Friday, January 29, 2010

Number crunching

Today's Weigh-In: 217.2 lbs.
5-Day Average: 217.2 lbs.

Looking at my weigh-in this morning, I was a bit disappointed. I've been eating clean, working out hard, and sleeping well. Taking my fish oil and creatine. So why isn't the weight going anywhere?

So I busted out my tape measure, and took some measurements to compare to those I took at the beginning of the month. Turns out I've lost an inch off my hips and 2 inches off my waist, without changing my other measurements significantly. This means that I have indeed lost fat, just not weight, which also means that I've increased my lean body mass. This makes me very happy. There's nothing worse than working hard and not seeing any results, and sometimes it's easy to get lost in what the scale tells you. But you've always gotta remember that the scale is not the only way of measuring progress.

Looking back on some older measurements, from when I was at my lowest weight, and I'm only an inch bigger in the waist and hips than I was then, but I'm almost 20 pounds heavier. This means that in the past year I've probably gained 12-15 pounds of muscle, and between 5-8 pounds of fat. Thinking of the weight gain in that sense makes it much easier to swallow.

Another way of measuring muscle gain was to compare body fat percentages. At my lightest I was about 18% body fat, and now I'm at about 20%. 18% @ 196lbs. means 161 lbs. of lean mass. 20% @ 215lbs. means 172 lbs. of lean mass. So that's in line with my estimate above.

I find it fun to play around with numbers, and it helps to see everything from a different perspective than just the scale weight.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Weird weigh-ins, beef review, and goal check

Today's Weigh-In: 214.8
5-Day Average: 217.8

Good weigh-in today, but the past few days were really bad for some reason. I stayed within my calories every day but one, but my weight shot up and stayed up from Thursday until Monday. Hmm. Hopefully today's wasn't a fluke, but I doubt it was since I ate great yesterday and worked out hard. We basically did 3 workouts: a 2000m timed row for warm-up (did it in 8:11), 5x3 deadlifts for the main workout (got up to 365# for 3 reps), and finished with as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes of 10 lunges, 10 sit-ups, and 10 kettlebell swings (using 53# kettlebell, got 4 and a half rounds). I like this set-up since it lets me get a decent cardio workout, a good strength workout, and a nice anaerobic burner at the end.

I received my grass-fed beef last Thursday, and I've been putting it to good use. The first thing I made was a big crockpot of Texas-style chili (no beans). My girlfriend said that it was the best chili I've ever made, and she loves the flavor of the grass-fed meat. I have to say I agree. It actually has much more beef flavor than the store-bought grain-fed meat. I also used some sirloin in a stir-fry which was pretty good, although I should have marinated the meat for longer. All in all I'm quite happy with the quality of this meat, and I think I'll be making this a regular part of my life.

I've got 11 days to bring my average down to 215, which still looks doable. Looks like small changes can make a big difference. Just gotta stay consistent.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Grass-fed beef and crushing goals

Today's Weigh-In: 215.2 lbs.
5-Day Average: 216.3 lbs.

The weight is continuing to trend downward. I guess this whole "eating clean" thing works pretty well. I also got a great workout yesterday, which pushed me to my limits and allowed me to tap into those strength reserves that you don't really know about until you need them.

On the food front I bought a share of a cow. That might sound a bit strange, but it's true. I paid for 1/11th of a grass-fed steer from a farm in South Dakota. The basic idea is that 11 people buy a share each, and once all the shares are paid for the steer is slaughtered (humanely, I might add) and shipped to your door in dry ice. I've been looking for a good source of grass-fed beef for a while now, and this fit the bill nicely. I should be receiving roughly 25 pounds of beef sometime this week, according to the email I received today. I purchased a chest freezer last month for just such a thing, so now I have to actually set it up and make sure it works! I'll let you guys know how the meat tastes when I get a chance to try it. If you're interested in something like this, visit the site. Total price for me was about $190, not bad for beef raised in its natural environment and fed the food it was designed to eat.

It looks like I'm well on my way to crushing my February weight goal of a 215 lb. 5-day average, so let's just hope nothing funky happens with my body to cause it to stall.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Doing pretty dang good

Today's Weigh-In: 216.2 lbs.
5-Day Average: 216.8 lbs.

It looks like my plan of conservative weight loss seems to be working so far. I'm averaging about a pound less than I was at the start of the year (I don't have any numbers from 12/31 to 1/4 so I can't really analyze my averages during that time). I've been counting calories online during the week, and trying to keep a running tally of calories during the weekend. I ended up having 2 cheat meals on Saturday due to unforeseen circumstances, but everything else has been really good.

On Friday I hit a new PR (personal record) with a 215# power clean, which was 20# more than the last time I attempted a max. I went and ran 400m sprints at the track on Saturday, but was only able to do 2 before my calves and hamstrings got too tight to function well. I did get another PR of 1:31 on my first sprint (down from 1:45 the last time, which was probably over a year ago), even though it's still terribly slow. My brother used to run the 400 in 51 seconds, if my memory serves, so I'm definitely not going to be winning any track meets in the near future.

Today my body feels good, and I'm ready to hit today's workout after I get off work. All in all I really have nothing to complain about right now. Let's just hope it lasts.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Obligatory new year goals

Today's Weigh-In: 215.4 lbs. (no 5-day average since I kind of slacked on weighing myself)

Happy New Year to all the fitness and weight-loss bloggers out there. Since it is a new year I would like to start by laying out some goals, both short and long term, that will get me to where I want to be. I took the time to reflect on the past year, and came up with a few things. First, I gained about 20 pounds; actually, looking back on my post from exactly 1 year ago I gained 17.2 pounds. This has some good and bad sides: I'm much stronger now than I was a year ago, but I'm also a bit fatter. The upside, though, is that I think I can lose the fat without losing strength through my Crossfit training.

I thought also about the habits that I used to have when I was successfully losing weight, versus what I've been doing lately, and came up with a few things. First was that I drink more, and more often, now than I did then. Also I have not been good with calorie counting. Gym attendance has been roughly equivalent, so my weight gain is close to 100% food/drink related. So then I thought "What can I do to remedy this?" and came up with a few simple daily goals that will allow me to lose at least 1 pound a week, but don't put a ton of stress on my mind.

So here they are:
1) Limit drinking to 3 drinks per day through January. 1 drink is one 12oz. beer, 1 shot of 80 proof alcohol, or 5 oz. of wine.
2) Starting February, limit drinking only to 3 days per week, and maintain goal #1 on these days.
3) Count all calories, get no more than 2500/day including alcohol.
4) Take fiber, creatine, fish oil, and vitamin D supplements every day.
5) Workout every day except Thursday and Sunday.

Now, let me explain that I have a very high alcohol tolerance, and 3 drinks does not even begin to affect me. But I averaged my recent intake to be about 6-7 drinks per day, and this has prevented me from dropping weight. Plus, it's just not a good habit to have. The ultimate goal is to take drinking from a habit to an occasional splurge, and I want to do it slowly so as not to cause myself undue stress, and also to allow new, healthy habits to form in the meantime.

Counting calories has been a great tool in the past, and I think it's crucial for me to lose weight. It's not that hard either; once I do it on a daily basis for a week or two it just becomes second nature.

My exercise goal is just to get 5 workouts a week. I can move my rest day from Thursday to Wednesday, so long as I get my 5. I just want to be consistent here.

I have some other goals as well. I know for me that the most motivating success stories are the ones with pictures in them. So I've made plans to take pictures of myself every Saturday morning and post them to the blog so I can see my changes over time. I've also made a goal of adding at least 1 run per week into my workout routine. I feel that running is a weak area of mine, and I would like to shore up that weakness a bit. I might do a 5k, or I might do sprint repeats. I just need to run more.

I think that's it for now. None of these goals are very hard for me, to be honest, and that's the way I like it because that means I can actually achieve them. I like having daily goals as well, because it's really the day-to-day stuff that gives us the results we want, and completing daily goals allows me to feel like I'm actually moving forward. I'm on day 3 right now, and feeling good. I'll keep you posted.