6 Month Weigh-in and Pictures

Six months ago I decided to make some big changes in my life. I was 34 years old and decided I needed to make some adjustments in both my eating habits as well as my exercise plan (or lack thereof) in order to be more healthy. I kicked off this year by completing the 12 week Body-for-LIFE program. I’ve maintained since then for about another 12 weeks and am now 6 months out from the start. Let’s take a look at where I started at:

After completing the 12 week Body-for-LIFE program, I definitely saw results.

I’ve continued to eat healthy and exercise since then. It’s been 3 months post BFL and 6 months since I did the Body-for-LIFE challenge. Here is what I look like today:

A few flexing shots:

In this next one, you can really see my side back and tricep muscles that I’ve built:

Before and after photos, side-by-side:

How have I done it? During the 12-week Body-for-LIFE challenge I would eat smaller portions 6 times a day. Each meal would contain a protein and a carb. Good carbs, though, none of the processed, enriched white flour. Stuff like whole grains, vegetables, beans. One day a week was my “cheat” day where I could eat whatever I wanted, and I literally ate whatever I wanted.

For exercise I went to the gym 6 times a week – 3 times cardio, 3 times weight. Total amount of gym time was between 3 and 4 hours a week. I was extremely consistent with the food and exercise during the 12-week challenge. Since then I’ve relaxed a little bit. I still try to eat healthy and eat 6 times a day. Instead of one day a week off, though, I’ve settled into 3 or 4 meals a week off. The rest of the week I eat smaller portions and still try to eat 6 times a day. It has become a habit, and one that I really, really enjoy. Gorging myself on large meals always makes me feel “blah” afterwards. Here are a few of the foods I regularly stock and eat:

Also, I avoid any sugar sodas. I do drink some diet sodas, but plan on dropping them at some point since they’re not the greatest for you…but I’m not quite there yet. In addition, I drink lots of water. It is crucial to keep your body hydrated. Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you really just need some water. Also, keeping your body hydrated helps with muscle growth.

Since I finished Body-for-LIFE, I’ve continued to run 2-3 times a week and do weights 2-3 times per week. On average I’m exercising 4-6 times per week still. I always feel so good after either a good run or workout.

Now, for my 6-month weigh-in. I weighed in this morning at 154.

I’m down 16 pounds down from where I started this year at 170. It’s hard to tell really how much I’ve lost/gained since a lot of the loss has been fat which has been replaced by muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat. Well, actually they weigh the same, but for the same size of mass, the fat will weigh more than the muscle – see my post here for more about that. I’m continuing to increase weights at the gym, which for me is a good indicator that I’m continuing to gain muscle. Going forward I will be doing checkins every 3 months with pictures and a weigh-in. The next one will be at 9 months in October, followed by my one year checking the beginning of January 2013. In the meantime I will continue to blog about my story, healthy tips, and how I am able to keep a healthy lifestyle up while behind the desk on a computer every day.

Falling off and getting back on

Everyone has those days or weeks where your routine just gets thrown out of wack. Dealing with this is part of life and sometimes can’t be avoided. What is important is how you respond to it when these situations arise. Last week was not my best workout week. I missed the gym entirely for weights. That’s the first week this year that I haven’t done any weights at all. Things got busy, stuff came up, blah blah…and I didn’t get to the gym to do any weights. I still ran twice and got some cardio in, though.

Monday this week was Memorial Day. Instead of beating myself up over missing gym time last week, I just decided to get right back on the bandwagon this week. I called up the gym and found out they were open on Memorial Day from 8-8, so I headed over there and did a great upper body workout. Then yesterday I ran 2.6 miles in the 95 degree heat – ouch! Um, yeah, I think it will be either early morning or treadmill for the next few months until things cool back down in…oh…October or November. Yeah, I live in Texas and we have 2 seasons: summer and not-summer.

Since I ended Body For Life, I’ve been doing really well with eating healthy. Even though I missed my weights last week, I still ate healthy. My next weigh-in and pictures was supposed to be at 20 weeks. For some reason I had in my mind that 20 weeks was this Friday (6/1), but I just checked and it was actually supposed to be last Friday. I think I’ll just do it at 21 weeks instead. Stay tuned for an update this Friday!

Day 82: Achieved Running Goal

I increased my interval running for the last time this week have now reached my goal. I achieved the goal I set back in January. I am now doing intervals of:

5 — 6.5 — 8 — 9.5

I started out at:

5 — 6 — 7 — 8

and increase the interval from 1 to 1.1 for two weeks, then 1.2 for another two weeks, etc. until I hit my desired interval increase of 1.5. If you set your mind to something, write it down, make a plan, and work towards it you can achieve it. A goal not written down is just a wish.

Now, keep in mind 4 of those 21 minutes was warmup and cooldown. I wonder what my average minute per mile is if you take those out? I think next week for one of my cardio days I’ll mix it up and see how fast I can do a mile in. It’s been a long time since I timed myself in the mile. Today’s post is going to be short…I’ve got a good post coming tomorrow with my weekly checkin that I’m excited about!

Day 73: Protein Powder

The last several weeks I’ve really been concentrating on what I need to do to get bigger. I’ve increased the amount of each meal a little bit, which has resulted in a total of 3 pounds gained in the last 3 weeks, which is good. But what do I need to do to really gain more muscle?

The other night I was laying in bed and couldn’t sleep. I got up and shuffled upstairs to my office and sat down in front of my beloved iMac. Staring at a blank Google page, I started searching to see if there is anything else that I need to do in order to gain more muscle. As I mentioned on Day 43, it is important to get protein immediately in your body following a workout. Since then I have been taking a protein bar with me to the gym and consuming right after my workout is complete. As I continued to read, the protein is definitely important, but I also learned that you want a protein that is absorbed quickly right after a workout, namely Whey Protein. I’ve decided to switch to a protein shake right after a workout and not count it as one of my 6 meals. What kind of protein should I buy? There are so many options out there. I used to workout with a friend in LA several years ago and he had recommended Gold Standard. I did a search on some of the top protein powders and one website had it listed in the top 5. The others were more expensive, but Gold Standard was quite reasonably priced – so I decided to go with it. I ordered it on Amazon and was excited when it arrived today.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I have two tubs of protein powder. The larger one is what I will be drinking right after a workout. The smaller one is Casein protein. I’m going to start drinking a casein protein shake right before bed. Casein is a protein which is harder for your body to break down, so your body works longer on it. You’re supposed to have some before bed and it helps to continue the building of muscle throughout the night with it’s slow release formula. The regular stuff you want immediately following a workout because it is absorbed quickly. I think I’m going to make this change for a while and see how it works out. Each protein powder has 24g of protein and 120 calories. I picked them up on Amazon – below are the links to them on Amazon for your reference. They both have a bunch of flavors. I got the 5 pound tub for the post-workout powder and the 2 pound tub for the before bed shakes.

Gold Standard Whey Protein at Amazon

Gold Standard Casein Protein at Amazon

Mixing up the powder is super easy if you have a shaker bottle with a round wire thingy in it. I tried it today and put the powder into the bottle, dropped the wire mixer in, and carried it with me to the gym dry. After working out I added cold water from the water fountain at the gym and shook it up. The wire ball does an amazing job of mixing it up. It eliminates 100% of all clumps. Literally, there were zero. I picked up this mixer a few years ago at GNC and love, love, love it.

So the next question I had was how much should I consume? Some websites say 20g of protein, others 20-30, and some say 30-40. I decided to do 1.5 scoops of the Whey protein after a workout, which clocks in at 36g of protein post workout. At night, I will just do one scoop of the Casein protein before bed – another 24g or protein.

Now, my diet is not switching to just protein powders. From everything else I read it is important for your other meals to eat regular healthy foods like chicken, fish, lean meat, and vegetables. You shouldn’t rely on the powder for the main source of nutrition, but rather as a supplement to help encourage muscle growth. I’ll be keeping you updated as I journey through this adventure. I’ve really only got about 2 weeks left in my 90 days – wow! Time sure flies.

UPDATE: Thanks to Suki for pointing out that Gold Standard makes a natural protein powder without any artificial sweeteners in it. You can get the natural gold standard on amazon here. Next time I restock I’ll definitely pick up the natural.

DAY 69: Week 10 Weigh-in

Alright folks, I’m through 69 days now on Body For Life and still going strong. This is my week 10 weigh-in. As I mentioned last week, I’m trying to gain muscle weight now since I’ve burned most of the fat off already. This week I gained 1 pound and am back up to 160 now.

Just in the last two weeks since I started eating more I feel like I’ve really noticed a bigger difference. Ok, for the pics now.

So today is my day off…sort of. I’m being a little flexible this week. Yesterday morning I flew back from my business trip, got home mid-day, and worked some in the afternoon. Then we went to Jumpstreet (more about that later). Afterwards, Allison’s family wanted to go out to dinner. I really needed to go to the gym, though, and do upper body. If we went to dinner, the gym would be closed by the time I went home. I decided to do a little switch-a-roo on my workout/day off schedule. I went ahead and went to dinner with her family and had dinner like my day off. Then, I got up this morning, had a Body For Life breakfast, and hit the gym for an intense upper body workout. I had a protein bar following the working, then a Body For Life lunch later on. Then, for the rest of my day off I will take the evening tonight off. Sometimes you have to be flexible.

Earlier this week I packed some fruit with me when I went on my business trip. Word to the wise – don’t pack pears. It was a good idea, but even inside of a tupperware bin the pears rubbed against each other. By the time I got to DC, they really didn’t look very appetizing:

The apples worked out great, though. But, the breakfast at the hotel had apples there that I could have grabbed each morning. I was worried about getting there and not having any healthy food or way to get healthy food, which is why I packed them along. I even saw some fruit stands at the airports that I could have grabbed fruit at without having to pack it. Oh well, I tried and learned that it is easier to not pack fruit. The rest of the stuff came in real handy, though (the protein bars, canned tuna/chicken, almonds, etc.) Next time I’ll just pack the dry stuff.

So, we went to Jumpstreet yesterday before going out to dinner with Allison’s family. Jumpstreet is an indoor trampoline park that is awesome. It is for kids and adults too, but most of the people jumping were kids. I jumped with my kids because…well, I really like jumping on trampolines. Plus, Kinsey is 7 and isn’t supposed to go into the big jump area without an adult. They had a mechanical bull there as well, which was pretty entertaining. Here is a video I put together of me doing some flips along with my son and my sister-in-law.