November Project Weekly Recap: Week 1


Hello everyone,

Thank you so much for your interest in my November Project. As a reminder, this is what the November Project is all about: For the entire month of November I will be documenting all of my meals and all of my workouts to reveal how a long-time vegan athlete eats and trains to maintain muscle mass and strength. This will reflect my personal approach and will not be considered as a representation of all vegan athletes. With this month-long documentation, I plan to send a weekly recap once per week for 4 weeks revealing all of my meals and workouts for the week. I will not be suggesting, recommending, or advising anything. I will simply transparently share my daily meals and workouts that I really follow. I will be using Cronometer to track my caloric and nutritional intake as well as my caloric expenditure through tracking my basal metabolic rate combined with my activity level. The numbers will be estimations based on calculations and may not be 100% accurate, but will be as close to reality as possible, given the technology I am using, factoring lots of homemade meals which are tough to count exact calories.

Here are a few things to know:

On May 2, 2016 I tore a disc in my lower back, so for the past 6 months I have avoided free-weight exercises and have not trained my legs, back, or abs once since that day. I took 5 consecutive weeks away from exercise, had many doctor appointments, and have been doing rehab for my lower back ever since. With the support of my doctor, I started training 6 weeks after my initial injury, doing basic cable and machine movements, and again aggravated my back issues, developed sciatica, and ultimately had to take another 2-3 weeks completely off from exercise. Over the past 4 months, once I got back into exercise, I have primarily trained chest, shoulders, and triceps with machines and cables, and over the past 2 months, biceps as well. Though I experienced this set-back, I maintained my 200-pound frame, continued to tour around the world, and have posted weekly photos on social media showing my physique, still maintaining muscle, though I never talked or wrote about my injury publicly (until now, and in a forthcoming article in Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine that should hit store shelves any day now).

I mention that so when you observe my training journal and might wonder why I am avoiding certain muscle groups, and why I am using mostly machines and cables when my book Shred It! heavily promoted a lot of free-weight exercises, now you know why. My lower back has been feeling good for the past 4 weeks, and I plan to start to incorporate some free weight exercises back into my training program soon. Though my training has changed due to the torn disc in my spine, I have still maintained muscle and will transparently show the type of training I have been doing over the past 6 months, and a sneak peak into my typical free-weight training as I slowly incorporate free weights back into my routine during this November Project.

The following is a complete recap of the week from November 1-7, 2016. I hope you find both the meal plans and workouts interesting. If you find this information helpful, please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to follow along with my November Project as well. Here’s that link again:


November Project Data

Robert Cheeke

Age: 36

Height: 5’11 ¾”

Weight: 203 pounds

Vegan: 21 years



Tuesday November 1, 2016

Slept 1:45AM-9:30AM = 7 hours, 45 minutes


10:00AM       20 ounces of water

11:15AM         Exercise: 34 minutes on the stationary bike

12:00PM        Bowl of sliced grapefruit

Bowl of oatmeal with blueberries

12:45PM         Bowl of oatmeal with blueberries

Bowl of pineapple

2:00PM          Apple

3 bananas

20 ounces of water

4:15PM           Handful of black olives

Handful of peanuts

10 ounces of water

4:30PM          Exercise: 1-hour hike

6:00PM          Bowl of beans, rice, tomato, corn

Bowl of green salad

7:15PM           Bowl of sliced grapefruit


7:40PM          Exercise: Weight training from 7:40-8:46PM (1 hour, 6 minutes)


Hip raises: 15, 20, 25

Arm and leg lifts off floor (bird dog): 15, 15, 15

Push-ups: 15, 15, 15

Chest workout:

Machine incline chest press: 40×30, 60×25, 80×15, 100×10, 120×6

Hammer Strength decline bench press: 90×25, 180×10, 180×10, 180×10, 180×10

Hammer Strength incline bench press: 90×15, 140×8, 140×8, 140×10, 160×6

Pec Deck flys: 100×12, 115×10, 130×6, 130×6, 130×4

Machine flat chest press: 110×12, 130×12, 150×10, 170×5, 200×3

Seated cable flys: 50×15, 50×20, 60×15, 70×8, 70×12

30 ounces of water

8:50PM           Exercise: 35 minutes on the stationary bike

10 minutes sauna

10:00PM         2 plates of homemade vegetable fried rice with tofu

11:30PM        1/3 of a cucumber

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Calories consumed: 2,857

Carbohydrates: 534g (73%)

Protein: 82g (10%)

Fat: 56g (17%)

Water: 80 ounces

Calories burned: 3,482

Net: 625-calorie deficit

Exercise: 3 hours, 15 minutes combined


Notes: Today’s accumulated exercise time is a little higher than usual which put me in the 600+ calorie deficit. Also, with a focus on consuming large quantities of water, it can inhibit my total caloric intake by suppressing my appetite, which it seemed to do at times today. Known for my small bladder, I don’t drink a whole lot of fluids throughout the day, but now that I am living in Arizona, I am making a point to drink more water. Though 80 ounces (16 ounces more than half a gallon) isn’t that much in general, it is for me. I get a lot of additional water through consuming high water content foods, especially large quantities of fruits.


Wednesday November 2, 2016

Slept 12:30A-9:30AM = 9 hours


10:45AM        8 ounces of yerba mate tea

Exercise:     49 minutes on the stair stepper

Exercise:      16 minutes on the stationary bike

11:30AM        20 ounces of water

12:00PM        20 ounces of water


2 oranges

1:30PM           Banana

Exercise: 40 minutes walking with the dog

10 ounces of water

2:15PM           Bowl of sliced grapefruit

Handful of blueberries

2:45PM          2 homemade vegan burritos with avocado and salsa

10 ounces of water

4:30PM           6 ounces of water

6:15PM           8 ounces of green drink

Bowl of brown rice with salsa and green salad

7:00PM          12 ounces of orange juice

Bowl of brown rice with salsa and green salad

8:38PM           Exercise: Weight training from 8:38-9:44PM (1 hour, 6 minutes)


Hip Raises: 25, 30, 35

Arm and leg lifts off floor (bird dog): 15, 20, 25

Arm Workout:

Rope extensions: 65×25, 75×25, 85×20, 95×15, 105×15

Machine biceps curls: 70×15, 80×15, 90×12, 110×10, 130×8

Seated press downs: 120×25, 140×20, 160×10, 180×7, 200×6

Seated one-arm cable curls: 45×12, 50×8, 50×10, 50×10, 50×8

Standing overhead cable extensions: 65×17, 75×12, 85×8, 85×8, 85×8

Standing cable biceps curls: 65×15, 75×12, 85×10, 95×8, 105×8

Standing cable press downs: 105×15, 115×12, 125×10, 135×6, 135×8

Standing one-arm cable concentration curls: 35×10, 35×10, 35×12, 35×15, 45×8

Push-ups: 20, 20, 20, 20

9:30PM           30 ounces of water

9:50PM           Exercise: 33 minutes on the stair-stepper

5 minutes in the sauna

11:15PM         Bowl of strawberries

Bowl of strawberries and blueberries

Bowl of brown rice, tomato sauce and green salad

8 ounces of sparking water



Calories consumed: 2,738

Carbohydrates: 558g (78%)

Protein: 63g (9%)

Fat: 38g (13%)

Water: 106 ounces

Calories burned: 3,733

Net: 995-calorie deficit

Exercise: 3 hours, 24 minutes combined


Notes: For the past 5 days or so I have been following something I have named “no processed foods until after noon.” I just naturally start my day with water and fruit and I’ve been doing fasted cardio in the mornings, so this approach has happened rather organically. Once I realized a few days ago that I wasn’t eating any processed foods before noon, I’ve made an effort to continue to eat lightly in the mornings while I’m doing fat-burning cardio, and I eat heavier foods following my workouts. I’ve been doing a lot of stair climbing lately which is burning a whole lot of calories, putting me in just about a 1,000-calorie deficit today. Sitting at 203 pounds and higher body fat than I have ever had, I embrace it. As I overcome this lower back injury and become more active, it will be interesting to see if I maintain a body weight of 200+ pounds or if it dips as a result of all the additional cardiovascular training that I haven’t been doing much of until recently.


Thursday November 3, 2016

Slept 12:45A-9:45AM = 9 hours


11:00AM        6 ounces of water

12:05PM         Exercise: 41 minutes on the stair stepper

16 ounces of water

10 minutes in the sauna

1:15PM           Apple

2 oranges

1:55PM           17.5 ounces of coconut water

Bowl of green salad with dolmas (grape leaves wrapped around rice)


3:00PM          3 boiled potatoes with ketchup

Bowl of pasta with tomato sauce

4:15PM           12 ounces of coconut water

5:30PM           1 small boiled potato

Handful of apple slices

5:50PM           Exercise: Weight training from 5:50-7:16PM (1 hour, 26 minutes)


Hip raises: 15, 20, 20

Arm and leg lifts from floor (bird dog): 15, 15, 15

Shoulder workout:

Seated cable overhead press: 50×20, 60×15, 70×15, 80×10, 90×8

Machine shoulder press: 70×12, 80×10, 90×8, 110×4, 110×4

Plate-loaded shoulder press: 90×15, 180×8, 230×7, 270×4, 280×4

Dumbbell lateral raises: 15sx15, 15sx15, 20sx12, 20sx15, 22.5sx12

Dumbbell front raises: 15sx15, 15sx15, 20sx12, 20sx15, 22.5sx12

Seated dumbbell rear delt raises: 15sx15, 15sx15, 17.5sx12, 20sx8, 20sx10

Seated dumbbell overhead press: 35sx15, 45sx10, 50sx8, 60sx6, 60sx5


7:45PM          Bowl of rice and mixed vegetables in Teriyaki sauce

Bowl of sweet potato fries

24 ounces of water

8 ounces of cranberry juice

11:00PM         Apple

Handful of grapes

12:15AM        Handful of mango slices



Calories consumed: 2,840

Carbohydrates: 605g (82%)

Protein: 59g (7%)

Fat: 36g (11%)

Water: 46 ounces

Calories burned: 3,042

Net: 202-calorie deficit

Exercise: 2 hours, 7 minutes combined


Notes: Today I realized I consumed less than half a gallon of water, well below my recent average. It’s not that big of a deal, especially because my consumption of coconut water and fruit was high, therefore boosting my overall fluid intake fairly significantly. But it is something that I am aware of, and I am making an effort to keep fluid intake high, especially since I am sweating a lot in general during my training. I went to a sports bar tonight to watch my favorite basketball team play (OKC Thunder), and I was pleased that they were able to offer a number of vegan options, though the food wasn’t all that healthy – rice and vegetables in an animal-product free teriyaki sauce and sweet potato fries with cranberry juice and soda water.


Friday November 4, 2016

Slept 1:00AM-9:30AM = 8 hours, 30 minutes


10:00AM        6 ounces of water

11:00AM        6 ounces of coconut water

11:30AM        Bowl of pineapple and mango

Bowl of green grapes

Bowl of blackberries

12:30PM         12 ounces of green drink

Bowl of oatmeal

2:20PM           Green salad with dolmas and salsa verde

2 homemade vegan burritos with salsa verde

12 ounces of coconut water

3:20PM           Exercise: 25 minutes walking with the dog

4:45PM           Persimmon

Bowl of blueberries

12 ounces of water

6:50PM           Handful of green grapes

3 tablespoons of applesauce

8:00PM           Bowl of brown rice, broccoli, carrots, tofu, sauce

Bowl of salad greens with tofu

12 ounces of water

12:00AM        Bowl of strawberries



12:45AM        Orange



Calories consumed: 2,832

Carbohydrates: 536g (72%)

Protein: 83g (11%)

Fat: 53g (16%)

Water: 30 ounces

Calories burned: 2,298

Net: 534-calorie surplus

Exercise: 25 minutes


Notes: I went out to a vegan restaurant and I ended up eating more tofu than usual, opting for a salad with “vegan chicken” and a bowl of rice and vegetables with tofu and peanut sauce. When I am out and about I don’t tend to drink as much fluid as I do when I am home and can use the restroom anytime. I have been keeping a lot of late nights and today I took a rest day from training, resulting in my first caloric surplus this month.


Saturday November 5, 2016

Slept 1:15AM-10:00AM = 8 hours, 45 minutes


11:15AM        8 ounces of water

11:30AM        Exercise: Hiking for 3 hours

1:15PM           12 ounces of water

17.5 ounces of coconut water



3:00PM           20 ounces of water

8 ounces of coconut water

Bowl of red grapes and blueberries

4:00PM           3 boiled potatoes with ketchup

4:37PM           Exercise: Weight training from 4:37-5:39PM (1 hour, 2 minutes)


Hip raises: 15, 20, 20

Arm and leg lifts from floor (bird dog): 15, 15, 15

Push-ups: 20, 20, 20, 20, 20

Back workout:

Lat pull-downs: 70×25, 85×20, 100×15, 100×15, 100×12

Seated rows: 70×15, 80×12, 80×12, 70×25, 70×20

High pulley cable rows: 80×15, 80×15, 80×15, 90×15, 90×15

Machine pull-downs: 90×15, 90×12, 80×15, 80×15, 80×12

High Rows: 90×15, 110×20, 130×12, 130×12, 110×20

5:15PM           20 ounces of water

6:15PM           1 boiled potato

8:15PM           24 ounces of water

Vegetable “meatball” with sauce

Medley platter of artichoke hearts, olives, garlic, vegan cheese

3 slices of vegan vegetable pizza

4 slices of artisan vegan bread

11:40PM         Handful of red grapes





Calories consumed: 3,414

Carbohydrates: 580g (66%)

Protein: 101g (11%)

Fat: 89g (23%)

Water: 84 ounces

Calories burned: 3,610

Net: 196-calorie deficit

Exercise: 4 hours, 2 minutes combined

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Notes: Today was the first time I trained my back in more than 6 months. It felt really good to go back to doing some of my all-time favorite exercises such as cable and machine rows, and high rows, especially. I took it fairly easy, performing high reps as to not aggravate my lower back. Tonight I was entertaining some guests visiting from California and a group of us went to a vegan-friendly pizza place. This has been my highest daily caloric intake thus far this month, largely as a result of eating lots of bread (and pizza toppings). Luckily, I spent more than 4 hours exercising to burn a lot of calories off, though most of today’s calories were consumed in the evening and tomorrow I wake up and drive to a vegan festival and will take another day off from training. That’s the beauty of transparency. Even though the pizza restaurant was not my choice, I opted to eat quite a bit, feeling hungry after 4+ hours of exercise, and I am accountable for my decisions. Tomorrow is another day.


Sunday November 6, 2016

Slept 12:45AM-5:30AM = 4 hours, 45 minutes


6:15AM          3 ounces of water


Handful of blueberries

7:00AM          8 ounces of yerba mate tea

7:40AM          Bowl of oatmeal

8:35AM          2 bananas

11:30AM        Banana

12:30PM         Carrot “hot dog”

2:30PM           Banana

4:30PM           10 ounces of water

5:15PM           Carrot “hot dog”

6:45PM           Brown rice and broccoli with a bowl of vegan chili (beans, tomatoes, corn)

Tofu spring rolls with peanut sauce

16 ounces of yerba mate tea

9:50PM           2 slices of vegan pizza

12 ounces of water

10:50PM         Persimmon

Handful of blueberries

11:00PM         4 ounces of water



Calories consumed: 2,865

Carbohydrates: 510g (67%)

Protein: 99g (13%)

Fat: 65g (20%)

Water: 29 ounces

Calories burned: 2,229

Net: 636-calorie surplus

Exercise: 0 minutes of official exercise – carried a few boxes and worked at a festival


Notes: I certainly didn’t expect today to be my biggest calorie surplus day so far this month, even though I didn’t exercise. On less than 5 hours of sleep, I worked at a vegan festival for 9 hours and drove an additional 4 hours. I typically don’t eat very much when working at a festival all day long. I made up for the lack of calories during the day by going to Whole Foods Market and eating a bowl of rice and chili and a couple of tofu spring rolls with peanut sauce before driving a couple hours to get home. Upon returning from the long day, short on sleep, eating some leftover vegan pizza added to that total. This will be my first day all month in bed before midnight. I hope to have more nights like this, even though I often thrive on working late nights writing books, and working on projects like this, I would like to get to bed at an earlier hour and get up at an earlier hour.


Monday November 7, 2016

Slept 11:30PM-9:30AM = 10 hours


10:15AM        12 ounces of water

11:14AM        Exercise: Stairmaster for 1 hour, 8 minutes

20 minutes in the sauna

40 ounces of water

12:45PM         20 ounces of water

1:17PM           17.5 ounces of coconut water

6 ounces of water



2:00PM           16 pieces of vegetable sushi (rice, seaweed, avocado, cucumber, carrot)

3:32PM           Bowl of mango chunks

Handful of almonds

3:56PM           Bowl of brown rice, refried beans and half an avocado

Handful of almonds

4:34PM           17.5 ounces of coconut water

6:00PM           Handful of blueberries


6 ounces of water

6:36PM           10 pieces of vegetable sushi (rice, seaweed, avocado, cucumber, carrot)

7:16PM           Basket of blackberries

8:32PM           2 bowls of homemade potato and kale vegetable soup

6 ounces of water

9:14PM           Exercise: Weight Training from 9:14-10:41PM (1 hour, 27 minutes)


Hip raises: 15, 20, 20

Arm and leg lifts from floor (bird dog): 15, 15, 15

Push-ups: 20, 20, 20, 20, 20

Arm Workout:

Rope extensions: 65×25, 75×25, 85×20, 95×15, 105×12

Standing cable biceps curls: 65×15, 65×15, 75×15, 85×12, 95×10

Dumbbell alternating biceps curls: 25sx12, 30sx10, 32.5sx8, 35sx7, 37.5sx5

Dumbbell kickbacks: 25×12, 27.5×10, 30×10, 30×12, 32.5×8

Dumbbell hammer curls: 30sx15, 35sx12, 37.5sx10, 40sx8, 45sx6

Seated dumbbell supinated curls: 30sx12, 30sx8, 30sx8, 30sx10, 30sx10

Machine press downs: 130×25, 170×15, 190×12, 210×8, 150×20

10:00PM       6 ounces of water

11:15PM       3 mandarin oranges

11:40PM       Bowl of brown rice, refried beans, half an avocado

12:07AM      2 carrots with refried beans

12:30AM      2 mandarin oranges

6 ounces of water



Calories consumed: 3,332

Carbohydrates: 614g (72%)

Protein: 84g (9%)

Fat: 76g (19%)

Water: 102 ounces

Calories burned: 3,378

Net: 46-calorie deficit

Exercise: 2 hours, 35 minutes combined


Notes: Today was my most balanced day as far as calories consumed and calories expended being a virtual tie, factoring in the slight inaccuracies of estimating these figures. It was also perhaps the closest to an overall perceived average day of consuming between 3,000-3,500 calories and exercising for a little over 2 hours total which I anticipated before I started this month of transparent documentation. Time will reveal if that truly is my most “average” day or if reality has something else to show me. It was especially rewarding to perform more free-weight exercises for essentially only the second time in 6 months. Using fairly light dumbbells for arm exercises was a great way to get back into using free weights, following some very light dumbbell exercises I performed for shoulders a few days ago. I hope to keep this trend going as long as it does not disturb my lower back or disrupt my rehabilitation efforts to repair my torn disc in my L5-S1 region of my lower spine. I look forward to the coming weeks with optimism, hope, and anticipation for a lot of fun workouts ahead.


Summary from November 1-7, 2016

It has been interesting to reflect on this past week. For example, one thing that stood out in my notes is my caloric intake the first four days of the month. I didn’t tally any of my caloric or macronutrient totals until the end of the night, or even a day or two later, yet for four consecutive days my caloric intake was within 100 or so calories from one day to the next. In fact, two consecutive days were within 8 calories of one another. It’s just an interesting observation about my consistency that I wasn’t even necessarily aiming for, expecting, and totally unaware of until I looked at the numbers. The first four days of the month’s caloric intake looked like this:

2,857 calories

2,738 calories

2,840 calories

2,832 calories


Here are the complete nutrition and exercise totals for the week:


Week 1 totals:

Total calories consumed = 20,878

Average calories per day = 2,983

Average percentage from carbohydrates = 73%

Average percentage from protein = 10%

Average percentage from fat = 17%

Total water intake = 477 ounces

Average water per day = 68 ounces (slightly more than half a gallon)

Total calories expended = 21,762

Average calories expended per day = 3,109

Average net calorie intake/expenditure = 126-calorie deficit per day

Total time spent exercising = 15 hours, 48 minutes

Average time spent exercising per day = 2 hours, 15 minutes per day

Total amount of sleep = 57 hours, 45 minutes

Average sleep per night = 8 hours, 15 minutes


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Thank you for your interest in my November Project. I hope at the very least you find it somewhat interesting, and perhaps it will inspire you to look at your own levels of consistency, accountability, and transparency with your meal plans and workouts. I’ll be back next week with another recap. I look forward to see what next week brings on both the nutritional and exercise fronts.

I truly thank you for taking the time to read my report of my true daily actions. It is my desire to showcase an authentic example of who I am and what I do, regardless of the ups and downs. Those ups and downs are, after all, are a big part of the journey and I embrace them.

With gratitude,

Robert Cheeke

Founder/President of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness



3 thoughts on “November Project Weekly Recap: Week 1

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. So sorry you’ve been dealing with an injury. Wishing you continued good recovery.

    As always, sharing your ups and downs makes you all the more inspiring, because we relate and can see the path you lead forward from obstacles and normal daily life challenges, and living a balanced life.

    Say hi to Karen for us!

    Liked by 1 person

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