Thursday, January 27, 2011

Weight is down, and PRs are up!

Today's Weigh-In: 207.4 Average: 207.7

Looks like the weight is moving in the right direction now. Slow and steady is going to be key here, as I don't want to lose any muscle mass in this process. I need to have the highest possible strength-to-weight ratio if I'm going to be at all competitive at the weightlifting meet.

Speaking of weightlifting, my training has been going really well. I'm nailing all my training weights, and I can feel the benefits of improved technique and strength. On Tuesday I decided to find a new max for the snatch, as my previous PR happened quite a while ago. My old PR being 155 pounds, I warmed up with some lighter weights, hit my old PR, and then failed 6 times on 165. I had my girlfriend record video of each attempt so I could see what I was doing wrong. I was pulling the weight really high, which is good, but I wasn't getting under it fast enough, and my shoulder flexibility was limiting my turnover speed. I corrected for these issues and nailed 165, followed immediately by 175 on the first try.

A 20 pound PR is amazing for this lift, and I'm really happy about it. Since my training protocol dictates each day's lifts based on percentages of 1-rep max I now will be doing heavier weights in my training as well.

Another small accomplishment: I clean and jerked 230 yesterday after my work sets, just to see if I could. My old PR was 225, so it's only a 5 pound jump, but it felt smooth and controlled, and I know I could have done quite a bit more if I had time.

Today is a rest day, but I'll probably do a short conditioning workout since I skipped yesterday's due to time constraints. Feeling good!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quick Addendum: Supplements

I mentioned before that I've started supplementing with creatine again, and I wanted to take the time to post all the supplements I am taking, so I can look back later and see what worked, what didn't, and what to adjust.

Creatine Monohydrate, 5g - Increase lean mass & strength, improve muscular recovery
Fish oil (300mg EPA & DHA per capsule), 8-10 caps - Reduce systemic inflammation, improve recovery
Fiber tablets with ChromeMate (2g fiber per tablet), 3 tablets - Keep me regular
Vitamin D (2000 IU per pill), 3 capsules - As an office worker I don't see the sun much. This helps take care of that deficiency.
Acidophilus probiotic (1,000,000 organisms per caplet), 3 caplets - Improve digestion and gut health, allow me to absorb all my nutrients effectively.
Whey protein concentrate - I use it when I'm low on protein for the day, otherwise not a daily supplement.
Magnesium, 400mg - Improve sleep and help regulate anabolic hormones.

If I had to choose a couple which were most important, I would choose fish oil and vitamin D, as they seem to have the best benefit profiles. I'm considering some others such as Alpha-Linoleic Acid and EGCG, but as of now I haven't pulled the trigger on them. You'll also notice I don't take a multi-vitamin. From the research I've seen, and the quality of food (and quantity of vegetable matter) I consume, I don't find any compelling reason to take a daily multi. The only vitamin I'm ever low on is D, so I supplement that on its own, but everything else is fulfilled solely by food.

Monthly goal and mid-week update

Today's Weigh-In: 208.2 Average: 208.06

With 6 days left in January it's unlikely that I'll make the goal I set a few weeks ago (203). I underestimated what my average weight was, since I wasn't consistently documenting my daily weigh-ins. So my new average is 208. My weight went up a little bit in the last 2 weeks due to re-adding creatine supplementation to help me recover from my weightlifting sessions, so I'm not concerned. My stomach is looking flatter, and pants are fitting looser, so I know I'm losing a little bit of fat even if it's not reflected on the scale. I'm going to try to hit 205 for this month's goal instead.

So far this week has been good. I did a nice, heavy Oly-lifting session yesterday, along with a short, high-intensity conditioning workout, and I ate roughly 2200 calories, which is spot on for me to lose weight without killing my performance in the gym. So far today I've had eggs and bacon, some coffee with whole milk, and a bowl of chili verde that I made last week (which is really good).

I'm starting to feel some momentum building, and getting used to the fact that I'm going to be a little hungry at the end of each day. Once that becomes the new normal for me it becomes a lot easier to stick to the plan, especially when you know there's a cheat day coming up on the weekend. It really takes the wind out of junk food cravings.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Diet update and strategy

Since yesterday's post was so focused on training I thought today I'd talk more about diet. This past weekend I went up to the mountains with one of my friends, and let's just say we didn't eat as cleanly as possible (read: crapton of beer & liquor, chips, burgers, and some good stuff like grilled meat). But I knew that would be the case, and used it as a kind of "last hurrah" before I really started focusing on my training. So this week has been really good. I've got lots of food already prepared in the fridge, I've got a big order of grassfed beef coming in next week, and a ton of fresh produce from the local Mexican market. The worst thing I have in my apartment right now is a bar of Trader Joes 85% cocoa dark chocolate, and a few bottles of red wine. So I'm pretty set, at the moment.

The whole "eating less" thing is going pretty good as well. I've started portioning out some of the big meals into measured, calorie-controlled containers, so I can't really overeat. I'm doing well with limiting my nut and fruit intake, and I'm also eating a lot of veggies (either on their own or cooked into something like chili or stir fry). My energy levels seem to have stabilized, and my workouts are going great. I allow for 2 glasses of red wine each night, and that's it, which keeps me sane without hurting my goals.

I'm also (re)integrating one day a week of overfeeding, a.k.a. cheating. Reading back on my posts from 2008 I find that allowing a cheat day helped keep me in line the rest of the week, and to be honest you can only do so much damage in one day, no matter how hard you try. Weekly refeeds help in other ways too, as they upregulate the hormone leptin, which regulates lipolysis (fat burning), and since I'm doing pretty intense training any carbs are preferentially used to restore muscle glycogen instead of just going to fat stores.

I've missed weigh-ins the past few days, but I'm considering moving to weekly weigh-ins (just prior to beginning the cheat day, which I'm planning to be Saturdays) to get a more consistent picture overall picture. The cheat day adds a kink to the daily weigh-ins, since fluctuations in weight of up to 8 pounds (due to depleted glycogen stores prior to overfeeding, and carb and water retention after) gum up the works for a day or two after the refeed. I'll try the weekly ones and see if it works for me, and if not I'll go back to the dailies.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Training goals

I wanted to post some fitness goals in addition to weight goals for the new year, since I've actually started training for something. As I've said before I've been doing Crossfit for 3 years now, since it's a great mix of modalities that never gets boring. It's also reintroduced me to something I used to do (and enjoy) in high-school: Olympic weightlifting. As I've gotten more and more fit and capable as an athlete I've also gotten a greater desire to compete at something, and I think Oly lifting is going to be the avenue to go down.

So what are my goals, exactly? Well, the only set-in-stone goal right now is to train for a local USA Weightlifting meet sometime in June or July (from the info available the meets haven't been finalized) in the 85 Kilo weight class. This forces me to tailor my training to focus on these lifts (snatch and clean & jerk), and their auxiliary lifts (front squat, overhead squat, press, etc.) instead of doing the generalized Crossfit programming. It's also forcing me to monitor and control my diet, because 85 kilos is 187 pounds, which means I've gotta lose about 20 in 6 months.

As far as my training goes, I've implemented a program from Catalyst Athletics that focuses on the Olympic lifts, but also includes Crossfit-style conditioning workouts throughout, so I don't lose my wind and general fitness as I get stronger and more coordinated in these complicated movements. The program is designed to be 16 weeks of 5 sessions per week, but since I can only train 4 days a week I've modified it to 22 weeks, so I should finish right around the time I'm looking to compete. I'm about a week into it, and I'm enjoying it a lot. I also (finally) bought some real weightlifting shoes and a belt, which both make a huge difference in my stability and balance under tension.

You can see my current maxes on these lifts on the right, but I'll record them here for posterity as well:

Snatch: 155# (70.5kg)
Clean & Jerk: 225# (102kg)

Which leaves me with a 172.5kg total (snatch + c&j). Here are my goal lifts to hit or exceed by competition time:

Snatch: 185# (84kg)
Clean & Jerk: 255# (116kg)

Which makes for a precisely 200kg total. The clean and jerk goal is doable, since I can front squat 255 and jerk 250 currently, but the snatch goal is a bit more lofty. I'm hoping the high volume of Oly work will allow me to hit it, though. If I hit any of these goals before the competition I will adjust up as needed to continue to push myself to constantly get better.

Phew, I know that was a long post, and most of you probably don't care too much about this sport, but it's something I'm coming to be passionate about, and I just wanted to share the direction I'm going.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January weight goal, and plan of attack

Today's Weigh-In: 207.2 Average: 205.99

First off, I'd like to say welcome back to a few of the bloggers who've dropped off in recent months/years. Good to have you back, and good luck with reaching your goals in 2011. Remember, it's never too late to turn the ship around, as long as there's breath in your lungs.

I've been thinking about goals lately. I desperately want to set big, sweeping goals that lay out my fitness plan for the next 6 months, with the ultimate result being a strong, fast, chiseled me. But I have to fight that urge, because that kind of stuff doesn't really work for me. I'll be hardcore about something for a few weeks, then little things will come up that will vent the steam from my engines. Family issues, illness, work stress, etc. So I'm going to go back to focusing on smaller, more incremental goals, at least as far as weight loss goes. I figure a month at a time should do the trick, as that's what I did in the beginning and lost over 30 pounds.

Seeing as I have less than 3 weeks left in this month I'm going to have to be a bit conservative, so here it is: Be (consistently) under 203 lbs. by February 1st.

Since I'm averaging 206 right now that's just a pound a week. I think a nice, easy, reachable goal to start out the new year will allow me to regain some of that steam, that momentum, that has driven me to lose weight in the past.

Now, how to do it? Well, it's not going to be through exercise. That's one area where I've been pretty consistent for the past year and a half. Exercise has kept me from regaining weight, no doubt, but for me it's not effective for weight loss, in and of itself. No, it's diet. 100%. And while I eat pretty clean on a regular basis I do tend to eat enough to cover my daily energy needs. Which is the reason I've been stuck between 202 and 208 for the past year. It's not enough (for me) to simply eat high quality, natural foods ad libitum. I have to actively track how much I put in my face, and how often I go off the rails and indulge in a cheat.

Since I'm mostly going to be eating homemade food it's really hard to accurately track calorie intake, so I'm going to try something else. Eating by feeling. Instead of eating to full satiety at every meal, I'm going to try to eat to just about 80%, and then stop. I'm also going to start limiting my nut intake, as it's been pretty high lately, and try to focus my meals around lots of protein.

It's a simple plan, and one that holds some promise. I'll keep you posted on my progress as the weeks go by.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Obligatory New Year post

Today's weigh-in: 205.6

So, new year, new goals, blah blah blah. I'm big on refining my goals incrementally as I see need to, so there won't be any big pronouncement from me right now. I'm eating clean, now that the holidays are done, and I didn't gain any weight. I'm really focused right now as far as my training goes, and this week I've been really consistent in the gym. I'm working on new skills and strengthening weak ones. So altogether doing pretty well. I do want to pick a specific training goal to focus on for the next few months, and possibly to compete in some sort of athletic endeavor, but I still need to spend the time and give some thought as to what I really want to achieve. So that will be forthcoming within the next few weeks.

Still have the goal of getting under 200 again, so for now I'm chasing that with a passion.