Friday, February 21, 2014

Weight Lifting: An Update On My Routine and Progress

It's been about two years since I last discussed my weight lifting routine on the blog, and I have changed it around quite a bit.  While I am definitely still not as strong as some of you out there, I have progressed considerably since I last visited the topic, and I figured an update is in order to document my successes and failures so far.

A Change of Program

If you recall my last article on weight lifting, I was following Lyle McDonald's generic bulking program to bulk up before my wedding that was a few months away at the time.  The plan was to bulk up for a couple months, then lean for a month-and-a-half before the wedding.  Well, that didn't happen at all.  I kept lifting weights on a regular basis, and there were no motivation issues holding me back, as I really do enjoy the activity.  In my usual fashion, I mentally decided that I was going to diet correctly for each phase of the recomp, but in reality, I just ate whatever I wanted.  Dieting has never been something I've successfully accomplished, but in retrospect, I don't really care that much.  My fiancee at the time (my now wonderful wife of a year-and-a-half) has always told me that she would find me attractive unless I somehow managed to become morbidly obese.  So the motivation to deprive myself of delicious food just for six pack abs just isn't there.  I accept this now.

After my wedding, I decided that my main goal in regards to weight lifting would be to become as strong as possible at my comfortable set point range of 160-170 lbs.  Since the bulk/cut cycle was unimportant to me, McDonald's generic bulking routine was out.  I still think it is a good program, but it wasn't what I'm looking for.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The DD's Comprehensive Guide to Saving Money by Growing Your Own Food, Part IV: Preparing Your Garden for Planting

In my ongoing series on saving money by growing your own food, I've explained how to create your own compost to fertilize your garden, how to plan your garden for maximum production efficiency, and where to find the cheapest seeds.

In my USDA climate zone, it's about a month out from being able to plant certain cold-tolerant vegetables in the garden, so today we're going to finally get digging in the soil.  I will show you how to prepare your garden bed to get ready for planting seeds when spring rolls around next month.

Hopefully, you've still been throwing your kitchen scraps, yard clippings, and other organic matter into your compost pile and turning it regularly.  If this is your first year composting, you probably won't have a huge amount to use for your garden.  That's totally fine... any amount of compost is going to provide some benefits to the plants you decide to grow.  And if you are consistent with composting your organic material, in the coming years you will have more and more compost to use to fertilize your garden.

Preparing the Garden Bed

You'll want to start by sizing out your garden bed.  I have decided to make a 5'x5' area in my backyard the vegetable gardening bed.  I highly recommend that if you are new to gardening to start with a much smaller area, so as to not become overwhelmed with the amount of work to do, at least at first.  As you gain more experience, you can expand your vegetable garden as much as you want.  Just remember that a small garden that is maintained will be more productive than a large garden that is given up on because it's just too much work.  A 3'x3' bed is a good starting point for a novice gardener, as it will allow enough room to plant a decent variety of vegetables without requiring too much work or material to start and maintain.  Even a 2'x2' will work, although it will produce much less food.  Just start with whatever you're comfortable with, even if it's just one vegetable.