Transformation in Progress (Week 12)

I’ve completed the first twelve weeks of working with my new coach and my new emphasis on a bodybuilding style to lifting.

After two year of losing a ton of fat and powerlifting, it was definitely a big change. I had to build more muscle endurance. “You’re strong, but you lack endurance,” my new coach told me. He knew I was coming from a major transformation of fat loss and mental state, and he knew I had done powerlifting for a while.

The first six weeks were spent basically in ‘transition’ from powerlifting to bodybuilding. The second six weeks I dropped to ‘cutting’ calories and upped my activity level.

The results are in for the first twelve weeks as I had a body scan today. My bodyfat dropped 1.6 percentage points, which doesn’t seem like a whole lot… until you dig deeper into the data and realize I lost 3.2 pounds of fat and gained 5.3 pounds of lean body mass.

This is probably the most important point. By increasing Lean Body Mass, I increase how much my body burns just existing. This will in turn help me get leaner in the future.

There is still a lot of work to do as I work towards my goals, but this “intro” phase into bodybuilding techniques has been quite an adventure already. As I go full tilt into the next program starting tomorrow, I know I see great things ahead as I continue to improve my body composition, get stronger, more athletic, and more flexible.

 

 

Scan Date 2018-02-13 2017-11-16 Change
Height 71 71 0
Weight 240.9 238.8 2.1
Body Shape Rating 77 74 3
Body Fat Percent 32.1 33.7 -1.6
Lean Mass 163.7 158.4 5.3
Fat Mass 77.2 80.4 -3.2
Sbsi 0.109 0.113 -0.004
Absi 0.08 0.083 -0.003
Trunk To Leg Vol Ratio 1.2 1.4 -0.2
Bust 48.7 48.7 0
Chest 49.2 49.1 0.1
Waist 43.9 45.2 -1.3
Top Hip 46 45.8 0.2
Hips 46.3 46.5 -0.2
Thigh Left 29.6 29.3 0.3
Thigh Right 29.1 29.3 -0.2
Calf Left 17.6 17.2 0.4
Calf Right 17.8 17.6 0.2
Biceps Left 16.9 16.1 0.8
Biceps Right 16.2 16.8 -0.6
Forearm Left 11.9 12 -0.1
Forearm Right 12.8 12 0.8
Wrist Left 7.4 8.5 -1.1
Wrist Right 7.9 7.7 0.2
Overarm 54.6 52.5 2.1
Underbust 46 47 -1
Waist Max 43.9 45.2 -1.3
Belly Max 43.8 44.9 -1.1
Waist Natural 44.1 44.1 0
Hips Max 46.6 46.7 -0.1
Hips At Max Width 15.7 15.7 0
Knee Left Two Inches Above 19.1 19.3 -0.2
Knee Right Two Inches Above 20 20.1 -0.1
Knee Left 16.6 16.7 -0.1
Knee Right 17.1 17.2 -0.1
Chest Width 12.4 12.6 -0.2
Waist Width 14.8 15.5 -0.7
Hips Width 15.4 15.5 -0.1
Torso Volume 2842.5 2846.5 -4
Arm Left Volume 185 181.1 3.9
Arm Right Volume 196.9 181.1 15.8
Leg Left Volume 484.3 448.8 35.5
Leg Right Volume 496.1 468.5 27.6
Shoulder To Shoulder Length 18 17.7 0.3
Armscye Left 21 20.9 0.1
Armscye Right 21.6 20.7 0.9
Shoulder Left To Wrist Length 22.8 23 -0.2
Shoudler Right To Wrist Length 23 23.2 -0.2
Crotch Height 29.3 28.8 0.5
Inseam Left 29.8 29.3 0.5
Inseam Right 29.8 29.3 0.5
Outseam Left 41.3 40.3 1
Outseam Right 41.2 40.2 1
Torso Sagittal 67.7 68.4 -0.7
U Rise 67.7 68.4 -0.7
Center Back Length 29.7 30.2 -0.5
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Untamed Phoenix on Video

I just posted my first video relaunching my video effort.

I want to document my efforts and foray into “bodybuilding”. I want to share what I learn as I learn it as I expand my fitness knowledge. I want to hopefully inspire others as others have inspired me, to get healthier and explore their fitness goals.

I also want to build my skillset in video editing, photo editing, and flex my creative muscles in addition to the muscles I’m flexing at the gym.

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Working In

Today I worked in with two people at the gym.

First was my deadlift. The platforms at my gym are combination deadlift platforms & squat racks. While I deadlifted the other person squatted.

Then I worked in with a younger lifter doing the leg press. I think my working in actually pushed him to work a little harder, to be entirely honest.

When I started working out a little over two years ago at Anytime Fitness in Ellington, I was always head down. It took a lot of courage to offer to work in with people I had never met before.

Transformation is more than just changing our bodies. It’s about changing our minds, allowing us to interact with people in ways we never would have before.

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I Don’t Identify As My Age​

I started worrying about turning forty about the time I turned 35. I wasn’t sure how I would handle it. I didn’t see it as “mid-life” but as “near-death”.

The truth is that when I was 35 the idea of turning forty probably meant being a lot closer to death. Even then, I assumed I wouldn’t live far past 40. I was overweight, depressed, and pretty much agonizing over my life on a constant basis; I was in some ways ready to leave the Earth then.

I felt like I had to stick around because of my mother; the one thing I couldn’t do to her is to leave her early and burden her with that level of guilt of her son taking his own life. When she passed last year, I sat quietly for a moment reflecting; if it hadn’t been for the changes I made in my life, this would be the time I would accept a willingness to go. I’m infinitely thankful for the changes I made which had me going on.

When just under two months ago I turned 40, it came and went and I honestly didn’t give it much thought. Having moved to a new city, we had a small recognition of my birthday with an awesome dinner and dessert from a local bakery. My stress level just wasn’t there; the day I had been dreading for a half-decade had come and gone and it barely registered.

As I thought about why I realized a very simple truth. I don’t identify as my age. I don’t identify myself as a forty-year-old. Instead of thinking of myself as this 40-something guy, I am still in the mindset that I am a ‘young’ person. Is this denial? No. It’s simply a fact that mentally I don’t consider myself ‘old’.

I’m not a family person; I don’t kids. I don’t own a house, I am happy renting a flat in an urban area. I am someone who watches cartoons and enjoys Pop-Tarts and bowls of cereal and video games. I read comic books. I’m probably what you would consider the definition of a “man-child” and I own the title proudly.

Two years ago I was looking towards death; I was just turning 38 and still thinking that I wasn’t going to survive well into my forties. A year ago that changed and I started powerlifting. Recently I changed gears and said, “hey, I’m going to be a bodybuilder!” Not a weightlifter, but working towards getting “jacked”, “swole”, and other adjectives that describe the goals of people half my age.

I’ve committed myself to this “bodybuilder” goal. It’s not something I went into lightly. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time. I will not let my age impact my goals, I will not let my age dictate to me what I can and can not achieve. Does it mean my body may take longer to recover? Yes. Does it mean I can’t achieve my goals? No.

Truth is, since I started working out just over two years ago, I’ve beat my body up quite a bit. From the first Bootcamp class that I took where my heart rate spiked to 202bpm (yeah, that probably wasn’t a good starter program) to working my way up to 400+ squats and deadlifts and doing regular HIIT sessions of an hour or more. I don’t stop, I don’t relent, and I won’t.

I may be 40, but I don’t feel 40. It still pleases me when people refer to me as “a millennial” or mistake me for someone in my late 20s or early 30s. It’s all about how you feel, and what you want from life. Will you accept “perceived limitations” or will you push against the sands of time and say “this is who I want to be!” I will always take the latter.

I fought hard to be alive today. I went down to ashes and rose as a phoenix. With the help of a few people, I saw that life was worth living and moved heaven and earth to make it one that is truly worthwhile. I’ve gotten some amazing things in my life in the last two years; friends, relationships, and health. Now I’m ready to push to the next level.

Change

Connecting

When I started my fitness journey a little over two years ago, I found it very hard to connect with people. I had very low self-esteem; I wasn’t just physically in peril, but I was also emotionally in peril. I rarely spoke to people in the gym. I would walk in, head down, do my workout, and walk out head down.

My trainer made a comment earlier this year about how I “used to hate exercise.” This was so very true. I was loathed to exercise. I hated exercise since I was a fat kid in elementary school constantly picked on because I was heavy; I wasn’t very good at it, and so always sat it out whenever possible.

Truth is, now I love working out. That didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of time and effort to get to that point. A lot of it I owe to my trainer, who taught me that working out could be fun. He tapped into my desires and goals and led me down a path towards that. He saw goals in me I didn’t articulate, like strength and balance and athleticism. These were things I didn’t know I wanted because I couldn’t imagine them; instead, my core goal was “not be fat”.

As I improved and became stronger, my self-esteem rose. My support network grew with new friends at the gym. I was connecting with people, truly connecting, for maybe the first time in my life in a meaningful way.

As I prepared to move to Richmond, VA I knew that it would be a huge change. I’d have to build new relationships, new connections. I knew this would be hard, being in a new city with a different culture than in New England.

What I found was that I feel “out of sorts” in many ways because I don’t connect with people. I found groups of people. At my old gym, the populated skewed a little older, and we connected through our collective endeavours to lose weight and be healthier. These days, I’m less concerned with “losing weight” and more focused on concepts like “body composition”, “getting lean”, and “getting big”. These are the motives of a bodybuilder, not just a guy trying to get fit. I’ve changed my mindset, and it’s causing me to not connect with others I would have in the past.

The Young Guys; These ate the 20-something guys who are fit and working hard. They congregate together, chat a lot, and act like 20-something guys. I don’t really connect with them because I’m the “older guy” even though mentally I am a man-child who feels 24.

The guys in my age group generally fall into two categories; the dad bods and the jacked guys. The dad bods are just there so they can drink beer and eat wings. The jacked guys have been at it for a decade plus; compared to someone working for just two years, I’m a ‘novice’ to them.

I’ve also tried to start connecting with the heavier people; part of me hopes I can help them out. Much like me in the past, they aren’t always receptive to attention. It takes a lot to just go to the gym when you’re overweight, and attention is usually seen cynically from their eyes. I know, because I’ve been on the other side.

Oddly enough, as with my old gym, the people I connect most with are the trainers. I am friendly with most of them, more than the clients themselves.

I’ve made fitness part of my life. I’ve committed myself to turning myself into an ‘athlete’. For everyone my age going through a weight loss transformation, or on the other side of a transformation, most do not have ambitions of being powerlifters or bodybuilders or athletes; most just want to be trimmer and leaner for life.

I know I will eventually begin meeting people and connecting. It takes a lot of time, and I have to be more willing to put myself up front with people and be friendlier than I have been. It’s hard for me to initiate conversations, but it’s something I am working on.

I knew going into this at my age was not going to be easy. Physically, emotionally… it is hard to accomplish what I want to do when you’re forty. It can be done, and I have no doubt I will achieve my goals. I just have to work hard, keep at it, and for now, work in a bit of a solitary bubble that I haven’t been used to in the past. The connections will come in time. I am a different person than I was two years ago; I just need to commit myself to the process.

Change

Transformation in Progress

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Three years ago this week, I began my first attempt at my path down fitness; it was the first attempt in many years, with previous attempts failing. This attempt was no different.

It started off well enough with the “Biggest Loser” competition the gym was hosting. I was committed, I was going to get this, I was finally going to lose weight.

It was shortly thereafter that someone in the gym made a catty comment about me; basically they said I probably would wash out and I was just “another resolutioner” and that I should just give up now. I heard this and thought, “maybe they are right…” so I went home, and rarely made it back to the gym.

Nine months later, I have someone call me and basically drag me back to the gym. That was Andrew, my soon to be trainer, coacher, and friend. We went over some basic exercises, made a simple plan for me to improve.

Two months later, I begin working with Andrew and the changes begin. I began getting stronger. I wasn’t losing weight, but I could tell my body was beginning to change. Come April 2016, I began to get my nutrition in line, and the weight began coming off. Over the next six months I would drop from the upper-30s in bodyfat down to the low 20s. I began feeling better, becoming more energetic, and actually enjoying life instead of dwelling on how terrible it was.

Once I reached the low-20s, it was time to go off to the Nerd Fitness summer camp I signed up for. When I came back, I sat down and evaluated where I was, and where I was headed in regards to fitness.

What I figured out was simple. When I started this, I just wanted to be “not fat”, but now I wanted more. I tasted the fitness life and I loved it. Now I wanted to get even stronger, better, faster, more athletic.

We started powerlifting, and it was so much fun. I was picking up weights I never imagined I would ever be able to lift. I was doing barbell squats when just a year earlier i was barely mobile.

Come September 2017, I announced to my trainer and friends that I was moving to Richmond, VA. While I was disppointed to leave my gym and everyone around me who had supported me for so long, I also knew that it was time to move to my next big adventure.

Before I left for Virginia, Andrew gave me one last program to work through while I adjusted to live in the south. I went through the program, and pushed my weights up. Towards the end of the program I began to once again evaluate where I was, and what I wanted to achieve long term.

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I made the decision to step away from powerlifting for a while. While it was a tough decision to make, it was one that I felt right about. I hired a new coach now that I was settled into my new city, Derrick, who would introduce me to new world of fitness; bodybuilding style training, yoga, flexibility, etc.

transformationpost_pic2.pngI’m currently just begininng my second wave programming with my new coach. Where powerlifting brought me strength, bodybuilding has begun to bring me more confidence in how I look. I’m already seeing changes in my body composition; much like I had powerlifting beginner gains, I’m getting some bodybuilder beginner gains and they feel good when I look in the mirror.

I refuse to give up on strength completely. I was told, “if you get bigger, you’re going to get stronger, but if you get stronger you don’t always get bigger” which seems contradictory yet also makes sense.

More than anything, this represented an opportunity to explore a new area of fitness I hadn’t been exposed to in the past, and I also found that exciting.

I’m still doing things like deadlifting, squatting, bench pressing, and overhead presses. I am doing them differently; higher reps, lower weights, building strength but also endurance in the body.

I’ve committed to myself that 2018 will be the year I move down the path to the body I’ve always wanted. I know what I need to do. I know what diet I need. I’ve hired someone to help me along the way. All I need to do is implement, stay consistent, work hard, and I know I will succeed.

It’s time for me to move my body to the next level.

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