A Merry Rogue

One working Dad's journey to find "healthy".

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hitting The Reset Button

So . . . it's been a while but I'm still here.  We are coming up on the one year anniversary of my first post and the beginning of this journey of mine to get back in shape and be healthier. 

The road has been quite rocky to say the least.   I've had periods of being in the gym consistently and times where I wasn't so much.  About eleven months after I began (November) I found myself ten pounds down from when I started.  While I had gained some muscle mass, I was no where near where I wanted to be.  Luckily I got the much needed push to get back to it with renewed vigor. 

My wife (Oh yeah . . . I got married since my last post!) and I met with a friend of ours and his wife from out at festival and had coffee.  We talked about a lot of things.  Goals, wants, desires, dedication, accountability, motivation and much more.  Needless to say it motivated me.  Plus, my wife is doing this all with me.  We make appointments on our calendar and hit the gym.  If life gets in the way, we reschedule and make up the workouts.

Needless to say, with the new workouts, a new job (oh yeah . . . got one of those as well), and the holidays, time is in short supply.  I have wanted to restart the  blog to let everyone know where I was at and what I was doing.  This here . . . this is just a short note to let you know that I am still here and still going.  In the weeks to come I will let you know what I (and the wife) have been doing to get back in shape.  The food, the workouts, the motivation and the goals.  All of it. 

So what else . . . moved into a new place.  Was on stage at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for the first time (. . . . I know, right!), got married, got a new job, had a awesome Christmas (hope yours was great as well!).  I am looking forward to what the new year will bring.

Until the next post . . . see ya later!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Quick Update and Shameless Promotioning

I figured I had better give a quick update to let everyone know what I have been up to lately.  Then I figured I would shamelessly promote things my friends are working on and well as myself.


THE UPDATE:
Yesterday marked the official beginning of a change in my workout plan.  For the next 12 weeks I will be doing a modified version of P90X.  I say modified because I've changed some of the exercises and I don't use the videos for most of the workouts.  The next three weeks will look like this:

Sunday:  Ren X workout (Checkout that workout here!)
Monday:  Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X, plus 30 minutes of cardio on an elliptical.
Tuesday:  Plyrometrics (AM), Ren X workout (PM)
Wednesday:  Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X, plus 30 minutes of cardio on an elliptical.
Thursday:  Yoga X, plus 30 minutes of cardio on an elliptical.
Friday:  Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X, plus 30 minutes of cardio on an elliptical.
Saturday:  Rest

SHAMELESS PROMOTION #1:
Yesterday Ted and I had a friend join us for the Ren X workout.  With the heat we made sure to stay hydrated and only did one set of each workout as apposed to two.  Our friend who join is Matt, who works out a the Minnesota Renaissance Festival with us and does a weekly podcast along with Salsa and Jena (. . . and Corwin too).  Apropos of Nothing is the name of the podcast and they talk about everything and nothing all at the same time.

Go take a listen and then head over to Facebook and like their Facebook page as well.   If you like what you hear, then consider heading over to their Kickstarter page and making a pledge to help them get better equipment for the show (only 11 days left).

SHAMELESS PROMOTION #2:
Speaking of Kickstarters, this brings me to Alice the Cook.

From her Facebook Page:
"Alice the Cook is a food historian who writes food articles for Renaissance Magazine as well as performs cooking demonstrations at various festivals."


Alice makes some of the most delicious food that you can image and all from raw, organic produce, meats, and spices.  For her Kickstarter she is looking to raise enough money to build a wood fired oven to cook fresh baked bread during her demonstrations.  If you love good food, head on over to her Kickstarter page and consider making a pledge to help her reach her goal.

You can also head over to her website for more information about what she does and where she will be performing.  Or you can check our her Marketplace on Facebook to purchase one of her cook books.

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION:
Now that I've covered other people, it's time for myself.  As most of you know I play the part of Will Scarlet for the Robin Hood and the Merry Men Show at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.  We are a kid friendly show that performs several times each day at the Gypsy/Sherwood Stage.  The show begins August 18th and is open every weekend (plus Labor Day) through the end of September.  Make sure to stop by and see our show.  On the especially hot days, be sure to get a front row seat.

You can also stay to watch the other two amazing acts on our stage.  Fandazzi Fire Circus will amaze you with their live music and fire.  Caravan Dance and Music will wow you with their belly dancing and live music.

SPREAD THE WORD
Last but not least, I ask only this, if you like what you see, "Like" the page Facebook page and share it with your friends and family.  It's how we get more people to hear about us.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tractor Tires, Cinder Blocks, & Sledge Hammers 3.0 (Almost Certifiably Crazy version)

If you haven't read "Tractor Tires, Cinder Blocks, & Sledge Hammers . . . Oh My!" and "The Neighbors Probably Think We're Nuts (Tractor Tires, Cinder Blocks, & Sledge Hammers 2.0)", then you should probably go read in order to catch up.  Then come back & continue to read the post below.

Each time we've done this workout we have added, change, or modified something.  Ever and always raising the bar just a bit higher.  Yesterday was no exception to that.  Earlier in the week, Ted had done the workout (without me . . . jerk) but instead of doing a timed session he did a certain amount of reps per exercise.  Unfortunately we didn't time the workout to see how much of a time difference there was between this style and the timed, but I'm sure it went just a bit longer than before.  I'll leave out the warm ups and cool down, being that nothing has really changed there.

SESSION #1:
Both exercises are done twice.

Tire Flip:  Flip the tire a set distance three times (down, back, and down again).  About 5 to 6 flips each direction for a total of 15-18 flips.  The distance is roughly 50 feet.

Farmer's Walk & Kettlebell Swing:  Holding cinder blocks, walk 50 feet, then back.  Do 5 Kettlebell swings using a 20lb kettlebell.  Repeat twice more, switching the grip on the cinder block each time.

SESSION #2:
We changed this so that we do both exercises twice as we do in Sessions #1 & #3.

Cinder Block Stack:  Move stack of 4 cinder blocks from the ground onto a platform at about waist high (we use wood placed on top of saw horses).  4 blocks done 15 times for a total of 60 reps (first onto the platform, then back down to the ground).

Chains:  Ted attached the chains to the footing of the shed out back so that we don't have to get creative on how to hold down the other end of them.  We shot for 120 reps (60 each arm).  However I am sure we went over that mark.  Both of us got quite creative with this.  For my first go at this, I did 30 up & down, 30 circles out, 30 circles in.  Alternating right then left arm.  Then I did the same but did 10 reps of each where I did both arms at the same time.

The second round I used the same beginning, but then added in two variations.  First:  Holding both chains to the right side of my body, moved them in a circle to the left.  Left first, and the right followed.  Then went back the other direction.  Right first, then the left followed.  This made for a pretty good core workout in addition.  Second:  I held both chains in one hand and did 5 reps each of the "up & downs", "circles in" & "circles out".  Then changed hands and repeated.

SESSION #3:
Both exercises are done twice.

Sledge Hammer:  Hit the tire, repeatedly.  Over, and over, and over, and over . . . We really didn't set a goal for this one.  You just hit the tire until the other person is done with the Sandbag workout.  We do change stances and grip though.  I did 10 hits then changed.  Right hand side swing, right hand overhead swing, Left hand side swing, left hand overhead swing, repeat.

Sandbag:  For this we laid out a rectangle (about 20' by 50') and each corner was a place you had to stop and do the lifts with the bag.

Do 5 push ups to start, lift onto shoulders and run 50' to the next corner.
Do 5 bent over rows, put back on shoulders and side shuffle (defensive shuffle) 20' to the next corner.
Do either 5 squat to shoulder lifts or 5 squats, put back on shoulders and run 50' to the next corner.
Do 5 overhead presses, put back on shoulders and do crossovers 20' back to the start.
Repeat once.

All in all, this was a great version.  One of the biggest differences is that in the timed version, I find myself breathing harder more often.  In this version, I found myself physically exhausted afterwards.

Of coarse after the workout, we went on to do fight choreography for the fest show for a few hours . . . no big deal.



Thursday, May 24, 2012

How To Make A Homemade Sandbag

When Ted and I began to talk about putting together our outdoor workout (see here and/or here), one of the things I wanted for the workout was a sandbag.  I had seen several online videos and figured it would be a but kicking exercise to toss into a workout.

The routine I came up with was to use the sandbag to do a circuit of 5 pushups, 5 bent over rows, 5 squat lifts, 5 overhead presses, and then run with the sandbag on your shoulders.  Turns out it is a "kick your butt" kind of exercise.

Having read or watched several "How-tos" on how to make them, I'll let you know a few things that most people leave out.  First, we'll start with the price.  Most will say that you can make this for about $30 or under. Problem is that you can't buy one set of the items by themselves.  So I will tell you the price I paid total, even though all of what I bought was not used in making the bag.

So here is how to make your own for around $40 bucks.  I stopped at 2 stores to get all the supplies I would need.  If you look harder, you could find some of these for cheaper.

1 Military sea bag (the thick canvas kind) - $20 (Military Surplus store)
2 contractor bags (heavy duty trash bags) - It was about $7-$8 for a roll of them. (Home Depot)
2 Rolls of Duct Tape - $6 (Home Depot)
1 bag of Pea Pebbles - $1.97 (Home Depot)
1 bag of Rubber Mulch - $5.97 (Optional - Home Depot)


First, take one of the contractor bags and cut open the Pea Pebbles and empty it into the contractor bag.  Then do the same for the Rubber Mulch.  I did a bit of mixing after I added both to the bag.


I then put the bag onto it's side and shaped it to roughly the size of a large pillow, wrapping the excess bag around it.  I then taped the bag shut and then proceeded to duct tape the entire bag.  This will help the bag to be stronger so that it does not bust open.  This of coarse is not a guarantee.  It may still bust open.

A little piece of advice . . . don't do this on pavement
My fiance always tells me to double bag when we are at the grocery store.  Of coarse I never want to, but that small percent of the time when the bag actually does break is annoying.  So . . . I double bagged it.

You'll notice I moved to the grass
If you are someone who takes the time to tape the bag, you may not need the second roll of duct tape . . . I did.


After the duct taping, you are ready to put the sandbag into the canvas sea bag.  In a lot of instructions, they tell you to cut off the handles.  I left them on.  I am not exactly sure why, but I may have a use for them some day.  Notice the duct tape on the straps to "tie" down any stray ends.

Ta-da!
HOW DOES IT WORK
Fantastically!  The exercises that we do with this could be a workout routine of it's own.  The second time through the routine I couldn't get all five overhead presses out.  Of coarse after everything else I did that involves shoulders & arms, it really isn't surprising.  


WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENT
Now this is my first attempt and at making one, and I would probably do a second slightly different.  The one thing for sure is that I would not use the Rubber Mulch.  I would also try to find a scale to use to better plan out the weight of the bag.  The Pea Pebbles weigh about 50-55lbs.  The Rubber Mulch about 25-30lbs.  This was the best guess by one of the workers at Home Depot.  Now given that they store these outside, the Pea Pebbles were quite damp so add a few pounds.  At best guess, Ted and I figure the total weight of the bag to be about 90lbs.  This is a very heavy bag.  A 50-65lb bag would have worked just fine.

Next time I plan to use a scale and just two bags of the Pea Pebbles and weigh out the amount of pebbles i want to use.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Neighbors Probably Think We're Nuts (Tractor Tires, Cinder Blocks, & Sledge Hammers 2.0)

Oddly enough, the people I work with out at the Renaissance Festival here in Minnesota tend to joke about that a lot.  With The Dueling Grounds, which is a stage combat group here in the Twin Cities, we joke about that a lot.  If you saw your neighbors sword fighting in their back yard, what would you think?

Now with the Robin Hood and The Merry Men Show, add in our strange workouts to the stage combat practice.

As I hinted in the last blog post, we added two new pieces to the workout.  One is a brand new workout, the other is the sandbag to replace the punching bag.  I'll outline the workout again and note the changes.  Due to a sore shoulder, Ted sat this one out and took some pictures for this post.

WARM UP
No change here really.  5 minutes of stretching and some medicine ball tossing to warm up the body.  

SESSION 1
No changes here either.  All exercises are done for 1 minute and are done twice, alternating between the two with a 15 second rest period in between.

Tractor Tire Flip:  Lift tire, flip, repeat.  I had originally planned to do 5 tire jumps whenever there was a change in direction . . . I did it the first time . . .

Sometimes finding a good grip is difficult
You'd almost think this was the easy part

 Cinder Block Farmer's Walk & Kettlebell Swing:  Walk for 20 yds holding two cinder blocks, set one down, do 5 Kettlebell swings, repeat.




SESSION 2
We did make a change here.  There are now two workouts in this session.  Both done for 2 mins 15 secs with a 30 second rest period.  The Cinder Block Stack & Pass remains, then we added Chains.

Cinder Block Stack:  (without Ted, there is no "stack & pass")  Stack all four cinder blocks on top of each other on the ground to your side.  Pickup one cinder block at a time and stack on a platform.  Then take off of the platform and stack back on ground.  Face other direction and repeat.

I was pretty sure he took much more of these . . . 

Chains:  I can't say I have ever seen this done with chains.  Typically it is done with about 2" thick rope.  The 20 foot chains worked great though.  We did tape the ends to give us a stiff handle to grasp.  The other end of the chains are criss-crossed and set under the tractor tire . . . then we put the punching bag on the end . . . then we put a cinder block on top.  There are three motions that I used.  Up and down, circles out, and circles in.  The effect you want is to make a wave through the chain as you do the motion.


SESSION 3
The only change here is that we replaced the 75lb punching bag with a 90lb (approx) homemade sandbag.  In my next post, I'll provide detailed instructions on how to make one . . . and how not to make it so heavy.  All exercises are done for 1 minute and are done twice, alternating between the two with a 15 second rest period in between.

Sledge Hammer:  Hit the tractor tire with a sledge hammer.  I used a side swing and an overhead swing, switching grips after 10 hits.  We are still unsure on the exact weight of the hammer, but it feels like it weighs a ton by this point in the workout.




Sandbag:  My intent was to make the bag about 75 lbs . . . it's a bit heavier, but it worked.  This workout goes:  5 push ups (on bag), 5 bent over rows, 5 squat lift to shoulder, 5 overhead presses.  Then set bag on shoulders and run.  After the lifting, I got about three 20 yard runs in before the timer ran out on the minute.

5 Push Ups
5 Bent Over Rows
5 Squat to Shoulder Lifts
5 Overhead Presses

Now Run!

So there you have it.  Leave a comment or share with your friends.




Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tractor Tires, Cinder Blocks, & Sledge Hammers . . . Oh My!

Stop.  Remove the thought of Wizard of Oz reference from your head and re-read the title of this post with a George Takei "Oh My!" at the end.

. . . there you go.  Now you may proceed with the rest of the post.

Some of you may or may not have been aware of the plans that Ted and myself have had for some time now to do a strongman style workout once a week. 

If you are confused, replace "strongman" with "Crossfit" . . . and you'll be close.  If you are still confused, Google it . . . or just read the rest of the post. 

  If you have been following along to this point you know that Ted and myself have been working on getting back in shape and loosing weight.  If you know us personally, you probably know that we are a bit crazy.  Which would help to explain why we would even attempt something like this.  We both have changed the way we eat to be healthier and also began working out.  Recently I began biking to work and Ted also had his first bike to work just the other day.  The following is just one more thing that we wanted to do to help us along our way to being healthier people.


THE EQUIPMENT
The biggest challenge of getting this workout together was getting all of the equipment we would need for it.  We have one or two more items that we would like to get and add to the workout, but as we found out this past Tuesday, this was more than sufficient to start with.

1 Tractor Tire (5.5 feet in diameter by about 18 inches wide)
4 concrete blocks
1 Sledgehammer
1 75lbs Everlast punching bag.

They're not just for tractors anymore ( . . . or sandboxes . . . or planters . . )


THE WORKOUT
The workout has five sessions and each session is five minutes.  For Session 2 and Session 4, each exercise is done for 1 minute.  Each person does each exercise twice in the session with a 15 second switch delay between the 1 minute.

Session#1:
  • 5 minute warmup.  Stretching and 10lb medicine ball toss.

Session#2: 
  • Tractor Tire flip
  • Farmer's Walk - Walk for 20 yds with a cinder block in each hand.  Stop, do 5 kettlebell swings with one of the cinder blocks (repeat)
Session#3:
  • Cinder Block Stack & Pass (5 minutes) - I really don't know what else to call this.  I stood facing one direction and Ted stood facing the opposite direction next to me.  With the 4 cinder blocks stacked next to me I would pick them up and pass them one-by-one to Ted.  He would put them down on the other side of him.  Then he would pass them back to me.  Then we would switch directions we were facing and repeat.  This was inspired really by the "side lunge to shelf" (Ted calls it the "Fedex") from P90X.
Session#4:
  • Sledge Hammer - Simple, hit the tractor tire with the sledge hammer repeatedly.
  • Punching bag - This was improvised as we plan to have a sandbag eventually.  For this, basically we just did a fireman carry with the bag (lift onto the shoulder) and walked/jogged 20 yards.  Then going into a squat, dropped the bag and lifted onto the opposite shoulder, walked 20 yards, dropped the bag, did a rack & press and lowered the bag onto both shoulders and walked 20 yards - repeat.
Session#5:
5 Minute cool down.  Stretching & medicine ball toss.

THE RESULTS
Even after one go at it, this is one of my favorite workouts.  Ted and I plan on doing this exercise routine about once a week (or as our busy lives permit).  The past few days I could really tell that the workout worked my entire body.  Most noticeably were the core & leg muscles.  One exercise we have talked about adding would be a rope workout to add to the upper body portion of the workout.

The one thing I do plan on doing for next time is to make a sandbag to replace the punching bag.  While it did the job, it was still very awkward to try and lift & carry.  The original workout plan we had created called for a homemade sandbag.  The sequence would go as follows:

5 pushups on bag, 5 bent over rows, 5 squat & lift (to shoulder - alternating), 5 overhead presses - 20 yd run with bag.  Repeat.

Next week, we may even have someone to take pictures of this insanity to post & share. . . just a fair warning.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Android App Comparison: My Tracks vs Cardio Trainer

Since I began biking again, I started using the Google My Tracks app on my Android phone to track my rides. It game me a ton of information.  Total time, moving time, average speed, average moving speed, elevation, max/min grade . . . etc.  So it wasn't until recently that my friend Ted (his blog here) started using Cardio Trainer that I even considered changing to a different app.

I'm not one to count calories of what I eat, but the calories burned, time, distance, speed . . .etc, are all interesting to me.  Unfortunately calories is the one thing that My Tracks does not do (without an additional heart rate attachment anyway).  So to try it out I downloaded Noom Cardio Trainer last night.  This morning for my bike commute to work, started up both of them to track my ride.

Here is a link to both of them uploaded to Google Maps:

05/10/12 AM Commute (My Tracks)

05/10/2012 AM Commute (Cardio Trainer)


THE COMPARISON:

Map & Distance
In both apps, the actual route plotted out on the map was identical and accurate. My Tracks reported the distance as 6.75 miles and Cardio Trainer reported the distance as 6.74.  To investigate I went to Google Maps and plotted out the route myself and got a total of 6.7 miles.  Both appear to be very accurate (they both use Google Maps for their mapping).

My Tracks:  1
Cardio Trainer: 1

Time
Cardio Trainer only gives you one time, whereas My Tracks gives you both Total Time and Moving Time.  What I've found for exercises where you are moving (ie: using the GPS) Cardio Trainer pauses the app when you are not moving.  I am not sure if this stops the calorie calculation or not.  When I am sitting at a stoplight for about 30 seconds, my heart is still beating like crazy, therefore I am still burning calories.  I may have to watch the app more to see if it pauses entirely or if the calorie calculation continues while it is paused.  The other thing I noticed in looking at the map points for Cardio Trainer is that the app has a delay in resuming when paused.  I am unsure what affect this may have on the ride results.

Here are the time results from this morning's ride.

My Tracks:  31:27 Moving Time, 35:18 Total Time
Cardio Trainer:  32:41

Based on time alone (taking out the Calorie calculation question), I have to award the point to My Tracks for this round.

My Tracks:  2
Cardio Trainer:  1

Speed:
Again, My Tracks provides more data than Cardio Trainer when it comes to speed.  Cardio Trainer provides Average Speed (12.38 mi/h), and Max Speed (24.54 mi/h).  My Tracks provides Average Speed (12.4 mi/h), Average Moving Speed (13.9 mi/h), and Max Speed (28.5 mi/h).

One thing I noticed is that My Track's rounds to the nearest .10th when it uploads from the app to Google Maps.  In checking the app, the Average speed was identical.  The difference in the Max Speed I am unsure of.  It may be due to a difference in the settings for how often the app pings the GPS satellites.

As for accuracy, without purchasing an speedometer for the bike, I can't really verify the accuracy of the speed.  Either way, My Tracks wins this round.

My Tracks:  3
Cardio Trainer:  1

Calories & Ease of Use
This is one area that Cardio Trainer gets a plus due to the fact that the app will calculate your calories burned straight out of the box.  Just go into the settings and input your weight and your set.  My Tracks does not have this option.  So Cardio Trainer gets a point for that.  As for accuracy, I am going to see if I can borrow a heart rate monitor to wear one of these times and see what kind of results I get.

My Tracks requires that you have an external sensor attached (via Bluetooth) in order to track calories burned.  Cardio Trainer has this option as well, but only offers one $80 sensor that you can buy to pair with the app.  My Tracks has 2 sensors it is compatible with, as well as ANT+ (wireless - only available on certain phones), and SRM (power meters, speed, and cadence sensors).  SRM requires ANT+ as well.  If you have the money to spend, My Tracks is a definite plus in the area due to the available options.  Point for My Tracks    


As for ease of use, both are pretty easy to use.  Cardio Trainer has a built in music player, and also allows you to track other exercises that don't use the GPS (point and point).  My Tracks allows you to upload directly to your Google Maps and share with Facebook.  Cardio Trainer allows you to share to Facebook and Twitter and you have a website you can go to and see all of your history (and share from there as well.  There is also a Facebook app for Cardio Trainer and you can find your friends' who use the app as well.

That leaves us at:

My Tracks:  4
Cardio Trainer:  4

All in all, both are very cool apps.  It all depends on what you are looking to get our of the app.  If you are looking for an all around useful app to track all of your different exercises, then Cardio Trainer is the app for you (you can also schedule reminders for your workouts).  If you are just looking for a GPS tool to track your running or biking, then My Tracks might be the one for you.

As for me, the jury is still out.  I'd like to spend a little more time with Cardio Trainer to see if I end up wanting to use it more, or if I just keep going back to My Tracks.  It may also depend on the results of testing the calorie calculation against an actual heart rate monitoring device.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Excuse the dust

You'll have to *cough* excuse the dust cloud as I dust off this blog.  It has been a while since my last post (. . .ok, quite a while!).

I've never been one to share my thoughts on a regular basis.  I'm quite surprised that I made it as long as I did at the beginning of the year.  Now, here we sit at almost the halfway point in the year and I am not as near to my goals as I had planned at the beginning of the year.

SINCE MY LAST POST . . . 
From about the end of February/beginning of March, I have not kept a consistent workout routine.  I hit the gym here and there as well as kept my diet the same.  I have seen some improvements in the way my clothing fits, but not much else and I haven't stepped on a scale since the beginning of March.

Then two weeks ago I got my bike out of storage and began biking to work.  I am currently averaging 4 times per week where I am using the bike to commute to work.  The ride is just under 5 miles each way.  Going to work is a bit harder as it is up hill (coming out of the river valley), and going home is a much faster ride (going downhill most of the way).  On the days that I have not been able to ride to work I take about an 8 mile ride in the evenings.

Today I added a Kettlebell workout once I arrived at work.  Using the dumbbells I did a rough 20 minute single run-through of my routine that I was doing back in January.  Altogether it was a good workout despite having to use dumbbells.

THE PLAN GOING FORWARD
The plan now is to continue to ride to work at least 4 times per week with one additional ride somewhere int he week or weekend.  I have two different routes that I currently take, both about the same for mileage as well as difficulty (ie: hills).  There are two other routes that I have plans to take that have longer, steeper hills.  These I will use on the days that I am really looking for a challenge.

One different route that I am going to try today will take me an entirely different way.  I am completely unfamiliar with it and have no clue how difficult the ride will be.  It is a longer route (at 8.2 miles) but will also take my past an Anytime Fitness.

Which brings me to the second part of the plan.  Three times per week I plan to do a workout at the gym.  This week I am resurrecting the old Kettlebell routine.  As I found out this morning, I can do that routine using the dumbbells here at work if I am pressed for time.

I plan to change the workout routine each week.  Next week I will do the body weight routine that I created about a month back.  It is all push ups, pull ups, dips, and squats/lunges.  Hopefully I can still make it to work on the bike after this workout.  The week after that I will do my weight lifting routine.  Then restart the cycle all over again.

WHAT ELSE?
Other than exercise and biking, you'll probably start to see more and more posts about the planning a wedding, moving, and preparing for the Renaissance Festival.

Just as a teaser, here is a photo from last weekend where the Merry Men walked in the Cinco de Mayo parade in St. Paul, MN.  Mr. tall and handsome in the back there has lost 50lbs at last count (see his blog for that adventure.)
Wat (my son), Will (Me), Little John, Much, & Winter

You can also check out the Robin Hood and the Merry Men page on Facebook!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekly Update: Second Weigh In!

Work is a bit crazy and I am pressed for time so this will most likely be a short and sweet update.

SCHEDULE
It is still a bit hectic outside of work and with work being busy it just adds on top of it all.  I am really pressing myself to get my workouts in and will continue to do so.

KNEE UPDATE
As I mentioned A Birthday Post, I tried out the recumbent again to see if there were any ill affects on the knee. The test was a success . . . meaning that I had no pain or ill affects from working out on the recumbent bike.  This is really exciting as it will give me some light cardio on the days that I don't lift weights.

WORKOUT PLAN
The plan stays the same for the time being with the only change being that I will do cardio on the recumbent bike on the days that I don't lift.

WEIGH IN & MEASUREMENTS
If you read Weekly Update; Sticktoitiveness you'll recall that I made a prediction for this weigh in.  That prediction being that I would either stay the same weight or gain slightly.  My reasons for the prediction were due to the fact that I could not do any cardio because of my knee as well as focusing on strength training on the upper body.  

Well I was pretty much dead on.  I gained 3lbs going from 259 to 262.  The amazing part is that I still lost inches in the areas that I am focusing on trying to lose.  Here are the "high points":

Stomach:  Lost 1 Inch
Waist:  Lost 1 1/4 inches
Hips:  Lost 3/4 inch
Thighs: Lost 1/4 inch

So how exactly did I go up in weight?  Well to be honest, three lbs isn't much at all.  I could easily loose that in a day due to water intake, food that is still digesting . . . etc.  Yet, here are a couple measurements that affected my weight for sure.

Neck: Increased by 1/4 inch
Chest:  Increased by 1/2 inch
Biceps: Increased by 1/2 inch(left) and 1/4 inch(right)
Forearms:  Increased by 1/4 inch(both)

So there you have it.  One goal I am setting for myself this month is to see that number on the scale go down significantly.  With adding the recumbent in for cardio I should be able to burn some extra fat.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Birthday Post

So I have completely neglected this blog for almost a week now.  I haven't even posted my Weekly Update and it is week 8!!  At the end of this week I am supposed to weigh in and take measurements!  Not to sure how I feel about that just yet.

THE DOWNHILL SLIDE
It all began last Thursday with being sick, which spilled into Friday.  The workout I was supposed to do on Thursday was done on Saturday.  Then I let work, appointments and schedules get in the way.  The workout schedule is supposed to be lift weights, then rest 2 days and hit them gym again.  I had intended to lift weights on Wednesday, but forgot my key fob at home.  So for my birthday present to myself (today) I got my butt out of bed and hit the gym.

The only downside is that I am starting to get to a point with several of my lifts that I will either have to change the format (from dumbbell to barbell) or consistently have a workout partner to spot me.  Which never happens on a consistent basis.  The roommate doesn't like waking up at 5AM for some reason.  Something about being up 5 hours before he has to be at work or something.  The other option for my chest press exercises is to change to a barbell lift and use the safety rack.  I may be trying that the next time I lift to see how it goes.

THE KNEE STATUS
So after speaking with my doc about a week ago I was given to OK to try out the recumbent bike.  This came with specific instructions that if there was any pain or discomfort to stop immediately.  I did 30 minutes on the bike and everything seemed to be fine.  That was Wednesday morning.  Thursday and Friday I spent most of the day (and night) in bed.  Friday night walking around, my knee was hurting a bit and I am left wondering if it was the bike, or if it was the lack of use for a few day.

So yesterday, because I forgot my key fob, I decided to give the bike another go and see how my knee feels.  If I have the same results as last time, I know it was the bike that caused the pain.  If not, well then I have an option for get some light cardio in on my non-lifting days.  The best part is that my work's "workout" room has two recumbent bikes.  So no need to go all the way to the gym.

GOING FORWARD
The last few weeks is a good example of just how life is in general.  There is no getting around it.  As I talked about in my post Overweight and Back Again; An Everyday Person's Tale, it is just the constant struggle of trying to stay in shape with the type of lifestyle most of us live.  Despite how busy life can get, as long as I stick to my healthy eating and pick up where I left off, I am still making progress and moving forward.

This month is definitely a challenge more than most months to keep a regular schedule.  With a handful of friends who have birthdays this month as well as myself and my fiance, not to mention St. Patrick's Day . . . it's a busy month for eating out, having drinks with friends, and staying out late.  Not very friendly to the early morning workout person.  Five AM comes way to quickly when you go to bed at 11PM or later.

There you have it.  Aside from that, Happy Birthday to me.  This evening will be spent having apps and drinks with some friends at Gasthofs.  . . . German beer is a low calorie beer, right?!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekly Update; Sticktoitiveness


Well, it is what I hope to have.  I'll be very honest, at this point in the game I am really down on where I am.  The reason why being my knee.  I really want to get into the gym every day, but were I to do so I know that I would burn myself out.  Let alone walk into the gym and walk right back out for lack of anything to do.  This whole knee injury is really getting me down.

The positives are things that I really need to focus on right now.  The first being that sticking to my new way of eating isn't hard for me.  I'm not someone who had a lot of unhealthy eating habits.  I don't drink soda, and I don't buy a lot of processed foods.  Fast food was my one weakness, but I haven't had that in a very long while and haven't had any desire to go get any.

Another positive is that I am sticking to my weights routine.  To be honest, it is all that I really have.  I've found that the Core Synergistics and the Kenpo just did not work with my knee at all.  As for the stretching, my own stretch routine seems to be working better than the Stretch X right now.

The next positive is that I am still seeing progress.  I have no clue what my numbers will be come the end of this four week cycle, but I do know that my pants are looser and I look better in the mirror.  Things may be moving slowly, but they are still moving towards my ultimate goals.  Once I am able to add the cardio aspect of my routine back in, I am certain I will see a much more drastic change.

WEEK 6 RECAP
Week six, despite my feeling down now and again about the slow progress, was great.  The other positive that I didn't mention above is that I am getting much stronger.  The weights I am lifting now have almost doubled since the beginning of working out in some areas.  In other's they have went up by about 50%.  Increased strength means increased muscle mass.  As I have mentioned in past posts, increased muscle mass  equals a higher metabolic rate.

I will make one prediction right now, and pay attention because this is a good thing, not a bad thing (I say this to myself as much as to you the reader).  At the end of this month, I will either A) See no change in my weight despite the clothes being looser or B) I will see an increase in weight due to the gained muscle.

That just means that when I can do cardio, I will burn fat at a much faster rate than before.

WEEK 7 OUTLOOK
Week 7 is already off to a delayed start.  For the past few weeks a cold/flu has been going around and it finally took me down yesterday.  Monday was supposed to be a gym day for me, but due to being sick it will be done today.  Depending on how sore I am, I will either push my next workout day out one day, or I will leave it where it is on Thursday if I am not too sore.

Other than that the week looks to be a decently busy week.  Food was prepared on Sunday, so at least that part of it is done.  We have another egg bake for breakfast, a bean soup with ham for one of the lunches, and a salad topped with fried fish for the second lunch.

See now, just writing this posts has lifted my spirits.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This Week's Menu

It seems to be that along with each weekly update that I post that I am also posting a second one about food for the week.  So I might as well keep it up.

This week's food prep got moved to Monday evening due to schedules and errands that had to be run on Sunday.  This is the second grocery shopping trip in a row now that we have brought home nothing but fresh meat and produce.  Nothing boxed or processed.  Nothing pre-chopped either.  Chopping up veggies and the like are one of those things that I really enjoy doing.

BREAKFAST
We have another egg bake for this week's breakfast.  Slowly I am refining my recipe for it.  If you know me at all in the kitchen, you know that I don't really cook from recipes.  I treat them more as guidelines for the most part.  There isn't anything that I don't deviate from the original and make it my own.  The only real difference from this week's egg back and the past is the seasonings.  I used cajun spices to season the ground turkey as well as after it was all mixed in the pan.  Eggs, kale, spinach, onion, tomatoes, and a bell pepper.

LUNCHES
Sometimes when I enter the kitchen I truly have no idea what I am going to cook for a meal.  I have always enjoyed cooking with fresh foods as well as creating some unconventional meals.  This weeks lunches are products of both of those.

The first lunch is a twist on another meal I had last week.  In the effort to get rid of some of the food that was in our cupboards, my fiance made a spaghetti with a box of whole wheat noodles.  I passed on the noodles, but used the sauce with some chicken and a veggie mix I had made.  Some of the sauce was still left over so I steamed up some broccoli, added the chicken, the sauce and some seasonings.  The sauce still had some of the veggie mix still in it.  It was quite tasty last week and I am looking forward to devouring it.

The second lunch brings us the only picture of the post.  I truly had no idea what to do for this meal and just started pulling out what we had in the fridge.  What I came up with is the following

I call this my "Hot Man Salad"
I really have no explanation other than this:  Chopped kale, spinach, onions, tomatoes, black beans and pinto beans.  I topped all of that with some Mediterranean seasoning and a toasted vinaigrette.  Toss that in the microwave for about a minute and it is truly delicious.  The only change I may make next time around is to add some chopped bell peppers.

DINNERS
We have some very delicious dinners planned for this week.  Our roommate John is planning some very delicious sounding meals and the fiance and I have a few nights where we will be making one kind of awesome meal or another.

THE NEW WORKOUT SCHEDULE
Last night I did the Kenpo X workout . . . and I am not sure that I will do it again.  It was a great workout and I worked up a good sweat.  However, there was just too much twisting and bending of the knee that occurred even with not doing any of the leg movements.  So unfortunately that one will be X'd off the workout schedule (cheesy pun totally intended).

This morning was weights and abs which went great.  I felt like I missed a little on the chest exercise.  Being able to get a decent workout for me is always a bit of a challenge.  Due to a shoulder surgery from my early 20s, the right shoulder tends to give up on me before the chest gets worked entirely.  Slowly, workout by workout, I feel like the shoulder is getting stronger.  Hopefully soon I can walk away from the workout feeling like I've really worked my pecs.

Up tomorrow is X Stretch, Core Synergistics on Thursday, then weights and grip on Friday.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Weekly Update; Knees and How To Survive The Apocalypse


With several hours to kill waiting for our vehicle to get a tune up and an oil change, what better way to spend and early Sunday morning that sitting in the sun, drinking coffee, and writing my weekly update.  Of coarse when you start the day off by being able to go one more notch smaller on your belt . . . how could it not be a great day!?

WEEK 5 RECAP:
Despite being a screwed up week in regards to schedule, it was still a great week.  I did take two days off in the middle of the week just to re-cooperate and get my bearings.  I also went with my friend Ted to workout at his work on Saturday morning and had a great workout.

If you didn't read Friday's post then I'll give you the short version of the knee update.  I went and saw an orthopedic doctor for my knee issue and got an MRI on Wednesday.  What they found was that instead of the possible damage to the soft tissue of the knee it turns out that I have a stress fracture in the knee.  Current orders are no lower body exercises that would put too much pressure on the knee for the next 4 to 6 weeks.  At the end of the 6 weeks I have an appointment to have a clinical exam to make sure that the knee is healed and talk about how to ease back into exercising.

As a result of this and only being able to workout with my upper body, I have made several changes to my workout program.  I will still work towards my goal of weight loss, but I will also be making a change to focus on a strength training program for my upper body, abs, and core muscles.

WEEK 6 OUTLOOK
As I mentioned in Friday's post, I will be lifting weights on the first day, then will follow that with 2 days of rest. The day immediately after lifting weights I will be doing the Stretch X video from P90X.  Which is roughly an hour long video of stretching where by the end I have a nice light sweat and feel amazing.  The second day I plan on doing (trying) a version of Kenpo X that friend of mine had pointed out.  Basically only doing the upper body portion of the video.  The second time that I have a two day break I will do Stretch X on the first day, and Core Synergistics on the second day.

The weight lifting days I have three workouts that I will rotate between, creatively named "Workout A", "Workout B", and "Workout C".  . . . I know, I should come up with titles for a living!  Each workout contains 5 upper body exercises.  I do have lower body lifts listed on the sheets, but they are grayed out until I can perform those.  Each routine has a variation of each exercise that is different.  For example, in "A" I will do a standard chest press, and in "B" I will a decline press, and in "C" an incline press.  Each exercise in a routine is picked to specifically work the muscle different than the other two routines.

I am really looking forward to this routine and continuing to see the changes.  As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, finding that your belt goes one more notch smaller is an amazing feeling.  I am also seeing a lot of changes in the mirror.  This is all the result of all the work that I've done to this point.  The lean muscle I have packed on might have slowed the progress I see in the scale at first, but the visual changes and the changes in the way my clothes fit are proof that the scale lies to you.

SURVIVAL
So on to a top not really related to my fitness and weight loss.  I have always found post-apocalyptic scenarios very intriguing to me.  From watching The Colony on Netflix, to reading the Dies The Fire series by S.M. Stirling, I never tire of watching & reading stuff about what it would take to live in a world where the rules change so drastically that it challenges what we think, what we believe, and how we live.

So this morning when I saw Drew's post over at Rogue Priest about an acquaintance of his that was going to enter a year long program where you learn to live off the land, create your own clothes, I was exited to read more about it.  If you are like me and enjoy the subject, head on over to Drew's blog and read, follow the links to the programs site and read more.

I've always wondered exactly how well I would be able to survive should the world change.  I know I have some of the right skills that it would take but it is something entirely different to think that you have it versus actually doing it.  I couldn't think of a better way than a year long program to teach you exactly what you would need to know to survive.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Knee Update, Breaks, and Changing Gears

KNEE UPDATE
First off an update on the knee.  Wednesday I went to see my Orthopedic doctor to get the knee checked out.  We started off by taking X-rays and found nothing there.  In fact he said my knees are in excellent condition.  The spacing between the bones and the placement of the kneecap is ideal.  After a physical examination of the knee, the point where I am having pain (and is very tender when pressure is applied *ouch*) indicates possible damage to either the medial collateral ligament or the medial meniscus.  I'm pretty sure everyone knows what a ligament, but to be specific, the medial collateral ligament (name Tibial collateral Ligament in the image below) is the one that runs vertically on inner side of your knee.  The meniscus is the padding in your knee partially fills the cavity of the joint and acts as a cushion of shock absorbing padding prevent your Femur and Tibia from coming in contact with each other.


I had received a call from the doctor yesterday with my results but was unable to take the call.  He left a voicemail for me to call him back.  I returned the call and proceeded to argue and play "hide-and-go-phone-seek" for about 45 minutes before I was finally allowed to leave him a voicemail at his office.  Evidently when someone calls from any of the clinics anywhere in the twin cities area the caller ID will display a generic number.  No one was able to tell me where he was calling from and he didn't leave a direct line to call him back on.  So here it is Friday morning and I have yet to hear my results.

**UPDATE**
I got the call from the doctor this morning and he had both good and bad news for me.  The MRI revealed that I did not tear any of the soft tissue in my knee.  The second piece of the good news is that I will not require any surgery.  The bad news is that I have a stress fracture in my knee.  My orders are to continue what I have been doing over the  past week and a half.  No weights, running, or jumping for the next 4-6 weeks.  At the end of that time period we will do a clinical exam and x-rays to determine if I am fully healed and can begin exercising again.

CHANGING GEARS
As anyone who has had an injury can attest to, I have been a bit down the past few days this week about not being able to workout with my lower body.  If you have been following along you also know that for the past week and a half I have been working with different upper body workouts while in the gym.  Wednesday morning I got to the point where I had worn myself out.  I had been pushing and pushing to keep myself in the gym and trying to workout every day.  Then on Wednesday and Thursday I took a break.  Some of it was due to the fact that I just didn't make the time and another part of it was that I was just burned out.

Now I have already heard it from a few people and I want to say this now.  This isn't me making excuses to not workout.  It's not about pushing through it and sticking with it.  The game has changed and I am doing what is healthy and right for my body.  Now some of you may still disagree with me and if so, please do say so.  Even if I disagree it doesn't mean that I don't want to hear your opinion.  So feel free to speak up if you feel the urge to do so.

So after doing some reading and discussions with my bro Ted (check out his blog here), I have changed my workout schedule.  I am still ironing out a few of the details and looking through what I have to fill in some days here and there, this is what I have come up with.

First, I will be lowering my calorie intake.  My normal diet that I was using over the past few weeks was to support my bodies needs based upon me working out for and hour and half.  With cardio being taken out of the equation and the need to give my upper body rest.  I don't need nearly as many calories as I was taking in.

The second change is that I will be focusing on strength and building muscle on the upper body.  In order to do that I have changed a few of the exercises I am doing and will have two rest days in between each lifting day.  One part that needs to be ironed out hinges on finding out exactly what is going on with my knee.  I plan on trying out several leg exercises where you do not move your knee.  There are several that I did after my right knee surgery back in high school that I remembered and would like to try.  I will only do these with the doctor's OK.

That part that I am still ironing out is what I will do on the rest days.  I would like to have some activity of sorts, but there is only so much that I can do.  One option that I am looking at is X Stretch from P90X.  It is roughly one hour of stretching.  You (well, I do anyway) workout a very light sweat through the whole thing. There are most likely several stretches that I will be unable to perform depending on how much I have to bend my knee or how much pressure is put on the knee.  Another idea is Core Synergistics from P90X.  Most of the movements in this workout are preformed on the floor.  There are however several that I recall that I know I will have to skip.  If any of you out there have any ideas for workouts on the filler days that wouldn't involve upper body weight lifting or any lower body movement, shoot me a message or leave a comment.

This biggest thing with all of this is that it is going to change my goals.  I am going to continue to monitor my weight every month as well as my measurements.  My focus will still be loosing body fat and getting back in shape, but without cardio or lower body workouts as an option I am pretty limited in what I can do to really push towards those goals.  Once I find out what is going on with the knee, I can get a better grasp of what I will need to do going forward.

I truly appreciate all the thoughts, energy, & prayers as well as welcome them from any and all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekly Update: First Weigh in

WEEK 4 RECAP
Week 4 was nothing like I thought it would be.  After a knee injury in week 3, I had to do some creative re-configuring of the workout plan.  On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I did a circuit training routine that varied a little from day to day.  For the most part I did a grouping of exercises that hit all the areas of the upper body.  Shoulders, biceps, chest, triceps & back .  For the Rep/Sets I did 20 to 25 reps for 3 to 4 sets.  Thursday and Friday I changed it up and did super-sets.  Thursday was chest and back, while Friday was shoulders and arms.

All in all it turned out to be a great week in the gym.

THE WEIGH IN!
So if you recall back to Week 1 - The Beginning . . . well sort of, I started this journey at 266 lbs.  There is one error in the same post that I would like to correct.  When I weighed myself on January 16th the scale read 260 lbs.  However I have found since then that the scale is off by about 5 lbs.  Anyway, here are the results.

Weight on 01/09/2012:  266
Weight on 02/13/2012:  259

That's right!  Down 7 lbs!  Definitely a success in my books.  Especially given the fact that I've gained some muscle as well.  As I've mentioned before, that is part of a weight lifting routine.  The first few weeks, you'll likely see some gains in weight if you were to check the scale on a weekly basis.  Looking at the weight alone, you'd think that was pretty decent work for one month.  Now, add in the measurements.  I won't bore you with specifics, so I'll give you the major ones and group them as well.

Losses:  Chest (-.5 inches), Stomach (-2.5 inches), Waist (-1 inch), Hips (-1 inch)

Gains:  Biceps (+.5 inches), Forearms (+.25 inches)

There were a couple of interesting changes.  First was the Shoulders. . . which was actually no change at all. Yet there are some definite changes there in muscle tone.  The other were the increases in my upper arm and forearm measurements.  I listed the forearms as .25 inches gained, but the measurement is actually a .50 increase in size.  The reason I am listing .25 inches is that I am not certain that where I measured this time was the same as last time.

Basically what all of this says is that I've probably lost more than just 7 lbs of fat, but the scale is a dirty lying fiend.  I've obviously gained muscle as well, which changes that number.  Had I been able to do one of the tests to check fat percentage on the various areas of my body during my weigh ins, we would probably be able to see that change a little more accurately.  

TIP #SOMETHING
If I am not mistaken, a lot of people will tell you this very same thing.  When you weigh yourself, always use the same scale if possible.  That way you can be more confident that the number you are seeing is your actual weight.

WEEK 5 OUTLOOK
I would be lying if I didn't say that I was a little disappointed in the fact that I cannot do cardio.  It makes my weeks look that much more daunting to me.  After some thinking and experimenting with stuff during Week 4, I have decided on the following changes to my routine.

The only changes to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is that I will not be doing the Treadmill, so I will be replacing that with a bit more intensive abs/core routine.  I already get my heart rate up pretty high when I lift weights, so burning calories won't be an issue.  Week 5 is back to the 3X10 Set/Rep format.

Tuesday and Thursday were the days that caused me a bit of frustration in trying to figure out what to do.  I really don't want to lift weights on these days, but with the knee out of it my options are limited.  So I have decided to try a true cardio routine on these days.  The difference between this routine and what I did in Week 4 is that I won't set a goal for total reps.  Instead I will do 30-60 seconds on each machine and move to the next.  Between circuits I will rest for about 60 to 90 seconds and then dive right back into the next circuit.

The one sad part about the beginning of week 5 is that I forgot to print out my workout sheet last Friday.  So this morning I had to "wing it" and go off the top of my head.  I am happy to say that I wasn't too far off from the actual workouts I was supposed to do this week.







Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday, Sinatra, Nerf Guns, and Egg Bake

This weekend found my fiance going through the storage closets to reorganize and purge some stuff that we hadn't used in some time.  One of the things that hadn't been unpacked since we moved last August were my son's Nerf guns.  Enough to arm everyone in the house twice over.

Had to make sure they were in easy reach while cooking!
After a very brief Nerf war, it was time to start the cooking for this weeks meals.  As you may recall from the Week 4 Update post, I started pre-making my meals for work.  This weeks cooking started with some Frank Sinatra on the stereo.


For breakfast this week it is another egg bake with an twist from last week.  Mushrooms, onions, kale, spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, italian seasonings, and italian sausage.  Another difference from last week is the amount that I ended up making.  Turns out the roommates liked the idea and wanted it.  One minus the meat for the fiance, and two with meat for myself and the roommate.  The nice thing is that I did have some my help from my son in cutting up the ingredients.

The egg bake for the boys . . . tasty meat included!


A veggie egg bake for the fiance.









Lunches are yet to be determined.  I have beans, chicken, fish, sweet potatoes, broccoli, a veggie stir fry mix, and the leftovers of the cut up spinach, kale, onions, and bell peppers.  After a bit of icing the knee and writing this post, I'll have to get back into my creative cooking mode and cook up some more awesomeness.

One meal I plan to make again will be a duplicate of Friday night's dinner for my son and I.  Pan fried tilapia seasoned with paprika, garlic and cooked in coconut oil and balsamic vinaigrette.  Steamed broccoli seasoned with olive oil garlic, oregano, sea salt, and pepper.  Mashed sweat potatoes seasoned with sage, rosemary, garlic, sea salt and pepper.


This is the unhealthy food guys eat when the women aren't home. 

Yes, I know!  I haven't posted my update/weigh in yet.  That is because I haven't weighed myself yet.  I did take measurements this morning and found some interesting things, but since I don't have a scale at home I will weigh myself before tomorrow morning's workout and provide the full update after that.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Almost there! The End Of The First Month

Are you excited?!  I sure am.  There is just one more workout in my first 4 weeks (today) before the update.  We take a look at what progress I have made in my first month of working towards my goals.

So far I have accomplished one of the goals (so long as I make it to the gym today).  Which is to make it to the gym every day of my planned workout.  So there is one victory.

So what exactly am I expecting once I weigh in and measure myself?  To be honest, not much really.  As I've mentioned in numerous posts up until now, the first thing that happens with a workout plan based on weight lifting is that you gain muscle mass.  So you will see an increase in weight (or your weight will stay the same) up until the 3rd or 4th week.

The other change that will affect the results is that I am no longer able to do any leg workouts due to my knee injury.  Which makes it that much harder to do any type of cardio workout.  By pushing myself on the upper body this week, I was able to get myself sweating pretty good and breathing hard.  Yet I still feel like I am missing something because of the legs being out of the equation.  As I mentioned before, I am not letting that stop me.  I will be smart and let my leg rest until next Wednesday when I can see the doctor and get it looked at.  But I will keep to my workout plan.  There is no reason that I can't work my upper body.

So far I can tell that there is a difference.  Some of my jeans are fitting a little more loosely.  Shirts . . . well for now they are a bit tighter across the chest and arms.  I look better in the mirror than I did at the start of it.  At some point in all of this I may just share the photos that I took at the beginning and will most likely take tomorrow.

Out of all the things that you could take from my blog as a follower I would want it to be this.  The number you see on the scale isn't what you should be focused on.  The number you see on a measuring tape isn't what you should be focusing on.  Results will vary from week to week, month to month.  Regardless of what you see in numbers or in the mirror there is a lot more at play than just any one of those by themselves.  It takes time and effort to see results.  You have to just keep hitting the gym, and keep feeding your body with healthy food in order to see results.

If you haven't yet, make sure to take a look at my posts going back over these past four weeks.  Don't hesitate to leave a comment, ask a question or even share this blog with a friend who may be trying to loose weight.

I follow several blogs of people on this same journey, it encourages me to keep it up.  Maybe I can do the same for them.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In Case of Plateau . . . plan ahead

KNEE UPDATE
After two days of R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) . . . plus some ibuprofen, my knee is feeling much better.  The amount of pain that I am feeling has reduced greatly.  As I said in yesterday's post Keep Going!, that changes nothing.  I will continue to do the same things I have for the past two days that have made my knee feel this great up until I have it examined by the Ortho next week.

A few years ago in this situation I may have made the same mistake that many people make with an injury.  They are prescribed to rest, ice, compress, and elevate and take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory.  Yet the second they start to feel better, they stop.  Then when the injury starts to hurt again they go to the doctor again and ask why it started to hurt again.  "But it felt better" is what they end up saying.  Well dummy, you stopped doing the things that are supposed to make it not hurt . . . of coarse it started to hurt again.

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES
One thing this whole knee issues has made me think about is trying to find ways to get a little leg work in.  Yet every option I think of or find uses the knee.

. . . except one.  The machine that I refer to as the Susan Summers Thigh Master on steroids.  The hip abductor/adductor machine.  This is the machine where you can either push your legs out or push your legs in against resistance.  The thought of using that machine terrifies me, but in the quest to find a way to keep working my lower body to some extent . . . this would appear to be the only option.  I haven't used it yet. . . mostly for fear that the cosmos will revoke my "Man Card" the second I sit on the machine.

BREAKING A PLATEAU
As I may have mentioned before, my plan is to change up my routine after about three months to another type of workout.  Even though the first month of those three months isn't even over yet, I have begun to work on creating new workout.  Honestly though, I started on this last week.

One of the keys to muscle growth and weight loss is changing up your workout routine ever so often.  You body adapts constantly to new situations and stresses.  When you are on the same workout plan for to long your body will accommodate and you will stop loosing weight/gaining muscle.  When you change your workout, you are making your body have to switch gears again and begin to adapt all over again.

As my friend Ted mentioned in his blog post yesterday, he is taking it so far as to change his routine every week . . . and her you though I was insane.

In my current weight lifting portion of my plan I do not perform a single exercise twice during a week.  There is always a modification or variation.  Each exercise is picked so that it works the muscle in a different way.  Add onto that the fact that I change the set/rep every week and you have a formula of a workout that will not grow stale for a very long time.

However there is another variable, your mind.  It is very easy to become bored with a certain workout routine. The more you do it, the more you become familiar with it and get closer and closer to becoming bored with it.

Which is why I am starting now to have a plan to change the workout after three months.  I haven't exactly decided yet what I will change it to.  I already have one or two that I've used in the past that will work nicely.  I am also in the process of creating another workout routine that will use mostly body weight for every exercise.  Push ups, pull ups, sit ups, dips, Plyrometrics . . . etc.  The biggest reason for wanted to add this type of workout into my plan is simply because I can not perform some of the exercises.  I've always stayed away from pull ups and push ups due to shoulder issues, but really would like to see if I can work myself back up to doing them.  It is also a great way to not only increase your strength, but also to increase your endurance and metabolism.  A phenomenal combination that will shred fat of your body.

I am still researching different body weight exercises to find the best ones to put together and create an amazing workout plan that will kick my butt.  This style of workout I would only probably do for about one four week cycle before reverting to another workout.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Keep going! (Read as: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming)

I am very much like most people.  If there is an excuse I can make to convince myself not to do something, I'll make it.  Especially when it comes to working out.

Yesterday I called and made an appointment with an Orthopedic doctor for my knee.  If you have been following along you already know that I tweaked it last week on the treadmill (The Awesome and The Ouch).  As a friend commented on my Facebook post yesterday, there may be something more wrong than just a bruised knee if it has been hurting for a week or more.  The more I thought about it, the more sense it made, therefore the call to the doc's office to make an appointment. 

The specific thing that my friend pointed out is that it could be a tear in the meniscus tissue.  Which is the tissue in your knee that absorbs impact.  Normally I would have dismissed it and let it go for a while, but I had a similar (yet more severe) knee injury back in high school.  Full contusion of the soft tissues around the right knee, partially torn ligament, torn meniscus, and a cyst that formed right next to the main nerve in my leg.  Two surgeries later and 33% of the meniscus removed and I haven't had a problem since.  

This "tweak", as I call it, to my left knee is very similar.  The first is that it actually took several days to become apparent that there was something wrong.  Then the slight discoloration around the knee indicating a bruise, stiffness, and now sharp pain on the right side of the knee (the possible tear).   

I've been through surgery enough to know I don't want to do it again.  So that is why I made the call to make an appointment with an Orthopedic doctor.  I am also elevating & icing it when I can and also wearing a knee brace during the day when I cannot elevate and ice.  

I just want to say thank you to my friend who made the comment.  I probably would have ignored it much longer than I should have if he didn't say something.

So what does this all have to do with the title of this blog post and the first paragraph?!  The point is that I still went to the gym yesterday and today.  I will also continue to go the rest of the week.  I have removed any exercises that involve my legs and would force my knee to twist or bend.    I am doing and upper body circuit training routine.  Each lift or machine I am doing 20-25 reps and I do as many rotations as I can in 45 minutes.  

Yesterday was a challenge to make myself sweat.  Today (the day I almost gave myself an excuse not to go) I did sweat, big time.  

As I mentioned in Me vs. The Scale, one of my minimum goals is to make it to the gym every day whether I want to or not.  I am going to make that goal.  

The one last thing that I want to say about this is that you and I need to be smart about this.  We only have one body and lifting wrong and pushing yourself to hard can cause permanent injuries.  I'm not saying this isn't a gray area.  Which is why you have to pay attention to your body and perform each exercise with the correct form and intention.  You need to find that line between pushing yourself beyond your limits, but not beyond your bodies breaking point.

I am paying attention to my knee with everything I do.  I have one week before my appointment and I am not going to take any chances.  I don't care if I wake up tomorrow and my knee feels 110%, I will not use it until I am absolutely sure of what is wrong with it and have my doctors OK to start working it again.  

I'll make sure to keep you all updated as to what goes on with the knee.  But before that happens we have the "weigh in" at the end of this week.  

. . . I really need to find a new term for this.  I hate "weigh in".  It's like I'm in my own personal Biggest Loser hell.

 

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