[If you need some context for this feature, read it here!]
26.4% Body Fat (24.5kg)
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Bilbo Baggins, probably
You know, I’m pretty happy with how I spent this final week of my Easter holiday. I made a fitness plan, almost immediately figured out that my fitness plan sucked and needed some changes…
And I more or less spontaneously decided to completely give up grains and processed food.
Yeah, paleo. That’s a thing I’m doing now!
In one evening, I somehow became convinced that it’d be a good idea to quit pasta and pizza cold turkey. That is not a light decision for me, and I’m still somewhat baffled at the notion that I was won over so easily to the paleo diet.
So far, though, I have no complaints. I feel good. I can stick to this.
Below is a day-by-day record of my fitness efforts. It gets more statistically dense as I finally cotton on to the idea of measuring my physical activity. I hadn’t so much as heard of Paleo until Saturday, so if that’s what you want to read about… skip there!
Today I got a major boost from a few game journalists I follow. As a subscriber to giantbomb.com’s premium content, I get to listen to them natter on about a lot of stuff that isn’t remotely related to computer games. I’ve come to enjoy their personalities to the extent that I’d listen to them talk about just about anything. My favourite premium podcast, though, is called Danswers. Hosted by Danny O’Dwyer Dan Ryckert, it’s a general advice show that is often legitimately inspiring. Today they released a fitness special, with Danielle Riendeau (another Dan!) as a special guest.
Not only was it a good reminder to keep my running streak up, it was great listening material for the run itself. A good podcast can make the difference between a chore and a treat. Plus, I picked up some good fitness tips.
As the icing on the cake, the Dans started up a challenge:
I didn’t sign up, if only because I’m not going to be exercising on Sundays. It’s still encouraging, though, to be reminded that you’re not the only one out there trying to get fit – especially when it’s people you look up to that are going for it. I think that sense of community makes a world of difference.
Today I suddenly remembered the fitness app that came pre-installed on my Galaxy S5. It’s called S Fitness, but I’m pretty sure you can’t just get it off the app store. I’ve used it before for runs, and I’ve been continuing to use it to track my steps for some reason. I know it’s not infallible – I’ve taken it out of my pocket sitting still on the train before and watched the steps tick up – but it’s nice as a simple reminder to get out of the house.
I… don’t think it tracked my running very accurately. It says that I ran 8.28 miles, which seems like a bit of an overestimation. The real overestimation is the metric of calories burned – 1322 kcal. Nope. No way. It wasn’t THAT strenuous.
I did leave the app running for a while after I got back (I forgot about it), and I didn’t have the GPS on. Maybe that’s why it’s so far off base.
Well, today I suddenly remembered the fitness app’s GPS function in the middle of my run. I’d set a calorie goal, and when my phone informed me I’d already met it halfway through my run… I figured that the app just does a really bad job if it’s working off the pedometer alone. I’ll start posting actual metrics from tomorrow onwards – just to give a general idea of what I’m doing.
Running: 45 mins, 4.7 miles, 753kcal
Today I finally decided to formulate an actual plan, with actual words and actual goals.
Preceding this I had decided to make a solid commitment to abstain entirely from crisps and fizzy drinks, up until June at least. Even though I did a decent job exercising last week, I ended up having like three tubs worth of Pringles. Not good.
When I came around to actually writing the plan, it came out like this:
1: No crisps or fizzy drinks until the 1st of June. No exceptions. Snack-a-Jacks are rice cakes, so they’re OK. Same with popcorn, but braces make that kind of difficult anyway, and those don’t come off until late May.
2: Run every day (Monday to Saturday) until the 15th of June, exactly a week before I get on the plane. I started doing this this time last week, and it’s been going great so far! I’ve been lazy with my running for a few months, but I’ve already worked myself back up to a five mile average.
Monday: Fast day! Three. Keep pushing best time.
Tuesday: Regular day. Five miles. Push-ups and sit-ups.
Wednesday: Long run day. Eight miles. Keep pushing distance.
Thursday: Regular day. Five miles. Push-ups and sit-ups.
Friday: No headphones! Six miles. Run on the sand a bit, enjoy surroundings.
Saturday: Short run day. Three miles. Go to the gym, do swimming or weight machines.
3: Day one in Melbourne, get a bike. Explore. Figure out route and distance to beach. Get an idea for running routes, both along beach and near accommodation. Form new gameplan involving biking, running and swimming. Look for societies in University that might involve some of that. Maybe even… surfing.
This plan, to say the least, is SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
Swimming: 1 Hour, 650 kcal
Running: 1 Hour, 5.5 miles, 880kcal
Well, I ended up swimming today for the first time in ages. In preparing for what was intended to be a Saturday swim, I scoured Colwyn Bay for swimming gear. Nothing. Nowhere. Don’t come to Colwyn Bay to buy swimming trunks, apparently. Unless, like me, you bite the bullet and go to the leisure centre to check if they have any in their overpriced store.
While I was there, I had a look at the pool opening times. On Saturdays they’re open for public swimming for like an hour and a half. Wow, that’s stupid. So I decided to just go swimming today. So I did. Man, my ability to hold my breath has suffered. I spent half the time attempting to swim lengths underwater. I succeeded …. once. Booooo. Gotta practice more.
Immediately after the swimming session, I went on my run without earphones. I was already quite tired out from the swimming, so it was much slower than usual. Plus, I think running in time with the music often leads me to just naturally go faster. It was nice to take in the sounds of the beach, though.
Running on the sand when you’re trying to have a relaxing run, by the way? BAD IDEA. I’ve done it before when I lived in Lowestoft. I completely forgot how much more draining it is than running on solid ground.
After getting back, I more or less spent the rest of the evening reading fitness resources online.
That has lead me to some possibly rash decisions!
I have three websites to thank for this. The first two are the Penny Arcade forums, which I frequent, and a website that was linked in the fitness thread there – nerdfitness.com. The “nerd” analogies can be a bit… painful at times, but the advice seems solid. I compared this to another linked website, simplesciencefitness.com, and after much deliberation came to a drastic conclusion.
I’m going to switch to a Paleo diet.
What is Paleo? Well, it’s kind of like a vegan diet… except instead of eating no meat, you eat tons of meat. Also you can eat eggs, but who cares because eggs are gross. Also no processed foods or grains. OK, it’s nothing like being a vegan.
In my perusal of the nerdfitness blog, I couldn’t help but notice the constant references to paleo. I read Steve Kamb’s Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet. I read the diet section on simplesciencefitness. Here’s what it says about Paleo:
Focuses on whole, complete, nutrient-dense foods for optimal health. Excellent for satiety, weight loss, and for building muscle.”
A pretty ringing endorsement.
The absence or limitations of legumes, grains, and dairy may be too restrictive to some.”
Ultimately my tipping point was this:
Out of all of the stories I ended up reading, this is the one that interested me the most. It’s about a guy named Saint. He decided one day that he needed to lose weight, and he ended up losing thirty pounds in three months. He ended up weighing around 205 pounds (very close to my current weight), and then he plateaued. For years. Just like me.
He ended up taking up a challenge to get down from 23 to 10 percent body fat in six months. After two months of not much progress, he switched to the paleo diet and started weight training. He ended up hitting his goal two months early. Yeah, he lost that much body fat in two months.
It was inspiring, reading about someone who overcame such a similar situation to my own.
So I guess I’m committed. I’ll be taking the focus off endurance running (which is apparently not a super great way to build muscle!) and shifting my focus to speed… and weight training.
My experiment begins tomorrow.
Running: 31 mins, 3 miles, 485 kcal
Beginner Body Weight Workout: 1 Rep
Alright, my first official weigh-in. This one more or less serves as the starting point. I went down to Boots and printed out a reading using their scale. The plan is to do this the same time every week, and also take a picture of my weight loss progress. Uh… you don’t get to see that, at least not yet.
While I was out, I went food shopping. I don’t have the most diverse set of cooking utensils, so I ended up getting a spatula, a chopping board and a second sharp knife.
Also, meat. lots of it.
Now that I think of it, it’s an extremely rare thing for me to buy fresh meat. I suppose I’m always turned off by the price – even if ultimately I’d be saving money by cutting out some of the crap I usually eat. Which is what I’m doing. I went for a bunch of chicken and turnkey breast fillets. I don’t think I’ve ever actually cooked chicken or turkey.
I got a hold of a bag of salad, some fruit and veg, and I was done. Later I made my first paleo meal: chicken and vegetable stir-fry with soya sauce.
It wasn’t bad.
I should point out that I had cereal and milk for breakfast. I’ve got to at lease ease myself in a little bit. Besides, I need milk jugs for this:
As you can see in my summary above, I did only one rep of this: 20 body weight squats, 10 push ups, 20 walking lunges, a 15 second plank and 30 Jumping Jacks. No makeshift weightlifting for now, since I don’t have my makeshift weight yet.
My mistake was doing this after a very speed-focused run. I was already shattered by the time I started, and one rep was all my body allowed me to do. I guess I’ve got to re-evaluate the role of running in my workout regime.
I certainly have a lot to think about. I’ve already adjusted the plan that I made on Thursday hugely. It’s best to iron this stuff out early, of course.
As for the Paleo diet…
I think it’ll be alright.