Fitness

Belated Health Update!

I haven’t done one of these posts in awhile. I guess I’ve settled into a routine, and with routine comes overlooking things like updating my blog about my routine. But I need to make an effort to update this more often, or at least settle into the habit of writing once a week, because I have some very cool things coming up over the next few months and I’ll want to write about them. More about those when I can lift the veil of secrecy.

So, health. As you might remember, I started this fitness/nutrition odyssey at 216 pounds and 34% bodyfat. Today (I weigh in each and every Sunday, and only on Sundays), I am 178 pounds and 19.7% bodyfat. I used to wear size 38 jeans, and now my 34’s are so loose that I’ll probably need to buy 32’s soon. My bench press has gone from roughly 115 pounds to (an estimated) 190 for one max rep, though I am not entire sure that is accurate since I haven’t maxed out yet. But I did four sets of four reps yesterday with 165 pounds, any my trusty little iPhone app tells me that means I can probably do one rep of 185 without killing myself.

More importantly, I can see drastic changes in my body. Like, huge. My shoulders are developing. My back is gaining a nice v-shape. My pecs are, well, pecs, as opposed to the boobs they used to be. My legs are stronger from front to back and top to bottom.

And I’m not the only one who can see the changes. When people who haven’t seen me in awhile see me now, they usually react. Two days ago, a buddy of mine said “dude, where’s the rest of you?” And on the same day, another said “how much weight have you lost, about 60 pounds?” And while that is flattering, I’ve only actually lost 38 pounds. But I am also aware that 38 pounds is something special.

But my weight is no longer my driving goal. My ultimate goal now? Get my bodyfat under 10%. Once I get there, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep it there. That takes a lot of work. It’ll take a lot of work to get there. But I want to get there at least once, just to be able to say I did it. I started at 34% and as of today I’m at 19.7%. Another 9.8% shouldn’t be too difficult. And my trusty app (BodySpace from Bodybuilding.com, and seriously, it is the best) says I should be able to get there by January at the pace I’m going. It would be nice to be under 10% for the summertime. That won’t happen this year. But I can tell you that, where I’m currently at, I won’t feel stupid taking my shirt off at a pool this summer. Correction: I won’t feel stupid taking my shirt off at a pool, so long as I’ve manicured my chest hair into something tolerable. 

Here’s what I’m currently doing to try and achieve those results.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that I wasn’t recovering from lifting the way I needed to. I was so sore, in fact, that it made me want to not work out. And that was not acceptable, so I started doing some research and talking to smart people, and that research and those smart people told me I probably needed to up my daily intake of carbs and protein. Before, I was really only getting my carbs from veggies, because I avoided grains like a good paleo boy should. But something wasn’t working, and so I took their advice. And my sister was doing the macro thing and experiencing good results, and the people at my old Crossfit gym in Katy are doing the macro thing and experiencing good results. So I figured, yeah, I’ll give this a shot.

So I measured my current bodyfat and weight lean muscle mass using the InBody machine at Lifetime Fitness (an awesome machine if there ever was one). I calculated my macros and figured out my daily targets for carbs, fats and protein. I started eating with the intention of coming as close to those numbers as I could, and I came close. Within two days, I noticed that my post-workout soreness was dramatically reduced. I could tell that I’d worked out, but I wasn’t confined to the couch in agony.

Changing up the diet meant adding grains back into my meal plans, which I did in the form of English muffins as an afternoon snack. Because, let’s face it, English muffins are delicious. I toast them and top them with 1 tbsp of fat free strawberry cream cheese.

I also wanted to start getting a majority of my targeted 2,034 calories in before dinner, to help with recovery and so that I’ve burned most of the carbs by the time I go to bed. For breakfast, I do a bowl of oat bran with 1 tbsp of Justin’s honey peanut butter, a small handful of blueberries and a few drops of liquid Stevia for sweetening. I also do one cup of green tea with no sweetener and 16oz of black coffee.

Lunch is where I get most of my calories, carbs, etc. I work out mid-morning nearly every day, and so I want lots of fuel for my body. I typically make something I’m calling my “power salad,” which consists of: 8oz chicken breast, kale, cucumber, avocado, quinoa and a touch of Trader Joe’s cilantro salad dressing. It has roughly 900 calories, lots of carbs, fat and protein.

For dinner, I go lighter: usually either a chicken breast or thigh and some veggies.

My snacks throughout the day are apples, string cheese, carrots and the aforementioned English muffin.

As far as supplements go, I take 5g of BCAA 45 minutes prior to my workout and then another 5g halfway through my workout. After the workout, I do a protein shake. That’s it. No more supplements.

The workout program I’m doing is Marc Megna’s AMP program, which is both awesome and the devil at the same time. It’s “aesthetics meets performance” and is an 8-week program designed to make you look good while also increasing functional strength. I am starting week 6 tomorrow. I love this program.

That’s about it, I think. That’s a full update on my quest, along with everything I’m doing to get there. I don’t know if it will help anyone else out there, but if it does, I will be glad. Because, look: if I can do this, anybody can. I have spent an entire lifetime not doing anything remotely physical or healthy. Over the course of six months, I have changed that quite drastically, and changed the rest of my life in the process. If you’re out there and thinking about starting something like this, or thinking about getting your health in order, I just have one thing to say: Just. Do. It. Go to the gym and do it. Right now. Don’t put it off. Because if you put it off for a day, you can easily put it off for over 20 years like I did.

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Fitness

HIIT 100’s

So, in an effort to kick things up a notch in terms of my daily training—my ultimate goal now, after all, is to be roughly 170-178 pounds with abs and visible hip flexors (don’t judge me. These are my goals, and I have valid reasons for them. I promise. Stop staring at me like that. You would understand if I told you)—I started Dr. Jim Stoppani’s famous HIIT 100’s program yesterday.

If you aren’t familiar with the program, here it is in a nutshell: Hell.

It’s designed around the concept of high intensity interval training. I already use HIIT in my running sessions; I’ll warm up, then walk for 2-3 minutes. When those 2-3 minutes are up, I sprint as fast as I can for 1 minute or 90 seconds. When those 90 seconds are up, I return to walking for 2-3 minutes. During my sprinting, my heart rate can hit 160, which is right on the edge of being anaerobic for me. But then I return to walking, and it goes back down to 130-135, which is still in the fat burning zone.

I’m not a fitness expert, but they tell me this is the best way to burn fat. And I can tell you that, looking at the “before” picture I took when I started training hard in early September to looking at the picture I took last week…well, the results are noticeable. A very close friend mine, when I sent her the picture, said “Holy jeebus. That’s a helluva difference.” And today, if I took the same picture again, you’d see an even greater difference. So I am a big believer in HIIT.

Which is why I’m shifting from Stronglifts to HIIT interval training in my strength training. I’m going to blast the rest of this fat off. I’ve lost 10% body fat since I began hardcore training. I have another 10% body fat to melt away before I hit my original goal of 15%. I don’t know if that’s still my ultimate goal – being roughly 12% sounds pretty good right now and would help me accomplish my abs and hip flexors goal. But right now, 15% is a good target.

So today is day 2. I’m excited to get to the gym. It’s easily one of the high points of every single day for me, and I find that it sets the tone for my whole day, even if I am sore as hell.

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Fitness, Health

MyHealthScore: September 2014

Lifetime Fitness, the new gym I joined two weeks ago, is the best fitness facility I’ve ever been to. I knew this already, as I was a member back in Katy from 2007-2009. If you’ve never set foot in a Lifetime, I strongly urge you to check it out. Is it pricey? Yes. It’s far more expensive than a regular gym. But given the things you receive as a member—free Crossfit, yoga, and every other class you can think of—it’s well worth the admission. Plus, it’s just nice to go to a place where you can hit free weights, use a squat rack, then hop on one of 14 different kinds of cardio machines before getting in the eucalyptus steam room or the dry sauna or the massive hot tub. And then you can top it off with a swim in one of the massive 10-lane indoor or 12-lane outdoor pools.

This is going to sound like a Lifetime commercial, but I’m a big fan. And one of the other perks is something called MyHealthScore, which is an overall assessment of your health and fitness. With my membership, this costs $20, which is quite cheap when you consider all that the test reveals. I knew I wanted to take the test soon after signing up so I could figure out my baseline score and have something to look back on three months down the road when I take it again.

Here are my results.

Overall score: 76 out of 100. This is not perfect. But it’s much, much higher than I would’ve scored even six weeks ago. I was docked 16 points for high body fat (more on that in a little bit) and 8 points for my glucose being slightly high. The glucose was high because I ate carbs last week (I usually only eat vegetable carbs). That’s easy to manage, and I was barely over the threshold.

Body fat: Currently, my body fat is 28%. When I measured my body fat on August 21, it was 34%. So I’ve made drastic progress, and it is absolutely evident in the way my body looks and in the pants I’m now wearing (size 34, down from 38). My Body Mass Index is 28.5, which is high. I need to get my BMI down under 25 in order to be truly healthy, and my body fat goal is 15%. That’s going to take awhile, and when that day arrives I will have some nice abs. But I am going to get there.

Total Cholesterol: My total cholesterol is 176. Anything below 200mg/dL is desirable. So I’m good here. My drastic change in nutrition has worked wonders here.

TC/HDL Ratio: This measures the relationship between healthy cholesterol levels and your total cholesterol level. Mine is 3.67 to 1. That, again, is in the low side and is desirable. I’m good here.

Blood pressure: My blood pressure is 110/71. These are great numbers for my age.

Triglycerides: Anything lower than 149 is considered low and desirable here. Mine are 88. So again, doing awesome here.

Glucose: My glucose levels are 103. This is slightly high, as desirable is considered to be less than 101. The doc said this is partially due to the processed foods I ate in small quantities last week, and partially due to the fact that I am overtraining. I’m in the gym twice a day, seven days a week, and yeah, that is too much. He has instructed me to rest, and with my regular diet (which includes zero sugars), this will drop down to desirable levels.

Aerobic capacity: My VO2 score is 45.7, which is “in the green” for oxygen intake. I’m very happy about this number.

So, things I am going to work on in the hopes of improving my score on the next text: Not overtraining. Resting more often. Being cognizant of not taking in sugars or processed foods. Flexibility. And finally, mixing in more cardio so I can continue, along with my healthy food lifestyle, to shed that body fat and get it down below 20% and onwards to 15%.

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IMG_4979That’s a pretty good day, I think. And it’s only 7 p.m., too – which means that after I walk the dog one more time, I’ll easily hit 10 miles and over 20,000 steps walked today.

UPDATE: I hit 20,000 steps. I didn’t hit 10 miles, but that’s okay. I’m exhausted. Today was a good day. Time to stretch and hit the hay.

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Fitness, Whole Life Challenge

A Good Fitbit Day

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