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Holiday Bloat

I knew it was coming but it still sucks…I’d been holding at about 196lbs for the past few years. I’d go up a few pounds, down a few pounds, but my “set point” (if that’s even a real thing) hovered at about 196. Until recently, that is. Last night I needed to do some much-needed clothes shopping. Specifically, I needed some jeans. My employer has a business casual (closer to casual) dress code, which for me means some nice jeans most days. I’ve purchased somewhere between 5 and 7 pairs of jeans over the past 2 years and none of them are comfortable. Earlier this year I hit the weightlifting again and built up my legs/glutes some. Not exactly muscular but not completely weak like they had become since my torn meniscus a couple of years ago. Now, my waist is smaller than my butt and thighs. I’m now a size 34 waist but can’t fit in any size 34 jeans – not even close – because my thighs are too big. So I have been wearing size 36 “relaxed” and the result are jeans that are 2″ loose at the button/waist, and somewhere between just right and too loose at the butt/thigh.

So last night I went out and forced myself to try as many brands of jeans as necessary to come home with a couple of pair that fit reasonably well. I found two brands that seemed okay. Both size 36, and the non-“relaxed” pair were too tight to even get on all the way. Fortunately the “relaxed” pair were just fine.

I decided last night, on my drive home from the clothing store, that enough is enough. Between now not fitting properly in jeans (size 36 is too big, even with the excuse of “big thighs”), and perhaps more distressing the hip/back pain on my right side that seemingly will not go away anymore due to playing squash, I am committed to getting back down to the 180’s. I haven’t been in the 180’s in about 7 or 8 years. Wish me luck. I’m going to go pretty low carb/keto (I may cycle) as obviously I’ve had the most success that way. I weighed in this morning at 201.3. Felt very bloated and the 4 slices of pizza last night didn’t help. I’m actually pretty happy it’s just over 200 as I suspect tomorrow I’ll be under 200 after a day of cutting carbs and digesting the pizza bomb. With it being the last week of the year, and the weekend, and the New Year’s Eve parties I’m going to go to, I will do my best but also enjoy the few events coming up this week. But it’s time to get back and really drop this extra weight. It may help with the back issue.

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I could have written this one!

With the exception of the running, this guy’s story is almost identical to the way I lost my excess weight. The primary theme is self-experimentation. He calls his diet a high-protein one, but I’d bet if he were to log his food intake, it was actually a high-fat diet.

Regardless, check it out – it’s a good read:

https://lifehacker.com/how-i-experimented-my-way-to-losing-100-pounds-1107324670

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Starting Strength: Week One

I haven’t done a CrossFit WOD in almost two weeks now. I thought for sure last week, even as I wrote what appears to be a pretty scathing list of reasons why I hate CrossFit (it wasn’t meant to be), that it wouldn’t be long before I pined for ‘testing myself’ with a WOD. But, honestly, with each passing day I’m feeling better and better, and amazingly I am leaning out and am clearly, just after 3 Starting Strength sessions, seeing an increase in my muscle definition. I don’t miss CrossFit at all. Will I do it again? Definitely! But no more box memberships for me. I’ll just do the occasional WOD at my gym (they have scheduled daily CrossFit sessions, with a whiteboard and all). I’m going to try to shoot for once per week as a “sprint” session, ala Primal Blueprint Fitness (PBF). Incidentally, PBF is the over-arching exercise ‘architecture’ that I’m following and plan to follow for a long time now. CrossFit was completely incompatible with it, and as a result I felt like shit. Two weeks later and I feel better than I have in a long time, and most surprisingly, I am lifting heavier weights and losing bodyfat/weight.

Things aren’t all rosy. I haven’t mentioned it specifically, but I have been suffering from some neck/back of head pain for a while now. I assume it is from the pinched nerve that I have, but the pain changed to a different kind a few weeks ago. Eventually, it got bad enough that I woke up Saturday morning at 5am with a throbbing pain in the back of my head.

Yesterday morning, the first thing on my work To Do list was to make an appointment to go to the doc about it and hope he could do something other than simply tell me to get an appointment with a neurologist. To my surprise, the doc was pretty thorough yesterday. I always felt rushed there in the past. But this time, he sat down and asked me a number of things, praised me on my weight/fitness progress and told me to keep up the great work. I mentioned to him that the work-sponsored ‘Health Fair’ cholesterol test indicated I had high total cholesterol. My numbers were:

Total Cholesterol: 240
HDL 76
LDL: <100 (in other words, too low to even measure)
Triglycerides: <100 (in other words, too low to measure)

So, based on the numbers above, with the TC being “high”, I’m about to die of a heart attack right? No. The formula to calculate TC is lame and for those of us with super lipid test results (i.e., high HDL and low Trigs), the TC is meaningless. I knew that, but to my surprise, when I mentioned to the doc the 240, his immediate question was: What was your HDL? Your Trigs? When I told him he just smiled, shook his head, and said, “That is phenomenal. Keep doing what you’re doing.” Then I looked down and noticed he was wearing a brand new pair of Altra Zero Drop Running Shoes. Perhaps he is a bit more up to date with the latest research and thinking after all?

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Globo-Gym Time

Just a quick update on a few things…

So I re-joined my old Globo-Gym. The place has gone through a management change since I was a member before. They have added many more group classes (though most are still fundamentally a waste of time), but more importantly they have created a large, dedicated CrossFit area. Today I checked it out and did some work in that area. I’d been keeping my eye on the whiteboard to see the WODs they’ve been prescribing, and I have been pleasantly surprised – the WODs have been relatively easy compared to the stuff at the dedicated CrossFit box. Not that I want to go and do them all that often, but I think once or twice per week as a quick HIIT/”Sprint” type session is ideal. An example: today was a 21-15-9 triplet for only 2 rounds of a few movements. I’m used to doing that same type of WOD but for min 4 or 5 rounds. I’ll give it a go next week, as my focus this week is on the Starting Strength beginner’s protocol, which I started Wednesday.

So yesterday’s Starting Strength workout was:
3×5 Squats
3×5 Bench Press
3×5 Deadlifts

Tomorrow’s workout will be:

3×5 squats
3×5 Press (i.e., shoulder press I believe but will be checking for sure before-hand)
5×3 Power Cleans

I’ve already screwed up the program – today, after doing some light cardio, I went over to the CrossFit area of the gym to check out what the WOD was. While there I noticed some olympic lifting bars…but no plates. A quick scan around and there they were – some bumper plates! But there were a total of only four plates: two 10lb and two 25lbers.

I think the theory is that so long as you have a single bumper on each side, then you can load up with the standard hard rubber plates they have there, with the bumpers, being ‘taller’, making the contact on the ground (the hard plates are all smaller in width).

So, seeing that, I couldn’t help myself – I loaded up the bar and focused on some Power Cleans! Love that movement, though I think I’m still not there with the form as I feel like the bar is getting too far from my body during the clean portion. I’ll keep at it though.

All in all – so far so good. I’ve got no regrets about quitting the CrossFit box, especially not after seeing that there is a WOD available to me at my gym if I want to partake, and the prescribed WOD is short.

Most important thing: so it’s been a week since my last WOD. And yesterday was the first day in a while where I FELT FRICKIN FANTASTIC. Great energy, no pain/soreness*, and just very energetic. I hadn’t felt that good since starting CrossFit. And today was even better. I also had a great, slight soreness/DOMS from the Starting Strength routine yesterday. Just enough to know I’m doing it right.

When I quit CrossFit I weighed 193lbs. I will be VERY curious to see in a week or two (and beyond) how my weight/bodyfat responds to the sharp reduction in HIIT/’chronic cardio’. Going from 45 to 60 minute metcons/high-heartrate sessions 3x per week, to doing a typical Primal approach of a single ~15min HIIT/”Sprint” session, lots of “Moving Slowly” (for me that is walking), and “Lifting Heavy Things” 3x per week. So far so good. I’ll be sure to keep blogging as I progress.

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I’m On Low Carb Conversations with Jimmy Moore and Friends!

The latest episode of Low-Carb Conversations with Jimmy Moore and Friends is out and yours truly is one of the ‘friends’ along with Dietitian Cassie. Technical glitches aside, which were quite embarrassing for me as I should have known better than to try to Skype via wifi, especially when an ethernet jack was 3 feet away, it was a lot of fun.

All in all, this was an awesome experience. I was very nervous as I don’t feel qualified to be on a show with thousands of subscribers – most of Jimmy’s guests are doctors and/or experts in the field of nutrition, fitness, etc. His Low Carb Conversations podcast is geared more toward the average guy/gal like me that has a story to tell, though often the guests are well known in the Paleo/Low-Carb online community.

I’m about to listen to the episode I was on for the first time myself. I figured I’d better post the link here before I hear how embarrassing I sound, as I may not want to post it later : )

https://www.lowcarbconversations.com/783/50-mark-siegrist-cassie-bjork/

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Whole30 Failure

So my brief foray into a Whole30 was a complete fail. Hey – give me a little credit for having the balls to be honest about my failure : )

I just couldn’t avoid dairy. I *could* have avoided dairy, if I had done what any sensible person would do and actually prepare for the Whole30 before just deciding one morning to do it. But this week has been so hectic, with my having to help an in-law remodel his kitchen/dining room, fit work into the equation, and the usual family obligations. But the real reason I gave up?

I was feeling like absolute shit this week. Just not very energetic. I don’t know why. The first couple of days of the Whole30 I hoped it was some sort of reaction to not eating any sugar, but the reality is that I already eat really clean. Mark Sisson talks about the 80/20 approach. I’m truly 95/5. I don’t shoot for that, I just don’t ever plan to be sidetracked. But with 2 young kids and a wife with a carb addiction, and living not 5 minutes from a kick-ass ice cream place, once a week at that place has been an issue once the warm weather hit.

So how exactly have I failed on the Whole30? I’ve eaten some of the Kerrygold butter (though not much), a couple of pieces of 85% dark chocolate*, and tonight I had some greek yogurt with walnuts and some honey in it. I didn’t touch the dark chocolate and yogurt until later today, after I decided I’d had enough of the Whole30 for now. So, not 3 days in, I’m out.

I’ll do it one of these days. But the timing’s just not right. And with my foray into CrossFit still really tentative, as I’m still battling these energy issues that, I think, are due to having trouble sleeping this week along with these CrossFit workouts that are absolutely kicking my ass, I think it’s best to delay the Whole30 for another time.

On a happier note….at some time tomorrow (June 22, 2012), I’m told that the episode of Low Carb Conversations with Jimmy Moore and Friends that I am on will be made available on iTunes and the internet. Hopefully I didn’t say too many stupid things during the recording – the technical difficulties made for a nerve-wracking situation and I wasn’t as comfortable speaking as I’d hoped.

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Breakfast Sausages at Costco

If you happen to have a Costco membership, they sell these awesome tasting and surprisingly healthy frozen breakfast sausages.

Click to enlarge

Ingredients are real, with no chemicals added. They have a little sugar in them which sucks, but aside from that faux pas they are clean.

I’ve been eating them for quite some time and they never disappoint 🙂 A ~$10 bag lasts quite a while.

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06.06.2012 WOD Report – “Kelly”

I felt pretty good yesterday and decided to do the WOD.

I had been bothered by what I learned was a strained or pulled hamstring. Not sure what the difference is and don’t really care, but since it seems to temporarily ‘heal’ right up after a night’s rest, I’ll assume it is just a strain. Yesterday’s WOD was not hamstring-friendly. As soon as the WOD started I felt the tightening of my hamstring and was concerned it would be a problem. But it turned out to be fine. If you read my post from Wednesday’s WOD, my primary concern then was my knees but that turned out to be fine. My insistence on pushing through these aches and pains has worked out so far.

Warm-Up

  • 400m run
  • Spiderman stretches
  • Broad jump and air squat combinations

Kelly

5 Rounds for Time of:

  • 400m Run
  • 30 Box Jumps (21″ for men)
  • 30 Wall Balls (I forget but I think it was 24lb ball prescribed for men)

Needless to say, I scaled it quite heavily to my ability by using a 17″ box and a 14lb ball.

Recap

Let me start by saying I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have guessed properly when it comes to the scaling. There is no way I could have completed this had I not scaled it as much as I did. I might have been able to go higher on the box jumps, at least for the first round or two. In fact, the first round when I started jumping it felt like I was jumping way too high. But by the end of the 2nd round I was worried I was going to catch my toes on the front edge of the box and….game over. Fortunately that didn’t happen.

This WOD was a real bitch. I suck at running – I seem to have much less cardiovascular endurance than others do. It’s something I’ve struggled with forever.

Some Perspective on How Bad My Running Is

When I was in the Navy (age 17 – 23), we  had to do a physical performance test once every 6 months or so. Looking back now, after just a couple of weeks of CrossFit, the test was a joke. But at the time it was horrifying for me, and I could never pass it:

  • 1.5m run – I remember specifically that if you were under age 20 you had 11:45 seconds to finish it, and then when I hit 20yo I had a whopping extra minute or two to finish it
  • situps (I don’t remember the requirement but I want to say 30 or 40?)
  • Pushups (again, I don’t remember how many but it wasn’t all that many – maybe 10 or 20 max?)

I almost always failed the run. And the push-ups. Fortunately, aside from boot camp, there were always so many other sailors taking the test along with me that it would quickly turn into a ‘What was your time?’ situation, so I could just tell the recorder whatever time I wanted and get away with it. Believe me – I never felt good about this, but the alternative would have been some serious consequences. And besides, I was a Fire Controlman and not an infantryman or Seal. I could do the job. And truth be told – I hated my time in the Navy. I slept fine at night knowing I was lying my way through the physical test. I used to grit my teeth in disgust to every “Yes sir!” I’d hear a 40-year old enlisted guy having to give to the 21-year old recent college grad officers. I still don’t get that. But I did what I had to do and did an okay job at everything during my 6 year enlistment. I’m mostly proud of it. Mostly glad I did it.

Back to the point of this post – “Kelly” – I finished in 38:34. Considering the heavy down-scaling, that’s a relatively slow time, but I’m proud as hell. To be going at full intensity for that long is pretty miraculous for me And I look back at a mile and a half and I wonder if I could actually run that distance and beat the time I couldn’t do, even with the possibility of a dishonorable (i.e. ‘General’) discharge hanging over my head at the time. I’m almost certain I could do it now, at age 40.

The Hamstring

After the workout, I hung out at the box for about 15 minutes catching my breath. I then ran home, microwaved a sweet potato and took it to the park to meet up with my family for the kids’ baseball/softball games. While sitting there my hamstring was really aching, much worse than at any point the prior week. Went to bed early and couldn’t sleep (as usual) so spent time on Wastebook. The hammy was bothering me still.

Then, I wake up this morning and it’s fine. When I extend my leg while sitting I can feel it slightly, but all in all it’s fine. I’ll see how it feels tomorrow and decide whether to give it another go or wait. I’m currently on a 2x per week membership and have used up my two sessions this week, so if I go tomorrow or this weekend I’d have to bump up the membership for the month.

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Did my Second CrossFit WOD

So yesterday morning was my second CrossFit group WOD.

Based on the experience of my first group WOD, I was bracing for the worst. I was committed to going no matter what the WOD was going to be, but I figured I’d better at least know what pain was coming my way in advance so that I could mentally prepare. And, to my surprise, the WOD didn’t look too bad:

Choice of 2km or 5km row

Then a “Cash Out” of:

10 Kettlebell Swings @ 55lb for men and 35lb for women
5 Burpees

The cash out was to be done quickly, within a minute, starting on the minute, for 5 minutes. If that’s too confusing for you (it is for me) – basically the cash out had to be done 5 times in a row. I was too slow to actually do it within a minute so I didn’t even look at the clock while going through them.

I was very concerned about the 2km row (you didn’t think I’d try 5km, did you?). I had rowed 500m numerous times as a warm-up and it was always the same: fine for the first 400m and then that last 100m started to hurt. It didn’t help matters when the warm-up for this WOD was….guess what? Rowing! So, after all was said and done, I wound up rowing 2.25km and then the kettlebell swings and burpees. I finished the 2km row in 9:33. I went with the prescribed kettlebell weight for women, 35lb, as I wasn’t sure if I could do it well. That weight turned out to be just about right, though I might have gone a bit more. I don’t think I could have done the 55lb one more than one or two rounds, max.

The result of this WOD for me was that I ACTUALLY FINISHED IT! I was so pleased with myself to actually finish it. The first WOD was such an epic fail in every respect that I figured it would be months before I could complete any. And I was bracing for that reality. So to finish one, and do pretty well on it, was a great confidence boost. Of course, I’m well aware that I got pretty lucky – this WOD played to my strengths (or, more appropriately, my strongest weaknesses). While the first WOD was seemingly perfectly designed to destroy me – a complicated olympic lift followed by a complicated jump-rope technique followed by hand-stand pushups. I was still very sore in my shoulders before starting the rowing yesterday. Today my whole upper-body is very, very sore. I can walk though!

I am forcing myself to do no physical activity today. Tomorrow, if I wake up and am not too sore, and my work schedule permits, I may go back to the box for more torture. Otherwise, I’ll wait one more day for my body to recover, and go Tuesday.

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Time to Throw Caution to the Wind – Time for Crossfit

I have an introductory Crossfit session tonight in about 45 minutes. To be honest, I’m scared shitless. Excited too.

If you don’t know what Crossfit is, then here is a quick video intro:

I’ve been wanting to try Crossfit for a year now. There have been two reasons I’ve avoided it:

My fitness level wasn’t up to snuff. (in other words, I’ve been too much of a wuss)

Yeah yeah yeah – “Crossfit can be scaled to any fitness level!” That’s cool and all, but I didn’t want to be the guy who can’t do a single pull-up unassisted, coming in dead last for months, etc. While I know I’ll be forced to throw all pride out the door as I enter tonight, I can now go in there with the confidence of knowing that for a 40-something dude I’m in half-decent shape. Just not Crossfit-level shape. Likely nowhere near even “Level 1”.

It’s dang expensive.

My local box is $125 per month for only 2x per week. That’s much more than double for an unlimited membership to the local “Globo” gym. But, if I enjoy Crossfit as much as I hope I will, then it will be worth it. Sacrifice doesn’t just have to come from the working out itself but from my wallet, too : (

My main goals for tonight are to: 1. Get past the fear of getting my ass kicked badly, and 2. To not throw up more than once before the workout is done.

So here I go. Wish me luck. I’ll blog about my experience after…so long as I don’t wind up like this guy and can still muster up the strength to write: