Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I'm back!

Let's see, my last post was a year and a half ago? Jeez. Makes sense, though, since I haven't been focused on health and fitness for quite a while now. This year especially has been pretty rough. I started out the year suffering from anxiety and panic attacks on a daily basis, which led me to begin taking an antidepressant. Which did help, but one of the side effects was weight gain. I'm not sure if it's a direct physiological effect or if it just made me too tired/unmotivated to cook and eat healthy food or go to the gym, but it resulted in about 20 pounds of added bodyweight. Most of my clothes don't fit any more, and I got a sweet new set of stretch marks on my belly. It sucks, but it is what it is. I managed to get off the medication a few months ago (which resulted in some bad withdrawals, but they're gone now) and with the holiday season almost over I think it's time to shift my focus back onto my health again.

Here are my obstacles: food, booze, and exercise. Too much of the first two and not enough of the last. So, how do I rectify this imbalance in the force?

Since I've been at this for a few years now I've learned that free-eating does not tend to go well for me. My natural appetite is higher than my metabolism and activity level can handle. If left to my own desires I will put away about 4000 calories a day, easily. Doesn't really matter if it's healthy food or junk, as I can put away a 24oz. steak with some asparagus just as easily as a Whopper. Which means I'm left with tracking my food intake and counting calories. I'm okay with this, since it keeps my mind focused on the task at hand instead of letting it slip into the back of my mind. Right now I'm shooting for 2,500 calories a day, with 170 grams of protein so I can maintain as much lean mass as possible.

For weight loss food is number one. I know that I can lose weight simply by reducing my caloric intake, with no other effort whatsoever. So that's the priority, to stay within those calorie bounds every day, regardless of external situations.

That also mostly takes care of the booze question. Booze has a high caloric load for its volume (7 calories/gram) so it'd be pretty hard to drink heavily and still stay within my calorie limits. So I figure if I have the calories left at the end of the day and have hit my protein requirements then I can have a glass of wine or a beer, but pretty much not under any other circumstances. As I've gotten older most of my friends who I used to go out and drink with are too busy with their jobs, homes, and starting families to go out carousing. So I don't really have a temptation in my life in that regard any more. Which means I don't have any excuses either.

The last thing is exercise. I'm still a Crossfit coach at my gym, so I have 24/7 access to equipment and facilities. Right now I'm rehabbing a lower back injury, so I can't take on any kind of rigorous strength program until it's healed, so for now my goal is to just improve my cardiovascular conditioning as well as get back my mobility and strengthen my core muscles so my back doesn't get re-injured. To that end I'm focusing on full body movements without much external load done quickly to get my heart beating and my lungs burning. Once my back heals I'll get back into barbell and kettlebell work to get my strength and power back, but for now just moving around for an hour a day is plenty, since my conditioning is truly awful at the moment.

My goal is to lose 50 pounds by my birthday at the end of August.

Current weight: 261 lbs.
Goal weight: 210 lbs.
Short-term goal: 255 lbs. by end of January 2017

I find that having both a short-term and long-term goal is really useful for weight loss. Only having a long-term goal can be discouraging, especially when you hit a plateau for a week or two. Having the short term checkpoints helps to keep the eyes on the prize, so to speak, so that's my plan. I'll try to update the blog with my progress a couple times a week as well. It's another tool that helps me to keep my goals close at hand. Wish me luck!

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.