Sort of resolutions

Posted on: Feb 17, 2017

We are already a month and a half into 2017, boy time can fly. I ended 2016 and started 2017 on some so-called rocky footing. I am not saying I was slipping badly, or being a complete slouch, it is just that I was helping my parents by bird-sitting for almost two weeks. This took me away from having a gym available, and I am not one who will exercise outside in South Dakota in December and January. This put extra focus regarding maintaining progress made on what I ate. As everyone knows, the holiday season is rough on everyone. I maintain that it is even if you do not end up going to meet with family at all, and are on your own.

Nonetheless, once I returned back to Sioux Falls and could resume my usual routines, I did an InBody composition test. It did show myself regaining 1% body fat. I can live with that.

2017 Goals

In early December, I decided to join the "Netflix and Chill" party and actually signed up for my own account. Years late, I know. I already had my own profile via my parents' account, but I did not have my own yet that I could use wherever. As I started browsing around, I noticed a number of health-based documentaries available to stream. This obviously piqued my interest, and I added them to my watch list.

Over the course of my birdsitting vacation, I watched all of them that I could find. Some were propaganda-ish in promoting vegetarianism because of animal cruelty arguments and such, but most were pretty well balanced. All in all, what I took out of everything is that I want to increase my whole foods intake. I am not getting rid of meat from my diet, as I do legitimately like it too much. I do, instead, want to provide a better balance between that and fruits/vegetables.

On top of whole foods, I also want to learn how to cook better. This began the moment I got back home. Thus far, most of the cooking changes have come in the form of doing sautee'd vegetables, as well as starting to play more with spices. I am also working towards forcing myself to be less picky on types of vegetables I consume. Fruits have never been a big problem, but vegetables I've turned my nose up at more, for unfounded reasons. Perhaps I will like some of them more than I realize? We will see. When grocery shopping lately, majority of my basket has been fruits and vegetables, so I'm happy there. If the documentaries are accurate in their information, I should naturally start seeing some improved results without necessarily having to change other details. Simply a case of you get out what you put in, for food.

Will he blend?

A couple of the Netflix documentaries were about the subject of juicing fruits and vegetables. I do not discredit them or question their authenticity, but I knew from the start that this specific topic would not be for me. I wanted to retain what fiber I could, while still doing something similar, which is why I instead decided to go for a blender. This would allow for making smoothie drinks, but without losing said fiber. I would still be consuming it all, even if more minced than it could be. Makes cleanup a lot easier as well. Last benefit is that it makes blending protein shakes more consistent instead of relying on hand-shaking the mixture together.

Blue Apron, briefly

I joined Blue Apron briefly, but have already canceled out for the moment. The idea was to utilize their services for working on the cooking detail. However the amount that they send weekly, and the way I tend to structure my days, were not meshing as well as I was hoping. They were sending two servings of three meals a week, and I think at this point, I would have been better with one a week. This is not to say that I am now giving up on cooking more, just that I am changing how I am approaching it. Going to rely on going at my own pace. If or when things change, I would have zero issue signing up again for more meals, and have no issue recommending them to others.

Until next time!

It has been a year, lets gather thoughts.

Posted on: Sep 25, 2016

My last post here was before taxes were due. I need to update this.

I did not fall off the wagon

First thing I want to get clarified, in case anyone worried. I have not fallen off the wagon by any means. Not even once. I still meet with Jake three times a week, and fill in other days with self-driven cardio. I still eat as well as I can every day, keep snacks limited, etc.

As we rolled into summer, I just never found myself having anything report-worthy here. My days were all routine and not much changing activity wise.

I did plateau for the summer

Even though I didn't fall back into previous habits, I also didn't continue to progress as much as I'd like. The proverbial gains had been slowing all summer.

August actually showed a regression as body fat percent crept up a little. My skeletal muscle mass also regressed and went down. Needless to say, I was not happy with that fact. While I am happy that I maintained where I was in July during my cruise vacation, August brought me back to Earth.

Jake and I began asking what changed that could be contributing. We believe an increase in carb totals and a decrease in protein totals contributed. Adding to that, I think my cardio lacked intensity levels that would provide results.

A year later

It is a year and a few days since I first joined Fitness 19 and started working with Jake each week. I have no qualms in saying it was perhaps the best decision I've made in recent memory.

I feel I am at the best phyiscal condition I've ever been. This excludes early years back in gradeschool before I found candy. If looking at numeral weight only, the end of college would win, since I got right below 200lbs. I was not doing any weight training at that time though, which is why I feel present day Michael wins. The added muscle mass is offsetting what could be a weight.

Re-evaluated focuses

Reduced focus on weight as a number

When I was first starting out, throughout winter and the start of spring, I put a lot of focus on the topic of weight. I'd check it on a weekly schedule and update all my fitness website stats. This was understandable. I had a lot to lose at the time, and did. As time went on though, and as part of the plateauing, it started remaining consistent. I have been bouncing around the 210-220 range for much of the summer, and I'm fine with that. If it happens to go up a bit, that is ok, as long as it is from increased muscle. If it's from other things, then I will put renewed focus on it to remove bad influence.

Focus on body fat percentage

At the end of October 2015, we did my first InBody test, and my body fat percentage clocked in at 35.3%. At my lowest thus far, I was at 22.7% in August. On September 1st 2016, I clocked in at 23.4%. In 11 months, I was able to drop around 12%. That's pretty impressive if you ask me. For this year, I want to make sure that value continues to drop. By the time I'm writing a year two post, I want to be at max, around 16%. If I can reduce it even further, awesome.

Focus on no "beer belly"

This will likely come as a result of BFP focus, but I want to remove as much of my lingering bulging belly as I can. I am not expecting to have a well defined 6 pack grid showing through, but I want to be as close to one as manageable.

Focus on increased variety in meals

I feel that I have maintained a pretty good eating habit. I rarely consume fast food these days. Closest I tend to get to are Jimmy Johns, Pizza Rev and Qdoba. I feel Jimmy Johns provides a pretty full belly at a low enough cost in nutritional totals. I appreciate that fact. I would agree with anyone who says Qdoba likely isn't the absolute best for you. A guy needs his occasional tacos though, and Qdoba is able to come through with that. Pizza Rev manages to take care of my pizza cravings at a decent enough low cost as well. All three try to remain reserved as treats, and should not be regular.

When it comes to home cooking, I do pretty well. At the same time though, it is always a lot of the same thing every week. Plenty of boneless pork chops or country style pork ribs, with red meat steaks slipped in from time to time. When not having various meats, I have done a lot of caesar salads that Hyvee sells. Added to that is various fruits or vegetables, as well as light yogurts for snacks. This is all fine and good, but pretty repetitive. It would be easy to get tired of it in the long run. I would like to try and vary the meals while still remaining within nutrition limits. We will see how this one goes.

One spot that should get reigned in is coffee shop snacking. I frequent a nice handful of local coffee places and often spend an hour or two working from them. I am even writing this post from one. The coffee itself is never a huge deal, since I often stick with drip coffee and creamer. I do have the occasional mocha. It's the other treats that I should keep an eye on, even if I strive for healthiest options I can find. In cases where the shop offers meal-like options, if I order one, it should get treated as such. I should not be ordering a bowl of soup, just to return home later and prepare more food. Drip coffee though is free reign still. That offers at least temporary satiation to get me by for a while longer.

A year from now

If I can stay on course and achieve the goals above, I have confidence that I can be at an even better "best shape of my life." It's definitely going to be hard work to get there. It may even be the harder part of the journey, which may sound odd to some. Breaking bad habits is always a difficult thing to do, but making sure you do not regress back can be just as hard.

Overdue Spring update

Posted on: Apr 10, 2016

Wow I didn't realize it had been so long since I last provided an update. A number of things have gone on since as well.

Current status

We will start out with a current status on myself. I am presently weighing in around the mid 210s and have been relatively consistent in that range for a couple of months. I had an inBody update about a week ago, and it showed a 6lb loss from my previous inBody test. This had me discouraged at first because previous tests had me losing about 15lbs between. However, Jake pointed out that despite fewer pounds lost, I was still losing steady body fat percent, which is more important. I'm hopeful it means I'm gaining more in muscle mass, which is starting to show in my mind, specifically in the bicep and pec areas.

February was a notably light month overall for activity due to myself agreeing to babysit my parents' birds for ten days so they could take a well-deserved vacation together. I am very happy to say that during that time, I managed to maintain the weight I was at, regaining very little if any.

I do honestly wonder if I'm nearing the plateau of weight I have to lose that is based on fat content alone. Majority of it all is still in the stomach/sides area, but that is a common area for many people. However, the bigger question is how much is left there before I hit ab muscles. Regardless, we are continuing to try and eat the best we can to get down as much as we can before focusing exclusively on however much mass I want to attain.

If I had to choose some popular people that I would not mind reaching a similar physique to, two that come to mind are both Ryan Reynolds and Zac Efron. I have never intended to reach the point where I have a body builder competition body, but I also don't want to stop part way. I also never want to take extremes to get near these points. Long before I re-started this journey, I always told myself that I would earn every moment and take no unhealthy shortcuts. Ultimately, I want to simply be in the best shape I can safely achieve. I hope that I can avoid issues outlined in the article "Are buff male stars like Zac Efron driving young men to drugs and eating disorders?". If you know me in person and are seeing signs that I may be slipping somehow, by all means bring it up with me. I hope this is never the case.

Goodbye Average Joe's, hello Globo-gym?

March took a surprise turn when I was informed that Fitness 19, the gym I started this journey in, was closing at the end of the month. Jake, bless his trainer heart, was already taking care of all of his clients though. He let me know that he was moving to Anytime Fitness once 19 had closed down. He already had his job lined up and set in stone. He also negotiated with Anytime that if I were to migrate and join Anytime, that I would retain the rates I was paying at Fitness 19. This included gym membership and trainer fees, and is for the foreseeable future until I decide to cancel or change something on my end. I was more than willing to move to Anytime Fitness because of this and because I did not want to give up on having Jake as a trainer. Call it a weird sense of loyalty, but he has helped me come very far.

It has now been one week at Anytime Fitness, and I am thus far very happy with everything. It most definitely does feel like an upgrade in facilities, and even minor details make me wonder how I survived before. The simple detail of having a digital clock that shows hour, minute, and seconds is a detail I now wish was available at Fitness 19 at the time. I am sure there are others that I have not even noticed yet, but will in time.

This is not to say that I hated Fitness 19 by any means. I was quite happy there, but theorize I may be even happier at Anytime Fitness. With that said, comparing the two to Average Joe's and Globo-gym from the movie Dodgeball is not meant to be slander in any way, just a bit of fair comparison. It's not like I'm comparing either to Planet Fitness. Oooooooooooooooooooh There's the real shots fired.

Concrete goal timeframes

When I first started in September, my goal was "get in shape for good". This is definitely still the ultimate goal, but at the same time, I have since found a target date that I could use for motivation for "best shape of my life". Hint: I've been working on my summer body since the end of last summer.

I'm on a boat!

As some may know, I am a web developer by trade and career. Towards the end of last fall, I noticed and heard about PHPCruise. This is a rare PHP conference event that is being held on a cruise liner en route to the Bahamas and back over the course of a week. I feel like I rarely treat myself in a big way, and do proper vacations even less. Because of that, I decided it was time I did something for me and purchased my ticket. The event is going on in mid July 2016, and I am extremely pumped about it. As a result, it's also given me a target goal date for getting as fit as I can manage.

I will let your own imaginations run wild with jokes about a (presently) single, early 30s year old in the tropics. As mentioned above, we will see what I can achieve here.