Visible Progress or Better Lighting

Nice progress in two weeks.
What a difference two weeks makes. The photos on the left were taken Jan. 10, 2016, the photos on the right were snapped Jan. 24.

As you can imagine, as a man, I am very visual, even when it comes to how I look. Photographs have been a great way for me to chart my progress as I have lost weight and tried to get in some kind of shape other than round. I recently lamented that I looked much better last August than I did two weeks ago. I have been going at it pretty hard since just after Christmas and I have visual evidence of some progress. I never intended to put the before or after photos out there. But, you folks seem to read if I do, so…

I have been trying to change up my workouts. I have been finding some great things from Men’s Fitness (I subscribe) and Men’s Health (I follow on Facebook) all designed to burn fat and build muscle – two things I need to focus on.

You’d wonder what the goal is after losing 60 pounds (and gaining 10 back), fitting into men’s medium shirts again, dropping my cholesterol and triglycerides and just generally being in better shape. I still have the Daniel Craig physique dream. I’m trying to be a bit more realistic, however, as my body resists and life keeps getting in the way.

If I can just get my diet straight, I might be dangerous.

All the “experts” say to switch up your workouts every four to six weeks or so. Lately I have trying to do this within the week. I try to lift weights six days and run three days per week. So, I have been doing what I know three days, and then switching to an unknown the other three days. Men’s Fitness recently published actor Matt Bomer’s (American Horror Story: Hotel) chest workout and I tried it for the first time this past Monday. Holy muscle fatigue, Batman!

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I’ve had a pretty good month running so far. I should be able to hit 40 miles for January before it’s all said and done. I have been trying to gradually increase my mileage again. If I get off track just for a week or so my cardiovascular stamina just goes to shit. I guess I’m still trying to undo 18 years of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and 16 years of relative inactivity. A five-mile run yesterday was a win and I have a six-miler planned for this week. I really would like to run a half Marathon at some point. A full Marathon doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest, but I think a half would be a nice accomplishment for someone who not so long ago hated running.

If I can lose the belly fat, which I realize is quite the challenge for someone like me, and develop a chest I might actually be satisfied with what I see in the mirror. My quadriceps have been developing a nice shape and my calves are starting to look good. Everything seems to be leaning out and hardening a bit, and if I am not seeing things, my stomach is starting to respond.

My diet has been and continues to be an issue. I say issue but although I am eating better and less, I still manage to put things in my face that I know I shouldn’t. Bread, candy, baked goods, pastry, and chips are all weaknesses I continue to battle. Of course I don’t consume entire packages in a sitting like I used to, my indulgences are much smaller, but I indulge nonetheless.

nt-12-20-ceI have read conflicting information about protein lately. Many of the things I have read over the past year say that if you want to pack on the muscle you should consume 1g of protein per pound of body weight per day. Men’s Health says .73g of protein per pound of body weight. I have found getting over 100g per day is a challenge. However, Isopure has great low carb powder that’s 50g per serving, and they have a Gatorade style drink that packs 40g of protein per serving. If I can stick to a protein-rich regimen on a daily basis (130-180g per day), and keep up the workouts and running, I think I can really make some progress in the next several weeks. I have to avoid injury and I can’t make excuses.

Some of my frustration at the first of the year was due to the fact that visually I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. I had to remind myself that the food and alcohol during the holiday season may have had some sort of cumulative effect. I got soft and squishy. I maintained a level of exercise that kept me from gaining any real weight, but I didn’t make any progress toward any fitness or physique goals.

I have needed positive reinforcement throughout this journey. I use it as fuel as much as I use self-loathing. I have to keep challenging myself and powering past obstacles, real and imaginary. If I can do that, I’ll like what I see in the mirror and you’ll see it in the pictures.

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