My Grandpa

 

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My grandpa keeping his cool while I throw a fit.

My Grandfather and I

 

My grandfather’s name was Jacinto Quevedo. I feel like I didn’t know that until I was an adult. To me, he was always “Abuelo Papo.” Papo was a nickname given to him at his workplace which managed to follow him into our home. I remember very little about my grandfather from when I was a child. He made a distinct sound when he was sleeping, like a cub trying hard to catch its breath. There was also his scruffy beard that he would purposely scratch us with to make us laugh. That’s what he was always trying to do. It’s as if everything he did was to make my brothers and I laugh.

As a teenager, I remember he would hide sweets under his bed. He would often ask me to run to the bodega to buy ice pops when it was unbearably hot outside. Due to life – and teenage angst – I didn’t see much of my grandpa when he moved out. As is the case with most teenagers, I was more concerned with my terribly “complicated” life. Not until I was an adult did I begin to truly appreciate and cherish my grandpa.

Jacinto Quevedo

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My grandpa, the lady killer!

 

Any time I would sit down for coffee with my grandpa, he would tell me the story of his life. I never got tired of hearing it, because he always told it hilariously. My grandpa migrated to the U.S. when he was in his forties and lived there with his brother for a time. He had left Peru in pursuit of the American dream, and after arriving he thought he had been sold a lie.

“American dream my ass!”

Unable to find work for the longest time and having family back home to feed, he almost went back to Peru. But my grandpa did eventually get a job at Corrado’s, a supermarket, as what he used to call a “cart boy”. His job was to gather all the carts throughout the day. He made most of his money in tips. “I was like the Flash of carting, couldn’t nobody push a cart like me. Them carts were my ticket to freedom.” (Very roughly translated from spanish.) He then moved up to grocer and worked that job for the rest of his life. I used to think, God that sounds boring…how could you do that for so long? My grandpa would always say that in Corrado’s he didn’t see a job, he saw prosperity. His boss even loaned him money to buy a house in Peru. He put all of his children through the college or trade school of their choice and built a comfortable life for them and himself.

There isn’t much else to my grandpa. He was a simple man. He loved his family, and I never heard him complain about working. Like clockwork, he would wake up at an ungodly hour, make his breakfast, and go off to work where he would buy his coffee at the Dunkin Donuts inside the grocery store (his one big indulgence). All the time he lived in the United States, he ordered his coffee: “Geeve me cawfee, wit crim and tree shoogar.” It was like a really awful scarface impression, and a riot because he knew he was butchering the language. He mostly did it to watch the look of confusion on the cashier’s face. Then every afternoon he’d come home and find a soccer game to watch in the darkness of his tiny room with the volume so low only he could hear it; he would do this every day for over twenty years.

The lesson my grandpa was always trying to teach me

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As promised, my grandpa watched me graduate.

From what he told me, my grandpa never traveled. Just to Peru to visit family. Maybe New York once. In his older age, my grandpa was always telling me, “La vida es una lucha, hay que luchar y punto.” This saying of his roughly translates to: “Life is a struggle, so we have to fight, point blank”.

In college I was a music major, and I was by far the least knowledgeable person in my graduating class. Throughout my college career, I would talk to my grandpa about my feelings of inadequacy. I feared I was too old to start a musical career – I was at a level so far behind everyone else. I felt the same way about many things I did and do in life.

But my grandpa would tell me, “Life is long, son, and it’s never too late to make a change – as long as you are willing to take life’s beatings.” These are thoughts that don’t resonate until we’re older. Statements like this one go through a “they’re only saying that because they love me” filter. Now I’ve long since graduated college and find myself in a place where I am making changes to my life that I never would have thought possible. But it’s never too late, if you’re willing to put in the work.

The hardest lesson my grandfather taught me

When I was about twelve years old my grandfather sent me out for ice pops. My friend lived on the way to the bodega, so on the way back (being a kid who was never allowed out to play) I hung out with him and some of our friends. Before I knew it, the ice pops were nearly melted, at which point I hauled ass home. When I opened the door, my grandpa ran up to me and snatched the bag of ice pops from me. “Where did you go to get these? The moon?!” This outburst was the closest my grandpa and I had ever came to an argument. He scolded me for letting the ice pops melt, but an hour later he still offered me one and we watched a soccer game together.

I was 25 when I had the next argument with my grandpa. The reasons don’t matter, but the moment would. Even after the heat of our fight, he kissed me and told me he loved me. He gave me a huge hug (while still being angry) and we parted ways. I let the anger and frustration build up inside me. He traveled back to Peru, and it wasn’t much long after that I got word that he wasn’t doing well. Still, I let months pass by without exchanging words with my grandpa, a man who had always showed me unconditional love. Maybe it was because to me my grandfather seemed immortal. He was just a little sick…he would recover soon. Just like my grandpa always used to say, life gives you terrible beatings.

It was night when I found out my grandpa was on his deathbed. My throat felt like I had dry swallowed a pill, like it couldn’t be happening. When I was finally able to reach my grandpa on the phone all I could hear was his heavy breathing. But I could tell from just that sound that it was him, from all the nights as a child when I fell asleep in his arms. I knew it was him because you know when someone you love is on the other line. I felt his jokes and his advice, his being. “Grandpa, I’m sorry, I love you, please don’t go, I love you, thank you for teaching me to be a man, I love you, do you remember the last time we got coffee? We talked about our lives, and our dreams. You told me I had my whole life ahead of me, and I could do anything I wanted. But you didn’t say it because you loved me. You said it because you truly believed it. When I look at myself in the mirror I will always see you. I will see your struggle, and I will try my hardest to be the man you saw that day. Please forgive me grandpa, I love you and I will never forget you.” But still all I heard was heavy breathing.

The final and hardest lesson my grandpa taught me was that, even though he had always told me life was long, it is just as short. Until that moment, I never understood how it could be both.

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My grandpa’s name was Jacinto Quevedo, and I can understand now why people post the death of their loved ones in newspapers and on social media. They want to show others a glimpse of how much that person meant to them, and what an awesome person they were. You don’t want them to die completely; you want to make them immortal, if only on paper.

Keto Cutting in Korea

“Did you eat yet?”
“I gestured at my empty tupperware, “I just finished my meal.”
“That’s not a meal. I’ll make you something right now.” She walked into the kitchen.
“Mom, I can’t eat anything else. I’m on a diet,” I said, as I followed her into the kitchen.
“Why? You’re not fat…I’ll cook arroz con pollo and potatoes, that’ll make you strong.”
“I’m trying to lose bodyfat for the summer.”
“What’s that mean? Are there steroids in your chicken? Are you taking drugs, Jason?”

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What my mom thinks my chicken look like.

My family would always offer me delicious foods, but I could easily turn them down. When my friends were going out drinking, I joined with my red solo cup full of water.

But bacon. Many of my past attempts to diet have been foiled by bacon. Just the smell of bacon cooking in the morning has a way of bringing me to my knees and throwing weeks of hard work down the drain. When I was in college I came across “Epic Meal Time” on YouTube. It was a channel dedicated to wrapping different kinds of foods in bacon. It was around this time that I adopted the “PermaBulk” lifestyle, no longer watching what I ate. My only concern for the next two years was to get as big as possible. While I didn’t eat bacon everyday – only because I couldn’t afford to – I did feast on all things fatty and carb dense.

Finding the Keto Diet
When I first got to Korea I joined a Kakao group (like AIM for Koreans) which was made up of people who were competing or looking to compete in bodybuilding or powerlifting in the near future. Among those was the leader of the group who had done very well in recent physique competitions in Korea. I had initially intended to do powerlifting in Korea, but after finding out that the only way in was through classes, I switched focus to bodybuilding. Looking back at how I cut In the past, I was determined to make this time different. It was then that the leader of our Kakao group suggested I follow a Ketogenic diet.

Purpose of the Ketogenic Diet For Me
Unlike most people, I was not starting a Ketogenic diet looking to make a lifelong change. I was not about to give up carbs forever; just for a little while to jump-start my cut and hopefully become more sensitive to carbs. The Keto diet has been known to help people with epilepsy and those who are at dangerous levels of obesity. Although not mainstream, keto diets are being adopted by more and more bodybuilders for their quick results.

Week 1
Food

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In the image are all the ingredients for the meals I ate on my first day on a Ketogenic diet. I weighed in at 81kg (178.5lbs). I can’t even begin to explain how happy I was to be cutting. A day full of great foods: bacon, omelette, bacon with cheddar cheese melted on top, pan fried salmon with spinach and avocado. And did I mention bacon? As a snack I even had a tablespoon of peanut butter. My biggest mistake was that I ate literally the exact same meals every day for the entire week. I didn’t think I could ever get tired of these fat-filled meals, but the taste of spinach had me gagging by the end of the week.

Side Effects
Besides getting increasingly sick of salmon and cooked spinach, I noticed a few immediate side effects. I was peeing every 30-50 minutes. It was as if everything I ate was accompanied by a gallon of water. Because I was indeed drinking a fair amount of water, I ignored it for the first two days. But frequent urination became concerning, so I did my research and it turns out my body was just getting rid of all the stored glycogen in my liver and muscles.

Which brings me to my next side effect: I was flat. My body didn’t look as full in the morning. This effect was great for my core…but the rest of my muscles had also lost their roundness. This lack of glycogen also caused me to feel increasingly tired; before keto I would feel sleepy around five pm most days, then I would get a second wind after work to go to the gym around nine pm. But the second wind never came during my first week on Keto.

Oh, and do you know what else never came? My bowel movements. I was constipated for three days, but my stomach remained flat and un-bloated. I started to get worried, and wish for my old regularity. But be careful what you wish for. On the fourth day until the morning of the seventh I was wishing to be constipated again.

Take away
Overall it was a “shitty” week. I was ready to go into the old school cutting form of eating dry asparagus and flavorless chicken breast, but I felt the need to give it just one more week. This time around I spent my weekend looking up keto diet recipes to add more variety. I also bought a multivitamin and fiber supplement to help keep things more regular.

Week 2
Food
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This week I made sure to not eat the same thing more then two days in a row. In the image is an example of one of my better days: deviled eggs, cream cheese omelette, and chicken thighs baked with butter, bacon, and mushrooms all covered in mozzarella cheese. My favorite keto find was “bullet coffee,” which is coffee blended with a tablespoon of coconut oil, butter, and topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. It was the closest I could come to a latte and was surprisingly filling.

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Keto Friendly meals

Side effects
I had Ketostix mailed to me from the U.S; though they’re highly debated, it did give me some peace of mind about whether or not I had reached Ketosis. This week I felt a drop in strength in all of my presses. The only thing that seemed to be able to handle more weight was my legs.

Take away
Overall it was a much improved week. I had already lost 5kg (11lbs), mostly water weight but it was starting to make me look leaner in some areas. Throughout the day and in the gym I had improved sustained energy, but all of my pressing movements took a dive. I’m not sure if my sudden loss of strength was due to the Keto diet or not, but It did happen. I also found myself daydreaming about vegetables, fruits, and rice.

Week 3
Food
One of the often ignored obstacles of dieting is social gatherings. In the image is my Keto attempt to be included in a pizza and cookies night with my friends. I found great recipes for Keto pizza and pumpkin cookies all while fitting my macros. The popularity of Korean barbecue also makes it easier to be social, seeing as samgyeopsal (three layer fat pork) fits right in with the high-fat keto diet.

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Cream Cheese Omelette/Pumpkin Cookies/Pizza/Bacon-chicken

Side effects
Before starting the Keto diet I had done very little research. I went in mostly blind, trusting someone who had success with it in the past. I learned more about it while I was doing it. For me, the negative side effects only lasted about a week. My strength and energy came back with a vengeance by the third week.

Take Away
By the end of the third and final week on Keto I looked better then I had in a long time. Even though I was flat, I looked increasingly lean every day. I did fear that I was not getting enough nutrients though, since I was unable to eat many fruits or vegetables. Some people deduct the carbs in fiber from most vegetables, but since it’s a debated topic I opted to just cut all carbs out. I never felt hungry on the Keto diet. I also never felt bloated, even on the days that I couldn’t go to the bathroom. By the end I had dropped 6kg(13lbs) in three weeks, while not losing strength or mass overall.

Life After Keto

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Week of 1/9

For me, Keto was a jump-start to my cutting season. Because I had a few vacations coming up, I wanted to start sooner and more drastically then I had when cutting before. I began to reintroduce carbs at a slow pace thereafter. My first day out of Keto began with a small 60g of carbs, but it felt like I just drank four cups of coffee. My vascularity and roundness were now better than they had ever been, and my energy had increased. As of January 9, 2017, I am up to as much as 350g of carbs and still not bloated and losing body-fat little by little. Being on Keto was the body reset I needed to make the most of what I was putting into my body.

Bromances and Gym Bros

Making friends comes naturally to most at a young age. We are constantly interacting with people of similar interests in school and activities. It doesn’t take long to transition from acquaintance to friend after sharing an embarrassing story or two – especially when you’re ten and the most embarrassing thing you’ve done is called your teacher mom by accident. But it seems to me that the older I got, the harder it became to make friends. No longer being in college, surrounded by people of my same age and interests, forced me re-enter the single scene.

Urban dictionary defines Bromance as a “description of the complicated love and affection shared by two males.” Whether or not a man will admit it, we all actively seek a bromance when we are without a bro on a daily basis. Further building on this idea for those of us who live an active lifestyle, finding a Gym Bro is just as important.

A Gym Bro is similar to a Bromance, but they are even harder to find. Most people think that when we go to the gym we spend a lot of time gawking at girls and offering unsolicited advice. But the truth is that most of us are steady mirin (translation: “steadily admiring”) the biggest, strongest or most aesthetic bro in the gym. In my experience with the Gym Bro dating scene there are three different varieties of Gym Bros:

The Young Padawon

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My Bro Iggy. I think he jogs nowadays.

This type of gym bro is easy to find. They tend to approach you first and ask for lifting/dieting advice, close to or during summer. For short bursts of time they are exceptionally motivated to learn, and eager to adopt the gym life. Although most of your time in the gym is spent teaching and lowering your weights for their sets, they are the easiest to form gym relationships with and are sure to feed your ego and take post gym swolefies.

The Darth Vader

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Bro won. Fueled the next 6 weeks!

If the Young Padawon has an exceptionally high midi-chlorian count, he may surpass the master. This gym bro can come in two different forms. He may be the acquaintance that spotted you a few times in the gym, and mired from a distance. Or he could be someone that you personally taught everything they know. If and when this happens it tends to be just what you need to light the fire in your ass that motivates you to push that much harder. They are the dedicated Bros of gym relationships, always there to keep you on your toes.

 

The Jedi Master

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Haven’t been able to catch up to this manlet since 2009.

The final type will forever be the Goku to your Vegeta. This means that no matter how hard you train, they will always be several steps ahead of you. They are the Bros that spot all your PR’s (Personal Records), and warm up with your max. These Gym Bros are the Beyonce of gym relationships…which means they can do better than you, but you try hard to keep up.

 

How to Find a Gym Bro (Darth Vader or Jedi Master) in a new setting (Korea)
When re-entering the single scene of Gym Bros, one must be cautious not to appear desperate. Scan the gym floor for people lifting the same weight as you, if not more. You then search for signs of a similar interest – maybe it’s a shirt with a comic, band, or team – that you might be able to use to strike up a conversation. I tend to fail in this department, since I don’t follow sports or bands, and most people that wear comic related things at the gym only know the character from the movies.

Nevertheless, if you cant find something to talk about then you can offer to give them a spot (only do this if it’s obviously heavy, if not you run the risk of offending them). After said spot you should coolly walk away and, the same as in most regular dating scenes, you wait some time before a second contact. I’m not sure how other Gym Bros do it, but I ask for a spot after a while has passed. I choose a weight that merits no real spotting but is heavy enough to be respectable.

After a few more “random” interactions you can request their Instagram (or in Korea their Kakao, since it is less personal). Finding a Gym Bromance is a numbers game. Not all Bromances will work out, but when one does you will never again be buried underneath your weight or feels.

My Journey with Food

1997-1999?

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To anyone that has shared a meal with me in the last four years, this guy on the left is not what you would expect me to have looked like as  a child. Yet it was, there was a time when I hated eating. I grew up in a Peruvian household, which means that for as long as I can remember I’ve been served giant food-coma-inducing meals for dinner. Now don’t get me wrong (especially mom, if you’re reading this) I love my mother’s cooking. Its just that my tiny body couldn’t handle the amount of food.

Dinner was awful, because I wasn’t allowed to leave the dinner table until I finished every last bite. Saturday nights I can remember sitting at the dinner table for hours, listening to the laughter in the other room. My father was under the impression that I was being a brat – people in Peru would be grateful to eat the food I was crying about. Although my older brother and I usually fought, he took pity on me and began eating half of my food. Later in our lives we lovingly called this agreement our “second mouth” deal.

2007-2009

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One afternoon my friends Abraham and Bidas convinced me to attend a wrestling practice. It would be fun, they said. Reluctantly, I accepted and stayed for two years. I started off the season weighing about 130lbs, and struggled to make weight for the next two years. At this time I didn’t consider food a tool for fitness. It was the enemy. Needless to say, food and I  had a very unhealthy relationship. After one year of wrestling, I joined my first gym for the summer. It was at this time I was introduced to the supplement world. I had no idea how any of these powders really worked, so I ate one or two meals a day and pounded down a shake after every workout. Looking back it was probably no more then 1500 calories and 60g of protein a day.

2011-2014

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A lot of changes happened during my early college years. I gained the standard freshman 15, and became more serious about my nutrition. For a while I ate seven small meals a day, and worked out three times a week . Food was now something I would never skip, but I still knew very little about how to properly eat for the goals I was hoping to achieve. I thought that if I ate seven meals a day I would grow to one day look like my bodybuilding idols. At the time, while I was working at a gym, people there would tell me that the secret to mass was protein – so my diet was mostly protein and veggies. Obviously this would not lead to considerable gains.

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During the tail end of college, something happened that would drastically change the way I ate. My friends Ahmad and Bidas entered a bodybuilding competition. I remember them urging me to join the “aesthetics crew”, which is gym slang for being lean and shredded. After seeing them on stage I realized how far behind I had fallen, so I began my first bulk. Dirty bulking by definition is just eating everything you see and hoping that it all turns to muscle. I was able to climb up fifteen pounds during my dirty bulk, much of which was fat. During this dirty bulk I was eating about 3000-3500 calories a day. If I was ever short on calories I would swallow spoonfuls of olive oil.

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After a bulk comes a cut, where you try to shed off all the fat you gained during said bulk. I ate at a caloric deficit, with chicken breast and brown rice on most days. Other days I would just opt to not eat much at all. After realizing how much I missed food, and how much bigger my shirts fit on me I dove headfirst into another dirty bulk.

 

2014-2016

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Nowadays I have a better understanding of how to eat towards the goal. Food falls into a category of being both necessary and social. Eating for function has to balance with eating to create memories with friends and family. The way and reasons we eat change as quickly as our goals and lifestyles change. My current challenge, living in Korea, is struggling not to eat five layer fat pork Korean BBQ everyday.

Grocery Shopping for a Bulk in Korea

With winter fast approaching, a majority of us gym enthusiasts prepare for whats known as the bulking season. Bulking season is when we trade in our tank tops and striations for mass and sweaters. Being that I’m in Daegu, South Korea for the year, it is a year of firsts.

My first bulking season in another country is off to a great start, thanks to all the people I’ve come across that have steered me in the right direction.

A few places not mentioned in the blog:

G market

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G-market is one of the first places I was told to buy my food from. They have quick delivery and are cheaper then most markets. I however have not used it for the purpose of food yet – something about not being able to physically pick the food bothers me. Some of the people I’ve talked to buy frozen chicken in bulk from here.

Water delivery

People do say the tap water in South Korea is fine to drink but like in the U.S most people drink bottled water. The school I work for hooks us up with a water delivery company that only charges us 5,000 won (about $4.50) for one water jug.

My chicken!

A friend and staff member at the gym I joined has a friend who owns a chicken distributor, so he gets chicken breast at a very good price. He charges about 3,000 won/kg (about $1.50/lb), and he sells it right from the gym! What more convenient place could there be to get your protein?! Some gyms in the U.S sells protein shakes…my gym in Korea sells chicken breasts.

Bulking with Kimchi Ep.1

A few things missing from the video for the purpose of keeping it short to accommodate the ever shrinking attention span of this you young’uns.

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The gym is located right above a STEAK HOUSE! So around 12 pm everyday (about midway though my gym session) the entire place smells of meats and spices.

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There is one person on staff per shift, but most of the time someone speaks English. They were even kind enough to give me a Body Composition Analysis (which only told me what I already knew…my legs still need work).

They also offer an overnight locker with a deposit of approximately $8 which you get back when you’re done for the year. It comes in handy for those of us with gym gear and no car to bring it in. The one thing I think I do miss about my gyms back home is the rock music. All k-pop, all day here – but for $30 a month I can’t complain.