Long story short, I’m trying to put on a little bit of useful weight. Skip to the bottom for the delicious recepie I’m using to jam breakfast back into my mornings.
Unfortunately, I’m not bulking up just for the hell of it. In order to continue being competitive in higher level jiu-jitsu competitions, I need to be stronger than I am.
As it turns out, this is harder do than I thought. First of all, getting strong hurts. A lot. Which doesn’t make training jiu-jitsu any easier either.
In spite of the pain, I’ve just started the Stronglifts 5×5 workout program. A number of muscly people I trust have reccomended it as a good starting point for building the type of strength required for jiu-jitsu.
The program consists of two alternating body weight workouts, each comprised of compound free weight exercises with the intent of progressive overload.
If that was gibberish to you (like it was to me a few weeks ago), what this means is that the program has you switch between two workouts which don’t involve any machines or special equiptment. You show up, lift free weights and progressively add a tiny bit more weight each session until you can no longer complete 5 reps at a given weight in an exercise.
Avoiding machines at the gym and focussing on free weights means there is a whole lot more balance and posture involved in the lifts. Because Each exercise activates (and agitates) a big portion of your body, so you have to focus on keeping your whole body activated throughout each lift, and need to focus on less total exercises to get results.
I’ve never been one to get motivated by superficial physical incentives. Muscles are nice, but if I were desperate for them I would have started going to the gym a long time ago.
I’m going to the gym primarily to hone the tools I take to war on the mats.
But what I’ve found out is that in order for all that work to mean anything on the mats, I need to pay a lot of attention to what I eat while I’m off them.
If I want to gain muscle mass, I need to be consuming roughly 4000 more kilojules than I’m used to eating every day and a large portion of that needs to be protein. At my current size, I’m simply not putting in enough food to offset all the energy I expend exercising. Which is a good problem to have. But still…
As someone mostly disinterested in the prospect of breakfast most mornings, this was a troublesome fact to uncover.
However, I think I’ve stumbled across something which is going to solve my problem; peanut butter protein shakes.
Luke’s Peanut Butter Protein Shake
1 cup rolled oats
2 scoops vanilla flavoured protein powder (whey or plant based)
2 table spoons 100% peanut butter
1 table spoon chia seeds
1 table spoon honey
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
2 cups milk of choice
The best thing about this recepie is that you can prepare it ahead of time.
Just put everything except the milk into a container or zip lock bag and pop it in the freezer. When you’re ready to have it, empty the contents of a container into your blender, add your milk and blitz away!
I’ve prepared a batch of these in advance, and am now looking forward to each morning when I get to slurp down a meal which feels like a treat, even though it’s a necessity.
In a letter to his daughter of 15 after her enrolment in high school, the great F.Scott Fitzgerald heralded some poignant advice to writers;
“Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one. If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter—as indissolubly as if they were conceived together.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
He argues that brilliant writing is original in both form and theme.
It’s not enough to have a story worth telling, nor is it enough to have mastered the technicalities of the craft.
The best storytellers find a way to execute both.
It’s not easy. But as Fitzgerald himself said later on in the same letter to his daughter,
What if instead of cataloguing your skills and achievements, your resume listed your weaknesses and failures?
This document is called a Failure Resume, or a CV of Failures. And it might be just what you need to do before you find your next success, or encourage those around you to find theirs.
The professor who popularised this idea explains it like this:
“Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible while the successes are visible.
I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days.”
A 2016 study showed that students who were exposed to their hero’s failures as well as their successes worked harder and got better results.
Failure is a natural part of all success.
Acknowledging this and tracking the lessons you’ve learnt from your stumbles can inform the things you might try to succeed or fail at next.
When the quantity of work required to achieve a planned outcome increases disproportionately to the resources you have available to achieve said outcomes, you have scope creep.
Scope creep is entirely common and can be absolutely paralysing, but is totally avoidable.
Scope Creep is often a product of poor planning.
Before commencing any project, you should have a clear list of specific tasks which need to be completed in order to achieve the outcome you’re working towards.
The specificity and tangibility of these tasks is directly related to how difficult it will be for scope to creep.
Vague goals generate vague tasks which lead to not much getting done.
Vagueness is the enemy of progress. Which is why we all have a friend who is still writing that ‘thing’ they have been working on and adapting for years. I have been that friend. In many ways, I still am that friend. But I’m working on it.
More specifically, I’m working on setting goals which are strategic, time sensitive, achievable and meaningful.