Rebooting a 12 week fitness/diet plan on a Friday in November is a bit odd. After all, winter is coming. Now is typically the time when humans prepare to hibernate and add a few additional layers of fat. And it’s only until the last morsels of holiday food and drink are consumed that we vow to get drop weight and get healthy… the inevitable New Years Resolution!This time I’m trying something a little different, mainly because the aforementioned description never seems to work anyway.
I blogged here back in the beginning of 2015 when I was all hyped up about intermittent fasting and linear progression barbell training. I was following at 16:8 fasting program and the Strong Lifts 5×5 training program. Everything was going well for a while. From time to time my diet slipped but my lifts got better and I managed to put up some impressive numbers by the end of 12 weeks.
Progress was then interrupted by a shoulder injury. I was going too fast and too heavy and not paying attention to form and my AC joint paid the price. A cortisone shot, ice, heat, massage, chiropractic care and regular applications of KT tape couldn’t really undo the damage fast enough for me to get back into the gym. So I switched to training for a 5K and stayed away from the weights all summer.
5K training culminated with a lackluster (“…but at least I finished”) time for the CHOP 5K race in September and I was determined to get faster. But I missed the gym and the weights and convinced myself that I needed shelter from the winter elements in order to keep on running and hey, since I’m paying to run indoors I might as well pick up a weight or two every once in a while right?
The first week went pretty well but then I stupidly tripped over a drain cover in the dark on my way to the gym and sprained my ankle. Two weeks later (as I write this), it’s still hurts to walk on it. Needless to say I haven’t gone running in a while despite this unseasonably warm November weather!
But I have gotten back to the weights and taking it much slower than before. Instead of trying to cram squats, bench press and deadlifts into a single workout 3 times a week. I’m spreading these big 3 movements out to once per week each. This gives me enough time to get to the gym at lunch (instead of getting up at 5am to go before work), finish the main lift and then do some rehab work for my shoulder.
While all of this was going on, I continued to experiment with eating regimes and track calories. And now after more than 7 months since I started this blog, my weight and measurements are exactly the same as they were when I started. This is not to say the the first 12 weeks weren’t successful. More likely is that 16 weeks that followed did nothing to further the progress as I fell back into old habits and became more sedentary.
The philosophies behind intermittent fasting continue to intrigue me and I’ve spent most of the last month reading more about the various flavors of IF. A few weeks ago I tried the 5:2 approach (sometimes called the Fast Diet) which restricts your calorie range to 500-600 for 2 days a week. Initially this sounded like a plan I could comply with easily. But after a couple weeks of experimenting I found it required too much preparation and scheduling. The food you do eat on fast days can be anything but you have a better chance of success if you prepare 2 300 calorie meals that are high in fiber and protein and low in starch. The thought of these meals as “rewards” did not make the day easier and the promise of a full calorie day within 24 hours didn’t help either.
So as of today, I’ve decided to return to the 16:8 method which seemed to work well for me at the beginning of the year. This method can be easily summed up in two words, “skip breakfast”. That’s it. Sure there are all sorts of other things to consider, but skipping breakfast is the one simple tenet that can turn a diet philosophy into a habit.
My plan is pretty simple and looks a lot like the plan I was following 7 months ago. Skip breakfast, eat normal healthy food 90% of the time and weight train 3 days/week. After 12 weeks gauge progress and adjust accordingly. Cardio and yoga will enter into the picture at some point, as will holiday food and drink. These will all be treated as minor variants, not meaningless but not paramount either.
And so, off I go to the gym in a 12 hour fasted state. I’m a little hungry and I have a bit of a headache (it’s my first day without breakfast in a while so it’s to be expected). I will take some BCAA and pre-workout caffeine about a half hour before lifting. And hopefully delay my first meal until sometime between 1 and 2pm.
Wish me luck!