By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
February 25, 2016
There used to be a great show on Cartoon Network that was a pretty bodacious mainstay on their after hours, adult themed shows called Adult Swim. Metalocalypse showcased the hilarious adventures of the greatest metal band in history, aptly named Dethklok, who were considered the 14th largest economy in the world due to their records and merchandise sales. While the show played the band off as a bunch of dunces that simply liked rocking out and singing about death, the show never ceased to entertain. Every time they had a show, people literally died. Heck, even the time they created a sanctuary for cats, the said feral cats went crazy and started killing everyone on the island. Lead singer Nathan Explosion even ominously shouted “RELEASE THE KITTIES!” There are so many subtle in-jokes within the show that explore the absurdity of how people view the metal loving crowd, you have to watch some episodes a couple times just to get them all. One of my favorite episodes came about when the band’s bassist William Murderface wanted to join a religion, thus exploring the differences between the main religions of the world. Seeing the band trying to mosh at a christian rock concert was pretty hilarious! Naturally, all the images of death and hilarity have contributed to the show’s popularity, for not only is it pretty darn funny, but the show also has some pretty sweet music! Needless to say, my favorite character was always Toki Wartooth, the rhythm guitar player. Not only did he constantly bash heads with the lead guitarist Skwisgar Skwigelf, he had some of he best lines throughout the show that displayed his rather hilarious innocence. He for some reason loved clowns. He always kept winning the “Children’s Award” and was generally the butt of a lot of hilarious jokes. But my favorite line, which is something I say from time to time when I’m really hungry, “Now I got a case of the hungries…but it looks like we starves.” Yup, Toki had an English problem just as well, so that is not one of my typical spelling mistakes.
Now, leading up to most competitions for me, I typically do a lot of carb loading a couple weeks before the engagement. This year was really no different, for I gave myself a couple extra weeks before Ragnar to make sure my sodium and glycogen levels were healthy going in (though, my sodium levels might not have been high enough). My energy was in pretty good form throughout the competition, for the lack of sleep I was experiencing during the fast and dizzying edition of Ragnar Del Sol 2016 really helped. As usual, I ran into some cramping, most likely due to low sodium, but also due other fact I didn’t train as much as I needed to for this competition. But here is the weird conundrum I ran into before the race….my eating habits were still bad. I’m not gonna lie, looking at the photos of myself in the race kind of made me squit. Man, I looked horrible! Sure, one of these days I intend to be a little leaner, but I sure as heck didn’t look like it this year’s Ragnar. It’s not as bad as it used to be, when I was kind of a butterball at my first Ragnar, but I looked puffy throughout the race. I don’t know, I am being pretty hard on myself once again when I really shouldn’t be. But this is the problem I always seem to run into during the postmortem of any Ragnar race…I have to fix up my eating habits! In the past, it wasn’t as big of a problem because I would be feeling the highs and lows of the post race, and this usually resulted in some big efforts out on the track or in the weight room. Right after Ragnar Las Vegas, I had two of my fastest eight-mile runs, which were both quite inspirational pieces of work. I ran from Downtown Tucson in the dead of night and busted out eight plus miles in 74 minutes with a belly full of good vegan food I got from Veg Box Cafe (formerly Veg in a Box). Then I followed that up with a faster run later that week at Reid Park, doing both runs without any watering feeling the absolute burn of competition flowing through my blood. It was pretty easy to do both of those runs. I was still eating like a pig!!
Usually it takes a week or two for me to rework my eating issues, or in other words put myself back on the trajectory to lose weight, not gain it. Personally, I’m sure I am not much different than most people when I say the carb loading is the best past about getting ready for a big race. That was the one thing I kind of envied about some of my teammates this past weekend. They all get to eat and chow down and when you are doing a competition or race every other week, then yeah, that becomes kind of easy to do! But as for me, I’m still working on losing that weight that has haunted my life for years, so I have to go back and try to find the necessary balance I need to start losing weight again and fixing some of my personal hang-ups. The only downside of course is how I keep running into the “either or” part of the argument, the part that makes it hard for me to figure out what the next step is. Do I want to keep my body ready to perform at a high level or do I go back to focusing on the weight loss? It’s definitely a conundrum, for I still feel pressured to keep losing weight and be a little more desirable. I certainly don’t believe in this “dad bod” nonsense and I certainly don’t believe “bigger” men are considered sexy (personally, that is just some overt propaganda in my opinion). Either way, I have to continue to walk that tightrope, because my weight loss journey is going on nearly fours years and I feel like I should be closer to my goal than I should be. I mean, I have seen people do my journey faster and you have to believe it bugs the heck out of me. Now, I understand all that I have lost up to this point is still pretty darn amazing, I know that for sure. But I keep telling myself that I need to keep getting better…that I need to start losing some more to reach those ultimate weight loss goals.
Now don’t worry, I don’t intend to do anything crazy in the interim, so you don’t have to worry too much about me. It’s just I have a lot of thinking and experimenting to do. How do I get that body fat down without losing my edge in the gym and on the track? Now I keep telling myself that getting under nine minutes per mile is a very feasible goal for me in the future. And while I can do that with a shorter run, I wanted to be able to accomplish that with my longer runs, somewhere in the 8-12 mile distance that I soon hope I can start working toward again. But here is the problem….that means I’m going have to eat more food, which goes right back into the old problems of food addiction I used to battle with on a constant basis. Sure, this time it will be a lot of food that is better for me but even the good food can be bad if eaten in excess. Plus, I don’t want to be those people that workout excessively so they can have an excuse to eat a gigantic meal afterward. I don’t know, that is a real difficult decision for me right there. I mean, I look at what I can do with more food, kind of like what I did this past Tuesday.
The day after Ragnar Del Sol, I was simply pigging out on all the food I had in the house. Rice, beans, potatoes, tortillas and even some oranges I didn’t get to during the race. I was feeling pretty happy, even though I kind of pigged out the previous day after the race. And it didn’t stop there the next day at work. Christa had given me quite a few of her PHOD bars for the race, and of the 24 she gave me, only eight had survived. You guessed it…that’s all I ate during my work day and lunch. And it got worse on Tuesday when I worked again, eating a whole pack of raison-cinnamon bagels and eating them with a quarter of a jar of Justin’s Almond Butter. Truthfully, I don’t like eating like that, but I was so drained and so used to the idea of food going in my craw that I just didn’t feel like stopping. That’s the kind of problems I will run into when I let the carb loading thing get to my head. It just becomes uncontrollable! But, but….I did do well in the gym. Jon wanted me to do some more simple lifting, and I really didn't know how I would handle the change in schedule. since I had worked until 4 p.m., I actually did a late workout. But like I said, I was tired and due to the easier day at work, I was pretty ready to go. All that almond butter came to some good use as I started working in sets of five. I started out in the deadlift and did pretty well, getting up to 305 pounds and doing a full set of five. Personally, I was kind of happy getting back into those, because I have not really been able to squeeze them in and unlike my previous attempt last week, I didn’t feel light headed at all. I also did some work on the GHD, doing some exercises where I bend over and then bring my body back up and flatten it out. It felt really good doing this as I relived my spine a little bit and felt good for the first time in a few days. I think holding the fifteen pound weight on the back of my head also helped as I did five sets of ten for this exercise. I then did some old school chest presses on the floor, doing five sets of ten with the 55-pound dumbbells and once again proving to myself that these weights are starting to become easy. I don’t know why I struggle with my bench press so much when it is still becoming evident that I am getting stronger. Sometimes the movement or the logistics of the lift is something I need get better at. I finished up the day with some ring pull-ups, fulfilling my full body workout. Tuesday was a pretty good day all around, for the workout really evened my body and worked out some of the kinks.
I hate to admit it, but the excessive eating definitely helped in my effort (as well a a much later time, where my working out seems to be at a more optimal level). Now I don’t really know what to do on this issue, especially when my goal right now is to lose weight and lean out my body right now. It’s kind of difficult figure out right now, because I kind of want everything to go in all directions while also controlling my eating habits. So I have to stick to the original goal, the goal I wanted when I started working out and that means I need to get back to losing some weight. Truthfully, I just need to be more mindful of how much I eat and continue to eat a consistent diet. Plus I just need to get stronger again. I need to get back on the paths soon and start working on my distances again, for the heat of summer is already starting to creep in a little during the daytime. Now it is all a matter of maintaining.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.