Hello, wonderful human being reading this post! First off, I hope you have an amazing day ahead! Now back to the main subject—to make a long story short, I embarked on a ten-pound bulking journey on January 9th, which is a little more than a week ago, in order to restore some low blood nutrients and my absentee period, in correspondence to my doctor’s recommendations. Initially, I planned on only exercising 3-4 times a week instead of 7 times a week, plus incorporating much more weight training into my routine to gain strength and build as much lean muscle as I can. As for my diet, of course, my calories as well as my overall macronutrient have increased quite a lot, but I still try to base my diet mostly off whole, plant-based foods.
Specifically, for the first week, I decided to use MyFitnessPal to loosely track how many calories I eat based on my current intuition in comparison to how many calories that are recommended for my goals. The ultimate purpose of every day in regards to my diet was to be in a caloric surplus. However, I do not fully rely on MyFitnessPal, or any calorie tracker, as a fully accurate source of nutrition information, partially because every database is different and I don’t have the perfect eye for measuring all of my food. Personally, if I really wanted to know my recommended calories, carbs, fats, protein, fiber, and whatnot, I would see a registered dietitian for a customized plan. But since this will be a lifelong journey, calorie counting every single day is just not a sustainable way of living. On the other hand, tracking for the first week was helpful enough for me to see how much my body needs to gain weight.
Exercise-wise, I chose to work a different group of muscles every workout, incorporate a little bit of jump roping after every weight training session and keep my exercise time below an hour and a half. For every workout, I utilized heavier weights and went through every rep much more slowly, really focusing on the quality of each movement. All of my workouts were videos from YouTube, most of them being from FitnessBlender.
Below I’ve broken down each workout and food diary for every day of the bulk from Monday, January 9th, to Monday, January 18th. I chose not to include any numerical values except for my starting weight and weekly weigh-in.
Right after my 7 A.M. class, I immediately visited the gym to weigh myself on the bathroom scale and start my first weight training-intensive workout routine. The FitnessBlender video I used was the “HIIT Workout for People Who Get Bored Easily + Cardio & Total Body Workout”, which I completed twice along with 10 minutes of moderate jump rope. This video begins with a warm up followed by a HIIT cardio routine, then a total body strength training routine, and finishes off with a mini cardio burnout and a cooldown. The HIIT cardio potion was extremely fun and completely burned my legs, but the strength training portion was my focus of the video.
During the first time, I started off with using ten pounds for my overhead press, reverse fly, deadlift, bridge fly and pullover, and I upped these exercises to fifteen pounds the next round. The rest of the strength training exercises either decreased to eight pounds (specifically for the ventral raises), remained at ten pounds or only went up to twelve pounds. I knew to switch simply by evaluating my form and how I personally felt per rep. The weight went up if the exercise felt too easy, and the weight went down if my form suffered or if I started to experience joint pain. By far, this has become one of my favorite videos from this channel! By the end of the first round, light amounts of sweat were dripping all over my head, my legs and my underarms, which is quite rare since I have a strong endurance. Once the workout was over, I looked like I stepped out of the shower and felt absolutely incredible!
- Low weight range: 8-10 pounds from 5-8 pounds
- High weight range: 12-15 pounds from 8-10 pounds
- Average weight: 10 pounds for upper body-heavy exercises, 12 pounds for lower body-heavy exercises
- Breakfast: One scoop of Growing Naturals chocolate brown rice protein mixed with some cold water as protein “mylk” with a handful of Joe’s Pumpkin O’s, Love Grown Foods Sea Stars cereal, and Trader Joe’s Just the Chocolate almond granola. This was the most fantastic post-workout breakfast! I cereal-ously became obsessed.
- Lunch: Round 1 was a plate that consisted of a kale and cabbage salad with carrots, purple and dinosaur kale, red and green cabbage, mandarins and sunflower seeds alongside some sautéed zucchini and carrots, and of course, a bowl of extra firm tofu topped with the best vegan yellow curry filled with pumpkin, potatoes, carrots, eggplant, and cilantro! As for my second and third rounds, I filled the bowl with more vegan yellow curry and topped them off with Sriracha. Eventually, my belly was STUFFED with so much food that I could feel my stomach extending so far forward. Truthfully, I did not feel my best after this meal even though I do have to get in more than plenty of nutrients.
- Snack: Because of my loaded lunch, I had no desire to eat another snack, but I did chomp on a Bhu Foods Apple Chunk + Cinnamon + Nutmeg vegan protein bar to sneak in some more calories. Luckily, the bar was soft, sweet, flavorful and satisfying, which made it easy to stomach.
- Dinner: Abiding by one of my health and fitness goals, I concocted a large salad full of spinach, broccoli, grown rice, yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, vegan pinto beans and nutritional yeast. Everything tasted stellar—the vegan pinto beans were creamy, rich, and powerfully savory, and the nutritional yeast added the perfect amount of “cheesy” and umami flavors to everything. I even had a little more summer squash after the salad because that tasted so good as well! By the time dinner rolled around, my stomach was a bit emptier and lighter for me to feel a little hungrier. This ended up being the most carb-heavy meal, which made it really easy to become sleepy for the night!
- Dessert: Since I was craving something a little bit sweeter than cashew butter or peanut butter, I ended the day with a mini Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabar. The little bits of chocolate chip were the perfect sources of decadence with the dates of the bar’s base! While the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bar remains my favorite, this flavor still tasted phenomenal!
This was a rest day, but I did end up getting in quite a lot of steps from working and walking to class all over campus.
- Breakfast: Exact same as Monday’s breakfast, and it still tasted incredible!
- Lunch: Again, I ate two bowls of pumpkin curry, which this time, included chickpeas, carrots, mushrooms, eggplant and potatoes! I ate the first round of curry with tofu and spinach (unpictured), and the second round with two sides of green cabbage salad with edamame and mandarins, and the same kale and cabbage salad as Monday’s.
- Dessert: Though I did feel full after the two rounds of curry, I really wanted to end lunch on a sweeter note, so I snuck in some low-fat granola with grapes! I usually don’t like the grapes served at my cafeteria since they can be quite mushy, but the granola was so simple but sweet, crunchy, and delicious!
- Snack: Work was absolutely hectic, so I had to quickly munch on an Orgain Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough protein bar. Ugh, I love these so much I could’ve had three more bars—they’re one of my favorites!
- Dinner: Plans for dinner switched when my neighbor offered to cook some leftovers for me! I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to evaluate his culinary skills. He did have quite a limited amount of vegetables, so I ended up having only a small bowl of tofu, sautéed mushrooms, and carrots as my main meal. Regardless, the meal was fabulous and I was really happy that someone was willing to make yummy and healthy food as a friendly gesture!
- Dessert 2: To compensate for a calorie-lacking dinner, my dessert, which I totally forgot to take a picture of, was much more indulgent! The night was finished off with plenty of Trader Joe’s cashew butter, Just the Chocolate almond granola, Joe’s Pumpkin O’s and the last quarter of a Bhu Foods Chocolate Tart Cherry Pistachio vegan protein bar!
Because I lifted weights for over an hour during my last session, I decided to take a break from using equipment and followed two rounds of FitnessBlender’s “Brutal HIIT Ladder Workout Round 2 – Advanced Workout to Push Your Limits”. It felt great to get back into HIIT because it is probably my favorite form of exercise. I was drenched and sore, yet stronger at the same time.
- Brunch: Because my 7 A.M. period was followed by a three hour laboratory course, I did not get to leave class until 11 A.M. to workout. I finished my workout around 12:20 P.M. or so, hence I had a little more than an hour to eat before my next class. I would call this a brunch meal, which consisted of the standard vegan curry with pumpkin, potatoes, chickpeas, eggplant, mushrooms and carrots over firm tofu, along with a side of roasted cauliflower and the same kale, carrot, Brussel sprout and green and red cabbage salad from Monday. The second heaps of food comprised of sautéed yellow squash and two massive handfuls of spinach to have with more curry! Who else loves having fresh, raw leafy greens to balance out the warmth and spiciness of curries and soups? Lastly, I finished off my meal with one last bowl of firm tofu and spinach topped with more vegan vegetable curry. What can I say? You have to make the most out of a buffet!
- Snack: During a bathroom break from a public speaking class, I tried the Good Superfoods Energy Triple Cacao nutrient bar, which from the outside, looked like a standard vegan date-based protein bar. My first bite started off with breaking away a small piece of the bar. Then I gradually repeated the process more quickly until the bar was completely gone—the bar was just shockingly good! Seriously, it tasted like a chewy, moist and chocolatey brownie bar, and you wouldn’t even know that there are a sh*tload of nutritious superfoods—heck, there is SWEET POTATO in this bar. It was so tasty that I forgot to take a picture of the ingredients and nutrition information, which you can find at this link here.
- Dinner: Upon arriving to my cafeteria, I was devastated that the serving tins that contained the brown rice and vegan pinto beans were completely out! Fortunately, I served myself a bowl of tofu with more vegan curry and tons of sautéed zucchini and carrots topped with a thick olive, caper, and crushed tomato sauce! The meal turned out of be super satisfying and delicious, even though curry and tomato sauce might not necessarily complement each other. Hey, I love enjoying different kinds of flavors, no matter how different they may be!
DAY 4 (as told by Instagram stories)
Just like Day 2, I did not exercise today, nor did I implement too much walking either.
- Breakfast: Another bowl of the addictive combination of Growing Naturals chocolate brown rice protein “mylk” with Love Grown Foods Fruity Sea Stars cereal, Joe’s Pumpkin O’s and Just the Chocolate Almond granola! I was so happy to enjoy it again after being deprived of it the day before—I know that it’s only 24 hours, but you know. Winky wink.
- Lunch: Surprise, surprise, more yellow curry over tofu! In particular, this curry included mushrooms, cauliflower, red bell peppers, carrots, eggplant, potatoes, chickpeas and chopped pumpkin! Alongside the first bowl were roasted cauliflower, spinach and Sriracha. The second plate consisted of more curry on top of more spinach! Curry-style salads taste incredible, don’t they?
- Dessert 1: Once again, I wanted to end lunch on a sweeter note, but I tried something a little bit different and mixed roasted sunflower seeds with a cinnamon raisin granola that was served at the salad bar. The combination actually turned out incredible, and I wanted to collect more to have an entire bowl as cereal! However, I resisted because I was satiated, had a limited amount of time before my next class and I didn’t have any non-dairy milk with me.
- Dessert 2: On the way back to my apartment, I decided to try my college’s frozen yogurt bar and sampled the mango sorbet! It was mediocre, so I did not help myself to a larger serving. Aside from that, I did end up causing a bit of a spillage!
- Snack: Since my Biology lab did not allow any food or drinks in the classroom, I took my trip to the bathroom as an opportunity to scarf down my Bhu Fit Superfood Chocolate Chip + Fudge Brownie Batter vegan protein bar! The second time around, the bar tasted much, much better than the first, probably because I’ve gotten used to the texture of pea protein. I absolutely adored eating it, but I was sad that I had to consume it in such a short amount of time.
- Dinner: Hooray for Farmers Market day! After purchasing some Hannah sweet potatoes for the weekend, I started madly craving Thai food takeout. As a result, I ended up ordering a vegan pumpkin curry with tofu as well as an appetizer of tofu satay with peanut sauce (which was saved for the train ride to my home in L.A.)! After returning to my apartment, I heated up the curry in my favorite bowl along with two tofu satay skewers. Let’s just say that it was love at first bite. The kabocha squash was cooked spot-on—every piece was sweet, soft, tender to the touch, and savory at the same time—and complemented the rest of the vegetables and Panang curry broth. Seriously, I never had a better pumpkin curry in my life! The peanut sauce and tofu satay were also just as fantastic!
- Dessert: My sweet-style ending to the night ended up being a spontaneous layout of Trader Joe’s cashew butter, Joe’s Pumpkin O’s, Love Grown Foods Fruity Sea Stars and Just the Chocolate Almond granola!
DAY 5 (as told by Boomerang and Snapchat)
Instead of completing multiple rounds of one FitnessBlender video, I created a combination weight lifting routine of videos that focused more on upper body and core training. The three videos I followed were “Kelli’s Superset Total Body Strength Workout: Calorie Torching, Muscle Building, Fat Burning Workout”, “Upper Body Superset Workout with Fat Burning Cardio Intervals – Arm, Chest, Back & Shoulder Workout” and the “Brutal Kettlebell HIIT Cardio Tabata Workout”.
- Breakfast: Sorry if you’re getting REALLY bored of my weekday food, but I had yet another bowl of Love Grown Foods Fruity Sea Stars cereal, Joe’s Pumpkin O’s and Just the Chocolate Almond granola with Growing Naturals chocolate brown rice protein “mylk”! I don’t think I got tired of it once, but I probably would have wanted to add another kind of cereal or granola in the mix by this time.
- Lunch: For the fifth time in a row, I savored curry over tofu! While there were the standard chickpeas, red bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots and potatoes, the curry sauce was extremely thick and creamy, more like an Indian curry instead of Thai! My first serving included Sriracha, brown rice, cauliflower, and some broccoli. I had two more servings of curry afterwards as well!
- Snack: Upon arriving home from class, I felt the munchies coming in. So, I unwrapped a Bhu Fit Peanut Butter + Chocolate Chip vegan protein bar to eat…BUT, I decided to be daring and dipped it in cashew butter! Let me tell you that it tasted stellar!
- Dinner: To cap off my last day before leaving my campus, I celebrated with one last meal at my cafeteria by bringing some leftover pumpkin curry sauce to top off a plain tofu spinach salad, which was coupled with the same kale and cabbage edamame salad from several days prior. After my second trip to the buffet table, I ate some small servings of zucchini, vegan curry and vegan pinto beans with Sriracha. They all tasted amazing!
- Dessert: Wanting to try something new, I paired my cashew butter and Just the Chocolate Almond granola with a mini Alyssa’s vegan cookie that I got from the L.A. Fit Expo. The cookie was absolutely delicious—super coconutty, soft and sweet with everything else!
DAY 6 (as told by Instagram stories)
While this was a rest day, does a long walk to the bus stop count as cardio? J
- Breakfast: Last bowl of Love Grown Foods Fruity Sea Stars cereal, Joe’s Pumpkin O’s and Just the Chocolate Almond granola all over Growing Naturals chocolate brown rice protein “mylk” was served!
- Lunch: First off, eating on a bus is TERRIBLE. It is bumpy, windy, and the tabletops behind each seat are slightly inclined to not support anything well. That being said, my lunch still tasted stupendous! My tofu satay and peanut sauce were perfect as expected, and so were my Hannah sweet potatoes, which I paired with cashew butter and raspberry jam! I was actually extremely satisfied after this meal, despite that my standard lunches of multiple rounds of curry were much more voluminous.
- Snack: I did not end up taking a snapshot of my snack, but I did help myself to more cashew butter, Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, KIND Vanilla Blueberry granola clusters, Just the Chocolate Almond Granola, and a Luna Dark Chocolate Hazelnut bar. I know, not the healthiest snack in the world, but I just love cereal and nut butter so much!
- Dinner: Right after watching Hidden Figures (cannot recommend that movie enough!). my family and I drove to our nearest sushi restaurant where I ordered a handroll with cucumber, avocado, carrots and sprouts wrapped in Nori, along with two servings of a tofu mixed greens and tomato salad and miso soup. While this meal was tasty, it was not filling enough for me to not want more food. Once again, I did not take a photo of any of my food.
- Dessert: I could say that this was one of my late-late-late-night snacks that I had in a while! Around late 10 P.M. or early 11 P.M., I ate some kabocha squash skins and one and a half white sweet potatoes with cashew butter and raspberry jam. They both hit the spot and satisfied my hunger perfectly!
Similarly to Friday’s workout, my routine was a compilation of lower-body YouTube videos. I completed the “40 Minute Fat Blasting Total Body Strength Training and Toning Workout with FitnessBlender.com”, “HIIT Cardio and Abs Workout – 30 Minute at Home HIIT Workout with Ab Exercises”, and “Grow & Tone Your Butt Workout | Equipment Free at Home” videos.
- Breakfast: Since there was not an adequate amount of food in the fridge, I ended up having two post-workout “snacks” as my breakfast, which were kabocha squash skins with peanut sauce and a Growing Naturals vanilla brown rice protein “pudding” mixed with liquid Stevia, cinnamon, blueberries and KIND Vanilla Blueberry granola clusters.
- Snack 1: On the way back from 365 by Whole Foods in Silver Lake, I tried some vegan green falafel cakes with beet ketchup (my new favorite kind of ketchup!) from the salad bar along with hot bar food I got for the train ride home on Monday. They were actually pretty tasty once I microwaved them when I got home! I ended up devouring all of them while I was peeling the sweet potato for my lunch.
- Lunch: I could not resist concocting an old favorite recipe of mine: sweet potato kabocha pudding! I blended a Japanese sweet potato, the flesh of a whole roasted kabocha pumpkin, one scoop of Growing Naturals vanilla brown rice protein, liquid Stevia and water to make the pudding. The result ended up yielding TONS of creamy, thick and rich pudding that I topped with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cashew butter, raspberry jam, KIND vanilla blueberry granola, chia seeds and Just the Chocolate Almond granola! After this meal, I fell into a bit of a carby-food coma, but I’ll say that it was worth it!
- Snack: After my lunch, I did not feel hungry at all. In fact, I felt a bit uncomfortably full. However, I drank a bottle of lavender kombucha to add some more probiotics into my gut to get the digestive juices flowing, and I felt much better after a few minutes. The kombucha actually did not leave a funny reaction in my stomach this time, and it was really refreshing and delicious!
- Dinner: My mother treated the whole family to Indian takeout, which was the most wonderful gesture! We ended up ordering the non-vegan standards, but I got to enjoy a mushroom curry and chana masala all to myself! I ended up having four plates of each curry along with a few rounds of vegetable curry! I finished the mushroom curry, got halfway into my chana masala, and was literally stuffed to the brim—heaps of bloat, heaps of post-food coma, but heaps of happiness too. Golly, Indian food is just the best!
TALLIES FOR THE WEEK
- Starting weight: 109.2 pounds
- Current weight (recorded on Monday): 112.4 pounds
- Total amount of weight gained: 3.2 pounds
The exercise routines were absolutely revolutionary—I cannot get enough of weight training now! Performing exercises where my muscles would stretch and wear out felt so fulfilling—so as long as I did not feel any pain in the process—because I knew that my strength has been progressing. Thanks to weights, I’d actually feel sweaty earlier in my workout sessions, which motivated me to push even farther.
In regards to my diet, I did enjoy the freedom of eating more calories and more indulgent foods. I could consume as much curry as I desired, as much dessert as I wanted and so forth. Come on, who doesn’t love more carbs? I haven’t really found the time to do so, but I’m definitely looking forward to restaurant hopping as well as taste-testing some goodies! (*cough cough* VEGAN BEN & JERRY’S *cough* cough*)
THE BAD (AND UGLY)
Sometimes during my workouts, I’d find that I’d want to lift a heavier weight but have my form suffer or feel a great deal of pain, which would mean that I’d need to stick to a lower dumbbell weight. Usually, I tried not to feel disappointed with myself, but once in a while, I would feel a little inadequate since I truly believed that I could lift with fifteen pounds in each hand even though I could only do so with ten or twelve.
Food wise, many times it was extremely difficult for me to eat past my satiation point, plus deal with the aftermath once I would. Plus, my fiber intake was usually extremely higher than my goal intake, thus expanding my stomach even more. Oftentimes, I felt uncomfortably bloated, almost to a point where I’d feel tired, sick, or even disgusted. My digestion has gone through a cycle of slowing down dramatically during exercise days because I’d naturally eat more food, and then pick up the pace on rest days where my portions would decrease. Truthfully, I dislike inconsistency, but I know that with time, my stomach will adapt to stretching a little bit farther and more frequently.
All in all, this journey has come across some rough patches, but the start has been successful overall. I really look forward to experimenting with more workouts, my meal creativity as well as how my physique will evolve in several weeks. My body so far does not look any different, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The upside is not having to worry about extra belly fat or anything else undesirable, and the downside is not seeing any physical improvements. But at this point, so as long as the number on the scale goes up, then I am closer to victory.
Knowing that this post was more than quite lengthy, I still hope that you enjoyed reading about each recap and daily log of food and exercising! In the future, I do plan to re-structure my diary so that I can post more concise food diaries and workout logs. However, because this is the first week, I wanted to compile everything together to see how they all measured up as a collective. Once again, thanks so much for reading and do let me know if you have any tips on gaining muscle and what else you would like to see from me! ❤