Paleo Progress… and ideas

15 Oct

So, I’m about two weeks into my “hardcore” Paleo challenge. I feel AWESOME… strong, lean, and full of energy. I’m looking better too. Not quite time for comparison photo against my last entry, but that’s coming soon.

I got a haircut today and got to chatting it up with the girls in the salon. I mentioned “paleo”, and suddenly I was the Most Interesting Man in the World. Some knew a bit about it, others knew nothing. They asked for my explanation and peppered me with questions. After telling them you can eat all sorts of meat, veggies, fruit, nuts and tubers, the question that struck me was, “So, what do you actually eat?”

Obviously, eating paleo is hardly a limiting diet. There are literally thousands of foods in MILLIONS of combinations! That said, I do find my self struggling with food ideas sometimes. Like a lot of people, I fall into patterns of eating things that are easy, already prepared, or familiar. My wife especially struggles with this “what do I eat now” dilemma. Here are some tricks I’ve developed for keeping your taste buds excited on paleo:

1) Try new things — given that there are literally thousands of foods that are OK to eat while doing paleo, don’t be afraid to try new things! I found out that I love brussels sprouts, salmon, and kale. I had literally NEVER had any of these foods in my life, and now I am eating them daily or weekly. Give new foods a chance!

2) Get a paleo cookbook — I bought a great Paleo cookbook and I frequent the authors site for new ideas. I have tried about half the recipes already with great success! One thing paleo has showed me is that good food can also be prepared in exciting ways that is also DELICIOUS! The internet is also FULL of sites and blogs with paleo recipes you can try out.

http://www.amazon.com/Paleo-Cooking-Elanas-Pantry-Gluten-Free/dp/1607745518

3) Make food in bulk — This is smart for any “healthy” eating plan. Every couple of weeks, my wife and I have a bulk food prep day where we make large batches of things so they are “ready” when we want them. I’ll make a tripe batch of meatloaf and then freeze individual serving sizes so I can take them to work. I’ll make a giant batch of paleo nut bars for snacks. I find that bulk food preparation is a great way to make sure you have things to eat when you need it, but also a great way to stay on track with your nutrition.

Going Paleo

10 Oct

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Luckily, I’ve only been lazy keeping a blog, and not my workouts!

A lot has happened for me health wise. In the last few months, I discovered the Paleo diet. I also changed my workout routine. I’m not a guy who jumps onto hot new fads typically, but after reading Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution, and giving this style of eating a try, I was hooked!

I won’t get into a detailed explanation of Paleo eating here. It is essentially eating a diet of single ingredient whole foods, like our prehistoric ancestors ate. It includes lots of meats, vegetables, fruits, tubers, and nuts. It avoids ALL processed foods of any kind, dairy, wheat, soy, and legumes. Read Robb Wolf’s book for more specifics.

I’m doing Paleo because I’m looking, and feeling AMAZING! My experience has been that it takes about a week to adjust — at first, you feel a bit cranky from wheat withdrawal, coupled with trying to figure out what foods to eat. After that first week, you notice normal body “bloat” start to vanish. During weeks two and three, I felt like was losing body fat on a daily basis, especially around the waist. My weight, and body fat, got to the lowest level it had ever been after sticking to a very hardcore paleo regiment for about 30 days. Also, after the first week or so, I noticed that not only did my energy levels improve, they stayed very steady throughout the day. No highs and lows anymore… no crashing feeling during the afternoon. Over the last few months I’ve been on and off Paleo, but as of Sunday, October 6, 2013, I’m all Paleo, all the time. Our son was born so things got hectic, and I also experimented by reintroducing non paleo foods, mainly wheat, to test their impact. Immediately felt bloated, had erratic energy, and just didn’t feel my best.

My workouts have also changed. I’m seven weeks into a classic 5×5 strength building routine. I just haven’t felt “strong” enough for my liking, so I picked this program to help me with that. The workout uses compound lifts, heavy progressive weight loading, for five sets of five reps. I’ve been thrilled with the workout so far, having added weights to my lifts every week. My plan is to keep going with eating Paleo, and adding weights until I really plateau… if it ain’t broke….

Finally, I’ve hired an online fitness “coach” to help me along. I had a Skype chat on Monday for an hour to go over my current status, goals, etc. She endorsed Paleo, and my 5×5 routine with enthusiasm. I’m planning to do a monthly check in with her to see how I’m progressing. Knowing I have to face her will also keep me accountable!

Finally, it’s hard to do, but I’m posting an “accountability photo” here so I can compare every thirty days. My goal is to be stronger, and have six pack abs, by June 2014!

20131007_124448

Insanity Asylum has begun…

11 Dec

I finished Day 2 of Insanity Asylum vol 1 today. The workout was Strength. Backing up a minute, Insanity Asylum is a 30 day sports conditioning program, developed by Shaun T, creator of Insanity.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that in 2012 I completed Power 90, P90X, Insanity, and then I’ve been “maintaining” my fitness and weight loss with a hybrid of P90X and Insanity. I’m definitely in the best shape of my life, and I’d argue in way better shape than the average 35 year old male. That said, Asylum is HARD!!!

The workouts quickly get your heart rate up, and they give you little time for recovery. The movements also require a lot of coordination. The program makes use of an agility lader, which sits on the floor while you do specific moves in and out of the boxes on the ladder. The idea is that it promotes coordination and improved agility. For example, you do moving push ups, as in Insanity, but you must move your hands into the correct boxes. You also do footwork drills where you are running/jumping in/out of specific boxes in a coordinated sequence.

There are also a lot of “compound” movements. Unlike regular p90x where you do individual sets of a given move, like a push up, Asylum puts a few moves together which really gets you working! In the Strength routine, one of my favorite moves is a curl, followed by a squat, you drop the dumbbells to the floor and jump back to plank, do a push up, then come up. You work legs, biceps, chest, abs all in this fluid sequence of moves!

My Asylum PRO’s so far: 1) excellent total body conditioning – combines strength and cardio at all times, 2) pace of workout… things move fast, and nothing really repeats, so it feels like the workout goes by fast, 3) accomplish a lot in little time – the workouts are all less than an hour, and generally shorter than a p90x routine, but I feel like I get a much better workout. I burn more calories, feel more muscle burn, and sweat more than I do in even the hardest p90x or insanity routine.

CON’s: 1) Difficulty – I find this workout to be VERY challenging, this is a PRO or a CON depending. I would NOT recommend Asylum for someone who is not already very fit, or preferably a p90x or Insanity graduate, 2) Complexity – the moves are designed to improve athleticism and agility, and at first, it can be frustrating. At a minimum, I recommend watching the videos first to get a feel for them, or even try the workouts first at 50% effort so you get used to them a bit. I can tell it will take doing these a few times to really get the sequences down.

Where Have I Been?

9 Dec

I have not given up on my fitness journey – not obvious for anybody looking at my blog since it has been 5 months since I’ve posted!

While I haven’t been blogging, I finished Insanity. I then went into a bit of a maintenance mode with p90x and Insanity workouts 3-4 days a week. I’ve maintained my weight loss. In the last few weeks however, I’ve decided to take things to the next level and get back on formal routines again.

I ordered Insanity Asylum, and P90X2. My plan is to “demo” the main workouts of Asylum this week to get the hang of them, and then do the official 30 day program. After that, it will be on to P90X2. While I did get the ab definition I was looking for when I started working out in February, I’ve yet to get truly “shredded”… that’s the new goal!

So far, I’ve demo’d Asylum Speed and Agility, and Strength. Holy crap pretty much sums up these routines. I’m in pretty good shape after graduating from P90, P90X and Insanity all in a row, but these two routines are very challenging. They are more physically demanding moves than Insanity, and at a faster pace. I don’t see how it is possible to come out on the other end of Asylum without being in awesome shape!

Let the Insanity Begin!

10 Jul

Quick Recap – I am a 35 year old average guy.  I have a wife, two kids, and I run my own small business.  In February 2012 I weighed in at my heaviest ever… 221 lbs!  Since then, I’ve dropped 43 lbs and got in the best shape of my life through proper nutrition and exercise!  I did Power 90, then P90X – both programs offered by Beachbody.  I have been so happy with my results and how I’ve transformed my life, I became a coach!  Yesterday, I swapped out my final week of P90X (the recovery week), for Insanity.

For those not familiar with Insanity, it is a 6 day per week, 63 day program focused on cardio and core training developed by Beachbody (makers of P90x).  Workouts are 40-50 minutes in length and they use a training concept called “Max Interval Training”.  In laymans terms, this means you work your butt off for very intense bursts, then have a short 30 seconds to catch your breath, and then repeat.  The idea is that you get your heart rate very high, and keep it there mostly over the course of the workout and this: 1) cuts down on having to do very long periods of low/moderate intensity cardio, and 2) gives you an unbelievable workout in far under 1 hour.

I’ve done the first two routines so far.  Cardio Plyo Circuit, and Cardio Power Resistance.  My initial thoughts: HOLY CRAP IS THIS HARD! I may not be a pro athlete, but having completed Power 90 and P90x I am by far in the best shape of my life.  Despite my relatively high level of fitness at the moment, Insanity is kicking my rear end!  While P90X focused more on strength training, Insanity is very much focused on high intensity cardio.  The closest thing P90X has to Insanity workouts is Plyometrics, but I am finding the Insanity version to be much more difficult.  Second, the workouts are so fast paced and intense, they go by in a flash.  They are much shorter than the base P90X workouts in terms of real time (40 minutes in the first month compared to 70+ minutes if you include Ab Ripper X in P90X), and you jump from one exercise to the next, so you feel like the workout is over very quickly.  Third, this is THE workout if you want to get ripped!  I did Insanity now specifically for this reason.  Shed the last 5% or so body fat that I want to come off, and I can’t imagine Insanity won’t get me there (with proper nutrition of course).  I was literally dripping sweat after both workouts!  I was breathing so hard I couldn’t even think about talking.  These are HUGE cardio workouts with an obvious fat-melting effect.

A note on Insanity nutrition – The program does have its own nutrition guide.  Basically, it is very similar to P90X.  I’m basically following my P90X nutrition plan with slight modifications.  I’m keeping a 45-55% daily carbohydrate, 30% protein, 20% fat mix.  I’m dropping my calories down to the 1800-2000 range daily as I want to shed the last few pounds of body fat.  YOU MUST EAT CLEAN AND FOLLOW A PROPER NUTRITION PLAN IF YOU ARE EXPECTING RESULTS! Doing your “own thing” will not yield results as good or better than following the plans outlined by Beachbody!

A post about nutrition

18 Jun

On Father’s Day, I played golf with my dad and brothers.  I grew up playing the course, and I know a lot of the people still there, although I don’t see them regularly.  During my visit, about ten guys stopped me and told me how great I looked and asked about how I lost weight and got in shape.  I am a big believer in nutrition, so I talked about nutrition mostly, and exercise second.

Yesterday, I got into a debate on facebook with somebody about doing P90x and following, or not following, the nutrition plan and the benefits/drawbacks.  My opnion is this: If you want results, you MUST follow the nutrition plan!  I have followed it to the letter since February with Power 90, and now with P90X.  I also take Shakeology.  I firmly believe that without both, I would not be where I am today.

The good news is that the plans are spelled out in Beachbody programs.  When you buy a routine, the plan is right there for you.  That’s the easy part… the hard part is sticking to it!  Personally, if you are going to work out as hard as you need to in p90x, insanity, or the like, don’t you want to maximze your results?!?!

I’m going to post more on nutrition going forward because I think it is soooo important, but for now, if you are starting a program or thinking about starting one, do the following:

1) get rid of the junk food – throw out the ring-dings and cookies.  If you don’t have it in the house, you can’t eat it.  Also, if it is out of site for most of your day, it will hopefully be out of mind.

2) shop the perimeter of the grocery store – this is usually where you find the stuff that is the best for you.  Vegetables, fruits, lean meats, etc.  The isles in the middle mostly contain the processed stuff, the corn syrup products, etc.  If food is in a box of some kind, it is generally not good for you!

3) cook more – cooking can be fun, preparing your food yourself allows you to play withe recipes, and discover new healthy foods you love.  For me, I had no idea steel cut oats even existed six months ago, now it is my FAVORITE food!

P90X – Phase 3 Begins, 4 weeks to go

13 Jun

OK – I’ve been a bit remiss with the blog!  Not because I’ve quit my workouts, but because I’m working out hard!

On Monday, my wife and I started Phase 3 of P90X… I can hardly believe we are 2/3 done!  I’m really starting to suprise myself with my results!  I’m stronger, leaner, and feel better than I have in my life!

My weight is down 41 lbs since I started – I weighed in at 179 lbs the other day.  My most recent waist measurement is 34.5″, down from 45″ when I started in late January!  I can actually see my abs for the first time in my life!  I’m not quite ripped yet, but my body fat is not in the low/mid teens, aprox 13-14%.

My nutrition continues to be very clean.  I did cheat for the first time last week and I had a small ice cream when I was out with my wife and kids.  So be it!  I’ve steadily increased my calories as I’ve been less focused on losing weight, and mostly interested in building muscle and losing body fat.  It seems to be working.  I’m still losing weight slowly, but my energy levels are great, I’m eating constantly, and I can visibly see my muscles getting larger… and veinier!

In other news, I became a BeachBody coach on Monday!  I’m so excited about my results, that I want to share an hopefully help others make the journey!  If you are interested in BeachBody programs and would have me as your coach, message me, or go to: http://www.beachbodycoach.com/sculptwithdavid

I’m already looking ahead to what comes next.  I ordered Insanity which I plan to start in mid July.  After finishing P90X, and taking a deserved rest week, my wife and I will get insane!  My goal is to continue to shed body fat and build lean muscle.  Insanity seems like the logical choice.  I am assuming that based on where I should finish P90X, Insanity will get me the “ripped” look I set out after… can’t wait!