Tag Archives: progress

Day 322: Origin story

Day 322 - front

  • Weight: 140.0 lbs.
  • Workout C: 30 minutes, 37 seconds; next: Workout C, July 22
  • Total inches: 124.6
  • Protein: 134g (2g over target)
  • Calories: 2,236

We may be in a golden age of superhero movies. I didn’t grow up reading comic books, but I do enjoy the steady flow of Batman, Spider-Man, Superman and Avengers movies of this century.

However, the origin story is being beaten to death. “Man of Steel” fills in the backstory no one was clamoring for on the Kryptonian political battles. Spider-Man gave us two Peter Parker origin stories in only 10 years.

Even Bane had his origin story in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Do we care that much about the villain’s humble upbringing during a 2-hour action flick?

I mention all this to say that my own origin story needs work. I tend to forget the details on how puny I was starting out and how far I’ve come.

• Starting weight: 121.8 pounds. Now: 140.0 pounds, with 9.4 pounds of additional muscle and 8.8 pounds of additional fat.

• Wild swings in daily calorie intake at the start, gradually settling in to a strictly regulated amount.

• Poor accounting of protein intake, eventually corrected and on track.

• Fighting a lifetime of lactose intolerance, I have been drinking 3 cups of milk almost every day. I’ve gone through roughly 55 gallons so far. Most of the side effects are gone.

• Ten reps of cat vomit to 100 reps a week.

• For most lifts, I’ve doubled the weight since starting each routine.

I was boring a fellow party guest Thursday night with my updates, struggling to remember the names of the exercises I’ve done many times for months. It was a sloppy narrative with a bad finish.

Flabby, out of shape. I guess I need to tone up my origin story, too.

Day 322 - side

Day 287: Room to grow

Day 287 - front

  • Weight: 139.4 lbs.
  • Workout C: 26 minutes, 8 seconds; next: Workout C, June 17
  • Total inches: 125.8
  • Protein: 136g (4g over target)
  • Calories: 2,189

I’m still growing.

I’m surprised. But when I look at the measurements, I see continued growth in total inches and weight. Slowly, I continue to get bigger, even as my workout time and my calorie intake remain steady.

I thought I would hit a plateau. Thankfully, I am still adding bulk even with just 75 minutes of workouts a week and 2,100 to 2,200 calories a day.

Even after nine-and-a-half months, I find progress surprising and satisfying.

Day 287 - side

Day 203: The first 200 days are always the bulkiest

Day 203 - front

Day 203 – front

  • Weight: 137.0 lbs.
  • Workout C: 21 minutes, 42 seconds; next: Workout C, March 25
  • Total inches: 124.5
  • Protein: 129 g (0 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,300

I’m happily celebrating the 200-day milestone with ice cream and comparison photos.

Take a look at my journey in 50-day leaps.

Days 1, 50, 100, 150 and 200: front view.
[Click image for a larger version.]

Day 1, Day 56, Day 98, Day 147, Day 203

Days 1, 56, 98, 147 and 203: side view.
[Click image for a larger version.]

One aspect you’ll notice is the tone of the photos. Somewhere around Day 85, I switched from my digital camera to my iPhone for the daily shoot, since I could upload straight from the phone automatically and wirelessly.

Day 203 - side

Day 203 – side

Day 76: Steady on

Day 76

  • Weight: 132.0 lbs.
  • Workout B: 18 minutes, 29 seconds; next: Workout A on Nov. 21
  • Total inches: 122.0
  • Protein: 132 g (7 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,026

The first half of November has been very steady. Too steady.

calories 11-15

Calories through Nov. 15

Maintaining 2,000 calories a day (down from 2,500) has kept me at between 132 and 134 pounds. No significant gain, similar to the first 2 weeks when I didn’t track calories. (Protein intake has remained the same throughout all of Project Bulk.)

weight 11-15

Weight through Nov. 15

Naturally, my growth in total inches (arms, legs, waist, hips) has also flattened.

total inches 11-15

Total inches through Nov. 15

Starting tomorrow through the end of November, I am bumping slightly to 2,100 calories a day. I’d rather have slow gain with more muscles than fast gain with excess fat.

The workouts have been fairly static, with no dramatic improvements. I seem to be stuck on a couple of the lifts. One way I’ve beaten the lack of progress is switching the order of the exercises, so I can at least try every other attempt.

I’m probably going to switch to kettlebell swings twice a week in December, just to see if it’ll bulk up my arms faster, which have grown about 0.6 inches each since Day 1.

Even after two-and-a-half months, I own the routine. The routine doesn’t own me.

Day 24: The future, by which I mean October

Day 24

  • Weight: 126.0 lbs.
  • No workout today
  • Total inches: 118.5
  • Protein: 147 g (27 g over target)
  • Calories: 3,165

I looked only 30 days into the future.

The spreadsheet was set through Sept. 30. I asked for a 30-day loan on the blender. I figured and hoped 30 days might be enough.

On Day 24, I know it won’t happen by then.

So keep going or stop? I say keep going.

After integrating the workouts, the measurements and the eating into my routine, extending through October won’t be a big deal.

I can’t say for sure I’ve made significant progress. The clearest indicator is that I can lift more than I could at the start, which isn’t bad for about 3 hours and 45 minutes of workouts.

But the photos, the weight, the total inches tell a more muddled tale. This is the part when I get impatient and want to fast-forward to the end, so I know if the next 31 days are a wise investment or a foolish waste of time.

Perhaps the better perspective would be that the experience continues, the journey not the destination, learn by doing. There, I think I crammed enough cliches in that sentence.

As a time-saver, I will likely blog less and publish on workout days only. Each post will have the latest data and photos for the period to maintain public accountability. (This is one of the few projects where I can’t prep everything in advance since it requires daily measurements and analysis.)

Maybe by Halloween I’ll have a great new muscle-bound costume.

What doesn’t kill or confound me will make me stronger.

Day 22: The eye of the beholder

Day 22 front

  • Weight: 126.0 lbs.
  • No workout today
  • Total inches: 118.6
  • Protein: 139 g (19 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,700

After 20 days, I wanted some feedback from my close friends.

Ginny took a look at the photos from Days 1 and 20 and said …

Comparing days 1 and 20

“Love handles look smaller and your nipples are higher and your chest is fuller and your belly is smaller.”


day 22 side

Side view of days 1 and 22

Side view of Days 1 and 22

Day 20: A small win is still a win

Day 20

  • Weight: 125.2 lbs.
  • No workout today
  • Total inches: 118.1
  • Protein: 155 g (37 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,333

I am sometimes discouraged by my overall progress. The daily photos tend to look the same. The weigh-ins are falling short.

So I focus on one area where I’ve seen progress: the workouts. No matter how small the lifts seem, they go up with each workout.

Maybe the number of reps increases by one. Or the total lifting weight goes up 10 pounds. It doesn’t matter that I started with 30 measly pounds for the slight incline bench press and can now do 40 pounds. It went up.

The most impressive number to me will seem puny to real lifter, but I’ve gone from 55 pounds for the Yates row to 75 pounds in 2 weeks. I end up sweating, but it is the sweat of glory. And I have not hurt myself in the process.

I can’t do 10 myotatic crunches. Yet. But I’ve gone from five-and-a-half to eight in 2 weeks.

Kettlebell swings kick my ass. But I went from 32 reps of 20 pounds to a full 50 reps, and then to 31 reps of 30 pounds.

Three weeks ago, I had never done any of this.

I go into each workout determined. I want to take that attitude with me to every challenge, whether physical or mental or spiritual.

I want to win.