Towards a Thinner Tomorrow: Gearing Up

The last time I meant to set out and achieve physical fitness, I wrote one big snapshot of a post at the time. Since I’m doing it incrementally, this post is going to focus on the tools I have at my disposal. Since then, I’ve added to my arsenal of workout equipment and tools, and since I’m going to be using them regularly, I figured I should write about them in depth.

 

 Photo Feb 26, 1 14 05 AM

Then : Now

Iron Gym Pull-up Bar

This was an awesome gift from my friend Justin, and I hate to admit its use has been minimal. One of my big goals is to build big arms: I constantly wish that I had biceps that were as impressive as my calf muscles. Out of all of the pieces of equipment I own, this is the one I dread the most. I have relatively no upper body strength, since I never work out my arms and always do cardio at the gym. My calves are in great shape considering how they are constantly support my corpulence when I move anywhere, but I don’t have any normal activity that targets my arms. Factor in that a pull-up is lifting your body mass (which I have a lot of) using your arm strength (which I have little of), and it’s easy to see why I’m not too crazy at the prospect of having to use this thing. I recently acquired a set of the ab-strabs to go with it, so now suspended abdominal work can be done in conjunction with the pull-up and tricep dips you can use this thing for right out the box.

Gold’s Gym Resistance Tube Set & Jump Rope

I bought this a few months ago as a supplement to the arm strength building I never got around to. It came with an instructional work-out DVD that I’ve never done, and will finally be getting to very soon. Long tubes, short tubes, a hook to anchor into a door frame, and a small circular band which I’ve yet how to properly use. I look forward to being able to say that they’re not enough one day.

Exercise Ball

This thing is so useful, both as a workout tool and a chair to use for “active sitting”, which I do at the office. The blue one I originally bought I found to be too big to use for working out, so I bought a smaller one that I’ve yet to give a go for push-ups and crunches. It came with a resistance band and a DVD, which just like the resistance tube one, I have yet to go through. I think that’ll be another thing I get to at the beginning of next week.

Perfect Push-Up

Another piece of equipment I picked up back in the day and hardly used. Since one of my main goals is arm strength, it’s going to be put into the active rotation too.

Ab Roller Wheel

I got this when a friend was staying with me and left it behind. I’ve attempted to use it a few times, and to be frank, it fucks my shit up. Therefore, I really like it and will be using it a lot in the coming days.

Gold’s Gym 8lb Medicine Ball

Got this as a gift from my uncle. Nifty, but I feel that the ways in which I use it aren’t really maximizing it’s potential. I need to do some more reading on how to properly integrate it into a workout.

iPod Nano & iPod Nano Exercise Arm Band

This has been a very useful piece of equipment, as I pretty much need music to maintain interest in physical activity when I engage in it. I bought this with the iPod nano itself for exercising purposes, since I’ve always had an aversion to risk sweat damaging my iPhone and have used my iPod on my runs & workouts instead. However, this may see a decline in use since I recently purchased…

iPhone 4 & Marware Sportshell for iPhone 4

I splurged on this since about three weeks prior I invested in an Uncommon case for my iPhone with custom art. However, I’ve come to realize that there are a variety of apps for the iPhone that make it an extremely valuable workout tool (which means I’ll also be writing reviews of the different apps I use). I was sold on it when I read the product description, and saw that it’s essentially a hardshell case that clips onto an armband, meaning that it’s kept away from the body while secured in place, thus eliminating the risk of sweating all over it and making it quick and easy to clip onto the armband, versus having to squeeze it into a holding pocket like I have to do with my iPod nano.

Sportline Heart Rate Monitor

I plan on regularly engaging on the activity that allowed me to ditch a load of my excess weight back in the old days: running. Thing is, I’m not a runner. My endurance is crap and it’s not exactly my favorite thing to do. As such, I want to maximize the efficiency I get out of doing it, and there’s no better way to ensure that than by having a watch and a matching chest strap that constantly monitors my heart rate and tells me when I need to push a little harder to get into my target zones. I also see myself using this at the gym, since the heart rate monitoring functions built into equipment such as cross trainers and treadmills have proven to be less than reliable.

40 lb Vinyl Dumbell Set

I forgot to include these in the new photo, but they exist. Did I mention building arm strength & muscle is a big goal for me now? These should serve as a nice interim until I can afford a nice metal weight set and a weight bench.

Gym Membership

24 Hour Fitness. I like having constant access to a gym, and the closest one is little over a mile away, easily accessible by foot and by bike (which I plan to buy in the near future). I go there for cardio on cross trainers, but will also be using it for access to heavy weights, along with the classes. I recently went to my first one since Chris has fallen in love with spin class. Also, my local one has a pool, and learning to swim is something I really want to do as well. No, I can’t swim; stay afloat and not drown, yes. Actively move through water with speed and direction? Not at all.

IN CONCLUSION

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p align=”left”>I’ve been an expert procrastinator, one of those people that buys workout equipment and never uses it. With all the goodies I have, there’s no reason for me to stay fat, is there? Nope!

Towards a Thinner Tomorrow: Preparation

I’m re-launching my workout & exercise blogging again. Last time I did it, I went full throttle out of the gate and burned out pretty quick. The reality is that this is a lifestyle change that takes gradual adjustment. I’m taking a smarter approach to things this time around – I’m easing into it all, slowly developing physical activity as a routine that will stick rather than a temporary ambition. I’m starting with a simple yet critical aspect: mentality.

Currently, physical fitness is quite possibly the aspect of my life that draws most of my attention. To put it simply, I’ve really let myself go. Two years ago, I was actively exercising and in the best shape I’ve been in since I was a kid. This says a lot, because even then I wasn’t in shape. I used to be a normal child. Growing up, my mom cooked a lot of “rich” food, and my dad always delegated his nutritional responsibilities to me to the closest fast food eatery. These eating habits persisted until after I graduated high school, when I made the conscious decision to avoid fast food burger joints like the plague. I started running every morning, and managed to trim down a lot. As I persisted with my physical activity, I started achieving a normal body shape and a seriously amazingly defined jawline.

Me - 2005me2007

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Me: 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011

This past year, I gave in and caved to the pressures of my life, and stopped caring about myself in many aspects. Not in a depressive helpless way, just an indifferent one. I went back to bad eating habits, stopped exercising, even let go of my usual meticulous attention to how I look; I stopped my facial care regiment and groomed only as necessary.

Presently, I simply just don’t feel good. When I look into a mirror, I do not recognize myself. I’ve become a really heavy smoker, bordering on a pack a day. I constantly feel sick and bloated, and awkward when I move. I’ve lost my awesome jawline. I have a bunch of pants hanging in my closet that used to be in regular use, and now rotate between two tightly fitting pairs of pants that even a few months ago were loose. Much as I hate to admit it, my self-confidence has taken a hit, and I constantly feel like my body is limiting me and preventing me from living the kind of life I want to and should be living.

Now, I want my life back, and I want it to be better than it was. I more or less want to become a jock. I want to shed all of my excess body fat, I want to become a moderate athlete, I want to become proficient at activities such as rock climbing, biking, and gymnastics. I want to push this body to it’s true limit, and shape it into something impressive. I want to go out clubbing with my shirt off. In short, I want to be healthy and I want to be as attractive as possible. On my way there, I’m going to log and blog the process religiously.

On a closing note, yes, the majority of this post is recycled from an earlier entry. I decided to edit and repost it as it’s own, as the category I’m filing it and all other exercise related posts are essentially going to be a sub-blog.

A Current State of Affairs

It’s been a very interesting time in my life lately. I’ve recently turned 25. Even though I’ve been getting back in the habit of maintaining an active handwritten journal, I’ve been meaning to get back to my blogging – I’ve got big plans that I need to get in motion. Looking back on my previous entries, I see that I managed to get everything setup and ready to go. Too bad let myself get so caught up with the personal life and didn’t follow through. Since then, lots of things have changed. I’ve re-centered myself, and have gotten back in touch my old fire. I’ve constantly felt like I’ve let myself fall behind of where I should be over the past years, but I now realize to what extent. There are so many things that I want to do with my life, and I have done next to nothing to bring those goals to fruition. Now that I’ve regained sight of those things, I’m committed to catching up to where I need to be. However, the historian in me dictates that I should take a snapshot of how everything is now, so that I can one day compare it to what will be.

Health

This is quite possibly the aspect of my life that draws most of my attention. To put it simply, I’ve really let myself go. Two years ago, I was actively exercising and in the best shape I’ve been in since I was a kid. This says a lot, because even then I wasn’t in shape. I used to be a normal child. Growing up, my mom cooked a lot of “rich” food, and my dad always delegated his nutritional responsibilities to me to the closest fast food eatery. These eating habits persisted until after I graduated high school, when I made the conscious decision to avoid fast food burger joints like the plague. I started running every morning, and managed to trim down a lot. Over the years, working out has been an on-again off-again thing with me. This past year, I gave in and caved to pressure, stopped caring about myself in many aspects. Not in a depressive helpless way, just an indifferent one. I went back to bad eating habits, stopped exercising, even let go of my usual meticulous attention to how I look; I stopped my facial care regiment and groomed only as necessary.

Presently, I simply just don’t feel good. When I look into a mirror, I do not recognize myself. I’ve become a really heavy smoker, bordering on a pack a day. I have a bunch of pants hanging in my closet that used to be in regular use, and now rotate between two tightly fitting pairs of pants that even a few months ago were loose. I’m afraid of working out because I fear that my physical limits have degraded so much that I’ll tire out in mere minutes.

Now, I want my life back, and I want it to be better than it was. I more or less want to become a jock. I want to shed all of my excess body fat, I want to become a moderate athlete, I want to become proficient at activities such as rock climbing, biking, and gymnastics. I want to push this body to it’s true limit, and shape it into something impressive. I want to go out clubbing with my shirt off. In short, I want to be healthy and I want to be as attractive as possible. On my way there, I’m going to log and blog the process religiously.

Finances & Work

At the beginning of this year, rather than make resolutions, I told myself I was simply tired of being fat and poor. Money is something that’s always been a bit of a problem for me. I grew up used to having money readily available, thanks to the family business on my dad’s side. Granted, we weren’t rich per se, but I never found myself lacking and always had the latest and greatest in tech and entertainment. Now as an adult, there are a lot of things that I would like to have, but can’t afford. Technological toys, fancy clothing, the list goes on. However, when I do encounter money, rather than save responsibly, I splurge. That’s something I need to work on.

Currently, I’m working 18-20 hours a week at RankPay doing account management and customer support. I got a raise not too long ago, and have been talked to about managing the company Twitter account. I met with Shawn recently, and he wants to get me up to snuff with advanced SEO so that I can author the company blog as well. There’s a lot of potential with my current job, and that’s something I plan to explore in the future. However, short term, I’m planning to pick up a second job, preferably in a restaurant setting again. My primary financial goals this year are to get to a place where I regularly have over $1000 in both my checking and savings accounts, and to finally get a new car.

Education

I’m going back to school this year, and actively working on my degree. I know that it’s not something that I need, but my desire to have it cannot be ignored.

Aside from the degree, there’s a lot of other interests that I’ve always had and neglected that I now want to cultivate. Graphic design, web design, programming, music…I’m going to become well versed in all of these things. I will become a Photoshop Master and competent designer. I will learn how to read sheet music and play guitar. I will learn CSS, JavaScript, and C++.

Spirituality

One big thing that I’ve recently started to really analyze is the meaning of the word “man”. I honestly feel that living up to the qualities of the word “man” and “woman” are something that are truly lost amongst people my age these days. Maybe it’s a geographical thing, living in southern California, but it feels like the defining characteristics of those words are things that very little people have these days, and even a smaller number care to attain. I’m not one of them. I want to train myself to be someone that earns respect, that’s very direct and efficient, that possesses knowledge on a varied number of subjects. I’ve got a lot that I need to get done. I’ve attempted to do it in the past, and I’ve failed multiple times. Now, I set out to do it, with failure no longer an option. I’m 25 now – time to become who I really am.

Measurement Monday: The Start of a Diet & Exercise Shift

I am resurrecting a practice I once started to use awhile back that I called “Measurement Monday”. Now, I had already done this back in July right before I wiped all my accounts to a clean slate, so this might be redundant if the original post was read.  Now, As much as I’m excited and eager to do this, it’s a serious long term commitment that honestly intimidates me; Not only is the commitment aspect intimidating, but this particular practice introduces a risk of humiliation. “Measurement Mondays” aren’t just text updates of tables and numbers. I also plan to attach photographic documentation, and publicly posting revealing photographs when you’re not physically in shape is a pretty embarrassing prospect that can only be validated through change and progress. So I have to really be committed and reach my goals, or end up making quite a big fool of myself.

When I think of this project and all future posts under this “fitness” category, I wish I had an extremely defined plan, something that whatever few readers I get could not just follow, but also participate in.  However, I don’t have detailed knowledge when it comes to diet and exercise like a nutritionist would. I’m just going to go along with what I have, and document the progress. However, I do have a rather vague plan, and I’ll get to that later on.


STARTING POINT


Stats
Height 5’ 10”
Goal Weight 160
Day # 1
Date: 08/02/2010
Measurements
Neck 17
Upper Arm (Left) 13
Upper Arm (Right) 13
Chest 44.5
Diaphragm 44
Waist 42
Abdomen 45
Hips 43
Upper Thigh (Left) 24.5
Upper Thigh (Right) 25
Upper Knee (Left) 17
Upper Knee (Right) 17.5
Calf (Left) 16.5
Calf (Right) 16.5
 
Total Inches 378.5
Total Inches Lost 0
Weight 232.6
Weight Lost to Date 0
BMI 0
Change in BMI 0
Goal Distance 0
100531-181400 100531-181401 100531-181403 100531-181505 100531-181507-0
More of me than anyone should ever have to see [Taken back in July 2010]

PRESENT SITUATION


Right now, I’m at the heaviest I’ve been in two years. I’ve gained (what I’ve recently learned to be) more weight than I estimated over the past 6 months. My sleep schedule has also gotten way off track lately. I find myself staying awake into the late hours of the early morning, and waking up in the late mid-morning hours (around 11:30 – 12:00). When I wake up, I feel lethargic and tired for a good two hours after waking up. My energy levels are pretty low. My metabolic rate is abysmal. My circulation, I’ve learned by how easy my legs "fall asleep" when sitting cross-legged for a moderately short amount of time, is also really poor. Compounding this, my cigarette consumption has gone through the roof due to stress and boredom. I haven’t had an elevation to target heart rate since I last went to the gym about months ago. I feel my body yearning for exercise because I get really restless often, but mentally, it’s been so long without regular exercise that for some odd reason I find myself scared to engage in it, because of how badly I’m expecting to perform. I haven’t done any of my favorite things, like walking or dancing, in quite some time as well. Nutritionally, I’ve also been failing pretty hard. Due to the budgetary restraints imposed by unemployment, a lot of my diet lately has been consisting of cheap fast food and frozen processed foods, both of which are doing me absolutely no favors. Subsequently, bowel movements have been kind of infrequent and more often than not feel lackluster. Again, I blame what my diet has been mainly comprised of lately.


PLAN OF ACTION


I’ve been preparing mentally to start working on my physicality, and also materially. Combined with equipment I already owned, my current resource pool is as follows:

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  • Large Balance Ball
  • Perfect Pushup Handles
  • Iron Gym Pullup Bar
  • 8lb Medicine Ball
  • Ab Roller
  • Resistance Tube Set
  • Jump Rope
  • Light Resistance Band
  • Medium Resistance Band

Not pictured, I also have 4 750ml stainless steel water bottles, which I plan to drink at bare minimum three per day to meet the recommended daily water intake.

I’ve also recently acquired copies of the P90X DVD set. So for the first few weeks, I’m going to do running and combinations of the workout DVDs supplied with the balance ball and resistance tube set before graduating up to the P90X videos. Once i get other pending matters in my life squared away, I’ll renew my membership to 24 Hour Fitness and work fitness classes and gym time into the routine. Far as tracking goes, I’ve done my research on systems. On the web, there’s Spark People, Dailyburn, and Livestrong to name a few. On the iPhone, there’s also a range of apps, such as Lose It! and iFitness. After playing around with different interfaces, I’m going to attempt to use Spark People and iFitness, since they seem like the ones that’ll work best, and I’d rather hit a home run with my first picks than try ones that don’t work and have to waste time exporting data to another system.


GOALS


Upon doing some more internet research, I’ve also determined a goal weight. Average ideal weight of people my age/height/weight/gender: 194 lbs Medical Recommendation: 132-174 lbs. Devine Formula: 161 lbs All the sources listed present quite a big range. Initially, I was just gonna take the average of the first two and eyeball it from there, but I like the Devine formula. 161 lbs sounds good, but considering my body type and frame, I think 165-170 is the target range. Other body specific goals:

  • Get rid of the gut, get some ab action going
  • Get my poor arms to match the bulk and tone of my calves (which are pretty boss, considering they carry the rest of me around)
  • Whittle down the mass of my thighs. They’re way too big.
  • Build some muscle in my ass. Shape and tone back there would be nice.
  • Have my back muscles well defined too

Performance specific goals:

  • Vastly improve time it takes to run a mile
  • Be able to do a set of handstand pushups
  • Increase flexibility. I have pretty awesome flexibility now, but I’d like it to be borderline gymnast status
  • Train body in basic tumbling and flips