My Fitness Journey (Week 1) - Coach JP

This week went really well!  I was on-track with my behaviour goals for both training and nutrition/lifestyle, and have seen progress in the mirror and on the scale.

Nutrition/Lifestyle Behaviour:  Don't Drink Your Calories

I've been 100% on-track with this all week.  Honestly, this isn't a particularly hard one for me, which brings me to a good point that I often make with my coaching clients - sometimes going after the "low hanging fruit" is a good way to start out, or to kind of reboot after having a tough go of it.  Something that you are very confident you can stick with and achieve can give you an easy win that you can build on.  In PN coaching world, they say you should go for things that you or your client are about 9 or 10 out of 10 confident are achievable - anything less, and the degree of confidence is not high enough.

Again, the only beverages I've had are plain water, black coffee, plain green tea, plain Earl Grey tea, and plain sparkling water.

Plan for the coming week:

Since "Don't Drink Your Calories" is pretty easy for me and I have that pretty much on autopilot, I'm going to keep that going in the background, and add in a new behaviour - Eat Enough Protein.  In terms of grams, I need to aim for about 180 - 200 grams per day, or 6-8 Precision Nutrition hand portions (for protein, that's the area and thickness of the palm of your hand - check out PN's simple, hand-based Calorie Control Guide here).

Exercise Behaviour:  Walk to Work At Least 3 Days Per Week

I walked to work Monday and Wednesday this week, but had to work from home on Friday because my daughter was at home sick from school, so not quite on-plan.  If I can be consistent with walking to work Mon/Wed/Fri rain or shine for the next two weeks, I may consider bumping it up to 5 days per week.

Good news is I can definitely feel the walking having the effect I want - some low-level exercise for my plantar fascia and calves, which should go some way towards helping make my foot more resilient going forward.  I'm going to also try adding in a bit of SMR and stretching for my calves to see if I can accelerate the progress a little.

This week, I also trained Strength on Monday with the 5:30 group, Boxing on Wednesday with the 6:30 group, and the Weekend Grinder workout on Saturday morning.

Strength summary:

  • Trap Bar Squat - worked up to 190 pounds for 15/14/13/12/11 reps
  • KB Corkscrew Row - worked up to 24 kg for 12/10/8/7/7 reps
  • Slow, Steady Airdyne for 10 minutes to finish off

Boxing summary:

  • Gear notes - I was getting WAY too sweaty with my jacket on, even in the rain and cooler temperatures on Thursday (and wearing shorts).  I'm going to go with a long-sleeve technical shirt instead (with no jacket) for some minimal protection from the elements without too much insulation.

Weekend Grinder summary:

  • 4 rounds of 1 minute on, 30 seconds rest:
    • Slow Plank Angel
    • Sandbag-weighted reverse plank holds with feet turned out
    • Foot-Hand crawl on beam
    • TRX Pendulum
    • Rib-to-Thigh Reverse Lunge with Reach
  • 2 Rounds of:
    • Inverted Crawl
    • Inchworm Plank Walk-Up
    • Easy Airdyne
  • 2 Rounds of:
    • Shoulder Crawl
    • 1-Handed KB Heel-to-Toe Carry x 2 lengths
  • Finisher:
    • 1-Handed TRX Grip Hang w/Opposite Arm Extended (accumulate 3 minutes)

Plan for the coming week:

Same as this past week, but adding in the SMR and stretching for my calves.  I'm also going to do 20 minutes slow, steady Airdyne work on Tue/Thu morning when I'm not walking to work so I can work on getting my hamster heart under control and build some more cardiac capacity/stroke volume.  I'll be aiming to keep my heart rate at 138 bpm or less, which is an excrutiatingly slow pace for me, but necessary for the type of functional improvement I'm looking for.

This Week's Results:  208.8 lbs. (-4.2 lbs. this week, -5.2 lbs. from start)

I'm also fitting into "those pants" a little better than a week and a half ago, but still far from comfortable yet.

Before anyone gets too excited, understand that this loss is almost certainly at least 3/4 water weight only.  While I'm absolutely happy with the progress, I know that this is likely mostly due to the increase in my fluid intake.

I would also note that I have been weighing myself periodically throughout the week, and while I have been down overall through the week, my weight has varied by as much as four pounds from day to day.  I was down to as low as 207.4 yesterday, but my Sunday morning weigh-ins will be my "official" number.

Thoughts On Fluid Intake - What I'm Going To Do And Recommend Going Forward

It's interesting, I've found, that with fluids and fat, the more I take in (within reason, obviously, particularly with fat) the more willing my body seems to shed its own stores.  In the case of fluids, this can be both good and bad, depending on what your goals are.

If your goal is to look really lean and defined, then your body holding onto less water is great.  The resulting reduction in visible "puffiness" can really help your muscles look harder and more defined, but you need to be very consistent with your fluid intake, keeping it around 2L or more per day for women, and 3.2L or more per day for men, plus replacing 0.5 - 1.0L for each hour of moderate to strenuous physical activity, depending on how much you sweat.  Does this approach lead to the best possible FUNCTION, though?  I think not.

If your goal is to be able to perform at your best without relying on a lot of fluid intake, particularly in feats of endurance (of around 90 minutes or more in duration) or just during a regular day that might include shorter bursts of activity, chronically drinking a lot of fluids and your body shedding its stores could be a performance detriment.  If your body doesn't have as much water in reserve, that's less available for cooling of your body and the myriad of other functions water serves, and as soon as demands increase you will likely need to take in a high amount of fluid to perform at your best.  With that high fluid intake, you may also need to replace electrolytes regularly to avoid problems like hyponatremia.  This is a lot of thinking and worrying about something that should be relatively straightforward.

There's also the very valid argument that our thirst mechanisms evolved to help us adapt to and survive a widely varying range of climates and conditions, and that adaptability is part of what led to humans becoming the dominant species on the planet.  Given that, then why wouldn't we rely on those mechanisms to help determine when we should drink?  The advice that many feel was driven by the sports drink industry that "If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated" really doesn't make logical sense when viewed through the lens of intuitively listening to our bodies.

"Drink when thirsty" is a more intuitive approach, rather than trying to force your body to accommodate an unnatural pattern of behaviour based on some generalized recommended intake amount.  That's the approach I'm going to use going forward - if I start to feel thirsty, I'll drink a glass of water, or a cup of plain tea or black coffee.  Other than that, I'm not going to stress about "I need to get X amount of fluids in me."

Bear in mind this is mostly theoretical on my part, but my recent experience during the Spartan Beast race seems to bear this out.  I didn't feel much need for fluid intake on the race as I would have expected given the duration and difficulty, and I hadn't been keeping my fluid intake chronically high for over a year leading into the event.

Your mileage may vary - as always with anything nutrition-related, your best bet is to experiment and listen to your own body, since every body is different!