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 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 70 – Mirror Mirror On The Wall

Today is an off day from the weight room.

Although I will not be lifting weights today, I plan on getting in a Tabata session a bit later this afternoon.  Tabata training was recently introduced to me by a reader of my blog (thanks Doug!).

I will be utilizing Tabata sessions over the next few weeks as I attempt to trim the last few pounds of abdominal fat that I currently have.  I will be sharing my experience with this training style over the next few weeks.

Also on the agenda for today will be working on meal plans & getting exercise logs ready for the upcoming week.

Monday marks Week 2 of the Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0″ program.  I am looking forward to it!

With today being Sunday it is weigh in day.  My weigh in this morning was good; I dropped another 1/2 pound of fat this week while not losing any muscle.  That’s progress & I can live with it.  Nothing major but it is still a form of progress.

Speaking of progress, I seem to have stalled a bit in terms of muscle mass gains. Honestly, I’m not bothered by it.  I’ve gained nearly 8 pounds of muscle over the last 8 weeks so I’m happy with that.  Nothing record-setting but so what?  I will be 39 in a few weeks & I look better now than I did at 29 or 19 for that matter!

Here’s a current progress pic:

My hot ass body on March 17, 2013

As you can see, I have some work ahead of me the next 3 weeks.  Specifically in the lower abdominal area.  That is my “trouble area”.  It always has been.

Granted, I’m not doing too poorly so I’m not freaking out.  But, I know I have a tighter core that is currently hiding under a little bit of fat.  That is somewhat by design though.

You might be asking yourself, what do you mean “by design”?  Why would you purposefully be carrying additional body fat?

For the last few weeks, I’ve been eating excessive amounts of calories on most days.  I have also limited my cardiovascular work the last 8-9 weeks.  I did this in an effort to put on muscle mass & I’ve been successful in that endeavor.  Not as successful as I had hoped but successful nonetheless.

I knew that I would also add a few pounds of fat in the process.  I accepted that reality when I began this contest period.  I have purposefully “ignored” fat burning to a large degree up until now.

Don’t get me wrong, I have done ab/core work over the last 2 months.  But I haven’t made it a big priority.  Nor have I made “carved abs” a major priority in terms of nutrition.  I haven’t eaten 100% lean & clean at all times.

But that is about to change.

Now it is time to get shredded & I have a plan.  It worked for me in October of 2012 & got me into photo ready shape then.  It will work for me now.  I just have to follow through & stay on target!

My goal is to make it very, very difficult for those who are judging the contest/picking the winners not to choose me as a top finisher.

When this 90 day contest period expires, my intention is to have some great “After” pictures.  Will they be good enough to help me win the contest?  I’d like to think so but who knows?

I do know this much, the sustained effort I will give over the next 3 weeks will be nothing short of my best.

Day 63 – Crunch Time

Today is an off day from the weight room.  Since it’s Sunday, it’s also weigh-in day.

Today’s weigh-in was good from the standpoint that I was able to shed over 1/2 pound of fat this week.  I did not register much muscle growth this week so that was a bit disappointing.  This is the 3rd week in a row that I have had this happen.

I’m not complaining about the fat loss/reduction in Body Fat% one bit!  That being said, I would REALLY like to see my Lean Body Mass increase more than it has.

At this point, I expected to be about 5-10 pounds heavier than I currently am.  Sure, I have gained some muscle in the last 2 months but not as much as I had hoped for.  I’m entering the home stretch of this 90 day body transformation contest & I’m nowhere near having a “winning” physique.

I will admit that this has been a bit frustrating.  Not enough for me to quit but definitely enough for me to question the merits of my efforts.  Am I really getting out of this what I am putting into it?  Countless hours in the weight room, preparing healthy meals, creating workout logs & meal plans (not only for myself but friends & family), blogging & many other fitness related activities for what?  A little bit of muscle gain & a little fat loss??

But then again, a little bit of fat loss & a little bit of muscle gain isn’t all that bad.  I must be doing something right even if it doesn’t “feel” like it sometimes.

Maybe I’m getting ready to turn a corner & start experiencing explosive muscle growth?  Maybe the last 2 months have been priming the pump so to speak?  Maybe all of this effort has brought me exactly where I need to be before I can move on to the next stage of growth?  It’s possible.

The one thing I do know is if I give up, I will never know the answers to these questions.  That would be a shame.

In reality, I could be a few weeks away from experiencing a major breakthrough in my body transformation quest.  Maybe that next 5-10 pounds is there for the taking, if only I make a few adjustments to my diet & training?  Maybe I’m only a few blog posts away from catching the eye of someone who can help me advance as an author?  Maybe all those wonderful daydreams of being a self-employed, well-paid, fitness authority figure &/or model will come true if I just keep at this?  I don’t know but I sure plan on finding out.

So, if you are wavering in your devotion to your fitness goals (or any goal for that matter), take a minute to step back & look at the big picture.  Where were you before you started your quest?  How much better off are you now?  How much better will you be if you just keep on keeping on?

Success is really just a series of successive “failures”.  Each “failure” puts you one step closer to achieving the goal.  Eventually, you’ve failed your way forward to the point that success becomes inevitable.

Want to become successful faster?  Speed up your rate of failure.  You will learn what to do & more importantly, what NOT to do if you aren’t afraid to fail forward fast.

Speaking of “failures”, here’s an interesting set of facts you may not be aware of:

122-Lincolns-Famous-Failures

 

For a “failure”, he sure did pretty well.  So did these folks:

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History is littered with a number of success stories that started out as failures.  But each one of these failures was really a success waiting to happen.  The one thing all of these failures had in common is this; they never stopped believing in themselves despite the evidence of being a “failure” was all around them.

That’s what it really boils down to – do you believe in yourself enough to keep going even when no one else does?

A favorite quote of mine is this: “Your persistence is the measure of faith you have in yourself.”

Think about that quote the next time you feel like giving up.  How much faith do you have in yourself to get the job done?  Is your faith sagging a bit?  If so, do what you must to restore that faith but don’t ever give up.

If it helps, please know that I’m pulling for you.  If you are reading this blog, I’m in your corner. I’m putting myself out there in the hopes that something I say will help you stay on course & find the courage to keep going when it gets tough.  If I believe in you, you can certainly do the same.

Hold on tight to your dreams!

Day 56 – Back To The Drawing Board

Sunday morning.  Off day from the weight room & also weigh-in day.

My expectation going into the weigh-in this morning was to have gained at least 1-2 pounds this week. I based this on the following factors:

  • In comparison to last week, I increased my caloric intake on the 4 days that I lifted weights.
  • I also had a bit more calories on non-lifting days than I did last week.
  • Some of the additional calories were in the form of Casein Protein & Almond Milk drink prior to bed.
  • I looked bigger & noticed more definition in my shoulders & upper chest this week. I verified it this morning – I measured in having gained nearly an inch on my chest & a 1/2 inch on my shoulder measurement in the last week.
  • I also had a cheat meal Friday night that consisted of nearly half of an 18 inch Luca Pizza!
  • My pattern of 1 week of weight loss followed by 2 weeks of weight gain had held steady for the prior 6 week cycle. I was due for a rebound gain week after having dropped some fat last week.

So, when I stepped on the scale & I was 0.2 pounds lighter this week than last week I was left scratching my head.  All of those factors listed above should have resulted in me having gained some weight on the scale.  But that wasn’t the case.

First thing I did after taking some more measurements was to look back over my meals from the last week.

I have structured my meal plans in an effort to help the number on the scale nudge upwards.  After all, I’m attempting to add as much mass as possible over the next couple of weeks before I really hone in on a fat-burning phase & get rid of a little bit of abdominal fat.

I noticed that I pretty much hit my desired macronutrient profile each day this week.  I was a little bit under on calories Friday but I saved up a bunch for the cheat meal that day as to minimize the damage.  Other than that I was good.

I could have chosen to be disappointed.  In a sense, I had failed in my mission this week of  nudging that scale upwards.   But I wasn’t upset.

There were visible signs of progress all around:

I knew that I had shed a little bit of fat this week because my jeans were looser in the waist.  I had to use a belt for one pair in particular.

I also know from my increased chest/shoulder measurements & slight decrease in body fat % that I was able to add a bit of muscle this week.  Shirts that were loose-fitting a few weeks ago are getting tighter in the arms, chest & shoulders.  Jeans are getting looser in the waist but tighter in the seat & thigh area.

Visible, measurable progress!

So all things being considered, I am happy with how the week went.

But, I’m not “satisfied”.  Not by a long shot.  Despite the success from the past week, I know that I can do an even better job in the upcoming weeks.

A better job of eating clean & eating more food on lifting days.  A better job of adhering to my ab routines (that’s another blog post for another day).  A better job of increasing the intensity in the weight room from session to session.  A better job of sharing ideas & thoughts on this blog.

Part of being better about my training & nutrition is to have taken the time last evening to map out my strategy for the next 5 weeks of this contest.

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This is a rough draft of what will eventually be my next 5 week training block.  This rough draft is what I will use to design my workout logs.

As you can see, it’s sloppy.  I was writing at a fast pace as the ideas were flowing to me so I didn’t use my best handwriting.

I also changed my thinking a few times on a few things as the entire program started to come together.  Hence the large number of cross-outs & scribbles.

But with a little work, that same sloppy looking sheet will be transformed into something like this:

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JG Upper Body Density Workout Log  (Click for an expanded version)

This is my workout log for my Upper Body Density workout I will be utilizing over the next 5 weeks.

By this evening, I will have completed the remaining workout logs for the other training days in this program.

I will also have updated meal plans ready to go for next week as well.  High carbs on lifting days, lower carbs on HIIT & off days.  Large amount of proteins each day. Decent amount of healthy fats as well.

These meal plans often start the same way the workout logs do.  Sloppy & informal, but a starting point.  From there, a little bit of work & fine tuning will turn them into a document that will help me along the way.

It is vital to take the time to map out your course.  Sure, it takes some time but it is worth it.

Day 49 – Now I Know How A Yo-Yo Feels….

Today is an off day from the weight room.  I can use the rest & recovery before tackling the upcoming week.  I will be completing Phase 2 of my current program next Sunday.  I would like to finish up this phase as strong as possible. The resting today will help.

Being that this is Sunday, I had my weekly weigh-in.  How did I do??

This morning’s weigh-in was a failure in one aspect & a success in another.

Failure: Lean body mass increased very little this week.  I gained less than a pound of muscle.  I ate more food this week yet the gains were minimal.  Not good.  I am now well behind the pace I had hoped for.

I would be lying if I said this doesn’t bother me.  It does.  I’ve put in a great deal of effort in the weight room.  I’ve been diligent with my meal planning – hours have been spent planning, prepping & consuming meals.

It is frustrating to put in a great deal of effort for only a minimal amount of perceived progress in return.

The frustration came to a head when I stepped off the scale this morning & realized I was 1.5 pounds lighter today than I was last week.

This is a mass building program, I’m eating more food & I weigh less??  My attitude took a sudden downturn.  Then I sat down to run some numbers.  Begrudgingly, I might add.

Success: The 1.5 pound drop on the scale was actually a good thing, despite this being a mass building phase.  The 1.5 pounds was predominantly fat loss!  My body fat percentage was down 1/2 % this week due to this fat loss.  Plus, I gained a little bit of muscle in the process.

Bottom Line:  For the week, I was able to shed about 1.5 pounds of fat while gaining a little bit of muscle in the process.

Lesson Learned: Had I focused entirely on the scale & not taken body fat measurements, I would have felt like I had taken a big step back this week.  But in reality, I took a step forward this week.  Not a big step but it was something.

While I was looking over my numbers this morning, I also noticed a pattern that has developed over the last 7 weeks.  It seems that I tend to gain weight for 2 weeks, lose a bit the 3rd week & then the cycle repeats.  This pattern has held true this entire contest period.  Not sure why this is but I will figure it out.

Honestly, I would prefer not to be yo-yoing when it comes to my attempt at gaining muscle mass.  I would rather the gains be mostly clean & the scale to be nudging upward each week.  So, I will look back over the last 6 weeks & see where I could have been better.

Maybe I ate too little on my non-lifting days?  It’s possible.

Maybe I need to increase my caloric intake on lifting days?  Could be.

Maybe I should take in a little more carbs & back off the protein & fat a little bit?  More carbs on lifting days might be the key.

I have gained nearly 20 pounds of muscle since last June so maybe that is part of the issue?  Maybe the next 10-20 pounds are going to be tougher to come by?

It could be any one of the above things.  It could be all of the above things.  It could be something totally unrelated.  Whatever it is, I will figure it out & take the proper corrective actions to fix the issue(s).

 

Day 28 – 2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back… or Was It?

Today is a scheduled off day from the gym.  I will spend some time this morning doing some yoga & core work but that’s about it.  I intend to use today as a recovery day.  Phase 2 of my current weight lifting program begins tomorrow.  I would prefer to head into this phase well rested & ready!

This morning was also weigh-in day.  I’ve made a few modifications to my meal plans this week in response to last week’s weigh in.  Specifically, I increased my caloric intake on lifting days by about 300 calories & I decreased my calories/carb intake for “off” days by about 200 calories.

While I am attempting to add as much mass as possible, I am also looking to limit the amount of fat I gain in the process.  I was expecting the scale to show a slight increase in weight over last week.  At worst I figured I would weigh in at the same weight as last week.

You can imagine my surprise when the scale revealed that I had lost 2 pounds in the last week!  Especially when one considers I had a cheat meal last night consisting of the following:

  • 6 slices of bacon pizza (8 slices would have been half of a 16 inch pizza)
  • 3 Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies
  • 2 Peanut Butter Sandwich GS Cookies
  • 2 Peanut Butter Patties GS Cookies
  • 1 Caramel deLites GS Cookie

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So good, yet so bad!  And I will be ordering more soon….

Total caloric intake of my cheat meal was easily between 1500 & 2000 calories, the majority of which were high glycemic carbs & fat.  That should have been enough to tip the scale upwards yet it didn’t.

When I sat down to compute my Lean Body Mass (LBM) & Body Fat% this morning, I was a little disappointed.  As I alluded to earlier, I am attempting to add as much muscle mass to my body as possible during this 90 day transformation contest.  The prior 2 weeks saw me gain over 6 pounds, with most of it being an increase LBM.  I had hoped to continue that upward climb on the scale yet it was not to be.  Instead the number had fallen.

2 steps forward, 1 step back.  Or so I thought…

When I ran my numbers I was in for a pleasant surprise.  The 2 pounds I shed this week was almost entirely body fat!  My LBM was virtually unchanged yet the amount of body fat I was carrying had decreased by 1.8 pounds.

What at first looked like a step back (oh no, I lost weight…) was actually a step in the proper direction.  I now know where I need to fine tune my meal plans in order to continue gaining muscle & minimizing fat gain.

For the month, I have gained about 5 pounds.  Of that, less than 1 pound is fat.  In 4 weeks I have increased my LBM by around 4 pounds.  1 pound per week doesn’t sound like much.  But what if I keep it up for 6 months?  That’s 24 pounds, with the vast majority of it being muscle.

I will admit that I am a bit behind the pace I had hoped to set for this 90 day transformation contest.  My goal is to add 15-20 pounds of muscle while shedding a few pounds of fat.  It is possible that I may come up a few pounds short of my goal.  It might cost me a chance at winning the contest.  But I won’t quit.

It may take me a few additional months or even a year to achieve my fitness goals but so what?  There will be many 2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back moments along the way.  It is all part of the journey.  While it is rewarding to stand on the mountain top, the journey taken to reach the pinnacle is the real treasure.

Day 21 – 3 Weeks Already?!?!

Sunday morning.  When it comes to my fitness endeavors, Sunday morning is very critical.

As with each Sunday, the first thing I did upon waking up this morning was to weigh-in & take my body fat measurements.  I’m happy to report that I gained 3 pounds this week.

My lean body mass increased by about 1.5 pounds.  Unfortunately, I gained a little over a pound of fat this week but I’m ok with it.  I expect to gain some fat over the next few weeks.  I am ingesting more calories each week & a decent portion of those calories are comprised of healthy fats (nuts, olive oil, egg yolks, etc.).   Plus, I was sick for part of the past week and my eating schedule/intake was a bit off for a few days.

This is the second week in a row that I have gained at least 3 pounds.  At this rate, I am on pace to gain another 15-20 pounds over the next 6 weeks.  This is perfect.  My goal going into this 90 day program was to gain about 20-25 pounds in 8-9 weeks & then spend the last 3-4 weeks cutting any excess fat & getting shredded for my final pictures.

After my weigh-in, I used the next 30 minutes on a few fitness related activities.  I began with 15 minutes on the Gazelle:

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My protocol for today would be best described as a Variable Intensity Interval Training (VIIT) pace.  I worked at varying rates for 30-60 second bursts throughout the 15 minute period.  Today, my time on the gazelle was focused more on being an “active recovery” session and less on fat burning.  My legs were a bit sore when I woke up but after the 15 minute session they felt more alive.

I would say that I stayed within the 3-8 (out of 10) range as far as intensity goes.  1 is a slow paced walk, 3 is a moderate paced walk, 5 is a fast walk/light jog, 8 is a fast jog & a 10 is an all out sprint.  This gives you an idea of the patterns I describe below.

As far as my workout log goes, I basically followed this pattern:

  • First 5 minutes: Started at a 1 & slowly worked up to a 3 over the first 2 minutes.  Worked up to a 5 over the next minute.  For the final 2 minutes of this portion I alternated between a 3 and 5 for 30 seconds each.
  • Second 5 minutes: Started at a 5 & maintained this pace for the first minute, dropped to a 3 for 30 seconds, went up to a 5 for 30 seconds, went to a 7 for 30 seconds, back down to a 5 for 30 seconds, back up to a 7 for 30 seconds, down to a 5 for 30 seconds, down to a 3 for the final minute of this portion.
  • Final 5 minutes: Repeated the first 5 minutes listed above.

I covered approximately 1/2 mile in 15 minutes today.  Nothing major and totally acceptable.  I am in a muscle building phase so I need to stay in a caloric surplus for as long as possible.  During a “bulking” phase, I tend to utilize VIIT sessions a few times a week.  

I didn’t utilize them last week due to feeling ill a few days & I gained more fat as a consequence.  It hit me in my lower ab region which is no surprise.  (There & the love handles are my 2 trouble spots.)  But I’m not stressing about it.  I accept it for what it is, realize I will have to put in a little extra work to burn the fat & go forth.    

*Note to self: A little VIIT cardio on an “off” day won’t cost you that much muscle but it sure will help you minimize fat gain.*     

After putting the gazelle away & getting a small drink of water, the next 5 minutes were devoted to a series of planks with very little rest between exercises.  4:15 out of 5 minutes were devoted to my core being engaged, only 45 seconds of rest total.  I also tend to sneak this 5 minute circuit in most nights of the week.

The final 10 minutes this morning were devoted to yoga.  I started with a few Sun Saluations & then worked on loosening up my legs.  My hamstrings & inner thighs were very tight so I spent a fair amount of time stretching those areas.  I will most likely sneak in another 10-15 minute stretching session today just to stay loose.

The other activity that makes Sunday morning crucial to my fitness goals is planning the upcoming week in terms of workout logs & meal plans.

Workout Logs: Printed & in the weight room.  I used this morning to list the starting weights for each exercise, each day on these logs.  Transferred some notes from last week to these sheets as well.  Took me less than 10 minutes to do it but it will make a world of difference in being prepared & utilizing my time in the weight room this coming week.

Meal Plans: Updated in the spreadsheet. Will print them as needed on a day to basis or write them in a steno note pad.  Keep them visible during the day so I am able to stay on target.

Proper planning & then diligently adhering to my plan has me on pace to reach my fitness goals.  It isn’t always easy or fun but the end result is so worth it that I really don’t see any other option.

3 weeks down, 10 to go.

*Your persistence is the measure of faith you have in yourself*

Today’s track listing:

  • Listen Like Thieves – INXS
  • No Excuses – Alice In Chains
  • Spirit of Radio – Rush
  • I’m Broken – Pantera
  • Icky Thump – The White Stripes
  • Lord of this World – Corrosion of Conformity
  • Rock of Ages – Def Leppard
  • Desecration of Souls – Mercyful Fate

 

Day 14 – The Proof is in the Numbers

Today is a planned off day from the gym.  I will use today to finalize my meal plans for the upcoming week.  I will be adding a bit more calories in each day this week over last week so I have to plan accordingly.

If I don’t take the time to record what I eat & then measure the results, how can I expect to track my success?  How will I know if I am gaining fat, muscle or both?  How can I maximize my efforts in the weight room if I don’t know where my current plan is taking me?

14 Days of sustained effort in the gym, discipline in the kitchen (besides a planned cheat meal period-more on that in a moment) & proper stretching/recovery paid off this morning.

I only weigh-in once a week; first thing Sunday morning.  I do this for a few reasons:

  • Due to daily weight fluctuations, it is best to not track the weight yo-yo during the week.   Your weight will be all over the board & it isn’t worth obsessing over.  Once a week is fine for me. Some people even go two weeks between weigh-ins.
  • My body water weight, in terms of both pounds & percentage, is most likely the same on one Sunday morning as it is the next.  This is due to me following a fairly consistent eating & exercise plan.  Plus, I am my most “dry” at this point as I haven’t had any water since going to bed at least 7-8 hours earlier.
  • Because my water weight is fairly similar from week to week, I can more easily & accurately gauge my body fat % when taking my caliper readings.

So this morning, when I stepped on the scale, I wasn’t upset when I saw that I had gained 3.2 pounds in the last week.  I expected this to happen; I increased my daily caloric intake this week to around 2700-3000 Calories/day (300-500/day more over last week).

After recoding my new weight (which I am keeping secret until I complete my 90 days & post new pictures), I then proceeded to take my body fat measurements with my caliper:

Defender Body Fat Caliper

Defender Body Fat Caliper

This simple tool allows me to accurately gauge my body fat percentage each Sunday morning.  I simply follow the instructions that were supplied with the caliper.  I take 3 measurements of each prescribed area & use the average to compute my body fat %.

I was glad to see that my body fat percentage had went down some the last week.  About 1/4-1/2%. I give myself a tolerance of +/- 1/2 to 1 when computing my body fat%.  I tend to measure the same spot each time so I am fairly accurate but I’m not a pro so I keep that in mind.

This past week was somewhat different for 2 reasons so my expectations for next week are a little less ambitious.

  1. My weekly caloric intake was about 1800-2100 higher than last week BEFORE a cheat meal.
  2. The planned cheat meal was 2 small slices of cheese pizza along with some chicken wings & part of a Snickers Almond bar.  These “dirty” calories were budgeted in & accounted for so they did not interfere with my progress.

I allow myself a cheat meal every 10-14 days. Sometimes I don’t take full advantage of it, other times I do.  Either way, it is a small reward that ultimately I am comfortable with consuming.  I usually plan them post-workout but this week I didn’t.  I did partake in a 14 hour fast after the cheat meal so that helped to mitigate some of the effects of the high glycemic carb & fat combination.

My goal for this week is another bump up on the scale of at least 2-3 pounds.  Gaining an average of 3 pounds a week for the next 8 weeks will get me to my goal weight.  I may have to shed a few of those pounds to get “photo ready” again but I have a 10 day plan that I know works.

Most people have difficulty relating to someone attempting to build muscle, especially when they hear talk of eating excessive calories, cheat meals, non-fat free diet, etc.  As foreign as it may sound to some, implementing it can be challenging at times.

All calories are not created equally.  Sure, I could get an extra 500+ calories in each day by eating fast food but that isn’t going to yield the same results as eating as many whole, nutritious foods as possible.

Sure, it takes little bit of extra effort to modify my meal planning spreadsheets, buy/prepare extra portions & everything else I do to track my nutrition.  But it is worth it.  It reminds me of a saying: “There’s very little traffic on the extra mile.”

The reason I do the things I do isn’t because I am better than anyone else.  I do them because they are what separate me from the masses.  I will push on past a barrier that stops most people cold in their tracks.  Once again, I’m not better than anyone else & I am not judging anyone.  However, I am very driven to succeed in my endeavors and refuse to be denied realizing the body of my dreams.