Friday, January 7, 2011

Little by Little Everything Changes

So I have been flipping through the archives of my mind lately. Mainly, I am in the row of archives labeled "Weight Loss and Weight Gain". It's not very exciting really. I am sure you have done this from time to time. "Well, when I was XX years old, I weighed XXXlbs and boy was I ever happy/depressed." I used happy/depressed because truly it is a binary experience; good/bad, dark/light, Jedi/Sith, so on and so forth. You are either one or the other when it comes to the shape you are in. I am perfectly in shape, for example, if the shape were an oddly designed oval-ish sort of thing. I can't say I am in depression but I can see the city limit sign. That gives me some time to do something about it before I mosy on in and take up residence.

As I am going through the archives, I am putting little tabs on certain things so I can reference what worked and what didn't. From a previous post here you can surmise that potatoes were the devil and pretty much still are. Oh though I love them so, they turn on me as soon as they hit my blood stream. You are what you eat which is why so many people are potato shaped, including me. There is one benefit to being potato shaped: you can carry a lot of accessories in this little compartment you have above your ass. I have a hat, pipe and hipster moustache for special occasions in there right now.

In high school I liked to run. I have a photograph somewhere of me in a 10k t-shirt and I am fairly gaunt and very young, around 14 or so. As high school went along, I still ran but less and less as the years passed until I didn't run at all. Then somewhere late in my 18th year - BOOM! I have a laundry list of culprits that helped me gain around 20 pounds in a fairly short period of time. First was potatoes, second was beer (sweet nectar of the Gods!) and third was the previous years of running. Yes, I blamed the running and here is why.

Running, as an exercise, will not sustain positive metabolic changes for very long after it has ceased. I liked to distance run which was even worse. Distance running without proper nutrition will strip you of muscle sure as shit. It's like you are stuck in some hellish episode of The Twilight Zone where someone made you put on the red shoes and you were running yourself to death. More muscle = higher metabolic rate. It's that simple. It's one of those things I picked up through the years and is stuffed in the mental archives but if you know me and my organization skills, the thing is a mess. There are mental papers strewn across the mental floor in stacks with multi colored sticky notes to mark what is really important. There is no numbering system, just odd memory tricks pointing to the pertinent information. The important thing about data, and something that everyone should remember, is that it is useless if not well organized. It's how we put two and two together. I hadn't, I instead relied on external pop culture advice. What a mistake.

Not too long after gaining 20lbs, I lost it all again in the military and then some. I weighed in at 150lbs at a height of 5'11" tall. Wow that military can really help you lose weight! Uh no. I actually started running again, a lot. I did this on top of marching 3 miles a day and hitting the gym and doing aerobics. My diet was abysmal, I would estimate I was choking down about 5000 calories a day easily and I was still losing weight. Within three years, I was back again staring at my increasingly soft middle.

So it went, back and forth. As soon as I was out of the military, I was no longer bound by any weight limits and like a goldfish I expanded to fill the size of my tank. My weight had to be 250lbs when 1995 rolled around. Believe me, I have pictures and so does the local newspaper, the Arizona Republic. I think the headline read, "Small Children Try to Push Beached Whale Back Into the Ocean, Fail to Find Ocean." Honestly, it was about some improv thing I was doing during those years and that was also part of the problem. I was incredibly busy but at other times incredibly sedentary. That combination is sort of scary because you get so busy you do not eat properly and then you do nothing to make it go away.

Well I did make it go away but I have to admit it was really easy: simple short duration calisthenics in the living room. I can't say I worked out more than 20 minutes on any given day but it worked and since I had no scale or measurement the only reason I knew it worked was through compliments. That's not a good thing either. No data is worse than bad data, there is nothing quantifiable. I had received some pretty nice compliments even when I was being hunted through the streets of Phoenix by overly concerned but socially conscious children who had seen Free Willy one too many times. So how do you filter compliments? You disregard them all because, hey, you KNOW the truth. Riiiiight.

Next up, I decided to join a gym. Great decision right? Not necessarily, in some ways. I had done weight training off and on, a good part of my life but I think institutionalizing it and paying for it made it easier to be consistent. But there is too much of a good thing and I had way too much of a good thing going on. An hour or even two hour long work outs are not effective and can be downright damaging. I think I spent more time healing over a two year period than I did actually working out. In addition, my immune system plummeted, I attribute to over training and bad supplementation. I even had meningitis during this period. Ugh! It was too much and work was killing me. I stopped going regularly. Oooo Leonard's getting LAAARRRGER.

In the last ten years, it has been a roller coaster but, as I always have, I stayed well versed in all things health related. At one point I had a stack of men's health and muscle development magazines 2 feet high, not to mention the articles I had printed out from various sources. In the last ten years I was a constant experimenter: low carb diet, kettle bells etc. I was completely fascinated by a place called Gym Jones in Utah. The workouts were beastly and unorthodox and so in my bailiwick. I love the unorthodox. I loved the results. But they were beyond ridiculous and to everyone's relief I didn't bring a large 200lb truck tire home to bounce around the yard in a circuit drill. Eh maybe someday but not any day soon. I got as far as kettlebells and kettlebells are no fun inside the house when it is 115 degrees outside.

The one thing I noticed is this: the less I did, the better the results. I had stumbled upon what is called MED in bodybuilding circles and didn't even realize it. Often I would read through the workouts of bodybuilders and the endless reps in multiple sets were disappearing from the literature to be replaced by low rep single sets with heavier weights. It works. Trust me. If you are doing more than 45 minutes, you are wasting your time. A number of studies showed that chemically your body goes into an entirely different state and anything beyond will have almost the opposite result than the one desired, essentially and non technically your body goes into starvation mode and pack the fat on.

So I got even more excited than usual when I tripped upon a set of excerpts from a new book on a Gawker media website. The book was called "The 4-Hour Body" by a gentleman named Tim Ferriss. Here was a man who was actively experimenting on himself like some kind of mad scientists. Some of the information in the excerpts aligned perfectly with my own conclusions plus he had went beyond anything I could have imagined. Example: regular crunches do nothing, almost literally. I firmly embraced what old body builders used to call Vacuums. You let all the air out of your body and suck your bellybutton in toward your back bone, hold for a period of seconds, then let it all out slowly. But he had a more interesting and effective way of doing this type of exercises. He even talked about the full stretch type of crunch over an exercise ball. When he discussed foods, it all made sense. Ketogenics are your friend and white sugar and flour are the enemy. So on and so forth. Mr. Ferriss had taken my mental archives and organized them in one neat place and also added a ton more to absorb and try. Muahahaha, it brought out my inner mad scientist and I was ready to build my monster.

I ran out and bought the book this week and polished it off in 3 days. Trust me, this is not what you would strictly call a diet and exercise book, it's a different breed entirely and very funny to boot. I quickly went out tonight and bought everything I needed to start on Monday, January 10th. I have to tell you it was not at all expensive and I also grabbed the very common supplements as well, you probably paid more for your cable bill than I did for two weeks of proteins, vegetables and extracts.

Having little patience, I want to start NOW but I will wait. I have already decided that Saturday would be my binge day on this regimen and I wanted to roll this out exactly as the author had intended and the way I am better used to. So this week I will be posting, sigh, before pictures and next Saturday (published on Sunday or Monday) I will be posting all kinds of food porn because I can eat (encouraged to actually) anything I want without reason. At the end of month one, February 10th, I will post another set of pictures. I will also give you my daily weigh in and what I ate during the day as well as my mindset so you can help track my progress. My personal promise is that I will make it interesting for you and answer any question you might have as we go along.

The 4-Hour Body

"Little by little everything changes..."

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