Tag Archives: change

Month 28: The end of numbers

Wade - apple pie pizza

I had a checkup of sorts Tuesday. I went for a Bod Pod assessment, my first since May 2 and starting a maintenance diet.

In the 2-plus years I’ve been on Project Bulk, it’s been trickier and trickier to get the test. Lakeshore Foundation (which now does the pricier and more robust DEXA scans), Samford University and St. Vincent’s One Nineteen no longer offer Bod Pod. The University of Alabama still does at a very reasonable $20, but that’s a 2-hour round trip to Tuscaloosa.

Fortunately, PhysIQ Lifestyle Medicine in Homewood has one for $40. Contact them to get an appointment on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

May marked a successful conclusion to Project Bulk, with a 15.7 percent body fat reading, very healthy for my age and gender.

Today, after 8 months of a slightly looser maintenance diet, I’m at 16.8 percent body fat.

That is very good news. I strongly encourage you to get a Bod Pod or DEXA scan to determine your body fat percentage. I learned from watching the documentary “Fed Up” how even people without weight issues can have serious problems with high body fat.

I’m going to take a big step (for me) in 2015, starting in 24 hours on New Year’s Day.

No more food diary. No more measuring ounces and counting calories.

I will continue my exact same boring workout routine and record my results. I will continue to eat the same slow carb diet 6 days a week and indulge in a cheat day once a week, with a little cheating during the week.

The only change is I won’t have to weigh every meal and calculate the calories and protein. After more than a year, I know how to shop and cook and eat within the plan. It’s super easy.

Besides, my calorie and protein calculations were often estimates. I was winging it all along.

I’m comfortable with the road ahead. Maybe in a year or two I’ll check my body fat percentage again. But I’m going to return to eating like most normal people do, without the fuss of a scale and a calculator.

I call it a big step only because the numbers, even not perfectly accurate, have been reliable and comfortable. If I need to gain or lose pounds, or gain or lose muscle or fat, I could work on the intake numbers. This has been my life since September 2012.

But I have to remember a couple of things. First, I’ve lived most of my life without this obsessive pre-meal measurement. Second, I can always restart the record keeping. I’m not throwing my kitchen scale in the trash.

Step by step, I have dialed back the major time-consuming efforts: daily photos, weekly weigh-ins, protein shakes, daily/weekly/monthly posts. And I haven’t fallen down. I haven’t screwed up.

I’ve become stronger, more confident and comfortable in this lifestyle. It’s now routine.

I hope you’ll try some of the crazy things I did from “The 4-Hour Body” [Amazon | iTunes aff. links]. They worked for me most of the time, and I’m happy to help you with advice and answers and encouragement. Just ask.

I hope you’ll simply try. I did, and my life is better in ways I never imagined.

Day 357: The whole package

Day 357 - front

  • Weight: 140.8 lbs.
  • Workout C: 29 minutes, 19 seconds; next: Workout C, Aug. 26
  • Total inches: 125.4
  • Protein: 133g (0g over target)
  • Calories: 2,094

I believe in self-help.

I’ve worked on myself for a very long time. Project Bulk is easily the most visible, both in outward appearance and in sharing it online.

But I have spent years getting better at communication, relationships, finances, leadership, listening, diet, emotional health and physical health. I push myself forward all the time.

I can’t say why I do so. Ginny would argue that it’s the Tiger Mom in our heads that forces us to keep going beyond all reason.

It has served me well, keeping me from remaining in my comfort zone for too long. I like to tinker, to make things better, even if that thing is me.

I read books, I work with others, I practice, and I maintain an absurd level of dissatisfaction. I study, meditate, plan, work and repeat.

I’m not quite done. I’ll never be quite done.

I am forever a work in progress.

Day 357 - side

Day 350: A hot mess

Day 350 - front

  • Weight: 139.4 lbs.
  • No workout today; next: Workout C, Aug. 17
  • Total inches: 125.4
  • Protein: 122g (10g under target)
  • Calories: 2,221

This will take some research, or some lazy crowdsourcing, but I’ve noticed an important thermostatic shift in my body in the past year of Project Bulk.

I’m hotter.

Not in the “I’m too sexy” sense, but in the body temperature sense.

When I started Sept. 1, the weather was getting cooler. What I noticed was that I wasn’t walking around the house freezing as lower temperatures settled in. As a skinny person, I used to bundle up because I felt cold all winter long (and I didn’t necessarily want the thermostat to be set at 85 degrees).

Winter temps didn’t get to me — I felt rather comfortable indoors and outdoors.

But summer has been even more telling.

Usually, I find a sweltering Alabama summer to hit the spot. I loved 90-degree days, and driving with the windows open, skipping the full-blast AC. The rare moments I would feel any sense of humidity is coming off a hot shower, and continuing to sweat even after toweling off and getting dressed.

Now that I’m 20 pounds heavier, I am sweating. I am sweaty. I am a faucet of perspiration. Summer has tried to wring me dry through my upper body and head.

No one told me I’d endure male menopause this year.

I am assuming that the change to my physiology has wrought this sweaty problem. I used to sweat profusely after working in the yard or running on the treadmill, naturally. But nowadays, I sweat in a T-shirt driving in my car, or sitting still on my couch.

I take comfort in that today marked an unusually cool day for August in Alabama, some 20 degrees lower than normal. Sweet relief.

But as my forehead glistens through the rest of summer, I wonder if I’ll ever be cool again.

Day 350 - side

Day 82: They call me Mr. Bulk

Day 82

  • Weight: 131.6 lbs.
  • Workout A: 17 minutes, 20 seconds; next: Workout B on Nov. 27
  • Total inches: 121.1
  • Protein: 125 g (0 g over target)
  • Calories: 1,994

I ran into the Piggly Wiggly the other day to replenish my milk. This is one of my many trips to get either more bananas or more milk for protein shakes.

In the checkout line, my pal David saw me and said hello. Or more specifically, “Well, if it isn’t Mr. Bulk.”

Ha! (I’ve been called far worse things in my life.)

I am known for a lot of wildly different reasons: my haiku, my love of Birmingham, my snark, my blogging and social media wizardry and so on. But with minor effort in a short period of time (fewer than 40 posts in about 10 weeks), I changed how some people perceive me.

Surprising, to me at least. But fun and flattering, too.

I really set out to change my perception of me. Build muscle and at the same time build self-confidence.

David probably hasn’t read every single post. But he did see some of my daily updates on Facebook. And took a peek at least a couple of posts or photos. That was enough to “rebrand” my image in his mind.

My results haven’t been dramatic, especially considering the other bloggers I know who have lost significant pounds over the years. But my consistency in posting and promotion gave me an edge.

It’s not important that others know exactly where I am in my project, but I’m pleased to know they’re aware of it. The foot in the door is getting harder to place with so many distractions for people.

My perception of me is evolving. And apparently, people are paying attention.

Day 34: The questions that remain

Day 34

Day 34
(See the gallery for more photos.)

  • Weight: 129.4 lbs.
  • Workout A: 21 minutes, 51 seconds. Next: Workout B on Oct. 10.
  • Total inches: 120.1
  • Protein: 153 g (31 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,247
  • See more measurements.

Entering month 2, the road ahead is easier to see.

  • Five workouts, instead of nine. No need to increase the recovery time, as 5 days is the maximum time required.
  • Steady on with eating. Weight has gone up fairly steadily, even with the regular up-down cycling.
  • Five or six posts, nothing back-breaking.
  • Daily photos and measurements.
  • Similar menu and grocery shopping.
  • Maybe, big maybe, some yoga or walking.

What remains uncertain is how much and how fast. I gained 3 pounds in 30 days, with nine workouts in 3 hours, 42 minutes. Let’s say the five workouts this month run about 20 minutes each, so 1 hour and 40 minutes. “The 4-Hour Body” [Amazon | iTunes aff. links] says this is plenty, as muscle growth takes time and protein.

So this 31-day period should tell me plenty about my muscle growth rate and how it affects my upper body. We saw in the first month some reduction in “love handles” and some fleshing out of my chest. I’d love to see some growth in the arms, but I bet I might need to switch to an all-kettlebell routine in month 3 or 4.

The questions I need to answer: What does success look like? Will I know it when I see it? Is it a number on the scale or on the tape measure?

Will I need to switch to a different routine to sculpt the arms or abs? How far do I want to take this?

The original goal was to see what changed, if anything, after 30 days. Now I need to set a new goal.

For now, the goal is: Let’s see how I look on Halloween.

Stud or freak, toned test subject or fitness zombie?

Day 26: Following in the footsteps

Day 26

  • Weight: 126.8 lbs.
  • No workout today
  • Total inches: 118.6
  • Protein: 136 g (16 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,863

I’m fortunate to know other Birmingham bloggers who used their sites to focus on their bodies, their nutrition, their exercise and their weight. They’ve done amazing things offline and online.

It’s probably one of my favorite outcomes of blogging, real change. That transformation can be on the inside, on the outside or simply becoming more connected with others.

Certainly, they’ve made it easier for me to try this project and also document it on a blog.

Public accountability has done wonders for them. I have cheated, starting this project virtually in the dark (posting in real time, but making the posts visible 30 days after the fact).

I am inspired by those who do it simply to get healthier and track their progress.

For example, photographer Julia Kozerski of Milwaukee, who lost 160 pounds in 1 year. She documented it all through photos taken with her iPhone.

Julia Kozerski, Changing Room

Screenshot of Julia Kozerski’s project, “Changing Room”

The Changing Room series received national attention on NPR’s “The Picture Show” site.

I definitely don’t want that kind of attention. I just want to bulk up as quickly and easily as possible.

What I do enjoy is experimentation. And while I know I’ll learn something, whatever the results, I hope you learn a few things as well.

Maybe you’re next.

Day 19: The new routine

Day 19

  • Weight: 125.2 lbs.
  • Workout B: 18 minutes, 0 seconds
  • Total inches: 118.2
  • Protein: 193 g (75 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,410

Modern folklore says it takes 3 weeks to make a new habit.

My new habits include …

  • hitting the scale each morning, then rushing to the computer to type it in before I forget the readout;
  • drinking a lot more milk, mostly in protein shake form;
  • taking half-naked photos of myself;
  • psyching myself up before workouts (never did that before doing treadmill);
  • measuring my body parts;
  • evaluating each portion of food for calorie and protein content;
  • planning my eating so I hit my daily goals, rather the much simpler hunger-based pattern;
  • fretting about the numbers;
  • thinking ahead to the next workout day;
  • buying a lot more bananas, milk, chicken and potatoes;
  • and learning to enjoy the weird routine.

The success of implementing the habits came from good preparation, small steps and changes and daily reinforcement through charting and blogging. Had I not done all of these things, I believe I would not be in the swing of the routine.

Here’s to finding new ways to live and grow.