Tag Archives: routine

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 329: Now with 33 percent less exercise

Day 329 - front

  • Weight: 139.0 lbs.
  • Workout C: 26 minutes, 50 seconds; next: Workout C, July 29
  • Total inches: 124.5
  • Protein: 185g (54g over target)
  • Calories: 2,351

For the first time in nearly 11 months, I missed a workout.

The streak is dead.

I knew it was likely to happen this week, the busiest week for me this year. I was in the throes of putting on a business conference, so I knew something would likely give. Even now late at night, I’m trying to catch up on protein and calories missed earlier in the week.

That isn’t to say I didn’t get exercise running around a convention facility keeping things moving along, but clearly it’s not the same.

Usually, my schedule is flexible enough to allow a day or two of leeway in working out. But I had to let this one go, with just having two workouts this week instead of the usual three.

Fortunately, I was able to slip right back into my routine. I could make up for a missed workout, but that defeats the purpose of doing the minimum. I can however eat my way back to 140 pounds.

At least I made it almost a year in my workout schedule.

Day 329 - side

Day 266: The days go by so fast

Day 266 - front

  • Weight: 137.0 lbs.
  • Workout C: 30 minutes, 40 seconds; next: Workout C, May 27
  • Total inches: 124.2
  • Protein: 129g (0g over target)
  • Calories: 2,390

Sticking to routine has served me well throughout Project Bulk. But these days, I’ve started to slack a bit.

Slack, in the sense of working out 1 day later than scheduled.

It’s not much in terms of flexibility, but it’s enough to maintain a thrice-weekly exercise program while also working and having a life.

I tend to err on the side of rigid rather than flexible. I’ve seen too many exercise and nutrition programs by others fall apart with too much wiggle room.

Whether it’s workouts or calories or protein, it all averages out each week. My job is to make sure I’m on track, even if a single 24-hour period goes high or low.

I don’t mind making up for those variations the next day. I don’t mind maintaining self-discipline.

As long as I can measure my changes and make good progress, I can afford to exercise flexibility.

Day 266 - side

Day 147: Off-days

Day 147 - front

  • Weight: 137.0 lbs.
  • Workout C: 8 minutes, 43 seconds; next: Workout C, Jan. 28
  • Total inches: 124.5
  • Protein: 136 g (7 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,311

This month is a typical month. “Typical” meaning January is like December, the only 2 months of the kettlebell-heavy routine.

I work out three times a week, about 13 times a month, for about 16 minutes each time or three-and-a-half hours total in a month. But what do I do on the 17 or 18 days off?

Ideally, walk or do yoga. In reality, very little of either.

I have made Project Bulk a priority, sticking rigidly to exercise schedules. And while I maintain my photos and diet every day, I have not made too much effort to move otherwise.

I am consumed by project work, which leaves me little time to walk the neighborhood or pop in the yoga DVD. Or, at least, it’s a good enough excuse.

Originally, I didn’t want to skew the numbers with additional exercise, but I feel confident that the current workouts are, well, working out. So walking would just be for fun and fresh air, with a few calories burned to boot. Yoga would be to help with breathing, flexibility and focus.

Late at night, I am content to slow down, settle in, not move. As long as I swing the kettlebell 150 times a week, I’m set.

Day 147 - side

Day 119: An involuntary precision

Day 119 - front

  • Weight: 133.6 lbs.
  • Workout C: 15 minutes, 15 seconds; next: Workout C, Dec. 24
  • Total inches: 122.1
  • Protein: 128 g (2 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,310

I sometimes still surprise myself.

What has surprised me the most, 4 months in on Project Bulk, is my meticulousness around all aspects of this project. I know what I’ve spent, to the penny. I weigh myself first thing each morning, then wrap the tape measure around various limbs.

I calculate and recalculate what to eat to hit my calorie targets. If I’m bothered by any one aspect, it’s that my form on lifting and curls isn’t great. I bet if I were in front of a wall mirror, I could pinpoint where I need to improve my movement.

Such precision probably isn’t needed to accomplish my simple goal of gaining muscle. It’s just part of who I am. It’s what I do in blogging, in training, in measuring, in project work. It gives me clearer direction in what’s working and what isn’t.

I can be bigger. I don’t think I can ever be less precise.

Day 119 - side

Day 99: For whom the kettlebell tolls

Day 99

  • Weight: 133.2 lbs.
  • No workout today; next: Workout C, Dec. 10
  • Total inches: 121.9
  • Protein: 128 g (2 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,207

I wanted to change up my workout routine for December. It felt like I hit a plateau with Workouts A and B.

Reading through “The 4-Hour Body” [Amazon | iTunes aff. links] again, I found three options. The first was to focus on kettlebell swings (page 162). This was my original direction, but I saw more choices.

The second was “From Geek to Freak,” a series of 10 exercises, most using gym equipment (page 187). I looked for home options for each one, but decided it was too complicated for me right now.

The third was to split into pushing, pulling and leg exercises (page 221). Again, it was too complicated in tracking the days between workouts.

So I followed through on my original choice: kettlebell swings on Mondays and Fridays (Workout C), with barbell and dumbbell work on Wednesdays (Workout D).

I’m looking for more rapid development throughout the month on my arms, waist and hips. I’m also shooting for a lower body fat percentage by year’s end.

My total workout time (which I’ve forgotten to include in my monthly reports) for December will exceed October and November combined. But it won’t be much, about 4 hours total.

I’ve also done some walking around the neighborhood, which I’m tracking through the Runkeeper app. It’s fun to see the miles traveled and the calories burned.

One hundred days in, and the changes continue.

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.

Day 3: The bare minimum

Day 3

  • Weight: 123.4 lbs.
  • No workout today
  • Total inches: 115.0
  • Protein: 122 g (6 g over target)

All the prep work, all the blog posts, all the metrics may seem like overkill. But simplicity is the actual guiding principle for Project Bulk. I work out nine times. I eat x number of grams of protein a day.

I exercise, I eat. That’s it.

I could roll in some cardio or yoga. Or count calories. But I want to make it so stupidly simple that even I can do it.

First thing I do when I wake up is hop on the scale, measure my arms and legs and waist and thighs, and record them in the spreadsheet. I then take my photo with my camera already on the tripod. This new morning ritual takes about 5 minutes.

The only three things left to do for the day are:

  • Eat;
  • Work out (but only if it’s a workout day, of which I have nine scheduled for September);
  • Write a blog post.

I don’t sweat the eating or the cooking. I tend to cook big batches and eat leftovers throughout the week.

The workouts are new, so they require more focus and preparation. But I anticipate them getting simpler over time.

And I can write posts in my sleep (and have occasionally done so).

I want to be as lazy as possible during this process. I mean, look at my hair: It’s a mess. It’s bedhead. No primping allowed — I must get the photo before the day gets going.

Finally, a way to use my inherent laziness to my advantage.