Rock'ing For 30 Days

One Man's Journey to Eat and Train Like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Month: February 2016 (page 2 of 4)

Day 18: First Press, reddit Front Page, and Differing Opinions

Today was a fun day. About a week ago, I spoke to a reporter for Techinsider (owned by Business Insider) about the Rock’ing for 30 Days Challenge. Early this morning the story was finally posted. You can read it here:

May have made my head look a bit misshapen, but cool to be shown with The Rock (credit: Techinsider)

May have made my head look a bit misshapen, but cool to be shown with The Rock (credit: Techinsider)

This dad is spending an entire month eating like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

The story was great to read. I thought they did a solid job summarizing what a typical day looks like for me while doing this challenge. I shared this on Facebook and Twitter, which led to a lot of friends, former co-workers, and random people I’ve never met sharing words of encouragement and sharing the story with others. It was very motivating to see the reaction.

Might as well share this on reddit…

I have been a fairly active user of reddit for around 8 years. During the past two+ years, as I’ve worked to get myself into shape, I have also been a frequent visitor to the Fitness subreddit. So I decided to continue the fun and post details about what I’m doing on reddit.

I’m eating and training like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for 30 Days, and just made it half-way through (37/M/6’3”/207lbs). Here’s my lessons learned so far.

The reaction blew me away. The post exploded in popularity, and made it to the front page of reddit (no small feat). As the comments poured in, I responded to each and every one of them. Finding myself at the center of a popular discussion within a community I’ve been a part of for so long, I felt a responsibility to be a good citizen and reply to everyone. It took most of my day, but it was worth it. Of course, it also led me to promise that I’d share photos at the end of this challenge. Posting shirtless selfies on the Internet seems like a bad idea, but I’ll figure out something.

“You’re wasting your time…”

The vast majority of the responses I’ve received were supportive and encouraging, with a small percentage being typical online haters. Fitness can be as personal and hotly debated as religion or politics. Many people chimed in with suggestions about what I should be doing instead, and modifications I should make to the workout. I’m not sure the whole idea of the challenge, that I wanted to see if I could do exactly what The Rock does for 30 days, came through to some people.

There are people who take differing views on fitness and nutrition as an attack on them personally. I’ll probably do a whole separate post just about this topic once the challenge is over.

Daily Stats

The elliptical is hard to really get high intensity out of. I’m debating mixing in some running into the cardio.


Day 17: Back in the Game, Professional Curling, and Food Prep Teamwork

After what was the hardest day so far yesterday, I felt much better when I woke up. I had suspected that it was some sort of food poisoning that made me sick yesterday. This is an especially scary thought because I prepare my food three days at a time, and the day before had been my first day of the new batch. If something had made me sick, it’s conceivable I could be sick the next day as well. But thankfully it seems to have passed. There is nothing like feeling ill to make you really appreciate feeling healthy. So I hit my workouts with a renewed sense of determination.

Bi’s and Tri’s FTW

My arms are getting noticeably bigger during this program. Part of this may be due to me not having particularly large arms to begin with. I’ve also never really focused exclusively on my arms in my workouts. Filling out my arms is definitely changing my profile in the mirror. Today in the gym I had an odd moment of feeling disconnected from my reflection, like it wasn’t the body I’m used to seeing. When you’ve been sort of chunky for most of your life, it’s odd to look so different. Granted this is mostly due to my two year journey of getting in better shape, but the fast changes this month are kind of a trip.

I don't know that guy.

I don’t know that guy.

“Rice and chicken are cooking…”

My wife’s enthusiasm for this project seems to be growing as it goes on. She has thankfully started to take over some of the food prepping, which is the hardest part of this journey. She texted me towards the end of my work day, letting me know she had purchased a bunch of groceries and had started some of the cooking. It was a huge help, and I got 18 meals (3 days) prepped and in the fridge before I went to bed. Unfortunately, I got to sleep late, at 11:45pm, which only leaves me about 5 hours of sleep before I do it all again. That’s going to be rough.

Daily Stats

Staying ahead of my cardio conditioning is hard. This morning’s session didn’t do much. But that spike at 7pm? Wrestling with my two-year old daughter. She’s quite a workout!


Day 16: Feeling Ill, Almost Quitting, and Questioning the Rules

Today was by far the hardest one I’ve had. This challenge almost beat me.

Just as I got cocky yesterday and declared my confidence in being able to complete all 30 days, I woke up this morning not feeling well with what I can only guess was some sort of food poisoning or stomach virus. I’ve eaten the same thing every day for the last two weeks and prepared everything I’ve eaten myself, so this was definitely unexpected. But I felt nauseous, and had a severely upset stomach. Under any other circumstances, I would have definitely skipped working out and gone back to bed.

What Are The Rules of This Challenge Anyway?

Today was to be Leg Day yet again, which is the hardest workout. I debated what to do and what fit within the self-defined rules of the Rock’ing Challenge. Could I skip my workout, and make it up on Sunday (rest day)? If I could make it to the gym, was it alright to shuffle around the workouts and instead do Arms, the shortest and least taxing workout? I hadn’t really thought through these sort of tradeoffs when I started, and wasn’t sure what I would consider to fit into the spirit of this challenge. Or was this just me trying to rationalize not pushing myself?

Considering Failure

If I didn’t make it today, should I just stop altogether? Should I take pride in making it half-way through, but consider myself beaten and pack it in? If I deviated from the original plan, it felt like it would be a failure. Everything I considered felt like rewriting the rules I had in mind when I started, so I dragged myself out of the house, intent on sticking to the original plan

The universe did not make it easy. It was pouring rain, making for a terrible walk to the gym. A block from my destination I stepped in a puddle, soaking my toes. This wasn’t going well.

My time at the gym started with standing shoeless in the locker room, using the hair dryer to dry my wet socks and sneakers. When things were officially downgraded from wet to just damp, I hopped aboard the elliptical and got to work. Surprisingly, I started to feel better during the cardio. I think just taking my mind off of it helped quite a bit.

As soon as I done I was still feeling nauseous, a less than perfect condition for having to eat 10oz of cod, 2 hard boiled eggs, and two cups of oatmeal. I normally squeeze two lemon wedges on my cod before I eat it, and it turned out the smell of the fresh lemon actually helped relieve my nausea. So that was helpful.

Feeling somewhat better, I started the leg workout. While I didn’t skimp on any weight or effort, I did rest more in-between sets. The weight training took 106 minutes, as opposed to the 82 minutes Leg Day took this past Saturday. That seemed like the right trade-off.

By the time I was done, I was exhausted. But I was glad I finished. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t suggest you push yourself like this when you aren’t feeling well. Rest is important. But this month is far from what could be considered normal.


Would Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have pushed himself, or would he have let his body rest?

In 2013, in the middle of a Wrestlemania match he tore his “abdomen & abductor muscles off the bone.” He went on and finished the entire match, all without telling his wrestling partner John Cena what happened until after it was over. Ouch.

The Rock shared this immediately following emergency hernial surgery.

The Rock shared this immediately following emergency hernial surgery.

So I don’t think there is a question he wouldn’t have let an upset stomach interrupt his training. Apparently eating and training like The Rock for 30 Days is nothing compared to actually BEING The Rock. Hopefully just a little of that toughness is wearing off on me.


Daily Stats

I was so traumatized reliving my workout that I forgot to add the daily stats. Overall a bit down from usual, but that’s to be expected from almost dying.


Half-Way There: Completing the first 15 Days of the Rock’ing for 30 Days Challenge

I’m officially at the half-way point of 30 days of eating and training like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

When I started this challenge, I questioned whether I would be able to finish it. Part of keeping this blog was to make the journey public, so that I knew if I failed, everyone would know. This is also why I share it on Facebook and Twitter every day, to force me to be disciplined about writing a daily post. When I missed two days of blogging during the first weekend, it was mentioned to me, which was just what I wanted. Since then I haven’t missed one. And I haven’t missed a single meal or workout.

I use the same size weights for my workout.

I use the same size weights for my workout.

Typhoid Toddler

I feel my chances of making it through this challenge are fairly good at this point. The two things I worry about are getting an injury, or catching a cold. I’m being fanatical about maintaining good form as I lift, and do a full 10 minutes of foam rolling and stretching every day after my workout so I’m confident I’ll make it through relatively injury-free. The only injury I have sustained so far was during this past week when a wooden chair from Pottery Barn Kids fell on my bare foot at home. It hurt, but I survived. (Being a parent seems to be more dangerous than being The Rock).

It’s staying healthy that worries me. My daughter has a cold right now, and many times that runny nose and cough moves over to her dad. I need to make sure that doesn’t happen this time, though I don’t have much of a strategy for preventing it. (Baby in a bubble?)

By The Numbers

As I’m at the half-way point, it’s worth taking a look back at the stats behind these 15 days:

The Training
969 minutes of Weight Training (16.15 hours)

750 minutes of Elliptical Cardio (12.5 hours)
5053 Total Reps (including 2500 Calf Raises)

The Eating
33.75lbs of Cod
180 Eggs (150 egg whites)
80,850 Total Calories

~150lbs Total of Food

I will probably never eat cod again after this month.

I will probably never eat cod again after this month. That bowl is two days worth.

Physical Changes

Since starting this plan 15 days ago, I have gained less than one pound. Considering I’m eating a meal plan for someone who is 6’5″ and 260lbs, this was a huge surprise. I really thought I would put on weight.

But I seem to be adding muscle while also getting leaner at the same time. I think by the end of the challenge, the difference will be noticeable enough in a t-shirt that I can spare myself the humiliation of a shirtless selfie.

15 Days down, 15 to go. Let’s do this.

Day 15: A Ghost Town, Epic Napping, and Timing Errands

Today is a federal holiday. While many of us may have the day off from work, I don’t get a day off from training. So as usual, I was up at 5am and headed to the gym. It was the emptiest I’ve ever seen it. When I showed up, I was the only person in there. Throughout my workout, I saw maybe 4 or 5 other people the entire time. It was fantastic.

I had the entire place to myself.

I had the entire place to myself.

The Rock trains in his own private gym he calls The Iron Paradise. For just this one day, I had my own Iron Paradise, and have officially added “having my own gym” to my list of life goals.

Thank You for the Nap, President Washington.

While we often refer to today as President’s Day, the actual federal holiday we’re observing is George Washington’s Birthday. The nation’s first President, his list of accomplishments is long. Perhaps his greatest though was giving us this day off so I could take a nap.

After working out, I followed my normal routine: come home, shower and get dressed, get my daughter from her crib, get her dressed, then make both of our meals to enjoy together. Today, shortly after eating, I decided to take a nap on the couch. My wife smartly suggested I go to the bedroom, draw the blinds, and take a proper nap, which I did. It was terrific. I slept about 50 minutes, then woke up and had a cup of coffee. Afterwards I was bursting with energy, and my muscles got some much needed rest. I wish I could nap every day.

Living Your Life in Two Hour Chunks

As I had the day off, I decided to go get my haircut. I have gone to the same guy since 1998, which means he’s located no where near where I live. I’m in Harlem, and his shop is in the West Village. I made an appointment for 3:30pm and planned to leave the house around 2:30pm to give myself plenty of time. At around 2:20pm, I realized I needed to eat before I went downtown! If not, I would fall way behind for the day and likely never catch up.

I heated up my meal of cod, white rice, and vegetables then proceeded to wolf it down. I didn’t make it out of the house until 2:45pm, and was ten minutes late to the appointment. Afterwards, I had to race back home to make it on time for my next meal.

This must be why The Rock has a shaved head: no time for haircuts.

Daily Stats

It’s hard to keep the cardio intensity going. I’m adapting to the workouts pretty quickly. I think I may need to forget the presets, and just move back to increasing the resistance/incline numbers manually.


Day 14: Valentine’s Day, Fishing, and My First TV Time

Ah, Valentine’s Day. When couples typically express their love for one another with chocolates, champagne, and romantic dinners.


My wife, of course, woke up to a box of delicious chocolates waiting for her. I, in return, received an adorable craft that my daughter and wife made, that I shall forever cherish. But there was no tasty treats for me this year. I faithfully stayed on the eating plan and didn’t waver. It’s worth noting that my wife has been quite thoughtful when it comes to not having anything to tempt me, and I suppose I’m technically the one to blame for bringing candy into the house. Even with an open box laying around today, I stayed strong.

An Arctic Expedition

The polar vortex continued here in New York City, with the temperature staying below zero for most of the day. Unfortunately, today called for food prepping, so I was forced to brave the elements to go shopping.

I walked several blocks to the fish market, to pick up 7lbs of my beloved cod. The walk along frozen sidewalks left my toes numb. I then visited the grocery store to get the remaining provisions before heading home to start cooking. I took my time, but within 2.5 hours or so I made 18 meals, or three days worth of food. The idea of not having to cook again until Wednesday night is glorious.

Honestly, the food preparation is the hardest part of this challenge. You’re tired and want to take it easy. You want to go to bed early every night so you’re well-rested when waking up at 5am. But every few days, you have a massive job of preparing 12-18 meals. It’s exhausting.

Baller-ific Like It’s All Terrific

Between the food prep, sleeping, and continuing to take care of my daughter and wife, I haven’t watched a minute of television in the last two weeks. Since I did my cooking throughout the day, I had a little downtime this evening as I ate my 10 egg-white omelet. What better show to watch then to start the HBO series “Ballers” starring a Mr. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The first scene of the show is the Rock waking up and getting out of bed. As he does this, my wife says “I can’t believe you eat as much as that guy. He’s huge.” Neither can I.

How do I consume the same amount of food as this guy?!

How can I physically consume the same amount of food as this guy?!

If you liked Entourage (which I did), you would like this show. It’s basically Entourage with Athletes (Mark Wahlberg, the executive producer of Entourage, is attached to Ballers as well). The show is also conveniently 30 minutes long, which is about all the time I could spare while eating my eggs, followed by a protein shake and going to bed. Good times.

Daily Stats

Ah, rest day. Besides the walk to go shopping, very little activity.


Day 13: Mo’ Legs, Gym Jerks, and Mayor de Blasio Tries to Interrupt The Rock’ing Challenge

It has been an erratic winter here in New York City. It hit 70 degrees on Christmas day, and was extremely mild up until mid-January, when we had a historic snowstorm. It’s then been cold on and off. It has now gotten insanely cold. The temperature was forecasted to drop below 0° F.

The Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio shamelessly used this bitter cold as an excuse for what I can only assume to be an attempt to stop me from continuing the Rock’ing for 30 Days Challenge and issued a release telling New Yorkers to stay indoors.


Not to be stopped, I woke up at 6am and braved the cold to continue on with my workout routine as planned. My eyeballs might have ached on the walk there, but dare I say it was worth it.

Look at the gams on that one.

Yet another Leg Day has come and gone. I’m slowly beginning the accept the divine wisdom preached by the Church of Rock. Legs, by far the hardest workout, is also becoming one of my favorites. As your biggest set of muscles, you’re able to really hit them hard and heavy. I work up an intense sweat during legs, much more so than the other days.

While I don’t use any machines in my normal workout, the Rock uses a fair amount of them. They aren’t the best for building your balance and stabilizing muscles, but they are a safer way to lift heavy, which I am. And the upper portion of my leg continues to get bigger. I’m already looking forward to the next legs day on Tuesday.

Just One Plate?

As I constantly rant about, leg day includes a total of 625 calf raises. First I do 5 sets of 75 raises while standing with 25lb dumbbells in each hand. I then do seated calf raises with one 45lb plate for 5 sets of 50 reps each. It’s rough.

Today, as I was doing the standing raises, I took notice of the guy on the seated calf machine. He was in his 50’s and of an average build. He had four 45lb plates on the machine, and did 3 sets of 6-8 raises. I walked over to use the machine as he was finished and asked if he was done, which he affirmed he was. He asked how many plates I used as he graciously went to take his plates off. I told him one plate, at which point he mockingly said “just one plate.”

Yeah, just one plate, mofo. I already have 375 down, and another 250 to knock out. We’re all very impressed by your 24.

Don’t judge people at the gym, in any way. You have no context on what they’re doing or who they are. Evaluating people solely based on weight is misinformed, not to mention attaching so much importance to your weight alone is a recipe for injuries. And frankly, it’s just a jerk thing to do.

Daily Stats

The preset workout I used on the elliptical wasn’t as hard as yesterday. Going to go back to that one again. As it was pretty cold, I stayed home most of the day after my workout, and wasn’t wearing my Fibit, hence the inactivity.


Day 12: The Wrong Coffee, Superior Workout Apparel, and Strength in the Face of Children

I start every work day the same exact way. I get a large iced coffee, black, light ice, to drink at my desk. I’ve done this everyday for at least 5 years, and as it’s Rock-compliant, I’ve continued the habit throughout this challenge.

There is a Dunkin’ Donuts near my office where I have started going recently. The owner has gotten to know me, and recites the order to his employees before I even make it to the register. Today was no exception.

I arrived at work, took off my coat and got ready to start my day. I took my first sip, and tasted…sugar! I looked at the bottom of the cup, and sure enough, there were undissolved sugar crystals in the bottom. It wasn’t much, maybe one spoonful. And it didn’t greatly affect the taste of the coffee. I had just settled in, and wasn’t eager to go back outside in the 12 degree weather to walk several blocks to get a new one. I also wasn’t excited about skipping coffee altogether, as it’s part of my ritual. Seriously, would one spoonful of sugar be that big a deal?

Yes! Yes it would. Now was not the time to get lazy. I’m putting in all this effort, this seemed like a dumb shortcut to take. So I threw back on my mighty parka, and hoofed it back to DD to get a new coffee. I stormed into the place, yelled “This has sugar! The Rock doesn’t like sugar!” and threw it against the wall as hard as I could.

Oh wait, that’s not what I said. It was something more along the lines of “Excuse me, sir, there seems to have been a mixup.” Still, I proudly walked out with an unsweetened black coffee and the satisfaction of having made the right decision.

High Performance Fitness Gear

For someone who spends a lot of time at the gym, I have a pretty sorry set of workout clothes. I have exactly zero dri-fit shirts to speak of. I’m more of a “what free or old t-shirts do I own” gym-goer. Almost all of these shirts are cotton or blends, so there isn’t any fancy sweat-wicking action going on. Which means during these intense workouts, I need to change shirts in-between the cardio and weights, then put on a third for the walk home so I don’t stink up my coat. That’s a lot of laundry. It might be worth investing in some shirts I could wear throughout the entire workout. (And by investing, I of course mean buying the finest workout shirts that Target has to offer.)


The secret to a successful workout is proper apparel.
For example, I bought this shirt for $1 at an NBA sample sale in 2003.


That Cute Face Will Not Break Me

Yesterday I mentioned The Rock’s resiliency towards the temptation of candy. It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from the TNT series he did titled”Wake Up Call.” In the show, he helped people struggling with different issues try and turn things around. One episode dealt with a troubled teenager, and at one point he brings her little sister out for ice cream to discuss how she’s being affected. Sitting in front of this huge ice cream sundae, it’s awkward how The Rock never touches it. At one point, the little girl even asks him to take a bite, and he tries to fake her out. Sorry little girl, even your smile can’t break The Rock’s iron willpower.

Daily Stats

After the success with using the Fat Burn workout mode, I checked the elliptical machine to find the hardest preset workout it had. There was one called “Get Fit” that got the heart-rate and calories burned way up, about 15% higher than the day before. Note my heartrate staying around 150 the entire session. A few days ago it was never breaking 135. I’m going to keep trying different presets to see how hard I can make things.



Day 11: Just a Hairless Ape, Sweet Potatoes, and No Candy Since 1989?!

Today was Back day. Working out my back is something I take seriously, because I’ve had terrible posture my entire life. You know that well-known image “Ascent of Man” showing the monkey evolving into a man? My natural stance is pretty much the second guy from the left. Walking upright, but hunched over.


So whenever I work out my back, I feel like I’m actively tackling one of my worst physical features. I’m putting in the work to take better care of myself and setting up my body to age gracefully. Bad posture is awful, and causes your entire body to deteriorate quickly as you get older. Ever since I’ve gotten in shape, my wife comments that I look taller, no doubt due to me not running around like I escaped from the zoo.

Sweet, Sweet Second Breakfast

After my eggs/cod/oatmeal buffet at the gym, my next meal is the one I have post-workout: sweet potatoes, cod, and mixed vegetables. I actually find myself looking forward to it all morning. That sweet potato is the only sweet thing I get to eat all month. I’m not a big sugar guy to begin with, but I definitely like having something sweet to enjoy every now and then.

I’ve made them two ways so far: mashed and cooked in the microwave. (Remember, I’m optimizing for cooking as efficiently as possible, not necessarily taste). Either way, you can’t go wrong with a sweet potato. Eight minutes in the microwave is almost as delicious as roasted in the oven. They are one of the few bright spots in this meal plan.

Silverback Without a Sweet Tooth

Just as I was spending the morning dreaming about enjoying something sweet, The Rock dropped a crazy fact on his Instagram today.

no-candyApparently he hasn’t had a piece of candy since 1989. That’s astonishing. What’s crazier is that he has a daughter that was born in 2001. Which means countless Halloweens, Valentine’s Days, and Easters have gone by, all without her dad having a piece of candy. That’s an insane level of commitment and frankly, not sure one I personally would want to follow.

A whole life without another Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? I shudder at the thought.

Daily Stats

I have terrible discipline around turning off my Fitbit tracking after the elliptical but before I sit down to eat. I’m so focused on my chow that I forget to stop it, and usually don’t until I start my weights, which is why almost every day you can see the dip for 15-20 at the end. Have to get better about that.


Day 10: Rough Hands, Loose Jeans, and The Greatest Purchase Ever Made

My paws are pretty beat up from this challenge. Granted, it’s winter here in New York City and my hands have a tendency to get a bit chapped every year anyway, but all this heavy lifting is taking its toll. And these are hands I already apply hand cream to several times a day and before I go to sleep. I have tried to workout with gloves before, but found they felt awkward, so that’s out. Not sure there is a solution here, as this seems to be a permanent condition of The Rock as well. Just the price you pay for being like Dwayne Johnson I guess.

Not Rock big, but approaching Rock rough.

Not Rock big, but approaching Rock rough.


I was about to type the word “wardrobe” to describe my clothes, but that isn’t quite reflective of my daily attire. I wear a pair of blue jeans and a black t-shirt almost every single day of my life. I’m also one of those “find a brand you like and buy a ton of them” kind of people. So almost all of my clothes fit exactly the same.

Now those clothes are starting to fit differently. The shoulders and arms of my t-shirts are starting to fit snugger than they did 10 days ago. My jeans are also hanging differently. They’re getting looser around my waist and hips, and a little bit tighter around the top portion of my legs. Looks like the two-times-a-week Leg Days are starting to show their effects.

Which makes me think. When Bruce Banner becomes the Incredible Hulk, all of his clothes tear off except for his jeans, which only shred below the knee. I guess the Hulk skips his lunges and leg presses on Leg Day.


So long, Stink-phones

As I ranted about last week, the bluetooth headphones I bought for this challenge have been driving me crazy. I finally got a new pair and used them for the first time today. They were absolutely glorious. Super light, fit great, and sound amazing. Made the whole workout much more enjoyable.

How did I find them? I googled “best headphones for working out” and found a conversation on reddit that mentioned this pair. So thank you reddit user MayhemMonkey for your solid recommendation.

Daily Stats

The quick summary: I’ve been pushing myself harder during cardio, and you can see the difference in a higher heart rate throughout.


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