A Merry Rogue

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

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 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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!?

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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.  

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekly Update: Week 4 - Food, Knee, and stuff

Catchy title, right?!  This morning I find myself in a bit of a funk about my workout this week.  But first before we jump ahead, lets talk about last week.

All I can say about Week 3 is that it was awesome.  Despite the issue with a treadmill Monday that lead to my left knee issues, I had a great week.  Even with the knee issues I only missed one day of the Couch to 5k program.  Huge jumps in my weight training program occurred thanks to my bro John coming to workout with me and give me that extra push I needed as well as being a spotter.  The bonus is that he is getting a benefit out of it as well.

For many years know I have not touched a barbell.  The reason being an injury and resulting surgery I had on my right shoulder.  After that surgery and ensuing physical therapy, Bench Press and several other exercises left my usual workout routine.  I know use dumbbells for just about every lift that I do.  The dumbbells allow my right shoulder the freedom to follow the rotation in any lift that it needs to.  A barbell forces the joint to rotate one way, resulting in a lot of pain.  The benefit of the dumbbells is that it also strengthens the stabilizing muscles.  Unlike with a barbell each arm has to use more stabilizing muscles in order to steady the dumbbell and lift.  This is the benefit that John is finding in working out with me.  Having focused mostly on machines in the past years, he is a little out a practice with the free weights.

So moving on to Week 4, I am still uncertain as to exactly what I am doing this week for a workout.  This morning found me doing and upper body circuit training on the machines at the gym.  I spend 30 seconds on each machine and completed 3 rounds of that.  I followed that up with about 10 minutes of abs and core exercises.  I followed the P90X video "Ab Ripper X" until my low back decided it had enough.  Then tacked on a few of my exercises from my physical therapy sessions a few years back.

To explain the statement, "until my low back decided it had enough".  During physical therapy to help strengthen my core the physical therapist said that I should press my low back to the floor.  When doing the exercises if I could no longer keep my low back pressed to the floor, then I should stop.  For just about every exercise I do, I tighten my core.  Whether it is an abs/core exercise or whether it is using the elliptical, it doesn't matter.  I tighten my core.

Now, back to what I am going to do for this week.  I think I will keep a similar routine as I did today.  Circuit training is a great way to build endurance as well as build up a sweat.  When I do circuit training I get to the point where my muscles burn, and then push further.  If I have to, I lighten the weight for the exercise and keep on going.  The Ab Ripper X video I will only do on Monday (done), Wednesday, and Friday.  On Tuesday and Thursday I will attempt doing cardio on the elliptical following the circuit training.  With the knee out of it still, getting to a point where I am sweating is going to be a bit of a challenge.

So after trying several different things with the knee, I am fairly certain that I have bruised it quite thoroughly.  The less I use it, the more it hurts.  If I use it to much, it hurts.  Slight discoloration above the joint.  Ice helps, but only so much.  Yup, pretty sure it's bruised.  Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . what can I say, International Falls is quite a way up there. . .  Long story short I did a very similar thing to my right knee my junior year of high school.  The doctor called it a contusion (fancy term for a bruise).  Except back then it was much more severe.  I not only bruised the entire knee, but tore my lower quad muscle as well.  So based upon all this, I will be doing what I can to keep the knee moving without over doing it.  Some light elliptical on Tuesday and Thursday.  No more than 15 minutes and at a moderate pace.  At work, I have been getting up to walk about once an hour or so.  I'll ice at night and maybe some ibuprofen if needed.  Hopefully what we will have is a recipe for a healthy knee by the end of the week.

So in true "brother from another mother" fashion, I copied my friend Ted and spent Sunday cooking and preparing food for the week.  I have my breakfast, first lunch, and second lunch prepared for the entire week.

Breakfast is an egg bake with ground turkey (seasoned), mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and broccoli.  First lunch is carrots, lentils, black beans, onions, kale, and meat (2 beef, 2 chicken, 1 pork).  Second lunch is a salad (spinach, spring mix, mushrooms, cucumber, tomatoes & bell peppers) topped with chicken breast.

Dinner will be whatever I end up making.  I have a beef roast, tilapia fillets and chicken yet in the freezer.  For sides; frozen stir fry veggies (3 kinds), frozen broccoli, sweet potatoes and a few other things.  With all of that and some seasonings it is looking to be a delicious week in our house.

Take some time and head on over to Ted's blog and check out what he has going on.  And when I say "brother from another mother", it is more like twins from another mother.  We started out exercise and weight loss journey on the exact days, started a blog (different days, but thought about it at the same times) . . . among many other things.  All without actually talking to each other about any of it . . . it's like having a telepathic stalker.  We're just not sure who the telepathic one is yet.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Weight Lifting Workout

It always seems that my workouts are  "work in progress" no matter how much research & though I put into them before I start the program.  A tweak here, a change there.  Aside from all the changes I end up making in the first week or the program, one thing remains the same.  My workout generally contains one exercise per muscle group.  The exercise I'll use on Monday for biceps will be different from the exercise I use on Wednesday & Friday.  No two days will include the same exercises.

There are several reason that I chose to lay out my weight lifting plan this way.  I chose to include one exercise per body part each day that I lift because it is a great way to train for . . . well, Life.  Or rather, as we were taught in weights class, for sports.  In sports, or any other physical activity, you use your entire body to perform what is required.  So it makes sense to work your entire body when you workout.  You are preparing it for the rigors of whatever activity you are training for.  In my case, aside from the desire to get back into shape, the activity I have in mind is Stage Combat.  As I talked about in "What's In A Name?" Or "Soreness Abounds!" (among other posts), I perform as Will Scarlet for the Robin Hood show at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.  Where this year I will most likely be partaking in several Stage Combat scenes throughout the day.

The reason that I chose to use a different variation of each exercise each day is because each one of those exercises affects the muscle differently.  Take the shoulders as an example.  The way that I look at it (which may not be "medically correct") is that there are three major areas of the shoulder muscles.  The anterior (front), the posterior (back), and the trapezius (neck to shoulder muscle).  These of coarse can be broken down even more, but let's keep it simple.  During the week I have one exercise to focus on the trapezius on one day,  anterior on another day, and posterior on another day.  This way I am effectively working the entire shoulder area.

The other bonus of this is muscle confusion.  By working muscle groups in a different way each day, you are making it so that your body will take longer to adapt to the exercise.  Which will lead to greater gains in strength & muscle building.  Being that I change the Set/Rep layout of each week is another factor that adds to the muscle confusion.  Each week does something different.  The 3X3 week is the "Heavy Week".  I don't use this one that often, just every once in a while.  It is designed to be a way point.  A week where you prove that the program is working by lifting heavier and heavier weights each time you hit that week.  If you find that you aren't increasing weight, then you're doing something wrong.  The 5X5 week (as well as my 3X10 week) is designed more for endurance.  You are lifting the weight 25 times in total (30 in the 3X10 format).  The 5-4-3-2-1 week is designed to burn out your muscle.  You will gain strength, but you will also gain size from this week.  The intent is that for each set you lower the amount of reps, but increase the weight.  By the last set, you're muscles will be screaming at you.

It has been a long time since high school, but there were two other weeks that you got to add after the first or second year.  I believe they were 10-8-6 and/or 4-4-2.  I could be mistaken, but I don't use them anyway.

As I did with the Kettlebell post, here is one example of my workout log from Wednesday's 5-4-3-2-1 session.  This is the one where my friend & roommate John came with and spotted for me.

Wednesday, 02/01/2012 - Weights Workout

So there you have it, my current weights workout.  The next format will be ever so slightly different, where I will work a muscle group once per week.  This format is used in the P90X program and is used by many body builders and power lifters.  The methodology behind this format is that you do several exercises for each muscle group to exhaust it and then let it fully heal before working again.  Putting a larger focus on strength and size.  I'll post more about that when I begin to use that type of workout.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Awesome and The Ouch

So yesterday my friend and roommate John and I worked out together.  It was awesome to have a workout partner to change things up a bit.  The biggest difference is in the amount of weight that I used for each exercise.  With this week being 5-4-3-2-1 for the Rep/Set format it was definitely needed.  For each set you do less reps but you add more weight with the last set being to failure.  As I mentioned yesterday, pushing yourself to failure is difficult in a lot of exercises.  There is often too much of a risk of injury in pushing yourself to failure.

Just as an example, the last time that I did decline dumbbell press I did five sets of five reps and used 50lb dumbbells in each hand.  This week, for the last set I used 80lb dumbbells and was able to push out 6 reps.

So if you find your workouts becoming a bit stale, or finding yourself at a plateau with weight loss of strength, then find yourself a workout partner.  If definitely will give you that boost you need in your workout (and theirs).

The funniest part of the session at the gym was the looks we got now and then from some of the other people.  Most people left the type of gym atmosphere where people yell, grunt, & encourage each other back in high school or college.  You can read my post The Things That Stick With You, to read a bit more about that type of atmosphere.

On Monday when I was running on the treadmill doing my Couch 2 5K program (you can read more about that here Rule #1: Cardio), I had a couple of times where I felt as if the track on the treadmill slipped forward a bit.  I didn't really think much of it, but Tuesday morning there was definitely a bit of soreness in my left knee.  Which ended up getting better as the day went on.  Wednesday ended up being a similar story, but after running on the treadmill after an amazing workout I find myself favoring that knee a bit more than I should.  So after some ice and ibuprofen it feels a bit better, but I wonder if I didn't push it a little too hard.

This morning it was still a bit sore, but not as bad as right after the Treadmill yesterday.  However I still decided to take it a little easier today.  I still had a great workout despite taking it easy.  We will see how it is tomorrow morning and I'll decide then whether I run or not.  If so, I will most likely push the running to Saturday or Sunday.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Posting Frenzy Subsides

For those that have been following along up to this point you probably noticed that I haven't posted as much as I did the first two weeks.  At the beginning I had more posts that were already written and waiting to be posted, than posts that I had published to the site.  I guess that is just how blogging works.  When you first start you have this overabundance of information & data that you have accumulated and stored over the years.  Hence the daily posts for about two weeks straight.  Now I am just getting into the regular routine of working out, work, life, eat, sleep . . . repeat.

Today there is one change up in the usual routine.  I typically workout in the AM before work on Wednesdays.  Today I will be working out after work with my friend, bro, & roommate John.  He and I were in the same weights class in high school and will be working out together as we did back then.  One will spot the other during their lifts and provide encouragement.  The whole point behind this is to allow yourself to push a little harder than you usually would.  As I have mentioned in The Things That Stick With You the last set of every exercise is done to failure.  Or rather that is the intention, but it is hard to allow yourself to do that when you are worried about dropping the weight on your face . . . or foot . . . or someone else's for that matter.  With a spotter, aside from encouragement, they are there to make sure you use the correct form and to help catch the weight if needed.

I do have one or two more in the process if being written, but between work, working out and life in general I haven't taken the quality time to spend with my keyboard on those posts.

I will definitely try to get those out later this week, but until then you should head on over to my friend Ted Anderson's blog and check out his journey as well.  Ted plays the part of Little John for the Robin Hood show out at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, and brings a different approach to the weight loss and getting in shape than I do. It also doesn't hurt that he is funnier than I am.

Until then!

Mmmm . . . Popovers.


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