Goal (mostly) Reached!

tweetIt’s well past March 21st. Do you know what that means?

The boldest long-time readers do, and they have started needling me, in comments and emails, to check if I followed through on the goals I set for myself way back on November 5th.

I’m glad this has started happening, as it reinforces my belief that in certain cases, making yourself publicly accountable can motivate you to get important things done. Promise your boss that the work will be done by the next morning, and you’ll be unlikely to slack off this afternoon. Tell your wife that you’ll start drinking less, and you’ll suddenly feel some pressure against the temptation to crack a beer every day after work. And commit to your fellow Mustachians that you’ll lead a less consumer-oriented lifestyle, and it just might happen.

In my case, the goal was to gain 20 pounds of muscle (and an accompanying quantity of strength in three important lifts), by March 21st.  Some said it couldn’t be done. Experienced lifters said it would be easy. I knew it was a stretch goal for me, since I’ve never gained weight anywhere near that fast before. But hey, big goals, big results, right?

In summary: I made it! .. Mostly. I passed 185 lbs on the scale in mid-March, and continued the zigzagging gain from there (During active times like this I tend to change by about +/- 5 pounds during different parts of the day). At this point, 185 is near the daily low, so it’s safe to say we are there. And it is the good kind of weight – I look pretty different from the ‘before’ picture in the first article, loose pants and shirts are tighter, and it feels great.

As for the lifts: The 300-pound deadlift is now pretty easy, so I passed that test. On the bench, I baaarely lifted 290 pounds for a single lift this week. Not quite there, but I am still as excited hell because it is the strongest I have ever been, even though I could barely handle 200 last summer. The squat is further behind, with 275 x 3 reps last week being my limit. But again, compared to the beginning of the program, things are looking great.

Strict goal sticklers might shoot me down at this point. “You failed, MMM! You have to hit all four numbers to win!”. But that’s not how I measure success. I’m excited about doing better than before and seeing progress. Since I saw loads of it here, it reinforced my belief that I can do difficult things, even when they require habit change. I’m now motivated to set additional tricky goals and make them happen as well.

On top of that, I’m seeing the practical benefits I was hoping from gaining this functional strength. I haven’t had an ache or pain in months, and the body feels like it’s 18 years old again. On the recent snowboarding trip, I was able to take a day of “Jumping lessons” from my expert boarder friend, which involved hurling over enormous jumps without checking speed or chickening out – to fly confidently for great distances. When you do this, you end up doing some enormous wipeouts at high speed as a necessary part of the learning.  But thanks to the weight training, not a single sore joint resulted from the day of lessons. And finally, since January I’ve been framing a 2-story addition for a friend in the neighborhood. Every day at some point, I need to use every bit of strength I can gather, for lifting large walls, demolishing old roof rafters, or digging trenches. It is practical, and very fun to be in better shape now.

But enough about the results. What is more interesting in a project like this is the process. I was really trying to force myself to adopt new behaviors, which is a hard thing to do. It seemed to happen in phases:

Phase 1: Working with the Crossfit Coach

Here I had sessions twice per week for about a month. Motivation was easy because the program was new, and I had scheduled appointments that I could not miss without looking like a fool. Everything went as expected, and initial gains were pretty solid.

Phase 2: The Hawaii Vacation

Progress was slowed somewhat here because I did not have ready access to lifting equipment often enough (which was my own fault). But it was redeemed by the fact that I had committed in advance to stick with the program. So I did lots of improvised workouts, and ate very well too. The habit of regular heavy lifting was being reinforced.

Phase 3: The Home Stretch

After Hawaii, I got to work in earnest. I improved the nutrition program, and shifted the workouts to my own basement, since I find (oddly enough) that now I have the motivation to work incredibly hard at home. Progress accelerated and new records came almost every week.


The construction project became a bit of an excuse to miss lifting sessions occasionally. I found myself concocting bullshit excuses such as, “Well, if you’re carrying wood up and down ladders for 6 hours, that’s pretty good exercise, right?” (it is, but it won’t make you stronger because 2x4s and sheets of plywood don’t weight 3oo pounds). On top of that, I got a serious cold last week that kept me out of everything for a few days. And to make matters worse, my “straight line progress tracker” only went to March 21st. After that date, I lost the daily reminder to keep things moving forward.

It is always these unexpected little clusters of events that distract well-meaning people from their habit change programs. But I now know to look out for this stage, both from my own failures in the past, and from reading all those habit books recently. The key is to keep training yourself using daily cues until you have repeated the behavior long enough to create a real habit. And when I look back on these 4.5 months, I can see there has been a lot of repetition. The whole period seems like a blur of barbells, pleasantly sore muscles, and high-protein feasts*.

I made a new fridge chart with even higher goals, and now I’m back to seeing it every time I enter the kitchen. And the habit seems to be forming permanently as well – I find myself itching to get down to my basement gym every day at about 10AM. It’s almost like a coffee craving, and I definitely intend to indulge it.

So, thanks for the motivation and for checking in on me. I am excited to see what other good things I can trick myself into doing in the coming year. How have YOUR goals been coming along since November?

Update – June 19th, 2013:

3 months later, I’ve kept the strength but gained only a tiny bit more. Without concrete goals and a big reason to do it, there hasn’t been much motivation to do the hard work required to get further. On the other hand, the regular lifting has really stuck in place, and this is certainly a fine place to be already.

MMM at the new weight. Not some super-tough badass and a few beers evident on the belly, but still in a healthier and happier place.

MMM at the new weight. Admittedly not as badass as many readers and a few beers evident on the belly, but still in a healthier and happier place.

*Some people have requested that I share tricks on how to eat healthy foods in great enough quantity to gain 20 pounds, AND maintain a reasonable grocery bill – especially now that I don’t eat bread, rice, or pasta. It’s pretty easy, so I will share what I did learn in an upcoming post. Which is quite appropriate, since April is going to be a health-and-fitness themed month on this blog in general. Anti-Automobile-April has a nice ring to it.



  • Michael March 26, 2013, 9:58 pm

    Very impressive results. Especially with that long Hawaii stretch in the middle. I’d definitely call that a win even if you didn’t make all your numbers. Well done.

  • TheHeadHunter March 26, 2013, 10:02 pm

    You’re a Beast Man! Now come to my mma gym and learn how to use that superhuman strength ;-)

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 26, 2013, 10:29 pm

      I had to look up “mma” to realize you were talking about Mixed Martial Arts, and not “come to my Momma’s gym!”.
      I love the idea of it, but more scheduled activities are not creeping into Mr. Money Mustache’s lifestyle any time soon. I need more free time, not less! Maybe construction can be considered a martial art?

      • Mr. Frugal Toque March 27, 2013, 6:40 am

        Unfortunately, the “martial” in “MMA” means “fighting”, so unless you’re whacking other construction workers with 2x4s in order to build the walls faster than they can, we can’t accept “construction” as a “martial art”.
        Not so much.
        On the other hand, engaging in martial arts might allow you to develop some new violent metaphors to replace the frequent “punches to the face” that are delivered to the financially incompetent.
        How about a “elbow to the side of the head” of the payday loans franchises? A “shuto” (chop) to the neck for the Complainypantses who get in your way? And the metaphor for learning a good breakfall is obvious. You’ll also undoubtedly derive great value from the whole “standing in a single stance for many excruciating minutes”. I know I do.
        The only downside to the sparring part of martial arts, obviously, is that people get to punch back, which sometimes hurts, but you’re pretty large now and apparently 18 years old, so you’ll be okay.

      • Mr. Frugal Toque March 27, 2013, 6:51 am

        It seems that I missed the opportunity to meet skinny MMM and you’re back to being the giant I knew back in University – although presumably with more strength.

        • Mr. Money Mustache March 27, 2013, 9:18 am

          Haha.. there’s no way you can call a 6-foot, 185 pound guy a “giant”.. that weight barely gets me out of the “skinny” category.

          At the very best, I might now be wiry enough to properly yell at hooligan drivers when they don’t show appropriate respect for cyclists on the road :-)

  • kiwimm March 26, 2013, 10:06 pm

    Excellent work MMM but where are the obligatory before and after photos?

  • Grant March 26, 2013, 10:23 pm

    where’s the before and after pics!?

    • MattW March 27, 2013, 5:57 am

      Absolutely–where are the pics?

      • Mr. Money Mustache March 27, 2013, 8:53 am

        Yeah! Look at all this peer pressure for more accountability!

        I was hesitant to post pictures like this, with this being a financial blog and all, and the tendency of strangers to pop by and claim that self-improvement is just self-promotion.

        But I’ll round up Mrs. MM to help me take a pic within the next week and update this article with it.

        • MsSindy March 28, 2013, 8:18 am

          In the bodybuilding forums there are too many ‘braggers’ about how heavy they lifted or some other feat they accomplished. They have a saying, “if there are no pictures, then it didn’t happen!”
          I’ll +1 for before/after pics!

      • Jacob@CashCowCouple March 27, 2013, 9:37 pm

        We want the pics!!

  • EJ March 26, 2013, 11:16 pm

    You are the man MMM – great motivation. Do you find stretching to help ease soreness or is that for wussypants? Also, were you lifting one long session or shorter frequent sessions to achieve maximum muscle growth?

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 27, 2013, 8:44 am

      Stretching is great! The only wussypants part is my tendency to forget to do it regularly. If you do it after workouts, it should speed progress even more.

      As for lifting sessions, they were pretty short: for example, a deadlift day would be: get the warmup for free by biking to/from the grocery store. Then something like empty bar/stretch for 25 reps, 135×5, 185×5, 225×5, 255×5, 275×5, 300×3. Done the whole workout.

      A and a single workout like that can trigger 1 pound of muscle growth and over 3000 calories of metabolic demand to rebuild that muscle. I am shocked at how effective strength training is at controlling your body composition – i.e., losing your beer belly. As long as you don’t compensate for each workout with a carton of ice cream, that is!

    • Wiggle March 27, 2013, 7:56 pm

      Generally for lifting stretching is not needed and actually mildly discouraged. What is recommended though is good form and consistent warm-up lifts. Static stretching doesn’t really prepare you for the movement of weightlifting, and may decrease power. The one exception I’ve found is for squats I find I like some good hip flexor stretches first.

  • Alex March 27, 2013, 1:16 am

    I love what you mentioned about how the important measure of “success” is just making progress to be better than before, and that there’s no reason to feel like a failure for not having reached every single point of your original goal. :-)

    • Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies March 27, 2013, 6:08 pm

      Definitely agree on that point. I had a specific goal time that I wanted to hit marathon wise this season and I missed it. But every race I ran was faster than any of the races I ran in previous years, and I have a new PR that’s about 15 minutes faster than my previous PR! So… even though an injury kicked my butt and set me back, I still made some awesome progress and have many more running seasons to hit that specific time goal. Still a win. =)

  • JC March 27, 2013, 5:51 am

    Congrats Mr. MM. You are such an inspiration in so many ways. Looking forward to learning more about your specific diet and other health philosophies!

  • CashRebel March 27, 2013, 6:02 am

    Congrats MMM. Im wrestling with a Crossfit decision at the moment. I know you’ve written before that it’s crazy expensive, but do you think its worth the price?

    • Jacob@CashCowCouple March 27, 2013, 9:39 pm

      You might check out P90x or a simiilar home program if you have a set of dumbbells and a place to do pullups.

  • Truelove March 27, 2013, 6:13 am

    I agree with the other comments and am surprised that there are no before/after pics? and, you didn’t post your progress charts either. The internet demands more accountability and independent proof.

  • Smurph March 27, 2013, 6:41 am

    How much are you paying for the Crossfit Gym? Is it now considered acceptable to pay a monthly gym membership fee? I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’ve just found myself wondering “Why did I quit that gym again?” recently. I think we were paying around $80 a month for two people.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 27, 2013, 8:39 am

      My one month session cost me $100. I thought of it as a blog/lifestyle experiment, but I wouldn’t be comfortable paying a monthly fee forever.

      In general, if you’re looking for The Official Rules of MMM, I’d say that people in the non-infinite-money stage of ‘stashing should consider working out at home if they can swing it. Get your cardio from biking, running and walking (instead of driving and treadmilling). And even in a small apartment, a doorframe pull-up bar and some heavy dumbells or kettlebells can outperform a $100k room full of Nautilus equipment at a gym.

      The key is understanding what exercises are actually effective.. once you see how simple they are, the bloated 20,000 SF gyms seem really silly.

      • Mark August 23, 2013, 11:28 pm

        The key is understanding what exercises are actually effective..

        Will there be an upcoming article about this topic, or do you recommend getting a short term personal trainer / read a bunch of books.

  • JC @ Passive-Income-Pursuit March 27, 2013, 6:43 am

    Congrats on reaching the goal. I’ve been trying to get back in to better shape because I have really let myself go the last 2.5 years. Before I was in great shape and while I didn’t have quite as much muscle as I’d like, everything was still easier. I loved the dull soreness after a good workout where your muscles are completely exhausted. Once I started doing the basic heavy lifts I saw a whole lot more gains. I’m looking forward to the day when I can get back into lifting, but for now it’s more bodyweight exercises and some dumbbells. Eventually I’ll be picking up a kettlebell too. I’ll be looking forward to how your diet was.

  • Johnny Moneyseed March 27, 2013, 6:46 am

    I hope you didn’t get all of your protein through red meat. That shit’ll kill ya! I know you’re against sitting in front of the TV for any duration, but if you get a chance check out “Forks over Knives”. It’s on Netflix.

    Congratulations though. It’s hard as hell to commit to physical challenges. I’ve been trying a few of my own, with only moderate success. Still better than where I would be without challenging myself though.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 27, 2013, 8:34 am

      Mr. Moneyseed, what do you think about things like the Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint and Tim Ferriss’ Slow Carb eating style? (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/08/07/mr-money-mustache-vs-marks-daily-apple/)

      These guys advocate eating all the fat, protein, saturated fat, and cholesterol you like. As long as you don’t have much grain and sugar, they find your body keeps healthy levels of everything (HDL vs LDL) in your blood, and you end up trouble-free.

      The key to believing such a thing is in before/after blood tests. I had my own blood tested six months into my current “all fat, all the time” stage, and the levels were better than when I was a low-fat-diet-with-bread-eater. I am going to have another test soon too, to see if things have improved further.

      For me, the only issue with meat in general is ethics – the huge resource waste to make it, animal cruelty, etc. Plus the good quality stuff is expensive. So I try to eat less meat, more eggs and high-fat organic dairy, eat fish that gets a good eco report card, and on those Steak Special Occasions, eat the local grass-fed stuff from a nearby co-op. It is sufficiently expensive that I think twice about making it a daily occurrence.

      • slowth March 27, 2013, 1:31 pm

        MMM, I’m curious to see your lab results. Dietary cholesterol has some effect on cholesterol levels, but the largest effect seems to result from endogenous cholesterol production. This is why statin medications, which inhibit endogenous cholesterol production, can improve lab results. Of course these medications have side effects, which is why I’m experimenting with diet and exercise to cure my cholesterol woes.

        Why not try a vegan diet to limit your concerns about waste and animal welfare? My diet is not vegan, but I’m planning an experiment to see if it will help my cholesterol and blood pressure problems if my current diet and exercise plan fails.

      • Johnny Moneyseed March 27, 2013, 1:51 pm

        I think that no matter what those guys say, red meat is going to lead to an early grave. In moderation it’s not going to have too much of an effect on your body (of more importantly your arteries).


        Dairy is pretty terrible for you as well. I still haven’t cut eggs, or white meat out of my diet, but I am definitely over eating anything that comes from an udder.

        We’re trying out a plant based diet right now. I feel pretty amazing, only 5 days into it. It’s not a permanent lifestyle change, though. We’re just exploring our options really. Everyone you talk to is going to have an opinion one way or the other about what diets are good for you and which ones will kill you. I’m an advocate for not eating anything that’s been processed. I don’t eat 100% organic, but I try to when I can, even though it hurts my wallet. We’re signing up for the local CSA this summer (amazing if you’ve never checked them out) and they provide tons of fresh fruits and veggies throughout the year, with occasional cuts of organic grass-fed beef. I won’t be passing that up.

        • slowth March 27, 2013, 5:17 pm

          If you’re cutting anything from your diet, then dairy should be the first to go. There appears to be a strong link between dairy consumption and hormone-dependent cancers.

          “In conclusion, increased consumption of animal-derived food may have adverse effects on the development of hormone-dependent cancers. Among dietary risk factors, we are most concerned with milk and dairy products, because the milk we drink today is produced from pregnant cows, in which estrogen and progesterone levels are markedly elevated.”


          “The results of our study suggest a role of milk and dairy products in the development and growth of testicular and prostatic cancers. The close correlation between cheese and testicular cancer and between milk and prostatic cancer suggests that further mechanistic studies should be undertaken concerning the development of male genital organ cancers.”


          • Kenoryn March 29, 2013, 9:12 am

            Also if you live in the States, I understand the U.S. dairy industry allows the use of growth hormones that are banned in most other first-world countries. Here in Canada milk you buy has to be produced in Canada but modified milk products (like chocolate milk) can include American-produced milk.

        • Mr,1500 March 27, 2013, 7:09 pm

          Food science drives me nuts. One month, they’ll tell you that egg yolks are going to kill you. The next month, they’re wonderful. I’ve never met a fat vegetarian though.

          I look forward to seeing the next round of MMM’s blood tests. The proof is in the blood pudding. However, there is also no doubt that exercise helps your levels as well.

          Thanks for the motivation. I’m going to get off my ass and try to get myself up to 100 pushups.

          • Wiggle March 27, 2013, 7:59 pm

            You may not meet many fat vegetarians, but there is no shortage of “skinny-fat” vegetarians.

          • Whitefox March 28, 2013, 4:07 pm

            Here’s my semi-expert take on this (from reading tons of blogs and studies) – I’m paleo, but it’s more of a “don’t eat these things” rather than “eat low-carb”. Let me toss in a few snippets of knowledge I’ve gotten from reading blogs like SuppVersity and Hyperlipid and scientific studies.

            Dairy – slowth, the studies you mentioned sounded cool, but the first was a hypothesis (though I love the evolutionary, grass-fed-is-better focus) and the second simply compared diet trends and cancer trends, so there is no causation from those.
            Here Dr. Andro discusses some relevant studies: http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2012/08/mutant-milk-new-research-fuels-flames.html

            Sorry for the study-vomit. Takeaway: ultra-pasteurization kills some beneficial stuff in milk, homogenization may make fatty milk unhealthy, and growth hormones aren’t directly absorbed. Conclusion: raw full-fat milk is healthiest and full-fat fermented milk products (even from the store) can be quite healthy. The jury is out on whether or not milk induces autoimmunity, but one study of raw milk said unpast. milk reduced symptoms.

            Johnny Moneyseed, while Forks Over Knives is popular, the science is rather… lacking. That article you mentioned was likewise. I have a lengthy rebuttal of McDougall’s article on the paleo diet at FOK if you’d like to read it.

            That being said, here’s the only things I don’t eat: grains. I rarely eat legumes, and I sometimes eat white rice and drink milk. I eat a lot of FAGE full-fat yogurt, grass-fed beef, potatoes, etc. And that’s all there is to it.

            Just my 2000 cents.

            • slowth March 28, 2013, 5:49 pm

              The studies I listed are by no means definitive, only a starting point. And we have to rely on correlation because of the inherent difficulties with human studies. I doubt anyone would volunteer for a multi-year dietary study where he/she could only eat dairy, and a controlled amount at that. Any non-dairy intake would be a confounding factor, so yes, correlation is where we are at.

              The study you listed shows over processing might transform wholesome dairy into harmful dairy. In addition dairy has no essential nutrients, and could be harmful, so why bother? But I’m not the nutrition police, so enjoy whatever you may eat.

          • Martin April 3, 2013, 12:05 pm

            Ditto. Although I have a keen interest in reading health and fitness articles, the number of contradicting studies over the years can be mind-boggling. I just tend to stick to the following ‘guidelines’:

            – Diversifiy your food sources when it comes to fruits and veggies, protein/carb/fat sources
            – Stick to the basics as much as possible: raw, unprocessed foods
            – Avoid red meat/delicatessen/cold cuts as much as possible
            – Avoid supplements as much as possible; instead get all the things you need through food (I can’t say I’ve been very good at abiding to this rule though with the protein shakes I’ve been taking).
            – Limit the amount of bread and pasta. Generally, though, aim for complex carbs.

            I know for many here these may seem obvious, but in today’s world where the possibilities to indulge in crap abound left and right, it is easy to stray off course.

          • James July 13, 2015, 2:35 pm

            Personally, I know quite a few fat vegetarians. They mostly eat cheese, sauces, and lots of carbs. Spaghetti with really thick mushroom-cream sauce with bread.

      • TOM March 28, 2013, 12:44 pm

        I particularly like that Mark’s Website is well cited with actual research and less “look how great I look and it’s 100% due to I don’t eat X”

        [ I read the book and was less thrilled when he quoted wikipedia (how could a publisher let him do that) ]

      • CJ July 6, 2013, 2:43 am

        Hey MMM,

        If you’re interested you should check out Anthony Colpo’s website (http://anthonycolpo.com/). Anthony is a physical conditioning expert and an independent researcher. He is very controversial (and sometimes not very popular because of it) but as far as I can see every claim or recommendation he makes is backed up by a mountain of evidence. He’s done some great meta-analysis of various topics (i.e. reviewed all the research on a particular topic) such as cholesterol and heart disease and has an uncanny ability to sift through the bullshit and and so-called “expert opinions” and find what the evidence actually shows. For example, it is a myth that cholesterol causes heart disease – his book “The Great Cholesterol Con” is a must read.

        I also like his stance on the various macronutrients (i.e. fat vs. protein vs. carbs) – for some reason various people like to vilify one or more macronutrient. You have the “fat is evil and leads to heart disease” camp and the “carbs are deadly and lead to inflammation/type 2 diabetes” camp. The truth is that all 3 macronutrients are essential for life and it is silly to demonise a particular one. All 3 are needed – they key is to get the ratio right for each individual person and this will depend on that person’s lifestyle. For example it is stupid to say carbs are “bad” and have a blanket rule that carb intake per day should be below some arbitrary level (100g for example as preached by the Paleo camp). This might work well for a lot of people but for someone training for a triathalon this is a sure-fire recipe for disaster – a hard, training athlete may need 300g carbs a day or even more.

  • mpbaker22 March 27, 2013, 7:33 am

    I’m more convinced than ever that you need to make a goal public to achieve it, or maybe to at least have a well-defined goal.

    For example, I gained 15 pounds from January through May of last year. In July, I said enough is enough. A friend was talking about doing a half marathon, and I ended up registering (the friend did not). Because I had a solid goal, and my friend knew it, I trained multiple times a week till I was ready. I ended up losing 20 pounds and being healthier than before the weight gain.
    After running the half, I thought I’d train a few times a week and weight a few months, then start building up again for a full in the fall of 2013. Unfortunately, without a set goal, the training slipped and it’s now difficult for me to run more than 5 miles.

  • EnergyConsultant March 27, 2013, 8:09 am

    Congratulations, MMM! That’s great progress.
    I had also set a goal for myself in the other direction (losing weight and improving aerobic resistance), and I am about 2/3 of the way there (lost 10+ out of the 15+ pounds target, and can run ~2/3 of the distance I had set at the target speed). I am also very happy about the progress. Thanks for keeping us all motivated.

  • Jana Miller March 27, 2013, 8:34 am

    Congrats…we are healthy eaters but spend so much on food. I would love a post about how you do it.

  • rjack March 27, 2013, 9:34 am

    Great job! I look forward to the pics and the post about eating well while gaining weight.

    I used to to follow the Starting Strength program, which sounds similar to what you are doing. It’s a great program and my Army ROTC son follows it also.

    I still workout, but I had to modify the program because I kept hurting myself. I’m not young anymore (53) so I had to adjust accordingly. My goal is to stay as strong as possible for my age.

  • Vilx- March 27, 2013, 9:52 am

    Yes, I also would like to know more about correct eating. I learned a bit of correct eating from Weight Watchers, but it was a long time ago and it was not meant for heavy exercise. I’d also like to know about good books/articles about the subject, because there is waaaaay too much commercial bullshit out there about these topics.

  • Clint March 27, 2013, 11:30 am

    Congratulations! Now what happened to the MMM avatar? Was Grant starting to look a little too flabby?

    • Gena Kukartsev March 27, 2013, 11:37 am

      Haha – what about the tsar Nicolas II on the top banner? He was probably as antimustachian as it gets, he lost the whole empire!

  • Gena Kukartsev March 27, 2013, 11:34 am

    What about that p90x? I found it crazy motivational, and the only program that I was able to stick to since the martial arts classes with instructor when I was a teenager.

  • Jessica March 27, 2013, 11:48 am

    Congrats on your successes! I too consider myself to have reached my “goal” which was to go from 171.5 lbs down to 145 lbs. I made it to 151 lbs and then found out I was pregnant. We were trying so I knew the possibility of me getting pregnant before reaching my goal weight was something that could happen going into it. I’m now 14 weeks pregnant and 2 lbs up from my low of 151. I’d like to think it’s all in my boobs so far hahaha. I know without a doubt I would have blown past my goal weight had I not gotten pregnant and it’ll be nice to have that confidence in my ability to lose going on after I have this baby and have the inevitable baby weight to lose (although hopefully less than last time :) ).

  • jean-yves barralis March 27, 2013, 12:56 pm

    I am impressed ! Well done ! The impressive thing to me if that you took pleasure in it. Because if i set myself any kind of goal, I will stick to it, but suffer through it, and drop it just after the deadline. Making it an habit is hard for me :(

  • cj March 27, 2013, 1:42 pm

    Publicly broadcasting a goal is a double-edged sword. It works if you make it. You look like an ass if you don’t. I do, but I am extremely selective. Perhaps one of these a year will do for me.

    I prefer to be the monk who emerges from the catacomb with astonishing results or at least mediocre ones that won’t get too much ridicule.

    Oh, and how remiss! I nearly forgot to say congrats!!! That is a huge accomplishment!!!

  • Mr HighFalutin HillFolk March 27, 2013, 2:35 pm

    impressive results MMM.
    USA Today article = nice mention, though it was too brief to cover your badassity.
    i figure that will send enough extra traffic your way to help test the new server/configuration.
    btw, i couldn’t post this comment last night because i couldn’t access your site.
    cheers and wee-hoo!

  • Fastbodyblast March 27, 2013, 2:44 pm

    Congrats on the great results! Especially the bench press – its a lot harder to move 300 pounds with your upper body alone compared with the upper/lower combined. There is simply less muscle mass involved in that lift. If you’re deadlifting 300 already and doing it easily, the 300 pound squat is only just around the corner.

  • Thomas March 27, 2013, 2:46 pm

    Impressive bench press, I must say.
    And good point about making goals public. It builds a lot of positive pressure on you to achieve those goals. I always tell my friends and family about my goals. Seems to work ;-)

  • Joe (yolfer) March 27, 2013, 2:55 pm

    I have a suggestion for your health-and-fitness themed month: urge your readers to put away the bus pass and bike to work for a month.

    At the Seattle meetup, I heard a few people say to you “well I would bike to work but my company gives me a free bus pass.”

    This is complainypants logic for two reasons:

    1. When you hit FI and (probably) quit your job, the bus pass goes away and you have no cycling experience to fall back upon.
    2. You still get fat and lazy sitting on the bus (even though bus time can be well spent doing activities like reading non-fiction or learning a foreign language) so you have to spend extra time and money on exercise.

    What do you think?

    PS: Check out this game called http://healthmonth.com/ that makes it more fun to give up certain foods or take on extra health obligations.

    • Johnny Moneyseed March 28, 2013, 8:13 am

      If I could ride a bike to work, I would in heartbeat. It’s impossible though, for a few reasons.
      1. I have two kids that go to daycare in the morning (they’re both under 2 years old)
      2. The path we would take by bike is so dangerous for non-vehicular travel and so are ALL alternate routes
      3. We live too far from work (that one is our fault, but we’re trying to rectify it)

      I could see if you made goal for accomplishing all errands by bike over an entire month. I could go to the grocery store by bicycle easily. But, not everyone lives in an area that is bike-friendly. Pretty much most of America is not bike friendly. Take advantage of it if your area is. I know I would.

  • Melinda Gonzalez March 27, 2013, 3:40 pm

    Your only in competition with yourself in life, so if you feel satisfied with your achievement that is all that matters! Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I think accountability is awesome. I would like to get to a point where I can motivate myself without outside help, but until than public accountability works well for me too.

    • Lisa March 29, 2013, 10:40 am

      I agree with Melinda! Congrats on your achievement, MMM.

  • Adam March 27, 2013, 5:51 pm

    I would suggest Stronglifts 5×5 for anyone else out there who has similar goals. I started it in January and went from being sore squatting 95 lbs to squatting 225 this week, granted I have some athletic background but never was able to put up that much weight 5 times. There is a lot of great information on the site about proper form and techniques for joint flexibility as well which is extremely important. Best of all most of it is free!

  • Stephen @ SE March 28, 2013, 6:56 am

    Another kick in the pants post to get me off the couch. I finally finished up my first two months biking to work everyday and now I think I’m going to try to put on a few pounds. I think May will be the month for me. I’m going try and put on about 10lbs (I’ll at least start there and see).

    How often did you workout? Was it an everyday thing? Did you find the biking added or subtracted from the weight gain? (I have a few long bike races coming up that tend to lean me out)

  • Scott March 28, 2013, 8:12 am

    Age-, weight-, and gender-based strength standards for squat, bench, deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk, press, pushups, situps and pullups here: http://lonkilgore.com/freebies/freebies.html

  • My Financial Independence Journey March 28, 2013, 11:06 am

    Congratulations on your progress. I’d be ecstatic with a 20 pound muscle gain in 6 months. Heck, I’d settle for a 5 pound gain.

    One question though: did you actually gain 20 pounds of lean muscle. Or just 20 pounds of total weight?

    Also, count me among those who are interested in your diet.

  • Mr. Bonner March 28, 2013, 11:14 pm

    You and I are on very opposite paths. I was a collegiate Track & Field thrower and MUCH stronger at the time. The past 7 years I’ve been shedding the mass and turned into a triathlete and I’ve got my 5th half IronMan this weekend. I find triathlons are more conducive to the lifestyle I want to live. Plus, 22mi bike commute counts as a workout!

  • Nathan March 29, 2013, 9:22 am

    Well done, MMM. My goal was a one-arm pull-up, and I didn’t make it. I can do it starting with a bent arm, but not a dead hang. I’ve taken a week off, and set the goal back to June 21. I did make some progress, though, and I’ve realized that I need to focus much more on weighted work rather than lots of reps. It’s tough to track progress toward the one-arm pull-up, because you can either do it or you can’t. But one source suggested that three reps of weighted pull-ups with an extra 2/3 bodyweight was a good indicator of readiness. So that’s was I worked toward and tracked with a straight line. I only got to one rep with 2/3 bodyweight, but I’m going to keep focusing on that interim goal. My straight-line graph should be linked to my name above.

  • MissezWilliams March 29, 2013, 9:33 am

    Yep, I’ve put on some pounds, too. *stretches like a bad ass* Too bad they’re not the muscle-ly kind! I have been thinking very hard about going Paleo after reading up on it, but it seems when I feel brave enough start it, I get this bizarre desire to buy M&Ms and wolf them down like there will never be another bag of M&Ms … ever! And then the cycle continues: fear of deprivation – more M&Ms – feel like shit about myself – read up on Paleo – consider paleo – fear of deprivation – MORE M&MS, YUM – etc.

    At least I’ve made progress on the monetary side of things. :-)

  • JaneMD March 29, 2013, 11:09 am

    Since you asked – how was my fitness goal going – bench press my bodyweight? Stuck at 125 lbs (20-25 lbs to go), but I was recovering from a medical procedure of a few months which made working out problematic.

  • Melissa March 30, 2013, 11:04 am

    Looking forward to your photos! Being a generally goal-oriented crowd, I think we all like to see anyone who masters a goal!

    As for meat, I’m a guilty eater of as little as possible. I feel terrible driving on the highway past a truck full of chickens, pigs or cattle who always seem to look through the slats at me. I always feel sorry for them–I know where they’re goin’…..

    We are trying to eat raw food (fruit and veggies), nuts, seeds (chia and ground flax), and beans every day, supplemented by some grains (oatmeal) and a little meat.

  • Tom March 30, 2013, 3:53 pm

    Please please please!

    share those ‘tricks on how to eat healthy foods in great enough quantity to gain 20 pounds, AND maintain a reasonable grocery bill – especially now that I don’t eat bread, rice, or pasta.’

    I have subscribed to your blog via email just to get this next article ASAP.

  • Joshua Spodek March 30, 2013, 10:59 pm

    “How have YOUR goals been coming along since November?”

    I’ve been doing two sets of burpees daily since December 2011. Coincidentally, on November 4, 2012 I jumped to two sets of 20 burpees daily, so to answer your question, I’ve done 5,880 burpees since November 4, twenty at a time, without missing a day or burpee. I’ve done other exercise too, but at least those.

    Actually, I did more than that because sometimes I do more if I ate or drank a lot of empty calories. Also, one day I did an extra set because I couldn’t remember if I had done them that morning and later confirmed I actually did.

  • WageSlave March 31, 2013, 6:45 pm

    Congrats on your strength progress!

    The more I read about strength training, the more I think it may be the fountain of youth. MMM, you talked about how you feel the added strength has somewhat “injury proofed” you. In one of Mark Rippetoe’s books, he talks about a business plan he had at one point. The idea was that he’d go into businesses that had a lot of physical labor (e.g. factories) and run strength training workshops. The value for the business was theoretically fewer injuries (and faster recoveries when injuries do happen) due to having an overall stronger workforce.

    You and your readers may be interested in the article “Barbell Training is Big Medicine” by Jonathon Sullivan. It discusses some of the research of strength training beyond simply getting stronger—it very well could dramatically increase your quality of life, particularly as you get older.

    Check out Rippetoe’s book “Practical Programming For Strength Training”. Near the back, there is a picture of 72 year old Darrell Gallenberger deadlifting 402 pounds. I don’t know anything about him, except that he had a lot of strength at a fairly old age. That suggests to me that he didn’t suffer a lot of the stereotypical “geriatric” problems (getting on/off the toilet, using a walker, broken hips, etc). If he had grandchildren, he was probably able to play with them without hurting himself.

    My long-term goal is that when I’m 60 years old, and go into the doctor for my routine physical, he tells me I’m in better shape than all of his 40 year old patients. Based on what I’ve read, I think focusing on strength is the best way to achieve that goal.

    • Fred April 1, 2013, 6:55 am

      Great post Wageslave! I completely agree.

    • Martin April 3, 2013, 11:17 am

      I would certainly tend to agree with this, simply based on my personal experience. I’ve been doing strength training (mainly via dumbbells and using my own body weight) for the last 4-5 years, and I can definitely conclude that I am now lesser prone to injury or, at the least, I recover much faster from injury than many people.

      It has certainly helped me stay ‘relatively’ free from long-lasting injuries in my few years of traditional jiu-jitsu (a sport that can be quite demanding on one’s body when considering the amount of throws and break-falls we do) + I am sure the overall strength I have gained also contributed to my faster than normal recovery after having been hit by a car while riding my bike.

  • Yossif April 7, 2013, 9:47 am

    Hey everyone, sounds like there’s a lot of confusion on how to eat. I can help.

    So I’m one of those weirdos who reads health stuff for fun. (ie: obsession)
    I’ve lost over 100lbs and gained a ton of muscle. Here’s my muscle building tip : Carb-backloading. MMM follows a Paleo type diet, which is perfect. The simple secret to building muscle is WHEN YOU EAT THE CARBOHYDRATES. Most of the time I eat a fairly low carb diet, mostly good quality meats and fats. On workout day, after a good strenuous workout, then I gobble up the carbs. Long story short, after a good heavy weightlifting, you rip up your muscles. This releases an enzyme called “GLUT4” that will take the glucose (from said carbs) out of the blood stream and absorb them into the repairing muscle cell. Having that extra glucose in the muscles will make them come back much stronger than if you just ate protein. It’s like rebuilding a brick wall: proteins are the bricks and carbs/glucose is the mortar. If you don’t want to touch grains, stick with sweet potatoes. Mostly carbs but you get plenty of nutrients and other good stuff. Fruits and veggies are also excellent.

    MMM did the “start your own blog” thing a while back and thanks to him, I’m starting mine at: angrynutrition.com and I’ll gladly go into more detail sooner or later. Good luck MMM! Ask me if you have any more nutrition questions!

  • ZOe April 28, 2013, 5:22 pm

    For gaining a new habit – BJ Fogg at Stanford has done some great work on this (http://tinyhabits.com/). You can even take his free course if you want help.

    1. start with something tiny – 1 push-up, open a book, floss one tooth or something else tiny. Your habit will blossom into full form from this tiny starting habit. The smaller the habit the easier you learn it and the better it grows into…100 pushups, reading a book a week, flossing all your teeth. The idea is to make it too easy to not do so motivation is not an issue.
    2. anchor the timing to some consistent trigger in your day…after I sit down at the computer, after I put on my socks, after my phone rings….
    3. Really celebrate when you’ve done your habit. This is key so don’t be shy. “I did a pushup – I am Master of the Universe!!!” is not over the top.

    He’s characterized different types of behavioral change, from adding a new behavior, increasing a behavior, stopping a behavior. Each type requires a different approach. http://www.behaviorgrid.org/

    This stuff works as good as the Optimism Gun.

  • propertymom August 8, 2013, 10:08 am

    Wow, you look great! Congratulations!

    I’m getting very close to being caught up with all of your posts; I started from the very beginning a few months ago, and have read every single one.

  • Chris October 1, 2013, 8:01 am

    Awesome numbers, congrats MMM! It’s taken me 2.5 years to get to 385DL, 315SQ, and a measly 195BE all at a body weight of 168 (age 27). I started at 145lbs never having lifted a weight in my life. Anyway, a quick suggestion, try narrowing your grip for Deadlifts. Your arms should resemble plumb bobs (for a carpentry reference). You end up lifting the bar higher with a wide angled grip like you are using in your picture, thus your body isn’t using maximum mechanical advantage for the lift.

  • dave October 22, 2013, 6:10 am

    Any chance on seeing that follow-up article anytime soon? It’s been a half a year and this post intersects two of my passions… finance and fitness. I’m guessing that it includes carb-cycling, but I would love to read your mustachioed slant on your approach.

  • rodent June 4, 2014, 1:28 pm

    Hi Mrmoneymustache! How did it go??? I’m think of stronglifts 5×5 or madcow 3×5 as I don’t quite have the space for Starting Strength in my home gym. I want to get to 1000lb squat, benchpress and deadlift in 365 days.

    Can we have some spoon pics of your lifts or it didn’t happen??????

    I’m the nagging voice of success telling you to deliver another fitness article (excl. biking)

  • Parker June 15, 2014, 8:21 am

    Congrats MMM. Twenty pounds in that short a time is VERY impressive. I worked hard for a year to gain 11 pounds, so you must have some natural tendencies towards gaining. One thing though, if you’re benching 290 and squatting 275….well I’d say your hips/butt/legs are more important than you chest…back off the bench press! I also like that you were willing to spend a little extra money on training and food as health itself is a long-term investment!

  • Daniel June 25, 2014, 11:19 pm

    Hey, Mr Money Mustache.

    Just stumbled on your blog a week ago, and this post today.

    Just had to let you know (in case you missed it) THAT YOU LOOK GREAT! Great job with the gains, man! Progress takes a wee bit more effort at where you’re at now, but in no way impossible. :)

    Thanks for the inspiration to lead a more frugal and happier life.

    //Fledgling powerlifter with 1200 pound total (raw).

  • Mixed Monkey Stax July 16, 2014, 3:05 pm

    I had to actually laugh loudly as I read this blog entry. Do you know how many suckas out here in the blogosball are trying desperately to LOSE weight and here you are making goals to gain weight right in front of us! The unmitigated gall to rub our fatness and general obesity in our fat American faces. Be that as it may, good job on the pumping iron aspect of the MMM lifestyle. There really are a lot of similarities between sports and saving money, esp on the motivational side and the no pain no gain side. The analogy being of course if you exercise your “money” muscle your money will grow, likewise with your actual physical muscles should you have the wherewithal to pump some iron or any other similarly shaped metal.

    Most of my friends and I and even my wife have been lifting weights since high school (that’s a pretty darn long time) and the benefits have accrued on many levels not least of which include reducing the need for ANY kind of therapy, looking moderately buff esp around beach weather time and being able to lift bikes over fences when we go the wrong way down a bike path.

    All in all I would say lifting weights and exercise in general has been one of the most beneficial and cost effective activities I’ve ever engaged in: We’ve surely reduced medical bills (physical and psychological), we’ve spent tons of quality time together and with friends, going to the gym is another excuse to ride our bikes over suicide hill, we don’t look as old as we should, and we’re generally happy people thru thick and thin. I attribute most of our general feeling of well being and positivity to lifting weights and a decent sense of financial security doesn’t hurt.

  • bahri February 6, 2015, 1:17 pm

    Dude, you look great.
    Thanks to all the advice on this site i launched the FI rocket to the future only to make slight course adjustments on the way. Now with this post i posted a simple straight line chart on the fridge to increase my deadlifts by 50lbs and mass muscle by 8lbs in the next 3 months.


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