Saturday, May 24, 2014

7 Weeks Down

So a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I didn't trust the results from my digital scale's bio-electric impedance body fat percentage. This week I decided to do something about it, so I got myself a tape measure and tried the U.S. Navy method of determining the body fat percentage.

And damned if it wasn't right there with the bio-electric impedance. The scale had been very slowly descending from 29-30 to 27-28, but it could fluctuate quite a bit depending on my hydration, and I hadn't been following a strict hydration routine for the first three weeks, so those early higher results were in doubt. Now they're less so.

The second big change is to alter my strength workouts. One thing that has been giving me a problem with motivation was that I put together my strength workouts based on what I had done in the past, but since I've done four or five dramatically different workouts during various phases over the past 17 years, my current workout was a set of random bits from here and there with no real focus. It has made me firmer and stronger, but any kind of workout would have done that, given how far out of shape I was. But I had no tangible goals and no firm results, and so my motivation to do each day's workout was approaching nil.

So I did what I usually do. I bought a workout book. I have a dozen of them, but unlike those, this one builds on what I've been doing and gives it a systematic approach with goals to work toward. So I'm looking forward to seeing if a more systematic approach will give me better focus and accelerate my progress.

Because I'm approaching a really tricky time. Usually these fitness phases last about three months, at which point, I've gotten into pretty good shape. My motivation and focus drops, and I quit for several months (or years, this last time). I have tried a couple of times to fool myself into continuing to focus (and reach a new level of fitness and strength) by changing up my workout, but that hasn't worked well. Usually, by that time, I was hitting a plateau, and without continued results, my interest waned.

And right now, including the baby steps I took before starting up the spreadsheet, I'm either just at or just over the two-month mark, and nowhere near my weight, muscle, or speed goals. Admittedly, I've never let myself go quite this far out of shape before since leaving the Army, but I'm not going to get where I want in another month.

So I've got to hope that starting this new workout approach (coming a month before my usual quitting time), plus the continued motivation of Zombies, Run!, will keep my interest locked in.  I've also kept my diet nicely dialed in this time, and I think I'll be able to continue it as well.

I started out planning to do a sort of low-carb approach (which has worked well for me before), but I was kind of half-assing it, so after a week or so, I switched to the Slow Carb approach from Tim Ferriss's book, The Four Hour Body. But it just doesn't work for me. This is the third time I've tried it (though the first time I think I've given a real careful go), and I've never gotten the kind of incredible results he promises. So a couple of weeks ago, I went back to a more serious low-carb approach, only this time I'm having way more fun with it.

The times I've tried it before were when I was still married and living with my wife and her mother and grandmother. So I kind of had to separate myself from them at mealtimes, had to buy my own separate groceries, and often felt like I had to sneak my low-carb eating under the radar.

This time, I'm living alone, so I do all my own grocery shopping. I can buy exactly what I want, I do all my own cooking, and I don't have to worry about any comments from anyone about what I'm eating. I'm not losing weight super quickly--only about a pound and a half per week--but it's coming off steadily, and I'm not getting the kind of energy crashes and food cravings on overnight shifts that I used to. I used to hit the vending machines at work three or four times a night, eating chips and M&M's and cupcakes. I'm not doing any of that now.

The only problem I have now is deciding whether to start pushing my calories up to try to build muscle faster on this new strength regime. It may take me a couple of weeks to decide that for sure.

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