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The Weekly Thing 12/4

I mentioned in my last post that it’s way important to not be a glass jaw when it comes to stepping up your game after falling off the wagon for the holidays. Did any of you fall off of said wagon? I’ll be the first to tell you that not only did I fall but I fell hard – like extra hard.

After spending more than a week with my parents for Thanksgiving, mom and I were at a grocery store when we passed their bakery.

Mom: Ooh, let me show you their cheesecakes!

Me: Okay.

Mom takes me over to the glass case where strawberry, raspberry and caramel cheesecakes are sliced in monstrous, Cheesecake Factory-sized servings.

Do you want one?

What? No! Hell no, even!

Up until then I had eaten my weight in turkey and ham, had completely pigged out on barbecue one night, had eaten mom’s homemade biscuits and gravy, had a ton of fast food, had eaten a whole box of eggnog cake rolls and had basically eaten half a red velvet cake. An enormous piece of cheesecake was the last thing I needed on this trip.

Oh, come on!

I don’t want it.

Well, I was hoping you’d say you wanted one. That way I could justify getting me and Chuck a piece, too!

Guilt, y’all.

Okay, let’s get one.

Alright! What kind do you want?

I went with strawberry but we ended up with a slice of all three. Later that night, after filling up on mom’s spaghetti and bread, mom asked me if I wanted to take two or three bites out of my cheesecake. I said sure.

…and I’d like to let you know that I ate the whole damn thing.

Anyway, I’m back in Knoxville and back to my routine. I’ve got five days to feel better about my health so I’m hitting it hard with a brand new meal plan from Clean Eatz and with the conclusion of my current vertical stack. Here’s what this week looks like:

  • Monday: 5:45am Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club, Evening Strength Training:
    • Heavy back, bis and shoulders
    • Medium Legs
    • Light Chest and Tris
  • Tuesday: Morning MMA Cardio, Evening Strength Training:
    • Heavy legs
    • Medium Chest and Tris
    • Light Back, Bis and Shoulders
  • Wednesday: Morning Boxing Cardio, 7:00pm Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Thursday: Morning MMA Cardio, Evening Strength Training:
    • Heavy Chest and Tris
    • Medium Back, Bis and Shoulders
    • Light Legs
  • Friday: 5:45 am Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Saturday: TBD*
  • Sunday: TBD*

*I’m going to be traveling for a little more than a week but intend to use bodyweight exercises and hotel gyms to get my workouts in. I also hope to document these as part of a larger project I’m working on that I hope to share when I return.


Before I get out of here today I want to give a big shoutout to XCellerated Fitness in Kingsport, TN. This was my gym home while visiting family for Thanksgiving and they gave me a great outlet to pump out a lot of aggression, depression and sugary processed foods. The gym seems to lend itself more toward the power lifters and people that are even bigger meatheads than me, but the facility is nice if you’re looking to stay on track (sort-of) while traveling. Give ’em a go if you’re in town!

This is what you look like when you work out there. Could be motivational, could also convince you to go somewhere else, I dunno…

Friday Fitness Finds 11/17

Thanksgiving is basically here, man. A week from this very moment, most of y’all will have already hit the Turkey Day leftovers several times and maybe gotten into a fist fight over a new TV at Best Buy. I hope to do at least some of that if not all of it and if you’re lucky enough to have done both, then I admire your spirit! In the past, it was the Halloween season that really threw me off of my fitness and nutrition game — having less to do with candy and more to do with the convenience of fast food and other junk — but in the last few years I’ve been able to rein it in by the time Thanksgiving rolled around.

Statistically speaking* most people that lose their shit around the holidays stick with their lost shit until the end of the year, opting to instead pick out an ambitious resolution for the new year. I hope this isn’t you. If it’s not you, I hope you enjoy the below Fitness Finds for the week as well as the Thanksgiving holiday with your family. If it’s partially you — you’re struggling but you’re motivated and somewhat focused still — then I hope this keeps you focused or pushes you back on track in some way. If it’s totally you, however…Well…

*I can’t actually back these statistics up

Anyway, here’s this week’s stuff:

  • 21 Umamalicious Paleo Recipes for Mushroom Lovers from Jess via PaleoGrubs
    You guys see PaleoGrubs on here a lot and for good reason. The site, itself, is less of a food blog and more of a hub where great Paleo recipes from all around the web come together. I’m a big fan of mushrooms and this list has 21 amazing recipes I’m dying to try. I particularly have my eye on this Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin Roast with Mushroom Cream Sauce and this Rosemary Garlic Beef Roast with Wild Mushrooms.
  • Skillet Berry Crumble from Vicky via Tasteaholics
    Full disclosure: I got this recipe from a weekly Keto newsletter I get. I’m straight up about this fact only because I don’t have a favorable opinion of Keto. I’m not convinced about the nutritional science that supposedly supports it and, just on a personal level, I think it’s a diet made up by picky eaters. I’m a big fan of Paleo, though, and I know there’s a lot of back-and-forth regarding that particular philosophy as well (I don’t follow it religiously, of course). Anyway, is it Keto? Yes. Does it matter? Fuck no — it’s a macro-friendly berry crumble, for Christ’s sake!
  • Title Boxing Club Fosters Female Empowerment via Title Boxing Club
    It’s safe to say at least 75% of our members at Title Boxing Club Knoxville are women, and I think that’s RAD. And there’s a good reason for that! While what we do at Title is perfect for men and women alike, the environment we create for women and the specific benefits women can reap there are unmatched anywhere in the country as far as I’m concerned. This particular post doesn’t dive deep enough into this as I think it easily could, but it definitely gets the point across.
  • Gorilla Tank Top via Venum
    Somebody buy me this in a size L, plz.
  • TMNT Team Shredder Rashguard by Fusion Fightgear via MMA Warehouse
    Someone also buy me this. Also size L.
  • Stronger Things Design via FlexComics
    Don’t worry about getting me this because the special runs out at the end of the weekend so I’m getting it for myself. This time in size SWOLL.
  • This bit of advice from Good Fucking Design Advice:

Earlier I indicated that I didn’t know what to say to you if you fell into the “I’ve fallen off and can’t get back on” category. This isn’t true and y’all know better.

If Halloween got you off your nutrition game — that’s okay. If Thanksgiving makes you overeat — that’s okay. If the stress of Christmas makes you eat all the cookies, drink all the eggnog and skip all the gyms — that’s okay, too! Life happens. Sometimes it doesn’t just happen but it also punches you. Hard. But you have to take that punch and press forward. You have to be the heavyweight champion that we all know you are. Champions take a punch and move forward. Champions even take losses but keep moving toward their goal. They don’t give up. They don’t wait until Monday and they sure as hell don’t wait until the new year.

Giving up or putting your goals off strips you of your championship and labels you a glass jaw. If that’s what you want, more power to you, but just know that glass jaws get punished in the ring and their paydays are shit in comparison. Don’t be a glass jaw.

And maybe don’t be Glass Joe, either, no matter how funny he is.


Music to Lift Heavy To

I’ve been slightly obsessed with Mutoid Man lately, y’all. When they played in Knoxville recently I bought one of every t-shirt they had for sale and haven’t listened to much else in more than a month. I haven’t heard a new-ish band rock so hard in a long time and these guys blend everything I love together in such a beautiful way. They’re loud, they’re heavy, their vocals are wonderful, their lyrics are great, they perfectly blur the line between metal and punk in a way that makes my heart sing and the hair on the back of my neck stand up…And I’ve never seen another band enjoy playing music live as much as what I saw that night with these guys at the Concourse.

But this isn’t about Mutoid Man.

Mutoid Man’s drummer Ben Koller is a fucking wild man. I sat in front of his drum kit all night watching him slap his drums with his hands, go behind his back to strike his hi-hat, play the headliner’s drums behind him and even kick his cymbals from time to time. Dude’s a freak and he was the highlight of the show for me. Ben’s talented as hell, too, and performs for other way rad bands such as All Pigs Must Die and Converge. THAT’S who this is and you’re not ready for this shit. Put some headphones on, load the barbell and get ready to set a new 1RM.

The Weekly Thing is Now the Weekly Thing Again 11/13

It’s been a little more than a month since I finished the Bluegrass Half Marathon and, consequently, it’s been a little more than a month since I wrote up a weekly “thing.” If you don’t remember, the Weekly Thing (originally started on my other site) is just a weekly rundown of everything I’m training for the week. It was great getting to share my half marathon training in those posts but since the race ended, I’ve not had a lot to talk about.

So let’s catch up?

I took about a week off from training after my half marathon was over. I wasn’t sure what kind of training I’d get into next, but I knew I wanted to hit the weights again. I figured I’d go full-on bulk since I’d successfully dropped about 20 pounds on my training cut (down to 200 pounds for the first time since middle school). So I set out to create a heavy lifting program based off NASM’s OPT Model Phase 5 for Power. I set up a “Bro Split” schedule that looked like this:

  • Day 1: Chest/Triceps
  • Day 2: Back/Biceps
  • Day 3: Legs
  • Day 4: Shoulders

My cardio and core exercises would be taken care of thanks to the 3-4 classes at TITLE Boxing Club per week. NASM’s OPT Phase 5 model for resistance training targets a specific muscle group with 1-5 reps of 85%-100% 1RM for 3-5 sets supersetted with 8-10 reps of 30%-45% 1RM for 3-5 sets. I modified this slightly to include three heavy sets for eight reps on a specific muscle group followed by a superset of two medium-weight sets of 10 (weight dropped 20% or so) in the same muscle group, and then three sets at a very light weight with 12 reps.

And it fucking worked. Over the course of the month, the number on the scale fluctuated from 3-5 pounds gained but visually my body started blowing up a bit. Specifically my back, chest and shoulders.

I plan on sharing the actual program here soon if you’re interested in following it yourself.

I decided it was time to change it up a bit, though, so while I designed my new program, I followed a bodyweight-only routine that utilized pushups, rows, squats, L-sits, pull-ups, tricep dips and a variety of other full-body torture options. Every time I do bodyweight-only exercise programs, all it really does it make me question my body weight.

With that said, I figured it was time to start lifting again. This time around, I’m doing a vertical load, hitting every muscle group top-to-bottom three days per week so everything gets hit every day. Here’s what my split looks like now:

  • Day 1:
    • Heavy Legs 5×5
    • Heavy Legs 5×5
    • Medium Chest 4×8
    • Medium Triceps 4×8
    • Light Back 3×10-12
    • Light Biceps 3×10-12
    • Light Shoulders 3×10-12
  • Day 2:
    • Heavy Chest 5×5
    • Heavy Triceps 5×5
    • Medium Back 4×8
    • Medium Biceps 4×8
    • Medium Shoulders 4×8
    • Light Legs 3×10-12
    • Light Legs 3×10-12
  • Day 3:
    • Heavy Back 5×5
    • Heavy Biceps 5×5
    • Heavy Shoulders 5×5
    • Medium Legs 4×8
    • Medium Legs 4×8
    • Light Chest 3×10-12
    • Light Triceps 3×10-12

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Before I post the full workout schedule for the week, I figured I’d go ahead and point out that we’re now offering MMA classes at TITLE Boxing Club Knoxville and they’re for MEMBERS ONLY. Classes are limited to TEN members per class so pre-registration is required. And I’m on the schedule for MMA this week so if you’re a member and you’re reading this, I think it would be rad if you showed up! See schedule below.


This Week

  • Monday: Morning Boxing Cardio, Evening Day 1 Split
  • Tuesday: Morning MMA Cardio, Evening 7:00pm Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Wednesday: Morning Boxing Cardio, Evening Day 2 Split
  • Thursday: Morning MMA Cardio
  • Friday: Morning 5:45am Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club, Evening MMA Cardio
  • Saturday: Early Morning Winter Weightlifting Session with the Freaks, Later morning 11:00am Technique Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Sunday:Morning 9:30am MMA Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club, later morning Day 3 Split

My final thought this week comes courtesy of my brother DeMarcus. He posted a few thoughts on Snapchat this morning regarding “The Cost of Convenience.” I’m not a fan of counting calories for several reasons, but one specific reason is that I see a lot of people fall into a habit of only considering the number of calories in their diet and not the quality of those calories. Can you lose weight merely counting calories and eating wtf ever you want? Yes, absolutely. It’s a numbers game, after all. Are you getting healthy and will you feel better overall? Probably not.

Sure, Wendy’s may have a lot on their menu that fits your calorie requirements for the day, but have you thought about what you’re eating? Junior Bacon Cheeseburger? Small chili? Nope. It’s shit. It’s all shit. And that diet soda you’re washing it down with? Shit. And if you feed your body shit, you’re only going to get shit out of your body. So much shit coming out of your body may result in a good number on the scale, but it likely won’t result in much else positive inside your body or overall health. Just something to think about.

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Recently Knoxville Martial Arts Academy posted this photo on their Facebook page to hype the upcoming fight of Knoxville’s own Ovince Saint Preux. I love the idea behind this — staying ready, never a reason to have to get ready. Personally, I fell into the convenience trap in the last week and my body has reminded me of it. I got most of my workouts in but I didn’t fuel my body properly and felt sluggish and bloated as a result. I was always ready, alright — always ready for more fries and wine!

With Thanksgiving coming up, I figure I’ll get enough of that shitty feeling at the end of the month and I don’t want anything to do with it until then, so it’s back on my game this week. You should do the same. You’ve been given a unique opportunity to start fresh TODAY. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not after the holidays. The time is NOW!

Until later this week, enjoy this mitt work I did with my boy Joseph on Sunday and then ask yourself why you can’t make it to the gym this week.

Friday Fitness Finds 10/13

It’s been more than a month since my last Fitness Finds post and it’s been a weird as hell month to say the least. I realize after finding the link to the last one that I started the post celebrating the arrival of fall with our first cool morning…

And that was the last cool morning we’ve had since.

No shit, the twerp on the news in the morning said just last week the heat index would be around 90 degrees for the day. Someone needs to tell Mother Nature that mid-October is fast approaching and a bunch of us are depending on it. Get with the program, man. I’m ready to wear some sleeves, y’all!

…Outside, at least.

Anyway, I have a few things worth sharing this week and I hope you all find them at least entertaining if not useful or inspiring.

  • When Your Life is a Raging Dumpster Fire, Lead With Your Ass by Nia Shanks
    This is a little inspirational post based on something one of Nia’s followers said. It’s a pretty rad philosophy for anyone looking to better their lives in any way. And I don’t just mean going to the gym — I mean anything you want to make yourself better at. If it’s something major like being a better parent or getting a better job, or if it’s something as little as managing your time a little better at work or getting better organized. Get your ass in there and do it. You won’t do anything unless your ass is there. And so, lead with your ass

  • 16 Easy Slow Cooker Paleo Pork Carnitas Recipes from PaleoGrubs
    Honestly, one of my favorite things about following a Paleo(ish) diet is how friendly Mexican food can be on that diet if you put a little effort into it. Not only is Mexican food great for Paleo, but there are so many ways you can do it and this post shows just how many if you get creative. 16 different ways to make carnitas? That are Paleo-friendly? And use the slow cooker? Sign. Me. Up.

  • Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl by Juli Bauer via PaleOMG
    Speaking of Paleo…Maybe this is a new one to me or something but I’m way into the idea of a “smoothie bowl,” especially when it’s seasonally appropriate (even if it is hotter than fuuuuuuuuu here still…) Fire this little guy up and enjoy some super yum pumpkin-ness and don’t feel bad about it, y’all.

  • The 10 Things Perpetually Healthy Nerds Do that Unhealthy People Don’t by Steve from Nerd Fitness
    This is a bit of a long read and if you’ve been on your fitness journey for any amount of time, you’ll likely find a lot of this is on a beginner level but that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from it. BEGINNERS — this is a great place to start if you want to learn a little more about getting your mind right for fitness and overall wellness. From a Nerd’s standpoint. Y’all already know how much I love Nerd Fitness.

  • Special on Optimum Nutrition Essential Amin.o. Energy from Bodybuilding.com
    I’ll be honest, BB.com almost always runs some kind of sale on this stuff but it’s some of my favorite BCAAs and right now they’re BOGO 50% off for a limited time. Or until the next time they do it, which will likely be in another week or so.

  • Swolloween Mystery Gym Bag Sale from Flex Comics
    This is a pretty sweet deal, you guys. It’s basically an intro to Flex Comics for half the price it would normally cost you. I love love love love love my Thor “Dost Thou Even Lift?” shirt and if you’re into geek culture at all, then you’ll appreciate their other stuff. This is basically a mystery grab bag but if you look at what they offer, you’ll see that there’s no way you can lose with this. Plus you get a cool drawstring bag.


Music to Lift Heavy To

Yes, once again, I’m changing the name of this section. I think what I’m going to do is just name it whatever I think fits the song of the week. Is it great to lift heavy to? Named. Run fast-ish to? Named. Punch things to? Named. This week, we’re lifting heavy.

One of my favorite things to do on Fridays is check out the new metal releases over at MetalSucks.net. This week they dropped a couple of killer bombs on me that I’m way excited about including the latest from Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.

What I wanted to focus on this week, though, is the latest from Exhumed. Their new record Death Revenge was released today and it is pure, unfiltered, totally disgusting, head-splitting, wrist-slitting, head-severing, balls-out fucking fire. Put this on and go dominate some heavy weights.

Bluegrass Half Marathon, Y’all

The great philosopher Forrest Gump once had a profound conversation with a t-shirt designer while running coast to coast…

Woah! Man, you just ran through a big pile of dog shit!

It happens…

What — shit?

Sometimes…

Shit, indeed, does happen. And in doing so, sometimes it makes you take a short hiatus from blogging and social media updates. In the meantime, I finished training for my half marathon (kind of) and then made it happen. That’s what we’re here to talk about so let’s talk.

Bluegrass Half Marathon

The alarm went off at 5:30am and I calmly shut it off because I was already mostly awake anyway. I was in my parents’ house in Kingsport in the bedroom that I slept in for 15 years or so. It looks completely different with the lights on but at 5:30 in the morning there’s a strange vibe that enters your soul that makes you feel like you may actually still be 17 and you should be careful because you probably have heavy metal magazines, CDs and even a stereo in the bed with you.

I made a bit of coffee, ate a cup of oatmeal and two slices of plain white bread. At this point it was 5:45. My parents would be up in 15 minutes, the race would start in less than two hours. The doubts started to set in.

I missed my last long run and that disappointed me. I was encouraged, however, that I had made it to 11 miles on the weekend. For my first half, the furthest I’d ever gone was nine and I finished just fine. I was more ready for this one and I knew the course wasn’t as hard as the first one but, I mean, what if I wasn’t as ready as I thought?

By 6:15 both parents were up and it was time to empty the tank and listen to my power song. At the same time. Enjoy that visual.

On the 20-minute trip from Kingsport to downtown Johnson City I sat in the passenger seat a nervous wreck. Tapping my toes, shaking my legs, slapping my fists together. It was like it was my first race all over again. I was an absolute wreck by the time we got there. We had about 20 minutes to spare before the start so we hung out around a bicycle shop debating what direction we’d be running in because the START sign seemed backwards.

I spotted a port-o so I ran down to pee even though I knew it was way too early to do it (I’d later pay for this). When I walked back up the hill, another runner came up to me and asked if there was any paper in the port-o I’d just walked out of. I told him yes but I didn’t really know. I spent the next 10 minutes trying to avoid him in case I was caught in a nasty race-day lie.

My dream goal for this race was to finish at 02:25:00. My actual goal was 02:30:00, tertiary goal 02:35:00 and last-resort goal of finish at all costs. When we lined up, I quickly found the 2:30 pacers and got behind them and I patiently waited for the start.

I don’t know how many people were actually registered for this race but I know for certain it was small by race standards. I wasn’t lined up in the back but there weren’t many people behind me. There was definitely a 3:00 pacer and there may have been a couple other pacers in-between. Either way, when we started, I quickly got shuffled around just trying to not run anyone over and before I knew it, I was right on the heels of the 2:20 pacers.

When new runners ask me for tips on running their first race I always tell them not to rush right out of the gate lest they wear themselves out. Know your goal pace, find it and keep it. Yet I don’t do that. I never have. I always take off faster than I should. So on Sunday, I decided to not push it even though I felt like I could. I had a long way to go still and I didn’t want to burn out by mile 5. I found a comfortable pace right on the heels of the 2:20 guys and I told the 2:30 pacers to bite me.

And that’s where I stayed. There were two pacers, an older gentleman and a group of four or five woman that were nearby that I stuck with through most of the race. I was both surprised and proud of myself for keeping up with the 2:20 guys for so long and not really feeling tired.

Then at mile 9.5 my legs decided they’d had enough of this newfound faster pace. There was no gradual build-up, there was no warning. They just started hurting badly. I slowed down to a trot. I slowed down to a walk. I stopped. I stretched. Meanwhile the 2:20 guys ran into the distance. I glanced behind me to see if I could spot the 2:30 crew and didn’t, so I managed to hobble away. I spent the rest of the race very uncomfortable. I had to slow down several times, more stretching, a shot of GU. I lost my shirt at mile 10.

I want to sound cool but I wasn’t. I kept moving through what was the most difficult portion of the route just dying for the race to end so I could get off my legs. At mile 12 two women started to pass me. They were carrying a flag that said 2:30. Suddenly I remembered how I felt when the race started. I remembered my goals and I remembered what I was running for. I could’ve walked my way to a PR at that point but that would’ve been settling for well enough and we decided well enough was old Justin.

And old Justin is dead.

So I shouted at the 2:30 pacers that they weren’t supposed to be there yet and I moved my ass. It hurt so bad, it was hot and I was tired but I wasn’t going to settle.

My folks were at the finish line cheering for me politely not criticizing my shit running form at that point in the race and not questioning what happened to my shirt. It was their first race so they had fun even though it meant waiting around on me for more than two hours.

In the end, I finished at 02:28:40 with an average pace of 11:26/mile which is a PR by 11 minutes! Like almost to the second. Holy shit… I was not expecting that.

I spent the rest of the day not doing anything. I showered, took a nap and stretched. I was hoping to eat my weight in pizza but mom insisted on cooking dinner which was fabulous and likely way better for me anyway. I can eat pizza any time but I can’t eat my mom’s food any time. I was thankful.

The next day I celebrated in the only way I know how…

And so another half marathon is in the books. As it is right now, it will be my last. If not forever, at least for a very long time. I’m ready to start lifting heavy again. Long runs are for the birds. And skinny people. I’m neither a bird nor a skinny person, though officially I’m down 19 pounds on my cut — merely two pounds away from goal. Just tooting my own horn here.

Toot, toot, y’all.

Now we wait until October 14 when I take on what may very well be the hardest race I’ve ever done. I have a lot more training to do and a lot more sharing to do. So many changes in my life right now and I want to put that invigorating feeling into my online presence as much as I can. I hope you’re cool with that.

Because I’m cool with that.

The Bluegrass Half Marathon was put on by the Goose Chase and if you want to show them some support, I think that would be really cool:

Clean Eatz: a Review

You guys know by now that I love cooking. It should be no surprise to anyone that I’m also way into meal prepping. It’s vital to your wellness if you’re looking to lose, gain or maintain weight while eating clean and saving time (and money!)

But what happens on weeks when you legit don’t have time to do the prep?

In my case, that usually results in a week of eating junk, going out for lunch and spending too much money at the grocery on “dinner for tonight.” It doesn’t take long before you start feeling sluggish again all because you failed to prepare.

It happens to all of us, for real. If only there was a back-up plan…

Enter Clean Eatz.

Clean Eatz Knoxville opened up a few months ago and while I was familiar with it, I hadn’t heard anything about them. They’re in the same shopping center as a Crossfit gym and a *shudders and swallows vomit* 9 Rounds boxing gym. Honestly, I kind of just assumed they serviced those folks primarily and I didn’t want to use a service if they were going to require me to walk into the restaurant doing lunges with kettlebells just to place an order.

Then everything fell into place. I had two weeks back-to-back where I was traveling and working a lot, therefore I didn’t spend my Sunday doing meal prep as usual and I paid the price in the nutrition department. Around the same time, Erin ate there for lunch and said the food was tasty. It was recommended to her by a friend who frequents the place and I was then turned on to it by a few members at MY gym.

This place must really be good!

So I gave them a shot.

You start the process by signing up for their emails. You’ll receive an email on Thursday morning with the next week’s menu on it (complete with macros) and you have until Sunday night to submit your order. So this is what I did.

The online ordering system is pretty straight forward with drop-down menus for you to select the number of each meal you want to order. There are options for half-carb, no-carb, extra protein and gluten-free if your diet calls for any of those modifications.

When you place your order, the website explicitly states you will not be receiving a confirmation email. While I’ve ordered twice and have received my proper order both times, this makes me uneasy and I don’t like it.

Pricing is reasonable for a meal prep service and is based on the number of meals you order. For instance, an order of 5 meals is $38 (and $7.60 per meal for every meal greater than 5 but less than 10). At 10 meals the price per meal comes down ($6.80), again at 15 ($6.53) and again at 21 ($6.09). An order for both Erin and I costs me around $97 which is comparable to our weekly grocery bill if I was meal prepping myself.

Meals are picked up on Mondays. I’ve been told they’re packed around lunch time with people coming in to pick up. I normally can’t go until around 5:30-6:00 so it’s often just me and two or three other people and it’s quick and painless. All of the meals are portioned and waiting in coolers where the staff can quickly assemble your weekly order. The restaurant is decent sized with ample seating for a medium group of diners. Also, if ordering ahead isn’t your thing, there’s a cooler in the storefront that contains a huge selection of meals that aren’t on the weekly menu that you can just “grab and go” with.

The first week I ordered enough food to cover us for both lunch and dinner all week. We got the mango and coconut blackened cod, the French dip sandwich and the Hawaiian chicken bowls. Everything was super good and I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t document any of it. Fitness blog fail.

Anyway, you bring home giant paper bags that contain the meal prep containers that are exactly like the ones you’d buy from Costco or Amazon. They’re dishwasher and microwave safe but since I have a stack of these already I just recycle them. Still pretty convenient.

So what about the food?

Last week I only ordered lunch for Erin and myself but I was sure to get a wide selection of what they had to offer. Here’s what we got with a brief description of what was included:

  • Don’s Bowl of Happiness: Chicken with black beans, corn and green peppers tossed in a chipotle bbq sauce served over white rice. 413 calories.
  • Beef Brisket Bowl: Brisket tossed in bbq sauce with pinto beans and healthy cole slaw served over brown rice. 474 calories.
  • Ratatouille: Ground turkey tossed in tomato sauce with zucchini, eggplant and Jack cheese served over egg noodles. 397 calories.
  • Southwest Egg Scramble: Eggs, black beans, turkey bacon and corn topped with Jack cheese with a side of hash browns. 280 calories.

Don’s Bowl was very tasty. I love having a bed of rice under chicken and veggies and it NOT be bland. The bbq sauce they include was just sweet enough to be flavorful but not overwhelming. My only diss here was it reminded me a lot of the previous week’s Hawaiian chicken, sans-pineapple.

The Beef Brisket is the best thing this week. The brisket is tender, juicy and hella flavorful. The pinto beans and slaw are a nice touch and the brown rice was merely brown rice. Brisket is hard to eat lightly but they did a good job of making it work here.

The Ratatouille is great but it reminded me more of spaghetti with meat sauce than actual ratatouille. I was able to identify the various veggies in mine but there didn’t seem to be many in there. On a positive note, egg noodles are the jam and the ground turkey in tomato sauce was super good.

The only place they fell flat this week was on the Southwest Egg Scramble. I got two of them and ate them both for breakfast this week but I wasn’t particularly impressed with it either time. The “scrambled” eggs appear to just be crumbled hard-boiled eggs tossed with beans and corn. I found a few pieces of turkey bacon but couldn’t taste it and the dominant flavor overall was the mostly bland hash browns. Probably won’t be getting this one again.

Ultimately, I’d call Clean Eatz a win. For a quick break down:

Pros:

  • Convenience (location is nearby and meal prep is DONE)
  • Healthy — I’m on a cut right now and their super light meals have really helped out.
  • The French Dip and BBQ Brisket are to die for
  • Their presence is good for the community, promoting not only healthy eating but CLEAN eating
  • Pricing is about what I would expect and is well worth paying for considering all the hard work is done.

Cons:

  • They have a Z in their name
  • The lack of confirmation email bothers me.
  • The southwest egg scramble sucked
  • They don’t put as much effort into presentation as I’d like — I’d often open my container to find things sort of tossed around.
  • They have a bunch of Nine Rounds shit scattered around their restaurant.
  • While they have a few things, I’d like to see more “snacks” available for those between-meal cravings.

I’ve already put my order in for next week. The menu includes Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Brushetta Chicken, Sesame Salmon and Steak and Potatoes. I’m in to it, y’all.

Get Social:

Clean Eatz Knoxville is located at 155 West End Ave.
Hours: M-F 11am-7pm, Sat 11am-3pm, Sun closed

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Clean Eatz Website

Road to Bluegrass 9/5

I was going to do a stream of consciousness to start this post but decided that would be dumb. Truth is, there’s a lot on my mind regarding my training and if I were to just write out everything, this would be the longest post I’ve ever made. So I’m going to break this one down into past, present and future.

Past

Last week’s training went almost perfect according to the plan. I had three successful boxing classes at TITLE Boxing Club and I was able to get a couple of runs in. Tuesday was scheduled to be a 3-mile run but I figured since I was out there and the weather was right, I’d go for 5. I was a little slower than I’d like, but I figured the trail I ran over and over had a lot to do with that.

Friday’s long run was not what I was hoping it would be but I got it in. My goal for the day was 10 miles and while I didn’t start until around 3:00, the weather was almost perfect with an overcast sky and rain every 10 minutes or so. Despite this, however, I gassed out around mile 8. I was doing intervals, most of which were timed, the others based on how winded I was getting. It was a serious struggle and I was mad at myself about it.

I had to keep a couple of things in mind, though: 1) It’s been 18 months since I’d ran 10 miles. It wasn’t going to be easy no matter how well I’d trained up until now. 2) I was by myself almost the entire time. I’ve never seen the Greenway so dead. This is important because it’s the exact opposite of a race where you’re surrounded by people speeding by you, people you’re speeding past, folks gasping for air, folks giving unsolicited running advice, etc. There’s definitely an unspoken — and often unrealized — group mentality when it comes to racing. It makes you feel accountable to the people around you and you’re able to push yourself harder than if you were by yourself with no one watching.

But I had no one watching, so I gassed out and walked. I slapped my thighs, pounded my chest, berated myself, played Gonna Fly Now in my head and tried my best to get out of my own body and run on autopilot. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Either way, I finished 10 miles on Friday averaging 12:57/mile, 87 seconds slower than my goal pace. I finished the week with 2 runs totalling 15 miles.

We had a bit of a family emergency over the weekend so I didn’t get my last run of the week in. My feet, ankles and legs welcomed the long break. With the race fast approaching, it’s getting pretty difficult to focus on the positives but they’re definitely there. When I ran my first half marathon, the furthest I’d ever ran was 9 miles. I ran longer than that on Friday, three weeks out from the race. Does this mean I’m already more prepared for this race? Not necessarily, but it makes me feel a little more confident.

I’ve almost hit my weight goal, too. After a cookout on Saturday night followed by two days of junk eating while traveling, my current weight loss stands at 8/10 pounds. Two training weeks remain.


Present

A short week of boxing classes scheduled and three runs are on my calendar this week. Dig it:

  • Monday: Rest (traveling)
  • Tuesday: 7:00pm Boxing Technique Class at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Wednesday: 5 Mile Run
  • Thursday: 3 Mile Tempo Run
  • Friday: 5:45am Boxing at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Saturday: 11 Mile Run (possibly more traveling)
  • Sunday: Rest (possibly more traveling)

We have lunch and dinner being provided by Clean Eatz this week and will include Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Bruschetta Chicken, Sesame Salmon and Steak and Potatoes. I have a Clean Eatz review post drafted and ready to rock so expect to see that maybe tomorrow.


Future

I’ll be honest. I’m pretty sick of running long distances. The body I want and the lifestyle I have both say running long distances is counterproductive. On Saturday I showed up for a Boot Camp class that quickly turned into “Let’s do Bis and Tris with Aaron” and it was amazing. My biceps are still sore when contracted. I love lifting weights and I love what it does for my body. I’m really looking forward to getting back on a heavy weights routine.

So what does the next few months look like? It’s hard to say because I’m sure I’ll change my mind before then, but this is what I have in mind:

  • Continue my cut with my mostly-cardio plan until my half-marathon date. As of this writing, my race is in less than three weeks and I have two pounds to lose. My goal weight for this cut is 210 lbs. I think I can reach goal weight by the end of this week. This leaves about two weeks of training on the planned cut.
  • With time left on the planned cut, I thought I’d extend it with a stretch goal of 10 more pounds, theoretically hitting 200 lbs by the time the Goliath rolls around on October 14. That gives me six weeks from now to drop 12 pounds. I think this is doable.
  • Once my half marathon is over, I have three weeks until the Goliath and my workout plan shortens my runs and adds an extra day of cross training. I plan on using those cross training days as functional bodyweight training days while maintaining my weekly runs with hopes of hitting 200 lbs before Goliath day.
  • After Goliath day I’m going to take a few days off and assess where I’m at weight-wise. If I’ve hit my goal weight of 200 lbs, I will consider beginning a 12-week muscle-building bulk phase. Not a bad way to start the winter season, no?

But before I can do all that, I’ve got to make it to class tonight. I’ve got to get these last two pounds off. I’ve got to make it to this half marathon. I may be putting the cart before the horse on a lot of this planning but they’re my horses and they’re pretty chill.

Have chill horses, y’all.

Friday Fitness Finds 9/1

September is here, y’all, and when I swung the door open at 5am this morning there was a glorious chill in the air that reached out between the rain drops and bit me on the face. The grass is still growing and we have another pool party coming up this weekend but the fact remains: fall is almost here!

Halloween stuff is on the shelves, pumpkin spice donuts are on the market and when I felt the welcome coldness touch my arms this morning I reached in and got my red hoodie. A sure sign of the pending season change.

I’m polishing up a few photos for my Clean Eatz review post that should be published some time tomorrow. Until then, here’s this week’s finds:

  • The Mind-Boggling Bullshit of Health and Fitness by Nia Shanks
    My hope in this world is to take something I’m passionate about — namely fitness and nutrition — and make it less intimidating. This is because I KNOW what a scary world it is. The internet is a wasteland of quick fixes, miracle wraps and bad information. It’s really too easy to be misinformed on all things health and wellness out there no matter how dedicated you are to the cause. Nia has created a fine list of the many ways the fitness industry takes advantage of you while providing ways to see through the bullshit.
  • Shrimp and Grits (Paleo Style) by Rebecca Bohl via Paleo Grubs
    This sexy, sexy shrimp dish is served over a heaping serving of creamed cauliflower to create a Paleo version of one of the most classic Southern comfort foods around. I really want to make this — like really, really.
  • Becoming the Carnivore by Gabe Rivera via Keto Kulture
    Gabe discusses his experience and the “proven” health benefits of going full carnivore. I’m on the fence about a lot of what he has to say, but I definitely believe there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” diet and if you can eat a certain way, achieve your wellness goals and stay legitimately healthy, I’m all about it. This guy’s version of Keto is basically just eating ribeye steaks every single day. If I could afford such a luxury, I would do it, too, just not for the same reasons.
  • 41 Best Chocolate Paleo Recipes of All Time by Jess via Paleo Grubs
    This is just a list of indulgent and (mostly) sweet treats featuring chocolate in some form. Are they all “healthy?” No. Not really. But they are Paleo-friendly and we all deserve a sweet treat from time to time, no? I’m particularly interested in the Chocolate Marbled Java Bundt Cake and Cashew Espresso Glaze and the Two-Toned Chewy Cookies.
  • Find Your Struggle by Hayden Wilson
    This is a short and sweet motivation post about confronting life’s challenges because we can’t avoid them no matter how well prepared we may be (or think we are). Find your struggle, own your struggle and then overcome your struggle. Solid.
  • Pina Colada Overnight Oats by 24 Carrot Life via MyFitnessPal
    I love overnight oats even though I don’t make them that often. These guys use pineapple Greek yogurt, chia seeds and fresh cubed pineapple. It sounds great — like holy shit great.

Music to Lift Heavy/Run Fast-ish/Punch Hard To

Let’s be honest. Most all of us went through the Nu-Metal phase whether we wanted to or not. If you were like me, the hate-filled sadness of KoRn, the bro-talk of Limp Bizkit and even the emotions of Linkin Park “spoke” to you even though they were songs written by people twice your age. While I do still listen to the Deftones, Soulfly, Dope and Slipknot, I’ve largely graduated (read: grown up) from the shitty Nu-Metal sound and moved on to other genres I’m not particularly attached to.

One band I’ve always loved regardless of how much they’re made fun of is Powerman 5000. They have a new record called New Wave coming out on October 27th (pre-order it here) and they’re already getting ripped on about it. lol It’s a New Powerman 5000 Song reads the headline on MetalSucks. But they also say Even though Powerman 5000 have been writing basically the same exact song over and over again for their 20+ year career, it’s a pretty damn good one.

And they’re right.

Check out Sid Vicious in a Dress then go do something to get stronger.

Road to Bluegrass 8/28

I didn’t work out this morning. After getting up at 5 on Saturday and again pretty early on Sunday, I was happy to sleep until around 7:00 today. Sleeping in during the week is awesome because, you know, sleep … but on days that I don’t work out, I often have a hard time getting rolling, like something is missing. Since I’m not running or punching or lifting I guess my body just thinks I should still be snoozing.

But not today.

No, today I felt great. I loved on my dogs, got dressed, packed my gym bag for after work and hit the road to the office. I left my old iPod Touch (seriously old — like first-gen old) at the house so I played stuff from my phone. New shit from The Lees of Memory, the new Lana Del Rey, the latest Mutoid Man and even a bit of Metallica. I was jamming, sometimes dancing, sometimes head banging.

I bounced in through the doors, a slight skip in my step. I waved, smiled and said hi to several people, most of them politely nodded and did that awkward whisper greeting where you’re unsure of how loud you’re actually speaking. Some people seemed groggy when I approached them but my annoyingly bubbly positivity I was carrying this morning seemed to lighten their moods and they walked away with a smile.

Except this one dude. I could hand him a puppy and he’d just stare at me as if I’d decapitated it. I don’t know about him.

And then there were the ladies in the break room. I waltzed into the break room, coffee mug in hand, and when I saw who they were, I greeted them with a hearty “Good morning, ladies!”

“Wow,” they started. “That’s an awful lot of positivity, especially for a Monday!”

And I suppose it is, but, I mean … Why?

Sure, Monday is definitely the sign of another weekend that’s dead and gone and it’s a reminder that it’s “back to reality,” but is reality all that bad? I don’t want this to be a “be thankful for what you have” post because that’s not (entirely) where I want it to go, but seriously — why is it considered normal to be a sourpuss on Monday morning?

I often have a problem with normal and I’m challenging everyone who reads this to also take offense. I don’t mean you should go to work next Monday morning wearing a clown suit or with an attention-grabbing new haircut or something. I mean maybe take it upon yourself to bring a little positivity to your workplace. This is where you make your living for Christ’s sake! A lot of people see their coworkers more than their families! It’s stressful at times and you may be overwhelmed but what good is your shitty attitude going to do?

So maybe knock it off. Look at Monday as a new challenge you get to overcome. Grab your week by the jewels and insure you’re the one that’s in control!

Or just say hi when someone else says hi to you. That’d be cool.

Anyway, let’s talk about training…


Last week was really good, y’all. My three classes at TITLE Boxing Club went well, I traded my Crossfit workout for a Saturday morning bootcamp with the sunrise and some good friends, and I ran four times for a total of 16.5 miles. The cut seems to be going pretty well, too. More on nutrition in a second, though.

Current weight lost: 6/10 pounds. Three weeks remain.

For real. Six pounds already. Here’s to fast progress! Here’s also to not screwing it up in the next three weeks.

  • Monday: 7:00pm Kickboxing at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Tuesday: 3 Mile Run
  • Wednesday: 5:45am Boxing at TITLE Boxing Club, 5 Mile Run
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 5:45am Boxing at TITLE Boxing Club, 10 Mile Run
  • Saturday: 7:30am Boot Camp Class, 11:00am Boxing at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Sunday: 3 Mile Run

Nutrition has been fun! Last week I talked all about Clean Eatz and I had every intention of thoroughly detailing and reviewing everything I ate there but I kept forgetting my camera at home and didn’t want to upload shitty iPhone photos of their food and before I knew it, I had already eaten all of my lunches for the week. The Hawaiian Chicken I had for lunch was fabulous and filling, though, as was the blackened mango and coconut cod I had for dinner every night. The star of the week, however, was the French Dip sandwich we had for lunch on Saturday. It didn’t look that appetizing but it’s one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten in quite a while!

With that said, I’m using Clean Eatz again this week but only for lunch. I’ve chosen a variety of lunches and for real will share them with y’all in a timely manner this time. I also did some meal prep of my own (finally back to it) with some hella veg turkey taco salads that I’m pretty darn excited about.

I did take some photos of the loot I picked up last week, at least. It may not be glamour shots of the food but there’s something nice about seeing stacks of meal prep containers. I like it, at least. Dig ’em:


So that’s Monday. Let’s do something cool this week! Make someone’s day better! Have a milkshake for breakfast (unless you’re cutting, of course *WINK*)! Call your grandmother after work this week!

And maybe stop acting like McGregor won the other night. He didn’t.

And maybe also don’t cheer on Mayweather for winning. That guy’s an ass.

Friday Fitness Finds 8/25

I’m currently eating around seven times a day. My afternoon snack (one of them, at least) is a funky mixture where I take about 2 tablespoons of chunky peanut butter, drop in a sliced up banana and then mash it all together with a spoon. It’s delicious. I look forward to it every day.

Before digging into it today, however, I overheard coworkers talking about their toilet paper usage, baby wipes, “adult” baby wipes and baby butts. Suddenly my peanut butter-banana mixture wasn’t as appetizing as it once was.

Headphones: On. Y’all aren’t going to ruin this shit for me.

Pardon the pun.

And pardon this list of weekly finds that’s mostly food. Give me a break — I already told you I eat seven times a day.

  • Follow Your Own Rules to Crush Life by Craig Ballantyne via Roman Fitness Systems
    The internet is a big place and if you use it to find fitness or nutrition information, the number of results is overwhelming. To complicate matters worse, each of those results is a study or theory or opinion that is different from the next one. How are you supposed to determine what you’re supposed to do and what you should avoid? Here, Craig uses the late great Jack LaLanne to illustrate the importance of coming up with your own set of rules and living by them. Are you a certified personal trainer, life coach or nutritionist? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your life with a short list of rules to abide by. I hope to make a full post on this in the near future.
  • 11 Frozen Healthy Smoothie Recipes to Prep on Sundays for the Best Week Ever by Audrey Bruno via Self
    I haven’t started doing this yet but for the last few weeks I have seriously been considering starting a few of these blender-ready smoothie mixes to store in the freezer. From fruity to green to both fruity AND green, this list has some pretty delicious sounding recipes that could easily fill the gaps while you’re roasting veggies on meal prep day.
  • How to Start Losing Weight by Fitness Coach Lunden via Runtastic
    This information is pretty basic and most everyone knows it whether they actually follow it or not. But a lot of people know the basics (eat better, move more, sleep well) but somehow can’t seem to make it happen. These are core concepts that will benefit you in the long run, however, so if you’re new to fitness, start here. Also, get a membership at TITLE Boxing Club and hire me as your personal trainer…Just saying.
  • 10 Meal Prep Recipes via Damn Delicious
    These may not all be “clean eating” recipes but they sure do look good. And if you’re wanting to get started meal prepping, this is an awesome list to work through. 10 recipes = 10 weeks of lunches, 10 weeks of dinners or 5 weeks of both. What a rad way to learn! I’ve got my eyes on the Korean Beef Bowls, Zucchini Noodles with Turkey Meatballs, Breakfast and Turkey Taco Salads.
  • Cheater’s Power Salad by Pinch of Yum
    You’re never going to hear me say “that salad looks good as hell!” but I’ve made my first exception. This “power” salad combines kale, cilantro, green onions, cabbage, chicken, black beans, avocado, tortilla strips and a BBQ ranch dressing into a single bowl of super food amazingness. The greatest thing about this cheater version is that most of the ingredients come from a single salad mix! It’s cheap, it’s easy and is thrown together in no time.
  • Curried Chickpeas Meal Prep by Budget Bytes
    Man, meal prepping has gotten super hip as of late. Nearly all of my favorite food blogs are catering to the idea and that’s way rad. Not only are they great recipes but they’re creating an endless supply of great-tasting ideas for the meal prep novice. Most everyone knows I’ve been a fan of Beth and Budget Bytes for years now and I definitely trust her taste in Indian flavors. This meal prep includes three of her tasty recipes and encourages you to make your own naan because you should really learn how, right?

Music to Lift Heavy/Run Fast-ish/Punch Hard To

This hasn’t exactly been a super hype week when it comes to music. I’ve been in a weird mood where all I want to listen to is the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Amy Winehouse and Thelonious Monk. I switched it up one day this week when I decided after 32 years I was finally going to give the Grateful Dead a shot but the amount of hype I got from that was enough to make you give a person a hug, not punch them in the face or run faster than them.

New releases sucked this week, too, so I’m going to leave this section with an old favorite that came up on shuffle earlier in the week. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love the Dead Kennedys and that Jello Biafra made the band. Anything DK has done post-Jello was merely a coverband made up of old shits that are going to ride out a bad decision until their dying day. Anything Jello has done post-DK, however, is golden. It’s science. It’s biblical, even.

With that said, here’s a ripper by the Jello-fronted band Lard from their 1990 release The Last Temptation of Reid. It’s called Forkboy and if your head doesn’t bang to this, your head simply does not bang.


The weekend is upon us, y’all. Let’s go for a long run, pick up something heavy and get our meal prep on.

And maybe invest in noise-cancelling headphones for the office. It’ll save your sanity and your stomach. Swear to gods.