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Salivanth

[Salivanth] Shadowrunner: Becoming an Assassin/Scout hybrid!

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Shadowrunner: Becoming an Assassin/Scout hybrid.

 

History

 

I started actively working out about 10 months ago, when I was much fatter and much weaker. I did this after discovering a bodyweight fitness community on Reddit. I hated cardio at the time, because I could only run for a minute or two before I had to stop and walk, and I couldn't afford a gym membership for weightlifting. So when I discovered a community devoted to progressively increasing strength through ever-cooler and more impressive bodyweight moves, I fell in love with it. I started training, discovered Nerd Fitness, and joined the Assassins all within about a week of each other.

 

I did quite well over the next few months, losing fat and gaining strength. Then I switched programs to Coach Sommer's Foundation series and due to my changing focus, I stopped using Nerd Fitness. I used that program for a few months, but despite how good it was supposed to be, it just didn't work for me. I still keep some of Foundation's ideas in my workouts today, but I no longer follow the programming as written.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try running on a whim. I was able to run much further than before, and a week after that, I decided on an experiment. I would try running for as long as possible. I wouldn't stop when I got tired, or my legs hurt. I would keep on running for as long as my legs and lungs would carry me, slowing down as much as possible. So I did. I kept the advice of an internet guy in mind as I ran. "You can always slow down". Within a few hundred meters, I was breathing hard, developing a stitch, and my muscles ached. But then a funny thing happened. No matter how long I ran, it never got any worse than that. Before I knew it, I'd gone half a mile...then it was time to turn around...then a mile...and all of a sudden I was back at my mailbox. I'd just run a mile and a half without stopping. It was a very taxing run, but I could RUN. I've been in love with being able to run ever since.

So where does that bring us today? Today I'm doing a hybrid Assassin/Scout program. I'm training bodyweight strength training 3 times a week, and running 3 times a week. I do hit the gym every few months just to test my strength, but 98% of my strength training comes from bodyweight/gymnastics style training.

 

Goals

 

For my first challenge coming back, I've decided to keep things simple. I'm starting over at level 2, since I can't remember where my character was at when I stopped posting on Nerd Fitness the first time. So for this first challenge, I'll just be doing three goals. I can add side quests later.

Main Quest: Become a Gnome! (Reach 57 kg / 125 lb)

When I started out as a Hobbit, I weighed 73 kg (160 lb) at 5'4''. Today, I sit at 59 kg (130 lb), 10 months later. I'm hoping to finally reach 57 kg this challenge and change my race to the small and slight Gnome. Once I've done that, I'll work towards becoming a stocky, muscular Dwarf. I estimate 57 kg on my frame is about 15% body fat. Not quite as low as I eventually want it, but I plan on getting a lot leaner (but weigh more) by the end of 2015.

 

Main quest achieved!

New Main Quest: Complete 3x8 pull-ups and 3x8 dips.


Having lost most of the weight that's holding me back, I can now seriously focus on improving my strength. I'd like to change from being a Gnome to being a strong, muscular Dwarf someday, but that'll come as I train. Pull-ups and dips are extremely strong upper-body strength movements, and I'd like to master them and move on to performing more advanced variations, as well as adding weight to them for continued strength gain. But to do that, I have to master the basic movements first. Achieving this ought to give me a level of strength that's impressive to the average person, even for a 23-year-old male.

I'll be progressing through negative pull-ups and half dips before moving on to the full movements. My conservative goal is to be done with this by the end of the year. I expect it to take at least 3 challenges (including this one) to achieve, so it's a good main quest to occupy me. If I end up progressing faster than expected, all the better!

Current Progress:

 

3x4 negative (10-second) pull-ups.

3, 2, 2 half dips. (Dipping down to parallel)
                                  

Goal One: Perform 3 strength workouts per week, including mobility. (+3 STR, +1 DEX)

 

I'm currently doing Reddit's bodyweight fitness beginner routine. This involves bodyline work (Planks, hollow holds, arch holds) and supersetting strength exercises. I'm supersetting squats with L-sit progressions, push-ups with rows, and when I get a little stronger, pull-up work with dip work. I intend to start pull-up / dip work by the end of the challenge. I'm also adding in a couple of planks at the end, just for single sets. I'll be posting (in spoilers, so as not to clog up the thread) my workout routines here, so you'll see more of it later on.

 

I'm doing some basic mobility/stretching at the end of each of these workouts. You can find my stretching routine here, though I've replaced the backbend with an ankle stretch to improve my squat. Once I get the full squat, I'll exchange it for something else.

I'll be doing these workouts on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, though you might hear about it at odd times, as I'm an Aussie  :)

 

Grading: -1 stat point for every 2 workouts skipped.

 

Goal Two: Run at least 3 times per week. (+4 STA)

 

It's amazing how things work out sometimes! I'm doing Hal Higdon's beginner 5k program, and am currently on Week 3. I'll be adding an extra week of 5k runs to prep myself further, making it a 9 week program. This means that I'll be starting Week 4 as the challenge begins, and my 5k race (Just racing against myself, using a stopwatch on my usual route and going all out) will happen on the second-last day of the challenge! I'm going to be following this program as written each week, with an optional extra short run each week if I feel like it. I ran it this week, didn't run it the week before. No big deal.

 

I'll be running on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, with an optional run on Tuesday.

 

Grading: -1 stat point for every 2 runs missed.

 

Goal Three: Maintain my diet. (+3 CON)

 

My diet may change throughout this challenge, depending on whether I hit 57 kg or not. Right now I'm eating 1,350 calories a day, and my goal is to be at or below 1,350 each day. If I reach 57, I'll start eating at maintenance (1,850) and then building up by 100 calories each week until I reach 2,250. If I do that, my goal will change to being within 50 calories (Whether above or below) of this number each day. 

 

I'll be dieting every day. No cheat meals for me, not until I'm eating at 2,250. So, a month after I hit 57 kg.

 

Grading: -1 stat point for every 3 days outside my diet. 

 

Quests

 

Goals aren't meant to be results-oriented, but I still have specific things I'd like to achieve this challenge. Thus, I've decided to put them here, and call them quests! I'm only putting small stat rewards on them, because the goals are still more important. That said, I definitely have some things I want to achieve, and to reward myself for accomplishing them.

 

Bodyweight: Reach Level 4 on my Epic Quest. (+1 STR)

 

This appears to be my most ambitious goal, but it should definitely be achievable. I'll need to master diamond push-ups (Easy, I'm currently at 8, 8, 7 and need 3x8 for mastery), elevated rows (At 7, 6, 5 atm, and need 3x8 for mastery) and head to the gym to get an 0.425x bodyweight OHP. At my weight, that's about 25 kg (55 lb) which I should be able to achieve with ease. The only problem is that it basically requires everything go to right, but all three are fairly easy goals to achieve, so I'm hoping I can manage it.

 

Bodyweight: Hold a tucked L-sit on the floor for 10 seconds. (Current: 2 seconds) (+1 STR)

 

I'm currently training L-sits by doing a half L-sit position. (Imagine yourself sitting in a chair, then you push yourself up out of the chair with your arms, holding the same seated position.) I can't get my legs high enough to hold a full tucked L-sit for long, but by continuing to train the half L-sit, I should be able to get a full tucked L-sit within 6 weeks. 

 

Cardio: Achieve a 29:00 5k. (Current: 29:56) (+1 STA)

This is probably (knock on wood) my least ambitious goal, but I'll re-evaluate after 6 weeks. A few weeks ago, I tried to run 5k on a whim. It was horrible, but I finished with a time of 29:56. I'm now doing a beginner 5k plan to build my aerobic capacity in order to run it faster and easier. I've already noticed massive improvements, so I should have no problem hitting 29:00 in my race. In fact, I wouldn't be too surprised if I hit 29 minutes just in a training run, since in my current 2-mile runs, I can run at a stronger pace without feeling too wiped at the end. I'll be starting 5k training runs in Week 4 of the challenge.

 

Diet: Reach 57 kg (Current: 59.2 kg) (+1 CON)
 

This one needs no explanation. I want to be a Gnome, and I want to finally end this cut that started at the beginning of April last year. This one should just happen naturally by following my diet goal, but it's a quest anyway, because quests represent concrete results I want, and I really want this. If I had to pick just one quest of these four to succeed in, it'd be this one.

 

Conclusion

 

Sorry for the long-winded post, but it's my introductory post, and I had a fair bit to say  :) Kudos to anyone who read through the whole thing, or even most of it  :) I'm looking forward to working out with the Assassins again! Here's to being fit, strong, and all-around badasses at whatever life throws at us!

 

Thanks for reading!

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Current Progress: (20th Feb 2015)

Max Push-ups: 23

Max Chin-ups: 2

Max Pull-ups: 1

Max Dips: 0

Max Bench Press: 3 x 0.8 BW (50 kg / 110 lbs)

Max Deadlift: 5 x 1.2 BW (75 kg / 165 lbs)

Max Overhead Press: Haven't tried in AGES, but will this challenge!

Best 5k: 29:56

 

Air Squats: 3x8 with 3 kg counterweight.

L-Sits: 3x20s half L-sit

Push-Ups: 8, 8, 7 diamond push-ups

Rows: 7, 6, 5 elevated rows

Elbow Planks: 20s/side 1-arm/1-leg plank

 

Progress Pic (April 2014 to Feb 2015). Warning, shirtless.

 

38cRHZY.jpg

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I worked on Lsits for my last challenge, they were really challenging and I still need to get my legs higher and perfect my form but I was really happy with my progress.  I'm excited to see how this challenge goes for you, it sounds like we train similarly!

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Despite the challenge not starting yet, my workout regimen marches on. I did a strength workout yesterday, and managed to get 8, 8, 7 for diamond push-ups. Once I get to 3 sets of 8 (so close!), I'll move up to ring push-ups. I'm definitely looking forward to those; I tried them about a week ago, and they're tremendously more difficult than regular push-ups. The instability of the rings is no joke! I'll be doing the easiest variation at first, where the rings come out quite wide during the push-ups, instead of the elbows staying close in to the body. Here's a video of the exercise:

 

The guy makes it look easy, but I can promise you, it's far from it. I have to stop the rings from sliding all over the place, but the difficulty will definitely make me a lot stronger, as well as improving my skill on the rings. If you own a set of rings and can do at least 10 regular push-ups, give them a try!

 

I also did a 2-mile (untimed) run a couple of hours ago. I definitely think my pace is increasing, and I felt fine at the end of it, so I'm definitely making great improvements compared to just a few weeks ago. I'm going to time my first 5k run (Beginning of Week 4 of the challenge) to get a new baseline of where I'm at. I have a feeling I'm going to do very well when it comes time to race at the end of the challenge. 29:56 is my current 5k PB, and even though 29:00 is my aim for the end of the challenge, I wouldn't be too surprised if I hit that result in a training run. I'll still keep 29:00 as my goal for the challenge, but if I can exceed that by a fair margin, that'd be fantastic.

I've also made some great progress on my shoulder extensions over the past couple of weeks. I wasn't able to find a video of this exercise/stretch, so I just made my own. For reference, I'm doing these with a 5 lb bar.

 

The ideal position is a perfectly straight body, and the arms parallel to the ground. So I need to lean forward less, and get more range of motion in the shoulders. I've recently realised I'd been pushing the shoulders up, when I should be pulling them down. So by pulling the shoulders down and forward, I'm getting much closer to perfect form on this exercise.

 

The exercise itself is a mobility exercise from Coach Sommer's Handstand One course. The way the course works is that in order to move on to the next progression, I need to master both the strength exercise and the mobility exercise attached to it. The strength exercise in this pair is the Headstand, so until I have a solid headstand and shoulder extension, I'll remain working on those two. When I've done that, I can work on the forearm headstand. I don't expect to get there this challenge, as mobility is a very slow process, but I've realised that proper handstand form is more about mobility than strength. I'd rather take my time and get a perfect straight-up-and-down handstand someday than rush it and end up with an extremely arched handstand in a few months. 

I'll post a video of my headstand later in the challenge, when it's looking better. It's nowhere near straight enough at the moment, but it is slowly getting there. 

Thanks for reading!

Strength Workout:

 

Headstand: Form practice.

Ring Support Hold: 2x30s with forearm support.

Squat: Bodyweight squat. 3x8, 3 kg counterweight.

L-Sit: 3x20s half L-sit.

Push-ups: 8, 8, 7 diamond push-ups.

Rows: 7, 6, 5 elevated rows.

Plank: 25s/side 1-arm/1-leg plank.

 

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Did my first 2.25 mile (3.6 km) training run today. Went too fast in the first mile and was forced to slow WAY down for the rest of the run, barely running above a brisk walk at times, and I still had a lot of difficulty not stopping for a walk break. Lesson learnt. During my next long run on Saturday, I'll slow the pace down from the start.

To segue into a non-fitness related success, I have finally begun learning to drive, which I should have done years ago. Did 40 minutes today, with plans to do more tomorrow. In Australia it takes 120 hours of driving to be eligible for the Provisional License test, but if fitness has taught me anything, it's that small things give great benefits over time, and that you have to start somewhere. After all, I couldn't do a push-up once, now I can do 20 in a max-effort set. I used to be 160 lb, now I'm 130. All by doing very small things every day. Now I can carry that across to other areas of my life.

 

And in the end, isn't that what Nerd Fitness is all about?

Thanks for reading!

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Happy days! I mastered diamond push-ups yesterday, completing 3 sets of 8 of them. This also earnt me +2 xp in my epic quest! In addition, I can now move up to the ring push-ups I mentioned a couple of posts ago. My elevated rows increased to 3 sets of 7 as well, so mastery of them is just around the corner.

Now that I've mastered diamond push-ups, I'll be starting pull-up and dip work. I'll be doing negative pull-ups until I can do 3 sets of 8 with a 10-second pace, at which point I'll hopefully be able to move on to full pull-ups. I can only do one at the moment, and I'm thinking I want to be able to do at least 3 sets of 3 in order to start working them for strength. I'll be starting on dips with my legs supporting me as little as possible on the ground. When I move up to 3 sets of 8 of those, I'll start doing them with only one leg on the ground, then negatives, then the full dips. This'll take a while, but dips are hard, and by using my legs as just a little bit of assistance, I should still get the strength-building benefits of dips. I've heard dips are an incredible full-upper-body exercise, so I look forward to seeing what benefits they bring me.

I'm quite happy with how my headstand form has progressed, and I was able to hold one for 60 seconds yesterday! I'll take a video later this week and post it, as well as post it to the Gymnastics Bodies forum to see if the form still needs work. (Spoiler: probably.) I think my bodyweight squats are getting better as well. I know my depth is there, but I need to work on keeping the back flat. I saw some pictures of some powerlifters in the bottom of a squat the other day, and was pleased to see that their backs are allowed to be quite forward, as long as they don't round. I'm using this technique for my own squatting practice now.

Lastly, i went for my easy run of the week, running 1.5 miles with no problems. I kept the pace down more this time, in order to prevent what happened on Monday happening again, and it seems to have worked. We'll see how well it goes on Saturday, when I do my next 2.25 mile run. 

Thanks for reading!

Strength Workout:

 

 

Headstand: Form practice + 1x60s hold.
Ring Support Hold: 2x35s with forearm support.
Squats: 3x8 bodyweight squats with 3 kg counterweight.
L-Sit: 3x20s half L-sit.
Push-ups: 3x8 diamond push-ups.

Rows: 3x7 elevated rows.

Plank: 30s/side 1-arm/1-leg plank.

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You posted some impressive stuff but then you vanished into the shadows. WHERE I WAS WAITING! What's up?

Been procrastinating on writing the next NF post for various reasons, but I'm still around! I shall write it now. 

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So the first week of the challenge has passed. Let's see how I've done on my goals.

Goal One: Perform 3 strength workouts per week, including mobility. (+3 STR, +1 DEX) Result: 2/3

 

This is actually okay. Yesterday, due to time constraints, I swapped my workout for a run. So that means I'm scheduled to work out 4 times next week (Mon/Wed/Fri/Sun) which will put me back on track if I do that.

Goal Two: Run at least 3 times per week. (+4 STA) Result: 4/3

 

Due to my workout swap the other day, I've gotten an extra run in. Despite the extra mileage though, I'm feeling fine. I only need to run twice next week, but I may up that to 3 just because I can.

 

Goal Three: Maintain my diet. (+3 CON) Result: 7/7

 

Technically I did go over my calorie limit yesterday. However, the way my diet is set up is that I can eat extra calories as long as I've saved up twice that amount. So if I eat 100 less each day calories than my goal for a week, that's 700 calories saved, meaning I can go over by 350. I think this is a good compromise between "Must stick to diet 100%" and untracked cheat meals, which tend to be more trouble than they're worth for me.

 

So how did the rest of my week go?

The best news of the week is that the weight I'd gained has been lost again. My starting weight for this challenge was 59.2 kg, but I was 57.4 kg a week before the challenge. I thought that a cheat meal I'd had may have caused it, but it seems to have been mostly fluid fluctuations, since I weighed in at 57.4 again yesterday. Now with no more cheat meals to distract me, it should be smooth sailing straight to 57.

I also had a great run yesterday, the one I swapped my workout for. It was the first 2.5 mile run of the plan, but I was more than up for it. There's a hill at that part of the course, too. When I ran my 29:56 5k, I barely made it to the top of the hill, but this time I ran up it with ease! Going slower and very slowly building my distance up seems to have worked very well. I can't wait to time my first 5k training run, to see how I've improved. I won't go all-out with it, but I'll probably push a little harder than my standard training runs. 

Ring push-ups turned out to be quite manageable. I was able to complete 3 sets of 5 without too much difficulty. I've also discovered I can do multiple half dips. (Dips where the upper arms only go parallel to the floor) My current dip setup actually can't go deeper than that (Backs of two chairs) but I shall train half dips until I can do 3 sets of 8 of them, and try and find a stable way to do full dips in the meantime. I'll test how many I can actually do today for my dip work. I'll be trying for 3 sets of 4, but 3 sets of 3 should be enough volume to get adaptation going. Looking forward to getting the benefits out of this fantastic upper body exercise!

Lastly, my 1-arm/1-leg plank is going very well. I got to 40 seconds each side, so I'll be going for 45 seconds per side tonight. If I can do that, I can move up to doing a 1-arm/1-leg side plank. That looks like it's going to be pretty brutal. Can't wait!
 

So overall, it was a pretty great week. If I keep up with my workouts, I'm in prime position for a great Week 2 as well.

Thanks for reading!

Strength Workout:

 

Headstand: Form practice.

Ring Support Hold: N/A
Squats: 3x8 bodyweight squats with 3 kg counterweight.
L-Sit: 25/20/20 second half L-sit.
Push-ups: 3x5 rings wide push-ups.

Rows: 8, 7, 7 elevated rows.

Plank: 40s/side 1-arm/1-leg plank.

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I've begun pull-up and dip work, and it's definitely kicking my ass. It's been a while since I got DOMS from bodyweight work, but I can definitely feel it over the last couple of days, especially in the lats and triceps. Clearly this means I'm working the right muscles! I was able to do 3 sets of 4 10-second negative pull-ups, but only got up to 3, 2, 2 for half dips. That's alright; I'll keep building up to 3x8, it'll just take longer.

I ended up doing half a workout on Monday. I didn't do the skill work / mobility that I should have done. I told myself I'd do it Tuesday, then never got around to it. So I'm currently on track for 5.5 / 6 workouts at the end of Week 2, which is still pretty good. I may be able to catch up later in the challenge if recovery permits; we shall see how things go.

The biggest problem with the intensity of these new progressions is that my arms are shot afterwards. I couldn't do my push-ups or my rows in the last two workouts! Clearly this means I'm working hard enough, but I'd rather keep making progress on these horizontal movements as well, so I've decided on a simple solution. For at least the next few weeks, I'm doing pull-ups and dips last. Even if my volume decreases, I'll at least get all the exercises done.

I plan on running this evening, but after Sunday's swap, I haven't run over the last few days. However, I did do some research on how many calories running actually burns, since when I start bulking up, I'll need to eat back those calories. I can't wait; I'm a fat guy at heart, and the ability to eat way more food is a great motivator for reaching 57 kg and ending my weight loss. The formula is as follows: Calories = km * kg. I weigh 58 kg, so if I run a 5K, that's 58 * 5 = 290 calories burnt. I took the liberty of creating an approximate imperial formula for you guys: Calories = mi * lb * 0.75. So I weigh 127 lb, and a 5K is about 3 miles, so that adds up to 381. Three-quarters of that is 286 calories burnt. Technically the conversion factor is about 0.727, but I figured I'd keep it simple, and 0.75 is pretty easy to estimate. (381 calories is nearly 400, so I can just take away 100, and I get 281; close enough.)

The next thing for me to research is when to eat the extra calories. Since I occasionally like to throw in a short run, I'll probably just end up eating them on the day. If I burn 300 calories on a run, I'll eat 300 calories afterwards. Nice and easy.

If I run tonight (Which I don't have to do, but I want to) I'll end up with a reasonable 6.5 miles run throughout the week; my contribution to the Assassin mini-challenge. (And about 600-650 calories extra expended!) Looking forward to weighing in on Sunday; I'm hoping I can finally reach 57 kg, and end my cut, which has now been going for ten and a half months. Almost over, Sal. Just stay the course.

Thanks for reading!

Strength Workout:

Monday:

Pull-ups: 3x4x10s negative pull-ups

Dips: 4, 2, 1 half dips

Squats: 3x8 bodyweight squats

L-Sits: 25s, 25s, 20s half L-sit
Push-ups: Didn't do

Rows: Didn't do

 

Wednesday:

Handstand work: 2x60s headstand
Ring Support Hold: 2x20s with forearm support.
Pull-ups: 3x3x10s negative pull-ups

Dips: 3, 2, 2 half dips
Squats: 3x8 bodyweight squats
L-Sits: 19s, 25s, 25s half L-sit
Push-ups: Didn't do
Rows: Didn't do


 

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So I ended up running yesterday when I wasn't supposed to, but didn't run today when I was. Fortunately, it all evens out. It was an unusually hot day today, as the Australian summer makes its (hopefully) last stand. Even at 11 am when I went out to run, it was very hot, and I quickly decided "To hell with this". Fortunately, since I did run my 2 miles yesterday, I didn't have to suck it up and run anyway. I'll still be running on Saturday, but I'll settle for just two runs this week; it'll still get me to 6 runs by the end of Week 2.

I weighed in this morning at 57.2 kg. I am 200 grams or half a pound away from my weight loss goal. I'm going to weigh in again on Sunday, eat low-sodium on Saturday, and pray that I make it. I want to make gains and eat tons of food, and not necessarily in that order of priority. I'm a reformed fat guy. I have the power to eat small amounts, but I still don't like it, and I doubt I ever will. The good news is, with the amount of running I expect to be doing by the time it comes to cutting time again, I'll have the power to either make it quite comfortable (If I continue to eat back the calories I burn running) or very fast. (If I pretend I'm doing no exercise, and thus eat at a large deficit.)

It shall be celebration time when I make it. Progress pics, my first ever post in the Woot Room, and a bottle or two of diet soda as a calorieless treat. And, of course, the ability to start eating at maintenance calories, the greatest gift of all. Keep your fingers crossed for me guys. Salivanth the Hobbit is almost dead, and Salivanth the Gnome is ready to step into his now slightly oversized shoes. (Seriously, one thing you never see coming is losing fat from your feet, of all places!)

Thanks for reading!

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Awesome!! With only 200g of difference, I am surprised you haven't celebrated already - it is going to be a good weekend!!

 

I like this, it resonates with me:

 

"Within a few hundred meters, I was breathing hard, developing a stitch, and my muscles ached. But then a funny thing happened. No matter how long I ran, it never got any worse than that. Before I knew it, I'd gone half a mile...then it was time to turn around...then a mile...and all of a sudden I was back at my mailbox. I'd just run a mile and a half without stopping. It was a very taxing run, but I could RUN"

 

I had tried running in the past and hated it, but then last summer I decided to try again to see what I could do.  I ran at my own pace for measured distances, I progressed slowly, but I loved the realisation of "Heck yeah, I can do this!" and the gains are so very satisfying.  It seems silly, but I kept thinking of a Barney quote on running from How I Met Your Mother:

 

"Step one, you start running.  There is no step two" :P

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Awesome!! With only 200g of difference, I am surprised you haven't celebrated already - it is going to be a good weekend!!

 

I like this, it resonates with me:

 

"Within a few hundred meters, I was breathing hard, developing a stitch, and my muscles ached. But then a funny thing happened. No matter how long I ran, it never got any worse than that. Before I knew it, I'd gone half a mile...then it was time to turn around...then a mile...and all of a sudden I was back at my mailbox. I'd just run a mile and a half without stopping. It was a very taxing run, but I could RUN"

 

I had tried running in the past and hated it, but then last summer I decided to try again to see what I could do.  I ran at my own pace for measured distances, I progressed slowly, but I loved the realisation of "Heck yeah, I can do this!" and the gains are so very satisfying.  It seems silly, but I kept thinking of a Barney quote on running from How I Met Your Mother:

 

"Step one, you start running.  There is no step two" :tongue:

You never know; I could end up plateauing at 57.2 kg for another week yet. I've learnt never to celebrate until the goal is reached. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades after all. I was at 57.4 kg, then I went up to 59.2 after a cheat meal, then got back down to 57.4 kg again last week. It was mostly fluids, but still, when I saw that scale 2-3 weeks ago, I thought I'd be done by now, and I'm not. So I will hold off on premature celebration. (That said, there will be no cheat meals this time!)

Being able to actually RUN is definitely fantastic :) It feels like having a superpower compared to my previous, fatter self who couldn't run half a mile. I can run at twice my normal speed for up to 30 minutes! Whenever I go running, I think of it not as exercise, but as training my superpower, improving its range and effectiveness. Eventually I may be able to move at thrice my walking speed (6:40/mile pace) or keep up my superpower's duration for hours, or even both! Who wouldn't want to train a superpower?

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Celebration time is upon us! I couldn't resist the urge to hop on the scale a day early, and I saw those three magical numbers; 56.7 kg.

I'm done. I'm done losing weight. Eating below maintenance is done, for months, and now I finally get to bulk up, gain muscle, and eat ALL THE THINGS!

I took some progress pictures to share with you all. Here's the weight loss that's been 11 months in the making:

Before:

q6G2EKCm.jpg 4bN5Wj0m.jpg

After:

VwHZGyDm.jpg zo9O49lm.jpg


This is definitely a fantastic day. No work today, I'll be busy basking in the end of my long, frequently horrible cut. Thanks to everyone at NF who helped me along the way! Honorable mentions definitely go to Hazard and Talvi, the people who followed me months ago and are still checking in on me now, after my extended break :) I am so ludicrously happy right now!

Thanks for reading!

Achievement Unlocked: Successfully change your character's race.
Achievement Unlocked: Complete your Main Quest.

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Congratulations mate!!!   You've done a lot for this victory, what are you doing to reward yourself/celebrate?  Woop woop!

graphic1.jpg

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Congratulations mate!!!   You've done a lot for this victory, what are you doing to reward yourself/celebrate?  Woop woop!

graphic1.jpg

Taking the day (perhaps the weekend) off study, and buying myself some diet soft drink as a treat. It may not be that much of a celebration, but to me, the REAL reward is getting to eat 1,850 calories a day now, and start building up to a really big amount of food. (2,250 cals/day for bulking, plus 100 cals for every mile I run to replace those losses)

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Having now reached 57 kg, I've updated my main quest! I've edited my initial post, but here's the edit here as well:
 

New Main Quest: Complete 3x8 pull-ups and 3x8 dips.

Having lost most of the weight that's holding me back, I can now seriously focus on improving my strength. I'd like to change from being a Gnome to being a strong, muscular Dwarf someday, but that'll come as I train. Pull-ups and dips are extremely strong upper-body strength movements, and I'd like to master them and move on to performing more advanced variations, as well as adding weight to them for continued strength gain. But to do that, I have to master the basic movements first. Achieving this ought to give me a level of strength that's impressive to the average person, even for a 23-year-old male.

I'll be progressing through negative pull-ups and half dips before moving on to the full movements. My conservative goal is to be done with this by the end of the year. I expect it to take at least 3 challenges (including this one) to achieve, so it's a good main quest to occupy me. If I end up progressing faster than expected, all the better! There's plenty of strength goals I can add beyond this one.

Current Progress: 

 

3x4 negative (10-second) pull-ups.

3, 2, 2 half dips. (Dipping down to parallel)

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Ran another 2 miles today. I think I've found a nice pace for my 5k training run at the start of Week 4. It was comfortably hard to complete for 2 miles, so with an extra week of running under my belt, I should be able to keep it up for a full 5k, making it a tough but not 100% all-out run. I also tested running fast for about 30-40 seconds during my run, near the end of it. I can REALLY speed along now! I can't keep it up for long, but that's okay. I know that building a base comes before speedwork, I just wanted to see how fast I could go without outright sprinting.

Next week will contain 2.75 mile runs, and the week after that I'll be doing 5k runs! I'm supremely excited to see how much my time has improved in just a short time. 

I'm also considering taking on the Run to Mordor challenge. It's one hell of a long challenge though; I estimate that even with steady mileage increases, it'd take 2-3 years. I'm not sure I'm ready for a commitment like that, but I am keeping track of my miles so that if I do decide to do it, I don't have to start from the very beginning.

Shall be working out tomorrow, and that'll give me the chance to test my new "Pull-ups / dips last" concept and see how it works out.

Thanks for reading!

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Progress Report: Week 2

 

Goal One: Perform 3 strength workouts per week, including mobility. (+3 STR, +1 DEX) Result: 2/3

 

Another workout short this week. I'm not exactly happy with this, but in the grand scheme of things, it's the only thing I'm not doing 100% on, so I'm satisfied overall. I just need to discipline myself more, and get the workouts done.

Goal Two: Run at least 3 times per week. (+4 STA) Result: 3/3

 

Ran 6.5 miles this week, which I'm quite happy with.

 

 

Goal Three: Maintain my diet. (+3 CON) Result: 7/7

 

Now that I'm below 57 kg, I've transitioned to eating 1,850 calories a day. It definitely feels good after all my months at 1,500 or less!

Quests: 1/4 complete!

 

Reach level 4 in my Epic Quest.

Hold a tucked L-Sit for 10 seconds.
Complete a 29:00 5k

Reach 57 kg *COMPLETE*

 

Shall post a longer post later. Thanks for reading!

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Today was definitely a day of triumphs! I started out the morning with what I had planned to be a 2.75 mile (4.4 km) run, but at the last second, decided to test my 5k instead. It was 9 am, so naturally, the day was already hot. Equally naturally, I only realised this when I was about half a mile out, and by then I was far too stubborn to quit. It felt like my first few runs again. Going at the slightly faster pace in the heat was grueling. I was breathing hard, getting stitches, and just feeling absolutely horrible in general. While running, I had the (in retrospect, extremely obvious) realisation that running a certain distance and racing that distance are two COMPLETELY different animals. Several times, I wondered if I really did, in fact, wish to race 5k's in future. I had internal conversations with myself along the lines of "It's okay, you've done enough. You can slow down! It's too damn hot anyway!" and witty retorts like "F**k you!" 

I was so wiped out by the end I couldn't even muster any extra speed for the last hundred meters of the course, but it was all worth it when I hit the button on the stopwatch. 28:40! Even through the heat, I've achieved my cardio goal almost 4 weeks early, and gotten a 29-minute 5k! I anticipate an even faster time once I run my next race in the evening, when it's cooler. Maybe racing in cooler weather won't half-kill me, though knowing me, I'll just go faster and half-kill myself anyway. But at least I know the difference between racing and training; there will be no soul-crushing runs for the next three and a half weeks, til race day.

Quest Complete: Run a 29:00 5k!

I rested for the rest of the day, then in my workout, I completed two progressions! I got 3x8 elevated rows (Giving me +2 XP for my epic quest!) and a 3x30s half L-sit. I was also able to get some pull-up and dip work done, admittedly at pretty low volume. I did have to skip my plank work and one of my stretches due to a sore hip flexor from my 5k earlier today, but I have hopes that it will fix itself in a few days. It doesn't seem too serious.

My next progressions will be Bulgarian (wide) rows, and single leg extensions in the L-sit. (Extend one leg out into the position it would be at in a full L-sit, then retract back. Both legs = 1 rep.) I may need to wait for the hip flexor to get better to do the latter, but we shall see what the next couple of days bring. I certainly won't be doing any exercise tomorrow, and no running until at least Thursday. (Maybe even Saturday; I do have an extra run saved up from my first week, so I don't need to run thrice this week if I don't want to.)

Lastly, I filmed my headstand today, as promised. It's a little late, but here is my current headstand. 



It still has a bit of work to go. The upper body isn't perfectly straight, and the forearms aren't parallel. But I'm quite happy with my progress so far.

Thanks for reading!


 
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Progress Report: Week 3

 

I haven't been posting this week, because I only worked out Monday and Sunday. I'd intended to work out four times to make up for my previous failures, but I didn't end up doing so, and didn't want to post my failure. Still, my other goals have gone well again; let's take a look.

Goal One: Perform 3 strength workouts per week, including mobility. (+3 STR, +1 DEX) Result: 2/3 (6/9)

 

I may not be doing too well on this particular challenge, but at least I'm consistent :/ I found myself having difficulty moving up to Bulgarian rows on Sunday, as I was unable to complete the movement. I started complaining to myself about my level of strength, and then the Voice of Common Sense came forth. "Hey Salivanth, if you don't want to be weak, how about you stop skipping strength workouts, you moron?" I hate that guy. He's always right.

 

On the plus side, I have moved up to leg extensions for L-sits. From a half L-sit, I extend one leg outwards into an L-sit position, then lower it again. I did 3 sets of 4 (per side), and shall work my way up to 3x8, improving my form as I go. Then I can work on extending both legs, so that I'm actually holding the full L-sit for very brief periods of time.

 

I actually didn't do Sunday's mobility, but that's okay, as I've started daily yoga, which replaces my mobility. I'll post more about that in my next post, which I'll write after this one.

Goal Two: Run at least 3 times per week. (+4 STA) Result: 3/3 (10/9)

 

So far so great with the running. As I posted earlier in the week, I ran a 28:40 5k. I also ran another 5k later that week, so I ran a total of 8.25 miles last week. I'm quite happy with this, and plan to keep up this mileage for the rest of the challenge. I'm also adding a new quest, since I got the 29:00 5k so easily:

Quest Added: Run a 28:00 5k (+1 STA)

 

This gives a total of 16 stat points available for the challenge. It may be bending the rules a bit, but I'm going to make the rule for my challenge as follows: I'm allowed more than 15 stat points available, but I can't actually earn more than 15 in any one challenge. In this case, I expect the extra STA point to make up for losing a stat point in my workout goal. If I did perfectly in all three goals, I wouldn't be able to award myself this extra stat point.

I'm not sure if I can get a 28-minute time. It's a bit of a stretch, but I ran my 28:40 in less than ideal conditions; it was fairly warm at the time. If I run the 5k on a colder day, that plus a few weeks of running the distance at an easy pace might just be enough to get me there. Even if I don't, I expect a sub 28:30 time, which I'll still be very happy with.

 

Goal Three: Maintain my diet. (+3 CON) Result: 7/7 (21/21)

 

I've been eating at 1,850 calories (i.e, my maintenance level) for the last week, and I'm quite happy with it. I'm easily getting a fair bit more protein than I need, so that means I can afford to vary my diet a bit and add some more carbohydrates, instead of eating purely meat and vegetables in non-breakfast meals. I plan on adding some luxuries like frozen pizza into the diet, as long as it still fits my macros. In addition, once I reach 2,250 calories + running calories, I'll be instilling a '99% clean' rule.

That means that if 99% of my calories are reasonable, I can eat whatever I want for the last 1%. For instance, a Mars Bar is about 250 calories. If I eat 25,000 calories (About a week and a half's worth at full bulk) I can eat a Mars Bar as part of those calories. I'll still make it fit my overall calories/macronutrients for the day, so this is less about cheating and more about eating well. Just because I'm bulking doesn't mean I should eat junk; but it doesn't mean I should continue keeping an iron fist on myself either. The 99% rule seems like a decent compromise., and it's still rather strict in the grand scheme of things.

 

I'm writing this at the end of Monday, so I'll write another post shortly.

Thanks for reading!

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Today's looking like the start of a good week. I ran an easy 5 kilometers today, and had no pain or difficulty whatsoever! I ran two 5k runs last week, one easy and one hard, and my left hip flexor gave me some grief after both of them. Today, I told myself I would either run 2 miles or 5k, depending on how I felt when I reached the 1 mile mark. Fortunately, I felt totally fine after a mile, so I just kept going. I ran the entire distance with no trouble, and felt totally fine at the end of it. This definitely indicates good things for my aerobic capacity. If all goes well, I may do a short run tomorrow and run a total of 10 miles this week. That'd be pretty fantastic to accomplish, but I shall see how I feel. I don't want to push things too fast.

I've also started DoYouYoga.com's 30-day yoga challenge in an attempt to make my mobility more enjoyable. It seems to be working so far; I've completed Day 3 now. Every workout so far has been quite different, feels like a good stretch, and they're quite short. (10-20 minutes) At the end of the video, I always feel like I could do another one, but I don't. I save that feeling up for tomorrow. So far I'm not having trouble motivating myself, but it's early days. Sadly I won't finish by the end of the challenge, but if I end up 23 days in, I'd say I'll end up finishing, and then I can look at where to take it from there. I could just repeat the 30 days over; I doubt I'll be ready to progress to more advanced stuff after just a month, after all. My first goal with yoga is to complete the 30 days; after that, I'd like to get my heels to the floor in Downward Dog. It's definitely a good hamstring stretch, and even acts as a bit of a strength move for me, since I can't put as much weight on the legs as I'm supposed to due to my inflexibility.

Do any of you fellow Assassins have any guidelines / ideas for progressing yoga via the internet? I've seen several Assassins doing really cool yoga stuff, like firefly pose and flying crow, and I'm sure there has to be a progressive element to that; I doubt one just does Pigeons and Downward Dogs for a few years and then they can suddenly do Firefly. I'm happy to be patient and remain a beginner for a long time, as I know how long mobility takes to build, but it would be nice to see a bit of the path ahead. Either way, if it can keep stretching enjoyable, it'll be one of the best things I've ever found.

Hopefully I can keep up with this trifecta; gymnastics for strength, running for cardio, yoga for flexibility. Seems like a nice, well-rounded training program. I guess I should eventually throw in weights for the lower body, but I'm happy with what I've got for now.

Thanks for reading!

 

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It's been a good week so far. Finished Day 5 of the 30-day yoga challenge today. Day 4 and Day 5 were both very challenging core workouts. Definitely a large change of pace from the first 3 days, which I'm not too happy with, but I shall persevere. I'm sure it'll come back around to the type of yoga I'm after. I must admit, the workouts were much tougher than I had anticipated, but my endurance is definitely way up from a few months ago.

I've run twice this week so far, running a total of 5 miles this week. I'm on track for a 10-mile week, but if I don't want to run tomorrow, I don't have to and can still make the 8 miles that my training program requires me to do.

Lastly, I'm taking the next step in my diet, and am now trying to balance all three of my macros, rather than just focusing on getting enough protein. Here's my current diet:

1,950 calories per day

195g carbs (40%)

72g fat (35%)

122g protein (25%)

I'm not sure if this is optimal; this particular diet wasn't designed with running in mind, so I may want to up the carbs and lower the fat a bit. But for today, I've managed to get within 10% for all my macros. I always eat the same thing for breakfast, so each day before lunch, I'll figure out everything I'm going to eat that day, and make sure it fits my remaining macros. I'll also have to do a bit of research to see if I'm getting it right. I think 45% carbs, 30% fat, 25% protein would be a better mix. I was at 30% protein while cutting, but I don't need as much any more, so 25% seems a good amount.

Thanks for reading!

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Hello Salivanth, how's the last week and a bit been? Have you stuck with the 30 day yoga challenge? Sounds like an idea I might try if you think it is a good program. I made a list of online yoga resources a while ago somewhere in a yoga/druid section of NF - maybe that would be helpful. For progressions, I'd just look up the position on YouTube and see how people recommend getting there.

I'm always impressed how you seem so scientific in your approach to diet and exercise - keep up the good work :)

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