Lifting weights for the first time in my life has been hard
I've been getting a lot of e-mails lately from so many of you asking about my progress with my resistance training program I started in mid-December 2007, so I will endeavor to update you today after 15 weeks of working with a personal trainer and on my own to build muscle and tone up areas of my body where the remnants of my former 410-pound self still haunt me.
You'll recall from my one-month weight lifting update in January 2008 that I was already seeing some measurable results from the work I have invested. Right now I meet with my own personal trainer at the gym once a week for a 30-minute session and then various other days my weight lifting is self-guided. It's been good for accountability to report to a personal trainer I have to look at week in and week out because it forces me to stay serious about this and resist the temptation to slack off.
I'm gonna be dead honest with you about this experience--I HATE IT! My body has never been this sore in my entire life. I thought it was only gonna be a temporary pain, but I'm experiencing some sort of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and other chronic muscle pain after EVERY SINGLE TIME I workout. There are some days following my intense workouts that I absolutely cannot move. Last week was a prime example and you can read about how debilitating my workout was in this post from my menus blog. OUCH is the operative word!
But as the old saying goes, "No pain, no gain." And I'm doing my best to put on a happy face in the midst of the pain. It's not just muscle soreness either. I've been having intense headaches that feel like migraines (and I NEVER got headaches before!) and my weight has increased by about 30 pounds and sustained there for over a month. I can deal with the headaches, but the weight gain is freaking me out a little bit.
This was one of the reasons I was apprehensive about lifting weights during my weight loss in 2004. I had always heard that when you build muscle, you will gain weight and it's a good thing. And I wholeheartedly agree with that notion because you absolutely want to have muscle on your body so you can burn more fat and calories on a regular basis. That's why I took the plunge and decided to embark on this journey a few months ago because I knew it would be worth it to me.
And I can't argue with the results I've seen so far. Check out these comparison pictures from when I started in December 2007 and the ones of myself I took today:
The first thing you'll notice from this front view comparison is my neck, shoulders and arms are noticeably bigger. I've been working those three areas of my upper body very hard for the past three months or so and that investment is paying off. Before I began my resistance training, I was basically bony all across my upper body as you can see in that picture on the left. But there is real definition kicking in now and the "loose skin" in my arms and neck from my weight loss is beginning to stretch out with muscle. WOO HOO!
With the side view comparison, first take a look at my arms. You'll notice my elbow is kinda pointy in the left picture and then is rounded out with muscle in the one in the right. And my bicep and forearm are much larger than before. My wife Christine noted that my chest has grown too and now matches my stomach. Hopefully the chest will continue to puff out as I bench press and my waist will shrink (although the "loose skin" in my belly ain't going anywhere anytime soon).
Finally, looking from the back side, my triceps, neck and shoulders are more muscular than they were before. That was to be expected. But I couldn't help but notice that my hips are getting smaller. This is real progress and I can't wait to see what the difference will be in another three months when I update my 6-month progress.
But the weight gain remains. As of today, my weight is 259 and I'm not happy about that. Sure, you can attribute some of that gain to the new muscle on my body and I LOVE that. But what's up with gaining 30 pounds in three months after lifting weights? Check out my menus and you'll see I've been eating VERY good since beginning this regimen and have even seen my calorie and overall food intake shrink in recent days. I'm not doing anything that different from before except maybe a little bit extra protein to supplement my workouts.
I did take the supplement creatine when I first started my weight lifting to try to give myself a bit of a boost with the workouts since I'd NEVER lifted weights in my life. I stopped taking it after a couple of months of the training since my weight started predictably going up to see if my weight would come down a bit. It hasn't yet, but I'm noticeably larger now in my arms, neck, shoulders, chest and legs from all the resistance training. This is the best thing I've done for my health since I lost my weight in 2004, though. For that, I am extremely happy.
Let me be clear--I'm not worried about this to the point that I feel like there is no way to turn this situation around. I've already mapped out a course of action if my weight does not start coming down soon and that includes going to see a doctor to find out if there is something metabolically going on with me that is totally unrelated to my resistance training. It seems too coincidental for it not to be related in some way, but I'll know with certainty if I can get checked out. That may happen within the next month or so.
In the meantime, I'm closely monitoring my weight on a daily basis as I always do and I'm feeling fabulous (other than the muscle soreness!). My strength has increased dramatically which has made other parts of life (like lifting boxes, carrying groceries, and even my golf game) more pleasurable than they were before. I'm no Heman yet, but with continued effort for the rest of my life I WILL be! :)
THANKS to everyone who has encouraged me as I began this new weight lifting routine and I hope my experience will be just what you need to get started on your own program real soon. I HIGHLY suggest you check out Fred Hahn's Slow Burn plan because it is helping a whole lotta people with busy schedules squeeze in a solid workout that is changing their lives forever. Whatever you do, don't let those demons inside your head tell you this is impossible. It may be hard--VERY HARD!--but it is NOT impossible. YOU CAN DO IT!!!