Category Archives: Sports

Operation Respec

By Alexander Pereira

Welcome to January! The month of new beginnings – well on the Gregorian Calendar, which is just the Roman Calendar with some holidays renamed. Other culture’s calendars may beg to differ – Sorry my anthro major got away from me…. Where was I? Oh right, the Month of the New Beginnings, a clean break from the slothful you of last year and a fresh healthy start… until March. And then everyone sorta just goes back to what they were doing before. I’m not making fun of them, not really. I’ve certainly been guilty of doing the same thing, going to the gym takes effort. Eating healthy is just so… so… well you know. All of which is to say, hey I’m taking advantage of this mental and temporal ‘fresh start’ myself! If you’re a fan of the podcast, you’ve heard me talk a bit about this on episodes 14 and 15 [Links] but I’m going to set it in stone, as it were, here.

Operation Respec is about me, Alexander Pereira, making myself into a better version of me, the version I want to be. This is bigger than a weight loss goal, or aiming to run a 5k, although holy crap if you can do that I worship you.

For years I’ve felt like I’m not quite the person who I am in my self-image. I don’t feel like I look like I should. To the point where I’ve written videos about how my mental image of a hero doesn’t, and can’t, match with who I am, physically — and racially — in the past. I have an ideal for how I should act that I regularly don’t meet, interpersonally or just in how I go through life. You’ll hear me say “cause I’m lazy” a lot and, arguments with mom aside, I hate that I do. I’m not actually lazy when I care about something, as this freaking WEBSITE proves but I need to break several years of bad habits. I also have an annoying social confidence issue that hits me at weird times. I spent the better part of my two years in university not thinking my school friends were friends with me, just friendly strangers. Because I was afraid to make an assumption and maybe weird them out. Now of course, they’re the biggest group of people I tweet at on Twitter.

As for who I want to be? Take Commander Shepard, Honor Harrington, Aragorn and Admiral Anderson, blend them up and throw in some healthy realism and you’ve got me. Or just check out my friend Giselle Gonzalez. I want to be living my life as fully as she is. Or my friend Keezy Young, who’s a badass artist who is really leaning into her art and that’s brave and awesome. Those two are the ones who are really inspiring me to push toward meeting my own bars. Wil Wheaton and Rooster Tooth are the ones who made me realize public accountability is something I can use to motivate myself and others.

So what does Operation Respec entail?

Be Healthier

  • This is traditional. I weigh 213lbs. I want to weight no more than 190lbs. I can’t keep the level of activity I used to be able to do. I want to change this. What does this mean?
    • Go to the Gym. No really, I’m a former black belt gone to seed 5 years running, I HAVE to get myself back in shape.
    • Eat Healthier
      • I’m not going to diet. I hate diets. I love good food. Calorie counting makes me mad.
      • I am going to modify my current diet to cut out the crap foods.
        • That means no more M&M packages a week, no McDonalds, try to cook and prepare my lunches better.
        • Instead of a diet, I’m going to work to be more mindful of my food.

Be More Disciplined

  • I procrastinate. I avoid work. I play games when I should be writing. I’m bad at scheduling things or planning ahead… in some very poignant places. I’m still going to do/be all of that. But I’m going to work on doing it less.
    • Write 30mins-1 hour a day
    • Apply for that job, or message that person on OKC with a day of finding it/them
    • Schedule the Website, Podcast and personal life better
      • I’m bad at money. I am so freaking bad it’s not funny. I’m going to actually try and change that this year.
    • Help with cleaning and cooking around the house more.
    • Be more helpful in general

Be More Social

  • When I was living in Calgary, I was rooming with my only friend in the city. I knew literally no one else. I had to go out to meet people because I need more than one friend locally. I got to know some really cool writer people in Calgary but my other attempts to meet people ran up against my own anxieties or a general freeze from the board game scene. I Started playing World of Warcraft again, I STARTED PLAYING WORLD OF WARCRAFT AGAIN.
  • Here, I fell back into the comfortable cushion of childhood friends and the network I’d grown up building. I mean I live with the family of my best friend. We hang out weekly-ish and play lots of games online together. It’s good, I love it. It’s also really safe and not helping me grow at all. So I’m going to try and change it up.
    • I’m going to find or found a Writer’s Meetup Group. It’s going to help me write more and be more social.
    • I’m going to try to find and go to a Board Game group or dabble in local board game store communities. Seattle tabletop gaming community is so much more diverse and welcoming than Calgary’s that I need to take advantage of it.
    • Participate in the communities I’m already in. My dance studio has a pretty healthy community that I’ve been sort of skirting around being a part of because there isn’t a lot of people my age there. I need to actually take up getting to know people there.
    • Find Friends to go on Adventures with.
      • Adventures are fun but a lot of my close friends aren’t the sort to want to go do random adventures and the few who are don’t live nearby. I need more friends to do adventures with.
      • I mean, yeah. It’s a problem. I might see them more than once this year. Or like, ever. In the case of Doc. Seriously, Doc and I haven’t seen each other outside of a convention in like 3 or 4 years.
    • Last but not least? I’m going to actually try and use things like OkCupid to meet some people… rather than use it as this weird pseudo-meat shopping site it seems to have a tendency to feel like to me… there is an article on this.
      • Am I admitting that I use a dating site? Yup. Is it a big deal? NO. Meeting people is hard after school. Hell meeting people was hard BEFORE school was a public thing. That was the point of all the nobles holding balls and parties in the Dark Ages.

Be More Adventurous

  • Given no push, I will stay at home and play video games, read or write before I do anything else. I don’t love travelling and I’ve been bad about going hiking cause summer camps are exhausting work. So this year I plan to:
    • Travel More
      • I’m already flying down to visit Newman in San Diego and I’ve already hit up Portland but I also want to plan a Vancouver weekend visit and go visit my friends in Bellingham. Maybe more? I want to remind myself to go see the world.
      • I’m not going to go on a crazy globetrotting tour because that’s not me, but I’m going to work harder to take even small trips outside of my own haunts.
    • Take Advantage of the fact that I LIVE IN SEA-FREAKING-TTLE!
      • I mean seriously. I live in Seattle, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I’m going to try to go hiking more, maybe go kayaking again or find a trail riding place for an adventure. Things like this.
    • Work in fields I’m not intimately Familiar with
      • I’ve worked childcare/after school programs for most of my life. Maybe it’s time I try something else?
    • Do things I’m not comfortable with
      • Humans have a tendency to prefer things they are familiar with and know. I’m human. I want to do things that stretch my comfort zone.
      • If that means I’m doing things like taking a yoga class at my gym or going to see an opera, then that’s what I’m doing. I started this one a bit last year because I asked a freaking classmate out to do stuff. I actually talked to people.
      • I am doing the Spring Showcase at my Dance Studio.

I’ve given myself quite a job, haven’t I? Yes. Yes, I have. But like I said, I don’t expect to hit everything here but I expect myself to try. Because if I don’t I’m not the me I know I am.

What can you expect from me?

Weekly Updates.

  • These aren’t going to be long updates or big ones necessarily. I will check in with reports about any social or adventures I manage and more importantly, I’m going to be posting regular updates about my Exercise, Food and Writing Habits. Those are the biggest pieces of public accountability I want from this program.

An Example to Follow… or a Warning learn from

  • I’m not an expert at any of this. That’s the whole point of the website. We don’t know what we’re doing but we know are doing something. This is just another example of that. I can’t promise this will go well, but if it does I hope someone decides they want to do a Respec of their own. If this crashes and burns, well the lessons we find can make the next go around better.

4 Steps for a Better Gym Experience (for Beginners)

It’s almost 2016. Which means a lot of you are going to make the same resolution you have made for the past 5 years: to finally put forth the effort of going to the gym. You get a membership, some expensive gym clothes, and a water bottle that says “Beast Gains”. You pat yourself on the back for a week or two until you see me, former Bench Press World Champion Doc Von Derwin, stealing all the free weights in the gym to use as a warm-up set. Confidence destroyed, you refuse to step into the gym again, with the question “Why bother?” rattling around in your head. Well it’s time to shut up those negative thoughts you have about yourself, and start training to get that action hero body you deserve.
Step 1: The hardest part is showing up
After a long day of work, you find yourself home in your glorious fortress of solitude. You want to go to the gym but you just are so exhausted that the only thing you can do is pick up the tv remote and transport Funions from the bag to your dumb face. There is always tomorrow right? NO!
Getting to the gym when already comfortable is the hardest thing I have ever encountered. But sure enough, if you just get your ass to the gym you will work out. I have never seen anyone walk into a gym only to change their mind and go home. The moment you step foot in a gym, you are guaranteed to do something. Then, if you force yourself to go the gym enough, you will eventually get fit. The important thing is that you put forth any amount of effort above your average amount. Even if you aren’t exercising to an extreme degree, you are at least making progress.
Step 2: You cannot worry about what other people think of you
Now that you have entered the gym, you notice that you are not the only one there. On one side, you see a 20-something frat bro with frosted tips, wearing a normal t-shirt with the sides cut out to not only reveal his biceps but also his ribs, stomach, and nipples, and yelling every time he curls a 20lb dumbbell. On the other side is a muscle-bound woman who is training to be a SWAT team member, shadow boxing in the corner, with tattooed marks along her bicep that definitely represent the number of people she has killed.
No matter what you think of other people in the gym, you need to push them out of mind. Both of these fictitious examples have something in common: what they are doing has no direct effect on you and your time in the gym. They also are lifters themselves. Even if they are strange looking or intimidating, they are most likely not worrying about what you think of them and focusing on their workout.
When it comes to people at the gym who are stronger than you are, a lot of people get discouraged because they feel they can’t keep up with other members. I just want to remind you that it doesn’t matter. Anyone who is a real lifter understands that we all have to start somewhere. Personally, I was lucky enough to start when I was 8. You can start at the gym at any time in your life and as long as you keep showing up and putting in the work, you are a lifter. I invite all sorts of people to work out with me, and most refuse because they think I’m somehow intimidating, just because I can deadlift the pickup truck their dad got to compensate for something. I invite them because a good workout routine can be done at any weight. It’s more often about the number of reps you do than the actual weight you lift.
Step 3: Have a plan going in
Now that you don’t care about the other people in the gym, you suddenly realize that you have never seen any of this equipment before. The idea of trying any of it and doing it wrong terrifies you. You think to yourself, “Well, free weights are easy. Let’s start with some squats at about 100lbs.” What you don’t realize is that the gym uses the metric system, so the 20lb weights you thought you loaded on actually weigh 45lbs each. While you attempt to squat, your knees explode.
You can find plenty of information online. You can find workout routines that highlight your desired muscle group, as well as demonstrational videos on how to properly execute and exercise. If you have a predetermined idea of what you want to do and how long you want to do it for, walking into a gym will be less intimidating. All the equipment serves a purpose, but you get to say, “Not today ab machine. It’s leg day.”

Step 4: Go with a friend
As you look to your bloody leg stumps where your knees used to be, you wonder if any of the other people in the gym would be willing to get you to a hospital. You look around to find that everyone has left, and begin to wonder about how good prosthetic leg technology might be these days.
A friend is always a helpful tool. They motivate you, they spot you while you lift, and they reinforce your self-esteem. I find that I always have a better time lifting with a partner. Conversing with someone makes lifting a much more enjoyable experience and becomes therapeutic in certain ways. Having a person spotting you and giving you words of encouragement helps demolish any sense of doubt in yourself and makes you a better lifter.
Now I ask one very important question. Do you even lift?

Why you should join the rest of the world and watch soccer

When you think of the biggest sports in America, the “Big 4” come to mind: football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. But when you look at the “Big 4” for the world, it is a much different list: soccer, tennis, cricket, and rugby. While most people in America have at least heard of soccer, it doesn’t even crack the top 5 with a lot of the time Nascar taking the fifth most popular ‘sport’. This is quickly changing, though.

Domestic soccer started in 1968 with the North American Soccer League having 64 unique teams play in the league through their 16 year existence. But more recently the professional league has been Major League Soccer (MLS), which started in 1996 with 10 teams. Over those 20 years, the league has grown to 20 teams with 4 more teams being added within the next 5 years. However, whenever you talk to someone about MLS they take it as a joke. Being a soccer fan I have heard more often than not “I only watch soccer during the World Cup” which means every 4 years. They get sucked into the world-wide hype when it is the biggest sporting event going on and then they stop caring until the next one.The latest World Cup held in Brazil in 2014 was the largest one yet for popularity in the US. 26.5 million people watched Germany’s extra-time win over Argentina which blew the previous viewership out of the water. This past summer, the Women’s World Cup took place in Canada. The USWNT (US Women’s National Team) made it to the final to play against Japan—which I had the great pleasure of attending . That game had the most viewership for a US match, men’s or women’s, of all time having 25.4 million people in the US watch that game.

With every World Cup there is always a boom in MLS popularity. With 14 of the 23 players on the 2014 World Cup roster playing in the MLS, this year had the largest increase of fans in recent memory. And this is an exciting time for US soccer with a lot of our US team stars being younger players. One of the biggest stars from this World Cup Deandre Yedlin, is only 22-years old who is currently playing on loan for Sunderland in the English Premier League, arguably the best league in the world.

Even locally in the MLS big name stars are being attracted to come play in the US. With soccer legends Frank Lampard, Kaka, Steven Gerrard, and David Villa all making the jump across the pond within the past year; and rising stars like Sebastian Giovinco, Fabian Castillo, and Gyasi Zardes getting looked at world-wide all playing here in our growing league. Many big name players have expressed interest in coming to play in America, and within the next 10 years the MLS is projected to be competing for one of the most popular sports in Americaand have the type of talent that you see in Europe.

So instead of only getting soccer fever once every couple years, go support your local MLS team. If there is a team near you look around and I’m sure you can find a team that will suit your interest. With the playoffs winding down now is the time to see what MLS has the best to offer. The MLS Conference Finals start on November 22 with the MLS Cup Final being played on December 6th.

It is about time that America caught the same fever that has captivated the rest of the world for years.


So You Want to Add Some Muscle? Lessons from a Powerlifter

Doc Deadlift

Article By Doc Von Derwin [Editor’s Note: Our resident Meat Head]

So you want to get serious about adding muscle. Then get ready for one hell of a ride that guarantees constant soreness, an uncomfortable amount of dieting, and nonstop attention from the opposite sex… or the same sex if you are into that kind of thing (it’s 2015 after all). This article will assume you have the essential knowledge of most lifts and an understanding of proper gym etiquette. Feel free to use your favorite search engine whenever confused, and while you are at it, look up synonyms for “large” so you won’t be thrown off when fellow gym members start referring to you with these words instead of your name.


Step 1: Assess your weaknesses. Do your abs show? Can you do a proper pull-up? Do you get winded walking up a flight of stairs? Identify your starting point and start by making attainable, yet challenging goals. From here you can begin building your plan of attack and start kicking ass one rep at a time.


Step 2: Reallocating your diet. Once you’ve identified your goals, you’re going to need to start eating your way towards them. If it means eating less or eating more, change in physique is incredibly reliant on how and what you eat. When it comes to gaining weight, the key is about being a beast in the kitchen. Let’s say the goal is to bench 300 pounds. The closer your body weight is to 300lbs, the lighter the lift will feel because your body is accustomed to carrying more mass. When you start cutting body weight while maintaining lifting intensity, you bench will stay the same but now you have to deal with rumors about the lifter with six pack ab’s and the ability to throw smart cars like softballs.


Step 3: The bulking diet. If your goal is to be huge like some sort of discount Tom Hardy, then get ready to eat… a lot. A veteran bodybuilder would eat 12 eggs a day (hardboiled or fried), a pound of 4% cottage cheese, and gallon of whole milk a day. Not to mention a decent amount of lean red meat consumption. You need all the protein you can get while cutting out as much sodium and sugars as possible. Fats are permitted in this diet but only if they are easy to metabolize like dairy fat. These food items are ideal for gaining mass but you can tailor it to your taste or health needs. Just be sure to include other standard issue health items; carrots, potatoes, whole wheat pastas, other vegetables, you get the picture. No shit foods like candy bars, fast food, anything deep fried, or soda which is the equivalent poison. Don’t drink soda… at all… ever. Soda is awful. Seriously, don’t drink it.


Step 4: The bulking workout. Three days a week should be dedicated to heavy lifting exercises. Monday: Heavy bench day. Tuesday: heavy leg day that includes squats and deadlifts as well as 500 reps of circuit training. Friday: squats, deadlifts, cleans, and bench mixed with biceps, shrugs, calves and pushups. You will most likely need to buy a whole new set of shirts about 3 weeks due to constant sleeve blow outs. You still need to maintain a large amount of intensity. Think heavy and painful 5 sets of 5. Somewhere throughout your week you need a bicep/tricep circuit training day that has 800 reps and needs to be finished in 45 minutes. Fast and with a lot of intensity like a Jason Statham movie.


Step 5: The cut. For those of you looking to gain that Bruce Lee lean appearance along with strength to vault over walls like a parkour expert, you need to be ready for a very painful process. More painful than Mufasa’s death in the 1994 classic The Lion King. Once you get your size and strength to where you want, you need start cutting back on sugars and sodium even harder than before, but now you cut out as many fats as possible. Start drinking fat free milk, take the yolk out of your eggs, and switch over to 2% cottage cheese. The combination of tuna and salsa will be your closest friend and you will hate vegetables more than a fussy 5-year-old. Fun fact: Broccoli and chicken was Tom Hardy’s constant meal when cutting for the movie The Warrior. By the end of filming, he hated broccoli and chicken.


Step 6: The cutting work out. Now we think about intense high rep workouts. 2 days a week is you power lifting exercises where you focus on which ever exercises work your weakest muscles, 3 days out of your week include 800-1000 reps of circuit training routines. Design them for legs, biceps/triceps, and various other muscles that shape your body to the proportions of Arnold Schwarzenegger from the first Terminator film. Resting must be kept to a minimal between circuits. To picture the intensity of these workouts, think of the last level of any video game where you are not only fighting two armies but also ISIS, Freeza from Dragonball Z, the Green Bay Packers, and a million fire ants that united as one in the shape of an even larger fire ant. These work outs are design to build/tone your muscles and burn more calories. This combined with your incredible dieting will start giving you that lean super soldier appearance.


Step 7: Reflection. These are the key steps to shaping yourself into a high octane monster that is able to stand in front of the mirror and know what it’s like to be sexually attracted to themselves. If you are having trouble getting motivated or find yourself cheating too frequently, try reading “The Iron and the Soul” by Henry Rollins. Once you have done that, read it over and over again to realize what it takes for you to stop being your own worst enemy. People are able want so much for themselves and very few are able to put forth the effort to achieve it. If you really want to add muscle or lean down then you can’t be afraid to put in the work.