Fitness progress – Fall 2015

Fitness progress – Fall 2015

Since fitness is a big part of who I am, I’ve decided to post a bit more often about what I’m up to, and try to share tips and tricks from what I have learned over the months and years of trying very hard to get in the best shape of my life.

When I make these updates I want those of you who are trying your hardest to get into shape to realize this is a very long struggle, and that I started my routines over 3 years ago when I was approaching 240 lbs. These journeys are slow, they are painful, and they will test you to your limits.

But you can get there. You can achieve your goals. Believe in your yourself. Push as hard as you can and you can achieve anything.

Fitness-Fall-15

I am still struggling with remaining fat around my midsection / love handles (which I just found out is properly termed anterolateral flank). It seems no matter what I do and where I cut so far, that particular area wants to hang around. It is annoying, but I’m not giving up.

Things I’m happy with

  • Shoulder and chest development

Constants

  • I am still on a very low carb paleo-like diet. I do not add sugars to my food. I drink no fruit juices, or eat any high sugar fruits. If I need something sweetened, I use stevia or a combination of stevia and xylitol.
  • I still maintain a very high protein intake. My daily intake is mostly proteins and fats. I try to eat a lot of tree nuts as a snack to get mostly good fats.
  • I am still taking one weekly “diet cheat day”. This is where I’ll go out and eat whatever I want, but only once a week. I’ve found this really helps with cravings and gives you something to look forward to during weeks when eating the same types of foods is getting difficult. You’d be surprised how many of your normal daily foods become off limits when you shoot for an almost zero carb intake.

Changes

  • I’ve been hiking more on the weekends. Taking some time to get outdoors has been good for me, but also helps fill in any missing cardio.
  • I’ve been doing a lot more circuit style routines and AMRAP (as many reps as possible) workouts. The goal is to try to burn more fat while still building muscle.
  • As stated above, I’ve been concentrating on my shoulders and chest a bit more. I will continue doing this as I’m still not where I want to be there.
  • I cut back on running for a bunch of reasons. One of which is that my knees have never been very good (since birth) and I started to feel wear that I wasn’t comfortable with.

I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be during beach season this year, but I think I can continue to bulk and cut over the winter and try again next year.

Have a happy and healthy October! Send me a message if you’ve tried out some of our newest InShape trails and let me know if you enjoyed them!

Fitness progress – Spring 2015

Fitness progress – Spring 2015

Since fitness is a big part of who I am, I’ve decided to post a bit more often about what I’m up to, and try to share tips and tricks from what I have learned over the months and years of trying very hard to get in the best shape of my life.

When I make these updates I want those of you who are trying your hardest to get into shape to realize this was a very long struggle, and that I started my routines years ago when I was approaching 240 lbs. These journeys are slow, they are painful, and they will test you to your limits.

But you can get there. You can achieve your goals. You just have to believe in yourself and just keep moving. Just keep pushing. When you think you can push no further, push just a little bit more. DO NOT give in, and DO NOT give up.

Once you push into a healthy weight range, it takes some real time and effort to try to burn off the additional fat that your body will so stubbornly hold onto. Since I’m going for the lean look, I’ve been struggling to get down past 10% BF.

IMG_0569

Like always, I struggle with body fat along my midsection, but I’ve made progress since January. Some constants as well as changes I’ve made follow:

Constants

  • I am still cut way back on sugars and carbs. I refuse to add carbohydrates beyond vegetables and some of the various low carb wraps and tortillas I have found. I just feel so much better without them. Stevia is my replacement for drink and food sweetness where I need it.
  • I still have a very high protein intake normally exceeding 125g/day
  • I still take one day a week off from my lifestyle change diet and just get whatever I want food wise. Though I don’t normally eat a lot of junk food on this day, what I do eat, usually something fun like waffles for breakfast and a burger for dinner, seems to stifle cravings for the remainder of the week. The other bonus of the one day a week off is that it makes me realize how much better I feel when I eat good the other 6 days of the week.

Changes

  • I’ve begun eating a lot more on training days, and much less on off days. This really seems to have kicked my body into confusion and I’ve noticed more fat loss around my midsection.
  • Running:  I’ve added a bit of running, usually about 30 minutes, to my routine a few days a week after weight training at the gym. A few extra calories kicked seems to be helping a bunch.
  • I’ve added some training sessions to our gym membership and the trainer is more than happy to whoop my midsection at the end of every single routine. I’ve nicknamed him Vlad the Impaler.

I still have a ways to go before I’ll be happy to call it beach ready, but I hope this and my next few progress reports can help people looking for new ways to shed a few more lbs!

As always, have a happy and healthy week, and shoot me a message if you’ve tried out some of our newest InShape trails!

The choice is yours

The choice is yours

The beginning and the problem

That’s me, the little dude on the right wearing the leg brace. My sister is sitting next to me on the left and we’re both on my father’s lap. My father was so proud of his little boy even with the minor physical glitches that he came with. My father never told me there would be things that I couldn’t do. The doctors did sometimes, but because my parents supported me, I really didn’t listen anyways. My parents told me I could be anything. My parents were right.

I was born with a pretty severe case of club foot. My left and right legs needed a lot of work when I was a child. I still have limited rotation in my ankle, and my left kneecap is malformed which creates all kinds of interesting flexibility problems.

The only way you’d know this today is by the slight limp in my every step while I run the 5k right next to you.

I never gave up and I never settled, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t rough spots along the way.

A larger version of me

A different version of me

This was me a few years ago. I had stopped caring what I looked like for a bunch of reasons, ate what I wanted, and gained a lot of weight. I was right around 230 lbs at 5’10” and not healthy at all.

I lost my father to heart disease and the problem got worse. I began experiencing heart rhythm issues that stole my ability to think about anything but what I thought was my impending death. When I finally was able to overcome my fear and the arrhythmia became less frequent, I thought again about my father. I thought about how he died so young in modern terms, at only 60 years old. I decided that I wanted to live longer than this. I’ve always felt like I have a lot to do here and that to accomplish my dreams and to pass them on, I need all the time that I can get.

Me now

A shot of me now while visiting a friend in Seattle

Long workout routines at home, eating right, and then finally joining a gym and I was able to get the weight off. I feel a whole lot better than I did, and I learned a few tricks along the way that helped to get and keep me where I am. All total so far over the past few years, I’ve lost 55 lbs. I now weigh 175 lbs and am hovering just above 10% body fat.

If you’re struggling with your weight, you are not alone. It is a tough road to travel, it is not easy to change your eating habits, it is not easy to want to work out, and the results mostly do NOT come fast. Anyone telling you they do is trying to sell you something. But if the little boy up there with the braces on his legs can do it, you can too.

Never thought I'd see myself like this

Never thought I’d see myself like this

It’s your time. Do it and mean it.

If you’ve been thinking about leading a healthier lifestyle, there is no better time to start than right now. You will feel better, you’ll have more energy, you will get sick less often, and over the long term you will have less health issues. The work you put in every day will pay off in more ways that I can even bother to try to convince you of. Based on my experience, I promise you the benefits far outweigh the sacrifice.

I want to share you with a few things I learned over these last few years. These things have helped me to keep up with my exercise routines even when I am beyond exhaustion, and have helped me to eat right even when I’d rather be grabbing a hamburger sandwiched between two donuts.

Set goals for yourself, but make them realistic

You need to know WHY you are working out in the first place. Look online for information about weight loss and set realistic monthly goals for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit them, but use that as a motivation to work harder.

Make exercise a habit

Push yourself to stay on a routine for a long enough time that you feel emotionally bad when you can’t go. This takes a few months in my experience. Once you have that, the need for extra motivation isn’t as great. You will want to go and will get frustrated when you can’t. This makes it less likely you’ll skip for stupid reasons.

Distract yourself and push past into your second wind

When all your muscles are burning, and your chest is on fire, you may literally feel like you’re “going to die”. The biggest gains come when you push past that. Distract yourself. Think about something else. Be somewhere else to push past it. The worst thing you can do when your legs are burning while doing a 2 minute wall sit is think about your legs burning.

Find people that will help, not hinder your progress

If you’re going to work out with a friend or friends, do not choose people who will be prone to try and talk you out of going to the gym or exercising for various reasons on the day of. I see this all the time with groups that decide to do something like go have coffee instead of working out due to the smallest, silliest things. For example, one person is tired and convinces everyone else to quit. Avoid these people, or if you’re the kind of person that can motivate them instead, do it. Either way, if they don’t want to work out, you have to force yourself to do it without them. Don’t get sucked into the lazy trap. Find people that will challenge you and create positive group think.

Change up your workout

Your mind will bore of the same routine day in and day out, and your body will get used to it to the point where it provides no benefit. Change it up. Do different exercises. Add more weight. Run faster. Increase the incline on your treadmill. Pull up the resistance on your exercise bike. CHANGE IT UP!

If you can, go to the gym or somewhere outside of your house to exercise

I used to work out at home, and though I made huge progress on my own in the beginning, eventually I fell off. If you find yourself in this predicament, your best bet is to go to a gym. You change your surroundings, you have less opportunity to get distracted, and there is far more equipment there to use. You are also in a social environment and may meet friends to help you along your way.

If you can afford a trainer even for only 4 sessions, do it

Personal trainers can be expensive, but the best thing they provide in my opinion is customized routines. If you can afford to get a trainer for a month once a week, do it. Have the trainer build you multiple exercise routines that you can use even after the sessions have expired, and pay attention to the exercises they make you do.

Eating right

One of the things I talked to healthy people about is diets. It takes a combination of diet and exercise to achieve extreme results. I’ve chosen a modified paleo style diet, but one thing that all the modern meal plans seem to have in common is eating far less carbohydrates and refined sugars. Skip the breads, the tortillas, the pasta. I’ve personally found my mind to be much clearer and my energy levels much higher without them. Don’t be afraid of fats (especially unsaturated), there is a lot of evidence out there right now indicating they are not the evil creatures they have been made out to be. Eat a lot of protein, you’ll need it to recover.

Stop eating massive amounts of sugar. This means kicking the soda habit. Where you need something sweetened, look to natural sweeteners like stevia, or naturally occurring sugar alcohols like xylitol, and erythritol. These can even be used in almond and coconut flour to make modified baked goods!

I hope what I’ve written can help some of you who are on the fence about this stuff and help you to stick with a routine once you’ve started. I also hope that once our InShape project is up and running in the next few weeks you’ll join me there on virtual runs in the mornings. I’d love to have more friends while I’m staying fit!

Good luck. You can do it!

Homemade sugar free cranberry soda

Homemade sugar free cranberry soda

We had a taste for something to drink besides plain and sparkling water. Being totally adverse to just about anything with added sugar nowadays, I wanted to see if there was a way to sweeten up cranberry juice without drinking up a ton of carbs.

I didn’t think stevia would work because it has a naturally bitter aftertaste just like cranberries, but to my shock and surprise my first experiment was a success! A bit of tweaking the formula and I came up with a decent cranberry soda which I share here with you!

Sugar free cranberry soda

  • 1/4 cup 100% pure unsweetened cranberry juice (preferably not from concentrate)
  • 1/4 tsp pure stevia extract
  • (optional) A pinch of another sweetener like xylitol or erythritol
  • Sparkling water/soda water (a sodastream works great for this)

Pour the 1/4 cup cranberry juice into a 16 oz glass. Add the stevia and optional pinch of other sweetener to the juice in the glass and stir until completely dissolved. Slowly add the soda water.

That’s it! This recipe yields a nice solid soda flavor and in my opinion there isn’t even a hint of bitterness from the stevia.

Relay for Life on InShape!

Relay for Life on InShape!

On November 1st 2014, something profound is going to happen, and I’m super excited to be a part of it.

For the first time, avatars and the people behind them are going to run the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, for real, virtually.

What in the world does that mean?

RFL_Snapshot_001Using the InWorldz InShape system, beta testers from the virtual world will get together on a virtual track that has been designed by Relay For Life of InWorldz volunteers. They will log into the virtual world, and by using acceleration data supplied by the cell phone in their pockets, they will transmit walking, biking, and running forces from their real life into their avatar. That data will be used to move them through the Relay for Life track.

From exercise bikes, to rowers, to treadmills, the harder they run in real life, the faster their avatar will go. Their dedication will show through form the real to the virtual. Their avatar will become an extension of the good we all want to see in the world.

Business stamina

We will gather from around the world. We will run the same track for the same great cause, and we will help to give hope where hope is needed.

This is what virtual worlds are all about. Fighting for good causes and using virtual worlds technology to augment the human experience. If you are an InShape beta tester, please join me on November 1st to help kick cancer right in the backside. Let’s get together and sweat to draw attention to a disease that affects us all, and needs to be eradicated before it can claim any more lives.

Run for life.

(Watch the livestream here starting at 9 AM PDT)

Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake

Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake

I happened to have some leftover pumpkin from making paleo pumpkin pancakes the previous night, and I wanted to figure out a way to use some more of it. Those cans of pureed pumpkin are absolutely huge and it would be a shame to let most of it go to waste.

I started thinking how much I really love pumpkin pie during this time of year, but I don’t want to eat all that sugar. Maybe there is a better way to conquer my craving.

Thus the pumpkin pie breakfast smoothie/protein shake was invented

Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake

1/2 Cup of pumpkin puree
1/3 Cup crushed pecans
1/2 Cup greek yogurt
1/2 Teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Cup milk
2 Scoops vanilla whey protein powder
2 Ice cubes
Sweeten to taste with ~1/4 tsp pure stevia or other sweetener

The pumpkin pie spice is sold premixed in a container and is a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Crush the pecans in a mortar and pestle until they have a powdered consistency. Add the pecans, yogurt, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, and sweetener before the milk. Then add the milk, then the protein powder. This makes sure the protein powder sticks to the sides less. Finally, add the ice cubes and blend well.

Almond Chocolate Banana Protein Shake

Almond Chocolate Banana Protein Shake

In a bit of a break from the geekery, I am happy to present to you a newly discovered protein shake! I came up with this recipe myself while trying to think of delicious ways to use the chocolate protein powder I was forced to get when the all natural vanilla powder I usually buy was sold out.

I started off just using crushed almonds and the chocolate powder as the primary flavors, but that didn’t turn out so good. I discovered that adding a banana gave the shake just the right amount of body and sweetness. A hint of cinnamon and almond extract and this thing went from “meh.” to “woot!”.

From my blender to yours. I present the almond chocolate banana protein shake!

Almond Chocolate Banana Protein Shake

  • Small handful (about 3/4 cup) of chopped/slivered almonds. You will need to further crush these up into a powder-like consistency. I use a mortar and pestle.
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 cups of plain almond milk
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
  • 1 – 2 ice cubes
  • A few good shakes of cinnamon (maybe 3/4 tsp)
  • A drop of pure almond extract

Put it all in a blender and blend very well. Leave this one blending for longer than normal since the pureed banana tends to want to float on top of the almond milk.