Hello World!

I intend to use this blog to log my workouts and fitness efforts.

More about me:  I am 34, 6’4ish, about 285.  I live in Ottawa, single, no dependents, I have a desk job.  I worked really hard in 2011 to lose weight and get into shape – in that year alone I lost 85 pounds!  But now that it is 2012, I feel like I have lost a lot of momentum, and I want to stay accountable.  Hopefully that will help me get back on track.  My goal weight is either 230, or just look so awesome it doesn’t matter what the numbers say, haha.

My game plan:

I need to keep a healthy sleep pattern, when that thread is loose, everything else unravels.

For diet, I will be borrowing the P90X2 meal plan.  I have tried the original P90X meal plan, but I found that sometimes it stacks the food in odd places.  This might make sense with their workout routine, but I needed something more flexible, since I am planning my own workouts.  I have found the P90X2 plan to be a much better fit, and I could feel that right away.  Based on my profile, I will be on the Level C Fat Shredder plan – that is 3,000 calories a day, approx 50% protein, 30% carbs, 20% healthy fats.  I will keep this up as long as it feels achievable.  In practice, this often means I get one bread type item a day.

So what does a typical day look like?  Take Tuesday, another day at the office.  For breakfast I have 4 slices of bacon, a grapefruit, a bagel, a cup of skim milk.  The bacon was cooked in a Tbsp of olive oil, no butter on the bagel.  Mid morning snack is a protein shake and a cup of celery.  Lunch is 6 oz of meat, and a cup of non-cream based soup, like a vegetable soup.  Mid-afternoon snack a cup of low fat cottage cheese and 1 oz of peanuts.  Dinner is 6 oz of whitefish, like a tilapia, another cup of soup. 2 oz of cheese and an apple.  Snack before bed is more protein, and some Greens powder.  Sprinkled in and around the day as I see fit, are “snacks”, depending on my cravings, some avocado, yogourt, fruit, cheese, etc.  Approx 700 cal worth of snacks.  In practice I usually have about 400 or 500 of that 700 allotment, depending on the physical activity.

I find this works for me, I can adjust it as needed if I run low on something, the food is arranged like “blocks”, so similar to whatever point-based system regular dieters are familiar with.  I have never tried Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or the like, but I assume it is similar to one of those.  But I can improvise, and know how to account for it without feeling like I totally left the reservation.

I should note that I drink A LOT of water.  A lot.  I try to drink 6 Litres of water a day.  This helps me in all aspects, elimination of waste, helps me get a good sweat on when I exercise, good for the skin and good for my energy levels, etc.  It complements working out a lot, especially the cardio, if I am too dehydrated I can’t keep up the cardio, so it is a good way to benchmark my activity levels.  Making 6 litres is no problem any more if I have a good cardio session, it still feels tough when I am on a major rest day though

For supplements, I use a few:

– I take Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey and Casein protein powder.  Whey is the standard powder I use, but I use casein if I need a slower digesting protein, like the shake I have before I go to bed, or if I will be doing yoga for a long long time, and I need to keep my energy up on an empty stomach.  The powder seems to have a solid nutritional profile, some extra BCAA’s and Glutamine along with the protein.

– I am currently using the Rivalus Complx5 pre-workout powder, for a quick pickmeup of energy.  It is stimulant-free, which I think is better in the long run.  Not only do I want to try and wean myself off caffeine, but the more caffeine you use in your pre-workout powders, the more of a tolerance you build up to it.  I am used to it by now, it doesn’t blast me with energy like it used to a few months ago when I started, but I find when I am feeling low energy, it does help boost me without leaving my head feeling fuzzy or crashing later like caffeine does.  It is a smoother more mild, longer-lasting boost.

– I take the Dymatize Elite Recoup BCAA.  I tend to sip on that during a weight routine, and after the routine is over.  I liked the Recoup right away when I tried it 5 or so months ago, and have stuck with it since.  It helps my recovery time for muscle exhaustion.  It tastes good, and I sometimes catch myself wanting to mix it into my drink at other times, which is a waste, so I am trying to nail it down to weight routines, or after a heavy yoga session if it is handy.

– I take Glutamine twice a day, when I wake up, and before I go to sleep.  Glutamine helps me from feeling really spread thin.  When I started working out, after a heavy session I felt stretched thin, like I could catch a cold and wouldn’t be able to fight it off.  I don’t feel that with the glutamine.  It’s not like I don’t get sick or don’t get tired, but I don’t feel worn out in the same way, I can easily notice the difference, and it helps me to keep a more aggressive schedule.

– I cycle Creatine Monohydrate.  4 weeks on, 4 weeks off.  The first week at 4X5g scoops a day, and the other 3 weeks at 2X5g scoops.  Creatine gives you a little more of that “last-second” energy, when your muscles are tired and have just one more push left in them, when you feed off ATP.  This helps you get one more rep in, staves off exhaustion just a little bit more.  I like Creatine, it helps to drink a lot of water, which I do, but if I didn’t cycle it, I would build up a tolerance, and so cycling is standard.

– Post workouts, I take Waxy Maize, it is a simple carbohydrate, and it not only is a quick bit of food when I recover from a workout and my elevated heart rate helps me burn it off right away, but it also helps with the uptake of other items like Creatine.

– I take Greens on occasion, think of it like wheatgrass powder, but a little more sweet.  I get some servings of veggies in that way, and get a little bit of fibre going when I want to feel more full or keep it moving, so to speak.

– I take a multivitamin 3 times a day.  I also take Vitamin C, E once a day, and D once a day in the winter (now over).  I used to take Melatonin, but don’t any more, don’t need it.

All of this, I should say for those who don’t know, is natural, and not controlled or harmful in any way.  I don’t cheat, it doesn’t make sense for what my goals are, nor is it healthy, in my opinion.

My workout plan:

– I do weights three times a week.  One day is Chest and Biceps, one day is Shoulders and Triceps, and one day is Back.  I use to have a Leg day, but due to the amount of leg work I do in my other activities, I found it to be too much, so I cut out the weight routine.  It became not only unsustainable for the sheer volume of the cardio plus the calisthenics plus the weights, but it also aggravated some issues I had with calves cramping and IT band inflammation.  If the volume reduces in the calisthenics, then I might throw weights back in.  I also do abs with weights once a week or so.

– I use a varied number of reps in my routines to keep the muscles working.  This means a few sets of high-weight, low-rep main lift compound exercises, the bench presses and the deadlifts, etc, followed by a couple of exercises with a couple of sets each of the mid-rep assists.  Then I finish off with a high-rep low-weight set or two of an isolation exercise (my “burn” set).  The way the burn sets work is you go until you fail, let’s say around 15-20 reps, then you take a breath or two and squeeze out a few more, take a break, go more, etc etc, until you hit 40 reps.  By the end, you can only squeeze out one more rep before you run out of gas, it works really well to finish you off.

– I try and keep the weight sessions to an hour or less, which gets hard sometimes with the burn sets, they are time-consuming.

– as soon as I get the target reps in all working sets done, then next week I up the weight.  Always try and up the weight, never fall into a rut if you can help it.

– I try and go to a Spin class once or twice a week.  It is just a good calorie-burner, and the hour goes by quick, what with the music and the yelling and shouting.

– I try and go to Hot Yoga for about 4 to 6 classes a week.  I love hot yoga.  I go to one studio regularly, and experiment with other studios when there are good deals available.  The heated room helps me sweat like you would not believe, and it loosens up my muscles some, and the yoga has been really great for toning my muscles and improving my flexibility, focus, blood pressure, breath control, fallen arches, balance, stabilizer muscles, appetite control, core strength, the list goes on and on.  I go to the Moksha studio, Moksha is a chain of mostly Canadian hot yoga studios, with their own set of specific moves.  Classes vary between their regular series, which I find to be very lower-body focused, some Power Flow classes, which are Baron Baptiste inspired, and work the upper body a lot more, or Yin classes, which are just pure, deep stretching, and work your connective tissues really well.

– I am working through the “100 pushup challenge”, the 150 dip challenge and the 200 squat challenge.  Those are free online plans to gradually build yourself up to the point where you could do all those reps for those exercises in one go.  They are 6 week programs, repeating weeks if you dont hit the targets you need to advance.  I am currently in week 4 of the pushup challenge, week 5 of the dip challenge, and week 4 of the squat challenge, and the progression has really slowed, probably owing to the other stuff I do and how much I tire myself out.  I find I end up doing them once or twice a week, as opposed to 3 times a week if I had only those to focus on.  They also have an ab challenge, but I find I work my abs much better in the yoga classes or in the weight room.  In practice, this means I do abs every second day.  If I take yoga more often than that, and they throw an ab routine at the class, I will just sit it out and watch, doing abs every single day becomes counter-productive for me.

– I am working through the Convict Conditioning books.  Those are books intended to build up your strength through bodyweight calisthenics.  They have 6 main exercises, the pushup, the squat, the leg raise, the pullup, the back bridge and the handstand, and they build you up slowly month by month, until you can do some amazing things, like one arm pushups and one arm pullups and handstand pushups, etc.  I am just starting Stage 3 out of 10 on the first four exercises, and just starting the last 2, in the first stage.  So I am pretty early into the CC book’s routine.

– I also do the stuff in Convict Contioning 2, I do hand, grip and forearm exercises twice a week, I do calf training twice a week, the book’s stretches twice a week (though I get plenty in through yoga), and neck strengthening twice a week.  I have decided not to try and do the book’s clutch flags and press flags, mostly because I am big and fat, and it is an exercise in futility right now, haha.

As you can see, that is a lot of volume!  Both volume of my first post, and volume of my workout plan.  I will use this as a template as I try to get in shape, and who knows how long I can keep it up?  It should be a fun ride, and I hope you enjoy reading as I chronicle it.