Update – Still Going Strong

So the past week has been a big success. I’ve been VERY physically active along with what I’m so happy about – I have been able to sustain a weightlifting routine with no ill-effects. No loss of energy, etc. This confirms, at least for now, that my theory of low glycogen reserves was the cause of my prior weightlifting failure.

Yesterday morning I woke up at 6am. Knowing there was no way I was gonna get back to sleep, and having the kids’ baseball/softball practices from 9 – 12 that morning, I figured I’d go to the gym and do my routine early. Got there and…they were closed : ( Until 8am : (

I recently joined a new gym on a 30-day trial. The weight room is 1000x better than my other gym, which is really a squash club with some fitness areas. I liked the atmosphere of the other place better, and the class schedule at this new place is a joke (average one class per day, whereas the other place averaged 3 or 4 per day, but the problem is that the non-spinning classes only attract women, which is kind of awkward for a tough, heterosexual male like me : ) Regardless, I’m going to stick with the new gym and cancel my membership at the other place. The weight setup at the new place, SWEAT Fitness, is just way better, plus it is half the monthly cost compared to what I’m paying at the squash place. The downside is that there is a 1 year contract, but it’s not a ‘will I use it?’ situation. I’ve certainly established that over the past year. Even when my energy levels weren’t good and couldn’t lift weights, I still at least did light cardio.

So, the sweet potatoes seem to be doing the trick. Of course, yesterday and this morning I felt a bit lethargic because right after the weightlifting routine yesterday morning I had to rush the kids to the softball/baseball practices, did some walking and light jogging while they practiced, along with literally standing in the windy cold watching their back-to-back practices for 3 hours : ( Then, we went to another park to participate in a friend’s new business venture – basically a mini-orienteering thing. That was an hour+ of walking the park.

I was beat, but in a good way. Still am. Will take it easy to day and just do a Primal ‘play’ day. Will post back later in the week with something more than simple rambling, I promise : )

Daily Update Fitness

Success in Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Just kidding, but perhaps, based on Dr. Attia’s latest post, where he asks the question, “What do anabolic steroids, EPO, and carbohydrates have in common?”, I think he’s onto something.

Do we need carbohydrates to sustain an exercise routine?

The above question is what this post is about. And, for me, I must sheepishly admit that, yes, I have to ingest complex carbs in order to sustain a workout routine. Particularly an anaerobic (i.e., resistance) routine. After a year of stopping and starting a resistance routine, and having to always stop within a week not due to lack of drive but due to lack of energy, it turns out that I am one of the unlucky ones that cannot replenish glycogen reserves either enough or quickly enough to sustain a routine. I’ve tried numerous times a simple, relatively easy full-body resistance program consisting of just a handful of compound movements, only to feel completely exhausted after the first or second set of chest presses, or, if lucky, it wouldn’t hit me until soon after the workout. And then the next workout (3 days later) was worse in terms of the lack of energy.

While I have repeatedly stated the fact that working out and losing weight are mutually exclusive, there is no doubt that working out is both good for you and, more importantly to me – I just feel much better when I do it.

It appears, based on the countless discussions on the topic of glycogen reserves/replenishment, that the vast majority of people can do fine without having to resort to ‘carb refeeds’ after a workout. Unfortunately for me, I’m not one of them. How do I know?

Well, as my prior recent posts outline, I decided to try a new approach and took the risk of adding some complex carbs, in the form of sweet potatoes and greek yogurt, back into my diet on weightlifting days. I started this a week ago and, so far, it is more than just working. I’m feeling phenomenal. I did my second weightlifting routine this week today and am energized. I am following the typical advice and making sure to do the ‘carb refeed’ within an hour of the workout, in order to replenish my glycogen reserves.

My Weightlifting Routine

So that no one thinks I’m over-training and hence that’s what caused the need for the post-workout carbs, here is the routine so far:

  • 3 x 8 Chest Press
  • 3 x 8 Squat (not real squats though, for now as I ease back into it – I’m using a Precor squat machine)
  • 3 x 8 Back row (the machine thing with the cables you pull straight back)
  • 3 x 8 Lat Pulldown
  • 2 x ? Crunches

That’s it. All compound stuff, and believe me – not extra heavy weight as I’m a weakling. Trying this same routine before adding the extra carbs in would always cause a crash.

My Weight Is Back Down

My weight is back to 195.5 today. I had put on a few pounds earlier in the week, likely as a result of the increased water weight from the added carbs. I expect, and hope, that with the added energy and confidence to really start pushing the workouts that I’ll start gaining some serious muscle now and will begin to ‘lean out’ in terms of bodyfat over time.

As a nice bonus – a year ago it was hard for me to fit into size 44 pants/shorts. I was at the ‘no-man’s land’ of needing to go to the ‘Big & Tall’ section/shop to get some trousers. Tonight I ran over to JC Penney to grab some shorts and I now comfortably fit into size 34 Dockers : )

I’m sometimes hitting 100+ grams of carbs daily now, particularly on the lifting days. But I will keep it to under 100 for sure. And make no mistake – I’m avoiding the simple carbs still. While I never resist stealing some of my kids’ french fries or snagging a bite of their ‘kid meal’ pizzas while we’re out to dinner, or the occasional ice cream/frozen yogurt trip, these are incidental indulgences and never planned.

So watch out. I may start exhibiting ‘roid rage’, uh, I mean ‘carb rage’.


Today I’m Feeling Awesome!

Today was a great day, for a number of reasons. Felt great, even with a major slip last night of Kiwi frozen yogurt (a Dad’s gotta do what he’s gotta do…).

Upping the total calories and adding in some complex carbs has been good so far. Yesterday I reported some weight gain/bloat, which I had felt most of the week. This morning when I woke up, and throughout today, I felt like I was starting to lean out again, which is cool.

Yesterday and today were ‘play’ days – after doing my weightlifting routine on Saturday, I was pretty sore and felt a little rundown yesterday so I stuck to just ‘moving slowly’ most of the day and also took my son to the soccer field for some goofing around with the soccer ball.

Today, I took the kids and dog to a local nature preserve for a hike, and then played some more soccer later in the day.

Tomorrow is a heavy weightlifting day, so I will cut some fat intake (not much though…I mainly just won’t over-do it on the bacon/sausages in the morning like usual), and will eat some bananas and my post-workout big ass sweet potato, which seems to be doing the trick.

If, after a few more days, I continue to feel this great and feel the progress in my body, and do not gain more weight, then I’ll definitely feel like I’ve found a breakthrough.

On a related note….I started reading The Primal Blueprint the other day. I’ve been meaning to buy this book for over a year, but figured I knew everything in it. And, well, so far I basically do. Nothing new thus far (though I haven’t hit the detailed chapters yet), but the way it is written is really interesting, and I’m surprisingly digging the Grok/paleolithic ‘day in the life’ chapter. It definitely helps to put things into perspective. I didn’t realize how much our brains have shrunk since then, which is quite sad….

As for practical application of the book so far – I made it a point to *try* to go to sleep earlier last night, but it didn’t work. Well, it did a little – I wound up falling asleep around 10:30, which is an hour earlier than usual. Tonight my now 9-year old daughter (tomorrow is her ‘official’ birthday!) is having a big sleepover, so there are a bunch of little kids running around and will likely be making noise all night. So not sure I’ll be successful getting sleep tonight.

Daily Update Fitness

Phase 3 Update: As Expected, I’m Getting Fatter

So, as I worried would happen is happening. I’m gaining weight. I hope it’s just water weight from the increased carb intake, but that remains to be seen.

NOV 1, 2010 WEIGHT = 258 lbs
TODAY’S WEIGHT = 197.7 lbs 

I’ve gone from a svelte 194.6 to 197.7 in the past week, but at least a pound of that is due to the beers I drank last night while at a party, so I expect within a day or two that should drop down to ~196. So here’s what I’ve done this week:

  • Increased carb intake quite a bit by adding in 1 to 2 bananas per day
  • I also, started eating potatoes this week. So far, aside from a couple small ones last night at dinner, the main focus has been to eat a sweet potato within an hour of lifting weights, to replenish glycogen levels
  • I’ve been working out every day, which of course has resulted in my appetite increasing
  • My sleep has improved – I’m sleeping more soundly. I attribute this to the working out.

So, the real results are this:

I’m feeling very “soft”. Definitely notice my gut has increased and overall body fat feels like it’s gone up quite a bit, along with the weight increase. This tracks with what I expected/was told would happen – that the increased carb intake would result in initial weight gain of ~5 pounds, and then, so long as I keep up with the working out, I would start to ‘lean out’ over time. I sure hope it’s true for me, as I enjoy the working out or I wouldn’t bother, but the problem before was always the glycogen depletion.

Please note: I am, apparently, pretty unique in this ‘defect’. My body just doesn’t seem to replenish glycogen quickly enough, so while I could always do as much aerobic exercise as I wanted (within reason), the problem hit as soon as I did even one heavy anaerobic (i.e., weightlifting) routine – I would quickly feel ‘depleted’/lethargic, and then just feel generally not as energetic after for at least a few days. I had read a long time ago that some people have to replenish their glycogen levels (i.e, stored sugar) through ingesting carbs. But most people don’t have to do this. I would avoid it like the plague if I could, but I can’t if I want to achieve my fitness goals. Most people, it seems, don’t need to ‘carb refeed’ after a weightlifting session. Unfortunately, I do.

I’ve completed 3 heavy weightlifting sessions this week, as planned, and am still feeling good. After each session I come home and eat a large sweet potato (usually with cinnamon and butter on it). That seems to be doing the trick for replenishment. Earlier in the week I also picked up and ate, on consecutive days, some full-fat Greek yogurt (unfortunately though the best option was the kind with a sugary fruit or honey added).

All in all I’m feeling pretty good still, though I am feeling ‘fat’/bloated. It doesn’t help that last night I drank 3 or 4 beers, and a shot of vodka or two. :  ) But, my energy levels are definitely not going in the tubes this week as they used to when I tried weightlifting heavy. So the sweet potatoes are doing the trick. I will keep an eye on the scale and report back with a fresh post in a few days with another update. I’m optimistic that I will start leaning out further, that this was just an initial ‘bloat’. We’ll see.

Another note: I finally broke down and bought a copy of The Primal Blueprint. I’ve been meaning to get this for a LONG time, but with most of the info on, I just never bothered. But, after posting some queries on that site’s forum regarding glycogen and carb ‘refeeds’, etc., the general response was a simple, “Didn’t you read the book?” So I better read the damned book : ) Got it for an awesome price, to boot. In case you’re interested, here’s a link.