Day 86 – It’s The Journey….

Today is an off day from the weight room.  I did get in a nice 20 minute walk/jog with my dog after work.

My plan for the rest of the week is to lift weights on Wednesday & Friday.  I must take my “After” pictures no later than Sunday morning so this schedule will allow me to get in a few more lifting sessions prior to the photo session.  After 12 weeks of hard lifting, I’m using this 13th week as more of a working recovery week.  No need to push too hard before tackling another 12 week training block.

My hope is that my “After” pictures are much better than my “Before” pictures.  They will be better but by how much?  Will it be enough to earn me a spot as a finalist?  I would like to believe so but I honestly do not know.

In the last week or so, I’ve come to realize that my foray into this contest was never about the prizes or the recognition.  My focus shifted towards those things for a bit & I lost sight of the real reason(s) I entered this contest:

  • Establish a healthier lifestyle, both in & out of the weight room.
  • Inspire others to begin their own journey fitness journey.
  • To set a goal, achieve the goal & become more disciplined as a result.

There are a few more reasons that I haven’t included because, well, they are private.  Rest assured, these reasons are pure in nature & are in harmony with the reasons listed above.

When my focus shifted to “winning the money”, my participation in this contest was no longer fun.  It became laborious.  I had put an insane amount of pressure on myself & everything had to be perfect.  I became overly critical of my efforts on a number of instances.

In short, I forgot that it’s the journey that makes the ride to the destination worth the effort.

Now that I have firmly set my focus on the real reasons I entered this contest, I better understand this concept.  I am also able to see that I have, in fact, nailed my goals:

  • I have established much better eating, exercise & rest habits.  I’m not all the way there yet but I am really close to having those 3 things dialed in tight.  When I begin the main portion of Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0” on Monday, I will be primed & ready to go.  The habits I have developed over the last 86 days will go far in helping me achieve my #1 fitness goal.
  • I have inspired others to begin their own fitness journey.  Through this blog, my Facebook page & the ETR Progress Journal, I have been able to reach out to a number of people looking for fitness information & motivation.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have been an inspiration to a number of family, friends & even a few folks I’ve never met face to face.  I can honestly say that reaching out to others & knowing I’ve had a positive impact on them has been more rewarding than anything else related to this contest.  Talk about warming the heart/soul!
  • I’m really close to having achieved the goal I set when I started this 90 day transformation period.  The reality of the situation is that I am probably going to come up just a bit short of the weight/body fat % I set out to achieve.  I’m cool with that.  I have the rest of my life to work towards my fitness goals.  The main thing is to just keep working at my goals.

I’ve also achieved one of those “private” goals that is the least pure of them all.  It’s kind of egocentric but it was/is a good motivator.  I will share this “private” goal with everyone:

When people see my “After” photos, I would like for them to think that I don’t look like the stereotypical 39-year-old accountant!  The image that many people have of an accountant is this:

Unknown-5

 

Not this:

11:1:12 Front

 

Although this picture is from last fall, I’m looking about the same, if not a little better right now so I can honestly say I’ve nailed this particular goal.

So, the contest period is almost over & I’m feeling good about the accomplishments of the last few months.  Maybe I win, maybe I don’t.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is the journey.  The destination is really just a stopping point for the next journey.  I’ve already begun mapping my next fitness journey.  I’m looking forward to the ride!

Day 85 – Are You Experienced?

Today, I completed Session A of the Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0″ program.  I was very thankful to be in the weight room this afternoon instead of outside shoveling snow like I was last Monday!

Getting into the weight room 4 days a week is something I really enjoy.  I’m so thankful that I decided to enter this body transformation contest.  Had it not been for the contest, I doubt I would have gotten serious about my fitness.

Sure, I had been serious about my fitness in the past.  But I was working with a personal trainer & paying a pretty penny for it.  Once the training relationship ended & I had no financial skin in the game, my motivation went into the toilet.  I stopped doing the things that I had done to get into good shape.

Once this contest was announced, I knew it would be a chance for me to get serious about fitness again.  Getting serious about things is exactly what I’ve done!

But, this 90 day contest is rapidly coming to an end.  What is stopping me from backsliding again?  How will I avoid the same pitfalls that tripped me up in the past?  What is different about me now?

The answer to those questions can be summed up in one word: Experience.

Last spring/summer/early fall I experienced a dramatic body transformation:

Front View April 2012-Nov2012

 

I had never experienced anything like this in the past.  I was on top of the world.  Then I stopped doing the things I had done to achieve my transformation.

experienced a new feeling a few months later when I found myself looking more like my “before” picture than my “after” picture.  That sucked.  Big time.  But it turned out to be a positive experience.

The pain that I experienced served as a great lesson & showed me the error of my ways. It also re-ignited a fire in me that had been extinguished for a bit.

Now that I am nearly done with this 90 day contest, I am experiencing the same positive feelings that I did when I completed my first body transformation.  It feels wonderful!

My intention is to avoid repeating the same mistakes I made last fall.  I do not wish to repeat the experience of watching all my hard work turn to mush right before my eyes.

Plus, I have a goal that I would like to achieve & it won’t happen if I don’t stay on track.  This particular goal is more a “fun” goal but it is worth pursuing.

My goal?  To look at least this good or even better when I get old:

old-290x400

 

I can do it but only if I stay on the path that I am currently following.

When I think about getting older & see the picture above, it reminds me of one of my favorite Jim Rohn quotes:

“Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.”

That’s sound advice I intend to follow from here on out.  Why not do the same?

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:

Jim-Rohn-Quotes-The-Pain-of-Discipline-Weighs-

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.

IMG_20130329_163725

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:

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 5.30.28 PM

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:

stockton-barbell-pose

 

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:

Screen shot 2013-03-27 at 4.38.13 PM

 

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:

Screen shot 2013-03-27 at 5.02.17 PM

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:

Screen shot 2013-03-27 at 5.03.57 PM

 

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.

Unknown-4

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

 

cropped-rear-flex-may-nov-with-date.png

 

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 74 – A Quick Update

Today, I completed Session C of the Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0″ program.  This is an Upper Body Dominant weight training session.

Switched out a couple of exercises (from last session) this session just for a change:

  • Flat Barbell Bench Presses instead of Incline Barbell Bench Press
  • Lumberjack Presses instead of Military Presses
  • Barbell Curls instead of Dumbbell Hammer Curls
  • Inverted Bodyweight Rows (went with an Overhand Grip instead of an Underhand Grip)

I have some things to take care of so I am going to cut this post a little bit short.  In the meantime, enjoy the following picture:

excercise-more

 

I’m sure there is a perfectly good explanation for this but it made me laugh.  I mean, the baby can’t walk so the stroller makes sense.  But pushing it with a Segway?  I just don’t get it.  I’m not being judgmental here.  I’m just a bit dumbfounded, that’s all.

Walking & pushing the stroller just seems easier, safer & more natural than the alternative presented above.

Wow!

Day 72 – Knowing When To Back Off

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.

For some reason, I just didn’t have it today in the weight room.  Not much after I completed my general warm-up, I could tell that something was off.  After my first warm-up set of Barbell Back Squats, I definitely knew something wasn’t quite right.

My inner thighs/groin area felt really, really tight.  I did some stretching which seemed to help.  Until I did my second warm-up set.  Tight, tight, tight!!  A little more stretching should do the trick.

After a few minutes worth of stretching, I moved on to the first working set of squats.  They were better than the warm up sets.  Maybe I’ll be ok?

After a little more stretching & another working set of squats, it was apparent that my legs were going to be stubborn today.  My inner thigh was starting to get tight again.

I decided at that point to forgo the remaining 3 sets of squats.  At one point in time, I would have continued on with squats.  But not today.  I learned a valuable lesson last fall when it comes to “toughing it out”.

It was the last Saturday of September 2012 when I learned my lesson.  I was completing the last few sets of Dumbbell Shoulder Presses when I felt a little pinch on the left side of my mid/lower back.

It hurt but not enough that I felt the need to stop lifting.  I finished up the set & racked the dumbbells.  After my rest period, I picked the dumbbells up & got into starting position.

Uh-oh, something’s not right.  I feel a tightness in the left lat area that wasn’t there before.  But I complete the set anyway.  I racked the weights, rested & then got into position for my last set of presses for the day.

Now my left lat was REALLY barking.  It was as if someone was jamming something between my ribs.  Did I stop?  Of course not!  I pushed through the pain & completed the session.

I did my post exercise stretching, showered & everything felt fine.  Until the next day.  That’s when I discovered I had torn a bit of cartilage between my ribs.  It’s what happens when you lift a little heavier than you should & you use bad form as a result.  The problem was made worse when I didn’t stop after the first sign of real trouble.

It cost me the first full 2 weeks of October in the weight room.  Actually closer to 4 weeks when you consider that the last 2 weeks of October I was still nursing the injury.  My lifting sessions over that 2 week span were noting short of blah.

The timing couldn’t have been worse.  October was the last month I spent with my former trainer.  I basically cost myself that last month because I was too stubborn to have backed off when I knew I should have.

There’s a difference between pain & injury.  The pain I experienced today was quickly moving into the injury department if I wasn’t careful.  So today when things didn’t feel right, I moved on to the Deadlift portion of the session.

Deadlifts went better than squats.  Thankfully I was able to complete all 4 sets with no leg issues.

I wrapped up the lifting portion of the session with Barbell Curls:

After the last set of curls, I completed two, four-minute “Tabata” style jump rope segments.  20 seconds of fast-paced jumping followed by 10 seconds of rest.  By fast-paced, I mean I was jumping as fast as I possibly could.

In 4 minutes, I was able to complete 8 of these 20 second work/10 second rest cycles.  I rested for minute & then did another 4 minute circuit.  Over the coming weeks, I will most likely stack another 2 or 3 cycles in during each Tabata session.

Even though the beginning of the session started off poorly, I was able to finish up strong.  By listening to my body, I was able to avoid injury.  Sure, I left a little bit on the table but I was able to walk away from the session in tact.  More importantly, I will be able to complete my next scheduled lifting session as a result.

Day 71 – The Treasure Map For Your Mind

Today, I completed Session A of the Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0″ program.

This was my second time performing this particular lifting session.  As with last week, I found this session to be a challenge!

When compared to last week, I was able to increase my rep count for each exercise, each set.  Progress baby, progress!

Say what you will about bodyweight exercises but I find them to be an excellent addition to Session A of the Beginner Program.  Inverted Bodyweight Rows & Pull Ups absolutely kicked the crap out of me today!

Thankfully the body weight exercises were at the tail end of the lifting session.  Had they been at the beginning of the session I doubt I would have had much left in the tank by the time they were done.

I don’t have much more to add for today.  Except for this:

399082_3639203693161_1079050810_n-1

 

Someday soon, I will be driving a Camaro that looks like this.  Not sure how it will come to pass but I have faith that it will.  This is one of the things I have on my dream board.

Don’t have a dream board?  Not sure what one is?

A dream board is simply a collage of images of the things you desire, the places you wish to visit, words that empower you, etc.  In essence, your dream board is a collection of all the things that drive you.  It should be somewhere that is visible & should be looked at multiple times per day.

My dream board has a lot of different things on it:

  • The Camaro pictured above
  • Tropical & mountainous settings
  • Golf courses
  • Guitars & amps
  • Money!
  • Plenty of other good stuff

In terms of fitness, I have a picture of the body I would be most happy residing within.  Will I end up looking exactly like the guy in the picture?  Probably not.  We are different individuals.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t get as close to that body as possible.  His body was good enough to land him the cover of a Men’s Health magazine so why not aim high?  Who knows, maybe I will look even better once all is said & done?  How high will that take me?

What’s on your dream board?  What kind of dream body is out there for you to strive to look like??  Find it, put it on your board & go about making your reality!!

Today’s Lifting Session Track Listing:

  • The Wanton Song – Led Zeppelin
  • Mr. Tinkertrain – Ozzy Osbourne
  • The Distance – Cake
  • Where Eagles Dare – Iron Maiden
  • One – Metallica
  • The Outsider – A Perfect Circle
  • Find that Soul – Volbeat
  • Blue Blood Blues – The Dead Weather
  • Gratitude – The Beastie Boys
  • Freewill – Rush