Diet and Exercise?

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You know that losing weight is 90% diet and 10% exercise, right? Well, sometimes is seems more like 99 and 1 to me. Dieting or more specifically ‘calorie reduction while maintaining strict macro control’ is a lot harder than it sounds. So hard in fact that after many years of trying, I finally hit on one approach that is currently working for me, a minimalist approach that occurred to me almost by accident as I was attempting to script another menu in a long list of unsuccessful weight control attempts. I work nights and usually eat when I get home, if I eat during working hours on break I eat too much and I can’t control macros or calories, so what I did was to sculpt the one meal that I had complete control over and virtually ditch all of the other food that I was eating for a bit.
Now, starving yourself is self-defeating, I know this, there are things that your body needs to have and will begin to fail without. So I looked at where I wanted to go and steered myself in that direction. I weighed in at 314, big even by my standards and I wanted to drop some large pounds, but without killing myself in the process.
Looking at the big picture, I put my ideal weight at around 215, but that was a long term goal. A good short-term goal in my mind was to drop 10% of my body weight, mostly fat ideally, and use this benchmark as a jumping off point. Once I had attained the first goal I would reassess where I felt I was at, make sure that I stayed as healthy as possible and make a new and improved goal to start in on. 10% of 314 is, let’s say, 31.5 pounds. In fat loss terms that would represent a dietary caloric deficit of 110,250 calories. Figuring my daily calories for current weight maintenance at around 3250, I designed my diet intake meal as 6 eggs, 1 can of tomatoes/chilies, 16 oz. milk, about 830 calories total, a 2420 calorie deficit. The plan looks extreme but take into consideration that my food intake is mostly protein and fat which, over time will trigger ketosis, which is what I am trying to do and that when I am in ketosis, my body will burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates so external calories will be augmented by internal calories from body fat. Also included in this regimen is daily doses of vitamins and fish oil. I expect at least one cheat day a week, where I may consume some carbs, no potatoes, no bread, no grains of any kind, though. Today is 5 weeks that I have been practicing this restrictive diet and my weight has come down to 286.6lbs. as of standing on the bathroom scale 30 seconds ago. I feel better than I have, I don’t feel bloated like before, my clothes are fitting better, I have started to wear the old 44’s again. Once I hit my target, 3 pounds to go, I will start incorporating daily weight-training into the mix so that I can gain strength and elevate my fitness level, and take advantage of not having to move an extra 30 pounds all of the time. I never would have thought that this would work and I don’t suggest that anyone try this, I tried everything else, this was in fact the last straw for me. I try to live by a few golden rules and one that has gotten me through many tough times is, “Well begun is half done.” Wish me luck, I will be posting more as time, or rather time off, allows.

What Do You Do For Sports?


I hate broadcast TV, 20 minutes worth of ads an hour, they never seem to care about the sports I am passionate about, just revenue. Then there is cable sports, cable was supposed to be the answer to broadcast TV because, no advertising. Well, that turned out well. I quit watching football, baseball, basketball, even bowling because of the ‘lets make this sport better for TV’ attitude.

12 years ago a partner and I were hired to video the local Junior A hockey team that was new to town. I was hooked. Let me tell you, there is no more exciting way for me to spend 3 hours than to watch people skate back and forth fighting over a rubber puck. Now I still get on the internet and watch snooker, UK Masters, World Championships, all of the opens, and all because of Ronnie O’Sullivan, I love the Rocket. I also enjoy the Spring Basho, and any tournament that is likely to crown a new Yokozuna, but my abiding love will always be hockey.

The owner of the team has decided to step away from the team and with him goes any hope of another season, that is not acceptable to me or any of the many other die-hard fans. I had to accept the fact that in order to feed my hockey jones I would have to subsist on substandard network feeds from the internet or the infrequent roadtrip to Dallas to watch the Stars from the nosebleeds.

I thought about this and decided that the alternatives were unacceptable. I had to do something. Crowdfunding. It was the single solution that would accomplish all of the goals that were needed. We would have the capital to show the league we were serious and could fund a team for the entire season. We could hire a coach in time to get the right players on the ice. We would be in control of the front office and able to correct the egregious wrongs that were done to season ticket holders in the past. But the most important goal of all, getting our players scouted by college teams. Over the years we have been able to get a large number of our players scholarships at Division I schools. Scholarships that changed their lives for the better in every way possible. This is the point. This is the purpose. The rest is just the mechanics of how to get them there. Altruistic, sure, I can accept that, but if that is what it takes then I will gladly take one for the team, our team.

How far would you go to save your local team?

Too Much Time Off Is A Bad Thing…

front-squat
I’ll just say it, I hate programming my own workouts. Nothing makes me feel more clueless when trying to get back into the gym and back on track than deciding what to do and how to do it. I can find so many reasons why other programs won’t work, don’t have this piece of equipment, can’t perform that movement, whatever, time will just drag on and the weights just get dustier.

Off due to a new job and a new sleep cycle, it has taken several months to get in the swing again. I was feeling apprehensive about my squat technique and other problem areas so I decided to start slow and get some light reps for practice and ramp the weight back up as good form would allow. Since complicated doesn’t excite me, I started with a few main movements and added in accessory work as the opportunity presented itself. Here is what the first week looked like:

Monday through Saturday:
Easy Curl, bar only, add 5# each day, 50 reps
Ft Squat, 5 reps @, 45#, 65#, 95#, 115#, 135#, 145#.
B Press, 3×10 @, 95#, 115#, 105#, 115#, 120#, 125#.
GHD Situps, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

I chose 6 on and 1 off because I wanted to reestablish the gym habit, the small number of movements and the lighter weights were chosen for the same reason. The easy curl bar I picked up at a flea market, never used one before so I thought I would use a high rep scheme and see what weight felt right, by the end of the week 50 reps was about all I could handle. Front squats are all about elbows up and knees out, my technique was spot on and by Saturday 145 felt really smooth. I was really confident that my bench was not horrible so three sets of ten with a light/heavy rotation felt good. I made a GHD machine a long time ago and I never use it so I added the situps for fun, a warning here, you can really mess yourself up doing too many of these at once and the damage won’t show up for a day or more, hence the very slow start.

I have been thinking a lot about muscle confusion and thought that since I had started programming weekly that maybe I should change up the workout each week, not completely but a tweak here and there to hit different areas different ways. Here is what week two looks like:

The easy curl starts at 30# for 30 reps, then 25# for 30 and finally 20# for 30 reps in drop set fashion, just enough time to change plates between sets. The idea here is to work to failure, adding 2 1/2# to each set when all sets are completed in one workout. Fractional Olympic plates are tremendously hard to find, I use 2” construction washers, they are about a dollar a piece and weigh a shade over 9 ounces each, close enough for government work, eh? The squats are now back squats so that heavier weights can be used and more concentration put on body position and keeping the knees out on the way up. I also switched to three sets increasing the weight each set and breaking the work into light, medium and heavy days in a M, H, L pattern. A 5-3-1 scheme 135/145/150, 145/150/155, 135/140/145 Monday to Wednesday and then adding 5# to each weight for the remaining days will help me get acclimatized to increased work in the coming weeks. I went with four sets of six reps and changed to an incline bench to work a different area of the chest this week with weights of 105/110/115/120/125/130, a sort of rest week for bench. My GHD routine will start at 2×3 adding one rep a day and should get me to 2×8 on Saturday.

My suggestion would be that if you are coming back from a layoff for whatever reason, do something but start real slow, the benefits will be there when you get back. Getting hurt or sore just makes it that much harder to keep going to the gym and that is the goal. Be creative, have fun and enjoy life, words to live by.

Stretch Shortening Cycle

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box-jumps

The fundamental elements of human power production are: high-speed strength, low-speed strength, speed of force production, strength-shortening cycle and muscle memory or skill. The first three elements are trained in the gym, the fourth is a gift of nature and the fifth means that you could be the most perfect physical specimen ever to walk the earth and you wouldn’t be able to chew gum and walk, unless you practiced chewing gum and walking, of course. Let’s talk for a moment about number 4.

Do you remember the classic scene in the doctor’s office where the patient is sitting on the exam table and the dr. hits his knee with a rubber hammer and the patient’s leg kicks out? That is a demonstration of the stretch shortening cycle. A perfect example of the body’s defense mechanism against overstretching, when the hammer hits the tendon over the knee and quickly shortens the quadricep muscle, the brain immediately tells the quad to contract and simultaneously keeps the opposing muscle, the hamstring, relaxed so that there is no opposition to the leg’s movement, preventing overstretching. The same phenomenon can be seen in weight training, called ‘bouncing out of the squat’, the athlete lowers the weight under control until, at the very bottom of the squat the pre-stretched muscles rebound to start the weight up again.

The stretch shortening cycle is a built in part of the human machine but knowing what it is and what it does can help us in getting to know our bodies better. Plyometrics is a subject that really embraces the stretch shortening cycle, many of the movements rely on it for their effectiveness. One of my favorite exercises is platform jumping or box jumping. Many people do this in their workouts, but there are two ways to do this and two very different results.

The basic box jump starts with the athlete standing in front of a wooden platform and jumping from the floor to the top of the box, fully extending the hips each time and jumping back down to the floor. If you can do this, awesome. Now think about this, start on top of the box, jump to the floor and spring back onto the box without pausing at the bottom. This is where the stretch shortening cycle lives. Try this ten times with a small box or snatch block, 6 to 8 inches tall to begin with. Rest at the top instead of the bottom if you need to and try to keep your heels from touching the ground when you land at the bottom, this leaves all of the stretch in your legs. The first several times be careful as there is a component of skill and balance involved in getting back to the same spot you started each time. Think unicycle, don’t hurt yourself trying to help yourself.

workout: run 1 mile, no stops

The Pyramids

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classic-food-pyramid
If you grew up in the United States you have undoubtedly seen the “Food Pyramid” that shows the different food groups and how many servings of each we should have every day to stay healthy. Now, if you have been following fitness trends over the last ten years you have also been exposed to the “Paleo Diet” which basically flips the classic food pyramid upside down, contradicting most widely held theories about nutrition and health. The pyramid graphic is a highly intuitive reference tool to simply and quickly outline the concepts of many different subjects. One very interesting pyramid for the fitness enthusiast or serious athlete is The Transfer of Training pyramid.
bondarchuk

Developed by Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk, a pure genius in the sport of track and field, the Transfer of Training principles broke all exercises down to 4 basic groups:
1. General preparatory exercises, those movements that utilize different muscles and energy pathways than the competitive event(in the original sense, the hammer throw)
2. Specific preparatory exercises, using the muscle groups and energy pathways of the competitive event but a different movement pattern.
3. Specific developmental exercises, targeting the same specific groups and pathways and including parts of the competitive movements.
4. Finally Competitive exercise, including the event itself and some variations.

These principles made training programming much easier and more adaptable to the individual. Although developed for the hammer throw, the pyramid can and is working in many other sports, swimming, cycling, running, all one needs to do is to examine a competitive event and break down it’s movements and categorize your training exercises in a similar way. Here is a link to those wiser than I.Link

Crunching the Numbers

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runners

 

Rule 34 states that ‘If it exists, there is porn of it.’  I believe that in the realm of health and fitness, if one person has had an idea, two other people have figured out how to count it, collate it, and quantify it.  One such idea is the Banister Impulse/Response model.  The idea was at first to figure out if, by recording all training efforts, an increase in fitness could be calculated by means of an ordinary differential equation and the answer given in the form of positive training effect, or PTE.  It almost worked.  For every positive training effect there is a negative effect, that being fatigue.  Rather than shoot down the original hypothesis however, this little fact seemed to have perfected it.  When the PTE is plotted against the NTE over time along with actual performance an interesting and quite repeatable effect is shown.

F6.large

Skipping all of the math, we see that at the beginning negative effects, basically fatigue, outweigh the positive effects of training.  As performance starts to improve the positive effects become substantially greater than the negative.  This model has been tested for many endeavors, running, cycling, swimming, and seems to work similarly in all of them.  More here.

 

I have a confession to make. I fell off the wagon, yes, stopped making fitness a priority and forgot about eating right and it got me. On top of not making weightloss goals and feeling pretty low from the lack of endorphins, I got a chronic hip pain. So I am back at square one, actually square zero, I have lost the ability to squat temporarily. I am slowly rehabbing the range of motion while I try to catch up in other areas.

It is iced tea season once again, there is 3 gallons of the stuff in the refrigerator right now, good hydration is one of the very basic things I am concentrating one as the summer progresses. Purging useless carbs, refined flour and sugar, and getting back to fresh greens and such. Baby steps, the goal is not a ‘diet’ but a lifestyle change, a permanent one.

Prying myself away from the computer screen is underway. Walking the dog a mile at a time, up to 3 times a week now to mobilize the hips and get the wind back. Weight training again starting with Bench, Deads, Lat pulldowns and Power cleans until the squat comes back.

Workout:

Dog walking= 1 mile, large dog, his pace not mine.

Food:

8 oz, sausage, 6 eggs Calories 1376 Protein 81.8 g. Fat 95.8 g. Carbs 0 g.

10 oz. Grd beef+ 2 med onions 518 cal Protein 45 g. Fat 31 g. Carbs 11 g.

Chinese buffet Don’t judge me.

 

Cardio-Like it Or Not

bann1305#

As I have mentioned before, respiration is the primary mechanism for removing fat from the body. Cardio training is the best way of elevating respiration to a level that will effect this removal.

The best method I have come upon is HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training. The acronym may be new but the general principles remain the same, small sessions of extreme effort broken up by short rest periods. How does this work? A story to illustrate…

In 1954 Roger Bannister had decided to break the 4 minute mile. To do this he broke the race down into laps, 4 quarter mile segments. Each day that he trained he ran 10 quarter mile laps at a pace just under 1 minute each. By doing this he, in effect, ran two sub-4 minute miles every day for a month or more. His purpose in doing this was to engrain in his muscle memory the pace that he needed to maintain in order to achieve his goal. At a track in Oxford on May 6, 1954 he finished the mile in 3:59.4.

HIIT works by elevating resting metabolism beyond the amount of time that you actually exercise. If your workout is 30 minutes long you don’t have to workout at maximum intensity for the whole 30 minutes, the work/rest cycle follows the formula ‘2x’ on/’x’ off, typically 30 seconds work followed by 15 seconds rest repeated 10 times without stopping or some variation. Movements that lend themselves to this model are sprints(run a distance and walk back), burpees, box jumps, jump rope, bear crawls, tire flipping, you get the picture.

My workout today was a 1 mile run, in 15:38. Before you average guys(5’10”, 150#) start talking smack, think about this, I weigh in at 305, if you think you can run a quarter of that with a 155# barbell on your back then good on you. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was my ‘ab’ but I’m working on it.