Among the many things I vowed to do at the beginning of the MP Live Shredded Challenge was to blog regularly about what was going on and my thoughts about the changes being made. I've managed to stick to 'em all (diet, workouts, attitude) except for that one. Somewhere along the way I got selfish. My workdays got too busy for regular blogs during the day, and I only want to relax with my fiance when I'm home from the gym in the evenings.
The changes in my body have been wonderful (I can see my abs for the 1st time in my life), but the intangible changes have been the most enjoyable. I'm happier, more confident, more relaxed, and don't even have many urges to pig out on junk food. I learned that I enjoy finding new recipes for clean meals, and/or cleaning up "dirty" ones. Eating well does not have to be boring, like many people would believe. I guess that revelation is why I don't have too many cravings for junk. I'm really looking forward to planning meals for Liam when he's graduated from bottles!
I guess I shouldn't feel bad about life getting in the way. I've realized that knowing who my priorities are makes the what fall into place all by itself.
I very simple, and tasty, concoction I threw together today after my workout:
1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1 container Kroger Carb Master yogurt (I used cherry)
1 scoop chocolate whey powder
I just stirred it together in a bowl, but I suppose a blender would work also. It was quick, and could be versatile depending on nutritional needs.
“There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.” – Bruce Lee
This morning, I finally got to the next level of my knee rehab – I did some squats! And I did them with no pain. There may be some fatigue going on, but nothing bad at all. I have never been so happy to squat 225lbs in my life! This, coupled with Mom going home from the hospital today, has had me on cloud nine.
I have had a feeling for the past few days that I am about to turn a corner in my life. My personal life has my first-born child on the way, my soulmate that I will marry next year, amazing family, and true friends – so I do not imagine that getting any better. The one part of my life that has been off the past 3 years has been my professional life. After 13 months of unemployment, the best I could find was a very low-paying job that I can’t seem to improve upon. I have essentially been looking for work for a little more than 3 years, and have found nothing but frustration. I can’t help but feel like that search is finally about to end.
Whatever it is, something new & better is close. Now it’s time to kick a few rocks to see where it’s hiding…
Up at 4:00am and in the gym by 5:10. Today was supposed to be legs and shoulders, but my legs were still uncooperative from Saturday’s act of brilliance at the track. I still managed to get some good shoulder work in before hitting an elliptical for some interval cardio.
I’m usually not a morning person but didn’t have much choice. My mom is in the hospital today for a 3rd hernia surgery over the last year. She’s a tough lady (who gets hernias from lifting weights, thank you very much) who has been through a lot the last few years and today helps me realize how glad I am she’ll get to meet Liam (my unborn son) in August. She already has 4 grandsons from my 2 sisters, but I’m sure she had wondered more than once if I’d ever have any of my own. Liam will be lucky to get to know her and I hope he’s more receptive to her influence than I was for much of my life.
Mom had a lot to do with me getting started in fitness. She has been active in some form of exercise for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until she had some blocked arteries opened with a stent that got me thinking.
It wasn’t her first procedure of this kind, but it was the first time her cardiologist said, “If not for your active lifestyle, you would have never seen the warning signs coming…and you never would have survived the massive heart attack that would have occurred.”
It was that day when I realized how dirty our gene pool is in the cardiac end, and I would have to clean up some things to strengthen myself for the long haul. Although not consistent in the gym for several years later, her example helped plant the seed that would eventually grow like crazy. Her example would eventually get me into the gym to stay…and it has already saved my life.
I came out of the Easter weekend without much dietary damage done. I only had a few bites of sweets (which has always been my biggest weakness) and I was able to keep my portions under control. It is nice to be reminded that it is possible for people to have a good time without junk food and large quantities of beer. Not once did I feel out of place, either.
Friday was a cardio-only day and Saturday was DTP bis & tris followed by a 15-minute HIIT (sprint) session on the track. Running is definitely something I am going to have to ease myself back into. I came out of that session with both knees (not just my right – which is the one 2.5 months removed from surgery) achy and wobbly. I hate to admit it publically, but Saturday was the first time in my life I have felt “old”. I’ve always hated running but, now that it is extremely difficult for me, it’s all I want to do. I guess even though I feel a little old, I am still the young boy who doesn’t like being told what he cannot do.
I gave those achy knees the day off yesterday and today is a cardio & abs day. I’ll probably stick to the Arc Trainer and bike to make sure my legs can handle weights tomorrow.
Since yesterday was my day off from training, I’ll run down my first week on the challenge. I decided to start off by trying Kris Gethin’s DTP method. I can certainly tell you that this routine is no joke. I’ve never been one to try many routines with high reps so this has been a big challenge for me. I wanted to try something new to start out, and so far I think I chose wisely. You really have to work hard to break a sweat in the ice box that is my gym, and this routine has put a sweat on my brow by the 3rd round. The little voice of quit starts to show up on the ascending sets, and it’s nice to be able to tell him to shut up. I will probably come back to DTP for the final 3 weeks of the competition.
This weekend will be a bit of a challenge for me. Easter weekend in Louisiana tends to be a 3-day party that starts with crawfish boils on Good Friday followed by a big BBQ on Easter Sunday (or Saturday, as my family will celebrate this year). I should be ok Friday with the Quest bars & tuna that I plan to bring with me (not to mention the ice chest full of bottled water for me & pregger-Meggers). Friday could be the tough one, but my fiancé (Megan) will be with me to help keep me honest. She’s one hell of a cheerleader, which is the only reason I agreed to attend Friday’s crawfish boil that will be full of beer & junk food. I plan to indulge a little on Saturday, because my father only BBQs a few days a year and it’s too good to pass on completely. The hard part will be passing up on the sweets that will be in abundance. I do have a sweet tooth, but I’m relying on a delicious Quest bar to help quiet my sugar urges.
Hmph…Now that I’ve read the previous paragraph, the weekend doesn’t seem so difficult.
There are so many things running through my mind about training that I thought it would be a good idea to keep a journal during my 12-week Muscle Pharm challenge.
The beginning of 2012 found me in a funk. I was waiting on knee surgery (that I would eventually have on Jan 26) and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I will be a first-time dad in August 2012. I knew that changes would have to be made in my life, but I was looking at the scenario all wrong. All I focused on was the obvious: financial responsibility, how little money I am currently earning, whether or not I was “worthy” of being a father, and the 2-bedroom apartment that my fiancé & I share would soon become much smaller. I could think of everything that wasn’t right…or ideal…or perfect. I was missing what was really important. I had to get better. But better than what?
I have made quite a history of doing things half-way – of doing just enough to get by and settling for an effort that is less than my best. That has to change for me to be the father I want to be. I want to set an example to my son (who will be named Liam James – or LJ, as I plan to call him). I want to show him (by my example) that it is possible to use self-control to thrive in a society that seems to celebrate gluttony and instant gratification.
This 12-week Muscle Pharm challenge will be the start of my journey toward getting better. It's not about winning or losing; about money or recognition. It is about my family - my son and the woman I am going to marry.
I will use the opportunity to track my thoughts on my BodyBlog. I plan to spend a little time each day during my lunch hour to put my ideas on public display so that I may hold myself accountable for making good decisions as they are put in my path.
Here I go. I will get better…
Several years ago, I read a magazine article where the writer had interviewed the Dalai Lama. The main point of the article was the Dalai Lama's belief that too many people in this world of instant gratification confuse pleasure (a brief physical experience) with happiness (a long-lasting feeling that comes from within). I had no idea that this message would later have a huge impact in the way I think about food.
Eating healthy became easier for me when I stopped using food as a pleasure device in my life and started thinking of it as fuel. I started to think of how much better I'd feel later if I passed on the bad stuff (most of the time) and ate something useful to my fitness goal.
I've noticed that my diet is at its best when I remember that food is a major tool for my workouts and a way to keep my body healthy. This gives me much more satisfaction than a brief encounter with a drive-thru cheeseburger!
Once upon a time, I struggled mightily with certain things, such as...life. It was not uncommon for me to stagger & stumble out of bars, clubs, houses...well you get the idea. It was a miserable existence and I was a miserable person.
Fast forward to this morning...
I stumbled out of a building yet again, except this time it was a gym - after leg day. While trudging to my car, I couldn't help but feel some pride at the direction my life took about 6 years ago. I traded bars, liquor, and fast food for gyms, protein shakes, and chicken breasts. I must say that I absolutely love the lifestyle path that I have chosen!
Remembering how far I have come reminds me of how far I can go.