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JTF’s Mount Crushmore, Week 4

I knew I’d have to make a post like this sooner or later. Didn’t realize the Easter holiday was so fast approaching when I started Mount Crushmore so it’s as good a time as any to talk about something that’s going to happen in your weight-loss / fitness journey:

You’re going to have some weeks where the number on the scale just doesn’t change.

Hell, you’re probably also going to have some weeks where the number does the opposite of what you want it to do! And big family holidays like Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas can wreak havoc on one’s bodyweight.

My bodyweight I have listed below is from Saturday (my weigh-in day) but if we’re being completely honest here, this number has gone UP since then because I ate my weight in macaroni and cheese, dinner rolls, honey-baked ham and banana pudding at our Easter celebration on Sunday. It happens.

While we’re on the topic of transparency, I’ll go ahead and use my progress as an example of another lesson you’ll have to learn on your journey: Last Wednesday night, Cara and I ordered a pizza … a large one … and cheese sticks and chicken wings. And while I said I was only going to eat a reasonable amount, we all know that a “reasonable amount” of pizza and pizza accessories is “all of it” so that’s what I did. I ate all the pizza.

With that said, I went over on my calorie requirement big-time on Wednesday. So not only did my body likely store a lot of the excess in ways I’m not crazy about but it also held on to a TON of water due to the sodium content in the typical pizza. All that to say: I gained some weight after partaking in that delicious dinner.

Does this mean pizza is bad? Hell no. Eat it. I mean, try to be reasonable about it if you can but I’m NOT a good example to follow when it comes to my favorite kind of pie.

The point I’m hoping to get across is sometimes you go off your plan and often that diversion adversely affects your progress. It’s okay to suffer this setback because you’re a human, after all, but I want to emphasize the importance of admitting where you strayed and accepting its consequence. I’ve worked with several people who “just don’t get” why they’re not losing weight despite following whatever diet they’re supposed to be following, but after a deeper dive, it appears they’re not as honest about their eating/snacking habits as they claim to be.

Be honest with yourself when it comes to this stuff. There’s no reason to hide. Pizza is amazing and I will eat too much of it 100% of the time. And I’m prepared to deal with the aftermath.

Weekly Weigh-In: 221.4 Pounds (Goal: 210 Pounds; 0.5 Pounds Lost)

This Week’s Calorie Requirements and Macros:

I’ve explained it many times now about how my calorie requirement is changing and will continue to change very little for a while since it is largely based on the gender I’ve identified as for 34 years, the height I’ve been since high school, the age I’ve been since December and the weight that I am that’s moving slowly.

For the sake of completion, though:

Calories:

3,000

Protein:

219 grams; 876 calories

Fat:

88 grams; 792 calories

Carbs:

334 grams; 1,336 calories

This Week’s Meal Plan

I will be following this meal plan again this week with no changes. Look for a new meal plan next week!

This Week’s Workout Plan

Busy, busy week this week, y’all! Getting in two weightlifting days paired with EIGHT hours of fight!

  • Monday: 5:45am — Boxing60; 7:30pm Jiu Jitsu — 60 Minutes
  • Tuesday: 5:30pm Weightlifting — Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press, Lat Pulls, Biceps Circuit; 6:30pm — Kickboxing45
  • Wednesday: 5:45am — Boxing60; 7:30pm Jiu Jitsu — 60 Minutes
  • Thursday:7:30pm Weightlifting — Squats, Deadlifts, Pull-Ups, Push-Ups, Triceps Circuit
  • Friday: 5:30pm Boxing75
  • Saturday: 11:00am Boxing60
  • Sunday: 11:30am MMA60

Anything Else?

Yep.

I’ve talked about it before about Thanksgiving but I certainly hope that y’all aren’t letting your fitness goals ruin holidays with your family. Ham is good, dinner rolls are good, mac and cheese is good, mashed potatoes are good, banana pudding is good.

Family is good.

Pizza is good.

Life is good.

Your program will be there when you get back.

Ever onward, follow heathens.

-JTF

JTF’s Mount Crushmore Meal Plan: Week 3

Three.

Three, y’all.

In the last week and a half, I’ve spoken with three people about their nutrition because they were having some issues with their weight loss goals and/or body composition. And in each of those cases the verdict was the same — people not eating enough. I know it sounds counterintuitive — I mean, aren’t we supposed to be eating less in order to lose weight?

Yes. But there’s more to think about than just eating fewer calories. More often than not, the average person doesn’t consider the possibility that they’re, indeed, eating too little to achieve their goals. Losing weight is great but if your body is losing muscle mass as a result of eating too few calories, then you’re basically withering away.

And I don’t want that for none of y’all. That’s one of the biggest focuses of this whole Mount Crushmore thing — to show you guys a (hopefully) good example of how to change your body composition without crash dieting or going to some freaky ass extreme. I showed you how to calculate your personal calorie requirement, so let’s freaking hit that mark, yeah?

This week’s meal plan isn’t a lot different from the previous one I shared. Honestly, for me it’s all about convenience. If I can eat food I don’t get sick of and have it cooked both quickly and efficiently, then I’m going to go for it every time. I’m also only changing my meal plan every two weeks so I can save even more time by not coming up with something new every week.

SMART

Anyway. Let’s eat.

Meal One: Breakfast

Oatmeal, Protein Shake

480 Calories; 38g Protein; 7g Fat; 67g Carbs

A lot of people have their meal plans derailed due to a lack of convenience. Most people feel like they don’t have time to get in a proper breakfast at home and opt to hit the drive-thru or skip it all together. I’ve never been a meal skipper and never will be. I also don’t really have the time to get in a proper breakfast at home so I choose to be prepared with a good breakfast at the office! This will be my breakfast every week for the foreseeable future. Oatmeal and whey protein are easy to keep at my desk and I know I’ve got a good, quality breakfast waiting on me every day.

What’s going on here is two packs of Quaker Instant Oatmeal that I mix with water and a scoop of Forazone whey protein mixed with water. I always start my mornings with two cups of black coffee as well.

Meal Two: Mid-Morning Snack

Oatmeal, Banana

265 Calories; 5g Protein; 3.5g Fat; 58g Carbs

One more pack of Quaker Instant Oatmeal paired with a banana. Just a banana. Nothing too fancy here.

Meal Three: Lunch

“Taco”-Style Ground Turkey, Roasted Mixed Veg, Steamed White Rice

721 Calories; 61g Protein; 24g Fat; 66g Carbs

Changing lunch up just a little bit. I love rice so I keep it in my meal plan. Included here is 1 cup of steamed white rice, half a bag of mixed frozen veggies that I roasted with canola oil spray and spices, and about 10 ounces of lean ground turkey that I fried up with some low-sodium taco seasoning packets.

Meal Four: Mid-Afternoon Snack

Banana, Dry Frosted Flakes

248 Calories; 3g Protein; 1.5g Fat; 62g Carbs

Getting in more quality carbs with another plain-Jane banana paired with a tasty cup of dry Frosted Flakes for my afternoon sweet tooth.

Post-Workout

Protein Shake + Creatine

160 Calories; 30g Protein; 2g Fat; 5g Carbs

One more scoop of protein but this week we’re mixing in about 5g of creatine.

Meal Five: Dinner

Baked BBQ Chicken, Cheddar Sausage and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

846 Calories; 69g Protein; 40g Fat; 38g Carbs

Tornados surrounded towns all around Knoxville on Sunday and while we were fortunate and didn’t get hit, the rain and wind that kept turning themselves off and on again kept me from firing up the grill. That didn’t stop me from getting some barbecue chicken into my meal plan, though!

What’s going on here is about 10 ounces of baked chicken that I basted with some fancy-pants Heiz bbq sauce (I don’t remember the exact kind but I used very little sauce), 6oz of roasted sweet potato rounds that were topped with a variety of spices and two links of Johnsonville “Beddar with Cheddar” cheddar-stuffed sausage.

Meal Six: Dessert

Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Extra-Crunchy Peanut Butter

You guys know I love my bedtime snack. I brew up some decaf, cuddle with my girl and chow down on a warm, sweet snack. This week I’m topping a single slice of Pepperidge Farm Swirl Raisin Cinnamon toast with 2 tablespoons of Target brand extra-crunchy peanut butter.


If you’re into that kind of thing, here’s how the meals stack against my calorie/macro requirements:

  • Calories: 2990 / 3000
  • Protein: 216g / 219g
  • Fat: 95.5g / 88g
  • Carbs: 319g / 334g

Carbs are up and fat is slightly down from the last meal plan but the calorie deficit is still roughly about the same. Like I’ve said before, these numbers are there to help you reach your goals but as long as you’re pretty close, you’re good. No reason to stress about a handful of grams or a hundred calories (or in this week’s case, 10).

So that’s this week and next. What’re y’all eating?

JTF’s Mount Crushmore, Week 3

Last week I started a 20g/day load on creatine while simultaneously de-loading on my weight training program. This week we’re going all-in with muscles fully saturated with creatine and a workout plan that’s going to go hard! I promise to detail my workout plan more closely in the coming weeks (I’m not playing; I’ve gotten so geeky over this Mount Crushmore shit with a blog calendar and a social media schedule. The workout plan will be detailed on Thursday, May 9. SEE!?).

This week’s weigh-in is brought to you by InBody and Nutrishop Knoxville.

Weekly Weigh-In: 221.4 Pounds (Goal: 210 Pounds; 0.5 Pounds Lost)

Bi-Weekly Measurements:

  • Body Fat Percentage: 19.8 (Goal: 15%; 1.9% Lost)
  • Skeletal Muscle Mass: 101.4 Pounds (2.6 pounds gained)
  • Body Fat Mass: 43.9 Pounds (4.4 pounds lost)

One could easily look at the first number and say “OMG he’s been doing all this work and he’s only lost HALF A POUND?! WHAT A LOSER! Buuuut a closer look at my numbers and you’ll see what’s actually going on there. Yeah, the number on the scale has only gone down 0.5 pounds but I’ve gained 2.6 pounds of muscle mass — LOST 4.4 pounds of fat! I’m going to continue using this point to illustrate how important it is to not base your success solely on the number the scale shines up at you in the morning.

This Week’s Calorie Requirements and Macros:

The calorie requirement has changed very little. If you remember from my Calories post where I showed how I had lowered my requirement to 3,000 (down from only a hundred calories or so of the actual requirement), a small change in weight has still yet to change my calorie requirement by much. The slight modifications look like this:

Calories:* 3,000
Protein 219 grams, or 876 Calories
Fat 88 grams, or 792 Calories
Carbs 334 grams, or 1,336 Calories

*These calorie requirements were established on Thursday of last week based on my current weight. Any change in weight by the weekend weigh-in is not accounted for and doesn’t really make a difference.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Keeping it simple, y’all. I’m still eating the same number of times per day, still keeping a bedtime treat, still drinking only water and coffee. Since I had the macros figured out for a lot of the snacks and the simple breakfast, I just stuck with those. The only thing that really changed is my lunch and dinner meals. Dig it:

  • Meal One — Breakfast
    • 2 Packs of Quaker Instant Oatmeal (mixed with water) and one protein shake (also mixed with water)
  • Meal Two — Mid-Morning Snack
    • 1 Banana; 1 Pack of Quaker Instant Oatmeal (mixed with water)
  • Meal Three — Lunch
    • 10oz Ground “taco” Turkey; 1 cup steamed white rice; 1 cup roasted mixed vegetables
  • Meal Four — Mid-Afternoon Snack
    • 1 Banana; 1 cup of Frosted Flakes (dry)
  • Meal Five — Post-Workout
    • Protein Shake with creatine (mixed with water)
  • Meal Six — Dinner
    • 10oz grilled bbq chicken; 2 links of cheddar sausage; 6oz roasted sweet potatoes
  • Meal Seven — Bedtime Snack
    • 1 Slice Cinnamon Raisin bread; 2TB Peanut Butter

This Week’s Workout Plan

As per usual, the workouts this week consist of hella cardio and fight training at TITLE Boxing Club, two Jiu Jitsu classes at Gracie Barra Knoxville and two weight-training sessions. Here’s that schedule:

  • Monday: 5:45am — Boxing60; Jiu Jitsu — 60 Minutes
  • Tuesday: Weightlifting — Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press, Lat Pulls, Biceps Circuit; 6:30pm Kickboxing45
  • Wednesday: 5:45am — Boxing60; Jiu Jitsu — 60 Minutes
  • Thursday: Weightlifting — Squats, Deadlifts, Pull-Ups, Push-Ups, Triceps Circuit
  • Friday: 5:45am Boxing60; 5:30pm Boxing75
  • Saturday: Recovery Day (hella stretching)
  • Sunday: MMA — 60 Minutes

Anything Else?

You already knew the answer to that. If you’ve been following along you’ll notice that this week I have squats and deadlifts programmed twice each this week. That’ll make more sense when I detail my workout plan but just know it’s going to be rad. Follow me on Instagram if you want to catch a glimpse of the workout in my story or if you just want more frequent updates than the twice-weekly posts I make here!

I also wrapped up my creatine load on Sunday and will be supplementing with a much smaller amount daily moving forward. I’ll be back to the heavy lifts, though, and am looking forward to seeing my progress! To help lift heavy, though, one needs heavy songs and I have a new heavy song to lift to that I found out about on Friday. I’m not normally a big fan of “Power Metal” but these guys RIP and I can’t wait to dig into their discography. Hit play, turn it up loud and be prepared to bang your head until you die.

Anyway; Later this week there will be a post detailing the new meal plan so keep your eyes and ears open. Otherwise say hey if y’all have questions about anything or need a personal trainer. I know a guy.

-JTF

JTF’s Mount Crushmore (Supps) — Calories

Last week I promised a post that spells out everything regarding calories, how many you need to eat and what they need to be made of. This is going to be a long post and it’s going to get geeky at times but I’m going to try to make it entertaining and easy to understand so hang in there.

Start Here: What the Heck Are Calories?

Calories, OMG calories! How many calories! Gotta burn calories! Too many calories! Gotta count calories! If you’ve dieted, know someone who has dieted or simply know what a diet is you’ve heard these things before. We say a lot about calories and in many instances fear them like we fear cancer or Freddy Krueger but, I mean … why? Calories are necessary for our bodies — they’re not your enemy.

Calories are your bros.

Not convinced? Let’s dive deeper.

What is a Calorie? Simply put, a Calorie is a unit of energy. At the chemistry level, a calorie (lowercase c or Little Calorie) is the amount of energy necessary to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1°C. When we use the term to refer to our food, we’re actually talking about a kilocalorie (or Calorie with uppercase C; also known as Large Calorie or Food Calorie). The kilocalorie is exactly what its name suggests — 1,000 small calories. This is how we measure food and this is what determines our journeys.

So there. Calories = Energy.

When you want to do anything — ANYTHING — from lifting heavy weights and running marathons to simply staying alive while you sleep, your body requires calories to exist. If you consume too few calories, your body will start eating away at itself as it begins converting bits of itself into energy to burn so it can survive. The body becomes malnourished and extremes often lead to death. If you consume too many calories, your body stores the excess throughout itself as fat for later use. The body becomes obese and, again, extremes often prove fatal.

All this to say, the Calorie isn’t the problem. Your bad habits are. And we’re here to fix that.

Next Up: How Many Calories Do I Need?

If your goal is to lose weight, gain mass or simply maintain a healthy weight, you must first calculate and understand your caloric requirement. There are hundreds of apps on the market that will take some of the same basic information I’m about to discuss — namely gender, age, weight and height — to determine what your calorie requirement for the day is. If you’re just getting started on your journey, one of these apps will suffice.

I’ve found this article that runs through the pros and cons of some of the best tracking apps on the market if you’d like to just use one of those.

**I’d like to take this time to go ahead and say that most “scientific” studies that say a healthy diet is x-number of calories is misleading and incorrect. It’s easy to generalize but ultimately these studies indicate an average calorie requirement for an average group of people. I don’t care how big/little you are, you are not average and you were likely never consulted during these studies.**

But You Said You’d Teach Us Something; Don’t Tell Us to Use an App!

Fair.

If you want to determine how many calories you need to shoot for during the day, you’ll need the following figures handy: your gender, your age in years, your height in inches and your weight in pounds.

These units of measurement will help us determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the number of calories your body requires to exist. If you laid in bed all day and just breathed, your body would still need calories. This is your BMR. I’m going to show you how to calculate yours, but it can also be done with apps like this.

But let’s do it the long way.

If you’re a man:
BMR = 66 + (6.2 x [weight]) + (12.7 x [height]) – (6.7 x [age])

If you’re a woman:
BMR = 655.1 + (4 x [weight]) + (4.7 x [height]) – (4.7 x [age])

Let’s use me as an example — a 34 year old male that’s 6’1″ and weighs 220 pounds. My formula would look like this:

BMR = 66 + (6.2 x 220) + (12.7 x 73) – (6.7 x 34)
and the result is 2,129.3

But this is merely the BMR. The next thing we need to determine is our activity level. This will tell us how many calories are required for us to exist with our physical activity added. It’s very important to BE HONESET when you’re doing this. If you’re just starting out and you’re working out 2-3 times per week, it will be tempting to say you’re VERY ACTIVE because you’ll feel like you are but doing so will give you incorrect results and you will have sabotaged yourself. Here’s a good way to gauge your activity level:

  • Sedentary = You do nothing or very little physical activity. Desk jockeys and TV show bingers likely fall into this category.
  • Light Active = You do some stuff. You may be in the gym 1-3 days per week but aren’t a serious workaholic.
  • Moderate = You frequent the gym and can be found there 3-5 days per week.
  • Active = You’re a gym rat and you’re putting in work 6-7 days per week.
  • Very Active = This is saved for people with active jobs like professional athletes or construction workers. AKA probably not you.

Now that you’ve seen the possible choices, you now must decide which one best fits your lifestyle and multiply your BMR by a certain number based on that result. See the following table for an example:

Activity Level

Multiply BMR By

Sedentary

1.2

Light Active

1.375

Moderate

1.55

Active

1.725

Very Active

1.9

Now while I’m in the gym literally seven days a week, I’m hardly a pro athlete so I’m choosing to go with Active.

So if my BMR is 2,129.3 and I multiply it by 1.725, I get 3,673.0425.

We’re so close. But there’s one more step we have to take.

We now must determine what our goals are. Lose weight? Gain weight? Maintain our current weight? Our answer here will determine our calorie requirement for the final time. Generally speaking, hitting the calorie number we just landed on will keep you the same weight (aka maintaining).

A caloric deficit of 500 calories per day will make a person lose 1 pound per week and is a safe method of losing weight the right way. Cutting 1,000 calories per day to lose 2 pounds per week is also okay, but I do not recommend anything more extreme.

If you’re looking to gain mass, 250-500 calories added to your number will usually result in 1/2-1 pound of body tissue added per week.

My goal is to lose about 1 pound per week, so I’ll take 3,673.0425 and subtract 500 to get 3,173.0425.

I’ll round that down to 3,173 for clarity. I’ll round it down even further to 3,000 because that’s easier and I won’t miss 100 calories.

This is how I landed on my daily calorie requirement.

Did you guys follow along? There are a lot of numbers, for sure. And honestly when I do it the long-math way I often get numbers that are WAY off. So to stay safe, I’ve created a Google sheet that calculates everything for me (correctly). Check it out:

I’d suggest you do the same. Or use one of the many online calculators. Also, don’t be surprised if you get a variety of answers from the different calculators. These are merely estimates that are designed to get you close. Don’t stress about a hundred calories or so.

It’s also important to note that you should regularly recalculate this as your calorie requirements will vary as your weight and age change.

DONE

In 1,600 words I’ve described calories and how you can determine how many you should be taking in. If you want to take a deeper dive, keep your eye on this spot because in a couple of weeks we’re going to be digging into the world of MACROS!

JTF’s Mount Crushmore, Week 2

And with that, Week 1 is done, y’all! We’ve got pesky introductions knocked out, gave an outline for workout and nutrition … now we’re going to start getting into the meat of things!

Last week I shared ALL of my readings so we had a good starting point. This post won’t be so dense, for real. I also detailed my meal plan. This week I plan to share a post with you on calculating your calorie requirements so brace yourselves for that. In the coming weeks there will also be posts on macros, supplements, workout plans and everything in between. This is actually pretty fun!

Speaking of fun, I was lucky enough to get scheduled for all three 5:45am classes last week at TITLE and while it was super hard getting up at 4:30am three days out of the week, there was something kind of awesome about it. I used to get up at 4:30am every day regardless of whether or not I was scheduled to teach. Sometimes I’d go lift weights, go run or just drink coffee while writing. I’d love to get back to that routine so I’m going to try to do that a little more as this program progresses. Big talk, yeah; let’s see what kind of action I can follow up with.

4:30 is hard, y’all.

Let’s get to the weigh in, shall we?

Weekly Weigh-In: 219.8 lbs (Goal: 210 Pounds; 2.1 Pounds Lost)

This Week’s Calorie Requirements and Macros:

With proper weight loss, the number on the scale will decrease slowly.

S L O W L Y

And since our calorie requirement and macros are largely dependent on our current body weight, a small decrease in said body weight will result in an equally small decrease in calorie requirements.

Like, so small it’s hardly noticeable.

Like, so small it’s not even worth really changing.

Calorie requirement for this week is 3,000 / day.

Macros are: 220g protein; 88g of fat; 332g carbs

This Week’s Meal Plan

For simplicity sake, I’ll be doing the same meal plan two weeks in a row with a change every other week. If you want the basic outline of the plan, look here. If you want the details of the plan, look here.

This Week’s Workout Plan

  • Monday: Boxing — 60 Minutes
  • Tuesday: Rest day due to travel
  • Wednesday: Boxing — 60 Minutes; Jiu Jitsu — 60 Minutes
  • Thursday: Weightlifting — Deadlifts, Bench Press, Biceps Circuit
  • Friday: Active Recovery (Stretching, etc.)
  • Saturday: Kickboxing — 60 Minutes
  • Sunday: MMA — 60 Minutes; Weightlifting — Squats, Pull-Ups, Triceps Circuit

Anything Else?

You betcha. I’m referring to this week as Loading and Deloading because I’m going to start supplementing with creatine and will be going through a “loading” phase with it where I consume about 20g of it per day. My weight-training program is going to be in a “deload” phase where I’ll be lifting at 40-50% of my max to give my muscles a rest. So next week I’ll be back to hitting heavy weights with muscles saturated with creatine!

If you’re not following me on Instagram you’re missing some stuff. Otherwise if you still have questions or comments or want to join in, send me a message, I’d love to chat with you!

Also, I’d love to be your personal trainer if you’re into it. I am!

-JTF

JTF’s Mount Crushmore Meal Plan: Week 1

First of all, I’d like to say sorry that it has taken so long to get this post up. I had it ready earlier in the week but could never quite get a good enough photo of meal six. Anyway. Let us begin …

Let me start this by saying meal plans are hard, y’all. Especially if you know jack about nutrition. For me, the eating portion of wellness is the hardest part to learn and stick with … which really sucks when you learn nutrition is 80% of the equation (some even say 90%).

So many times people ask me “what did you do?” or “how long did it take?” or “you cut out carbs, didn’t you?”

I answer question one by saying “yes,” because I didn’t (and still don’t) follow a specific plan. I answer question two by also saying “yes,” because the phrasing indicates I’m finished and that’s not true and never will be. I answer question three by laughing hysterically.

Five years ago when my doctor told me I was in horrible condition, she suggested a strict diet and I was heartbroken because I loved food so much. Cooking is more than a necessity for me — it’s a stress reliever, a show of affection and a way of life. The idea that my lifestyle was going to have to change was devastating to me.

So I had to get smart. No, I didn’t go on the Mediterranean Diet that my doctor recommended. No, I also didn’t go straight into eating nothing but salads. Instead, I just started experimenting. Paleo was all the rage back then and I was interested in the idea of eating plenty of animal protein paired with vegetables I actually liked. Mediterranean was wanting me to eat a bunch of seafood (that I won’t re-heat at the office) and drown everything in olive oil (no thanks). Paleo just seemed more sustainable to me.

But I didn’t eat strictly Paleo. I took things I liked from it and started implementing them little bits at a time. I still liked rice so I still ate it. I still liked deep-fried foods so I didn’t cut them out (though I did start limiting them). Ultimately, over the next couple of years I spent my time trying things and more things and more things. Some stuff was amazing, some stuff flopped. I never stopped myself from having treats and I never forced myself to eat stuff I didn’t like.

Eating has to be enjoyable, after all.

The point I’m trying to convey here is that there wasn’t a fix-all diet or meal plan for me and there isn’t one for you, either. I chose Paleo because it seemed the most sustainable way for me to restrict my caloric intake, eat “cleaner” AND enjoy what I was eating all at once. If you don’t know where to start, I would suggest researching the many eating philosophies out there, choosing one that fits your lifestyle best and using it as an outline to get you going.

It’s a process but it will pay off in the end.

If you’ve followed me on Instagram for any amount of time, you’ll know that I’m all about that meal prep life. Not only does it save me time throughout the week by having all of my meals portioned and ready for me but it also helps me plan ahead and make sure that I’m getting my caloric requirements met each day while having more control over what those calories are made of.

If you’re interested in tracking macros, I plan on sharing a post in the next week or two that details all things macro and how I break mine down. If you’re just getting started on your weight-loss / fitness journey, however, I’d suggest telling macros to buzz off. Learn your calorie requirement first and get good at it — THEN we can start looking at macros.

Baby steps, y’all.

It was baby steps that helped me lose 100 pounds and it’s going to be baby steps that will help you achieve your goals as well.

They’ve also helped me develop this week’s meal plan:

Meal One: Breakfast

Oatmeal, Protein Shake

480 Calories; 38g Protein; 7g Fat; 67g Carbs

I keep packs of Quaker Instant Oatmeal at my desk at work. I also have a short blender bottle and a can of Forza Pro whey protein by Forzaone. For this breakfast I mix two packs of oatmeal with warm water and serve it alongside a protein shake consisting of one scoop of whey with about 16 ounces of water. Simple, cheap, filling.

Meal Two: Mid-Morning Snack

Oatmeal, Banana

265 Calories; 5g Protein; 3.5g Fat; 58g Carbs

Back to that oatmeal. One could ask why don’t I just put three packs in my breakfast and that’s valid. I just chose to include it here to make me feel like I’m eating more. Nothing special about the banana.

Meal Three: Lunch

Grilled Chicken, Roasted Broccoli, Steamed Rice

475 Calories; 45g Protein; 6g Fat; 50g Carbs

Talk about stereotypical. The quintessential meathead meal prep lunch is baked chicken, brown rice and steamed broccoli. I try to take it to a different level, though, by grilling my chicken (marinated in Italian dressing), roasting my broccoli with a dash of garlic powder and I go with steamed white rice because brown rice sucks. Portions are: 8oz chicken, 1 cup of rice, 8oz of broccoli.

Meal Four: Mid-Afternoon Snack

Banana, Dry Frosted Flakes

248 Calories; 3g Protein; 1.5g Fat; 62g Carbs

Carbing up in the afternoon. They’re needed macros, man! I went with another banana because it’s a good source of complex carbs and I chose Frosted Flakes because it was a pretty easy say of portioning out something that’s sweet but not a killer. I get an afternoon sweet tooth — bite me. The banana is just a banana and I’m portining out 1 cup of cereal.

Post-Workout

Protein Shake

160 Calories; 30g Protein; 2g Fat; 5g Carbs

I almost always end up at the gym after work so I keep another can of whey protein in my locker. I mix a scoop with 16oz of water and kill it before heading home for the night.

Meal 5: Dinner

Korean-style Ground Beef, Steamed Cauliflower Rice, Roasted Carrots, Fried Eggs

828 Calories; 76g Protein; 45g Fat; 22g Carbs

This was probably my most calculated meal and I’ll explain why. First of all, I use a slightly modified version of this recipe for my ground beef (subbing coconut sugar for regular, subbing all mirin in place of sake, subbing coconut aminos for soy sauce). For this week, I chose to go with 85% lean ground beef which goes against nearly all diet advice but it greatly helps me with my fat macro as it’s sometimes a little on the low side. I went with steamed cauliflower because I’d rather get my carbs from a dessert treat than through more white rice and I went with carrots because of color and I just like them. I roasted the carrots the same way I did the broccoli above. Finally, I’m topping it all with two fried eggs because I needed more protein / fat and everything just tastes better with a fried egg on top.

Portions for this is 8oz ground beef; 1.5 cups cauliflower rice; 6oz carrots; 2 large eggs

Meal 6: Dessert

Peanut Butter Toast

520 Calories; 20g Protein; 36g Fat; 42g Carbs

About a year ago I decided that I wanted to work an evening treat into my macros. These are typically carb/fat heavy but I like them so I put them in the meal plan and work around them. This treat includes two slices of Dave’s Killer Bread (thin-sliced) that I’ve toasted in my oven before topping each with 2 tablespoons of Target brand Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter. It’s warm and it’s carby and it makes me ready to go to bed. Everybody wins.


If you’re interested, the final calculations vs. what my actual need looks like this:

  • Calories: 2,976 / 3,000
  • Protein: 217g / 220g
  • Fat: 101g / 88g
  • Carbs: 306g / 332g

It doesn’t hit everything perfectly but I don’t expect it to. Frankly I don’t even want it to as trying to hit your macros 100% perfectly will do nothing but drive you crazy. Furthermore, going over on your calorie requirement by 100 calories or so … OR falling short a little … isn’t going to make or break your plan. Sometimes we stress about the details when we should be stressing about getting stronger, getting prettier and being better people.

One more thing …

So What Are You Drinking?

Water. Lots of water. If you know me you know I’m married to my 2.2-liter bottle and take it everywhere I go. Is it obnoxious, yes. Do I hate being that guy? Sometimes yes. Do I ever worry about not consuming enough water? Never. Having this with me also helps me make better decisions when I’m confronted with sodas and whatnot when I’m at a lunch with coworkers or if there are treats at the office.

I also drink 3-5 cups of coffee every day. In the words of Nathan Explosion, I take my coffee blacker than the blackest black times infinity. I don’t typically care much for sugar or creamer in my coffee anyway so I don’t feel like this is an issue. If you DO enjoy it, go for it as the macros for a reasonable amount of sugar and creamer are minuscule. You’re really only going to run into game-changers when you hit the Starbucks drive-thru for basically anything but a black coffee. Sorry about it.

Anyway. That’s how I’m eating this week. What y’all got?

JTF’s Mount Crushmore, Week 1

Alright so we’re on it. Mount Crushmore is a thing and it’s pretty exciting! There’s a lot to get through here so let’s dive right in.

I’ll quickly say that this week my weekly weigh-in and bi-weekly measurements were all done with InBody Testing at my local Nutrishop. This is a free service they provide and there’s really no reason for you to not go check it out!

Weekly Weigh-In: 221.9 Pounds (Goal: 210 Pounds)

Bi-Weekly Measurements:

  • Body Fat Percentage: 21.7% (Goal: 15%)
  • Skeletal Muscle Mass: 98.8 Pounds
  • Body Fat Mass: 48.3 Pounds

Monthly Measurements:

  • Neck: 15″
  • Chest: 41″
  • Arms: 14″
  • Waist: 37.5″
  • Hips: 39″
  • Legs: 22.75″

This Week’s Calorie Requirements and Macros:

Next week I’ll explain how I got these figures. For now, just tough it out with me.

The intention is to cut one pound per week so with a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) of 2,038.36 with an additional 1,477.81 calories to account for my activity level, my daily calorie requirement is 3,516.17. To cut one pound per week, I’ll cut 500 calories per day so that leaves 3,016.17 — we’ll call it 3,000 calories per day.

At my current weight, I’m shooting for 220 grams of protein, 88 grams of fat and 332 grams of carbs per day. This is all based on suggested targets that I will also explain in my macros post next week.

This Week’s Meal Plan:

This week I wanted to do something pretty simple with the meal plan — something that would require very little thought and equally little effort in the kitchen on Sunday. So I went with a few standbys that are going to be staples on a lot of “meathead” meal plans. Except you won’t see brown rice here — that shit sucks. If you like something, eat it. There are no “bad” foods. We should always enjoy eating. If you’re not enjoying your meals every day, you’re doing something wrong.

Anyway.

The meal plan this week is broken down into seven “meals” that consist of…

  • Meal One — Breakfast
    • 2 Packs of Quaker Instant Oatmeal (mixed with water) and one protein shake (also mixed with water)
  • Meal Two — Mid-Morning Snack
    • 1 Banana; 1 Pack of Quaker Instant Oatmeal (mixed with water)
  • Meal Three — Lunch
    • 8oz grilled chicken; 1 cup steamed white rice; 1 cup roasted broccoli
  • Meal Four — Mid-Afternoon Snack
    • 1 Banana; 1 cup of Frosted Flakes
  • Meal Five — Post-Workout
    • Protein Shake (mixed with water)
  • Meal Six — Dinner
    • 8oz “Korean-Style” ground beef; 1 cup cauliflower rice, 6oz roasted carrots; two fried eggs
  • Meal Seven — Bedtime Snack
    • Two Slices of Dave’s Killer Bread, Toasted; 4 tablespoons extra-crunchy peanut butter

This Week’s Workout Plan:

This week, as with almost all weeks, will consist of cardio in the form of boxing, kickboxing and MMA classes at Title Boxing Club, two Jiu Jitsu classes at Gracie Barra Knoxville and two weight-training sessions that I’ll detail very soon.

  • Monday: Boxing — 60 Minutes; Weightlifting — Deadlifts, Bench Press, Biceps Circuit; Jiu Jitsu — 60 Minutes
  • Tuesday: Boxing — 45 Minutes
  • Wednesday: Boxing — 60 Minutes; Jiu Jitsu — 60 Minutes
  • Thursday: Rest (Stretching)
  • Friday: Boxing — 60 Minutes
  • Saturday: Weightlifting — Squats, Pull-Ups, Triceps Circuit
  • Sunday: MMA — 60 Minutes

Mercy. That’s a lot of information. Just know that every week won’t be this in-depth. This includes the weekly, bi-weekly and monthly information so it’s going to make the next few weeks look a little skimpy! Please follow me on Instagram if you want to see how things are going!

Later this week look for a post that details my meal plan for this week more in-depth. I’ll try to cover the entire process if I can!

Good luck on your journey, y’all — whatever that journey may be.

Mount Crushmore: the Introduction + 7 Questions

In my last post I mentioned that we’d be discussing “fat” in the next post. Looks like it didn’t work out that way and I honestly feel bad about it. HOWEVER. I’m going to do you one better. How about instead of just talking about fat, we put fitness and nutrition into practice and actually burn some?

Well, I’m going to burn it and you’re going to follow the process. Maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe you’ll get inspired. Maybe you’ll set my townhouse on fire. Who knows. Either way …


So my ass is going to be losing 10 pounds and dropping my body fat percentage by 5%.

When I decided to document my process of cutting some weight and body fat, this was the first thing I wrote down. The goal of this series is to document everything I do to reach this goal and share the details on a regular basis until I get there. I really want to show people how I do what I do and prove that you don’t have to go on a juice cleanse or rabbit food diet to see results. I may reach some grand conclusion or have actually gotten nowhere. Regardless, I’ll be 10 pounds lighter, 5% leaner and well on my way to my next goal.

Any questions?

Question 1: What the Hell?

“The Hell” is that I need to regain some control. My full-time job has been a drag lately and I need a pick-me-up. As a result of said drag, I’ve been stress eating, drinking more diet sodas and caring very little about my caloric intake. Consequently, I’ve put on a few pounds I wasn’t trying to wear and I’m feeling a little sluggish lately. I figured if I’m not good at anything else, I’m good at working out, meal prepping and sharing my processes. Now we’re here:

Question 2: Mount Crushmore?

I like to come up with names for the programs I make myself and my clients. So far I’ve designed JTF’s Stronger Things, Jim’s Big Time Boxing Hour, Amanda’s the Next Kid Dynamite, Nina Becomes a Killer in 2019, Kelsey’s Gonna Get Toned AF in 2019, JTF’s Cult Leader and Raul’s Master Chef Standard.

The original name of this program was JTF’s Bind, Torture and Kill, a clear reference to the BTK killer that ran wild from 1974-1991. When I decided to share this program I simultaneously decided to no longer reference a sexual sadist in my workout plan regardless of how intense it made it sound. Instead, I’m now going with Mount Crushmore which appears to be a craft beer of some kind but I heard it from the Maryland stoner rock band Asthma Castle. I think it’s a brutal phrase so we’re keeping it.

Question 3: How Do We Do It?

Well first of all, I never said we were doing anything but if you want to follow along, you certainly can. Over the next several weeks I’m going to be changing my meal plan, hitting a new weight-lifting routine and making a few other necessary changes to get me to my ultimate goal. I get a lot of questions from clients and potential clients about how the process works and I hope that doing this will help make it a little more clear for some of you.

Question 4: What Can We Expect to See in This Blog?

Weekly you’ll see my weigh-in reading, my calorie requirement and macros for the week, a meal-plan outline and my workout plan.

Bi-Weekly you’ll see my body fat percentage, Skeletal Muscle Mass reading, Body Fat Mass reading and a more detailed look at my meal plan.

Monthly I’ll be sharing my physical measurements for key points of the body to indicate true program success.

Occasionally I’ll share other bits of info including how to calculate your caloric needs, how to calculate macros, podcasts I’m listening to to stay motivated, custom workout playlists, progress photos and supplement breakdowns.

Question 5: Can I Download This Stuff?

Good question. The answer is hopefully yes. My goal is to provide a link to downloadable/printable versions of my nutrition plan and workout plan every week and include them with each post.

Question 6: So When Do We Start?

No fooling, the first post for this series will be up on Monday, April 1, 2019. I’ll also be documenting everything I’m getting into over on my Instagram account both as posts and as stories so if you don’t follow me yet, maybe get on it.

Question 7: If I Want to Follow Along, What Do I Need?

For starters, a scale and an accurate way of measuring body fat. A bathroom scale works just fine for these purposes and body fat can be measured in a variety of ways. I’ll be using InBody technology that anyone can have access to at Nutrishop Knoxville.

For meal prepping you’ll need access to a kitchen with common items including oven, stove and cookware. Items that are NOT required but I’ll be using: charcoal grill, Kitchenaid stand mixer and an Instant Pot. For portion control and meal readiness, I’d suggest a kitchen scale and meal prep containers.

I’ll be doing all of my workouts either at TITLE Boxing Club Knoxville, Gracie Barra Knoxville or a local park. What you’ll need is a place you can lift weights and a place where you can do 30-60 minutes of cardio. I don’t care what it is.

Question 8: Can You Make a Custom Workout / Meal Plan For Me?

Ethically speaking, I can’t make custom meal plans as part of my business but I am qualified to speak to you about making better decisions and I can hold your hand while you make your own meal plan. Also: I’ll totally make the hell out of a workout plan for you if you sign up as a client. DO IT.

Anyway, get ready to hit the kitchen and the gym, y’all. We’re about to cut that fat.

Let’s Talk About Abs — Part 1 in a Series

I stopped reading Men’s Health magazine years ago once I realized they only seemed to report on nutrition, exercise and scientific studies that were either produced by or were at least supportive of the sponsor on the next page. They, like many other “fitness” lifestyle brands love to print page after page after page of routines and diets and supplements that are designed to get you jacked and hella lean with crazy endurance and perfect skin.

And to the consumer, it’s exactly what we’re looking for. Someone else has done the work for us — THIS magazine has cut through all the bullshit, translated the scientific lingo into dummy terms and distilled all the information into three pages (or one iconographic) that will tell me exactly what foods I need to eat (or NEVER eat), which exercises to do (or NEVER do), which supplements to take (or NEVER take) and each comes with a link to where you can buy the right $tuff.

Their diet claims are usually alarmist and are based entirely on clicks (just see how many Keto references are on Men’s Health’s website currently), their “celebrity” workout plans are highly inaccurate and often require equipment common gyms will never have, and their overall model is one that continuously sells the average Joe a highly unattainable reality … yet he just keeps buying it.

Why all this vitriol toward popular health magazines?

Because this popped up in my inbox over the weekend:

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This Brutal Ab Circuit Will Rock You to an 8-Pack

This prize-winning, ultra-secret, breakthrough ab circuit will absolutely blow your mind … when you learn that it’s merely three “rocking” variations of the hollow body hold. They appear to be a part of a larger program being sold in book form on the website (because of course it is). It’s written by a trainer who’s certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, so I have no doubt that the program overall is effective.

So the larger program is good but you run into problems when “journalists” who have no certifications to speak of and seem to just write for whoever will pay them (can’t blame them — also yes, I stalked this dude way more than I’d like to admit) start making claims like this shit will give you an 8-pack.

I can hear you, though — dude’s just doing his job. He’s writing for a bullshit men’s lifestyle magazine that pays its bills by making people click links to pages they’ve sold ads on. And you’re right; he is merely doing his job.

But think about this — there are people all over the world that have set New Year’s goals to get themselves in shape. There are tons of people that have recently been given a medical diagnosis that requires them to lose the fat or else. There are just so many people in the world that don’t know where to look for good information. And the fact that Men’s Health … and Women’s Health … and Men’s Journal … and Muscle and Fitness … and countless other publications have flashy websites, large social media followings and celebrities on their covers is enough to convince most people that the information they’re selling is legit.

Sometimes it is. Most of the time it’s not.

That program will not and never will give you an 8-pack.

I hate to break it to you guys but you can do thousands of crunches, sit-ups and planks and you will never get a four or a six or an eight or whatever other count of pack you think you’ve earned by laying on the ground flailing around for hours. Your midsection is going to be sore and yes, you will get much stronger … But defined abs simply will not emerge no matter how many of these weird hollow body holds you subject yourself to.

The result is tens … maybe hundreds … maybe thousands of dudes that get frustrated with their lack of progress so they quit. I mean, the magazine said it would give me an 8-pack — what am I doing wrong?

But it ain’t y’all’s fault (entirely).


At the end of class at TITLE Boxing Club, we finish things off with 7-15 minutes of core where I guide my members through a variety of moves to work all areas of their abdomens, hips, lower backs, glutes and balance. But I ain’t selling my members any bullshit. I’m often up front while we do core and I confess to them that this work won’t get them a six-pack. But it’s also not intended to. We do core workouts to make our cores stronger. This not only makes us better boxers but it will also make normal everyday life much easier. Stability will increase, range of motion will increase, posture will improve and you will be undeniably stronger as a result of the work we do during the last portion of class.

But nope. No six packs. I tell my people six packs are made in the kitchen and that’s exactly why I don’t have one.

It’s estimated that about 40% of adults over the age of 20 in the United States are obese (with a BMI of over 30) and another 30+% are considered overweight (BMIs between 25 and 30). According to an admittedly limited study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, between the years of 1999-2004, the average American male’s body fat percentage was 28.1% while the average female sat at 40%. These numbers mean nothing until you realize that healthy numbers for males and females are 18-24% and 25-31% respectfully. Anything greater is considered obese.

And if these numbers didn’t seem impossible enough … men typically don’t see their abs until they’re between 16-19% and they won’t have that defined look until they’re in the 11-12% range. For women, those abs start showing between 21-23% but won’t start looking defined until 15-17%!

Let’s be honest — that’s really fucking low.

Let’s be even more honest — that’s really not fucking worth it.

So what are your goals? For most of you, I’m willing to bet those goals are something like “feel better with my shirt off” or “be more confident” or “go down a shirt size” — hell, it may just be “BE HEALTHIER.” Defined abs are nice but they have nothing to do with either of these goals. They’re not a part of any attainable goal (as far as I’m concerned) unless your goal is to compete or get a modeling gig.

Love you guys but that ain’t y’all.


In the end, the only way to get defined abs is to reduce your body fat percentage heavily. You have to have your workouts on point and your nutrition in check. And by “in check” what I mean to say is it has to be perfect. Not damn-near, not mostly, but perfect.

Chris Hemsworth did it. So did Jason Momoa. So did Michael B. Jordan. Those are great goals to admire but those dudes get paid to do it. That’s full-time paid to get in shape for movie roles. They have trainers and assistants and chefs and nutritionists and quite literally all the time in the world while preparing for said roles. I’m guessing you don’t. CGI also isn’t available IRL yet so you’re not getting any help there, either, bruh.

This doesn’t mean we can’t get a move on in that direction! Any progress is good progress when it comes to your health and fitness. Fully defined abs may be way-way-way too far out of reach at this point, but decreasing your body fat percentage a little bit isn’t.

So let’s make a series out of it. Spend some time developing some attainable goals for your fitness / health / life and meet me back here next week when we talk about …

FAT

 

Attainable Goals vs. the World

It’s Friday, January 11. Chance are, you set a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get in shape (in 2018, roughly 45% of resolutions vowed to do this). Yet, statistically, the obesity rate in the United States continues to rise. It’s no secret that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail and merely 8% of those resolutions made are actually achieved.

That’s pretty grim, no?

According to the Independent, athletic social network Strava has determined that the second Friday of the year (that’s today) is unofficially “Quitter’s Day” — the day when motivation tends to falter and a large percentage of that 80% has already given up on their goals. I’m not okay with this and you shouldn’t be either. So what do we do about it?

Ultimately, we start by addressing the problem — your goals suck.

When we make New Year’s resolution, we usually set big-picture goals that are unattainable or we set goals that are too vague to achieve. “I want to get fit” is a great goal on paper but in practice it’s shit. It’s a big-picture goal that you can’t just go out and achieve.

I wear a ring on a necklace inspired by the Uncharted video game series. Main character Nathan Drake wears a ring he lifted from the Museo Maritimo in Colombia that once supposedly belonged to the late English explorer Sir Francis Drake. Engraved on the ring you’ll find 29 Januarie 1596 (the day after the reported death of the explorer), 9-32-79 indicating the coordinates of Drake’s empty coffin discovered off the coast of Panama and the phrase Sic Parvis Magna — a Latin phrase roughly translated as Greatness From Small Beginnings or Great Things come from Small Achievements.

Herein lies the magic secret to achieving your big-picture goals. It’s not attacking a beast of a goal, but instead going after the little devils that make up the beast.

Allow me to let one of my favorite characters illustrate this further:

What Can We Learn About Achieving Goals From Scott Pilgrim?

Scott is an unassuming 23-year-old musician in Toronto that, despite dating 17-year-old Knives Chau (SCANDAL!), falls in love with his (literal) dream girl Ramona Flowers. Scott immediately sets out to talk to Ramona more and start a relationship with her (our hero’s big-picture goal).

But much like we can’t achieve our big-picture beast without first attacking its many devils, Scott can’t have a happy life with Ramona unless he defeats her Seven Evil Exes.

Small Goal 1: Matthew Patel

Right out of the gate, we find one of the hardest things to deal with when pursuing a new goal. Scott has no idea about the League of Ramona’s Evil Exes, even after his first obstacle — Matthew Patel — repeatedly warns him of the upcoming fight. Matthew eventually confronts Scott before a Sex Bob-omb concert. Scott responds by using his existing battle skills (explained in the graphic novels, not so much in the movie) to defeat the first ex. After easily taking down Matthew, Scott is rewarded a measly $2.40 before he and Ramona decide to be a couple.

This was (and will continue to be) Scott’s easiest fight. He didn’t know the situation before him and was certainly not prepared for it. However, he used his existing skillset to knock out the simple hurdle that stood between him and getting closer to living forever with Ramona. You can easily draw a parallel with yourself here — taking that first step, the one that requires arguably the smallest amount of work and only requires skills you already have. If your goal is to get in shape, this step could be visiting a local gym you’re interested in. You know how to drive, you know how to speak, you know how to spend money, ask questions and sign your name (if it’s the right gym for you). Just like the $2.40 Scott received, however, this first step may not result in a big payoff (yet) but it’s a step in the right direction.

Goal 1: accomplished.

Small Goal 2: Lucas Lee

Scott’s next goal requires a little finesse. Pro skateboarder and actor Lucas Lee is in town shooting a movie and he just so happens to also be Ramona’s ex. High off the fumes of his previous win and with hearts in his eyes from Ramona, Scott meets Lucas on set where he proceeds to get his scrawny ass kicked. Lucas is a tough guy and, together with his many stunt doubles, has fighting skills that Scott simply can’t compete with. Realizing this, Scott takes a different approach and convinces Lucas to attempt an impossible and very dangerous skateboard stunt that proves fatal for the cocky actor. Scott learns that some of his foes are going to require brainpower in addition to fighting skills and he’s rewarded $14 in coins and a mithril skateboard he can’t use (because he isn’t proficient in that skill) as a result.

So Scott was feeling pretty good about defeating the first ex — much like you’re feeling good about joining that gym. So you ride high and take off toward your next goal, which could be accomplishing your first workout or losing your first five pounds. But what you may find out is that Keto is an impossible diet to follow or that running is literally the WORST. You can allow yourself to accept defeat or you can be like Scott and decide to go a different path — like Paleo or boxing (two of my personal favorites). If that doesn’t work, you find a different approach. And you keep stabbing away until you’ve accomplished your goal.

Goal 2 Deceived and Achieved

Small Goal 3: Todd Ingram

Todd Ingram is the bass player in the famous band Clash at Demonhead — a band that’s fronted by Scott’s ex-girlfriend Natalie V (Envy) Adams. Once Scott learns that Todd partially caused Envy’s disgusting new personality, Scott calls him a “cocky cock” and attempts to fight him. He’s largely unsuccessful in his endeavor because Todd possesses psychic vegan powers that make him a stronger fighter and better bass player. Envy at one point tells Scott “You can’t win this fight.” In the graphic novel, however, Todd is defeated after his powers are removed by the Vegan Police once they charge him with consuming gelato and chicken parmesan. In the movie, the Vegan Police arrive after Scott tricks Todd into consuming dairy creamer.

While the defeat of Todd happens in two different ways in the two adaptations of the Scott Pilgrim story, there’s a lot that can be learned from this battle. This is another example of how Scott stood up against odds that were heavily stacked against him. And although he was seemingly defeated several times in this struggle, he kept returning with a new approach each time (fighting, bass-battling and cunning). This goes right along with how we accomplished our second small goal above. But I think it’s also important to note that Envy told Scott he was going to lose. I explained in my previous post that sometimes you’re on your own if you want to accomplish something. You will likely be faced with negative people who will either refuse to support you or will try to drag you down every chance they get. Scott was yearning for closure with Envy but he didn’t let her get to him when she told him he was destined to lose the fight. Likewise, we can’t lose sight of our ultimate goal no matter how much those closest to us try to dissuade us.

Goal 3: Tricked into consuming dairy and finalized

Small Goal 4: Roxie Richter

Each time Scott refers to Ramona’s ex-boyfriends, she corrects him by saying “exes.” When he asks why she keeps saying this …

Roxie Richter was Ramona’s college roommate during her “sexy” bi-curious phase and while she still has a soft spot (literally) for Ramona, she is filled with rage when it comes to Scott, prompting her to attack him with reckless abandon. Refusing to fight a girl, Scott gets Knives’ dad to battle her in the graphic novel and Ramona to fight her in the movie. Roxie is then defeated after being touched on her secret erogenous zone behind her knee that Ramona knows and informs Scott about.

Scott certainly did not expect one of Ramona’s exes to be a girl but that was the situation he found himself in. We, too, often don’t expect a lot of the obstacles that are put in our way but it’s up to us to take them on regardless. The fight phrase is Stay ready so you never have to get ready and that certainly applies here. You will be thrown curveballs you won’t know how to deal with and it’s entirely up to you to decide how you handle it.

Roxie’s blind rage and inferiority complex both contribute to her demise but she would have never been defeated had Scott not gotten a bit of information from Ramona. We can often gain access to information that will help us succeed by researching, asking our peers and superiors, and from just flat-out experience! Don’t let the unknown prevent you from achieving your ultimate goal — or even your smaller goals!

Goal 4: Kicked in the balls

Small Goals 5 and 6: Kyle and Ken Katayanagi

In what is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time, evil exes 5 and 6 take the form of two handsome Japanese twins whose DJ act is up against Sex Bob-omb in an “amp vs. amp” semifinals match in the battle of the bands. The twins summon a Double Dragon character from their amp stack that promptly attacks Scott’s band, blowing them over and nearly destroying their equipment. The crowd is impressed and the venue’s roof is blown off. Unsatisfied with the outcome and enraged by the sight of Ramona hanging with Gideon, Scott rallies his band and stomps his Yeti distortion pedal, which summons an actual Yeti that obliterates the Double Dragon and, ultimately, the twins.

Sex Bob-omb lead man Stephen Stills is none-too-pleased to find out they’re facing the twins in this semi-final matchup, drawing up a diagram of them and proclaiming that they are “totally badass.” But Scott doesn’t care — he’s angry, he’s determined, he’s focused. This leads him to keep his head on straight despite the minor setback during the show. We, too, will suffer many setbacks while achieving our big-picture goal. Unintentional weight gain, a missed gym session, a failed diet … anything can derail us but with enough focus (and distortion) we can overcome any double-dragon that gives us grief on our journey.

Goals 5 and 6: Desecrated

Small Goal 7: Gideon Graves

In the film adaptation, Scott enters Gideon’s newly opened Chaos Theater where a Scott-less Sex Bob-omb is playing a show to celebrate their new record deal with G-Man (Scott’s bass-playing duties being assumed by Young Neil). When he makes his intentions to fight Gideon known, Scott confesses his true love for Ramona, earning him the Power of Love sword (he receives this earlier in the graphic novel). Gideon is able to take the sword from Scott and kills him with it, sending Scott to a dreamlike afterworld. Fortunately for Scott, he received an extra life after defeating the twins that he uses to return to the club for a do-over. This time, he has a new focus — he wants to fight Gideon for himself. This motivation leads Scott to slay Gideon who shatters into 7,777,777 coins that rain on the crowd.

Scott had good intentions when he entered the club on that fateful night but his focus was skewed. At this point, his motivation was to simply achieve the goal because it was what was expected of him –- it was just what was “next” — and he paid for it with his life. While dying as a result of turbulent focus is a little extreme, it’s safe to say that we often let the overall goal overshadow our reasoning for achieving it in the first place. In the weight-loss example, we can be motivated by the desire to lose weight or look good in a bikini, but in the end, our goal should focus more on what we can prove to ourselves than what we can prove to our peers. A desire to show yourself what you’re capable of or make yourself happy can often be stronger than the desire to impress others. This is illustrated when Scott respawns in the club and alerts Gideon that he’s there to fight for himself. The focus has shifted and the passion has renewed. Regrouping and approaching with a fresh mindset is totally allowed while going out to reach our final goal.

Goal 7: Achieved and reward collected

Bonus Level Goal: NegaScott

Jumping back to the graphic novel version of the story, NegaScott appears to remind Scott of all the mistakes he’s made in the past. In the final volume of the story, Scott wants to battle NegaScott, looking at him as another obstacle to overcome, but Kim encourages him to stop running and accept responsibility for his past. This decision causes Scott to merge with the Nega version of himself, thereby restoring his memory. In the film, NegaScott emerges as a final boss once Gideon is defeated. A battle is not shown, however, Scott and NegaScott are seen having a friendly conversation about a hip brunch spot, presumably having made plans to meet there.

More often than not, when we go on life-changing journeys it ends up being ourselves that act as our biggest obstacle. Just like Scott, we often remember our past failings — the opportunities we missed, the whole pizza we ate, the workout we missed, the money we wasted — and instead of accepting it and moving toward our greater goal, we choose to battle the memory. This causes us to stay in a constant battle with our past selves instead of putting our effort into our future selves. In doing so, you’ve made yourself your worst enemy.

But in reality, we could just as easily be our own best friend! In the story, Scott explains that he and NegaScott surprisingly have a lot in common and in choosing to befriend his past mistakes and work with them, he’s able to gain the confidence to press on with his mission of making Ramona his forever. We, too, are much better off when we accept our mistakes, learn from them and stop battling them. Maybe even offer to take them out for brunch.

Bonus Level Goal: Taken out for French Toast and Achieved

Though it may have required getting started with an existing toolset, trying something different after failing, ignoring naysayers, asking for help, staying focused in the face of the impossible, changing focus mid-goal and accepting his past screw-ups … in the end, Scott Pilgrim was able to hold Ramona’s hand as they gravitated toward their next door in subspace.

A life with Ramona Flowers is a difficult goal to achieve but one worth chipping away at and fighting for.

Just like your weight-loss goal.

Or creativity goal.

Or financial goal.

Or travel goal.

Or any other goal that’s worth setting.

If you want more geeky info on setting attainable goals, check out this article from Nerdfitness.

So what are YOU doing in 2019?