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awhitelie is getting behind the mule


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Alright, this is my first challenge and it's going to be a good one.

Fitness Commitment:

Strength train three times a week.

I'm starting with beginner body weight circuits to get my endurance up. In another week, once I feel slightly less barfy after completing a set of three circuits, I'll add more reps to each exercise and then add a fourth circuit. When I've mastered that, I'll move on to a more difficult set of exercises.

Row 12K meters a week.

I loved rowing back in high school and I'm almost the only person at the Y who will even look at the erg. I'm setting a distance goal, not a frequency goal, because I want to leave myself the choice of going for interval training or a longer, more sustained row for any particular session.

Nutrition Commitment:

Eat Paleo 6 days a week.

This means keeping processed grains away. I'm shooting for 50-70g carbs, tops. 190g protein. I'm stocking a fridge full of eggs and greek yogurt. I will get more creative in cooking up chicken and beef. Whey protein will make up where anything else falls short.

Track all nutrition.

Not too tough, I've been using DailyBurn for the past week and I'm fairly certain just being conscious of what I eat has already accounted for dropping 5-6 lbs in my first week. Just need to stay diligent with it.

Cut the booze Sunday to Thursday.

This shouldn't be too hard either. Where there's a will, there's a way. I'm working such strange hours for the next few weeks anyway that I need to be alert late at night, which by nature limits the window of opportunity.

Life Commitment:

Pay off my CC debt.

As long as I don't do anything stupid, I should be able to pay this off at the end of the month. Shared-living-expenses-girlfriend-IOU aside (that is next), it'll be the first time I am debt-free since being out of college.

Measurable Results:

1.) Drop below 220 lbs.

2.) Drop 2% body fat.

These are the big two, and the most measurable. In the long-term I want to build my chest and see my abs, but I know that is a long way off yet. This may be a conservative goal, and if I hit it early I will not hesitate to adjust the bar. If body weight circuits stop feeling as rough as they do currently, I'll be adding more to them or beginning to add some weight. I'll be playing that by ear. Sticking to the fitness commitment will be the hardest by far, mostly because my work schedule is going to be bananas for the foreseeable future. I work for a tech startup that's running an enormous Facebook ad campaign that requires 24/7 monitoring, and I'll be alternating between 6AM-6PM, 6PM-12AM, and 12AM-6AM shifts of on top of my normal work. So getting the right sleep is going to be tough. And I'm grumpy when I don't have enough. But I will push through and make the effort, and come out at least a little bit more of a badass on the other side.

Current vitals:

Age: 23

Height: 6'4"

Weight: 231.2 lbs

BMI: 26%

Waist: 41"

Navel: 42"

Thigh: 25"


Chest: 43"

Neck: 15.5"

Bicep: 15"

Pin your ear to the wisdom post.

Pin your eye to the line.

Never let the weeds get higher than the garden.

Always keep a sapphire in your mind.

Always keep a diamond in your mind.

Got to get behind the mule in the morning and plow.

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Fitness Progress

Strength Training: 3x/week

Going great. Starting to feel a bit less awful after body weight circuits, and tonight body weight squats felt easy so I added a bar for the second two sets. Ouch. But progress!

Rowing: 12K Meters

This was ambitious and I knew it, and this week I fell short but about half. I'm going to make a lame excuse and chalk it up to the worst work schedule ever. (Haven't yet had a day off since Labor Day and I'll be working through the weekend... but I'm taking tomorrow for my own mental health). Since I don't have to be awake midnight-6AM on top of carrying a full work load this week, I'm going to make extra effort to kick some ass and hit this target by getting to the gym in the morning.

Nutrition Progress

Paleo: 6 days/week

Hasn't been difficult at all. The closest thing I got to processed grains was a tiny serving of homemade gnocchi at a dinner out (was served with a bone-in pork chop... YUM). Lots of eggs, some solid whey protein powder, and a foray into roasting chickens. Win.

Booze: Weekends Only

Worked late-night all weekend so wasn't much of of an issue here either. I did have a fresh-squeezed vodka-lemonade at dinner out Sunday. But that's the extent of it, so not too shabby. (Must hold out at the Sox game tomorrow...)

Life Progress

Pay: CC Debt

Um, after an 8-month battle with the IRS a payment I had written off long ago showed up at my door this morning. SUPER WIN. Check deposited, and my credit card will be paid off tomorrow! That was too easy, think I might need a new goal here...

Measurable Results

Well, I've fluctuated a bit and I'm currently hovering only 1/2 lb under where I started, but I know a significant portion of that has been muscle gain. I'd like to drop a little more in the coming week, and at least go below 230 reliably. Weight is suddenly mattering less in my mind though, when I see that I've lost 1.4% body fat! I triple checked my measurement because I wasn't anticipating progress nearly that fast. Anecdotally I can definitely tell that my silhouette is slowly changing, and even after just a week of initiating my regimen followed by a week of the challenge, I can tell in the mirror that my face has thinned out a little. I'm still shooting for 220, but if I end up at 225 and 18% body fat I'll be more than pleased with that!

Current vitals:

Weight: 230.8 lbs (down .4, from 231.2 lbs)

BMI: 24.9% (down 1.1%, down from 26%)

Waist: 40" (down 1" from 41")

Navel: 40" (down 2" from 42")

Thigh: 26" (up 1" from 25")

Shoulder: 50" (up .5" from 49.5")

Chest: 43" (even)

Neck: 15.5" (even)

Bicep: 15" (even)

Tune in next week for more.

I got the sizzle but not the steak.

I got the boat but not the lake.

I got the sheets but not the bed.

I got the jam but not the bread.

But hey, I'm big in Japan.

I'm big in Japan.

I'm big in Japan

I'm big in Japan

I'm big in Japan!

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Week 2.5 Update

Fitness Progress

Strength Training: 3x/week

Still doing well, but I've shifted my focus. Done some more reading and thinking on the subject, and while body weight circuits did a great job of getting my initial conditioning up to speed, I am now going to lift heavy to build strength. 4x/week, focusing on the major barbell exercises: squats, deadlifts, presses and pull-ups for good measure. Can't yet do a proper pull-up, but working on 5x5 jumping up and letting myself down to lay the foundation. Brutal, but I know it'll work.

Rowing: 12K Meters

HIIT: 1x/week

I hate to say it, but the original 12K goal was too ambitious. With the stupid work schedule I'm tied to, (think 10 hr/7 day work weeks since Labor Day), there's just no way I'm going to get distance rowing in. My focus is strength anyway, so I am going to go a little goal-swapping and work on kickstarting my metabolism on a 5th workout day, and give myself two days of rest. I'll still use my HIIT session as an excuse to crank on the erg, but it won't be the same time commitment hitting distance milestones is.

Nutrition Progress

Paleo: 6 days/week

I did okay this week. Not great. I was strong Paleo for the majority of the week, but… it was my birthday Wednesday, and our very well-meaning office manager brought a cake into the office that I could not have turned down completely without looking like a total asshole. Three bites of sugary cake and I thought I was going to feel sick (see what a better diet does? Ha.) but it wasn't really an option. Also went out for a lovely dinner date that included a martini and a few glasses of wine. Last night was the birthday celebration with friends, and there was naturally gin involved. So, a few definite stumbling blocks. But I still shed a little bit in the measurements around the middle, and I'm hitting this week much, much harder in order to lock down some better progress by the next time check-in rolls around.

Booze: Weekends Only

As I said, there was a birthday Wednesday exception. And last night was pretty heavy (oh my head). From this point on, this commitment is going to also lock out drinking at home any time. I'll have a drink or two out with friends one night a week, but if I'm home there's no reason to have any booze even on the weekends. It's not like I'm currently having trouble adhering to that, but officially instating it will help to keep it from becoming a thing.

Life Progress

Pay: CC Debt

DING! Debt-free. This is awesome. Been trying to chip away at it for over a year and a half. Win, win… win!

Measurable Results

So the scale says I'm up a significant amount, but honestly I think it's bogus and I'm going to get a more accurate scale. I definitely believe that I haven't lost any weight this week, but my measurement is still better around the middle and I'm definitely gaining muscle. I'm encouraged by the decrease around the hips and waist, which at least offsets some disappointment around not losing anything in a week. I've got the fire, though, so after a brief and minor derailment while turning the ripe old age of 24, I'm back on track now for sure.

Current vitals:

Weight: 234.6 lbs (up 3.8, from 230.8 lbs)**

BMI: 24.9% (even)

Waist: 39.5" (down .5" from 40")

Navel: 38.5" (down 1.5" from 40")

Thigh: 26.5" (up .5" from 26")

Shoulder: 50" (even)

Chest: 43" (even)

Neck: 15.5" (even)

Bicep: 15" (even)

**Lies. (Varies far too much from use to use. New scale purchase imminent.)

The piano has been drinking

My necktie is asleep

And the combo went back to New York

The jukebox has to take a leak

And the carpet needs a haircut

And the spot light looks like a prison break

Because the telephone is out of cigarettes

And the balcony's on the make

And the piano has been drinking

…not me.

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Me: "This belt your mom gave me for my birthday is awesome! Also it fits now, but with a few notches left for sure."

Girlfriend: "Yeah I told her to size down."

Me: "So you definitely think I'll see some results, huh?"

Girlfriend: "You're the most stubborn idiot I know. You won't stop until you do."

Me: (stupid grin)


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Received Starting Strength in the mail today. Working from home on the graveyard shift right now, eschewing a good deal of the 'work' part in favor of reading technique and practicing good squat form in my living room.


Me: So there's a 5K ways off, I'm thinking about just signing up for it now so I have to train.

Girlfriend: What?

Me: You know, 'cause if I sign up I have to do it. So I'll need to train.

Girlfriend: Seriouslywhoareyouandwhatdidyoudowithmyboyfriend.


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Oh man, I totally fell off the wagon in reporting progress here, but overall I consider the challenge a big success. I kickstarted my bigger goals, and saw some great fitness improvement over the six-week span. I got into lifting heavy. I went onto a primal diet that doesn't feel like anything even resembling a chore to maintain. I'm more energetic, happier, and sleeping better than I have in a long time, despite hellish work hours and an erratic schedule.

I lost ten pounds in the first two weeks, and stayed at a steady 230 (give or take) after that. However, I am 100% certain from appearance and how I feel that I've been steadily trading fat for muscle. My stomach is significantly smaller, my chest and shoulders significantly tighter and a little bit bigger.

Now I'm hooked. For the next challenge I'm going to focus less on the measurable changes to my body (they'll come, I have no doubt) and instead reach some strength goals. It'll keep me motivated, and when I have the time once a month to look at myself in the mirror I'll be stoked about what I see. Bring it on!

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