Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 1

I am 1 week away from finishing near the bottom of a "Biggest Loser" competition put together by a group of friends as preparation for summer. Much like my team's results in the Men's Open Relay of a triathlon: I didn't drop out, but I didn't do well either. My best single weigh-in was just over 200lbs which was a loss of about 10% of my body weight. For the first weeks, when I was seeing decent results, I was running 3-5 times a week and couldn't intelligently tell you how much of that loss was fat, muscle or water weight. I can tell you that to see any real results it required excessively large chunks of time and a near perfect diet (and when I say perfect I mean I was super hungry the majority of the time). I was able to do that for 2 weeks at which point I faltered, made a mistake or two (either skipped one of my Saturday-run/swim marathon calorie consumers or had a couple bad eating days) and I lost my motivation, interest and discipline. I lacked a clear and focused strategy.

My plan was to run when I could, swim when I could and eat as healthy as I could. When a work or social event prevented me from taking the time I needed I postponed healthiness (a term I am not sure is really definable) and ended up where I am now, 2 1/2 months later at about 5% body weight reduction (still over my red flag weight of 200lbs) with no more muscle than when I started (possibly less) and in need of a new plan.

This failure was the perfect time for me to finally begin experimenting with Life Style Design, a term coined by Tim Ferriss, Author of "The Four-Hour Work Week" and avid blogger. Tim has taken his ideas to some ridiculous extremes, including losing 30+ pounds in 24 hours and gaining it right back. I'm not sure Ferriss himself would recommend most people try to match his rapid weight-loss technique but it is consistent with his ideas of maximizing effort in order to attain a goal quickly. Which leads me to another flaw in my previous system, I didn't have a clear goal? Was it to lose weight? Not exactly. At 6'1-2"ish my 200-210lbs is not an impending health concern but I'd like to be lower. What I really needed to do was drop excess fat (which I tried to do by simply eating less) and add muscle (which I thought I would get to after I crossed that 200lbs mark but never quite made it). So now I have a brand new goal: To see if Tim Ferriss is full of shit or not. I don't care about losing weight, gaining muscle, looking better, getting stronger - I want to see if any of the stuff in his book can really be used by someone who can not seem to decouple responsibility and self-satisfaction. Is life-style design something you can do one step at a time and see results? Can I stick to a fairly simple (yet stringent) work out / food intake plan for 28 days? These are the questions I will answer in this blog.

The experiment will combine two of Tim's most popular blog posts:

You can read them both for details but to summarize, the two blogs are highly connected yet somewhat contradictory as both require a strict diet of lean meat, veggies and leggumes in reasonable but not constricting portions. Both factor in an 'exchange' of fat to muscle in the calculation and both are extremely simple and sound easy to implement. Here is how day 1 went:

Day One - First Lift
I opted to go with the 6 lifts suggested in the description of the regime:
Leg Press, Trap Bar Deadlift, Overhead Press, Yates bent row, Dips, Incline Machine Benchpress

The trick is to pick the right amount of weight that will get you to push you too exhaustion in ~10 rep w/ a 5/5 ratio in this order. The catch for me is I am COMPLETELY out of shape.

Yates bent row - 135lbs
(Bar + 45lbs plates) 6 reps
Leg Press - 2 x 45lbs Plate & 1 x 25lbs plate (each side)
Trap Bar Dead lift - 185lbs - 10 reps (little rest in between in each rep)
Overhead Press - 90lbs x 3 reps #fail
Dips - #Fail
Incline Machine Benchpress - 155lbs x 6 reps

"Failure" will be a common theme.  I tried to select enough weight to take to where I would be tired after 4-5 reps and then, as go until complete muscular failure.  I felt like I only properly executed a true failure on the leg press.  

With the other exercises I felt as though my current strength limited me from performing enough reps to truly max out on effort.  I will adjust the weight down slightly next round.

Day One Food Intake:
A 1/3 of a serving of pork roast (mom's leftovers)
3 scoops of Whey Protein
A Bolani (1/2 as a morning snack - 1/2 with lunch)
A three bean salad (pinto, black, garbanzo) w/ spinach and turkey
A Large Black Coffee from Pete's
A Diet Dr. Pepper (tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper)
20 pistachios
A big BBQ chicken breast
A glass and a half of wine
2 Siggs of Water (2 litters)

I survived a pretty difficult task in the form of a BBQ where I avoided, Hot Dogs, Sausages, a glorious bowl of red cherries and didn't put any cheese on my chicken (a huge step for me).

My legs are sore and my shoulders feel arthritic - day one was a huge success. Let's see how the rest of this goes...

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