Friday, July 24, 2009

Still alive

Hey there, everyone. It's been a while since I last posted, so I'll use this post to bring you up to speed on where I've been and where I'm at.

Since my last post I have been working out consistently 4-5 times a week (except the past week, which I will explain below). My performance in the gym has been great, and I've been setting new personal records on a consistent basis.

That is, until last week. Last Wednesday I did a workout which consisted of 150 situps and 125 back-extensions using a Glute-Ham Developer (see this image if you're not familiar with it). I finished in just under 20 minutes, but I could feel that I would be hurting later. My hips and back were tight, and I had trouble finishing the last couple of sets. I tried to do a few 400m sprints afterward, but my back started to seize up, and I called it a day.

Fast forward to Friday, and I'm hurting. Bad. My abdominal muscles and hip flexors are killing me. I feel run down. I go to pick up my girlfriend for dinner on Friday night, and when we get back to my house I go to the bathroom to go pee. My pee is brown. Maple syrup brown. I know what this means: rhabdomyolysis.

Rhabdomyolysis (or rhabdo, for short) is caused by the breakdown of muscle cells which release their contents into the blood. Potassium and myoglobin build up in the bloodstream, and put a strain on the kidneys, which can then fail, followed by death. It's nasty business, usually seen in crush and burn victims. But it is possible to exercise yourself into such a state, as I did. The test they perform for rhabdo is a blood test which determines the levels of a certain enzyme (creatine phosphokinase). The normal count of this enzyme is around 200. Mine peaked at 125,000.

Long story short, I spent 6 days in the hospital, receiving fluids to flush my kidneys, electrolytes to balance my blood chemistry, and morphine to dull the pain. As of my release from the hospital my CPK levels are down to 1,400, and my pain is almost gone. There is, however, damage to the muscles, so I will now have to spend time regaining strength in some parts of my body. It's not permanent damage, thankfully, and I should be able to rebuild the lost muscle tissue over time.

So that's where I'm at right now. If you ever decide to do a workout with a high level of intensity, make sure to listen to your body, and stay hydrated, especially if it's hot. These are things that can contribute to rhabdo, and trust me, you don't want to go through this experience first hand.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

June wrap-up

Today's Weigh-In: 207.6 lbs.

So, I didn't make my weight goal this month. But I did lose fat. If you recall, I took measurements at the beginning of June, and I also took measurements this past weekend. I lost 1 inch off my waist, 3/4 of an inch off each thigh, and 3/4 of an inch off my hips. I maintained my other measurements, which is good, because that means I've kept every ounce of muscle on my body.

So why no drop in weight? Could be a number of things, but it's most likely a combination of increased water retention due to exercise, and increased muscle mass. The same thing happened in the very first month of my journey. I lost zero pounds but got stronger, leaner, and fitter. My body type and previous training make it easy to gain a small amount of muscle very quickly after a long layoff. I doubt I will continue to gain any muscle, but now my weight should start to drop again.

My level of fitness has increased tremendously over the past month. When I began training I wanted to puke or die from every single workout I had to do. Compare that with yesterday, when I did a workout which consisted of 2.5 miles of running, 150 kettlebell swings (with 36 pounds), 30 pull-ups, and 120 jumping pull-ups. And I didn't feel like puking once. It took forever, granted, but I was fully able to accomplish it. I also pulled a personal record in the back squat, and tied my PR for the deadlift.

My new goal is a sub-200 weigh-in by the end of July. I know, I've been chasing 200 for a while now, but I think that now I'm actually in the position to realistically achieve it. As long as I don't get hurt or sick this month I should be able to hit it.