Today marks the 3rd year anniversary of my 2nd really serious attempt to get really fit. Its been an up and down journey as you will see. The purpose of this entry is not to show off, but to provide motivation to other people. A lot of people have been asking me what I eat, how I workout, etc., so hopefully this provides some guidance.
During this time, I have treated my body as a piece of lab equipment. I have tried all sorts of things, but I have always kept before and after measurements, logs, impressions, etc. I believe that is the key; try everything - keep what works, throw away what doesn't.
Not everything works for everybody. You have to find what's right for you.
Also, I should add - if I had not discovered low-carb/paleo eating I could have never sustained this.
I made a bet with a friend that in a months time I would be down to 180lbs. When I made the bet I weighed in at 235. Here's a time line of what has happened since then...
April 2006: I start using the elliptical machine at the gym for 30 minutes roughly 5 times a week. I start cooking more stuff at home. I also go "low-fat". Little changes in terms of sugar/carb intake.
May 2006: I ditch fruit juices / chocolate milk, chips, cookies, soft drinks. I'm down to 215lbs
June 2006: I drop the cardio (too much, too tiring and most of all too boring!). No major changes in diet. Down to 208.
July 2006: I find t-nation.com - start lifting weights. I am introduced to ArthurDeVany.com. This is where I first learned about bread being bad. I try to drop the bread, down to one or two a day. In my opinion this is the key time turning point.
Aug 2006: I start working out using different programs outlined at t-nation.com. Chad Waterbury's 10x3 is a big hit.
Oct 2006: With a combination of little bread, more meat and a solid exercise program, I am down to 190.
Nov 2006: I do "Guerilla Cardio" 2-3 times a week for two weeks and I lose 3 belt notches! I also stop going to the gym.
March 2007: I am still low-carbing big time. Have almost cut down all bread and sugar. Although on occasion maybe once a week, I still give in... I start working out again, trying out all sorts of different exercise programs. Weight is down to 180. I am also hiking a lot.
Sept 2007: Diet + easy weight-based workouts lead to a weight of 165. Too skinny. Plus my muscles don't have any definition. On the plus side - I can do about 20 pull-ups in a row now :) I decide to lift harder. Fat consumption is tremendously high at this point - close to 70% of my calories. From a year ago my HDL is up, LDL is the same, body fat is down, triglycerides are not measurable (due to low carb intake)
March 2008: I've gained some muscle, but I have also put on fat (mostly due to a higher carb intake). I'm up to 185. I feel chubby and clothes are getting tighter - there has to be a better way to put on muscle.
April 2008: I discover intermittent fasting. I eat just once a day for one or two days a week. Weight drops back down to 170.
July 2008: I discover that if I fast daily, I can eat WHATEVER I want at night...
Aug 2008: I get serious about weights. Start lifting some monstrous poundage, combined with lots of food and protein. I can see my abs!
Nov 2008: I am up to 185, this time its mostly muscle. Intense, short workouts are the key.
Dec 2008: I go for Hajj - down to 160. I can feel my spinal cord from my stomach, ewww!
Jan 2009 - Mar 2009: Working out really hard, mostly clean diet and fasting regularly. Weight is up to 176. For the first time in my life, I can easily say no to sugar - I have no need for it. Same with bread, rice, etc. The taste no longer appeals to me. I guess I'm finally off the crack.
Currently: I am trying out creatine for a month to see if it can help me gain some clean muscle. My current work out is a mix of super heavy days, combined with fun light upper body workouts.
When I started I was 24% body fat, now I am at 8%. My diet no longer feels restrictive or compulsive. I eat only when I am hungry, and sometimes I just stay hungry - I love being hungry. When I eat, I tend to eat a LOT! (seriously). I plan to start the once a week, big-5 workout from the body by science folks. Most of my workouts are under 25 minutes and I don't spend more than an hour at the gym a week. I plan to cut that further. I walk a lot, for groceries, to bookstores, at work, any chance I get.
If you are interested in learning about my thoughts on exercise and fitness, you can stay up to date at fitinahurry.blogspot.com . I also log my workouts (although somewhat irregularly) at muscletrain.blogspot.com .