Day 84 – The Old Me I No Longer Wish To Be

Today is an off day from the weight room.  I have a Tabata-style cardio session planned for later this afternoon along with some yoga.

My weekly weigh-in was this morning.  I was down about a pound on the scale.  The vast majority of that was fat loss based on my skin-fold/body-fat % measurement.  One more week of attempting to get as lean as possible for my “After” photos.

Once this body transformation contest wraps up I plan to put my best effort forward with the Main phase of the Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0 program.  For the last few weeks, I have been following the Beginner phase of the program.  It has been a good introduction to the heavier, compound exercises that make up the bulk of the main program.

Besides putting forth an honest effort in the weight room, I also intend to be better about my food choices.  While I have been much better about food choices I still have room for improvement.  Specifically, my weekend eating plans need some refinement.  I tend to slide an extra cheat meal or snack/two in on the weekends.  That is coming to an end.

I’ve set a new fitness goal & to accomplish it will require a better effort in the weight room & the kitchen.  My new goal?  To be one of the finest looking 40 year olds you will ever see.  I have 364 days to make this happen.

As I take daily steps towards achieving this “new” goal, I am also taking major steps towards achieving my #1 fitness goal.  I haven’t shared my #1 fitness goal with many people.  Maybe 2 or 3 tops.  This is a rather ambitious goal & will probably take at least another year or more to see come to fruition.  I’m ok with that.

After reviewing my journal, I now realize that in the last year I’ve gotten much closer to achieving this goal than I thought possible.  I remember how much doubt and fear I felt last year when I committed to achieving this goal.  So much so that I nearly erased the goal from my journal right after I wrote it down.  My head was full of negative thoughts & my self-talk reflected this:

  • “You’ll never be able to do it.”
  • “You’ve failed every program you’ve tried.”
  • “You don’t have the necessary genetics for the body you dream of so why bother?”
  • “Who are you kidding, you won’t stick with a program long enough to see results.”
  • “Even if you do stick with it, this will take a long time.  Why bother?”

These were just a few of the fears/doubts that I experienced when I first crafted my #1 fitness goal. But I decided not to entertain those thoughts for very long.  Instead, something inside of me experienced a major shift.

The old me I no longer wished to be.

Instead, something inside of me greatly desired to become the person I would become if only I had the courage to follow my dreams.  The desire to become this new me was very powerful.  I became excited about the possibilities.  My vision was clear.  I actually allowed myself to believe I could do this.

It was right then that I found the champion inside of me.  The champion that we all have within us.  The champion that gets imprisoned in the mental jail cell we refer to as our comfort zone.

My inner champion was released from prison that day.  Consequently, the “little me” that shirked the hard work & discipline necessary to achieve my goals was locked up that day.

It has been a year since I committed to my #1 fitness goal.  I’ve come a long towards accomplishing this goal.  In one year, I have gained about 20 pounds of muscle & shed nearly 10 pounds of fat.  This may not mean much to some people but for me this is a HUGE accomplishment.

But, there is still much work that must be done.  Gaining the next 10-20 pounds of muscle is going to require an even more focused effort than the first 10-20 pounds did.  It will definitely be a challenge.  But I am eager to face this challenge head on.  I no longer fear the unknown.  I embrace it.

You see, this body transformation quest I am on isn’t just about looking good (although that is a GREAT benefit).  Nope.  It is about becoming more disciplined, leading by example, being more accountable to myself/others & many other positive outcomes.

I firmly believe that how we view ourselves inside is reflected on the outside.  I know that when I was in my worst physical shape, I was also in my worst mental shape.  It is no coincidence that as my body started to look better, I started to feel better about myself.  As my confidence rose, so did my belief in myself.  This has propelled me to this point & will continue to push me onward & upward.

My challenge to you is to set a fitness goal that makes you a little uncomfortable at first.  Something that is going to challenge you to blow through every excuse that will hinder your progress.  Something that requires you to step out of your comfort zone & to free the champion within.  Something that will transform not only your body but your mind & your spirit as well.  You won’t regret it.

Speaking of regret, here’s something from Jim Rohn that is worth pondering:

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Day 82 – Thank You Mr. Rohn

Today is an off day from the weight room.  I have a yoga session planned for this evening but that’s about as far as it goes for fitness related activities.

My intention is to start off Saturday morning with Session C of the Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0″ program.  After that, I’m not sure what will be going on.  I do know one thing about Saturday (assuming I am blessed with another day on Earth):

I will turn 39 years of age!  Where does the time go??  More importantly, where am I headed??

One thing I used to do regularly on my birthday was to take a look at what had transpired in my life since my last birthday.  That’s where keeping a journal came in handy.

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Here’s my current journal.  It may look plain & unassuming but I know better.  If you ever wanted to get a good idea of what makes me tick, looking inside of here would do it.  This book is full of my inner-most thoughts & is rife with raw emotion.  I hold nothing back when making a new entry.  Whoever gets their hands on my journals when I die is in for a treat.

In my late 20’s, I was introduced to the importance of having a journal by a well-known success author named Jim Rohn:

Jim Rohn

His audio program, “The Art of Exceptional Living” is where I first learned of the importance of not only keeping a journal but reviewing it each year.  The audio cassette has long since worn out & I have yet to replace it.  But there are certain portions of that program that have stuck with me for the last decade.

Unfortunately, the portion about regularly keeping a journal is something I haven’t been the best about.  I will admit that up until last year it had been many years since I had kept a regular journal.  Having seen the folly in my ways, my intention is to maintain my journals on regular basis from here on out.

Why is keeping a journal so important?  How else can you really measure your growth if you have no measuring stick?  A journal is a perfect measuring stick when looking at one’s life.  What a great way to track your victories/defeats, gains/losses & anything else relevant to your growth!

Memories fade over time & sometimes deceive us.  But a record of the situation, written in the current moment, will endure.  It won’t change or become fuzzy.  Forever frozen in time, each journal entry is real-time window allowing one to peer into the mind of the author.

Some of the most empowering moments I have ever experienced were directly related to my annual journal review.  I am so thankful that I will be able to review my journal sometime on Saturday.  I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

How much have I grown in the past year?  What obstacles have I overcome? What fears have I extinguished forever?  What areas still require my attention?  Where am I lagging in my growth?  What lessons have I learned?  Who has entered my life & who has exited it & why? Where have my thoughts lead me & where are they taking me?

These are just a few of the many questions that will be answered during my review session.  More importantly, my review session will allow me to begin charting my course for the next year.  There’s another concept I learned from Mr. Rohn.  Below is a quote that I believe sums this up perfectly:

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In my opinion, the 3 most important “things” we leave behind when we die are these:

  • Your music/audio programs – Music is so important to me for so many reasons.  It is restorative, therapeutic & motivational among other things.  Music speaks to the heart & soul.  My audio programs have brought me many great ideas & concepts.  They have truly enriched my life.
  • Your pictures – If a picture is worth a 1000 words, what is a lifetime of photos worth?  Your life story, captured on film, is priceless.  Where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, who was important, etc.  When your memories fade, a picture can help take you back to a time & place you had long ago forgotten about.  Time travel is possible.
  • Your books/journals – While your music & your pictures are valuable, your journal is probably one of the most valuable things you will ever leave behind.  Your thoughts are laid bare for all to read.  The real you is one display.

If you aren’t keeping a regular journal, why not start today?  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  The most important thing is that you get started now!

Day 81 – Old Time Muscle

Today, I completed Session B of the Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0″ program.  This session was a Lower Body dominant routine.

Squats, Deadlifts & Barbell Rows.  The barbell rows were in place of Dumbbell Hammer Curls.  I just felt like changing up things a bit today so I did.

This post is going to be a bit short but I would like to share a few photos of some people you may or may not aware of:

First up is George Hackenschmidt aka The “Russian Lion”

George Hackenschmidt Circa 1900

The “Russian Lion” Circa 1900. Age 22.

This old-time “strongman” was just that, a very strong man!  You can read more about him here.

Next is Eugen Sandow

Sometimes referred to as The Father of Modern Bodybuilding

Sometimes referred to as The Father of Modern Bodybuilding

 

Another old-time “strongman” who I find fascinating.  Read more about him here.

What fascinates me so much about these men (and many others from this era) is that they were this muscular in the late 1890’s/early 1900’s!

Their recipe for success?  Lifting heavy weights, eating whole foods, getting in plenty of rest & participating in physical fitness activities on non-weight lifting days.  No supplements, no steroids or HGH, no fancy machines.

And ladies, I didn’t forget about you.  This is Abbye Stockton:

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This picture is from the mid 1940’s. In this picture she’s in her mid 20’s, stands 5’2″ & weighs about 115 pounds.  She’s pressing 135 pounds overhead in this picture.

Wow!

Ladies, DO NOT be afraid to lift heavy weights!!! You won’t get big & bulky. You’ll get shapely & strong.

Abbye is considered by many to be the first “real” female bodybuilder.  Her recipe for success?  Same as the guys above.

I’ve noticed a common theme here.  Lifting progressively heavy weights, being physically active on “off” days, eating whole foods & getting ample rest seems to have the strangest effect on the body.  Turns out these things help build muscle & burn fat.  Who would’ve guessed?

If this worked for them, why not for me or you?  It’s a pretty simple formula.

Day 80 – That’s More Like It!

Today, I completed Session A of the Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0″ program.  Instead of shoveling snow I actually got to devote some time to the weight room this afternoon!  It felt great!!!!

I can honestly say that today’s session was one of the best lifting sessions I’ve had in a few weeks.  Part of it was due to having been away from the weight room for 3 days.  I miss my lifting sessions; they are therapeutic & invigorating.  One day off is difficult enough. 3 days off was sheer torture!  I have a much better appreciation for my lifting sessions as a result.

The other reason that today’s session was so good is because I entered the weight room with a new attitude.  A positive attitude.  An empowered attitude.  A winning mentality.  A certainty that I AM on the way to reaching my fitness goals

If you read yesterday’s blog post, you might be a bit puzzled by all of this.

When I last sounded off, I was a bit disappointed in not being selected as a finalist for the 6-week “mini-transformation” contest.  Actually, a bit disappointed is an understatement.  I was rather upset by the news.  I did my best to handle the situation with some dignity & grace but it was difficult to hide the disappointment.

Not long after updating my blog last evening, something amazing began happening.  A number of fellow body transformation contestants started reaching out to me & offering words of encouragement. I was humbled by the outpouring of support.

They offered up things like: “You should have been a finalist.”, “Glad to know I’m not the only one who is feeling the sting…”, “How were you NOT picked?” & many other similar comments.

Many of these folks are complete strangers.  Yet they took a moment to pat me on the back & lift my spirits.  Wow!

A few of the contestants that reached out to me were not complete strangers.  Although I have not meet these people in person, I have communicated with them in various ways online.  Here’s how:

A component of this transformation contest is the Daily Progress Journal updates at the Early to Rise Transformation Contest site.

(Partial screenshot from the Progress Journal)

(Partial screenshot from the Progress Journal)

Each day I update my progress at this site.  Here’s my 3/26 update:

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As you can see above, other contestants have the ability to Like a post as well as Comment on a post.  There is also a feature whereby contestants can mark fellow contestants as “Favorites” & track their progress. (The white star next to my name would be Yellow if I were able to add myself as a Favorite)

It is through liking, commenting & adding favorites that I have been able to communicate with other contestants.

When my “Favorites” began reaching out to me & offering support/encouragement, I really began to feel the love.

It was too long before the following comment showed up in my email:

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When I saw this comment was from a “Favorite”, my eyes lit up & I cracked a big smile.  So, I decided to track back & see who left me the comment.  I wished to thank them personally for the kind words.

When I landed on her profile, that’s when it hit me – She’s a 6 week, mini-contest finalist!  How cool is this!?!?!  You better believe she got my vote!

There I was, moping about not being selected when someone I’ve interacted with over the last few weeks was being honored.  That totally turned things around for me.  Instead of feeling down, I felt great joy.

I went to bed last night feeling a million times better after receiving so much positive feedback from so many people.

Then this morning I had the following message from the “finalist” waiting for me:

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It took all I had not to tear up when I read this comment but I definitely felt the lump in my throat.  Those words gave me a jolt of positive energy.  They put a smile on my face.  They put a spring in my step.  They validated that the hard work over the last few months has been worth it.

I walked out of the house today with a completely new attitude, thanks in large part to comments like the one above.  Everyone who commented had a part in this new attitude.

I carried that attitude with me into the weight room today.

I also realized that I’m not just doing this for me.  I’m doing this so that those who are following my progress will be better off for having done so.

Maybe it is a blog post that gives them a spark?  Maybe it is a new lift that helps them bust through a plateau?  Maybe it is a dietary tip that helps them lose some fat?  Or maybe it is just a kind word that keeps them from quitting?

I honestly don’t what it will be that helps someone else achieve their goals.

What I do know is that I am making a positive impact on those who I interact with.  That’s an awesome feeling!

Day 79 – Round 3

Today was a scheduled lifting day.  I was supposed to complete Session A, Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0”.    

However, when I arrived home, I remembered that the sidewalks around my house needed shoveled.  Why not make it 3 days in a row?

So, I grabbed the shovel & spent the next 1/2 hour moving a pretty good amount of snow.  By the time I was done, I was sweating something fierce!

I was also feeling rather fatigued.  Just as fatigued as if I had been working in the weight room, if not more.  I really didn’t want to scrap tonight’s lifting session but I didn’t see much of a point in even attempting it.  Here’s why:

  • My legs are more worn out than normal.
  • My back is a bit tender.
  • My arms & shoulders have a little more ache to them than normal.

I figure I can avoid injury if I give myself a little extra recovery time.  At any rate, I’ve logged in about 5-6 hours worth of shoveling over the last 48 hours so I think I’ve done plenty in terms of physical activity!

However, I’m less than 2 weeks away from taking my final pictures for this contest so I would rather have been in the weight room the last few days.  The last few days of my contest period are already goofed up due to a prior commitment so I really only have 9 “quality” days left to get in the best shape possible.

I’m beginning to think that the light at the end of the tunnel is a freight train heading my way.

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I’m starting to wonder about my chances of winning the 90 Day Early to Rise Transformation contest.  My mindset for the last 79 days has been Winner, Winner, Winner.

However, the 6-week mini-contest finalists were announced today & I didn’t make the cut in the Health category.  After reading the essays selected for the contest, I’m not sure where I went wrong with my submission.

I’m not taking anything away from the finalists; they are to be commended for their efforts & results.  However, I thought I did a very good job of presenting my 6 week progress.  If losing a few pounds of fat, gaining 6 pounds of muscle, starting a blog & helping others begin their fitness journey in the first 6 weeks wasn’t good enough then I guess it wasn’t good enough.

I hope I am not coming off like a whiner but I’m puzzled by the fact that I wasn’t selected as a finalist for the 6 week mini-contest.

Now I wonder if I even have a shot at the finals?

My fear is that the winners of the health category are going to be like the contestants from NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”.  I don’t watch the show but I’ve noticed a common theme: The winners start off as obese individuals that experience a significant weight loss.

However, I don’t fall into that category.  The “heaviest” I have even been is around 170 pounds at 20% body fat.  Right now I tend to weigh in the mid/upper 150’s at 7-8% body fat.

While most people are attempting to “lose weight”, I am attempting to gain muscle mass.  This is a very difficult task for me for a number of reasons:

  • I’m not a big eater.  Getting down close to 3,000 clean calories on lifting days is a chore.  Sure, I could get 3000 calories in by eating fast food but why would I do that?
  • I’ve never really been a big guy – blame it on genetics.
  • My age (39 on Saturday-where has the time gone??) isn’t helping things either.

But you know what, I won’t let these things stop me from pushing on.  Nope.  I will keep plugging away.  I’m a winner & winners don’t quit.  Ever.

You know what else?  No one can ever take this away from me:

Front View April 2012-Nov2012

 

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I busted my ass in the weight room, ate well & transformed myself inside & out in 6 months. I earned that body & did things I never thought possible.  Unfortunately, my transformation wasn’t good enough for inclusion in my personal trainer’s soon to be released book. Although I wasn’t a “winner” I still came away from the experience a better person.

It is beginning to feel like this contest is going to end up the same way.  If it does, it does.  I’m still going to walk away from the contest a better person than when I started.

Anyway, I’m going to step away from the keyboard & take some time to process the fact that my best efforts have fallen short for the time being.  I will admit to be a bit disappointed when I first realized I wasn’t a 6-week contest finalist.

But, it isn’t what happens to us in life that defines us, it is what we do in response to what happens that does.

So, I congratulate the 6 week contest finalists.  It takes guts to step outside your comfort zone & go after a goal.  It takes even more guts to put it out there for strangers.  I really do commend them for their efforts & results.

With that being said, they need to keep it up & had better not slack.  I intend to put forth the best effort I can muster for the remainder of my contest period.  I am locked in.

Maybe I won’t win the contest.  The light at the end of the tunnel may be a freight train heading my way.  But that train won’t run me over.  I’m too strong for that.  Knock me down, I’ll just get back up again.  I’ll wipe away the dust & tears & will be right back after it again in no time.  Because you see, it isn’t what happens to me that defines who I am, it is how I respond to it that defines me.  My response reveals my true character.  I feel pretty good about that.

 

Day 78 – Snow Day!

Today was supposed to be a lifting day.  Things did not go as planned though.  Last evening, I spent over 2 hours shoveling snow from our driveway.  I put in another couple of hours this morning clearing the driveway & back deck.  In all, we got about 18 inches of snow.

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I got in a decent amount of weight lifting in the last 24 hours so I didn’t feel guilty taking the day “off”.  I did hundreds of squats & deadlifts when you consider how much snow I moved!

Besides, my lifting schedule can be modified to allow for 4 weight lifting sessions over the next 6 days so I’m not worried about “missing” as lifting session today.

Yes, I could have completed my scheduled lifting session today but at what cost?

I was already a little sore when I woke up this morning.  I was also fatigued after the shoveling session from this morning.  Had I attempted to get in a 45 minute lifting session, the results most likely would have been less than stellar.  I figured I would be doing myself more harm than good if I lifted weights so I followed my own advice & left the weights alone.

One thing I am thankful for is having the strength & stamina to be able to perform snow removal.  At one time I would have had trouble getting the job done.  Not any longer.

Day 77 – That’s Real Funny…

Today is an off day from the weight room.

2 weeks to go before my “After” pictures need to be taken; this will probably be the last “off” day for the next few weeks.

2 more weeks

Today’s weigh-in was interesting.  I was up 2.4 pounds from last week.  The majority was muscle gain but a little bit was fat.  I found this funny considering I shifted to more a fat burning mode this week.  My scale is a real comedian!!

Here are a few of the changes I have incorporated:

  • I ate less food this week when compared to previous weeks.  I kept my caloric intake fairly steady on weight-lifting days.  On non-lifting days, I reduced my caloric intake by around 500+ calories.  I also limited my carbs to green veggies only on these days.
  • I added in Tabata-style cardio sessions this week.  Short sessions post weight-lifting, longer sessions on non-lifting days.
  • I even added in a fat-burning supplement that I used in the past to get “photo-ready”.

Despite my best efforts, I somehow managed to add a decent amount of weight this week. I’m not complaining about the muscle gain.  The little bit of fat gain is a bit problematic.  I am attempting to get shredded for my final pictures.  Now is not the time to be adding ANY additional fat!

So now I’m left scratching my head wondering what exactly happened this week.  How did I gain weight when I was attempting to do the opposite?

No need to worry about it.  I know I’m on the right path.  This is just a slight bump in the road.

The plan is to give the next 2 weeks the best effort I can possibly muster.  Will it be enough to put me over the top & into contention for the top prize?  I’d like to think so but I really don’t know.  If my transformation is deemed worthy of winning a prize, so be it.  If it isn’t, it isn’t.

My guess is that there are a number of contestants who will have similar, if not better, body transformations.  That’s the reality of the situation.  I’ve participated in these types of endeavors in the past & came up short each time.  But that didn’t deter me from getting involved in this contest.  If anything, it inspired me to get involved in this contest.

Should I not be deemed a “contest winner”, so what?  In the last 11 weeks, I have done the following:

  • Gained muscle & burned fat – Hello??  That’s progress baby!
  • Created over 80 blog posts (with plenty more to come) – I’d like to be an author someday.  Blogging has helped me begin to find my writing “voice” & hone my writing skills.
  • Helped friends & family get on track with their fitness – Talk about rewarding!
  • Inspired others to take their fitness goals seriously – Once again, very rewarding!
  • Regained my self-confidence – This has bled over from the weight room & into nearly every other area of my life.  I have experienced some very big victories on a personal & professional level recently.  I attribute those victories to the self-confidence I now possess.
  • Rediscovered the joys of discipline – Ok, this one sounds weird at first.  Discipline being joyful?  Yep.  Here’s an example:  Each time I have the discipline to pass up a donut at work gives me the immediate gratification of knowing I did the right thing.  That, in turn, makes is easier to turn the donut down again later in the day.  When I get into the weight room, I don’t have to work an extra 5-10 minutes to burn off the donut that I could’ve eaten.  More importantly, I don’t have the guilt associated with eating something that won’t help me achieve my goal.  Sure, I goof up every now & then but for the most part I am able to maintain my discipline when it comes to situations like this.
  • Look better & feel better – Gotta love that!
  • Many other benefits I haven’t even realized yet

So you see, even if I am not deemed a “contest winner”, it doesn’t mean that my efforts have been in vain.  Not by a long shot.

In the last 11 weeks, I have formed the habits necessary to sustain a healthy, happy life.  Even better is having been able to help others do the same.  What prize could be better than that??

2 weeks from today I will be posting my last transformation contest update……  The countdown has begun…..

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Day 76 – Another Super Short Post??

This morning I got in a great lifting session.  My legs were feeling a bit more fatigued than normal so I did an Upper Body session that was very similar to Monday’s.

Ok, this is a really short post but I have some things to do this evening. I’ll be back in the morning with a weigh-in update.  And hopefully we won’t have the 6+ inches of snow in the weather forecast when I wake up!!

Day 75 – Something Doesn’t Look Right

Today is an off day from weight lifting.  I do have a Tabata session & some ab/core work to get in after this post.

Speaking of this post, it is going to be another short one.  I have a busy evening planned so I am going to keep this one short & sweet.

In the meantime, here’s a picture that gave me a good laugh:

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Couple of observations here:

  • I’m not a big fan of bench dips; I’ve hurt my shoulder doing them in the past.  The last time I did bench dips was a few years ago during a P90X session.  I hurt my right shoulder at that time.  I haven’t done them since & I’ve managed to keep my right shoulder relatively pain-free.
  • I’m also not the biggest fan of having another dude in my lap.  It’s ok if that’s your thing, I’m not here to judge anyone.  But why not get a weighted vest &/or have someone place a 45 pound plate on your thighs?
  • I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying: “Dude, would you sit on my lap while I do some bench dips?”.  Talk about putting your spotter in an awkward position.  In more than one way, too!

Anyway, I thought you might get a laugh out of the picture.  I know I did!