In just a few short weeks, I'm already seeing muscle formation
It was one month ago that I began for the first time in my life to get serious about resistance training to try to build my upper body strength. When I was losing weight in 2004, my exercise routine was exclusively dedicated to cardiovascular workouts on the treadmill or elliptical machine. While I still love my cardio and built considerable muscles in my legs because of it, my arms, shoulders, chest and abs really needed some serious help.
That's why I hired a personal trainer back in December to guide me into unchartered territory for me--weight lifting and bodybuilding. I'll be the first to tell you how utterly clueless I am when it comes to this area of fitness. And I'm sure there are many of you who wouldn't know where to start or what to do to begin doing this, too. Yet it is something that can definitely enhance your body's ability to burn fat while giving you the added strength and energy you so desperately want.
One thing that got me to add this next chapter in my healthy lifestyle journey was watching The Biggest Loser during Season 4. Watching those obese contestants not just running on the treadmill, but also doing some pretty remarkable exercises with weights while they were STILL fat lit a fire inside of me that I needed to get going with a plan to get strong, too. It's been four years since I began livin' la vida low-carb and it's high time I get to building some muscles above my waistline.
That is the path I decided to travel down beginning in mid-December and it has been an experience like none other so far. Even when I lost 180 pounds in 2004, that wasn't nearly as difficult as this has been for me. My brother Kevin was the football player in high school and I played alto saxophone in the marching band. He was athletic and I was...not.
But here I am at the age of 36 years old lifting dumbbells and using exercise equipment that I've never even seen before to make my body even better. It has been exhilarating, exhausting, and exasperating all at the same time. But in a masochist kind of way, I'm lovin' every minute of the pain and agony because I can already see that I'm getting stronger and one step closer to my goal of feeling good about myself without a shirt on.
I was a bit concerned on day one of my training when I told the manager I lost triple-digits following the Atkins low-carb diet. He gave me that scrunched up face showing his disgust at my dietary choice and went on to lecture me about how your body needs carbs to fuel your workouts. I guess he didn't realize he was talking to someone who has studied this subject extensively for the past four years.
You should have seen his face when I explained that I ate a high-fat, low-carb diet and the dietary fat is what fuels my workouts. You would have thought I was an alien from outer space the way he looked at me and the bewilderment on his face was priceless. I offered to help educate him further about this subject by letting him borrow my copy of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories and surprisingly he read it!
After hemming and hawing about a few things he disagreed with during the first few days of reading Taubes' book, the manager finally got it when he got to the end of the book and said "well, you should find what works for you and do that." That's my motto, buddy, and welcome to the spirit of enlightenment! It was a beautiful moment to hear him say that because he changed his tune virtually overnight.
So what about my training?
My workouts have been a bit erratic during the first month because I've been so incredibly sore after each workout. I don't mean the slap-a-little-Icy-Hot-cream-on-it kinda sore, but rather the make-you-feel-paralyzed-til-you-can't-move-a-muscle kind. It's been pretty rough waking up in the morning and barely able to move my arms because my personal trainer worked them so hard on the previous day. The same thing goes for my shoulders and my chest. So far, my abs, calves, and legs have endured the wrath of resistance training.
I'm trying to get in the gym to lift weights on a regular (daily) basis rotating from muscle group to muscle group, but I'm not ready for that yet. It'll come soon enough and the progress I have made in such a short amount of time astounds me. I can't believe that is MY bicep at the top of this blog post. My wife Christine is already impressed by how much bigger my arms have gotten and I told her she ain't seen nothin' yet! By the end of 2008, those arms that still have the remnants of loose skin on them from when I weighed 410 pounds four years ago will be as solid as a rock! It's coming!
The only things I am doing different in my diet now that I am lifting weight is I have increased my protein intake and I added creatine supplements. The added protein is coming from some extra protein shakes and bars to aide my growing muscles. And the creatine gives me that extra boost in my muscles to continue growing and growing. I'm still eating a low-carb diet, taking my daily vitamins and fish oil, and keeping a positive attitude about this.
I'll admit this has been a difficult road, but I'm not planning on giving up by any stretch of the imagination. I'm in this for the long haul not just for 2008, but well beyond that as I transform my body into something it has never been--lean, strong, and looking absolutely amazing! It seems like this dream is so far away, but I'm encouraged by the progress to date that dream will indeed become a reality soon enough.
Let me say a special THANK YOU to everyone who has e-mailed me encouragement in my new resistance training schedule. Because I am so new to this, it has been rewarding to hear from those of you who have gone through the pain and agony of weight lifting in the early days and now look fantastic. In fact, I've got a few interviews coming up with some truly remarkable fitness role models that I know you will enjoy hearing from about how they got the body they've always wanted. Stay tuned for that!
As for me, I'll keep truckin' along with my trainer building up my muscles even bigger and bigger to become that hunkie man I've always wanted to be. It's an unbelievable road I have started down and there's no turning back now. By the way, my weight has increased a few pounds during this, but I'm not worried about it. I KNOW it is muscle weight and I haven't cheated at all since beginning this.
I've been keeping a food journal since day one of my resistance training and am thinking about creating a blog specifically for sharing what I have been eating. Actually, I do think this would be an interesting blog since I started during the Christmas holidays when everyone says it is impossible to eat low-carb. WRONG! I did and you can, too. Lemme know what you think about the idea of posting my daily food and exercise journal online.
As always, I welcome your feedback and comments anytime at email@example.com or by leaving your remarks in the comments section below.
1-15-08 UPDATE: One observant reader was concerned about something he saw in the background of that picture of my bicep at the top of my blog post. I was wondering if anyone was gonna notice it.
Better be careful of all the critics out there because the picture on your latest post shows your muscle formation on your arm--but it also shows a pack of opened WHITE CRACKERS in the background!!!!!!! OH NO!!!!!! LOL! Just thought I would be the first to bring this up.
Yep, you are the first, but I'm sure you're not the only one. Actually, I purposely put that there next to my cashews to see if anyone would notice. No, they're not mine, but they are Christine's. She sometimes gets an unsettled stomach and eats some whole wheat Saltine crackers. Plus, she can get away with more carbs than I can, so an occasional cracker or two ain't gonna hurt her.
GREAT EYE out there and I appreciate you keeping me accountable. ;)