Progress: The Next Iteration
December 2011 - March 2012
More recently (“flexed”/dramatic lighting!)
The last few months have been interesting for me, to say the least. I am in my second semester of graduate school and it’s a much more challenging experience compared to my first semester.
I’ve kept blog posts short and mostly posting to twitter, but I’ve wanted to share my progress and haven’t had the time to sit down and organize my train of thought.
At the end of last summer/beginning of last fall, I was beginning to experiment with intermittent fasting and LeanGains to see what effects they would have on my body’s composition. I was pleased with the effects but my understanding of macronutrient balancing and approximating maintenance calories was still not very clear, making my “game plan” inconsistent and frequently changing.
My experience with fat loss has been plagued with periods of wheel-spinning. In the very beginning, it was easy for me to see 2lb+ weight loss every week for several weeks. I wasn’t keeping track of why it was working, only happy that it was. I was also changing too many things at once, making it difficult to pinpoint what needed to be adjusted once progress began to slow down. In retrospect, I was probably doing more harm than good because I wasn’t taking any measures to preserve muscle mass and digging myself deeper into a hole by creating a larger deficit of carbs and calories (thinking this was the only way to continue progress).
In December, I decided to become part of JCDFitness’ Beta Recomposition program. This provided me with a structured set of macro/diet and training guidelines to follow and use to track progress. I’ll try not ramble on about the details, but it has taught me a lot about fat loss and tracking macro-nutrients instead of calories .
It also helped me take a more moderate approach to fat loss. Weight loss on a week to week basis wasn’t as pronounced and I had a very hard time detaching myself from on the number on the scale. Instead I had to go by what I saw in the mirror, how my clothes fit, and periodic tape measurements and I’m very glad I did.
Ooo, pretty graphs.
During this time, I also became more aware of how much performance in the gym is affected by the calories I eat. Too low and strength suffers, but as long as the goal is fat loss, maintaining strength is a good sign. I had some initial strength loss, but was able to maintain it while concentrating on the quality of each rep rather than worrying about increasing the weight during every session.
Dieting hasn’t been difficult. Plenty of ice cream, Pop-Tarts, cereal, and peanut butter have been consumed with this cut, along with chicken breasts, eggs, cottage cheese, fruits, and pounds of fresh veggies . Lately, however, I haven’t felt like I’m at 100% mentally and emotionally. The eating at a deficit on top stress caused by school and life sucks. Some days have been difficult for me to stay focused and I’ve had days where I felt weak and fragile (screw this, yo!). I naturally give myself a hard time over what needs to get done (whether it be in the gym, school, etc) and try to bust my ass to get there. So I can’t say I have any issues with motivation.
So, here I am, ready to take a break from being #forevercutting by beginning a new iteration of self-experimentation: reverse dieting in hopes of finding my true maintenance and regaining some strength. We’ll see how it goes!
I don’t really care for the number on the scale as much as I did in the past. It can vary wildly on a day-to-day basis. Tracking progress makes more sense with a combination of both weight and tape measurements. I decided to hop on this morning and…
Feels good, man.
Progress Update - 14 months of hacking my body
I’ve been trucking along, trying new things, and learning a lot along the way.
More recently I’ve realized:
- You don’t need to eat 6 times a day to “keep your metabolism from slowing down.” 
- You don’t need to exercise 7 days a week to achieve your goals. , 
- Low carb diets are not a means to an end. Carbs don’t make you get fat. Eating too much makes you fat.
- Extreme caloric restriction is not fun or sustainable. Be reasonable.
- Don’t stress over small details. Be consistent and everything will fall into place.
I’m really happy with how far I’ve come and looking back motivates me to keep going.
Obligatory progress photos. Am I vain for doing this? Probably. Was I slowly killing myself? Probably.
I am the only one responsible for where I was. It’s not genetics, slow metabolism, or any of the other excuses I’ve heard many people use. I just needed a push in the right direction. Starting was the hardest part. I just had to realize that none of the excuses I was making up for myself were valid.