Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blog<Weight Loss>

I promised this like 2 months ago, but some stuff came up that is taking up most of my weekend time (which I promise to blog about at a TBD date). So, as I mentioned in this post, I am trying to lose weight again. And I've got some other goals as well, mostly so that I have more motivation than just staring at the scale every week, and (more importantly) because who the fuck cares how much a person weighs? I want to look and feel good.

Anyway, here's what I've been up to for the past 2 and a half months. You can read some of my previous posts on the subject if you are curious about the reason for the stuff I'm doing. Looking back, I still agree with almost all of it. Now is probably a good time to mention that I am not a certified nutritionist, or personal trainer, or medical doctor, or workout robot, or whatever. So please consult your physician before attempting anything you read on the internet. Or don't, but just remember that you're doing it at your own risk.

I calculated my BMR at around 2200 calories. I try to eat that much every day. This will change as I lose more weight. I used the myFitnessPal app for the iPhone to track my meals for about 4 weeks until I had a good understanding of what I was eating every day. Now it mostly goes unused, but it was a great tool for that first month.

There's a funny thing about counting your calories and macro nutrients (Protein, Fat, Carbs). In order to stay under your magic calorie count for the day and still feel satisfied after a meal, you have to eat healthier food. The crap you get at McDonalds or Taco Bell is high in calories and low in satiety. So, in order to feel like I was eating enough, I switched to lean meat, salad, homemade sandwiches, broth-based soups, yogurt, and basically anything that you can find on the outer walls of the grocery story. This is where they put the healthy stuff. They put the processed stuff in the middle because it doesn't go bad and they don't have to switch it out as much. At this point, I can basically eat anything in my fridge or pantry without feeling bad about it because it's all pretty healthy (I am still conscious of the proper portion size though).

I love to grill, so I'll cook up 3-4 chicken breasts at a time and eat it for the next few days. Anyway, I feel like I get to eat until I'm full and that's about the perfect amount of calories. I have a pretty boring diet, but that's fine with me.

I also cut out sodas and I only occasionally drink caffeine (twice a week). This has forced me to drink more water, which has also forced me to get up and walk around more at work, either to refill my water bottle or to use the restroom.

Weight Training
Every weight loss plan needs to incorporate resistance training of some sort. It reduces the amount of muscle loss that comes with being on a calorie deficit You don't want to lose muscle because it's what burns fat, and by doing resistance training, you're telling your body "Hey, we need these things. This isn't a fuel source." Pretty simple.

As before, I follow (a modified version of) the Stronglifts 5x5 plan, which is 3 workouts a week. Squats every workout, and alternating bench press/barbell row, and overhead press/dead lift each workout. My modification is related to my running goals. Basically, I was following the SL5x5 program at the recommended pace, which is to add 5 lbs to each exercise every workout. The problem, is that I run between the weight days so I don't get the full 48 hours of recovery time. This lead to patellar tendon pain at around 75 lbs on the squat and back pain at around 100 lbs (with the patellar tendon pain just getting worse each increase.)

I'm just doing the weight training to accelerate the weight loss, the running is my real goal, so I decided to make a change. I first dropped the weight for all the lifts and I completely dropped all the weight for squats (just the 45 lb bar). Then I decided to only increase the weight by 5 lbs every other workout for each exercise. Basically, I'm increasing at half the recommended speed. It seems to be working well so far. I don't have any back pain anymore (improving my squat and dead lift technique is helping here), and for the past week my patellar tendon has been pain-free as well, which is huge because I was afraid I'd have to stop the running entirely to let it heal.

I added bicep curls because I'm vain (and because a bigger bicep keeps my iPhone arm band in place when I'm running). I increase the weight by 2.5 lbs each week, but I'll be switching over to pullups as soon as I can do more than 3 in a row. :)

I also decided to start doing a pre-workout/warm up consisting of planks, side planks, back crunches (I don't know what these are really called), and stretching/warm up type stuff. I'm now at 1 minute on planks, 45 seconds on each side for side planks, and 20 back crunches, which I do mostly just to warm up my back muscles. I do all this 3 times in about 8 minutes, and I stretch during the time that I'm not doing planks. The planks have helped immensely with my core strength. I started at 45 seconds normal planks and 30 seconds side planks, and I increase everything by 5 seconds each week. When I'm done with all this (takes about 20-25 minutes, I head to the garage for the barbell lifts, completely warmed up.

Overall, I feel a lot stronger. My muscles are more defined. And I no longer cringe when looking at myself in the mirror. I'll keep increasing the weight until I plateau either from the calorie deficit or from pain or injury. Hopefully the former.

The inspiration for today's post. I ran a personal best 6.75 miles this morning. It was slow as hell, but it's still better than I've ever done. I did 5 miles barefoot, and the rest in my Luna sandals.

I outlined some of my running goals in an earlier post, but I basically wanted to be able to run a 10k in mid-April. So my training plan has been as follows. Twice during the week, I try to run about 3-4 miles, focusing on not wearing out the soles of my feet, and lately, focusing on increased pace. On Saturday, I focus on increasing my distance (regardless of pace). My initial plan was to increase by .25 miles each week, but I've actually been increasing somewhere around .5 miles.

It took a long time (I was at around 3 miles max distance at the beginning of the year), but I'm ecstatic with the results so far. I've already surpassed the distance needed for the 10k, which was a big mental barrier to break through. Now, I feel like with training (and hopefully about 20-30 additional lbs of weight loss), I might actually be able to do a half marathon at the end of this year or early next year.

One big thing that today's run taught me is that I should probably start carrying water with me. I'm thinking about getting a camelbak or some kind of belt, because I already feel like I carry too much crap in my hands (my sandals). My thought is to just strap it to my body somewhere and not worry about it until I'm thirsty. There might even be a pocket or something to store my sandals while I'm barefoot.

Putting it all Together
So, here's my schedule in condensed form:
  • Monday - Rest Day (And sometimes a cheat day on the diet. Nobody's perfect.)
  • Tuesday - Run 3-4 miles. Focus on pace and technique.
  • Wednesday - Lift. Plank workout and barbell exercises.
  • Thursday - Run 3-4 miles. Focus on pace and technique.
  • Friday - Lift. Plank workout and barbell exercises.
  • Saturday - Long run. Increase distance .25 - .5 miles. 
  • Sunday - Lift. Plank workout and barbell exercises. 
Eat 2200 calories a day. I try to eat as much protein as I can and the rest I split between carbs and fat, but I'm not fanatical about it.

Results so Far
It's been about 2.5 months since I started the lifting and diet, and I've lost almost 20 lbs. This was my weight loss goal for the 10k, and I've almost achieved it (a month early.) I'll keep chugging along and occasionally adjust stuff, but I'm pretty happy with the results so far. 

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

Talk to you next time.