Posts Tagged ‘fat loss’

I don’t care about having a sixpack.

I can hear you already, “You, sir, are a damned liar.” Listen, I’ll admit that at one point having a sixpack topped my priority list and I wanted it bad. I examined every article, picture, and shred of information I could get my grubby hands on that might get me closer to the supposed Holiest of Fitness Grails. Lately, though, that goal has lost some of it’s luster.

My first clue that I wanted something different was during a pickup game of flag football with some friends. It was the first time I had stepped on a field to actually play a (somewhat) organized sport in years. We picked teams schoolyard style; two captains each picking players until everyone’s got a place to go. Even growing up the fat kid I was coordinated enough to not be picked last; the middle of the pack is generally where I fall and the same held true this time.

For someone who has never been the fastest at anything, nobody was more shocked than I when I happened to be just that. The looks of confusion and shock on my friends faces as I blew by them was more satisfying than it should have been. I know that it’s not really a big deal and that I’m being childish. Except it’s also awesome, so I’m not going to apologize.

My second clue came during a workout not that long ago where I did something I hadn’t really been devoting any real effort to achieving. Having said that, I know this will offend a few people. I pulled 405lbs on a deadlift. I’m not saying that it was easy or that it’s a super impressive number; powerlifters are giggling at me right now. What I am saying is that I didn’t realize how awesome it feels to be strong. Doing something that you know for a fact you were incapable of doing a few weeks ago is one of the purest forms of self satisfaction I’ve yet to come across.

Now, I lay all of that out there and I can still hear the skeptical response, “Yeah, yeah. But you’re gonna tell me you don’t want to look good?”

What, you think I want to look like a bag of ass? No. If anyone tells you that they don’t care at all, even a little bit, about how they look I want you to punch them right in the kisser and steal their peanut butter.

The good news is that I have refocused my training and eating for performance. I’ve touched on little ways I’ve done this nutritionally before, like when I figured out my body desperately needed carbs to recover from the workouts I was doing. Also, I never worked out just to make my mirror muscles bigger. Most everything I do and have done is about being able to perform my job better, which still holds true. The difference is that I measured my progress more by how I looked than by how I performed. That has changed.

I’m not going to throw around buzz phrases similar to, “train like an athlete.” That could mean so many things to so many different people. Maybe you want to be a sprinter, a powerlifter, or just a parent that is able to keep up with their kids on the playground. Work towards those goals because the “looking good” part comes with the territory.

Granted, that assertion comes soley from my experience. I’m not trying to fit some six-pack-mold anymore, but by focusing more on those other things that make me happy I’m starting to look better anyway. I’m starting to see that definition that I always wanted but it’s not my endgame anymore, which is fantastic news when I really stop to think about it.

I mean, seriously, once I achieved my goal of a six pack…what would I do? Lose it just to get it again? That makes zero sense. No, instead I have goals that will last me a lifetime. I can always get faster and stronger, I can’t very well get more six pack.

-Moody

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Well, at the risk of repeating myself… I’m going to repeat myself.

Sort of.

I’m just going to start it with a simple statement and we’ll move on from there.

Losing weight and losing fat are two different things.

Tons of people want to “lose weight.”  That’s what they say, or something to that effect.

“Yea, I’d like to lose some weight and get back into shape.”

Hell, I said it.  Maybe I’m messing with semantics here, but what I really wanted to do was lose fat and I’d be willing to bet that that’s what most people want; to lose fat.

I had to learn the hard way that losing fat and losing weight are two entirely different beasts.  Certainly, at the size I was before, losing weight really was the goal.  That involved losing fat and some of the muscle I had built up over the years.  There was no way I could possibly change the fact that I had to lower my numbers in general to get healthy.

That being said, for people who aren’t nearly as bad off as I was, I think there is way too much emphasis on the numbers on the scale.  I’ve probably put on ten to fifteen pounds in the last few months (depends on the scale I borrow, since I don’t own one).

Yep, I gained weight.  But you know what?   I’m okay with that.

Along with those ten-fifteen pounds I’ve added wide grip pull-ups to my repertoire of exercises, I’ve put up higher numbers on all of my compound lifts, I’ve gained tons of endurance both muscular and cardiovascular, I’ve gotten faster during sprints, and I’m finally starting to see the outline of that six pack dream I’m chasing.

You can’t tell me that losing weight is always the answer.

We know muscle weighs more than fat per pound.  So why is it so hard for people to grasp that gaining muscle and adding a few pounds because of it is not the end of the world?

The damn scale.  The damn TV you’ve got next to your scale telling you what you should weigh.  The damn social network that scoffs anytime you mention “health.”

All of these things tell us that the number on the scale is more important than how we feel.  Well, I’ve gained weight, guess how I feel?

FUCKING AWESOME.

Seriously.

I wasn’t always this confident about that particular feeling.  When I first happened to chance a look at a scale and saw that I was heavier, I had a panic attack.  I even regressed a little and starting cutting calories thinking I had messed up somewhere.  I’m not supposed to be gaining weight.  I’m going to end up like I used to be.  I’m going to undo everything I’ve worked for the last two years.

You know, panicky stuffs.

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Luckily, I didn’t do too much damage to my progress before I figured out the truth.  I was in the middle of doing pull-ups and realized that I wasn’t struggling like I used to.

How is it I’m heavier and doing more than I’ve ever done?”

“Oh…dammit.”

It’s not easy to be someone who was overweight and see the scale go back up.  It’s probably not easy for anyone to see those numbers creep up.  It makes you feel like you’re headed in a direction you swore you’d never go again or would never go at all.  But if you take a second to stop and think about it, you may be heading exactly where you need to.

I think the best way for people to avoid the minor crisis I had would be to really think about their goals.  Define what exactly it is you are trying to accomplish and then find out what that goal actually entails.

Trying to lose fat.”—> Okay, I’m going to lose some of my strength/muscle mass.

“Trying to get stronger.” —> Yep, I’m gonna put on some pounds.

“Increase my cardio.” —> I’m going to want to puke after most of my workouts.

The truth is that I had been kind of winging it up until this point.  I made healthy choices but I wasn’t really sure what I was aiming at other than, “Be healthy.”  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it can have an impact when you start to see the numbers changing in either direction.

Realistically I know that not everyone is going to rid of their scale.  It’s just not done.  We judge our progress by numbers and, I admit, seeing numbers reflect our hard work is incredibly satisfying.  So, in lieu of that, maybe we should put more thought into how we feel off the scale than we do when we’re on it.

-Moody

“Have you tried the (insert name here) diet?”

You know what I’m talking about. Paleo, South Beach, Atkins; if it’s got a marketable name then it’s a Fad diet. I get that question all the time along with, “Have you tried (insert workout they saw on TV here)?”

Lately, I’ve been encountering a spate of these questions in person and otherwise. It’s not that I mind, but most of those people read this… so I figure I’ll hit all of the birds with one stone.

To begin with, I’m not calling these things out as bad because my initial foray into getting healthy was on one of these diet trains, but I am going to point out some of the important things I think people should take away from them if they are looking to go in this direction.

Tackling the diets first; there are a few things they all (for the most part) have in common that are actually quite necessary to being a healthy individual.

– They encourage the eating of whole and nutritious foods. You know, the stuff around the edge of the grocery store.
– They discourage anything processed or containing refined sugars/carbohydrates. Candy, soda, etc.
– They (the decent ones anyway) try to get you to prepare your own food, giving you complete control over what goes into your body.
– They all need to be done consistently to work. Granted, some of that is for marketing purposes, but the takeaway is consistency.

These things, done consistently, will get anyone results. You can’t eat healthy for a week and then binge on whatever you want the next and hope to see results.

Next to consistency, the number one thing I can say people should get behind is preparing your own food. If I could point to one single thing that was a key to my success, it would be preparing my meals in advance and planning what I would eat. I’m currently working on a big ‘ole post about meal prepping and how I do it, so I’ll save most of my rant for that. If you can’t wait for that, just Google meal prep and fitness or some variation thereof, and you will come up with tons of stuff on the subject.

Along with that, proper nutrition is key.  Carbohydrates, fats, protein.  Your body needs all of these things.  I know, the guy who did low carb to shed fat is saying you need carbs.  Trust me, they aren’t the enemy when used correctly.

Again, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with these types of diets. I believe that the issues begin when people believe that these are the only ways to get/stay healthy. The truth is that there is no need to subscribe to some pay as you go program or buy the latest fad diet, but there are things you can learn from these resources. Or, like I had to do, you can figure out that the internet has access to tons of freaking information and can actually give you more useful things than pictures of puppies looking all cute as hell. For free (just hijack your neighbors WiFi.)

Because puppy and Star Wars all in one.

Because puppy and Star Wars all in one.

As for the latest workout DVD’s and programs, I personally don’t have much to say about them thats positive or negative.

Obviously, there are some options full of nothing less than complete and utter bullshit.  6 Minute anything is sure to be 6 minutes you’ll never get back.  Anything that follows that pattern or tries to sell you all sorts of fancy equipment that is proprietary and relies on anything sounding like “special never before seen ab ripping technology” is not worth your time or hard earned money.

I say that, because this shit actually exists.  People.  This is a thing.  Why is this a thing?

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I have dabbled in P90X with some guys who happened to be going through the series and I did do some of the Insanity program with a roommate. While they certainly are challenging workouts, there is nothing particularly unique or new about them. However, if that’s what someone needs to get some kind of physical activity in their lives then I say go for it.

Having said that, I don’t really see it as necessary to shell out a whole bunch of dollars for a DVD’s worth of workouts when you can find all sorts of workouts online. See also: free.

A follow up question I got from someone after giving this answer was, “Well I don’t really know much about working out.” Okay, fair enough, but if you’re willing to shell out some hard earned dollars for some education, then I will always (and have somewhere else in this blog) recommend going to a gym and taking advantage of one of the personal training deals they always give to new members.

That probably doesn’t really give a good indication as to my feelings, so to sum it all up I shall use one of the most versatile words I can.

Meh.

For some, these things are the best ways for them to get healthy or stay healthy and I think that’s awesome. If that’s your tune then sing it, but if you’ve got the time to devote to actual training or some kind of research than I definitely think that’s the best way to go.

As always, find what works for you and do that.  Then do it again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  You know… consistently.

-Moody

It’s not as hard as it sounds, but it seems like lots of people I know are struggling with this right now.

Recently, I posted a progress pic to Facebook and I shall shamelessly put it here as well.  No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks…that is, indeed, a mirror selfie.

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DON’T JUDGE ME.  Mostly because I kind of loathe myself for stooping so low ( and I may have made fun of my own mother for posting a selfie…again, sorry Mom).  As usual, I digress.

After I posted it, my kickass family and friends gave me all the wonderful support that I have come to expect from them because they are awesome.  What I started running into, generally from people I saw in person, was, “Man, I wish I had half the strength you do.  I’d love to get in shape,” or some derivative thereof.  This was followed by a, “I don’t know how you do it,” type statement.

I wasn’t sure what to say to this, at least at first.  I mean, I knew they weren’t talking about what I literally did to get in shape.  Most of them had seen me eating piles of spinach and chicken at some point.  They were talking about how I maintained the self control necessary to see results.

The answer is twofold: Baby Steps and Focus.

The first part is the easiest to explain.  I took every day as it came.  I didn’t worry about the next day; I concentrated on each challenge as it came my way.  I mentioned in the first post that, once I started seeing results, it became easier to keep on going.  I became my own perpetual motivation machine by the mere realization of, “Holy hell, this is working.”

Stick it out for 2-3 weeks, give yourself an opportunity to see results, and you will succeed.

That’s the easy part… sort of.  To achieve that initial push, and continued success, you need to focus.  You need willpower.  I’m not trying to go Mr. Miyagi on you, but you need self discipline.

Luckily, I firmly believe that willpower is a muscle; all you have to do is exercise it.  Which, brings us back to the baby steps thing.

I know, my thought processes are whack.  Bear with me.

Start making small changes.  For your next meal, instead of fast food, go hit the grocery store and get a salad.  The next time you go shopping, knock one of the unhealthier items you always buy off of your list and replace it with a healthier alternative.  Do this every time you go to the store and, soon, you’ve revamped your entire shopping list.  Go for a 10 minute walk tonight, tomorrow do 15, and so on.  Make small changes that will build on themselves to improve your life.

This is gonna sound weird coming from me, and I tell a surprising number of people this; don’t do what I did.  Not unless it’s going to fit the way you live and want to live.  I, admittedly, went to the extreme in my lifestyle changes to achieve my goals.  Not everyone can do that, and that’s okay.  That doesn’t make me better than anyone else who’s trying to become healthier.  I made the changes I did because I knew that I was cutting my life in half, at the very least, by they choices that I had been making.  That being said, don’t sell yourself short, I wasn’t positive I could pull off what I did when I started either.  A huge lesson I’ve come to learn; you’re capable of more than you know.

I guess I’ll come back to what seems to be the running them of this blog; do what’s right for you.  Trust the process, make baby steps, and focus.

Results will follow.

-Moody

So far with Relentless, I’ve focused on fairly non- tangible ideas.  While those have their place, I figured it would be worth it to put some practical stuff in here as well.  This post specifically is about my current workout routine.   I do plan on adding another page to the blog about the different workouts I do and, eventually, I also plan to put one up that has some healthy recipes on it that I use.

First off, I’m no cross fitter.  I’ve encountered some elitist attitudes among cross fitters (which, to be fair, also exist in standard gyms) and I feel no need to pay the price of a year’s membership at my gym for one month at a cross fit gym to do workouts that are easily looked up on the internet.  That being said, I know some awesome people who love cross fit, so do you’re thing if that’s what you enjoy.

Sorry, can't resist poking a little fun.  I'll make fun of my fellow gym rats soon enough, don't you worry.

Sorry, can’t resist poking a little fun. I’ll make fun of my fellow gym rats soon enough, don’t you worry.

I tend to do more traditional lifting in the gym; it’s what I was taught, it’s what I enjoy. Since I’m still currently in a cutting phase I’ve been incorporating some circuit training to keep my heart rate elevated, fear not fellow gym goers, my circuits don’t take up more than one piece of equipment at a time.

I like to split my muscle groups up, currently those splits are:

-Legs and shoulders.

-Back and biceps.

-Chest and triceps.

On any given day I start with cardio on the treadmill.  I’m not going for insane here, nor is it even about distance.  I jog for 20 minutes.  Whatever the fastest pace is that I can do and reach 20 minutes, I do.  I’ve noticed that this has drawn my focus away from distance and turned it towards endurance.  Consequently, this has allowed me to increase my speed and endurance at the same time without sweating the details that the digital treadmills like to inundate you with.

Tip: Cover up the readout of the treadmill with your towel once you get it all set up, that way you aren’t stressing over the numbers. 

After that, I pick two workouts per muscle group.  I pretty much go with whatever me and my partner are feeling for that day.  I know, “How do you get into a proper routine by not doing the same workouts for weeks at a time?”  I hear what your saying and when it comes to the goal of putting on muscle mass I completely agree with being more regimented in which lifts I perform.  The purpose of this particular style of workout, for me, is to burn fat and not lose a lot of muscle mass while doing it.

For this example we’ll go with Chest and Triceps.

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Sorry it’s small (zing!), sometimes WordPress defeats me, click on it to enlarge it

What this shows is that between each set of every exercise I do 30 seconds of jump rope and 30 seconds of some abs exercise.  When it comes to abs I tend to mix it up and do something different between each different exercise i.e. decline sit ups, flutter kicks, leg raises, etc.

You don’t have to jump rope.  If a treadmill is convenient you can run for 30 seconds, if a bench is nearby you can do step ups.  The goal is to keep the heart-rate elevated throughout the entire workout rather than rest between each set.  Now, it may seem counter-intuitive, but I think you’ll find that you recover from the actual weight lifting portion faster with these intervals.  I would say that it has something to do with increased blood-flow but then I’d be talking way above my pay-grade, for all I know it’s all in my head.

Also, while the goal is to keep the pulse elevated that does NOT mean it’s time to compromise form on the lift for speed.  That’s what the intervals of cardio and ab work are for.  When I get to the lift portion of the circuit, I slow down and control my movements.

While not the main goal, I’ve seen decent gains in strength by doing workouts like these, but my overall cardio level and my core strength have gone up by leaps and bounds while also causing my fat levels to drop.  My gym partner and I are only continuing this for about another week, which will bring us up to 4 weeks total on this plan before we switch to a program designed to build more lean muscle mass.

Sadly, it isn’t over yet.  To finish up this workout, me and my partner head to the weight machine area of our gym to squeeze out any last bits of effort we’ve got.   We finish up with three rounds of the following exercises done in another circuit fashion, one exercise after the other:

-Standing Calves Raise

-Machine Biceps Preacher Curl

-Triceps Dips

-Another core ab exercise, preferably one we haven’t hit yet

I’m sure that there are other better workouts to accomplish what I’ve written here, but my workout buddy showed me this routine and it kicked my ass.  Naturally, I enjoyed that and decided to keep it up.  By all means, search the internet and talk to your friends to find a workout that accomplishes the goals you have in mind.

-Moody