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Found 12 results

  1. Hi Warriors. I need your advice. This video shows the last of my earliest attempts at c&jfrom sunday. Explanation: I decided to throw in some mobility skill work on my cardio/rest day. .. I've always been flexible as a brick, and no attempt at improving mobility has ever worked until I started kettlebell training several years ago. So just working on mobility obviously does not work; I need a goal that is worth working for. Else I loose motivation and skip the bendy stuff. Contortionism is not a sexy as lifting stuff. (At least, as long as we are talking about overweight middle-aged dudes...) So that's why I chose do dabble a bit with olympic lifts. After all, these guys are strong and agile... Both of which I am not. Makes for a good goal. Watched some turorials, read some stuff, got the explanatory graphs from the german olypic weightlifting federation, and set to work. I have never done an olympic clean before sunday; the video shows the last attempt of my very first session. I started with an empty bar and then gradually threw some weight onto it (ended up with 40kg/88lbs), as I had the impression that I would not get the "dive under the bar"-part right if the bar was so light that I could hold it or move it around where I wanted. I shall probably raise the weight a bit further, as 40kg still seem ridiculously light. My own impressions: - will probably have to pull higher and extend more when real real weights come into play - elbows need to go forward further and earlier (need more shoulder mobility) - need to get down into the squat further (need more hip and ankle mobility) - grip (width, hook grip necessary?) Anything else I missed? Thanks.
  2. I was eager to do the last challenge but I came in a bit late so I'm excited it reset and I can participate in this one. Goal #1 - Consistency My biggest problem in the past is not being able to stick to a program. I get easily distracted or something hurts and I end up wandering off the garden path. My primary aim for this challenge is to hit my program 90% or better consistency. This is to allow for unforeseeable circumstances should I not be able to get to the gym one day. 90% is still 85% better than what I have been getting in the past. I track this by having my program printed and in my training back and I cross out and comment things I get done or things I miss. Goal #2 - Diet Reserve any sweet treats I want to: 1. Days I train 2. 1 meal a day generally after dinner I follow this pretty much already but I'm always cracking on my off days, which is only twice a week, and I sometimes sneak cream biscuits at work. I'll make a note if I break away from this. Goal #3 - Programming Get the program done for when I finish my current program so that it is ready to go as soon as this one is done. I have bad habit in the past of leaving things to late and then I end up not getting anything done because I have nothing to follow. Needs to be done before the end of this challenge. Goal #4 - Life++ I've only recently completed my certification as a personal trainer and I'm now looking at what the next step is. I have a few different options including getting my home gym set up and possibly taking on some clients, enrolling for a sports science degree, change focus all together and working on my art for a little while and put my studies on the back burner. Needless to say I'm at the crossroads and my brain doesn't function well when it doesn't have something to focus on, I tend to get mood swings and all sorts of things. By the end of this challenge I want to have at least decided what to do with myself for the next 6 months in terms of my personal life and what I want to achieve and when. This will be done in the form of an action plan with clear steps and guidelines that I should be taking as well as milestones I need to hit. Let the Challenge Begin!
  3. So I wanted to start something on this message boards I could be accountable for and this seems like the place to do it. I'm currently training as an Olympic weightlifter. I compete in 2-4 competitions a year, and I've been doing it for over 3 years (not long I realize) My biggest problem is I've struggled finding a program that really suits me, so I generally end up jumping around and my training lacks focus. I've been slowly getting better but I still have some ways to go, so this is where I'm going to hold myself accountable to a proper program. I started with a coach but unfortunately that's not an avenue available to me anymore so I have to do all my own programming. I do consult with other coaches when I get the chance but it doesn't come up often. At the moment I just came out of a competition. I have a week just messing around a little and stretching out and recovering (as well as an exhibition at the local show) but then next week I start a 9 week program leading up to states which is my first major competition for the year. I hit my goals at this recent comp which has given me the confidence I need to hit what I need to at states. I have to write the program this week though so I'll put more about that when I finish writing it. As for today I got back in and did some light work to see what was really sore and needed a bit of work to loosen up. Started with my standard warm up: 1000m row, Foam rolling, Dynamic Stretching, and some basic body weight stuff. This led into some light hang power snatches at 50kg. Did 5 sets of triples and quickly realized I had some aches and pains that needed addressing. After that I went in to some Back squats - 2 sets of 10 at 100kg with a pause at the bottom. These felt alright so the bulk of my tightness was in my traps. Hit some stretches for half an hour and the foam roller again and that was it for the day. Till tomorrow, Andrew
  4. Hi all, I guess I'll start with a bit about myself. I'm not new to fitness, been in the game a while, but I find its been a bit like playing a game of darts blind folded. I'm trying to hit the bullzeye but I have no idea which way to aim. It's only been the last few years things have really started to click but I still have a long way to go. Qualifications A recently certified personal trainer Level 1 Olympic weightlifting coach with the AWF (Soon to be Level 2) Competitive Olympic weightlifting athlete since 2014 Fitness Nerd If it's not obvious from the meager qualifications I have my passion is Olympic weightlifting. My lifts aren't anything amazing and I've hit a wall for the last year and a half which I've finally worked out how to break down recently and have started to progress again. My current lifts are: Snatch: 105kg (231lb) Clean and Jerk: 127kg (280lb) Back Squat: 175kg (385lb) Front Squat: 137kg (302lb) I've done a heavy deadlift once in my life and I bench press once a year but here are my numbers for them: Bench Press: 105kg (231lb) Deadlift: 185kg (407lb) Bodyweight: 100kg Height: 6"3, 189cm BF: 12% Where I'm at I've been throwing myself at a brick wall trying to improve my Olympic lifts for a while now. I read everything a could, I analyzed programs, talked to coaches but I just couldn't seem to improve my lifts or even my base strength. I finally figured out my problem wasn't in my strength but it was in my mobility and how my CNS was firing. You can get away with a little bit more with this when your short but when your my height you hit a wall pretty quick when you aren't using your glutes at all. So that's been a focus of mine for the last 6-7 weeks and I've seen more gains in this time then I have in the last 2 years. Good sign I'm on the right track. I feel like I've got the programs in place and dialed in now to leave that to improve, but I've come to my next hurdle. Nutrition. It's always been a weak point of mine and it's something I really want to nip in the butt. One of my main hang up points has been there are so many different opinions out there it's very easy to get flustered and confused, which I was for a long time. But when you look at all of these things enough you start to see patterns, real or imagined, that start to join the dots for you. This is kinda where I'm at now. I can see the pattern, I've got a good idea what works for me now, I've made huge adjustments to my diet, I'm still perfecting it but I feel like I'm pointed in the right direction at least. That's more or less why I'm here. I've always liked forums and things but haven't really found any that gel with me, but I've been reading a lot of stuff and this one seems to be in my wheel house. I want a place I can be held accountable to my goals but also help people out if I can. My Goals Back Squat 200kg by the end of the year Snatch 110kg by the end of the year Clean and jerk 140 by the end of the year Have my nutrition on point. Mostly Paleo, supplementing with Protein powder. I think I've warbled on enough. I look forward to talking with all of you. Andrew Taylor
  5. Hey all my warrior buddies! I am excited about this new 4 week business. In the long term, I am training for several strength sports now. I am excited about competing in a large Strongman competition in June at the Naturally Fit games. I am training to do an olympic weightlifting meet in April, and I am planning to do at least a few Highland Games for fun this year as well. Like any good earthbender worth her salt, I need to focus on building strength, lots of nutritious food, and maintaining a focused mind. Earthbenders are most powerful when they are literally well grounded. 1. MUSCLES! My current regimen is basic strength training 3x week, olympic lifting 2x week, and playing with strongman implements on Saturdays. Goal is to continue attendance and slowly improving (5RM, 3 RM, 1 RM, technique and form). 2. OM NOMS! I go back and forth with how much My Fitness Pal helps or hurts my nutrition goals... I think for the next 4 weeks I'm going to focus on recording what I eat daily, but only for the protein numbers. Goal is to eat ~100g a day, at least 700g total per week. 3. SANITY! I love training, but I am also a wife, a daughter, a friend, and a student. I don't want to spend so much time playing with weights that I neglect my other responsibilities. Goal is to continue getting my homework done and completing all my pharmacy school responsibilities. If this starts to slip I need to be willing to scale back gym time. Good luck everyone this February!
  6. Hi guys! I'm keeping this challenge super simple! I have a history of failed challenges... But I always have great intentions when I start! Fitness Goals: Train 1-2 times per week with others I have my garage gym set up, which is awesome, but I miss training with others sometimes. When I need to get out of the house to train, I usually go to a crossfit place that my friend coaches at and lift with his people. It's nice to get input from him and to have the camaraderie of other lifters. Do the finisher mini-challenges I should be doing some cardio-ish stuff, so this works out well for me. Wear my tracker every day I got a jawbone fitness tracker and so far I like it. If nothing else, it's a great reminder to get up and move throughout the day. I also like the sleep tracker and have been using the food log. I went with a model that isn't super big and bulky, so I actually like wearing it too! Life Goal: Unfuck school Welp, I managed to fuck up a whole semester of school... Only finished 1/4 classes. UGH UGH UGH. So, now I just need to do what I can with the tiny bit of time I have left this term and move forward. I just need to not let this get to my head. I have to finish this shit! I know this sounds like a vague goal, but just doing some school work will be enough for me at this point.
  7. Well, since I'm TERRIBLE about starting challenges and not finishing them, I figured I'd start my own little thread here for somewhat regular training updates and chatting with mah neeeeeeeeeeerds. I love you guys! What to Expect: Sporadic training updatesOccasional ranting or ventingMaybe a few useful tips for trainingUpdates on my next adventure, going back to school!Pictures of cats More to come very soon!
  8. So I've been out of the challenge loop for a while but as I'm in the process of making a few changes to how I'm approaching diet and exercise, it seemed like a good opportunity to get back into things - even if I am a bit late to the party this time. I've found before that the challenge format isn't very compatible with my training so I'm not going to focus on improving my lifts or anything like that, instead I'm just going to focus on two things. For anyone who doesn't know me (I've been lurking away in my battle log mostly for the last few months), I'm a 31 year old Olympic lifter who started training about 18 months ago. Goal 1: Lose weight/fat I've been back and forth about what to do with my bodyweight this last year. Originally I had been going to drop a weight class from 94kg (I was a light 94) to 85kg but after doing really well with the cut, I kind of lost motivation in the summer due to injury. Since then I've put some weight back on. I had thought about continuing to lift as a 94 but I'm feeling quite fat at the moment so back to 85kg it is. The plan is to lose some weight (hopefully mostly fat!) in the run up to the holidays and then try to maintain over Christmas and New Year. I have a lot of time off so I should be able to exercise a lot during that time. I'm running an approximately 500 calorie per day deficit with a cheat day on Saturdays - that's about 2600 calories per day. For anyone interested, my macros look something like 195g carbs, 115g fat, 195g protein. Sometimes protein is higher and fat lower. No set number of kilos to lose for this challenge or anything like that, just be lighter and leaner in 5 and a half weeks' time Goal 2: Take more video of my training Recording video of my training is a super helpful thing for me to do. It means I get to compare how I think I'm lifting with how I'm actually lifting, it gives me an opportunity to get feedback on my uncoached sessions and it just makes me more accountable. I'm pretty patchy when it comes to getting video of my lifts so I need to improve that. I train 3-4 times a week. One of those sessions the gym is so busy and I'm usually sharing a platform so it's a bit of an inconvenience to others if I'm messing around with my phone camera. But really I'd like to get video from the other sessions wherever possible. So the goal for this is to record and upload video from at least two training sessions per week. That's it! Nothing fancy, just a simple, straightforward challenge to help me push the reset button. Current starts for comparison at the start of the challenge: Bodyweight: 91.8kg Bodyfat: bioimpedance scale says 22% - I don't think this is right but let's see the trend Snatch: 90kg Clean & Jerk: 105kg Clean: 115kg Back Squat: 182.5kg (162.5kg beltless) Front Squat: 140kg (132.5kg beltless)
  9. Introduction: Hi Warriors!!! This is my first challenge with the NF crowd and I am SUPER excited! Training Background: I used to train/compete aggressively for Olympic Weightlifting a few years ago, unfortunately afterwards, between a series of injuries and academic commitments I quit the sport and it has been a massive life regret. I dabbled in some crossfit, long distance running, Muay Thai, but I always missed weightlifting profoundly. About 6 weeks ago I found a new local team and I started training again! I am very excited and want to sign up for the challenge to not screw this up. Diet background: Oh food and healthy eating - I have a gluten allergy, so I have to be very careful with what I eat. I try to be paleo w/ minimal dairy BUT I have a few mind monsters I need to get rid of. In the beginning of the year, I was doing a "super strict for 6 days, cheat day on 7th" type of meal plan which turned very self-destructive and brought me into a horrible place physically and mentally. Eventually it turned into a binge day/starvation day 48 hour cycle. I noticed my weight starting to creep up, which was very draining physically and emotionally. Then, a bit of good news - I had to travel for a few weeks, and somehow my eating habits are always better on the road (perhaps because my mind is occupied?), and I've managed to get back to where I was before it all started... the weight dropped and my eating habits are now much more normal. The biggest shock was that my training improved EVEN though a lot of my usual "rules" were broken - i.e. not eating immediately before/after a training session, not hitting the g number for protein, and all my other usual stressors. But now that I am back home, my biggest fear is falling into my old horrible set of habits. I am hoping between training with my team and having a support network I can abandon my binge-monster forever. Main Quest: Work towards getting into competition shape for weightlifting. Quest 1: Epically annihilate the binge monster - Eliminate factors that seem to screw with my appetite: ditch the diet soda and chewing gum - Have vegetables with every meal/snack and start with them when hungry - Try to eat by functioning off natural hunger/satiety cues instead of following strict timings and stressing when there is any variety in them. Quest 2: Build strength - Measurement: Improve back-squat to at least 95kg 2x2 - Train with my team as per plan 3x/week. - Never miss 2 workouts in a row Quest 3: Improve mindset - Stop negative self-talk - Break free of self-destructive habits - When facing a binge/screw it moment, post and vent on the forum instead of buying a jar of almond butter. Life Quest: Continue to pursue my french studies by registering for night school at a university close by. Motivation: I wish I had something beautifully motivational like kids or family members to keep me going when things get challenging... but this is where I need the most help. The only person I am really doing this for is myself, which unfortunately, is not the greatest motivation for me, and which is why I need all of you wonderful people!! Most people are scared of failure... but I am scared of success! How weird is that!? Any time I set a new personal best or achieve a new goal, instead of being proud and happy like a normal person, I get freaked out by the idea!!
  10. There's a weightlifing pun in that title, honest. I have a pretty sketchy record with challenges - completed my first, set myself up to fail by the way I structured my second and just flaked out on the third. So yeah, fourth time's the charm. For those who don't know me, let me aware you. I'm a 30 year old guy living in Scotland who has been strength training for about a year and a half and training in Olympic weightlifting for 9-10 months, the last 5-6 of those with a coach. I recently (like, yesterday) made my competitive debut, coming 6th in a flight of 8 in the 94kg weight class. I train 4 times a week doing the Olympic lifts, squats and accessory work for upper body, back and abs. I will be competing again in September and possibly once in the interim, depending on what meets are taking place. Starting Stats: For the sake of tracking progress, here's where I am as of 24 February 2014. Bodyweight: 90.5kg Bodyfat %: ??% Snatch: 82kg Clean & Jerk: 100kg Back Squat: 182kg Front Squat: 140kg I copied this format from my first challenge back in July/August last year and realised that I've put 17kg onto my Snatch and 23kg onto my C&J with vastly better form since then Main Quest Lift heavier things By the end of the 6 weeks, I want to have Snatched 85kg (+3kg on current), Clean & Jerked 105kg (+5kg) and Cleaned 110kg (+3kg). The jerk is traditionally my nemesis but I have been making big improvements with it lately so need to keep that up. Three specific things to work on, one for each lift Timing of second pull on clean; sometimes I pull too earlyThe bar coming forwards and my knees getting in the way off the ground in the snatchThe tempo of my dip and drive on the jerk (slow down, fast up)Mission #1 - The long slow cut to 85kg During this challenge, I want to lose at least 1kg of scale weight, taking me down to 89.5kg or below by the conclusion. I weighed in for competition at 90.56kg on 23rd February 2014. Despite weight coming down, lifts are going up. My medium term goal is to get down to compete in the 85kg class by the Scottish Eastern District Championships in September where I will be attempting to qualify for the national final in November. FYI my current diet is running a small calorie deficit (250-300) per day with macros 25% carbs, 35% protein, 40% fat. I'm essentially IIFYM except that I don't touch gluten as I have a horrible reaction to it. Saturday is a cheat day. Lately I have been tinkering with slightly higher carbs and lower fats and this seems to be working well so I may turn this into a permanent change. Mission #2 - Accessorise and Mobilise During this challenge, I want to keep up the accessory work I have incorporated into my training over the last two months and the daily stretching every morning. Towards the tail end of last year it was becoming clear that my lack of upper body strength and muscle mass was becoming a problem. I was also feeling pretty beaten up by squats and cleans. Since the turn of the year and picking up a back injury, I have had two upper body assistance exercises on an essentially bodybuilding rep scheme programmed into my training, plus ab and back work. This has made a big impact on my strength levels, size and body composition. Stretching every day has also helped my joints feel better and seems to help me recover from training faster, despite the fact that I am training more often. Mission #3 - Keep my squat form pretty As I recover post-injury, I want to ensure that my squat form stays as good as possible as I increase the weight back up, with a particular emphasis on maintaining a strong upper back and chest throughout the lift. My injury was originally caused when I returned to training after a couple of weeks off at Christmas and failed to keep a strong upper back, leading to muscles and joints that weren't prepared for it due to the time off to take the weight. As well as only increasing weight when I feel my form is good, I will also submit a form check video for the NF squat gods to critique. Current squat program is very heavily volume based - think Texas method only with lots of volume on Tuesday and... more volume on Saturday. Weight slowly increasing week on week as I am working at submaximal weights. Life Quest Get ready for moving house My other half and I are going to be moving house this year, but first we need to actually get our shit in order and do what needs to be done to this property to get it sold. By the end of the six weeks, I want to have accomplished at least 3 of the following: Move excess clutter into storageHad assorted electrical and light fittings tested and fixedBathroom re-skimmed with plaster for paintingNew wallpaper in living roomHave the gas fire in the living room fixed Make the room I currently use as an office/mancave presentable
  11. Hi there, I'm an aspiring Olympic weightlifter (Raising the Bar, geddit?) who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Over the last 18 months, I've gone through my own epic fitness odyssey that you can read all about in my introduction thread. Suffice to say, a year ago I started lifting heavy and fell in love with it. Earlier this year, I started training in the Olympic lifts and now my goal is to get to a point where my numbers make me competitive at meets here in Scotland. I've got a long way to go before I achieve that though so this challenge is the first big step on the road to that goal. I work for a digital agency and am desk-based most of the day but I try to get out and walk every lunchtime and normally hit 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. I currently train three times a week but will likely increase this to four later on in the year or when progressing my lifts requires it. Starting Stats: For the sake of tracking progress, here's where I am as of 28 July 2013. Bodyweight: 85.5kg Bodyfat %: 15% Snatch: 65kg (extremely messy) Clean & Jerk: 77kg Back Squat: 152.5kg 5RM, 160kg 1RM Front Squat: 115kg 3RM As you can see, my Olympic lift numbers are nowhere near my squat but I'm still a newbie in Olympic lifting and my technique needs a bunch of work. Main Quest Lift more weight in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk by getting stronger and improving my technique My long term to hit an 85kg Snatch and 110kg Clean & Jerk which could potentially have me medalling in my weight class, but I expect to be competing long before I reach them. As I have no idea how long it will take me to achieve those numbers this challenge is all about making progress towards them. Challenge success will be based on weight added to each lift and won't be easy! If you're wondering why the numbers are different for each lift, it's because the Snatch is more technique based and the C&J is more about strength, so lifters always put up bigger weights in the C&J. Scoring A: +7.5 kg Snatch, +10kg Clean & Jerk B: +5kg Snatch, +7.5kg Clean & Jerk C: +3kg Snatch, +5kg Clean & Jerk D: +1kg Snatch, +2.5kg Clean & Jerk F: +0kg Snatch, +0kg Clean +Jerk I'll be absolutely thrilled if I manage to score an A or a B on my main goal as these are really significant increases! C is kinda consistent with the progress I've seen the last 6 weeks but I *know* I can do better. Mission #1 - Lift more weight In the Squat Everyone knows that squats build a big, firm booty but did you know that they build bigger, tighter Olympic lifts too? Snatches and cleans go up as squat strength improves and so the squat is the #1 strength exercise for weightlifters. At the moment I follow Texas Method programming for my squat and back squat Tuesday and Saturday, front squat on Thursday. I'm going to judge this using my 1RM with a max out day the last training day of the challenge Progress will be judged based on weight added to my 1RM for the back squat. Scoring A: +15kg B: +12.5kg C: +10kg D: +5kg F: +2.5kg or less Mission #2 - Do mobility work at least 5 days per week (foam roll, band stretches, lacrosse ball) The Olympic lifts aren't all about brute strength though - speed and flexibility are required. I slack on my mobility work way too often and jump into training without taking the time to do the stretches and rolling that I know make my lifting go smoother. Time for this to stop! If we've got 6 weeks and I want to do mobility work 5 days a week that means 30 mobility sessions total so let's use that as a base number for scoring. Scoring: A:28-30 mobility sessions B: 25-27 mobility sessions C: 20-24 mobility sessions D: 15-19 mobility sessions F: 15 mobility sessions Mission #3 - Take video of my lifts at every training session and post my training log on my blog I'm pretty good about logging training on my blog already so I need to keep that up but as a self-coached lifter, it's absolutely critical that I take as much video as I possibly can. I don't always too this and sometimes when I do, I screw the video up by accidentally cutting the top of my body off in the frame or something like that. No excuses, video for every training session! Before I talk about tracking progress I should say that I'm going on a trip for work to a week and while I will have access to a hotel gym, it is extremely unlikely that it's going to have the setup I need to do my Olympic weightlifting training - though I'm bringing my lifting shoes just in case! For that reason, I am going to count that as a recovery week and so will be doing 15 training sessions during the challenge (3 sessions for 5 weeks). Scoring: A: Log/video for all 15 training sessions! B: Log/video for 13-14 training sessions C: Log/video for 10-12 training sessions D: Log/video for 7-9 training sessions F: Log/video for 6 sessions or less Life Quest Reclaim my free time from the procrastination/inefficiency monster I'm a pretty busy guy and never feel like I have enough time to do all the things I want to do in my free time. Over the last year I've really struggled to find time to do the other things I love, that don't involve lifting things up and and putting them down - like gaming, watching movies and reading. The thing is, I know that if I was better organised I would be able to fit in more of the things I want to do. So what am I going to do about it?! I'm going to do more batch cooking so I don't have to cook every single night, I'm going to try and tidy up as I go along instead of spending 2+ hours cleaning up the mess I've made all week and I'm just to spend less time watching things I don't even like on TV. By the end of this challenge, I'd very much like to be able to say that I had finally finished two of The Last of Us, Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite! My Motivation Be more awesome I get a huge sense of achievement out of pushing my body to its limits and exploring what I'm truly capable of. Although it's an extremely demanding sport that requires a great deal of concentration, patience and self-analysis, I have completely fallen in love with weightlifting. There are always ways for you to improve - it's a sport that takes a lifetime to learn and two lifetimes to master I haven't competed in sport since the age of 14 and back then it was when I played soccer. I've *never* competed in a solo sport and as a bit of a lone wolf, I love the idea of testing myself on the competitive stage sometime next year. Looking back at where I was two years ago, I know I never want to be that guy again and the new me is going to keep trying to better himself and be the very best he can be. I think that's it for me, can't wait for the challenge to begin!
  12. Hi there, I'm here for the new 6 week challenge and hope to get involved with the NF community so I thought it made sense to introduce myself! I'm a 29 year old guy living in Edinburgh, Scotland and have been on a health and fitness odyssey since January 2012. Back at the turn of 2011/2012, I was in the worst shape of my life, weighing in at 116kg/255lbs at 5' 10". I felt terrible, was in horrible physical shape and had got to the point where I found walking any kind of distance really uncomfortable. My diet was awful and I suffered from GI/IBS stuff that I though was "genetic" as other family members had had it too. In short, I was a mess and was probably headed for diabetes and worse. There were two major turning points for me that made me decide it was finally time to get healthy. The first was just before Christmas in 2012 when I was flying back from London for work and was conscious of my sides spilling over my economy seat and encroaching on the woman sitting next to me. I felt gross. The second kind of arose from that flight too - I picked up a cold from a fellow passenger that just wouldn't go away and I spent three weeks, including the entire Christmas and New Year period, on the couch or in bed wheezing. I knew that something seriously wasn't right with my health. As soon as I was able to breathe properly, I was going to sort myself out. And sort myself out I did. Over the next nine months, I lost 34kg/75lbs and weighed in at 82kg/180lbs, probably the lightest I've been since I was 18 and pretty low considering my bone structure and muscle tone (even before dropping the weight, I had big muscular quads and calves). I achieved this mainly through restricting my calories down to about 1600 per day, without looking at excluding specific food groups or anything like that, and doing quite a bit of cardio and some machine weights at the gym three times per week. I didn't have the same understanding of nutrition as I do now back then but, truth be told, conventional wisdom weight loss protocol worked for me - in lowering the number on the scale. My body composition wasn't very good though - when I got down to 82kg I was something like 24% bodyfat and didn't feel all that great; I was getting sick quite a lot and while my GI issues had improved a bit, they were still a major problem. During the final couple of months of my weight loss, I had two major "Eureka!" moments where everything seemed to just click into place. Firstly, during the London Olympics, I became totally obsessed with the weightlifting event. It just blew my mind seeing a North Korean lifter in one of the lower weight classes throwing three times his body weight over his head in the clean & jerk. I had already been doing a little research into weight training after hitting a plateau during my weight loss (running had pushed my body into 'survival mode' where it was hanging on to every last calorie)and around this time decided that this heavy lifting thing might be for me. With my Olympic inspiration, I went and read Starting Strength and chatted to a friend I considered an expert in all things strength, and took my first steps into the squat rack, squatting 60kg/132lbs for 5 on my first session. The other Eureka came courtesy of a friend living in the US (cavejen on these boards ). She had been talking about paleo on Facebook for months and while I was pretty dismissive of articles titled things like "How sugar is killing you", over time what I read and the results people seemed to be getting began to intrigue me. I decided to go on a two week paleo experiment towards the end of August in 2012 and the results were incredible. Not only did my skin clear up, my energy levels drastically improved and my weight continued to drop, MY GI PROBLEMS TOTALLY CLEARED UP!!! I couldn't believe it, I thought that this was something I would be fighting forever. Unavoidably having to go non-Paleo for a few days on a work trip saw my GI issues return and I knew for sure there was something in this. A trip to the doctor's revealed I was majorly gluten intolerant and boom, I was converted to Paleo. Fast forward to today, almost a year to the day after I started lifting. That 60kg 5RM on the squat has blown up to a 152.5kg/335lbs 5RM and projected max squat of 170kg (just about double bodyweight) even with me spending a few months near the start of the year program hopping and not making any real progress. 200lbs+ on my squat in a year - and without any GOMAD or eating like a complete pig! Back in April this year I moved to a gym with a dedicated Olympic lifting setup and took some classes in how to perform the snatch and clean and jerk. My form is still a bit ropey and my numbers are moving up slowly but I'm making clear progress and moreover, I'm in love with the sport. I'm aiming to start competing in Open events in 2014 and have a long term goal of qualifying for the Scottish Championships. I've experimented with my diet over the last year and have found what works best for me - Paleo with a small amount of dairy and some starchy carbs after training. Following this diet, I've actually put on a little weight but it has been mostly muscle and I look much better for it. I currently weigh around 85.5kg and am down to 15% body fat from 24% last August. Another 6 months and I might even have abs, for the first time EVER! I am in the best shape of my life and look better than I ever have. The goal now is to stay on track, keep my weight at a level I'm happy with (gotta lift in the 85kg class after all!), stay healthy, improve my muscle mass while losing fat and keep eating healthy. Oh, I also blog about Olympic weightlifting from the perspective of a novice - http://www.alltheheavylifting.com/ Looking forward to taking part in the challenge and joining the community here at Nerd Fitness!
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