Fitness

Hear me now and believe me later.

My pursuit of fitness began about 2 years ago. My wife, who has always taken excellent care of herself, came down with cancer, and halfway through her eventually victorious battle I realized that if she can get it, then I’m definitely screwed if I don’t make some changes.

She inspired me to take better care of myself, and for this I am eternally grateful. I joined a local gym and started going regularly. After about a year, proud of myself that I had accomplished the personally momentous task of creating a new lifestyle, I decided that it was time to take things to the next level. This was done after making the acquaintance of a new coworker, a body builder, and feeling another bout of inspiration.

To do this I did need to take a step back by finally going to the doctor to figure out what was wrong with my shoulder. A bone spur removed, rotator cuff repair, and labrum repair later (also 6 weeks of percacet and an accidental addiction later, which really just amounted to a terrible weekend and 3-4 weeks of not being myself during that recovery) I finally got back into the gym, slowly rebuilding my strength. This puts us at July 2011.

At the end of August I met with my coworker and he designed a diet for me and reviewed my workout schedule. I started at 211 lbs and 32% body fat. Four weeks later I am still 211 lbs, but I have lost 15lbs of fat, gained 15lbs of muscle, and dropped to 26% body fat.

Until talking with Mike and learning really just a few things from him, I thought getting fit was done through working out regularly and doing it well. This is a part of it, but what really surprised me is that the hardest thing is actually the diet.

I learned that to maintain my starting size, also considering my activity levels, that I needed about 3k calories a day. I was probably getting around 2k a day, so I was already at a deficit. What I needed to change was not my intake, but my intervals, and more protein. First, I upped my protein intake to about 200 grams per day. I reduced carbs, fruits, and fats. I also changed my intervals to eating every 3 hours or so. These meals are not small (200-400 calories) and until I started putting on more muscle mass after the first two weeks, the meals were satisfying, and I would not get hungry between.

The first benefit was I immediately had no desire for sweets and snacks. The second, and main benefit, is that eating this way led to a boost in metabolism. This was totally contrary to what I thought and had “learned” in the past. As my body adjusted to this high-protein, more frequent diet, my body temperature rose after meals and at night. At first this was uncomfortable, but I adjusted quickly and am used to being warmer. With my choices to stay the way I was, or just be warmer, I chose being warmer. Now it’s not that bad. Fans are incredible.

Finally, with the higher metabolism, I am finding myself adding a little more to my meals, and also experienced my first dramatic, and surprisingly fast drop in blood sugar. In a moment, I went from fine to a nearly immediate, very uncomfortable hypoglycemic state. After a couple of cookies for a boost and some crunchy peanut butter to stabilize, I was back to normal. I can also enjoy the occasional sweet, or ice cream, without negative consequences, and because I’m not hungry, I don’t overdo it.

In summary, and as I think about it while I write this, I enjoy it very much. The short end of the stick is a minor inconvenience with food preparation and regularity. Sometimes I don’t want to eat, but I know that I’m going to be uncomfortable when I go past 3 hours without it. The benefits far outweigh these minor inconveniences. My body is working more efficiently and has the energy it needs to support itself and repair/grow muscle. I see food as a tool now and am using it more the way it is designed.

After measuring and weighing on 23rd of September, I am very happy with what I’ve done. Mike’s not pissed because I’ve listened to him, and according to him, I am doing the hardest part (diet) very well. Going forward it’s time to put more time into cardio. I intentionally avoided it because it’s incredibly damned boring, but I’m at a point where I need it to lose fat more quickly. If I’m consistent with this, I would love to see improvements in this coming month similar to those of the last month—with more fat loss. If I perform as well, losing 15 lbs of fat and putting on 15 lbs of muscle I’ll look the best I ever have in my entire life.

These results won’t be from the gym. It will be from eating. Why? Because that is what makes the work produce results! If you can’t tell by now, I’m quite excited about my changes. They’re very fast and I’m not starving myself to do it. Maybe next time I’ll write about my routine and what has changed now from what I’ve done in the past.

To conclude, Mike used to consult people on fitness, but he quit after 9 years because he got tired of people not listening. If a firefighter tells you how to use a fire hose you’d believe him, right? So if a body builder tells you how to eat to lose weight and gain muscle, even if it goes against everything you’ve learned, believe him.

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2 comments

  1. I would be very careful about taking advice from someone with no real education. The high protein diets body builders encourage can result for some people in permanent and debilitating illnesses. My friend’s husband took the advice of body builders and the extra protein he ingested (200 grams a day is a LOT!) resulted in stomach surgery and he will never be completely healthy again because of it.

    What you look like is important — I totally understand that. But health is important, too.

  2. I am sorry but no real education? I am a certified Fitness and Nutrition Specialist from the University of Florida as well as International Sports Sciences Association, National Academy of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, and APEX certified. As for your friend, maybe he should have looked into his pre-existing health conditions as taking in too much protein to develop the chemical toxin urea is next to impossible without having issues to begin with. The problem with this world is the completely uneducated people warning others about things they have no education about. I heard someone got sick from a peanut alergy, should everyone avoid peanuts? Oh yea, pre-existing issues, huh? Thank you for the warnings as I am sure you meant well but everyone’s requirements are different and when you factor in everything about each individual, you can then know what they need to accomplish their goals. I bet that didn’t happen with your friend but perhaps bashing bodybuilders or just assuming they are uneducated is the right thing to do. When you eat correctly, you become healthier and achieve physical results. Thanks for the great advice.

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