Elevating my Fitness Targets — Moving to How
It’s been a month since I wrote about why I wanted to elevate my fitness targets. I decided relatively early on that I wasn’t going to share my visualizations which inject emotion into my reasons. This is partly because they wouldn’t mean the same thing to anyone but me, and partly because they’re still relatively private.
Rather, this article is going to center on the “how”: what I’ve been doing, what I’ve changed, and the results thus far.
First things first, I honestly didn’t make any changes for about a week after publishing my “why” article. I wasn’t sitting on my hands, though. I took some time to turn my reasons into emotions, to self-assess, to learn, and to plan. Where did I go for assistance? If course, it was YouTube.
I started watching a few new channels for guidance and inspiration, and one of the primary examples is GuiltFreeTV with Jeff Morgan. Jeff is a 40+ year old vegan bodybuilder who really pushes the limits of himself, has made tremendous progress, and has documented his path along the way. Another great channel is Simnett Nutrition, who focuses more on calisthenics than traditional weights as his primary source of training. Both vloggers have a lot of positivity, a passion for plant-based eating, and great results that they (quite justifiably) love to demonstrate in their videos.
With the added information from these perspectives, along with the baseline habits that I still maintain to this day (whole food plant-based eating, daily meditation, walks over my lunch break, and more), I began to craft my plan. My first priority was to resume a couple of key habits that served me well during my initial weight loss last year but which I stopped doing when I reached my initial goal:
- Tracking every meal, which I restarted on Monday October 2.
- Resume veggie fasting days (<500 calories per day of predominantly non-starchy veggies for two days in a row once per week).
I also decided to add in a few other changes as an experiment:
- Swapping my daily push-up habit with a more intensive weight training routine. I work on my chest & back on Mondays & Thursdays, my biceps & shoulders on Tuesdays & Fridays, and I work on legs & core on Wednesdays. Saturday and Sunday are for active rest, meaning being sure to do at least a walk on those days.
- Starting out the day with just veggies as my first meal (no fruit or oats, which have been my normal breakfasts for months now). Chef AJ calls this “VFB” or “veggies for breakfast”, and it’s part of her recommendations in her weight loss group. I like the idea, and have been experimenting with my own version of it for the past three weeks. My veggie breakfasts have been something as simple as half a bag of baby carrots if I’m in a rush, or if I’m feeling like something a little more substantial, a bowl of 1 cup of shelled edamame combined with half a cup of corn cooked in the microwave. It’s been going well thus far, and even the most substantial of these breakfasts cuts the calories from my breakfast meal to about half of where it was before.
- I briefly tried going down to one meal per day on the days I wasn’t doing a veggie fast, and that didn’t go very well as I struggled to eat enough calories in that single meal to truly fill out the day. I started consuming a bowl of grape nuts in low-sugar almond milk shortly after the meal as a relatively calorie-dense dessert to help me get the rest of the calories for the day. However, this back-fired as I started craving this extra shot of calories (and salt) after every meal – whether I was just eating one meal per day or not. I recognized it, and put a stop to that before it became a bigger problem.
- I also briefly tried to do my weight lifting in the mornings, but that did not go well either. I’ve been a night person my entire adult life, and I find it much more reliable to work out in the evenings rather than try to get up an hour earlier each day.
That’s really about all I’ve changed.
So, what are the results thus far? Well, it’s still definitely a work in progress, but as of today, I’m down about 6.5 pounds from where I started a month ago, and my strength has improved noticeably. I measure strength in the number of pushups I can do in a row, and my newest record is 63. I’m nowhere near sharing photos of my physique (give me a year or two and we’ll see), but I can say for certain that I can notice a difference in my arms, chest, and shoulders when I look in the mirror. So, I’m confident that I’m either gaining muscle or at least maintaining what I have which makes the weight loss a combination of fat (exactly what I’m targeting) and probably some water weight as well if I’m carrying around less glycogen on average because of my fasting days.
What’s next for me?
Well, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing to see where it goes. I’m also planning on adding the following steps:
- Completely eliminating alcohol for the coming month. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t drink much, but still drink the occasional glass or two of wine on weekends. At this point, it just seems like empty calories, and it’s not promoting health.
- Starting to drink a post-workout green shake to help recover better after weight training.
- Exploring some body-weight exercises rather than just focusing on hand weights as I’ve been doing for the last several weeks.
- Regularly using some yoga-based balance poses as I work at my standing desk to help achieve better balance, and also tone and strengthen my legs and core throughout the week.
I’ll check back in the next four weeks or so and let you know how it’s going.