This was the big thing that I didn’t stop talking about this year. I’ve shifted a little bit of my focus away from fun and games and reincorporated fitness and diet into my life. I’m proud to say that I have done it in a way that has allowed me to continue the momentum of the direction the blog has been taking in food.
I basically broke the year down into quarters, because you need to change up your routine to continue seeing results. Remember, this has detailed throughout the year under the veil “Operation: nWo.”
In the first quarter, I wanted to make the effort to get back in the gym and start moving again. I set out to hit the gym three times (42%) per week (on my lunch) and do 30 minutes of cardio on an elliptical trainer. In 13 weeks, I made it to the gym 34 times (37%), which is a little shy of my goal, but I definitely started feeling much better. [I was away for a week on vacation during this quarter, which would help improve the numbers, but nobody is making excuses here.]
During the first quarter, I stayed on a fairly strict low carbohydrate diet. It’s not to say I didn’t eat many carbs from time to time, but bread, pizza, potatoes were all taboo. Breakfast was a 6oz cup of Chobani yogurt (I know high in sugar, yadda yadda) every day. A mid-morning and late night snack was 30 almonds. Lunch and first dinner was 5-6 oz of meat. Second dinner was 3 oz of fresh mozzarella (w a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper), and 3 oz of dried salami. On weekends, I did whatever. Ice cream sundaes. Big brunches. And actually, through the year, at least through the summer, my diet didn’t change.
I started the strength training in the second quarter. All I wanted to do within those three months was wake my muscles up. I still set out for 3 times per week, but first did one exercise each (4 sets of 10 reps) on chest/triceps (1 group), back/biceps (1 group), and shoulders followed by 25 minutes on the elliptical. During this quarter (13 weeks), I made it 39 times (43%). Perfect!
In July, I added one exercise to each large muscle set. So it would be 2 chest + 1 triceps, or 2 back + 1 biceps, or 2-3 shoulders. I kept the cardio at 25 minutes on the elliptical. During this quarter, I made it 43 times (47%); I’d say that going into October, I was pretty much even on my three times per week.
Somewhere in the middle of this quarter, I discovered pre-exhaust supersets and really started to see upperbody muscle gain. At that point, I decided that I was going to continue the same routine in the gym, but tweak the diet. In the fourth quarter, I added a post workout protein shake (approx 25 g of protein, 100-200 calories); I’ve gotten creative with my shakes, and have been saving some recipes for future documentation. This is also around the time that All Over Albany asked me to participate in a Tournament of Pizza.
If all goes to plan, by Friday, I will have gone to the gym 41 times (45%) over the quarter. I’ve also started incorporating whole grain into my diet. This alone has skyrocketed the results I’ve been seeing.
So, although I started slow, I made it to the gym 157 times (43%); I hit my goal of 42%. Except to ease my suspicions, I never stepped on a scale once to document my weight. I went from barely fitting into an XXL t-shirt to being comfortable in an XL (actually, I hit this goal in July).
Now, I’m starting to see gains in my chest, arms, and shoulders, so I’m filling the t-shirts at the top. My waistline is shrinking, as I need to walk around pulling up my size 40 pants and am comfortable in my old size 38s.
But the most telling feature is the twitch.
What the hell am I talking about?
See for yourself:
* I tried really hard to take this picture wearing the same clothes, using the same camera, sitting in the same spot.
Mind you, I didn’t deprive myself once throughout the year. If I wanted cookies, I ate cookies. If I wanted to participate in the graveyard challenge, I did it. If I wanted to take a ride to Montreal during Hurricane Irene and eat at Chuck Hughes’s restaurant, I did.
The bottom line is that being consistent is the biggest factor in seeing results. Sure, I could have set my goal to go four days per week. The likelihood that I would have burned myself out would have been much higher, and I failed at attempts in 2008, 2009, and 2010 because I set the bar too high for myself. Right now, I’m just trying to feel great, and I certainly am!
So, I guess Skip said it best afterall:
Stay tuned for details on the 2012 initiative code named “Operation: nWo 2”.