Notes About Starting A Workout vs Building On One

Osiyo. Dohiju? ᎣᏏᏲ. ᏙᎯᏧ? Hey, welcome back.

A Little Story

I had hired a trainer several years ago. He told me what to eat, when, and I did whatever workouts he suggested. I got pretty strong. I was able to leg press all of the weights in the small gym plus two 150 or so pound trainers. The problem? All of the calories I was eating were way too high. It wasn’t his fault. It was great advice if I’d been in much better shape and had a more active job. I wasn’t eating a bunch of junk food. I was just eating so many calories.

When I was in Iraq I studied everything about increasing a workout so I could do better on my PT test. I read articles that said “when you run you shouldn’t increase more than 10% of your distance or weight” and “don’t eat carbs/fat/protein during XYZ” or whatever the rules they had were. I followed that advice to the letter. The problem with the articles was that I couldn’t run well, to begin with. So sticking to a plan of not running more than a 10% increase meant it would take (figuratively) a year to get to a mile. The nutrition and fitness advice that I was reading was for athletes that wanted to improve. It wasn’t for someone who was going from “couch to 5k”.

What happened?

Does that mean that the advice was bad? As I said, it was not. Does that mean you couldn’t follow it if you’re starting out? No. As I found out it was extremely frustrating to get started. I’d start with huge weight loss, some muscle gain, and some size loss. But the rigor of sticking to an extreme diet or the hours of working out became too much for me. I’d get to a point where I didn’t want to work out and I hated every minute of it. I’d push so hard I’d get hurt or wouldn’t see the results, despite getting stronger, and then I’d just quit. And then I’d binge on everything I could find for months. Then after 2-3 months, I’d start this process over again until years later I just burnt out and wouldn’t start the cycle again. The last time I started a cycle was in early 2020. I got sick and had to stop for 2 months.

Pandemic

Before the pandemic I would do some exercise, mostly walking for miles a few times a week. Since the pandemic, everything that I was going to do was canceled and so my after-work efforts were curbed and became virtual in some manner. So I went from at least getting a walk in a few times a week to sitting all of the time. I developed lower back issues. I gained 56 pounds. And I ate all of the time. I wasn’t stressed about the world. I was just trying to keep the family going. We had kids out of school for 6 months. And no one was going out and doing workouts in public. We were told not to walk at a local track. There were times I’d eat ok. There were other times where I’d go back to food addict mode and drive somewhere just to get some candy bars and then eat one or two before I’d get home. I’d buy cases of Coke and drink 6-8 cans a day. All of the work I’d done in 2018 came unraveled. I went right back to 2018 plus some. In 2018 I weighed 331, 5Jun2021 I weighed 336.

Moving to Today

Let’s go over my current situation. I have been working out for about a month. The first two weeks are the worst for me. After that, I do ok. Once I get into a habit and my body gets used to working out it starts to crave a workout and if I miss one my body gets restless and won’t stop until I get the workout in.

I’ve covered workouts that are from building on previous athletic experience. Now, I’ll go over what I’ve learned and you can take whatever advice you want.

Food

I eat mostly beef, chicken, fish, shrimp, and eggs with veggies. Most of the time I have eggs with onions and green peppers with some shredded mozzarella for breakfast. I also have a protein shake with some creatine. I use Isopure Zero Carb. I chose this protein powder because it is 100 calories and has zero carbs. Midmorning, lunch, and dinner I have the same protein and creatine. I might have some meat or carrots or one of the veggies I eat. I don’t eat grains or processed foods with extra sugar most of the time. I can skip grains, but sometimes I have a Root Beer. It’s not as addictive to me as Dr. Pepper or Coke. I limit my sodas to 1 a day if I can. If I feel like having 2 then I do. I mostly go with whatever my body is craving. In the end, I get 120g of protein and mostly stay under 80g carbs. I eat about 1200 calories a day. If I skip the coffee with creamer and all soda then I’d have about 700 calories a day. I also drink 16oz of water every hour from 8am to 7pm. Again, if I want a donut I have one, but I eat it slowly and I don’t have more than one.

Workout

I listed my workout yesterday. You can read about that here. Most of the time I do this all in one go which lasts 60-90 minutes. I stretch a lot. I usually run all of the sets first. If I do this in the morning then I’ll do 2 other sets of one of each of the exercises. If I do this in the afternoon or evening I’ll do the full workout then rest for about 10 mins and do one or two sets of the single workout. I work out Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Then, Friday I do a test run all the way through for time. I’ll do a light workout of stretching and light weights if any. Mostly, stretching. I’ll do the same light workout for Saturday and Sunday. I’ll walk more on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I also listen to my body. I push to 75% each workout and no further. However, if something hurts I’ll stretch it and then decrease the weight so I still have some strength training. I just take it easy for the day.

Around the House

I’ve made other changes around the house. I adjusted my desk to a standup desk. I wear the 50# weight vest all day. I figure that’ll help strengthen everything. It also gets me used to standing for long periods. My office is in my finished basement and I force myself to run up the stairs to get water, go to the bathroom, or eat.

Mindset

My mindset has shifted from “I have to do this” to “I want to do this”. As I said, I hate working out. However, I have something that has motivated me to push hard. When I sit back and think “maybe I won’t work out today” I then go “no, I want to do this because I have to pass the test”. This change is huge for me. It means that instead of dreading a workout because “I need to lose weight” or “I want to be in better shape” I’m doing it because I have a goal-oriented approach. When I get to foods that I’m like “I shouldn’t eat it but I really want it” I think “if I eat this then I won’t reach my goal as fast as I’d like”. I don’t deprive myself, I just have to be sure that if I’m going to have that root beer that I understand it may be a compound (including other “just a root beer”s) of why I don’t reach my goal. I also follow the 40% rule. “When your mind is telling you that you’re done, that you’re exhausted, that you cannot possibly go any further,  you’re only actually 40% done.” So when I’m pushing on the elliptical and my body is telling me I should stop I tell myself I’ve only done 40%. I check the time and I push for that time again plus a half. Harder than last time and the 40% rule have helped me not establish unrealistic goals, but improve each time. I use both of these in other aspects of my life as well.

Goal

My first goal isn’t weight loss, it’s just to pass the physical fitness test. That’s it. When I pass that then I’ll move my workout back to 4 days a week with set body part workouts. The testing on Fridays is just to tell me where I stand compared to a week prior. I do this with walking and other exercises too. Coach Greg says “harder than last time” this could mean one rep more, one higher weight, one more second. Whatever it is is harder than the last time. I’m not content with that. If I’m going to push harder than last time on the elliptical it’s not going to be 1 second. It’s going to be 10 seconds. And when I hold myself up on the parallettes I push 5 seconds at a time. Once I’ve passed the test I’ll slow down a little, but still push. I need to be in a place of balance to do workouts, manage home life, and my volunteer projects. I’m on my way.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go do my workout.

Until next time. Dodadagohvi. ᏙᏓᏓᎪᎲᎢ.

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