Another Milestone Down, Some Visual Evidence and More Questions Than Answers

me triple
Better lighting helps, and a little brightness/contrast adjustment too. Today is on the left, the middle is six weeks ago, and the right is 11 weeks ago. You be the judge.

As I mentioned in my last entry I have been working through something called Shortcut to Shred – a free six-week workout program I found on www.bodybuilding.com some time ago. Exercise guru Jim Stoppani, who seems to be doing his own thing on his own website these days, crafted this six-day-a-week hell and I was determined to complete it – again. I have done it all the way through once. I tried it a few other times in fits and starts. The last time I tried it in earnest I herniated a disc that required surgery to repair during a bad form deadlift during heavy week.

I can follow a program and this one I like because it forced the muscle confusion as you go. It’s not six days per week for six week of three sets and 10 reps a set. It’ll take you from 2-5 reps and heavy weight early in the week to 21-30 and light weight on the back half of the week. The key to the program is something Stoppani calls “cardio acceleration.” You don’t rest between sets, you do 60 seconds of some kind of cardio like step-ups with a knee raise, jumping jacks, kettlebell swings, mountain climbers, goblet squats, etc.

Well, today was Day 41, the last workout of the program. It says Day 42 is a rest day. No kidding. I finished the program with 30 reps of 25-pound hammer curls. I missed four workouts during the six weeks. So of the 36 prescribed sessions I did 32. As I mentioned in a previous entry, I missed two with a head cold, one because my body said no and a fourth because of a late commute (I did workout that night, just not a program session).

IMG_9186-side
Definitely making progress on belly fat, shape and size.

I feel good that I accomplished this. I’ve done the lifts off and on as part of my regular workout regimen. But this is only the second time I have completed this program from start to finish. Now, I must be totally honest here. Due to equipment limitations in my little makeshift gym, fatigue, soreness or extenuating circumstances, I did not do every rep or every set or every exercise or every round of cardio acceleration the program calls for. I did most of it though and I am proud of myself for it. I don’t feel ike I cheated myself one bit.

As you can see from the photos I look a lot better than I did Jan. 9. But from Feb. 15 (the date I started the program) there isn’t what I would call a drastic change. I wish I had changed my caloric intake sooner. I think I’ve seen the most change in the last week or two. I started cutting calories two weeks ago and I upped my protein intake. Again, I should have done this six weeks ago. Maybe the photos would show a more dramatic change. I have not lost any weight on this program but that wasn’t really the goal. I do think my legs are stronger and more defined, especially my calves. I certainly have slimmed down.

IMG_9191I have picked up the running the past few weeks after a light February on that front. After just 22 miles last month, I passed 29 with a three-mile run today. I think I have two more runs in me this month.

As I write this blog and enjoy a Deschutes Black Butte porter and Tullamore DEW Irish whisky, I am contemplating what to do next. Yeah, the booze really helps. I cut back when I started cutting calories actually. Men’s Fitness magazine has a lot of great workouts and healthy eating tips. I’m looking forward to designing my own program to see if it works for me. There are many exercises I want to try like Belgian split squats. Several people have recommended HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and Shortcut to Shred has a good measure of that built in. I need to find some that don’t involve twisting. My surgically repaired back doesn’t like twisting one bit. Bad enough I ran 17 miles this past week.

I really need to figure out my nutrition. I think that’s my biggest problem.I am much better than I ever have been but I probably need to consult a nutritionist or a dietician.

I can’t bench more than 105 until I upgrade my barbell situation, but I have room to go for dumbbell bench presses, same with pec flyes. I would really like to be able to do two-a-days. I think the best I’ve looked was last August when I was able to do two-a-day weight lifting sessions and interval walking/running.

There is a great chest workout from Men’s Fitness that I’ve done a couple of times – it’s actor Matt Bomer from American Horror Story’s chest program. It’s an ass-kicker, holy muscle fatigue Batman. There’s an arms complex in another issue and a great ab workout in a recent issue. I just need to find a challenging legs routine and I think I’ll have my program set. I definitely need more cardio in my life whether that be walking or recumbent bike on the days I don’t run. I am definitely going to continue to work on my belly fat and I am going to build up my non-existent chest.

deadI wish I could be as active as I was today every day – a three-mile run, an hour-long weightlifting session, a little football and a little basketball. A few years ago when I was approaching my heaviest weight and my most out of shape state ever, I played an hour of tackle football with my then-six-year-old in the front yard. I spent the rest of the day on the couch. As tired and as sore as I am right now, I couldn’t imagine what I’d feel like right now at age 46 if I was still 236 pounds. I know I wouldn’t have gone running or lifted weights. And a half an hour of catch with the football probably would have ruined me for the weekend. No, I don’t like 186. I liked 180 much better. But it is what it is.

As usual I have been doing a lot of unnecessary reading (and not enough necessary reading), and yes, I am more confused than ever. I have more questions that answers. But I am determined to figure this out and get the results I’m after. I can’t exercise six hours a day. I can’t live on 1,200 calories per day (I could but what the hell fun is that).

At my age, with my schedule, is getting ripped and having six-pack abs realistic? I don’t know, but I sure as hell am going to find out. Speedo season is on the horizon, you know, and I plan on being the envy of the backyard pool set. People tell me I am too hard on myself and my response is that I’ll never improve if I don’t push myself, if I don’t try harder. I don’t react well when I am told I can’t do something. But I am a seeker of knowledge and information, especially about myself. I am on a quest to test my limits and discover who and what I am and be the best whatever that is.

So keep following my faithful readers, age is but a number and the best is yet to come.

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