Saturday, September 20, 2008

10 Sets of 10 Reps

I've finally started hitting the weights in earnest, and have been rewarded by constantly sore muscles in my upper body to complement my sore legs. It feels great.

It's also a new feeling, for me. Granted, after a three hour windsurfing session, my entire body will ache from my toes to my neck, but that usually only happens at the beginning of the season. There really is no better full body workout than windsurfing. Swimming is great, but doesn't give you the incredible interval training that windsurfing can. That said, I've only been windsurfing a few times since I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Part of it has been the dearth of wind, at least by my standards.

Part of it has been that my wetsuit no longer fits.

Unfortunately, over the past year, I've become really fat - by my standards, anyway. For the first time in my life I broke 200 pounds, and not by a small amount, either. This is particularly sad given that I was down to around 155 two years ago, when I was windsurfing regularly (3 times a week, between 1.5 - 4 hours a session). My diet didn't change, although due to stress at leaving my job and planning a move 2500 miles across the country to a place where I had never been and where I had no friends or even acquaintances, I was eating as a stress reliever, and simply stopped exercising. Given that my job consists of punching keys on a keyboard, it's no surprise to me that I packed on the pounds. What did surprise me was how much I gained, and how quickly I gained it.

At this point it's probably a good idea to mention a blog that's been a source of motivation in this effort: the Fat Cyclist. Elden is a funny guy, and not really as fat as he claims to be. The confessional style of his early blog postings is not only wildly entertaining, but inspirational. Really.

So, I've been duly inspired to post about my own weight loss experience, in somewhat less excruciating detail. You're not going to get pictures of me, since I have no desire to subject anyone to such things, and weight measurements won't be included as any usable metric. You see, according to BMI calculations, I'm obese. Like, more than borderline, actually well within the category. On the other hand, BMI measurements are an incredibly generalized metric that doesn't take into account body type. Even at my most fit several years ago, wearing pants with a 30 inch waist and very little abdominal fat, I still weighed in at 155-160, placing me in the 'overweight' category. That's absurd.

So, BMI calculations aren't going to factor into this. However, I still want to set a target weight of 175, because I think I can reach it, although it might take a while. Yes, this still puts me in 'overweight' territory, but I don't care, because of my strategy for losing weight.

My strategy: add muscle. That's it. This requires the least lifestyle change for me, and as lifestyle changes that are dictated only by the requirement to lose weight are always doomed to failure (for me, anyway) this has the best chance of working over the long term. This definitely differs from most people's weight loss plans, including Fatty's. Let me explain why.

  • Diet. I already eat a relatively healthy diet, and have cut down on grazing activities. The only meats I eat are various fish that I consider sustainable, and most seafood. I eat eggs and cheese provided it's a small quantity and non-processed. If it's sheep or goat cheese, so much the better. Most of my/our diet in this household consists of Asian cuisine, and I'm not talking about Chinese food. I'd say we eat at a Vietnamese, Thai, or Japanese restaurant almost every day now that we live in the Seattle area. It's not just an addiction, it's healthy and it's cheap. Bientu, of course, eats nothing but raw meat and organs, but she's a dog. I hate candy, and anything with corn syrup or artificial color in it is a non-starter (another household rule). I generally eat two proper meals a day, one of which is breakfast. So, I'm not sure I want to change anything. I did forget to mention beer, which can amount to 200-800 calories a day for me. I refuse to alter that part of my diet.
  • Exercise. I'm not relying on the things I do for fun to provide the increase in calories burned. This is because I want to continue to do these things for fun, and not to lose weight. I ride my bike for fun. Yes, all my miles are junk miles. Hah! I windsurf for fun, although it's hard to imagine windsurfing for any other reason. I snowboard for fun. I simply refuse to run, ever again, for any reason. I did for a while, and it did very little for me. My knees are still in good shape, and I want to keep them that way, thanks. Besides, the more over your target weight you are, the more you're trashing your knees. No thanks. So, my strategy is simple: interval training on the mountain bike for the lower body, weight training for the upper body in the gym that's conveniently located half a mile down the street. I have a route that I ride every day that includes some hard climbing for short periods interspersed with nice rest intervals. I'm spending an hour in the gym five times a week. If this doesn't work, nothing will.
So, if BMI metrics are pointless, what will I use to gauge my progress? Well, in the spirit of beth bikes!, I'm going to include a bunch of measurements of an specific muscle group. Actually, a bunch of muscle groups. There are lots of bodybuilding resources on the net, and I stumbled across a male "Grecian Ideal" calculator, that will give you your ideal measurements based on the size of... your wrist.

No, really!

So, based on my wrist size (exactly 18 cm) here are my ideals:

neck43 cm
chest117 cm
bicep42 cm
forearm34 cm
waist82 cm
hip99 cm
thigh62 cm
calf40 cm

I don't know, compared to my target waist and quad measurements, that's extremely close. The others... Well, I guess I just have to see. Here are my current measurements:

neck39 cm91% of ideal
chest102 cm87% of ideal
bicep32.25, 33, 32.6 cm77% of ideal
forearm31.25, 31.5, 31.4 cm92% of ideal
waist95 cm115% of ideal. ewww
hipi'm not sure how to measure this
thigh58.5, 60.75, 59.6 cm 96% of ideal
calf40.25, 40.75. 40.5 cm 101% of ideal

Hey, that was actually interesting. Aside from the obvious (I'm pathetic) there's clear evidence that cycling has been a good idea. My upper body, on the other hand, needs a lot of work.

Oh, my weight? 200.5, yesterday. Scary.

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