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Can I Wreck My Metabolism Entirely?

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    Can I Wreck My Metabolism Entirely?

    I'm going to come out and say that I have a bit of fat-phobia. I grew up in the South surrounded by fat food and fat people, and I never found it that appealing. As a result I'm more than a little concerned about becoming fat myself. I'm a 26 year old guy, about 6'1/2" tall, and I hover around 175 pounds normally although if I run daily I go down to a low of around 162 and if I eat constantly and lift heavy I can get up to 206.

    At the moment I'm working a job that by its nature is essentially construction 20% of the time, and requires little more than walking around and climbing ladders the other 80%. I mention that just to bring in that the people I work with have the physique of typical construction workers: big belly, but strong. Looking at my coworkers doesn't inspire my appetite.

    I'm quitting in 6 and a half weeks at which point I'll get to go home and see my wife, family and friends for the first time since the end of February. I am trying to stay in reasonable shape for just that long, and I suspect that I can't make much of an improvement in that time frame, although I think if I sat around and ate Haagen-Dazs for six and a half weeks I could probably deteriorate pretty far.

    I work a 14 hour shift during which I eat around 900-1200 calories of food, spread out in small 300 calorie snacks. When I get off work I run for an hour on the elliptical for about 850 calories at my typical pace. I'm usually dead by then so I go to sleep without eating. I get up six hours later and eat around a 1,000 calorie meal although sometimes I eat out and I'm not sure what I'm getting, maybe 1,500. I'm definitely at a calorie deficit, so I don't have to worry about turning into one of my coworkers, but I also know that I can't maintain this indefinitely. I'm starting to see some veins on the side of my head I never saw before and my cheekbones are getting impressive. Actually, I'm kind of a zombie but I have to keep lurching along the same way or I think I'll feel even worse.

    I guess my question is this: knowing that the end is near, do I mellow out for six weeks or do I go for broke and try to recover later? More hypothetically and for my brother who works with me here and isn't quitting, what's the solution when you're only off work ten hours a day for weeks on end? How much sleep can a person trade for exercise or is it better to just be well-rested and watch your gut expand, or try to control things entirely with diet? I'm not exactly surrounded by healthy-looking people, so I don't think anybody has found the solution up here yet. I don't even know what my workout goals are anymore other than try to maintain my current condition and not look like I'm 40 by the time I go home in July.

    my guess would be that your putting too many hours in to a job you hate (which is stressing you out) and eating a lot of junk (sugar, etc) with empty calories. Your total calorie intake (around 2000 if I read it right) is probably way too low.

    You can fix the diet now. You probably need more (but dont over do it) and better quality calories. Sounds like you are stuck with the job a bit longer though.
    Last edited by muddy; 6/04/2008 5:58am, .


      Hard to fix the quality of my diet. I live in a hotel so if it's not available dining out it has to be microwaveable. But yeah, the word "Maruchan" does appear on a lot of my food. Food's so expensive here if I eat out, and spending money on food jeopardizes my chances of making an escape.


        Can you buy fresh cheese/cooked meat/fruit etc.? If you can, I've had a friend who lived out of a hotel room for a bit and he just kept that stuff fresh by storing it in the mini bar fridge.


          Originally posted by MrGalt
          Hard to fix the quality of my diet. I live in a hotel so if it's not available dining out it has to be microwaveable. But yeah, the word "Maruchan" does appear on a lot of my food. Food's so expensive here if I eat out, and spending money on food jeopardizes my chances of making an escape.
          a couple of survivalist ideas:

          1) canned fish (tuna, etc)
          2) beef jerky
          3) $50 fridge from Walmart
          4) mail order meal shakes
          5) multivitamins
          6) fuits
          Last edited by muddy; 6/04/2008 6:40am, .


            6. Brocolli (microwave it.)
            7. Subway's subs
            8. Yogurt
            9. Zone bars (sold in bulk at Walmart.)
            10. Oatmeal.
            11. Boiled eggs.

            Your work is partially physical, so you are working out while you work. So you need to concentrate on sleeping your 8 hours first and foremost. Then you need to make sure never to go sleep on an empty stomach.

            At the very least, 8oz of yogurt with some nuts in it should be fine for those days when you are too tired to even prepare something to eat (we have all been there.)

            Also, instead of running for an hour, spend 20-30 minutes doing push ups, chin ups and bodyweight squats or walking lunges. You do one set of one, then immediately go to the next and so on, non-stop. This will be much better for fat loss and *gasp* muscle retetion than wasting yourself on the treadmill.

            Remember, never, ever, ever go to sleep on an empty stomach.


              It all sounds kind of Atkins-ey but I can give those things a try. I do have the minibar fridge also here so I can keep a bit of food around, I just can't cook things with actual pots and pans and whatnot so "real" meat and vegetables are mostly out unless I want the vegetables raw. Honestly I find this job (and state) so depressing I'm not all that excited about eating anything, so I guess it's a good time to eat what I need and not what I think I might enjoy.

              I tried a pullup bar in my hotel room but I had to get one from Target that is essentially a heavy-duty curtain rod (since I can't go putting holes in door frames) so needless to say I hit the ground a few times and gave up on it. It's hard to concentrate on an exercise when I'm wondering if I'm going to fall on my face....NOW! Instead I have a single 35 pound dumbbell as my sole piece of exercise equipment. I'll see what I can come up with using that and pushups.

              As for the "working out while you work" thing, I hear that from coworkers all the time and they look like shit. It's too intermittent to help anyway. Let's say a job takes 24 days. That's three days of carrying 164 pound pipes and 80 pound valves and swinging a 12 pound sledgehammer. At the end of that I'm pretty sore and often injured. Then there might be three weeks of walking around, occasionally replacing a valve or hammering something up with an 8 pound hammer, then a day of disassembling everything we built in the 3 day binge. To me it doesn't count as working out because there's too much recovery time in between. I did quickly learn though that all the bench press and isolation exercises I used to do before I came out here have no application at all for real work and that I'd have been a lot better off with a few more (or any) deadlifts beforehand.


                Yeah, without the ability to cook meat, your options are limited. It certainly sucks. This is a suggestion, and please forgive if it sounds over-simplifying. Sometimes we think we are giving a good suggestion when in reality it's been tried already without success.

                Anyways, sometimes I just don't care and eat junk food. But when I want to watch what I eat and I don't have a chance to cook or get something acceptable on the street (like a subway sandwich), I simply order a chicken sandwich (no sauce), cut in half, and french fries without from McDonalds, and a lot of napkins. Then I pat-dry the fries with the napkins (to remove some of the fat.)

                The fries are one meal, and the sandwich halves are two. You got three meals right there which you can eat at 3 hours intervals (which is better than eating the whole thing in one sitting, and with all the salt, grease and sauce.) Heck, you can eat the fries with raw, semi-micronuked brocolli (which you can carry in a container.)

                It ain't pretty or necessarily delicious, but it works.

                Regarding working out, you can do a lot of good shit with a 35lbs dumbell.

                gobblet squats:

                unilateral overhead squats:

                unilateral overhead lunges

                You can do unilateral dumbbell rows, overhead presses, dumbbell swings, etc. You can use that dumbbell to do cossacks:

                YouTube - Dr. Courtney Mizuhara-Cheng and the Kettlebell Kossack

                If you have two chairs, get a dowel on the chairs and do horizontal pull ups for time/failure:

                You gotta work with what you have right now. Good luck.


                  I like the horizontal pullups. I could actually use the crap pullup bar from Target for that with my two hotel chairs. They’re a little short but I can adjust.

                  What do I need to watch out for with form when doing unilateral overhead press? I'm used to doing it with two dummbells and sometimes my trapezius cramps up especially on my strong side when I try it with one. I'm sure it's some kind of posture thing. Right now I have a tentative idea for a routine that goes like this.

                  MWF: Standing Curl, Unilateral Vertical Press, Cossacks
                  TRS: Pushups, Horizontal Pullups, Goblet Squats
                  Sun: Rest

                  I'll probably do an hour run at least a couple of days a week though just because it's an old habit and I have to do something to get used to the ridiculous elevation here (7,000+ ft).Usually if I'm doing some kind of exercise like those I circuit for 5-10 sets, with a number of reps that allows me to do the same set at the end as the beginning (say, 10 sets of 30 pushups instead of a big set of 55 or 60 and then only being able to do 15-20 per set after that). Since we've established I'm really looking for muscle retention and fat loss (fat repulsion?) should I keep doing that or do fewer sets to failure? Whatever minimizes the time I spend is best, since I'm always trying to find more time to sleep.

                  I'm surprised to hear that you go to McDonald's Macho. I haven't eaten there in nine years, although since I still hit Burger King and Wendy's it's really kind of an arbitrary discipline to see if I can do it rather than a commitment to greater health.


                    One thing, you can steam vegetables in a microwave. You just need a microwavable bowl, some water and clingfilm, prep your veg, stick it in the bowl with water, cover with clingfilm and microwave for 5 minutes, voila hot veg. You can also poach meat (like chicken brests in the microwave by doing the same thing.

                    Here's an idea for a meal that just needs a bowl and a microwave:
                    ingredients: chicken breasts, mushrooms, garlic, onions, leaks, peppers, broccoli, chicken stock

                    Make up the stock in the bowl with water, dice up the veg and add to the stock, add the chicken to the bowl, cover with clingfilm make a few holes in it though, stick in the microwave for about 10 - 15 minutes bepending on power. Eat.


                      You can also buy microwaveable bags of veg that normally contain Broccoli, Cauliflower and Carrots. I know nuking it isn't the best option but it's done in 4 minutes


                        When it comes to meat:

                        - Some grocery stores will sell things like cooked chicken
                        - I have seen frozen microwavable chicken strips that are meant for salads
                        - You CAN cook normal meat in the microwave, it just doesn't taste all that good
                        - Get a cheap hibachi, BBQ meat on your window still
                        - Quality cold-cuts


                          Originally posted by MrGalt
                          ... something to get used to the ridiculous elevation here (7,000+ ft)....
                          I wonder how much of a contributor this is to your problems. 7K feet really isnt high enough for full blown altitude sickness (I dont think), but I think it could contribute to loss of appetite, poor sleep patterns, fatigue, malaise, etc.

                          In the sticky about Tactical Nutrition's product, Rhodiola rosea was mentioned as helpful to counter the effects of high altitude.

                          Quote from

                          "Rhodiola rosea is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue, and preventing high altitude sickness. "

                          I havent tried Rhodiola rosea yet, but I do plan on trying it out next time Im in La Paz (11,500 ft).

                          you probably already know this, but you should be drinking more water at higher altitudes
                          Last edited by muddy; 6/05/2008 9:57am, .


                            A friend's mother traveled to Chile for an academic research project. While heading up one of the huge hilltop cities (forget which one), the locals told her to have a cup of coffee with a trace amount of cocaine.

                            She did...and while she thought she would have a heart attack, she experienced no altitude issues.

                            Bottom Line: Do Cocaine


                              Originally posted by Satori
                              A friend's mother traveled to Chile for an academic research project. While heading up one of the huge hilltop cities (forget which one), the locals told her to have a cup of coffee with a trace amount of cocaine.

                              She did...and while she thought she would have a heart attack, she experienced no altitude issues.

                              Bottom Line: Do Cocaine
                              she probably misunderstood. A common altitude remedy in this part of the world is coca leaf tea. it is also chewed like tobacco. Even though the leaf is used to make cocaine, the natural unprocessed leaf and tea made from it isnt considered a dangerous drug like cocaine. Coca leaf is legal and quite common for this use in South America.



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