With the year ending, I’ve closed the book on fitness for 2012.
Actually, I closed it on December 21. I figured that with the year I’ve had and the strides I made, my body could use a nice break before 2013.
I started the year off really strong. My goal was to try to make it to the gym 5 times per week, and, on three of those times, to do weight training. That would mean I would visit the gym 260 times or 71% of the days. That’s a pretty big jump from my 2011 in which I went 157 times (43%).
Charted out by month, it’s pretty easy to see the huge difference between 2011 and 2012.
Statistically, though, I fell a little short, and that’s mainly because of the break I took at the end of the year (It’s also because of the lull in July when I got kind of sick). I went to the gym 252 times in 2012 (69%).
Let’s talk about exactly what I did at the gym and how I feel.
As far as weight training, I started the year with the same pre-exhaust supersets that I was doing in 2011, then I switched to straight sets for a couple of months, and then I switched to post-exhaust supersets later in the year. Once I did this, I started noticing some major gains. My upperbody (arms, chest, and back) are bigger, and my waist line is shrinking. At the beginning of the year, I was comfortable in a size 38; now, size 36 are slightly loose on me. That means I’m fitting into two pairs of awesome jeans that I hadn’t worn since 2005.
As far as cardio training, on weight days, I did 30 minutes on the elliptical after weights, and on other days, I did 45-50 minutes. Earlier in the year, I tried to start running for 5-10 minutes in my workouts, but that wasn’t happening. The knees weren’t able to take it.
I don’t really like using weight as a metric for shape because it doesn’t account for things like muscle gain, but I know for a fact I’m down 25 lbs from February (and that’s consistent with the 38-36 waist reduction — they say each pant size is about 20-30 lbs for a guy, more or less).
And I’m feeling awesome! I’m sleeping great. I’m feeling great fitting into the clothes that have been sitting in a bin since 2005.
The best part is that I’ve adapted my diet and lifestyle so that I can pretty much eat whatever I want within reason. I ate things like a burger on a doughnut with peanut butter and bacon, scrambled eggs almost every night, crazy amounts of sushi, tiramisu, and other things people wouldn’t normally eat when trying to get in better shape. The key was to try to stick to a fairly strict routine of fresh whole foods from Monday through Thursday and to indulge on the weekend, but to also try to spread out a lot of the indulgence on the weekend.
During the week, I ate a lot of grilled chicken with braised kale, lentils, eggs, almonds, oatmeal, and other foods that are packed with protein and healthy fats. Since I was training regularly, the nutrients and energy in these foods really kept my body going. The indulgences gave me something to look forward to.
The most difficult part to sticking to this was pizza season. My commitment to that required me to dedicate every Wednesday for about 6 weeks to eating pizza. Pizza isn’t one of those foods that I can take a bite of and just put it down. If it’s there in front of me and isn’t terrible, I will eat it. It’s also a food that makes me crave other calorie rich foods once I have some, a gateway food, if you will. But I stuck to it, and, honestly, I noticed a lot of my more significant strides during pizza season.
I never really deprived myself. If I wanted chocolate, I had some. In fact, I spent a lot of the last quarter trying to perfect a recipe for chocolate fondant, which is rich in chocolate, butter, and sugar. I ate a lot of those! But I didn’t sit down and eat fifty at a time.
The visuals are the most fun for me. You can sort of see the progression if you look at my annual twitch pictures.
I think I can keep the same momentum up for 2013. That’s the plan, at least. My goal by the end of 2013 is to reach a shape that’s maintainable and to tailor the diet and exercise routine to maintain it. I still have a little more I want to lose, and I have a wedding coming up, so I’m going to keep hitting the gym hard!