Tag Archives: getting jacked

Closing In on the Goal

It’s raining.  It’s raining pretty hard.

I like the rain normally.  But…

atlas

Sometimes when I train I wear a diaper as well.  If only Charles Atlas was still the standard of male jacked-ness.  I think I’d stand a chance.

The only thing about the rain I don’t like tonight is that it kept me from doing my cardio workout.  I lack a treadmill or elliptical machine so I either go for a run or do 25 minutes of jump rope in my driveway.  Driveway’s flooded and the streets are a mess.  Since I’m only four weeks out from recording my final results in the Body for Life Challenge that just means I’ll do the cardio first thing in the morning and then a lower body workout (leg day) in the afternoon.  If you read this, say a prayer for me please.  I’ve never been this close before to achieving a goal I really wanted this badly.  For eight weeks now I’ve put in the hardest physical work of my life.  I followed a really good diet to an almost-micro level.  I did every set, every rep, every major muscle group at the appointed time.  When it was cold in my garage and the steel plates were hard to grip, I gripped ’em.  When it warmed up and I put the garage door up to let in a breeze and I wound up giving my neighbors a show as I pumped iron without a shirt on, I, well wait, where was I?  Oh yeah, I swatted mosquitos trying to suck the blood out of my near-bulging veins.  When the idea of hitting the pavement to run 20 minute intense intervals sounded like a death march, I forced myself to go faster and faster hoping that this would actually start burning fat.

I’m 40 years-old and in phenomenal health for a man half my age (if I do say so myself).  But there’s something about being able to visualize those results…  You know what I’m saying.  My body fat percentage is dropping but not fast enough for me.  I’ve gained 7 pounds of muscle since I started and that’s great but not good enough for me.  I’m finally starting to see the kind of definition that would turn heads and that’s awesome but not good enough for me.  My former-one time-actually never in reality trainer who remains an acquaintance of mine despite the way I’ve abused him in print over the years told me yesterday that with this particular program the results from the last four weeks are expected to be as good as for the first eight weeks.  “You’ve no doubt gotten a lot stronger now and can force more out of yourself.  Lift heavier because you can!  Run faster, jump rope more intensely.  You can either quit now and be happy or you can double down and be really happy.”  It was cool to hear him say that he really believed I could do it.  But if that’s the case and I stick with it (as I fully intend to) I should be a chiseled man in a month.  As shallow as it sounds but for the reasons mentioned above, pray for this.  I’d like to be happy with my appearance once in my life.  And if not, well, they say it’s good to possess good health.  Yeah.  Great.  Whatever.  I want to be ripped.

Good night, folks.

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Incredible

I was just thinking about some diet and exercise related things this evening…

I mowed my lawn tonight.  So it turns out “trainer” is a pretty decent guy.  I think we already knew that. but tonight he confirmed it for me.  I am about to embark on a major business trip and needed to get the lawn mowed before I leave.  Unfortunately my mower decided this was the perfect time to quit on me.  I texted “trainer” and asked if I could borrow his.

My mom, in particular, used to say to me “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”  She was good with pithy maxims like that.  She also used to call me by my dead brother’s name but who’s counting.  She did, however, reverse half of that statement when she also taught that we should always give of ourselves.  So I guess she didn’t really go back on her words so much considering that giving of ourselves is not lending if we don’t expect a return.  Now I’m confused.

Anyway, my friend the “trainer” texted back in the affirmative.  Now I am always mindful of a friend’s kindness.  If I ever need to catch a ride with someone even if he’s going to the same place already I fill up his car.  If I drop by for a visit I bring a bottle of wine.  I never want my mom to think she didn’t raise me right.  More to the point, it’s just the right thing to do since nothing is owed to me.  It’s my way of saying “Hey, you were incredibly kind and generous with your things.  It made my day easier.  I treated your mower better than my own.  Here’s a little something for your trouble.”

So I was thinking about the word incredible for some reason.  I think that’s because it’s how I would describe this 21 Day Fix program I’m on.  By the way, I’m closing in on 21 days and it’s going well, I think.  The incredible thing about the diet portion is that I finished this day with three proteins left!  That means that I, who ate well and was not hungry all day, should have eaten even more.  Incredible!

Then I was thinking about the exercise portion.  In 30 minutes each night for just shy of three weeks I’ve been able to dramatically reshape my appearance.  I’m not talking about massive gains in size or a total beach body just yet.  In fact I’m still leery of taking my shirt off at the beach this summer.  That could be because I have a perception of myself that might not match reality.  That’s another story.  But my waist has gotten smaller.  That’s a start.  Incredible, right?

Then there’s the “trainer” himself.  I thought this was kind of funny.  On Sunday I had a chance to meet two of his brothers.  The three of them along with Mrs. “trainer” and two of their kids had just completed one of those obstacle-laden mud races the day before.  Wouldn’t you know that, standing in their presence, I realized that I was in the kitchen of the “Incredibles”.  Seriously it’s like a family who live to one-up each other in the “I’m more shredded than you” game.  And I think that’s, honestly, incredible.  Truly.  I kind of wish I’d had brothers growing up who would have engaged in a little friendly competition and camaraderie to help each other reach our goals.  So I actually have seven brothers but none of them would have engaged in that kind of camaraderie with me.  Incredible, I know.

So thank you, “trainer”.  Thanks for the mower and allowing me to invite myself in for a glass of wine.  You know you were hoping I would anyway.  And thanks for the inspiration.  I’ve got a summer of travel ahead of me and I hope I won’t fall too far off the wagon.  If I do, maybe you guys could adopt me.

The “Fix” Is Working

I shared with you a week ago that I was on BeachBody’s 21 Day Fix Extreme.  Tonight I rounded out day 8. No, Annie, there won’t be any before and after picture, at least not until it’s all done and I’m drunk. Suffice it to say that things are going better than expected. 

Even “trainer” noticed a difference. At work on Friday he casually mentioned that I was looking very fit. “Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!” He has no idea how valuable that comment to me was. For a guy as fit as him (read: “shredded”) to tell pathetic old me who is far from fit and in fact may be classified as deformed that I’m looking better is huge. And I was fully clothed too so that speaks volumes. Of course he made this comment while doing 25 squat lunge-burpees and then took off to run 4 miles during the change between classes, but… He still said it and he can’t take it back. 

This will be me at 40. *Not ALL parts depicted accurately.

Tonight it was back to plyo workout. I felt great when I finished. Not only did I complete every damn set but it didn’t feel like I would die. And yes, I’m starting to notice little things here and there – things like abdominal muscles (not phenomenal but there) and the ribs that frame out ones chest when he’s actually jacked. I know this doesn’t mean much to most people or even to “trainer” who’s probably sick of seeing himself in a mirror but to me it’s big. As a younger man I never felt that I could just rip my shirt off whenever I felt the urge. Still don’t. Instead I had to win friends and indluence people by sharpening my wit. I was always the smart, funny friend whom everyone loved to have at a party but not necessarily on their team. So I found ways to insult them with clever words and then to insult myself and make a joke out of my shape. It’s worked for me for years and I’ve gotten quite good at it. Just the other day a friend shared a clip with me of a baseball catcher making an incredible catch. Meant nothing to me since I never played baseball (not even a game of catch in the yard with my brothers) but I could appreciate the intensity of it and my friend’s sense of awe. Fighting the urge to say “Wow, such coordination. Someone can use his hands,” I said instead simply “Wow.” But I didn’t say it with an exclamation point. 

My ultimate hope is to be able to say in a year and a half when I turn 40 that I’m in the best shape of my life and to have the body to back that up. And if not I can always cut everyone around me down to size with a quick jab of my vocabulary. There’s a part of me that would love the “revenge” aspect of that as I watch my friends who once had athleticism struggle to avoid obesity. Of course “trainer” will somehow find a way to shed even more body fat by then. But on some plane where the rest of us mortals dwell most might think I’ve done OK for myself. 

Autumn ( the woman from the workout videos) keeps saying “Remember why you’re doing this!”  Then she yells at Cat. I keep responding “so my wife will find me irresistible” and realizing that’s not the right answer.  

I’m doing this for me. 

The Fix Is In

Today I embarked on a new chapter in my fitness quest.

Today I began a program called 21 Day Fix.  Actually the one I began is called 21 Day Fix EXTREME!  Ooh.

Let me tell you about it.

There are two parts to this baby.  The first is the diet.  I’ve dabbled with changing my diet before.  I’ve done Atkins and such in the past.  In fact I have heard it said that fixing your diet – that is, sticking to a healthy diet – is 80% of getting jacked.  I heard that from my “trainer” who’s name now appears in quotes as he insists he’s not actually a trainer and may in fact be lying to me in an effort to keep me from making progress and thus seeing results to rival his.  All of that is a lie, of course.  I said it to get a rise out of him, you know, for laughs.

mustang parc gym

Yep, it’s another “fitness” blog.

I’ve heard the old “eat smaller meals more frequently” maxim.  What I ate today, though, totally takes the cake for eating like a king.  At the end of the day I had yet to consume a large amount of my daily intake and was already full.  This is all based on one’s height, weight, activity level, goals, etc.  At one point I had to take a bunch of body measurements for the tracking app I’m using.  I had a bit of fun discovering that my calves are two inches bigger than my arms.  My wife’s response to that was “Well, you’ve got big calves,” not “Don’t worry, your arms are big enough for me and that’s all that counts and I love you more than any man who’s ever lived and take me now.”

Now for the exercise part of the equation…

A curious note in the app said simply “Plyo-max Extreme”.  This appears to be a reference to plyometrics, a pseudoscience, the premise of which is that if you jump around a lot you’ll be “fit”.  “Can’t be too hard,” I thought.  I’ve been running up to five miles a days, doing crazy tabata workouts.  I’ll probably not even break a sweat.”

The woman came on the screen.  Her name is Autumn.  I feel it’s important you know that.  I think when parents give their kids out-there names it messes with their psyche and turns them crazy.  Autumn lived up to my expectations.  The thing is she didn’t hit me full-on crazy like I was expecting.  She eased into it.

The setting was a large gym with a stairwell on the side presumably leading nowhere.  That’s not a metaphor at all.  In the background were prominently displayed packages of “Shakeology”, the powdered supplement that is the core of the whole program.  That’s not a pyramid scheme at all.  Speaking of pyramids, immediately behind Autumn were nine people.  Looking at their physiques, lithe movement patterns, and attire I surmised that they were the children of Solid Gold dancers.  And then there was Cat.  Cat didn’t look like she belonged.  Cat looked as normal as you or I.  Cat appeared to be right as rain.  Cat didn’t seem to give a shit that she was there.  Why, Cat, why?  What is your deal?

I didn’t have time to ponder that.  Autumn and the Pod People all began “warming up” in sync with each other.  Not Cat.  She clapped her hands once, looked at the camera and mouthed “Bitches.  I piss on all of you.”  Autumn intoned her instructions like the pope leading the Salve Regina at the end of a Vatican mass.

“We’re Getting Pum-umped!”

On the wall behind her was a chalkboard that read “You can do anything!”  Lies.  Autumn, as if she was reading my mind cut in “You can do anything!  Now let’s do this!”  And we were off.  First up was something called plyo-jumps followed by something called plyo-sumo-jump lunges.  Moments later I was about to collapse.  But I could do it.  I think.  And then Autumn said something that made me feel both sad, and confused at the same time.  “Guys,” she barked at the people behind her, “if you don’t have the flexibility to do this right, just follow Cat’s lead.”

Ahhhh!  That’s what Cat’s there for.  And that explains why she doesn’t really seem to care what’s going on.  While everyone else was literally jumping into the air, both feet together, and slapping their knees, Miss Cat was simply raising her heels an inch or two off the ground, smiling, and returning to start.  She was the comic relief in Autumn’s mind, brought in to contrast fit from undesirable.  Basically, she’s the Quazimodo of this film.

Set by set, movement by movement, Autumn shamed me (and her minions on set) into greater fits of sweat and pain.  Not Cat.  We did reverse lunges.  Cat took a step and winked at the camera.  We did burpees with a push up.  Cat got on all fours, raised her right arm, and meowed.  Autumn would chime in with some ridiculousness toward one of the dancers “Tony! If you can’t do the movements right, just do what Cat’s doing,” or “Philippine! If you don’t have the balls to get those quads up in the air while engaging your core, just do what Cat’s doing.”  Meanwhile by the final set Cat was in a leather recliner eating Yodels and watching TV.  I think she was watching a Richard Simmons workout VHS.

Cat looked happy.  Cat is very smart.  If you want to be jacked do what Autumn tells you to do and like it.  If you want anything of value, just do what Cat’s doing.

More to come.

Mother’s Day Musings

First, I’d like to wish a very happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

I’d also like to wish a very happy day to all the mutha’s out there.  And you know who you are.

Lots of thoughts going through my mind tonight.  I promise it has nothing to do with the Valium I just took.  I think I pulled a muscle in my back but more on that later.

On the training front I have stopped running.  I haven’t given up.  No, I’m too committed to have done that.  I talked to the man I’ve been calling “trainer” for a while now.  He insists he’s just a friend who offers advice when asked.  I must have lucked out because I don’t know too many people who have a friend who’s not only jacked to the hilt but also has the knowledge as to how I can get that way too.  Is he sometimes impatient with my barrage of questions?  Sure.  But that’s to be expected.  He never asked to be my trainer.  Have I dragged him into the middle of my obsession to not only look better but also get in great shape?  Yep.  But what did he expect?  You can’t walk around exuding perfection and not expect your opportunistic friends to seize the moment.

So he recommended a change-up of the training plan for me.  Beginning tomorrow I will be following (along with my wife) something called “21 Day Fix”.  It’s a radical diet shift for me designed to boost metabolism.  It follows along with a workout regimen.  I was intending to jump into the Insanity workout program but my wife pointed out to me that we’ll be leaving on a huge road trip in three weeks.  This other program should do the trick though.  I’ll admit after about 9 months, I’m actually going to miss running.  I had just hit my slow-ass stride, too.  But it was hard as anything.  It was hard to do it and it was harder to admit I wasn’t very good at it.  But I was finally just about able to enjoy it.  We shall see how this goes.  I can always go back to running.

In other news, the end of the school year is coming!  Just a few short weeks and I am ready to catch my breath and relax for a bit.  This year that means I’ll be sleeping soundly for about 20 extra minutes because on my first day off we embark on that road trip I mentioned above.  I can’t discuss much of it at the moment but check back and all will be revealed.

So I think that Valium is kicking in and I’m about reasddsy to crashh.  Have a grasst day and remembjer that Harvy lobedsd you aooo much bithfes and I lovvre lifes and evythgin and pupplied dogsd ans Jesuj.  ZzzzzźZZZ  Z Z Z ZZZ Z Z Z Z Z Zz z z zZ Z

What I Didn’t Know I’d Been Looking For

Yesterday I had a conversation with my trainer. It began because I asked him if he could read my most recent post on running and give me his honest feedback. I wanted to know if he understood where I was coming from or if the whole thing sounded “whiney”. 

To my surprise and delight he obliged. I say that only because I’ve been a little distant with the guy at work the past few weeks. My apologies to him now. The reason is that I recognize he graciously agreed to take on the challenge that is me when I more or less forced myself into his training regimen. I’m always conscious of that fact and at times I feel the need to step back and give him his breathing room. I’m sure he doesn’t always want to have me pop into his classroom with endless questions about my abs. It kind of sucks because other then training we do have some things in common and I genuinely enjoy having a friend at work.

He read and then we sat down to discuss. 

“You’re not whining at all,” he said.  “I should have explained things more clearly to you and I totally understand you’re frustration and your sense of discouragement. It’s natural.”

This was a huge relief to me. Knowing that he got what I was saying was very important to me. There’s no sense in handing large portions of your day over to someone else’s direction and then not feeling like there’s trust. I’m glad we’re on the same page.

charo

Even Charo meeded a little encouragement.

He went on to break down some stats for me about running including some personal anecdotes that I needed to hear. I still believe the man is gifted and I still think that’s a wonderful thing both for him and for me. He shouldn’t shy away from that label but wear it proudly. But I also believe that, even though it might take me longer and I might have to train twice as hard I can eventually get there. I learned them from our conversation. And I thank him for taking the time. 

Before I left he added one crucial thing. 

It was nothing about diet or the right shoes or push ups. 

“You’re doing phenomenal,” he said looking up from his desk. “I mean that.”

I’ll overlook his improper adverbial construct. My trainer, a man who looks like a statue, told me I was doing great. It’s almost as if he said “I’m proud of you.” That was huge. I think all I’ve been looking for all along was some kind of recognition. I wanted someone to notice the hard work and dedication. The fact that it’s him who noticed means the world to me. 

Look, as a teacher I’m used to not being recognized. Just a few nights ago I was really frustrated. Found myself praying “God, this might make sense if I even once knew that I had helped just one teenager come to a better understanding of You. I could take the fact that I missed out on the high paying jobs my friends all have or the feeling that I’m not respected for what I do; but to go so long without so much as a pat on the back? That’s tough. It’s more than I can deal with. Why did You ask this of me?”  The frustration about my fitness progress was just a sub-symptom of that I think. 

Do I still wish the trainer ever had a free evening to kill a bottle of wine because I love hanging with him? Perhaps if I told him how phenomenal he is at drinking…

By the way, last night, after that conversation I went and ran three of my best miles in a long time and tonight I jumped into a killer crossfit workout. A little encouragement goes a long way. 

Getting Really Real

I noticed something after my 15 minutes of planking last night.

Planks suck.

But, I also learned something else.  A few something else’s, actually.

The first thing is that planks, though sucking the big one, must actually be really effective.  My core was on fire today.  It was a good kind of burn; not sore just really engaged.

Another thing I learned was that my trainer is not the cruel psychopath I had begun to think he was.  At work we discussed my plank.  And if you didn’t know I was writing about a workout plan that sentence would be positively dirty.  As I mentioned, I had been feeling quite confused about the training plan he set me on this time out.  It seemed like he was all over the map.  He had me do tabatas one day, a kettle bell workout the next, then run, then more tabatas, then that plank thing.

This all seemed very different than the workout routine from last summer where he stressed short workouts and consistency — like six weeks of the same thing — before switching it up.

Then he dropped that automated trainer on me and I seriously thought he was saying “I’m done with you.”  It felt for a minute like he was telling me that he didn’t trust my level of commitment enough to continue training me personally, like it wasn’t worth his effort anymore.

So I moved past that assumption pretty fast and realized he was just adding something into the mix with the pre-planned workouts from Spartan.

Today at work he showed me another workout.  “This one’s crazy,” he said.  That sounded encouraging.  He opened up his inbox to reveal somewhere around 1400 emails from Spartan and searched for one in particular.  “It’s one I did that time that I told you about.”  He had, in fact, told me a few months ago about a particularly grueling workout.  Funny thing is I didn’t know he had been using these workouts himself for a long while.

“Try to do five sets,” he said.  Then he let out a maniacal laugh before restating that it was all about consistency and having the desire to just do it.

I came home and took care of a few things like dinner and getting the kids to bed.  And then I got changed for this “crazy” workout.

Looking over the plan in my email I started with the warm-up.

75 jumping jacks and a 5 minute run.  What was cool was that I had discovered that I still had some fight in me.  After my 5 minute run I wasn’t in the least winded.  Just a few months ago I couldn’t go more than a minute without breaking down.  Now it seemed I could do this with ease.

The workout proper was every bit as crazy as he had suggested.

But I did it.  OK, I only did three sets but I did them with good form and to exhaustion.

The truth is that this was the best workout I’ve ever had.

I finished up and grabbed some water before heading to the shower.

As I did I was overcome with the need to say a prayer thanking God for my trainer.  He seemed to know this time exactly what I needed to do.  I have never felt this good after working out.  More importantly, he’s given me the right routine at this time to quickly boost my ego.  After this workout, in fact after this week of workouts, I’ve noticed quite a few changes.  I’ve actually put on 3-5 lbs. of muscle and my clothes are fitting better.  Maybe he’s been reading my blog and realizing I’m desperate to reach my goal and that my goal is to look like him.  At least I’m grateful that he’s taking me seriously (not that he hasn’t before) but there’s something different this time.

I think it’s getting really real now.

I still need help with a few things.  OK, I need lots of help.  When he reads this maybe he’ll take pity on me.  I mentioned form.  I’m big on using and keeping proper form.  I’m of a mindset that 1 burpee with the proper form is better than 100 crappy burpees.  So I’m focusing on little things like that.  My burpee itself could still use improvement.  But where I really need help is with my pull ups.  I need to find a way to rig up a decent pull up station at home so I can just do them.  It may take a long time but if I commit to doing at least 3 a day than I know Ill get better at them.  He bangs out ten at a time and that inspires me.  So if he reads this or if anyone reads this, say a prayer I get better at this one.

On that note, I think I’ve earned a little rest.