doubt. From the Mayo Clinicwhat I consider a reputable source, you can see a table showing 1-hour blocks of various exercises and the calories burned. The table also shows weight classes for the individual performing the exercise. Click the damn link, it’s good information.

As you can see from the table, it’s not an easy task to burn 500 calories every day through exercise alone. Think you can manage that activity level? Be my guest. Just understand it’s, generally, easier to do it through food.

Another mental break:

If you don’t want to be fit yet, turn in your badge.

So what should you eat?

Basic principles of your diet:

  1. Vegetables.
  2. Vegetables.
  3. Vegetables.
  4. Umm… Vegatables.
  5. Meat.
  6. Fruits.
  7. Some dairy.
  8. Small amount of whole grains.
  9. Fuck processed (i.e. pop, candy, chips, etc. The crap you already know you shouldn’t eat.)

I’m a firm believer in the 80/20 priniciple: eat quality 80% and eat your snickers and pizza 20% of the time. Hate to break it to you, Coppers, but you probably need to cut down on your alcohol intake. You probably already know that. Weight lifting is a better therapist than Jack Daniels or Bud Light (or his filthy cousin, Busch Light). Eat mostly vegetables and meat with some fruit and a little of everything else. A stand-alone post on macro nutrients is coming down the pipe (talk about a rabbit hole you can’t get out of), so be patient on advice regarding your protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake.

Summary — TL;DR:

  1. Find your BMR or TDEE and start subtracting/adding calories as your goals desire.
  2. Diet makes up the majority of your fitness success/failure.
  3. Eat real food — more vegetables and meat. Less pop and straight shit.

Final feel good for the post:

Glorious.

Workout for 5/6/2015:

  1. Front Squat 5×5
  2. Bench Press 5×5
  3. Bent-Over Row 5×5

Quote of the Day:

“My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect our world and make it a better place – police, firefighters, and members of our armed forces” — Sidney Sheldon.

Prayers to the families of the officers who were killed in the line of duty this past week. We all bleed blue for you.