I met my girlfriend a little under a year ago (it will be a year to the day this Sunday). At that time I was quite literally in the best shape of my life. And about a year before that, I was in the worst shape of my life. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here are a pair of pictures that illustrate my point. I apologize to anyone who squeamish or disgusted by chest hair. I have hidden the pictures and the rest of the post behind this handy tag that I hope works…
For anyone who is seriously overweight I’m sure the picture on the left doesn’t look “too bad,” but for me personally (standing all of 5’9″ – as my brother puts – on a good day) being over 200 lbs was unacceptable. The picture on the left is also after a few months (2-4) of working out consistently. The shot on the right, shamelessly Instagrammed, is about a year to the day after I started working out. It represents probably the peak level of aesthetic fitness that I can achieve. It also represents something that is more removed from my current state.
I started working out, as a lot of guys do, to become more physically attractive in the hopes of meeting a girl (so mission accomplished. Thanks, abs!). What I found along the way is that weight-lifting and general fitness training has so many other side effects beyond looking fitter. There’s plenty of “bro science” out there on Interwebs that it’s not worth my rehashing but I can say that when I was working out – and this goes doubly so for when I was power-lifting – I felt more confident, more masculine, healthier, happier and like an all-around general bad-ass. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t pudgy or stocky. I had abs. And on top of that I could lift over 400 lbs off the ground (my deadlift maxed out on the trap bar at 420)!
I used exercise to fill in a lot of the gaps in my life. Mostly I was unfocused and meandering. My career at the time (and again now) was stalled and I was in a rut. It was easy to slack off at work, go back to the hotel and eat the free desserts, knock back 5 or 6 beers and go to bed. Working out changed that. It gave me a goal and that goal gave me focus. Granted that goal was as concretely defined as it should’ve been, but it was a starting point. I became, in my friend/training partner’s words, a “Mad Scientist” of muscle-building/fat-losing knowledge. Instead of clicking around Facebook during downtime at work, I started reading fitness websites, blogs and even scientific research papers and abstracts. Then I fell off track.
I’m going to blame my girlfriend without actually blaming her. What happened was that through meeting her and getting to know her, I found someone that fulfilled the missing parts of my life that I had turned to weight-lifting to fill. Katie makes me happy. She challenges me (mentally). She allows was my new drug; I spent all my time with her instead of with the weights at the gym. And while Sunday Brunch is fun, it sort of has an adverse affect on ye olde mid-section. And, of course, Katie isn’t the only part of my life that changed. I seriously pursued (and attained!) home ownership. Another new, exciting challenge.
But… I still had/have the feeling that something else is missing. I’d find myself lamenting (and sucking-in) when I stood in front of the mirror instead of (again, shamelessly) flexing. I wanted that body I worked so hard to achieve back. It wasn’t/isn’t fair that ever all that effort and hard work a few months of neglect and all of a sudden I’m back to soft and saggy in the center.
Am I being greedy? Is it too much to want the car, the house, the girl and the body? Yeah, probably. But sometimes greed is good. No one ever achieved anything by settling. Which is why I’m writing this blog post. It is sort of a personal manifesto. Something that I can hold myself accountable to when I don’t feel like going to the gym or pushing out that extra rep.
I’m currently exploring Intermittent Fasting (IF) combined with my own personal blend of John Romaniello’s Super Hero Workout, a few days a week at boxing gym in Connecticut and my winter favorite: hockey (eat your heart out, Bettman). Since my schedule is rather inflexible I can’t devote my time fully to any one training routine (the Super Hero one generally works best with barbells or heavy dumbbells that are lacking from a lot of hotel gyms, and boxing has to work around my work schedule). My plan is to follow IF and the mix of boxing/resistance training/hockey for about 5-6 weeks (until around Thanksgiving or early December) in hopes that will help me shed some of the fat I’ve accumulated. Around then I plan to switch over to Tim Ferriss’ Slow-Carb Diet, which will coincide (roughly) with the mass-building portion of the SH workout and take right through to Christmas/New Years where I can take a short break for the holidays.
So I’ve rambled on long enough (thanks to anyone who has stuck through this post until now). If you have any questions, suggestions, comments, et cetera please feel free to drop them below.