Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 11....Drained

My cold has morphed into an upper respiratory infection, so it's now not only in my head & sinuses, but it's partying down in my chest. It has left me feeling quite drained & weak. My last few workouts have been pretty uninspired. Today's weights session was cut in half.

I think my calorie restriction may be sharing the blame for my energy drought, too. I'm now on ZERO processed sugar and lower carbs than normal. I dropped 2.9 lbs. last week, which is more than desired. I need to slow down the loss. This is where the calorie count would be nice to have. Still, I'll soldier on and adjust as I go. I'd prefer to only lose a couple more pounds by the end of the month before I binge like a frothing-at-the-mouth maniac.

I'm definitely losing some muscle mass along with the fat. The photos don't always tell the whole story, but my arms, chest, shoulders and legs are shrinking, along with my waist. I must say that I'm more of a fan of being in a positive calorie balance than my current situation. But, the show must go on.

Which brings us to this week's photos:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 10...With A Cold

I came down with a nasty head cold on Friday. I skipped my cardio session and did none of my daily calisthenics over the weekend. Today I still feel like crud, but wanted to get in a workout to get the blood pumping. Here's some irony: due to my 3-day rest, I felt stronger, but due to the cold, I had less energy. That meant feeling strong on my exercises but not feeling like I could bust out set after set.

So this is week 10 already. I still have "fat" days, where my midsection doesn't feel as tight as other days. Today is one such day, where I feel the definition I could see in my previous photos is a bit blurred today. Oh well. Still have a few weeks to get the formula nailed down for the final photos.

Today's numbers:
Weight: 149.8 lbs.
Waist: 30.5" (and that's being generous to the tape measure)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Turning A Corner

I've started to notice a pretty significant transition this week. This morning, my waist measurement was 30.5"...which is the first time it's been that small in many months (probably when I was running 40+ miles/wk. I hit 29.9" right before my marathon last year...but with far less muscle). Granted, my waist measurement fluctuates about a half an inch on any given morning, based on water retention and bloating (yes, I AM a man), but it's a good sign. Also, just the visual cues are telling me that I'm getting a little leaner. There seems to be more definition between the abs.

So...the suffering I spoke of earlier this week may not be as intense as I expected. My current diet isn't terribly extreme, yet progress is being made. I'll continue as-is until I see the progress stalling. One key is to very gradually coax the fat loss. Unless you have a LOT of bodyfat to lose (i.e. Biggest Loser contestant), you don't want to lose too much, too soon. That causes the body to go into starvation mode, which forces the body to conserve fat by slowing the metabolism. As my goal date approaches, I'll be constantly evaluating my status to determine what subtle changes need to be made.

As I spoke on my running blog about balance, I think I'm finding balance in this quest. My body told me I was starting to overtrain, so I cut back from 3 weight workouts and 3 aerobic sessions per week to two each (still doing pushups, pullups, situps, dips and squats daily). It seems to be working. My energy level has been good. Part of that is probably attributed to a cleaner diet, too, although I haven't been getting enough sleep (work has been crazy).

Speaking of are a couple of key things I've been doing, aside from eliminating processed sugar (well, 95% of it). My lunch is probably the most affected meal of my day. A typical lunch now consists of a half sandwich, large carrot and a large whole apple (today, I added a mini orange). For the sandwich, the only condiment I use is mustard (zero calories). I add one slice of ham, one slice of turkey, one slice of cheddar cheese, two cucumber slices and some lettuce. As a mental trick, I cut the half sandwich in half, so it looks like I have two halves. Silly, maybe, but it seems like I'm eating more. I've noticed that my stomach capacity has decreased, so I get full easier. Like I said, I'm monitoring my weight closely, and if it drops too quickly, I'll increase the intake slightly.

Finally, here are a couple of shots after today's workout.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week 9 (Here Comes The Suffering)

It's already week 9 in this silly quest, which means it's time for the major deprivation to begin. I've already been watching chocolate chip cookies disappear into the mouths of my wife and kids, as I take another bite of my daily apple. Well, I've been sneaking a small treat here and there, actually, but this week begins the "no processed sugar" portion of my self-torture quest for sharp six-pack abs.

As you may have deduced, I'm pretty much playing this by ear (or, by mirror and tape measure). I refuse to count calories. It's too hard. I'm too lazy. I'm simply eliminating most foods that have a lot of calories with little bulk, in favor of lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains and dairy (light on the cheese). Most of my protein will come from chicken breasts, eggs, natural peanut butter and nonfat milk. I'm not sure if I have the guts to completely cut out coffee, as I previously stated I would. I've cut way back, but life without my little cup of gold every morning may not be worth living.

I've noticed, as my diet has become stricter and I'm starting to drop a little weight, that my overall strength seems to be declining just a little. I'm not sure if that's an effect of insufficient calories or waning motivation. I've been feeling tired and weak lately. I will say that my workload the last several weeks has been pretty intense (and stressful), and I have never been able to deal with stress all that well (well, running certainly helps, but I won't be able to do that again for awhile).

From here on out, I'm going to be less concerned with hitting PB's in my exercises and focusing more on lifting with very good form and keeping my muscles under tension for a good period of time during each set. I've incorporated standard planks into my core routine. I used to do them regularly, but haven't for a couple of years. So those, along with weighted crunches and hanging leg raises comprise my abs routine.

Eh, what the heck. I'll throw up some photos, even though I have yet to see much of a difference from week to week. Actually, the one thing I notice is more vascularity in my forearms in the top photo. I'm assuming that's from a slightly lower bodyfat level. Or, maybe I was just flexing them harder today.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Week 8

The weeks are moving by quickly. No photo this week, since they're a bit redundant at this point, although there are some minor changes taking place. First, here are my usual weekly numbers:

Weight: 153 lbs.
Waist: 30.9"

The biggest change is that I finally broke through the 31" barrier in my waist measurement. I'd like to hit 30" on the nose by the end of February.

I decided to change up some exercises during Friday's workout, with good results. I was sore in the right places for a couple of days after. Repeating the same workout over and over allows your body to adapt and to quit progressing, so it's good to mix it up from time to time (as long as there's still a way to track progress).

Diet-wise, I'm still in a holding pattern; not being too strict, but watching the sweets and meal portions. I've apparently hit a perfect balance of calories in vs. calories out, since my weight has more or less been the same since I started this quest 8 weeks ago. I'd like to think that more of it is muscle and less is fat since the beginning, but I have no way to know for sure (my body fat scale isn't terribly accurate).

Beginning next week, I'll start slowly adjusting my diet. I've already cut out all soda pop, most refined sugar, and have cut way back on my caffeine intake. My lunch is the biggest change, as it's heavy on raw fruits and veggies. If I have a sandwich, it's with one slice of bread and no mayo.

That's about all I have to report at this time. Soon, I'll see real progress and should be able to monitor how my body reacts and whether or not I'm getting enough calories (although I probably won't be counting them).


Monday, January 3, 2011

Week 7; Two Weeks Until "Tighten Up" Time

Hey y'all! Hope you had a nice New Year's Eve & the new year is treating you well so far.
Thus begins Week 7 of my quest. My plan is to eat fairly normally (but under control) until about mid-January. From there until the end of January, my diet will change slightly; slightly smaller portions and very minimal processed sugar. Then, starting February, I'll institute a specific eating plan (which I'll detail as the time approaches).

Here's this week's stats:
Wt: 154.2 lbs.
Waist: 31.4"

In lieu of the regular comparison photos, I thought I'd post a shot taken during my workout this morning (in my very cold garage):

Still some fat to lose, but I won't have to starve to do so. Plus, I'm finally doing some regular cardio.