The Challenge

Well, I’ve gone and put my foot in in it now. My new favorite forum community at Nerd Fitness has started another Six-Week Challenge, and being a newbie around there, I went all in. Stating specific goals, for which people will hold you accountable, rather increases one’s ability to stick to a game plan. I’m really excited to do this. It’s like playing an MMO, but with tangible rewards and no Butt Creep!*

Here are my current goals, which lead to my main goal of fitting comfortably into my jeans the next size down.
—Continue the strength training program three days per week.
—Transition from rack pulls to full deadlifts.
—Ride 60 miles on the bike.
—Post to this blog at least once per week.

Bad. Ass.

I still need to put together the grading system to quantify how well I do at the end of the six weeks, but this is a good start.

Part of the challenge is also to state your motivation for undertaking it. Mine is simple. I want to keep improving my life balance, because the healthier I get, the more I accomplish and the happier I become. Also, I want to look like a badass. Think Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. Bad. Ass. Muscle definition rocks.

So, that’s what I’m up to lately in addition to work projects. I’ll update you guys here as things move along and as the spirit moves me. If you’re working on a challenge or have questions about mine, let us know in the comments. Let’s keep it moving, folks!

*You know, Butt Creep: when you sit at the computer so long your butt begins to creep toward the edges as it grows to fit the chair. I might have just made that up.

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See the Incredible Shrinking Man!

Below is a cut and paste of my first forum post on MFP, made as I approached my 6 month mark with the site and community. I have come to realize that while I may well be able to do this on my own (with H’s support, of course), why should I? We don’t live in bubbles- our lives create ripples that shape and guide those around us, as we are shaped and guided by them.So I decided to post and see if I could make some ripples.I  then decided this morning that a proper narrative to keep track of my progress would be useful later, even if only to remember the journey when I look back. I wish I’d noted things down earlier, but we’re still early enough on that not too much has been lost.I can’t promise it will be entertaining, or frankly, even worth your time.. but it feels important for me to do it, so I am going to.

When I’m at goal and feel like a new man, I don’t ever want to lose sight the man who started the journey.

[BEGIN FORUM POST]
Hello, fellow MFP’ers!
I began my journey to get down to a healthy weight a couple of years ago. I was kind of watching what I ate, but that time was really about starting the long process of becoming mentally ready to REALLY change my life. My wife was going through the process with me. She really is the driving force behind a lot of this, and she’s a MFP’er as well (H4rpy.)
Well, after a while, I’d lost about 50 pounds, going from a monolithic 475 pounds down to 425, but I was stuck there and going nowhere fast. H was also stalled out, and one morning, we were both ready to get serious. We joined MFP in March ’13 and never looked back. We got used to measuring our portions, and controlling what we ate instead of it controlling us, and 3 months later (now June ’13,) we joined a gym.
I’d spent a fair amount of time in weight training in college, so as we got used to going to the gym together, we ended up on a lifting program that we both like and works well with our schedule.
I was hopeful I’d be able to say I’d lost a hundred pounds by my birthday (Sept 22nd), and much to my surprise, I blew through that goal about two weeks ago. I’m elated about that, but also very aware of the fact that I still have somewhere around 150-175 pounds still to go, and that it’s going to get harder with each pound lost. That’s where the MFP community comes in!
I like to think I have good willpower and I won’t falter between now and when I get to my goal. I know my wife will do everything she can to keep me motivated and encouraged, just like I will to her.
I want insurance! I want some more MFP friends to keep me honest and keep me on track as these coming weeks turn to months, and the months to year(s) to get me to my goal, and then to maintain it once I get there.
So if you want a MFP friend to share in your victories and help lift you through your setbacks, or if you just want to watch and see if a quarter-ton man can become a 200lb man the long, hard, slow way… send a request! I’d love to hear from you all. 🙂
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Strrrrrrongerrrr!

So, we’ve added a new component to our workout routine: lifting. Yes, I do mean weights, and they’re bloody heavy. Brian lifted in college, so thanks to his experience I knew what I was getting into when we started this last week, namely pain, fatigue, callouses, and pain (great galloping gonads, the pain). What surprised me was the awesomeness. Picking up those big-ass weights feels GOOD, and every time I move them, I feel stronger. In fact, I feel amazing.

Yeah, it seems silly to feel so much stronger after only a week. I feel like a starter character who just hit Level 2 in an adventure game. Bear with me here, this makes sense in a seriously dorky way. The good games always make you feel powerful when you start out because being powerful is fun, therefore you’ll play longer. Beginning lifting is similar. You start small, but you make such progress from session to session that you feel magnificently heroic.

Since we started this routine, I’m happier because I stopped feeling like the dumpy broad I am and started feeling like a total boss. (Part of that is because dumpy is now temporary and part of it is because weights make you rawr.) Brian is happier because we’re now using the whole gym, rather than just the cardio machines. I suspect part of him disliked that because you can get cardio outside for free, but he knows I like going to the gym for it. The gym is inside, and thus keeps me safe from scary bugs and people who text while driving. Win/win.

That said, you’re probably wondering why I decided to start lifting weights at the ripe old age of 41. There are two reasons: (1) a bunch of sciencey things having to do with fat loss and body composition, and (2) strength. Both reasons are important, but the second is more so. Strength has always been a priority to me, especially mental. My brain has grown stronger every year, and it finally occurred to me that my bod really needs to start keeping up. Last time I checked, they haven’t invented the Head Jars from Futurama yet.

Also, RAWR.

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Moar Fitness

You might be wondering why I’ve been on the fitness choo-choo lately. Because it’s totally working, that’s why. And it’s an opportunity for me to share a great resource that I found a few weeks ago. Here’s the skinny. (See what I did there? Hurr.)

On our first visit to the gym, I decided to give the elliptical machines a whirl because I’ve heard great things about them: low impact, easy for beginners to use, blah blah blah. 

So sleek! So modern! So non-hurty!


So I hopped onto the one with the swingy handles and went to town. Easy, right? Yeah, no. 

After 15 seconds: “Holy crap, the pain! Whyyyy?!”
After 30 seconds: “Nope.” 

Well. That was discouraging. Clearly I must have been doing it wrong, so research ensued. Google found for me an archived blog post written expressly about how to use elliptical machines correctly (because that’s what I asked it). Yay! After reading this article and snorking a few times due to the humor-infused information within it, I bookmarked that site for future reading. I have not been disappointed.

This awesome blog is Cranky Fitness, run by Crabby McSlacker. If you enjoy humor with your fitness, go here often. She’s a great resource and a cool person.

As for my trouble with the elliptical, it seems the old herniated disc in my back just doesn’t care for that machine. At all. Fortunately for me, I can truck along on the treadmill and stationary bike cross-country settings until my feet fall off, so I’m still getting my hour of cardio. (And we all know how important that is, don’t we, kids?! Doubletap!)

Now go on, ask me if I lift. 

DO IT.

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Fitness for Srs: From Potato to Tomato

A while back I wrote about starting to move to the next level of fitness. The journey from potato to tomato is not without its plateaus, so six weeks ago we decided to take another step and join a nearby gym. People following my Twitter feed have noticed my Metal Motivation hashtag lately. This is why. Music makes working out a lot more fun, and metal is motivating for me. Especially Rob Halford, who has the most inspiring voice I’ve ever heard, but that’s a subject for another post. Lurve.

In addition to 3.5 hours a week in the gym, we’ve been fine-tuning the diet with a focus on portion control and the right calorie percentages. It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. In a nutshell, our approach = work out, eat less, and eat the right stuff. This approach is not one of those quick “Belly Buster 9000!!!” things. It is not fast or easy. It requires effort and a complete change in foodly mindset, but the result is lifelong sustainability. Would you like to know more?! Wait… sorry, random Starship Troopers flashback.

Many people groan when they think of improving their eating habits or getting off of their butt more often. I’ll admit that the idea was daunting to me two years ago when we began this journey, but it has turned out to be one of the most positive experiences of my life. I’m happier, healthier, and almost have something resembling energy! What is UP with that?! Seriously, the difference is night and day.

I won’t say this change has been easy. Do I miss donuts, ice cream, and Vanilla Coke? Oh my, yes. But snarfing them way too often nearly wrecked my health, so out they went other than the occasional treat. And honestly, they taste better as a treat than they ever did when I considered them a staple. Moderation is worth my former weight in gold. 

Here are some examples of my progress shown in cats.

I went from this…

I am blargh, but also srs. So srs.

To this…

Woo, we’re truckin’ now!


Unfortunately, I still wake up like this.

Who dares disturb my slumber?!


That may never change no matter how much I train to get up early. I do wake up faster, though!

I’m not a tomato yet, but I’m off the couch and on the move. It’s a very good start.

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Health and Such

While doinking around on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, I found a post from one of our friends about her current health regimen and she mentioned getting a calorie counting app for her phone. This idea intrigued me because I love both tracky things and techy things. Combining the two could make getting healthier more fun, which could help me get off my duff more often. Yay, right? So off I went to Google Play to find an app for myself, which took about 15 minutes including research.
My choice was MyFitnessPal, and it has been amazing to use. I had so much fun with it the first day that Brian got it as well. Now we’re having a blast scanning foodie barcodes and building our recipes so the app can track all the nutritional information for us. We can log our weights or measurements and it lets us know how we’re doing toward our goals. We can even log our exercise, which has made me break out the Wii Fit Plus and really go to town (as you can see with my orange helper).
 
Nutter providing moral support on the Wii Fit balance board.
 
Maybe I’m just weird, but being able to quantify this stuff has made said stuff a lot more fun to do. Then again, people like to see results, even in little increments, and that’s what such fine-grained tracking does. Progress so far has been steady and we’re active every day. Funny how something as small as a phone app can not only give us something new to do together, but also simplify a normally painful process and make it fun.
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