Awesome Workouts and Gaining Weight

Recorded on August 25th, 2010

Some good excerpts from T-Nation:

Is my workout awesome?

I live by two mottos: One is, if in doubt, squat and run hills. So you walk into the gym and don’t know what to do? Then squat and run hills. Have a shitty day at work and want to break someone’s neck but aren’t sure who’s? Then squat and run hills.

The other motto is: Is what I’m doing awesome? If I ask myself that and the answer is no, then I don’t do it.

So with conditioning, when faced with something like jogging on the treadmill, ask yourself first: is this awesome? When you see someone in the gym on a treadmill, do you go, “My God, that is so awesome!” No, you go, look at that poor dumb bastard, he probably just had a triple bypass or something. But hill sprinting? To me, that’s awesome.

Of course, geeks like to bust my chops with questions like, “How do I even know if something is awesome or not?” My answer is, if you’re so freaking unsure that you have to ask someone else for his or her opinion then the answer is it’s probably not the least bit awesome.

Date Tate on How to Gain Weight

There was a time at the Old Westside gym where I couldn’t gain weight to save my fucking life.

There was this dude who trained there who could just put on weight like fucking magic. He’d go from 198 to 308 and then to 275 and back down to 198. And he was never fat. It was amazing.

I finally asked him one day how he did it.

“You mean I never told you the secret to gaining weight? Come outside and I’ll fill you in.”

Now remember, we’re at Westside Barbell. And this guy wants to go outside to talk so no one else can hear. Think about that for a minute. What the hell is he going to tell me? This must be some serious shit if we have to go outside, I thought.

So we get outside and he starts talking.

“For breakfast you need to eat four of those breakfast sandwiches from McDonalds. I don’t care which ones you get, but make sure to get four. Order four hash browns, too. Now grab two packs of mayonnaise and put them on the hash browns and then slip them into the sandwiches. Squish that shit down and eat. That’s your breakfast.”

At this point I’m thinking this guy is nuts. But he’s completely serious.

“For lunch you’re gonna eat Chinese food. Now I don’t want you eating that crappy stuff. You wanna get the stuff with MSG. None of that non-MSG bullshit. I don’t care what you eat but you have to sit down and eat for at least 45 minutes straight. You can’t let go of the fork. Eat until your eyes swell up and become slits and you start to look like the woman behind the counter.”

“For dinner you’re gonna order an extra-large pizza with everything on it. Literally everything. If you don’t like sardines, don’t put ‘em on, but anything else that you like you have to load it on there. After you pay the delivery guy, I want you to take the pie to your coffee table, open that fucker up, and grab a bottle of oil. It can be olive oil, canola oil, whatever. Anything but motor oil. And I want you to pour that shit over the pie until half of the bottle is gone. Just soak the shit out of it.”

“Now before you lay into it, I want you to sit on your couch and just stare at that fucker. I want you to understand that that pizza right there is keeping you from your goals.

This guy is in a zen-like state when he’s talking about this.

“Now you’re on the clock,” he continues. “After 20 minutes your brain is going to tell you you’re full. Don’t listen to that shit. You have to try and eat as much of the pizza as you can before that 20-minute mark. Double up pieces if you have to. I’m telling you now, you’re going to get three or four pieces in and you’re gonna want to quit. You fucking can’t quit. You have to sit on that couch until every piece is done.

And if you can’t finish it, don’t you ever come back to me and tell me you can’t gain weight. ‘Cause I’m gonna tell you that you don’t give a fuck about getting bigger and you don’t care how much you lift!”

Did I do it? Hell yeah. Started the next day and did it for two months. Went from 260 pounds to 297 pounds. And I didn’t get much fatter. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, though.

Why Take Art Classes?

Recorded on July 2nd, 2010

I’ve been asked this a lot recently, I’m going to get all serious and philosophical to explain it :)

The short version – I have found that as you develop new skills and knowledge, your perception of the world around you changes and improves. And that’s what I’m striving for – an increased perception of the world around me – I want to see more and better, I don’t want to be blind.

The long version…

As a software engineer, when I use an application I can infer how it was built and how it works, what limits the designers and engineers had to work around, and the influence from other applications. I can appreciate the work that went into good applications, or the lack of work that went into bad. If I didn’t know how applications were created then I wouldn’t have such insight – I’d just know whether I liked it or not. But it’s not limited to just appreciation, but also the skill to be able to do it yourself…to know how you would start, how you would finish, and how to get from the start to the finish.

This same increased perception applies to everything – sports, dance, music, art, literature, engineering, etc. For me, I’ve always been interested in technical subjects, and I’ve tried my hand at many sports. I’ve read many books (but I’ve yet to write one), and I’ve tried playing an instrument. But my last attempts at art were a very long time ago, and I wanted to have that experience again as an adult. Figure drawing is just the start…other classes offered include portrait drawing, still life, and abstract drawing (capturing the essence of the subject).

That’s why I’m taking art classes – I want to learn to see how an artist sees. To be able to look at something and know how to capture the tones and shapes and life of the subject on paper, as well as understand the works of others.

This also means eventually I’ll have to tackle my lack of musical and dance abilities…but that’s for another time!

An Annoyingly Efficient Relevancy Engine

Recorded on July 1st, 2010

From Rands in Repose, the classic article The Nerd Handbook says:

Your nerd’s insatiable quest for information and The High has tweaked his brain in an interesting way. For any given piece of incoming information, your nerd is making a lightning fast assessment: relevant or not relevant? Relevance means that the incoming information fits into the system of things your nerd currently cares about.

I find myself doing this a lot. The distinction between nerds and normals can be striking, and to me this is the most painful difference in communication. Normals will include so much irrelevant information in their conversation it becomes mind-numbing. I know that they think they’re including relevant information, and to them these are important details, but when reduced to actionable items and related facts it is just static.

I’ve found this challenge goes in both directions too – when asked “How was your day?” or “Did you have a good at work?” they expect a detailed, blow-by-blow replay of everything that happened that day. Maybe I’m missing some gene, or my brain is wired differently, or I just don’t care that much, but do I really need to replay my daily life to you as a soap opera?

How do you compromise? Is there a polite way to say “get to the point” in a conversation? Is there a minimum response to “How was your day?” that’s more than saying “just another day at the office”? Perhaps there’s a way of explaining I just want the facts, please, and it’s not you but it’s me that’s different.