The Bachelor Chronicles Pt. 1

Followers of my blog have gone through a lot with me over the last few years. We’ve written 365 haikus together, traded many recipes, shared intimate conversations I’ve had with strangers, detailed my process step by agonizing step as I learned how to run and completed my first 5k, 10k, mud run, half marathon and several races in between. Today we start a new journey.

Today we begin storytelling and essay writing on topics that come up during this, my first time living on my own. At the age of 33. And it’s weird as hell. I have a small townhouse in Lenoir City, TN, and am in the weird state of having absolutely nothing and beginning the process of digging myself back out.

It’s a weird existence. It’s a weird world. So I figured I’d write about it and call it the Bachelor Chronicles.

When I was deciding on a place of my own, there were several factors that came into play. I’d want a decent amount of room to entertain because I love having friends over – I’d want a space that could act as both studio and office – I’d need quite a bit of closet space and I’d need a spacious and dope kitchen. Anyone who knows me knows of my passion for cooking and sharing the food I make with my friends and family. To say my main focus would be the kitchen would be an understatement and a no-brainer for anyone that has ever talked to me.

My townhouse doesn’t have the nicest kitchen on the planet but it’s not bad. It has a nice refrigerator (with an ice maker that doesn’t work currently), a range and oven (that doesn’t have a light), a sizable sink and dishwasher. It’s missing a microwave but such an appliance isn’t high on my needs list currently. I should be cooking for real anyway, no?

My parents helped get a lot for my kitchen. Mats, plates, silverware, etc. If one looked in my cabinets, they’d think I entertained every other day. I’m already planning my first dinner party and plotting out my Valentine’s Day goodies for this year since I haven’t baked anything in months. I’ve even been asked by several people what I’m going to be cooking now that I have a kitchen — what is the first thing I’ll cook, even.


I woke up yesterday morning at 6:00 AM with a sore throat. It’s not uncommon this time of year. The weather in East Tennessee is nothing if not unpredictable and if I’m asleep on my back, I’m apparently quite the snorer (or so I’ve been told). I chalked up my dry, sore throat to a night of snoring and the ever-changing weather, gargled some warm salt water and hit the door for the gym by 7:00.

En route to the gym, I grabbed a Monster Energy Drink from a gas station and immediately filled up my blender bottle with pre-workout when I got there. Our Saturday morning winter weightlifting session went smoothly, I was feeling fine and lifted heavy. I was scheduled to teach the 9:30am kickboxing class so I filled my blender bottle back up with water and a dose of BCAAs hoping the concoction would prevent my throat from drying out. And it did.

For a while.

By the halfway point in class, my voice was cracking. It wasn’t long before it was completely shot. I had to turn the music down so my members could hear me over the microphone as we wrapped up the rounds and finished core. I tend to be pretty intense when I’m on the mic and as my voice faded, I attempted to compensate by straining my voice further. By the time class was over, my voice was not only gone, but my throat was physically in pain and I had started making myself sick from straining.

When I wrapped up at the gym, I stopped by the store to get a frozen pizza, some toiletries, some tea and some honey. Still feeling sickly, I came home, showered, put some pajamas on and set out to make myself some tea.

If I were still at home, I’d just fill a coffee mug up with water, pop it in the microwave and nuke it for 2 minutes or so until the water was boiling. Except, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t have a microwave yet. Serious tea drinkers may have a tea kettle to set on the stove, but alas, I don’t have one of those either because a serious tea drinker I am not.

So I busted out my stock pot and boiled a huge batch of water. So now if people ask what the first thing I made in my new kitchen was, I can’t tell them it was a fancy steak dinner or fajitas or even a goddamn frozen pizza. The first thing I made in my kitchen was stock pot of boiling water.

I dipped my cup in to fill it, added some honey, a tea bag and a couple cranks of coarse sea salt. A similar recipe to what some heavy metal singers use to protect their voices and if we’re being honest, what I do for a part-time living is basically the same thing as being a heavy metal vocalist. It was delicious, it was soothing, it was the first thing I made in my new kitchen.

And I made it again three times last night. I’ve made it three more times today. You could say I’m a culinary tour-de-force.

Aside from earning the title of Master Innovator in the kitchen, everything else is okay. Slow-going but pleasent nonetheless. I still put the seat down every time because old habits die hard. I have a bed and internet so the place is habitable. I also have a stock pot that I’m just leaving on the stove in case anyone else wants some tea when they visit.

So maybe come visit?

Road to Bluegrass 8/7 + JTFStrong

Happy Monday, freaks! Monday is definitely Road to Bluegrass day but today it’s happening a little differently. Let me explain.

If you’ve followed by blog for any amount of time, you know my story. I was sick, I worked my ass off, I became well and now I help other people do the same thing. I love sharing stories about the workout plan I’m on, the races I’m training for, the classes I lead and the meals I prep. But you also know I do a lot of other stuff, too. Primarily taking photos of the cool places I go and sometimes live streaming myself drinking wine and deep frying shit.

While I’m kind of into the idea of keeping it all together in one place, I thought it was about time that I separated all things fitness from all other things I do. Enter JTFStrong.

I’ll be in the process of moving over all things fitness/health/diet to that site and its social media compliments as well as creating new original content for the site including workout plans, meal-prep recipes, videos, commentary and maybe even an eBook.

If you’re a follower of this site because of the fitness stuff, please take a second and follow the new one. If you’re on Insta or Facebook, it’d be way rad if you followed me there, too.

If you’re really interested in how training went last week, I’ve already posted about it on the new site so now’s a great time to get used to checking there and (hopefully) bookmarking it.

This site isn’t going away. In fact, I hope to include more different things here in the coming weeks. Maybe more creative stuff, I don’t know. Definitely more personalized writings and likely some videos of my dogs.

Anyway, this is exciting for me and I hope you guys can benefit from the stuff I write on the new page.

Get Stronger, Get Prettier…

JTF

Friday Fitness Finds 8/3

Erin passed me an article today that I nearly included in this list but I thought I’d make a few comments on it instead. Brad Stulberg of Outside Magazine wrote the article Why Do Rich People Love Endurance Sports? and brought up some great points.

The first thing most of us who lift heavy things or run long distances (read: more than the short distance between you and a closing elevator) is going to think is: Rich? Come on… Yes. Rich. In 2013 a Gallop-conducted poll found that the worldwide median household income is merely $9,733. The median per-capita income is $2,920. That’s annually, y’all. Compare $2,920 to your annual salary and you’ll soon find out that not only are you rich, but you’re of the filthy, stinking variety as well.

The article goes on to explain how even in our “modern” and “civilized” country, a huge portion of our citizens do not have access to proper facilities or safe places to train for endurance sports. One would think that running, arguably the cheapest sport to get into, would be free for everyone. And I suppose to an extent it is, but if you want to properly fuel, support your body, have access to training materials, not get mugged or murdered while you train and actually compete in races, one needs the financial means to make it happen. And let me tell you — there’s a lot to finance in this sport.

Enter the rich and successful guy.

So you tough it out. You go to school and you get the job and you get the marriage and you get the success and money you were looking for. You’re successful! You probably wear a tie to work and drive a BMW! I bet you have a rehearsed laugh and scowl at the IT geeks who wear t-shirts to work. You’ve made it, right?

Not necessarily. Having a comfortable home on the safe end of town and a job that gives you ample expendable income is great, but for a lot of us, that safety isn’t really what we’re looking for. Personally, I enjoy knowing my bills are going to get paid and that my wife won’t be harassed if she goes somewhere on her own in the parts of town we frequent. I like knowing nothing is going to be stolen out of my yard if I leave it out there at night and that I can sleep soundly every night without packing heat. You could say I even take it for granted. Because I do.

A lot of us do. And this, according to the article, is often where endurance sports come in.

Exercising as hard as I do gives me a reason to push myself. It gives me a reason to hurt — to feel like I may be in danger. It makes me learn how to deal with pain and it shows me time and time again that I’m able to overcome it and get stronger. Is it the same as having to fight for what you have? No. Will running my next half-marathon earn me a black hat with COMPTON spelled out across it? No. Does it give me enough danger to make me feel more alive than I do 40+ hours a week when I’m doing the “rich guy” thing? Hell yes, it does.


Here’s this week’s stuff:

  • Portobello Fajita Meal Prep by BudgetBytes
    I got this earlier this week and I think it looks amazing. I like the idea of replacing the traditional steak or chicken in the fajitas with mushrooms and the “Cowboy Caviar” looks great, too. I’m super interested in the cornbread but I don’t know how it’s going to work macro-wise. I hope to make this in another week or two so I can actually calculate them. Follow up if you’re interested.

  • 4 Bad Running Habits and How to Fix Them by Shoshanna Cohen via Bodybuilding.com
    I think this was intended for folks new to the sport but there’s some Running 101 tips here that even the seasoned runner could stand be reminded about. Me included. If you’re just getting into running, especially, just know that despite this list and many others like it, you’ll likely break the “rules” and learn the hard way regardless. I know that’s how it’s worked for me.

  • Muscle Club Apparel Promo
    Nothing to read here but Muscle Club Apparel is running a special through the weekend where orders of $35 or more will ship with a free tank! And let’s be honest, we can all use more tanks — NO SLEEVES ALLOWED!

  • Hella Recipes by PaleOMG
    Buffalo Chicken Bacon Ranch Potato Salad: I’m not crazy about potato salad but I could make an exception for this. YUM.
    Grilled Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Pork Chops: I love cooking with fire. I love pork chops. I love pineapples. This recipe sounds amazing.
    Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie: This has “make me next week for meal prep!” written all over it and I think I’m going to allow it assuming I can find some spaghetti squash this weekend!

  • Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age by Taffy Brodesser-Akner via The New York Times Magazine
    This is a long read but it’s an interesting topic. Break it down into parts if you need to. Ultimately, this is a study of how the diet culture a lot of us grew up with is dying off in a way with words/phrases like “diet” and “lose weight” being replaced with “clean eating” and “get healthy.” Statistically, people are happier being fat now than ever before — so how do you sell them lifestyle changing habits?

  • 18 Uncomfortable Truths About Nutrition, Health and Fitness by Nia Shanks
    You guys know by now how much I love Nia’s blog and I hope I’ve sent her at least one follower over the last several weeks. Her 18 Uncomfortable Truths… couldn’t be more spot-on and they’re relevant for everyone no matter your gender, age or where you are on your fitness journey. I read these and felt pretty guilty about a lot of them, but make no mistake, making you feel guilty is not the intention of this post. Rather, read through it, identify with some of her topics and learn to accept them as truths worth working with.

  • Free Fitness/Nutrition Guides from Nerd Fitness
    This is awesome! You guys already know that I’m a big fan of Nerd Fitness anyway but this is a perfect place to go if you’re ever wondering why. Here, NF has put together FREE guides on newbie health mistakes, the Paleo diet, beginners workouts, weightlifting basics and more. In all, there are eight incredible guides written by a useful and non-intimidating source, all for free. You can’t beat that!

Music to Run Fast-ish, Lift Heavy and Punch Hard To

Nothing this week, y’all. Nothing.

But before I left work I had a conversation about the Dream Warriors so here’s this: