Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Week 3 completed

Today's weigh-in: 240.0 lbs.

I know, I missed posting last week. It was a hectic week. I haven't fallen off the wagon, though. I've finally completely overcome my bronchitis, and being consistent in the gym has helped me regain some of my lost capacity. The blood pressure medicine the doctor put me on is doing its job, and my blood pressure is now just a bit above the normal range. Still working on lowering it completely and getting off the ACE inhibitor, but that'll come along with lowering my body weight and improving my overall fitness.

What it does mean is I can lift again, so over the past 2 weeks I've been adding squatting, pressing, and olympic lifting back into the routine, and I'm progressing nicely. Yesterday was the first workout I've done in a long time where I didn't feel like passing out or being unable to catch my breath after squatting, and just felt really good overall. Today I'll be focusing on conditioning, and tomorrow is bench press and deadlift along with pull-up work.

It's only been in the last week really that I've started to be able to dial in my diet, but I'm definitely gaining momentum in that area. My cravings for sweets are almost completely gone, replaced with cravings for meat. I've started cooking for myself again, making sure I have groceries, and prepping meals ahead of time. I've gotten rid of all snack foods and junk from my fridge and pantry, and now I just eat 2-3 solid meals, and maybe a protein shake after the gym if I feel like it.

I'm going to ride this momentum and use it to continue to adjust and fine-tune my diet and workout regime to maximize my fitness gains and weight loss. See you next week, hopefully we'll see a number under 240 for once.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week one done

Today's weigh-in: 242.0 lbs.

Not a whole lot of movement on the scale compared to last week's weigh-in, but I have seen a few days of 240 flat. Maybe weighing in on Monday after the weekend isn't the best plan.

My proposed workout routine has had to be put on hold, sadly, due to the advice of my doctor. I went and saw him for a check-up last Tuesday and my blood pressure was really high (like 170/110), so he advised me to avoid heavy weight training until we can get it under control. He prescribed me an ACE inhibitor, and I've been making lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure naturally. These include reducing alcohol intake, cutting out caffeine, drinking hibiscus flower tea, and getting my sleep and exercise dialed in. With just a few days of these interventions my blood pressure is pretty stable at 130/80 or so in the evenings, and lower in the mornings. Still higher than I would like, but great change for the first week.

Ideally by losing weight and getting my cardiovascular system into good shape the blood pressure issue will resolve itself and I can get off the ACE inhibitor sooner rather than later. Not that it has any real side effects that I can notice, but I'd just rather not have to rely on it.

So with all that in mind I've been doing some moderate-intensity workouts focusing on getting sweaty and moving well for a longer period than I normally would program for myself. Bodyweight circuits, rowing, running, kettlebell swings, and jumping rope have all made appearances. Coming back from being sick over the past month is rough, as my conditioning is pretty bad, but even just doing those 3 workouts last week has made a positive difference in my body and mental health. I'm going to try to fit in 4 workouts this week, along with daily walks and calorie counting. I have a follow-up with the doctor next week, so hopefully he'll see the positive changes and clear me to do more of the barbell training I enjoy so much. Until then I'll just work on building my base back up, and keep working on dialing in my diet.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Here we go

Today's weigh-in: 242.8 lbs.

The weigh-in was a little bit higher than I was expecting, but no big deal ultimately. I was finally able to work out on Friday evening, still coughing a bit but was able to move some light weight around and get sweaty. Now I'm sore, even though the weights I was lifting were extremely light for me (less than 50% of my 1RM for sets of 5 in front squat, deadlift, and shoulder press). Oh well, that's the way of the road, bubs.

This week I have workouts planned for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. My food choices today have not been great but I'm still in line with my calorie goals, at least. Baby steps.

Nothing much else to say today, just wanted to get in the habit of writing and keeping my goals in the front of my mind.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Goal setting time

Right after my last post I got sick with a bad cold, which turned into bronchitis, so that's put a damper on my fitness goals. I'm still sniffling and coughing a bit, but I'm feeling good enough to start getting back in the gym, and with that I thought about goal setting. Looking back on the times I've been successful with regards to my health and fitness it was always when I had a clear, measurable goal in mind. I've heard Arnold Schwarzenegger speak at length about setting goals and then visualizing yourself achieving them, and that's made a big impact on me. I need something concrete to strive for, otherwise I'll just dick around and accomplish very little.

What kind of goals should I set? I thought about it, and honestly I don't have any concrete fitness goals in mind at the moment. I'm so deconditioned from not working out consistently over the past year that I really don't have any good reference point. Sure I still want to squat 400 pounds, but right now that's not in the realm of possibility. So until I get some semblance of strength and cardiovascular fitness going I don't want to commit to something like that, not quite yet.

Honestly, the simplest goal for me to visualize and keep in my mind is simply my weight. I would like to lose about 40 pounds, in total, but to do that I've gotta take off the first 5, then the next 5, etc. So that's my goal: drop 5 pounds in 6 weeks. Simple, achievable, and necessary to get me to the next stage. Sure, I could probably do it faster than that, but 6 weeks sets the bar low enough to ensure success. I really like what Tim Ferriss has written about setting very simple goals, at least in the beginning, to help build momentum and avoid disappointment, which just sets the stage for continued failure. So, low-hanging fruit it is.

I will begin my 6 weeks on Monday, April 13th, and I'll go through May 18th. I'll weigh myself on Monday and that will be the baseline weight. I'm guessing around 240, honestly I haven't stepped on a scale since my last post. And I will attempt to post updates each week to keep myself focused.

My plans for the gym are to just get my body used to moving and lifting again, so I'll focus on the fundamentals. Powerlifting movements, mobility, some Olympic lifting, and really simple conditioning (kettlebells, rowing machines, bodyweight circuits). 3 times a week for at least an hour. Diet-wise it's all about keeping track, so I'll keep doing that and try to limit my calories to about 2800/day.

Once this 6 week re-introduction period is over I will re-evaluate where I'm at and where I want to go from there.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Floundering

I haven't posted in almost a year and a half. No real reason why, except I guess lack of motivation. This general lack of motivation has also slipped into my regular life, and into my health and fitness. Let's catch up a bit.

Last time I posted I was training with some strongmen as well as doing a traditional strength program (squats, deadlifts, bench, etc.). I was enjoying the strongman training, even though it was pretty brutal, but in the end the guy who was running the show was interested in building a strong competitive team, which I was not interested in. So we parted ways, amicably. Our goals just weren't on the same page, and I respect that. The sport is also pretty hard on the body, and I was having a hard time recovering between each week's training.

Since then I've tried a few things to get myself back into a good training regimen. I started doing Crossfit again for a while, and I did an 8-week cycle of Starting Strength, but nothing's really gotten the old fire back, and I would end up burning out and just not really working out for weeks at a time. I would maybe go once or twice a week and just do something, but nothing particularly intense or heavy.

To add on to that, I pretty much stopped watching what I was eating, and my home cooking became less and less a part of my daily diet. There were more nights spent drinking and partying than going to bed early or cooking healthy food than I even care to admit. Basically just slid back into what I used to do before I ever tried to get healthy.

Today I'm back up at 239 pounds. I haven't gained any weight since before Thanksgiving, but also haven't lost any. I'm kind of floundering here, and I'm not really certain what I need to do to find my way again. All the things that motivated me in the past just don't work any more. I know I need to lose weight to get my blood pressure within healthy levels, I know I'm in a lot more pain from sitting so much and being generally heavier and weaker. I'm just frustrated that I can't seem to get my ass in gear. But this blog post is an attempt to do just that. I don't even know if anyone is reading it, and to be honest it doesn't matter. Just writing out these words and really seeing the big picture makes me at least feel a bit better, like I'm not giving up. Because I'm not. I still teach Crossfit, I'm still at the gym all the time, and I still know how to cook and eat healthy food. I have all the tools in the toolbelt, I just need to pull them out and use them.

I think the trick here is to start slowly. I think that much of the knowledge that I have is almost detrimental, because I always want to come up with the perfect routine, diet, meal plan, schedule, etc. When all that's really necessary is something better than what I'm currently doing. So I think if I can just start by focusing on how much food is going into my face that's the first step. That's the biggest determiner of bodyweight, and all it requires is a bit of writing down what I eat. So I've started with that, trying to get back in the routine. I'll still try to make it to the gym, but if I can just start losing some weight by controlling my intake then that will get the ball rolling, and it gives me only one thing to worry about. Everything on top of that is gravy.

Once that's dialed in I can build on it by determining what my athletic goals actually are and start (slowly) working towards them. I know from experience that trying to go balls-out from the starting line is a surefire way of getting injured and frustrated. I will need to start slow, both in terms of the workouts/weights themselves and also with regards to number of times a week I'm in the gym and how long those sessions are. Crippling soreness/achiness is not a great way to stay motivated.

And then I'll move on bit by bit. I'm rebuilding myself from fundamentals. It won't be as fast as I would like, but at least it's movement in the right direction again. I'll try to post here at least once a week, just to keep myself accountable. Today's goal is to just eat a reasonable amount of food (instead of the ~4000 calories I've been putting away on a daily basis for the past year).


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Improving

This week's strongman training went much better than last week's. Apparently removing booze from my life and sleeping like the dead (and eating a lot) actually does improve recovery and athletic capacity. Who'd have thunk? The medley that almost killed me last week? Well, we did it again, and this time we added a 450 lb. backward sled drag (75 ft.) to the end of it. I'm not going to lie; I was scared. I couldn't even finish the farmer carry without assistance last time, and my body literally felt like it was going to stop functioning, and now I have to do that plus more (incredibly heavy) work? Gulp.

But I impressed myself, in that I did the whole thing unbroken without assistance, and in much less time than before, even with the added work. I figured out an easier way of carrying kegs that allowed me to take longer steps, which saved my legs a bit, the weather was better (last week was really dry), and my body is just getting better, stronger, and more capable. If last week's effort was a 10 on the difficulty/pain scale, this time it was like a 6 or 7. I was winded, for sure, but no more so than a normal Crossfit workout. I'm very happy with this, I was afraid I was always going to feel like dying, and I wasn't sure I could handle that, mentally.

This week we also did an overhead medley: one rep each of keg press (pretty light, maybe like 60 lbs.), log clean + press (185 lbs.), axle clean + press (210 lbs.), and circus dumbbell press (~110 lbs. I think). I ended up doing it twice through, just to get in some conditioning, but I smoked this, mostly due to my experience with Olympic lifting and knowing how to actually jerk a weight (which involves dropping under the weight after you've applied upward force) instead of just push-pressing it (which has no re-bend of the knees). The other two dudes who are around my level are both stronger than me on pulls from the ground, and just overall, but I beat both of them at this due to my technique (neither of them were able to complete 2 run-throughs, as they kept failing their lockouts).

They kicked my ass on the Atlas stone, though. I've never even lapped a stone larger than about 175, and here I was being told to lap and load a 240 pounder. At first I couldn't even budget the thing from the ground, but then I got tackied up (tacky is a pine resin that's incredibly sticky, which improves grip on stones) and was able to lap it a few times, and actually load it over the yoke once. The other guys loaded it for multiple reps, which made me feel like a chump, but it's just something I have to practice and get used to. I was left with 6 gnarly bruises for my efforts (forearms, biceps, and inner thighs), but they say my body will adapt and stop bruising as I do the movement more.

I don't have any strongman training this week, as the other guys will be at Strongman nationals in Texas competing. Since I do have access to some strongman equipment at my home gym I plan on coming up with a couple of medley-type workouts for myself this Saturday, and I'm thinking I can probably talk some other dudes to give it a shot too, so that should be fun. Maybe some keg walks and tire flips, plus a prowler push or drag. We'll see; it's fun to play around with this stuff, as it's pretty endless with regards to possibilities.

So, yeah, getting stronger, still feeling good, still not drinking, still not worried too much about diet. I told myself I'd focus on not drinking for at least a month before making any other changes to my routine, and I'm halfway there as of today. Next month I should be pretty used to not drinking, so I'll then make some changes to my diet so I can improve my body composition again. It'll be pretty cool if I can actually lean out a bit over the holidays this year, instead of my normal 20 lb. gain.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Holy crap

I did my first Strongman workout today. Like I mentioned earlier, the dudes (and one lady) I'm training with are legit, training for nationals in 2 weeks. There were 6 of us in total, with me being the smallest guy (at 225 lol).

We started out with axle-bar jerks (ground to shoulder, then shoulder to overhead). The axle bar is much fatter than a regular barbel, more like a length of 2" pipe than a barbell, really. Also, the ends don't spin like an Olympic barbell, so it's harder to get from ground to shoulder. I worked up to about 190 for a triple (one clean, three jerks), which was fine. My overhead strength is my best aspect, and I could've gone heavier no problem.

Then I played around with another axle bar, but this one actually had truck tires on it, so it started from higher off the ground (which makes it a bit easier) but was also heavier and more unwieldy due to it's size. I learned how to get it up using a Continental (wearing a belt, you lift the bar up onto your belly, the pop your knees fast and move the bar to your shoulder), and did a single overhead with 220, which I was pretty happy about. I could've gotten more, but I knew there was a lot more stuff to be done, so I left it at that.

Next up was farmer carries. I warmed up with about 135 in each hand for 50 yards (25 and back), then moved up to about 205 in each hand for 25 yards, which was tough but doable. Then came the hardest thing of the day: a medley of kegs and farmer's carry. A yoke was set up really low, so we could throw the kegs over it. Then 3 kegs were set up 25 feet apart, the one furthest from the yoke being the lightest, closest the heaviest. You start at the far end, carry the lightest keg 75 feet, throw it over the yoke, grab the middle one, go 50 feet, throw it over, then the heaviest, 25 feet and over. Then grab the farmer's implement (still loaded with 205 on each side) and walk for 75 feet. This was one of the most heinous things I've ever done, physically. The kegs were heavy as hell, with the heaviest weighing in over 300 pounds, IIRC. The first one was fine, second one I started slowing down, and the third one I ended up dropping a couple of times because I literally could not fire my quad muscles any more. I finally got it over, then moved on to the farmer's implement. I was so smoked and sucking so much wind at this point that I couldn't even pick the damn thing up, but a couple dudes helped me and screamed at me the whole way. I dropped it a couple times because my grip failed, and tore a small chunk of skin off (not bad, though), but I did finish. It took me 3 1/2 minutes, even though the real time limit in competition would be 90 seconds. Oh, also, the humidity is in the single digits today, with gusty winds up to 50 mph, so the air was so dry I literally couldn't swallow afterward until I got some water, and then I couldn't stop breathing hard for about 20 minutes. Started coughing up phlegm all over the place too lol, just because I was camping last weekend and was around a lot of smoke and dust.

This *wrecked* me. I can think of maybe one or two Crossfit workouts I've done that might compare, but it's definitely up there in terms of hard shit I've done. I know where I can make some changes, though. My keg technique was crap, and my conditioning is really bad right now. Once I get it back up things like this will be not quite so gnarly. I also know now where I need to focus my training: grip, legs, and wind. And I need to get me a keg full of sand to practice on.

After that I kinda just hung out for a while as the other people did their version of this medley (of course with heavier weights and way faster) and recovered a bit, at least to the point where I could walk and talk again. The last thing we did was deadlift a car for reps. No joke; they have a welded steel rig that you park the back wheels of a car onto, and it has handles on the ends, and you lift it for reps. You can adjust the handles to make it easier or harder (basically lengthen or shorten the lever arm), but I couldn't even do one rep on the easiest (the guy who was closest to my ability there did it for an easy 10).

The girl who was training with us (who was strong as hell) couldn't do the car either (even though it was her car) so they removed it and placed a tire instead, which I think weighed 500+. She repped that for 10 with a 230+ lb. dude sitting on the tire, then it was my turn. Of course, I couldn't do the same weight as a girl and maintain my dignity, so they had another dude who had to weight at least 325 sit on it along with the other dude for me. I hit 5 reps before failing, then the lighter dude got up and I repped it with just the big dude for another 5 reps. After that I was doneskies.

All in all it was an eye opening experience. I've never really done stuff that heavy before, and it really highlighted my weaknesses. Right now I'm sore and tight, but no damage was done, but I'll probably walk like a cripple tomorrow. I committed to come back next week, so now I have a reason to train hard and smart in the gym this week: so I don't look like such a weakling next week. I need to continue working on my grip strength, but I also need to learn how to use my legs again, because I kept defaulting to using my lower back for a lot of stuff, and that's just no good, both in terms of exerting force and for orthopedic health.

I can tell my metabolism was cranked to the max, because afterward I was ravenous, and I destroyed an El Pollo Loco ultimate double chicken bowl, which is a lot of food, and then 3 hours later downed a half pound of salmon, a bunch of rice with butter, and some buttered almonds, and I could still go for some dessert. Feels good to gorge on healthy protein after a hard sesh.

That's it for now, I'll keep you posted as my training continues.