Day 28, Disappointed. Clearly I need to step it up!

Today officially marks 4 weeks since I started this program and I’m not happy. The scale has not budged (although it went down and up and down and up a few times). My measurements have dropped a bit, but not enough for me to be excited. The only thing that has really changed is my strength stats. My deadlift is higher than ever and I’m in a position to hit 200 on my squats by the end of the month.

To make matters worse, I decided to go clothes shopping today for new jeans which was a horrible experience of depression and self loathing. In suburban America when the marjority of people I see in the clothing stores are either as overweight as I am or worse (or much worse!) I need to know who the fuck is buying slim fit 32 inch waist jeans? I’ll tell you who… NOBODY! And this is why out of the 15 pairs of pants I tried on I could only find one brand/size that fit and only 2 pairs in the whole store.

So tonight I’m wallowing in self-pity, guilt and a bag of sweet tarts. Tomorrow starts my 24 hour vacation and I would have been much happier to have seen some weight loss progress before going. But I’m not giving up, that would just be silly. The real challenge now is to try to figure out what I’m doing wrong and step it up over the next 4 weeks. The two things I can change immediately are:

1. Reduce my calories slightly. Not by a lot. The really problem is that I cheat too much. If I had actually stuck to my macros religiously over the past 4 weeks I’m sure I would have seen some weight loss. But the reality is that I haven’t been super strict.

2. Adding some steady state cardio on off days is a no brainer. The weather is nice and I work in a major city where there is no shortage of interesting places to walk through.

I will be pondering this more over the next 48 hours, but I think this is a good start.

Day 4, The Slow Grind

2015-03-26 06.09.47Not every day is going to be filled with inspiration and motivation. Like today for instance. I’m only 4 days into the routine and I’m already bored. Not bored of the program per se, but just bored because I want to be doing more. Results come slowly at my age and sometimes they’re barely noticeable. This morning the scale read 208.6 which is 1.5 pounds up from yesterday morning. And I know all the responses to this:

  • Weight fluctuates based on water retention
  • Muscle weighs more than fat
  • It’s your measurements and how your clothes fit that count more than the scale
  • It’s not healthy to lose more than 2 pounds per week
  • You shouldn’t be weighing yourself more than once per week anyway
  • etc. etc. etc.

Obviously I know all of this already and it doesn’t deter me. But there are few better motivators than a scale going down consistently.

The other problem is the conflict between knowing I need to post to the blog at least once per day but having nothing interesting to post about. This problem almost always works itself out as I post. Take this post for example. I didn’t think I had anything to write about and yet here we are at over 200 words already!

When you decide to start a weight loss program the first week is a whirlwind, especially if it’s your first time learning how things work. But eventually reality sets in and you need to figure out how to work the plan over the long haul. This is obviously why some plans fail. They’re so calorie restrictive or so complicated and regimented that they simply cannot be sustained for more than a short period of time. This is why a lot of people quit doing programs like P90x which require you to workout out an hour a day for 6 days a week and prepare 5-6 meals a day. It seems to me that only very committed people can follow through to the end with this.

This is the reason why I like the LeanGains approach. The time investment is much less and it seems like once you get used to not eating anything until lunch, it’s pretty easy to adapt your life to it. You don’t need to prepare 5-6 meals every day and the workout commitment is only about 45 minutes 3 times a week. The downside of this is that you need to be patient when it comes to seeing results especially if you’re over 40 (like me!).

I suppose that’s enough for now. More on this later…

Day 1, Gym

I spent most of the train ride trying to decide if/how to tweak my workout routine. I blogged earlier that I was going to switch from Big 3 to an RPT split, but then started second guessing my decision.

There’s a definition of “beginner” that relates to weight training and it’s not necessarily how heavy you can lift, but moreover how quickly you recover from lifting. After a few months of Big 3 and StrongLifts I can still make progress doing the same 3 lifts 3x/week. The only major issue is the lower back soreness that comes from doing deadlifts. When that started to happen, I switched the programming to 3×5 instead of 5×5. So there’s an argument for me to remain classified as a beginner and stick with the simple Big 3 routine.

The argument for switching to a split routine is time and variety. The ultimate success of a program isn’t about the minor changes made to a lifting routine or a diet, but the ability to stay motivated and not abandon the program prematurely. Doing the Big 3 routine is fun for the first 2 months, especially when you start loading big plates on to the bar. But it’s an exhausting workout. And even though I have a full 50 minutes to dedicate to lifting if I go in the morning, there are times when that isn’t enough. Squat racks are very popular at my gym and sometimes it’s 10 or 15 minutes until I can start my first work set. The potential stress of getting to the gym on time and being able to complete the workout directly affects my motivation.

But variety is a big motivator as well. Striving to increase weight and maintain good form for all 3 big lifts 3x/week is taxing, but only having one big lift per workout could be a boost to my ability to focus.

2015-03-23 07.00.24I walked over to the weight room area still undecided, but the crowded conditions quickly helped me to decide. My gym is linked to a university, and despite this week being spring break the weight room was packed and all 3 squat racks were occupied. So instead of waiting around, I decided to go right to a deadlifts/chins routine.

After a few warm ups, I did 185 x 5 x 5 with 2 mins rest in between. And despite my lingering lower back soreness, the sets got easier as I progressed. From there I 3 sets of reverse grip seated pull-downs (since I’m too weak for body weight chin-ups) using RPT (6×140, 8×120, 10×100). And with 10 minutes to spare I finished up with some much needed foam rolling and a couple of sun salutations.

Meshuggah-DestroyEraseToday’s workout soundtrack was “Destroy Erase Improve” by Meshuggah. I’m hoping to find some time before Wednesday to make some custom playlists, but there will always be certain albums that are good to workout with from start to finish. This being one of them.

So I think I’m going to stick with a 3 day split using classic 5 x 5 programming for the big lifts and RPT for the ancillary exercises (basically chins and push ups) .

Now, with all that out of the way, I can focus on eating. Today is a carb day and I’m soooo ready for it!!