Starting All Over Again - My Fitness Journey

Coming from a guy whose business is training others and coaching them on their nutrition and lifestyle habits, what I'm about to tell you may be a bit of a shock.  I am unhealthy and out of shape, and it's exactly because I haven't been eating right or exercising enough in the last year or so.  I have not been "walking the talk" as the saying goes.

Today, I bought some new pants, and in my mind, all hell broke loose.

I put on a pair of 34" waist cargo pants - barely - and thought, "WTF has happened to me?"  I mean, I had to full-on suck in my gut and worry the button was going to break off squeeze those suckers on.

Now, let's put this in a bit of perspective, because I've had people tell me I'm crazy when I say I am out of shape.  When I originally started out on my fitness journey back in 2004, I weighed in around 220 pounds at 5'7" tall.  I was wearing "flexi-waist" pants with a 34" waist, so I was probably really at more like a 36-38" waist measurement.  I was getting winded and my legs burned from going up a flight of stairs at my day job.  I had chronic back pain and knee pain, chronic acid reflux (like EVERY night), and ZERO energy.

Two-and-a-half years later, after a lot of hard work, experimenting with both exercise and nutrition ideas, I attained what I consider my peak in terms of conditioning, weighing in around 180 pounds, with a waist measurement around 32" or so with some very diligent adherence to healthy eating and working out very frequently and intensely.  Along the way, I started working part-time as a personal trainer, and in the years that followed, I started a bit of a bromance with the barbell deadlift, and moved my training emphasis more towards the strength side of the spectrum, and put a bit of weight back on, settling in around the low to mid 190 pound range without really needing to pay a lot of attention to what I was eating as long as I worked out regularly.  At my peak in terms of strength, which I attained around 2012-2013, my deadlift 1RM was 425 pounds, my squat 1RM was 405, and I'd put my conditioning at around 85-90% of my peak (as an example, I could run a local 5K race in a little over 22 minutes as recently as two years ago).

Today, after my pants-buying experience, I weighed myself when I got home and I weighed in at 214 pounds.  To be fair, my 214 pound self today could kick the crap out of my equivalent from 2004 in every single way possible.  I'm far stronger (but not as strong as I have been), better conditioned (but not as fit as I have been), and all-around more capable, but it's those "but not as" disclaimers I have to throw in there that piss me off.

How did I get here?

It's a simple recipe, really.  Between my full-time day job and running my training/coaching business, I work somewhere north of 60 hours per week, every week.  In dealing with the financial fallout from a failed attempt to grow my training business a few years back and always feeling like I don't spend enough time with my wife and daughters, I've been under a very large amount of stress for a number of years now.

All those factors combined led me to cut back on my own training last year, and then I pushed too hard in one particular workout and injured myself, and I went from working out regularly, to working out intermittently, to working out very rarely in the course of about six months.  Because I wasn't working out, I slipped back into my old "all or nothing" kind of mentality, and decided I wasn't going to particularly care about what I was eating any more.

Six months to a year of eating like an idiot and sitting on my ass a lot has brought me to today's debacle.  I am the heaviest and most out-of-shape I have been in nearly TEN YEARS, and I'm a personal trainer and nutrition coach, for fuck's sake.  I am not leading my family or my clients by example, I'm very pissed off with myself and unhappy in my own skin.


How am I going to move forward?

Interesting question.

I'm 11 years older than the last time I was in this situation, and I know from my experience over the last couple of years that my body really doesn't recover the way it used to, so my approach will have to be a bit different.  I can't hit every workout with maximum intensity like I used to, and I need to be very aware of and diligent with taking care of my recovery between workouts.

I also have developed an appreciation over the last couple of years for a more balanced "fitness" picture, without too strong a bias towards any one area - strength, endurance, power, mobility or work capacity.  So, unlike last time, where it was pretty much all work capacity, high-intensity interval training, twice per day, six days per week, I want to take a bit of a different approach in that regard as well.

I also have some nagging injuries/issues to be wary of as well - plantar fasciitis in my right foot, and golfer's elbow that flares up whenever I start working a lot of grip-intensive stuff.  I need to plan around those as well.

Finally, I'm not going "all in" right away, and immediately jumping up to a high workload and strict diet, because that just doesn't work for me anymore.  Instead, I'm going to take the same approach I take with my coaching clients, and gradually ramp up the work and re-adopt better eating behaviours one at a time.

Step 1 (Activity):

Walking to work at least three days per week.  This is about 3.5 km on the way to work, and 4-5 km on the way back over a BIG hill by a different route.  This lower-intensity work will be part of my recovery activity, and a nice low-level stress on my plantar fascia to work on strengthening it, and will be a good start to conditioning my feet and calves for my run at a Spartan Race Trifecta in 2016.  Of course, me being me, I'll no doubt jump into a few other workouts during the week with my client groups when I can (I.E. when Julia is running the classes, and with the boxing or Saturday morning "Weekend Grinder" classes), but I am going to purposely try and force myself to take it slow.

Step 1 (Nutrition):

No more drinking any calories.  Only water, black coffee, plain (black or green) tea, and soda water.  I'm going to work my way back up to 3L or more of fluid intake per day.  If I can nail this behaviour for the next 3-4 weeks, then I'll move on to another one.

I'm going to periodically check-in here on the blog to keep whoever cares to follow this up to date.  My target is to get down to the low 180-pound range by the end of June 2016, a loss of about 34 pounds at a rate of about a pound per week.  Here we go!