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Unnecessary Things

After a reader asked about why I don't use shower products on the cold showers post comments, I started thinking of other things people do or use that I find I don't need. Here's a short list, preceded by a disclaimer: I'm not a joyless robot, deranged workaholic, or dirty hippy, so don't start with the pattern matching of stereotypes and questioning of my humanity. I just like to experiment.

Dessert. I randomly decided to only eat one dessert (the French macarons at my wedding) in 2013, and it has been great. It's simpler this way: I never have to resist eating desserts, and I appreciate tasty non-dessert food more. Drawback: sometimes I have nightmares where I accidentally eat a cinnamon roll, or some baddies are chasing me and trying to shove donuts into my mouth.

Drinking things that aren't water. From an early age I never wanted to try soda or coffee, and this persisted to never trying alcohol, either. I eventually accidentally had a digestif on a romantic date with Chloe in Paris, but it was gross. I stopped drinking fruit juice because it's too sweet, milk because of experiments with cutting out dairy, and vegetable juice because it gives me gas. What else do people even drink? Tea, I guess--I drink that when Chloe makes it, but I honestly don't see much difference between tea and hot water. It's just easier to be content with water than to ever crave some other sort of beverage.

Shower products. I gave more details in this comment, but basically I found that after five weeks of not using shampoo, my grease production shut down and I no longer needed shampoo (just like the internet said would happen). I tested body wash on one half of my body for a while and so no difference, so stopped that. I cut out conditioner when I cut off my long hair, and I use a dry-shave electric razor, so I never used shaving cream. Showers are now quite straightforward.

My Fitness Goals and Training Regimen

On Healthier Living, Cheap

I don’t consider myself strong. I am fit, but I am not strong. Hopefully this is evident by my picture that I have included. I cannot bench press more than 200 pounds. I can only do maybe 10 consecutive pull-ups without stopping. Of course my numbers will keep improving the longer I train, but eventually they will plateau. I don’t have a problem with this. This is because of my goals. As a college athlete, I want to be fast, agile, flexible, and strong enough. I don’t need big muscles like a bodybuilder. Let me say that again in case it was not clear: I am not trying to get big. I’m six feet tall and I weigh about 180 lbs, and I don’t think I would ever want to go much higher than 195. In fact, if I got too big, it would be a detriment. With huge muscles you lose things like flexibility.

With these goals in mind, I follow a regimen designed by the trainer at my college. I go to the gym 4 times a week: 2 days mostly focused on upper body exercises, and 2 days mostly focused on lower body exercises. On top of this, I do conditioning 3 times a week(I usually combine a conditioning day with an upper body day). All of my conditioning is based on HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. You can read up on HIIT to learn more about the science behind it, but most trainers agree that it is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise. Starting HIIT when I got to college was a huge change. I ran cross-country in high school so my idea of conditioning was long, slower paced runs(pretty much the opposite of HIIT). Now, I usually run repeats of shuttle runs or sprints at shorter distances(nothing more than 800 meters).

So that’s it for my goals and how I train. It’s what works for me. One of the biggest things to realize is that everyone has individual fitness goals and needs, and that what works for me or you will not necessarily work for somebody else. I will leave you now with a little story about from when I went to the gym about to weeks ago.

It was a leg day for me, specifically front squats. My gym only has one squat rack, so you either have to wait for somebody to finish or work in with somebody else. This day there was an absolutely huge guy doing back squats. This guy was probably 5 foot 8, and he looked like he weighed at least 230(I later found out he was a former bodybuilder). He was squatting 405, sets of 5. I asked him if he was almost done, and he said that he had 5 or 6 more sets, but that I could work in I wanted. I asked him if he was sure, giving him a chance to reconsider, because working in would have had us repeatedly racking and re-racking several plates(I was doing a progression from 135 up to 255). He insisted I work in, saying he needed the break between his sets. So I did. This guy kept watching my form when I was working, and then after I finished my set at 225, he struck up conversation. He said something along the lines of, “You know, what you’re doing is very impressive. I wouldn’t be able to do all the sets you’re doing right now.” Needless to say, I was pretty surprised, but he explained that he didn’t have enough flexibility to front squat as much as I was doing. This really gave me a feeling of validation about my fitness goals.

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