So it's been quite awhile since I last posted an update about my life change status. I should have done this shortly after Christmas but just never got around to it. Better late then never I suppose.
Back in September I had met my initial goals so I set some new ones (aiming for a completion by Christmas). These were to get to 180 pounds and 20% body fat. My best weight between September and Christmas was 186 pounds, giving me (at that time) a total of 30.5 pounds lost from when I started. On Christmas day I weighed 190 pounds with a body fat percentage of 24.3%. While I didn't hit my goals I didn't let that deter me, not one bit.
I've also come to the realization that my weight goals are not nearly as important as my body fat goals and as such I have placed less emphasis on getting my weight down as long as the body fat percentage isn't going up.
My weekly Twitter check-in just after Christmas looked like this:
Today was the 35th week of this life change, here is today's Tweet:
What have I been doing?
So after September I got serious about hitting the gym, having realized that I wasn't going to get to where I wanted to be with just diet. At first I started out going to the gym twice a week, doing full body workouts each time. Problem was I wasn't really following any plan, was making it up each time I went. I was hitting a lot of reps/sets (3 sets, 8-12 reps) but I was getting tanked by the end of the workout and couldn't really give my all the whole time.
Part of the issue was that the free weight section at my local gym intimidated me. I was also afraid about going in without a spotter. Then one day a previous co-worker Tweeted this to me:
This workout really resonated with me so my next trip to the gym I decided I was going to exorcise a few demons and headed into the free weight section and worked through a really invigorating workout following the tips provided in that article.
With this newly found confidence I started reading up on the Stronglifts 5x5 program that my brother had been using. Liking what I was reading, and knowing that he was feeling good on this program I decided to give it a shot. At the same time I managed to get my dad to start heading to the gym on my gym days and he was my spotter. This helped quell the concerns I had with bench pressing.
I started out light, using the suggested minimums (just the bar for squats, bench presses, and overhead presses, 95 pounds for deadlifts and 65 pounds for barbell rows). Each trip to the gym I add 5 pounds (10 pounds for deadlift). If you are looking to build real-world strength I highly recommend you check out this program.
I started trying to hit the gym three times a week, however, with all the snow we've had here in the Northeast that hasn't been quite as easy as I'd like (between actual storms and the constant snow removal wrecking my back and shoulders). I had to take last week off due to a tweaked back and pain in my shoulder.
The proof is in the photos!
I'm only seven workouts into the Stronglifts program but just in that short time I feel stronger and I'm starting to see results in the mirror. Apologies but here is a side-by-side before and after photo:
Hardly ripped but I definitely see a difference. I'm not done, hoping for a significant transformation in the coming months. In addition to these visible differences, I've dropped from a 38 pant size back down to a 35. I'm also on my third (new, smaller) belt (that currently only has one notch left). I'm fitting into shirts and sweaters that I haven't worn in years which really feels great. So, while I haven't hit my goal weight, I'm succeeding in other ways and that is what matters most.
In April I turn 38. As such I've decided that these short-term goals are great but I also need a long-term goal. For now I'm going to paint this goal with a broad stroke and simply say that I want, by the time I turn 40, to be in the best shape of my life. That gives me two years to work towards this goal.
As I set and meet individual short-term goals I'll keep making new ones, getting me closer to my long-term goal. Here are my "new" short-term goals:
- Continue working towards hitting the 180 pound mark
- Continue working towards hitting 20% body fat
- Continue making it to the gym 2-3 times a week
In conclusion, I would like to extend a heart-felt thanks to my family and friends who continue to encourage me along the way. Your continued support helps more then you know.
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