Catching up…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 5, 2012 by J Forney

It’s been a while.  The rainy season and travel to Koidu Town (Kono District) conspired to keep me from posting at something like a weekly pace.

My trip to Koidu Town was a tremendously productive two weeks of fieldwork, amounting to almost 60 interviews, and an amazing collection of wartime documents kept meticulously by a wonderful man named Philip Fambois.

Koidu is one of the main diamond ferrous areas of Sierra Leone, and has been the source of billions of dollars of diamonds (including lots of so-called “blood diamonds” during the war) over the last several decades.  For all of the value that has been extracted from the soil of Koidu, the people of Koidu Town have almost nothing to show for it.  The town doesn’t have a single internet cafe or a properly paved road.  Unemployment is rampant, as it is in most of Salone, and the local economy continues to revolve around small scale prospecting for diamonds.  I walked past an NGO office aptly named “Life After Diamonds.”  I passed by during the middle of a weekday, but the office looked empty…I hope that isn’t a commentary on the prospects for the future of Koidu.  

After Koidu, I bounced back to Freetown for a couple of days, and now I’m back in Bo for a short stint.  I’ll be hopping around the country a good deal during my last month here, but I’m going to try to do a better job of keeping up with the now backlogged blog posts.

Week 15: 164.0

Posted in Uncategorized on January 14, 2010 by J Forney

I hereby wash my hands of this silliness.

In the course of the past 15 weeks, I have gained 13 lbs.  In general, I made almost perfectly linear gains at a rate of 1 lb/week.  I lost 2 lbs as a result of a week and a half of stress and poor eating around finals; that was the only setback.

I’m going to declare the program a success.  The muscular gains that I have made have been reflected in measurably improved athletic performance.   I have retained a great deal of metabolic fitness throughout the program, and I managed to track my overall caloric and macronutrient intake in great detail as a result of using the zone block system.

I hope that I have documented this program in great enough detail and with a sufficient degree of “quasi-experimental” control to allow for replication by others who are interested in gaining weight and improving athletic performance.

Benchmarks and Measurements

Posted in Uncategorized on January 10, 2010 by J Forney

I just totaled my Olympic lifts this week.  Although I was somewhat disappointed in my Snatch, I hit a massive new PR in my Clean and Jerk.

Snatch: 65 kg
C&J: 100 kg*

I feel like I’m reaching the end of my rope on the current weight-gain project, so I took a final set of diameter measurements of various body parts.  The resulting changes were generally consistent with my predictions at the beginning of this project.  Here are the figures in inches:

Neck: 15.75
Chest: 39.5
Waist: 33.0
Hips: 38.0
Thigh: 24

The changes in diameter (all changes were positive) from my original measurements are the following:

Neck: 0.55
Chest: 0.5
Waist: 1.0
Hips: 1.0
Thigh: 0.75

I made significant muscular gains on my hips and legs, and gained a significant amount of fat around my natural waist.  Now, the trick will be to shed some of the fat without losing the new muscle tissue.

Week 14: 163.0

Posted in Uncategorized on January 7, 2010 by J Forney

After fighting off a holiday cold, eating holiday junk and drinking new year’s booze, I’ve miraculously made it back to 163 lbs.

I haven’t been eating paleo or zone, nor have I been training regularly.  This week marks a return to relative “normality” in training and diet.  Since I’m still at home, I won’t be eating zone, but I will be eating very close to paleo (with the exception of dairy).  I will be training heavy in a two-week strength cycle, maxing my o-lifts once each week.  Two weeks ago, I maxed my clean & jerk at 97 kg for a new PR.  I’m hoping to break 100 kg this week.

Week 13: Holiday Garbage

Posted in Uncategorized on January 4, 2010 by J Forney

I didn’t get a chance to weigh in on Wed, the 30th because I was road-tripping up to SF for new year’s.

I ate absolutely everything this holiday season.  Mincemeat pie, peach pie, stuffing.  Everything smothered in butter or gravy when possible.  Always accompanied by plenty of wine and scotch.

I still had trouble gaining weight.  In my family, most meals are planned, “social” meals where it’s rude to eat anything other than what’s being offered; everyone around the table observes, and feels entitled to comment on, how much you’re eating.  Snacking between meals is strongly taboo (everyone in my family is trying to lose weight).  I poured down glasses of 2% milk (my mom refuses to buy whole milk) while dodging the admonition that I would “ruin my appetite.”

Special thanks to my mom’s Broccoli Bake.  Full of mayo, cream of mushroom soup, eggs and cheese (and a little bit of broccoli), it’s the casserole side-dish that eats like a meal.

Week 12: 161.2

Posted in Uncategorized on January 4, 2010 by J Forney

Grading 57 final exams in 48 hours left me stressed and hurting.  I lost about 2 lbs of bodyweight and probably lost about 2 years off of my life.

I had hoped to be pushing 165 by the time I went home for the holidays, but this is where I ended up.

Week 11: 163.3

Posted in Uncategorized on December 16, 2009 by J Forney

Only two pounds away from my goal…

The hypertrophy cycle hasn’t done anything miraculous, but it certainly hasn’t hurt.  I’m entering my fourth week of the cycle, and weight gain has been essentially linear.  This week starts a 1-week “unloading” microcycle, meaning that I’m reducing volume by 50% to allow recovery before going into a strength microcycle.  This decrease in volume may actually lead to a jump in bodyweight.  It’ll be interesting to see how the week goes.

This week’s jump in weight is probably attributable to decreased stress (finally finished grading papers) and increased caloric intake (this was my first full week at 24 blocks).  However, the jump in weight may just be random error too.  Who knows.  I’ve got control over a lot of things, but there are still too many variables.

Week 10: 161.7

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10, 2009 by J Forney

Yet another week of steady, linear gains.

This marks the beginning of my second week eating 24 blocks @ 5 x fat, amounting to roughly 3000 calories per day.  I know that there are dudes out there who have eaten 7-10,000 calories per day.  I’m left wondering how much money they wasted on calories that went straight through their body without any real benefit.  Massive overeating is certainly one approach to putting your body in a protein-sparing state, but I really prefer to use intermittent fasting and gradual increases in caloric intake to accomplish the same thing.

10 lbs in 10 weeks isn’t bad for a rate of gain.  I might be able to accelerate those gains by going “caveman” and eating everything in sight, but the bottom line is that this regimented program is working very effectively and has carried me into a new weight-class and a new pant-size.

MORE Calories

Posted in Uncategorized on December 5, 2009 by J Forney

So Bin has been bugging me about simply eating more (and not worrying about how much I’m eating).  Although there’s really nothing wrong with measurement, Bin does have a point: I could eat more.  It turns out that I’m still eating slightly below 3000 calories per day, even at 22 blocks with 5 x fat.  Here’s how things work out…

So my “Life in the 22 block Zone” post is a decent example of training day eating. 22 protein, 19 carb, 115 fat (although I’ve upped the carbs a bit to even things out).

Let’s say this is a typical day:

22 blocks protein = 616
20 block carbs = 720
115 blocks fat = 1495

That’s approximately 2831 calories per day, which really isn’t that much compared to what a lot of people eat when they’re trying to gain.  I hasten to point out, that I wouldn’t be able to do this kind of assessment if I hadn’t been measuring on a pretty regular basis.

The verdict: I’m going to push myself up to 24 blocks, giving me about 3031 cal. per day.  For the final week or two, I’m considering switching to GOMAD at 5 x fat, which will be 2400 cal. of milk per day and 1495 cal. of fat, for an awesome total of 3895 calories per day.

Week 9: 160.0

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2009 by J Forney

This is truly a momentous occasion — a new personal record as far as bodyweight goes.

I was supposed to increase my daily block count to 24 this week, but I’m going to delay that for at least one more week to see if I can get a few more pounds of linear gains from eating 22 blocks per day.  This still feels like a ton of food, even when half of my calories are going down in liquid form.  I’m convinced that the sensation of being constantly full is actually making me feel more lethargic than is natural given the kinds of food (and the macronutrient proportions) that I’m eating.  I just don’t have the clear-headed “Zone” feeling anymore.

More and more, I really look forward to the days that I get to fast.  I usually go until around 4pm without even thinking about food.   These are always my most mentally focused and productive days.  I can’t wait to be done with this stupid (yet remarkably effective) program.