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%.

Health, Whole Life Challenge

One Week Back With Fitbit

Yesterday, I posted stats from my Fitbit for my first week back with the device since purchasing it last week. They weren’t complete (as I still had a bit of walking to do last night), so I deleted the post and am doing it over again, right now.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 8.04.46 AM

There you have it. 111,239 steps, which is a new weekly record for me, and by a wide margin. I believe my previous weekly record was somewhere around 89,000 steps. It is an average of 15,891 steps per day; my previous average was just over 11,000.

Needless to say, the concentrated effort I have made to get off my ass and go for regular walks or runs throughout the day and night is paying off. I go for a walk nearly every hour, and sometimes twice an hour if I need to clear my head of destructive thoughts. In the early morning hours, as summer turns to fall here in Vegas, I’ll take Belle for a short walk and then go for a 2 mile run. The wind is slightly chilly, though not nearly as chilly as I would like.

During the daytime, when the sun feels like I’m living in the actual Sahara instead of just on Sahara, I’ll go for a 2-3 mile walk at a fast pace. By the time I get back to the house, I am pouring sweat and in need of a shower. But I also feel good, because I am repeatedly accomplishing something I have never accomplished in my life.

51.23 miles is an average of 7.31 miles per day. My next goal is to get that up to 8 miles per day.

And more importantly than the walking: Today marks one month with no alcohol for me. Not a drop. I’ll be writing a longer blog post on this in the coming days, about alcohol and my relationship with it and what it means to me to have gone a full month without drinking. But I’ve got a busy few days coming up, so that one is going to have to wait. I want to do it right.

I did an “unofficial” weigh-in this morning, just to see what results all the strenuous activity I’ve been undertaking have brought me. I’m 198 pounds. Looking back on my Fitbit log (I also have the Fitbit Aria scale), on August 20th, I weighed in at 216.7 pounds. 18 pounds down. 28 pounds to go to get to my ultimate goal. And the best part? I am doing it eating healthy, clean and natural foods for every single meal.

Health and nutrition have been a welcome distraction for me during this time, but I am going to make sure it’s something that is part of my daily life from here on out. I feel fantastic, better than I ever have. I have energy and I sleep well at night (except for the fact that I wake up at 3:36 every morning; don’t know what that’s about), and I’m working two jobs (about to be three) and still kicking ass every day.

This is life. This is what I missed out on while I was addicted to Bronkaid for over five years. This is what I am rediscovering, and I am loving every moment of it.

Food, Health, Whole Life Challenge

Salt & Vinegar Sweet Potato Chips

Yams or sweet potatoes? I don’t know. I don’t care.

With the Whole Life Challenge officially starting tomorrow, I need snacks. Not right now. Tomorrow. And in the days that follow. Because, as we have already established, I have to be diligent about what I eat, or else I’ll end up at Arby’s with a piping-hot Big Montana.

(Yes, I know it’s no longer called the Big Montana. But that was the best name for a sandwich, ever, and it’s a whole lot cooler than just ordering a “large.” Seriously, Arby’s. That was a dumb thing, changing the Big Montana name.)

The malt vinegar was like $1.49 at Sprouts. And it has a British flag on it so you know it’s probably good.

I love chips. Potato chips, chips and salsa. Fish and chips. I love all kinds of chips, even when they are french fries. I love those weird Canadian flavor chips like All Dressed. I love chips. They were my go-to snack when I was on the road to getting as fat as possible, and I still love them. So I wanted a healthier alternative to potato chips, since I’m not eating potatoes or getting as fat as possible.

I decided to make baked sweet potato chips. And I decided to make them salt and vinegar, because it is a proven fact that salt and vinegar chips are the best kind of chips.

They kinda look like Pringles this way. Right? RIGHT?

So this is the recipe. It’s pretty easy. Get some sweet potatoes, some malt vinegar and some sea salt. Slice the potatoes thinly using a mandolin slicer, but remember not to cut your finger off. I say this because you probably will want that finger for something, eventually, so there is no point in cutting it off.

Throw all the slices in a bowl with some of the malt vinegar and olive oil, then spread them out on a cooking sheet lined with non-stick foil. Spray the foil down with cooking spray of some sort; I used olive oil. You can use whatever you want.

Throw them in the oven at 250 degrees for one hour. After an hour, pull them out and flip them over using a spatula. Put them back in the oven for an hour at 250, again.

And when that’s all done, pull those bad boys out and eat them and revel in the fact that you are eating delicious chips that will not also make you fat.




StrongLifts Update: Week 3

I wanted to post a quick update with my progress after three weeks of steady StrongLift workouts.

If you recall, these were my beginning numbers. Keep in mind that these numbers are for 5 sets of 5 reps in all but deadlift, which is 1 set of 5 reps:

Squat: 135
Bench: 100
Row: 65
Press: 50
Deadlift: 135

Here are my current numbers after 3 weeks:

Squat: 195
Bench: 135
Row: 90
Press: 85
Deadlift: 215

As you can see, I’ve made remarkable strength gains already. I’m packing on muscle, and it is readily apparent when I look in the mirror. My shoulders are getting bigger, and my pecs…well, I have pecs for the first time in my life. My upper back is starting to develop a bit of a V-shape, too.

So far, I’m loving the workout. I’m also eating super clean and doing a post-workout protein and creatine smoothie. I may need to up my caloric intake once I start getting into heavier weights, but for now, I’m managing just fine.


StrongLifts, Day 1

I’ve been back in the gym on a regular basis for a few months now. I’m feeling great, and I’m making decent strength gains. My body already looks quite a bit different than it did in January, but that is also because I am less fat than I used to be.

But I want more. I love lifting weights, and I want to add as much strength as I possibly can. On the advisement of a friend (who has all of the muscles), I am starting the StrongLifts 5×5 program today. You can go read more about the program if you’d like, but essentially, it boils down to this: five exercises, rotated through three workouts per week.

It’s actually quite simple, and I cannot imagine it being anything other than effective. This is for adding brute strength as quickly as possible. After I do this for two months, I’ll work on more traditional things like bicep curls and muscle definition and what have you.

For now, I want pure muscle and functional strength.

The workouts include squats, bench press, overhead press, rows, and deadlifts. They’re structured as such:

Workout A: Squat, Bench, Row
Workout B: Squat, Press, Deadlift

You take one day of rest between each. The idea is that you’re doing 5 sets of 5 reps at a weight you can handle. Then, the next time you do the movement, you add 5 pounds and repeat. Oh, and deadlifts are just one set of five reps.

Here are my beginning numbers:

Squat: 135
Bench: 100
Row: 65
Press: 50
Deadlift: 135

And here are my projected numbers for the final workout week in late June. Remember that these are still 5 sets of 5 reps each, except for deadlifts. Those are 1 set of 5 reps, because deadlifts suck a butt:

Squat: 310
Bench: 185
Press: 130
Row: 150
Deadlift: 305

So, yeah. This looks good. And starting today, we’ll see what all the ranting and raving is about.

Update: I started with workout B today, since I did bench presses yesterday. So today was squat, overhead press and deadlifts. And hoo boy, let me tell you…that was exhausting. It’s been seven hours now since I finished the workout, and I am absolutely wiped. My glutes and shoulders hurt the most, but I feel it all over.

I am optimistic about this plan, and I’m excited to see if I’m anywhere near those projected weights come the middle of June.