Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Measurements II

Almost two months have passed since I recorded my size (see Measurements).

This is where I am today:
  • Height: 181 cm.
  • Weight: 83.4 kg (-3.5 kg).
  • Chest: 101 cm (+1 cm).
  • Arm: 32.5 cm (+0.5 cm).
  • Waist: 86.5 cm (-4.5 cm).
  • Hips: 94 cm (-8 cm).
  • Thigh: 61 cm (-3 cm).

The fat loss is likely to be larger than the weight loss since I am quite confident I have developed at least a little bit of muscle.

The numbers show a general decline in size as I become leaner. My muscle tone has improved significantly and it would be easy to think I have gained more mass than I actually have. Looks are on my side but deceiving nonetheless.

I am clearly stronger and fitter. Although I still have reservations regarding the health aspects of the paleo diet (I bought more multi-mineral/vitamin and fish oil supplements), I have to give a thumbs up to the HIT protocol as outlined in Body by Science. In these two months I have achieved more than in the previous two years. I'm sold... and I have yet to get to a gym and work with proper equipment.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kicking a ball ~ sprinting

By '~', I mean 'roughly similar'. This has been my experience.

Two, three times a week I go for a one hour walk... or, rather, a stroll. There is a clearing in a nearby forest large enough to fit a stadium in it. The ground has been flattened and covered with fine dirt. It is sufficiently large to be used for games that require fields and some people use it just for that reason. There are no stands or anything blocking the view. The forest makes the edge of the clearing and it is a very pleasant and quiet place to spend a while enjoying nature in peace.

It takes me about 4-5 minutes to slowly walk the clearing long-wise. I choose to come here rather than the hills because it is a location where it is comparatively difficult to injure oneself. Walking over flat, even ground, is quite safe compared to hiking.

To the point.

A month ago, I bought a ball. It is similar to a soccer ball except that it is somewhat smaller and softer. The idea was that it would help me "break my step". By this I mean that I would go about kicking the ball softly and, in this manner, I would be forced to adjust my stride every so often. Think of it as a cheap imitation of walking over uneven terrain.

Now, I have never played soccer before so the first consequence of this addition to my strolling routine was that I would continuously zigzag chasing the ball around. It seemed impossible for me to kick it straight. This, of course, was fine. If instead of 5 minutes, it took me 10 to stroll across the clearing, so what?

After a while, I got better at kicking the ball so that it would roll in front of me if I wanted it to. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I actually hit it hard. I was surprised at the results for two reasons: first, it was a very difficult thing to do well; second, the before-during-after feeling in my leg muscles was very similar to that of sprinting.

I have been practicing my strong kick since then. Unsurprisingly, it is a considerably difficult thing to do adequately. As always, acquiring proper form takes time. However, as my form has improved, so has my ability to kick harder and harder. The feeling of sprinting is also getting stronger and stronger.

So, there. It is clearly anecdotal (n=1, as is fashionable among goofs nowadays) but it is what I am doing for exercise. Thus, it goes into the blog. When I walk, I kick a ball.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cheats and the 80/100 rule

Neither are of my liking.

Cheating implies that one, somehow, would prefer to eat something other than what one is "allowed" but one doesn't, generally, unless the craving is very, very, very strong, in which case, one's willpower momentarily banishes and one cheats by indulging in "forbidden" ambrosias.

It seems to me that the "cheat" menace is what has motivated the formulation of the 80/100 rule which, more or less, claims that if one is on the right path 80% of the time, one gets 100% of the benefit.

Well, like I said, neither concept works for me (they might work for others, of course). Thus, I don't cheat or shoot for 80%. What I have detailed in the blog is exactly what I eat.

There are only two exceptions, both of which I have mentioned in passing before and that I will now elaborate on.

First, I use what I call "crutches" in order to transition into a new set of circumstances. For example, intermittent fasting (IF) was a big unknown, that is, I didn't know what to expect. Therefore, I started IF by breaking the fast with a cup of consommé when I felt the hunger became unhealthy. I only did this three or four times, until my body accepted the new feeding schedule. (Note: together with sprinting, IF has turned out to be the best discovery of this particular journey).

Second, I eat out once a week. This is a kind of social event (therefore, somewhat bizarre by nature) that I am at present engaged in. There will be time when I don't have to do this any more but I must say that, for the entire time that I have been on a paleo diet, I have had this once-a-week peculiar meal.

And the meal is peculiar, indeed. Take note. I can eat as much as I want of the following although I generally eat what is listed below and in the order it is listed:

1. Two servings of fruit gelatin swimming in sweetened heavy cream.
2. Two slices of fresh pineapple.
3. Salad: lettuce, onion, tomato, bacon bits, Parmesan, and a flood of some unknown kind of creamy dressing.
4. Egg drop soup.
5. White bread (~200 grams).
6. A burger patty and an open chicken thigh, both broiled on a fire pit (~250 grams together).
7. Apple pie and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
8. Two slices of fresh pineapple.

It is easily the largest meal of the week (I struggle at times). Also, it has so many ingredients that are not paleo that it would be a waste of time to try to enumerate them.

I believe my entire diet is now "on the record". I will continue to fine-tune the template menu but there should not be any major changes...

Friday, July 8, 2011

VI H.I.T. report

As with sprinting, I have been focusing a lot of my attention on my form. This is essential. While it is true that I am lifting heavy for my current capacity, the time will come when I will be lifting true weight, the kind of weight that can cause a serious injury if I have not learned to control my form. I must, therefore, improve it and I have very consciously been endeavoring to do so.

Consequently, I am now able to go through the exercises with a greater degree of confidence. My muscles are working more efficiently and my movement, particularly the positive motion and turnaround, is cleaner from a biomechanics point of view. This means that my joints are not put under the stress that is the job of the muscles to adsorb and manage. I am gradually becoming less prone to injury.

The downside of this favorable evolution is that I am out-growing my home equipment much faster than I expected. Out of the "big five" exercises, I cannot do three in what I consider satisfactory conditions. These are the leg press, the chess press, and the seated row. For leg presses, I am doing barbell squats. Since everything I do is unassisted, I cannot really push it to positive failure or in weight. For the chess press, I am using the Total Trainer. The problem here is that, even using a minimal incline, my form becomes compromised. I have tried everything I can think of but I cannot see how to fix this. For the seated row, I am also using the TT. The problem here is the opposite. I have the machine on the maximum incline and it is still not enough resistance. I am forced to put additional free weights on the TT but, to be honest, it is a pain to do it for just one exercise. This leaves two of the "big five" exercises, the overhead press and the pulldown, which I can do well. For these two, I use the TT and I can still add more resistance.

I have mentioned before that I round off each session with a few additional exercises. Usually, these are incline chest flies (dumbbells), seated biceps curls (TT), and "shoulder extensions" (TT). I perform these to positive failure but don't jot down the TUL's.

My failure to properly carry out all of the "big five" is a definite problem. I rest for a week to then push myself on a workout session. Yet, when the time comes, I am unable to seriously commit to all exercises. Simply put, the session is a wasted opportunity to the extent that it is inefficient. I am thus forced to trade the convenience of working out at home in exchange for the effectiveness of using adequate equipment at a gym.

I plan to do the transition in August.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sprinting III

I never liked running. I found it painful and boring.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I enjoy sprinting.

I have been doing sprints for about a month now, never more than once or twice a week. Still, the progress has been steady. I first concentrated on my foot work because, believe or not, it was not certain that I wouldn't trip over myself. I then focused on lengthening my stride. This week, I have tried to release tension from my shoulders. The overall package is looking good. I am beginning to feel confident on my feet.

Tonight, I again sprinted a dozen times or so. I was able to push my speed up another notch. It is interesting (to me) that it seems I could always run a little quicker than I actually do. The acquisition of the skill has unleashed a source of strength that I didn't know I had.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Template menu 0.2

My menu is gradually improving. For starters, I have gotten used to eat meat again. I now have a steak, or pork chops, or a hamburger daily. Once a week, I might also eat chicken. I don't eat fruit more than once or twice a week.

Since I started the intermittent fasting, the weight loss has resumed. I am now in the 84s, about 2 kilos below the plateau.

  • 1 egg omelet.
  • 2 slices of bacon.
  • 3 satsuma age (pan-fried with a tablespoon of butter).

  • ~150 grams of beef or pork.
  • Salad: Lettuce, 1 medium tomato, 1 cucumber, 1 medium onion (sautéed with a tablespoon of butter) , salt, extra virgin olive oil, 1 spoon of mashed fresh garlic, 1 spoon of mashed fresh ginger, and parsley.

  • 2 boiled eggs.
  • ~200 grams of plain yogurt with a spoon of cocoa powder.

I should say that there are times when I feel hungry and that there are times when I feel like I'm eating too much. Nonetheless, I am respecting both the menu and the "feeding window".

I am aware that I am consuming a smaller volume of food than I did before. This is to be expected and it is happening naturally.