Shaking Things up a Bit

It’s been about three weeks since my last blog entry. I have been concentrating on getting through this workout program and working on a different personal writing project. I have long subscribed to the mantra, “the day you stop learning is the day you die.” I continue to learn more and more about myself and the people I’ve collected and the world I live in every day. Unfortunately, I seem to learn more ugly truths than bright happy ones.

I am not going to bore you with details. Just know that the list of people who are dead to me seems to be growing by the minute. I don’t trust people who claim to have a small army of friends. I don’t trust people in general.

Call me jaded, bitter or cynical, or all three. I really don’t care.

FRIENDSHIP, n. A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul. – Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

I only have a few true, honest-to-goodness dear friends. And I am more than good with that. That’s all I need. Ask yourself if any of your friends would let you crash on their couch for a few days out of the clear blue sky with no warning. I bet you have a lot fewer friends than you think.

FRIEND, n. An investigator upon the slide of whose microscope we live, move and have our being. – Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

IMG_9162In six days I will have completed Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Shred from for the second time. Have I performed every set or every rep? No. I have missed four program workouts in five weeks (not bad if you ask me); two because I had a nasty head cold, one because my body told me to take the night off, and the other traffic delays put me behind so I did pushups and sit-ups and called it a night. Equipment shortfalls in my makeshift gym keep me from doing everything. I can’t go as heavy as I would like, and I am never doing another deadlift as long as I live. And I am limited in what I can do from a “cardio acceleration” standpoint because of space. But step-ups with a knee-raise, jumping jacks, kettlebell swings and running in place are enough if you ask me. I’ll finish the program Saturday, barring craziness or injury. I’ll post pictures next weekend. I don’t think the before and after pictures will be that startling. I do think I have slimmed down though. The numbers on the scale don’t agree but pictures don’t lie.

The first time I did the program I had to tack two workouts onto the end. I was in the middle of it a year ago when I injured my back to the point of needing surgery. Other times I’ve tried it I have done some of the lifts and relied on running for cardio rather than the interstitial 60-second high-intensity movements the program calls for.

I’ve picked up the running, over 10 miles since Tuesday. I had been running a lot, but that head cold and some dental issues knocked me down some. I’ve hit 16 miles for the month after running just 22 in March. January was a high-water mark for me with 44.6. When I do this Shortcut to Shred deal, since cardio is built in, I don’t think I need to run or do the recumbent bike. I am sorely mistaken. The workouts do take a lot out of me, they can last as long as 90 minutes. I have to keep finding ways to push myself. I am looking forward to designing my own program. Recent issues of Men’s Fitness and the Men’s Health Facebook page have tons of great strength training and HIIT workouts. I am going to identify some goals and weak spots and attack them.

“A person is smart. People are dumb, dangerous, panicky animals.” – Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K in Men in Black

I have come to the realization that most of my problem has to do with my caloric intake. I started counting calories again. I am eating too much. So many things I have been reading lately have me even more confused. Carbs are the devil, no, carbs are not the devil. Eat this not that. Don’t eat that, eat this. I am going to take a new approach starting tomorrow. For months on end I have been trying to find a way to get at least my bodyweight in protein in grams in my system everyday. I have extolled the virtues of Isopure products mainly for the high protein content. The mistake I have been making is using the protein to supplement my daily diet rather than using it as the basis of my nutrition and building around it.

To that end, I’ll make getting 180g of protein in my system, by hook or by crook, every day. I’ll eat regular food around my protein. Three 50g gram shakes, two scrambled eggs and a Greek yogurt gets me to 187g. Three shakes are 66o cal, the eggs about 170, the yogurt 120 – that’s 950. That gives me room for a good lunch and dinner. I weigh between 185-188 right now and my body needs about 1,800 cal per day without exercise to maintain my weight. I just need to plan ahead.

I really cut calories this past week and there was a noticeable difference. More and more material I read, and the more people I seek advice from, or offer unsolicited advice tell me the same things – if I want to cut my body fat I need to cut calories and drop some weight. I had forgotten how to lose weight. I lost 60 pounds and I had forgotten how to do it.

I got as low as 176 and couldn’t stay there. Over the course of a year, I have gained as much 12 and as little as nine depending which day I of the week I weigh myself.

I am nowhere near where I want to be. I have no doubt I will get there. After a mini-epiphany this weekend about diet, exercise and unfortunately people, I am more determined than ever. And you know what, I feel sorry for anyone who gets in my way.

The bottom line is that you have to find what works for you. I’m still looking. There is no magic bullet. There are no magic pills. I read an interesting article a few days ago about why crash dieters fail. It’s because although they see quick, easy results, they don’t develop long-term habits that lead to sustainable success. They are more likely to binge eat when the opportunity presents itself. When I was younger I didn’t believe in moderation. There was no fun in it. I always drank too much, smoked too much, ate too much. Now I get it. Many times a taste is all I need. I don’t need or want the whole damn thing.

I’ll let you know how the protein and the cutting calories thing goes. I’ll craft a new program at the end of the week. I have a de-loading week on the horizon. It’s almost Speedo season and I plan on looking damn good for a 46-year-old suburbanite. Some would say I already do.

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