I blame the media and popular entertainment of course, for in the hyper edited world we have today, it is easy to become that trim, perfect human being with the help of pills and fad diets that turn overweight women into airbrushed supermodels of perfection and pasty, overweight women-repellant men into the virile Adonis that will have all women jumping on their laps. But that is far from the truth, and I this was the toughest thing to overcome for me as I became aware of. Of course, this realization was a tough pill to swallow, merely because I swallowed too many "hope pills" and didn't wash them down with enough reality. But who can blame me. When you are experiencing a new high that is exhilarating and different, you tend to fall into such traps. I remember how crazy it got for me those first few months at Parsons Training. Making that one little change in my life-axing dairy from the diet-made me see a windfall of weight loss I had never experienced before. I thought the 26-pound per month average I was experiencing at the time would continue, so much so that I was thinking I would go as Magic Mike for Halloween and piss off all the idiots that dressed up like comic book heroes. But that didn't happen. Much like anything in life, my body got used to the working out and I ended up on a two-pound per month weight loss average that not only pissed me off royally, but almost made me question everything I had ever done and believed in. I wanted that upward trajectory to keep moving along at mach four, and this sup mach one speed I had fallen into was not going to satisfy my needs. I wrote early on in the blog how I was replacing working out with eating, which is no longer the case anymore, but it's not like I am turning back or anything.
You have to remember, I wasn't some broken down person when I started working out. I was a relatively strong person that did have a motor when it came to dedication, but the problem was almost entirely about my diet. Once I stopped eating the four pizzas, the six burgers, the two dozen Taco Bell tacos, the two pounds of Skittles, the 22 dollars worth of food from Mr. K's, the four bags of chips and the countless pounds of fries per week, it all became much easier to do what I did in the early going. When you are doing nothing but pumping 25-pound weights and doing tabatas in the morning, shedding the extra fluff on the body becomes simple, almost natural. I will still joke that I was the reason why the Marco's Pizza on the southside of Tucson and Mr. K's Barbecue both went out of business, merely from the loss of money I spent on those places. It's a funny reminder to myself just how far I have come. I can't even imagine eating cheese anymore, even though I would probably eat the equivalent to two pounds of it per week. I will admit that I still have a little bit of a craving for the stuff, much in the same way an alcoholic might have for liquor when they finally give the sauce up. I actually tried to relieve some of that longing by trying some of the "faux" cheese that are available to the public. Since World Vegan Day fell on November 1, I decided to open my horizons a little and try to fall in love with the expanding world of fake cheeses. Vegan chefs are trying their absolute darnedest to make the best product available, and I think the person that ultimately cracks the code, making a cheese that not even carnivores can distinguish, will be a really rich person. Much like the person that can create a paint that repels spray paint (I wish I had been better in chemistry, for solving this problem would have been my life's work even if the paint producers of the world love graffiti scrawling douche bags--and yes, I know the difference between graffiti art and tagging--a city permit, hehe).
I gave the fake macaroni and cheese a try this weekend, using soy milk and some fake butter as per instructed. I thought it was the coolest thing ever when I first noticed Earth Balance made macaroni and cheese, and I had been dying to try it. My sister Michelle made me some fake mac and cheese once, but it ended up tasting more like cashews than cheese (but that didn't stop me from eating it all! hehe). Either way, I gave it a shot, and it just didn't taste right. It didn't have the texture or taste that I was hoping for. This was most likely from the lack of casein, which is a casomorphin that is found in all dairy products and becomes more intense the more you dry it out, meaning cheese is almost a pure form of it while milk is the most diluted. I had to cut the taste with a boatload of garlic, paprika, pepper and other concoctions to finally make it palatable. I even threw in Jamaican Jerk Spice in the mix. I finally did eat it, but my taste buds were not necessarily happy about the circumstance as the confusing hailstorm of spices made we wonder what the heck I was eating. I guess that is one more strike against my diet. It didn't get any better after that, for the next day, I took my other sister Christina to Whole Foods. She has pretty much given up dairy as well, mainly due to her lactose intolerance intensifying as she has aged, and has fallen in love with the fake cheeses of the world. She gave me a try of her new dig, a fake mozzarella that certainly looked the part in terms of consistency and look. While she loved the taste, I felt like I wanted to spit it out. For me, this was not something to be enjoyed. After this weekend, I know my journey will have to continue, if not for the sake of finding a suitable fake cheese but for myself. I guess I will just have to stick with the whole food diet until then.
Last past week was basically my reawakening, and it was a pretty rough one to say the least. My wrists and forearm took quite a beating last Wednesday, and my legs were sore all week from the various squats I did. Even running was a horrible test for me, even though the weather changes will allow me to run at a little faster speed as well as run longer. But this week was a new beginning for me now that my body was healed and I had returned to the chiropractor, and I decided to push myself a little further than I normally would. So I made Monday a big day for me. I ate a light breakfast and a big lunch consisting of eight potatoes. I knew I would need the energy and the power, for potatoes act more as my power food than anything. Jon promised me some good lifting, stuff I really hadn't done in a long time, and he delivered on that evil promise. He called the work out "So it Begins...," knowing I'm a pretty big Lord of the Rings nerd. If you don't know the reference, it is the words King Theoden speaks when the Urak-Hai horde begin their attack at Helm's Deep. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, go rent Lord of the Rings!! Anyway, we started with a basic Power Clean Front Squat. Basically, you have to pick up the barbell from the floor and rest it under your chin (without breaking your chin of course) and then do a deep squat. Jon wanted me to go all Brazilian style, like I was setting up to take a fast ball from a major league pitcher. We did four sets of four at 135, which is a decent weight for me considering I rarely do this particular exercise. I did pretty well on this part, mainly because my legs could easily handle the weight when I did the squats. If anything, it was the next set of four that really got to me. Jon decided to be ambitious and challenge me to go 185 on the power clean. I had to admit defeat after a couple tries, and ultimately went back down to 155 just to let my arms and shoulders recover. Once again we had to do four sets, but only needed to do one rep. This was the reason why I decided to go up to 165 on the third set. I handled it pretty easily, giving me the confidence to go up to 170 on the next try. I failed on the first attempt, letting the bar slip and thus dropping it. But it was just a minor error on my part, for I didn't chalk my hands up and I had gotten too much sweat on the darn bar. My second attempt was a success, reaching my new personal best. I wouldn't be surprised if Jon has me do a lot of barbell squats next week, for the power cleaning was the only difficult part of the exercise, for my legs were strong enough to do the squatting. I have a feeling I might need to do some squatting bests soon so I can blog about them.
The next couple exercise were simple enough, for the overhead push press on the barbell is something I do often enough. Of course, we were doing it with 135 pounds, but it was still quite doable. We had to five sets of this exercise, doing four reps for eat. This was a pretty easy exercise for me, and the only thing that really slowed me down was the fatigue in my arms from the hand cleaning. But here is a good reminder of how far I have come. I used to have trouble lifting 135 pounds when I first started, and here I am lifting 135 over my head and only struggling due to the fact it was not my first exercise of the day. While my stomach is still not as small as I want it to be and my weight is still fluctuating, these are the kind of results I have to live for these days. While I may have been a little sore in the neck the next day due to the work, it was worth it. When you know you can do something, it makes it easier to wrap your head around the idea of doing better. I won't be winning any weight lifting contests any time soon or getting myself fitted for size 34 jeans, but this is a start. After we finished the Push Press, we alternated on five sets of bent over rows (45 pound dumbbells) and elevated sit-ups, which is what I'm calling them since I can't seem to figure out a name for them. We finished the workout with some roll-outs, even though I felt I could do the bench pressing that Jon initially thought we would do at the beginning of the workout. Of course, this was one of those moments where Jon probably realized that if he didn't step in, I might have a serious problem trying to scratch my back the next few days. And I didn't stop there. Not for one moment.
Most people would just call it the night when doing such heavy lifting, but I felt a good vibe coming. So I opted to do a little three-mile run that night, and there was going to be no holds barred. Typically, I run with some form of hydration, mostly my camel pack these days. I opted against it that night, going pack-less and not even taking my hand bottle I used to use all the time. I just went for it, starting off fairly slow and then blazing the through the middle of the run even though it was primarily at an incline. What made things worse was the fact I didn't know what my pace was. When I updated my RunKeeper app, I forgot to put the darn program back in a GPS mode. So here I was, running at full speed, not knowing how fast I was going or what distance I had run. Fortunately I had run the Reid Park Course enough to know what three miles was, so I based my knowledge of the park to the best of my knowledge. I got through the course in 29.03, averaging 9.41 per mile. I hadn't run that fast in a few months, for I kept most of my training runs at a slower pace due to the distance. I really had no idea why I wanted to go that fast, but if anything, it was worth it. My pulsing lungs reminded me of what I was doing last winter, and it felt pretty good. After al lot the months of doing long distances, it was kind of nice just to get out there and do something fast. Of course, next time I will remember to have my GPS on.
If anything, these are the kind of results I have to start looking for when it comes to my life. While the weight will continue to keep coming off slowly, I understand what is the true definition of health. It's about making yourself a better person, mentally as well as physically. Eventually I will laugh when I think about the days I could power clean 185, even if those days are still far off in the distance. Some times, you just need those little moments to realize all the work you are doing is worth it.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at parsonspersonaltraining.com
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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.