Day 365: The end and the beginning

Day 365 - front

Day 365 – front

  • Weight: 140.8 lbs.
  • No workout today; next: Workout C, Sept. 2
  • Total inches: 125.8
  • Protein: 136g (3g over target)
  • Calories: 2,102
Measurement Sept. 1 Aug. 30 Change
Weight (pounds) 121.8 140.8 +19.0
Body fat percentage 23.5 26.8 [Aug. 28] +3.3 percentage pts.
Fat weight 28.6 37.7 +9.1
Lean weight 93.2 103.1 +9.9
Total inches 113.6 125.8 +12.2

Exercise Start* Aug. 30 Change
Kettlebell swing 32 x 20 lbs. 58/17 x 50 lbs. +150.0 percent
Myotatic crunch 6.5 x 2.5 lbs. 8.0 x 20 lbs. +700.0 percent
Single-arm kettlebell swing 25 x 15 lbs. 12/10 x 35 lbs. +133.3 percent
Isolateral dumbbell incline bench press 2.4/3.0 x 30 lbs. 0.3/1.2 x 40 lbs. +33.3 percent
Yates row 7.0 x 55 lbs. 3.2 x 165 lbs. +200.0 percent
Reverse drag curls 6.0 x 25 lbs. 1.2 x 55 lbs. +120.0 percent

*I started these exercises on different dates.

I made it.

And I have 10 pounds more muscle to show for it.

Project Bulk has given me a focus for exercise and for eating. It gave me direction on how to reshape my body over time.

I didn’t know how long it would take me to add 10 pounds of lean mass. I thought it might take 3 months, but instead it took 11.

I didn’t know if it would make me “fat.” While I added 9 pounds of fat, it has been evenly distributed.

If you don’t see it, that’s OK. I don’t see it either, and I pore over the photos very closely. I do see most of the change in my upper arms from the side; to me, my arms are clearly bigger.

My upper legs are bigger, too, though I didn’t consider that when shooting the photos, which all show me from the waist up.

And I do see it in the numbers. I’m nearly 20 percent heavier than a year ago, and 12 percent bigger in total inches.

I feel it in subtle ways. A better posture. More confidence in taking on tougher projects. More power in lifting heavy objects. Liking my body image a little more.

It took very little effort on my part. I worked out for 51 hours and 28 minutes total for the year, averaging out to under an hour a week. If anything, far more time went into shooting my daily photos and counting calories for every meal and snack.

(Some people have asked me why I don’t work out more. By doing this bare minimum, I know I can sustain a routine of lifting 60 to 90 minutes a week far into the future. Can you make time for exercising 1 hour a week if it makes you look better?)

I was never certain it could be done until a few months in. Even then, I wasn’t always sure I was on the right path. I still had options on how much to eat and which exercises to focus on. I went through trial and error several times.

Self-doubt can be a killer. You wonder why you spend all the time exercising and measuring food portions. You step on the scale wondering if the numbers are gonna go your way. You find yourself struggling with whether it’s ever going to happen.

Self-doubt will kill your dreams and your momentum in a heartbeat. That’s why we have exercise and diet partners. That’s why I charted progress in numbers and photos. That’s why I made adjustments when I wasn’t satisfied with results.

I wrestled with that doubt from time to time. I will continue to wrestle with it, but I know the outcome.

The end isn’t really the end. After a year, I’m ready to focus harder on dropping my body fat percentage. My Bodpod test on Wednesday revealed my current level to be 26.8 percent, nearly the same as it was in April.

I increased it by 3.3 percentage points over the past year, and it remains in the poor range for men my age. My goal is to drop it by 10 percentage points into the excellent range while maintaining or increasing my lean mass.

I don’t know how long it will take. It might take 5 years, it might take 5 months. Once again, I am exploring the unknown.

I strongly encourage you to read “The 4-Hour Body” [Amazon |iTunes aff. links] by Tim Ferriss. It offers unconventional advice on not only gaining weight, but losing weight. If anything, you’ll at least get a laugh out of it.

In talking with friends and strangers over the year, I have seen the skepticism on their faces and heard it in their questions. I can offer only one man’s limited experience, one that is still in progress.

But in reshaping yourself, all I can suggest is that you try, and keep trying. You hold yourself accountable, or do it publicly and let the world hold you accountable. I made mistakes, but they weren’t fatal. When you screw up, keep going.

I never thought I’d be anything more than a 120-pound scrawny weakling. I imagined that as I got older, I might get paunchier at best. Instead, I have set myself on a lifelong journey to make me as vigorous and bulky as possible on a lazy course of action.

I hope you will chart your own course and smile whenever you look in the mirror, too.

August’s average workout time was 26 minutes and 18 seconds.

I averaged 2,144 calories a day in August. I also had 136 g protein a day on average.

The project has cost me $668.67 so far. I spent $12.25 more on food in August compared to previous monthly averages.

You can see all the numbers updated in real time on the Measurements page.

Day 364 - side

Day 364 – side

Day 1 vs. Day 365 - front

Day 1 vs. Day 365 – front
[Click image for a larger version.]

day 1 vs. Day 365 - side

Day 1 vs. Day 365 – side
[Click image for a larger version.]