So… I Wake Up and I’m Massive

I was about to have a meta-discussion right here about my reasoning for writing a post like this, but I stopped caring half way through… meaning I’m sure readers don’t care either. Bottom line: it’s my party and I’ll write what I want to.

So I’m massive now. In a very literal sense massive. I’ve shot up to 255 lbs. I had no idea I’d gotten so large and really didn’t believe it except that I kept hearing from people, “Dude you’re huge. Looking swole.” I’d brush it off but people seemed to insist… I was visibly bigger. So I hopped on the scale to discover, lo and behold, I’m bigger. Much bigger. 12-15 lbs bigger in fact. Another instance, I guess, of not seeing progress in your own self.

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I’m Colossal… And it’s actually kind of alarming. You may recall I discussed some of my goals in previous posts (here and here), and while my coverage of my bodybuilding schedule has become embarrassingly lax – a problem I’m seeking to fix, I promise! – my goals are the same: roughly 260 lbs and I’d like to level out under 10% bodyfat. I haven’t checked my bodyfat recently. 2 weeks ago it was 9.5%, but I was also 242 lbs so there’s no rational universe in which all this weight is muscle (or is there…?). I’ll check my bodyfat in a week just disabuse myself of the idea that this is all good weight. For now, I’m kinda happy.

The thing is, though, I wasn’t trying to gain weight. I’ve been hoping to cut weight. I realize that I’m shockingly endomorphic and can eat barely anything and still put on muscle – my buddy Aaron balked and said he hated me when I mentioned my weight haha – but I try to bake that into the cake when managing my body.

I’ve obviously failed pretty spectacularly on that front if I’ve accidentally gained in the neighborhood of 25 pounds this spring. So it’s time to face fact and have a little Come to Jesus meeting with myself.

There are two main failures I think: one about orthodoxy (right belief) and one about orthopraxis (right action)… (behold my literary-historical nerd peeking out haha). My failure of orthopraxis is going about this process basically wrong from the get-go… and may be partially because I’m working with a training partner, weirdly enough. My buddy’s goal is to get hugely strong and enter a strongman type competition. Fine: excellent goal. What it requires, though, is slow, heavy lifting to build the body and increase power. And while that’s generally a great way to go, it isn’t exactly a cutting program. So I’ve been lifting with him and doing basically a routine I designed to get him huge… and, surprise surprise, I’m getting huge. (He is too, incidentally. He’s visibly bigger than when he started lifting with me)

What I need to do is find a way to go through a much higher volume routine and stop lifting in the 6-8 range that he needs. I really shouldn’t be surprised if I gain a ton of weight by lifting in a way that gains a ton of weight, but I guess I wasn’t paying too close attention! The fix is to change to higher volumes of exercise and not as much weight. My bridges and pyramids routine will be good for this, but I’ll modify the pyramid part to shave down the weight a bit.

My failure of Orthodoxy is more stinging… I need to just face the music and realize that I can’t be social in the same way I’ve been used to being social. I love going out with my friends, I love going out to restaurants and movies and bars and everything else. But pizza and popcorn and candy and especially booze are not going to get me where I want to go. Even in my already limited way, those things are holding me back. (This past week is a poor example probably… went to New York and clicked “vacation mode” in my brain, which meant “gorge yourself”…) So what to do?

I think I’ll basically just have to reevaluate how I’m social. I won’t be eating the same things as other people and I won’t be drinking at all. So much of being social involves these two things that it’s kind of a hard task I’ve set before me, but at the end of the day I have to decide it’s worth it. I’ll just be sober. And clean. And kinda boring.

1011091_10100841916384883_837518423_nBut as with most things, it just takes a change in attitude. The goal is worth it… and I need more discipline to get there.

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The Hidden Traps

So I bragged on Facebook about a few of my clients last week. Several of them have made great progress: dramatic, visible progress. J___ is much leaner, T___ is practically a different person in the face, and C___ can slip out of his pants now without unbuttoning them. I’m proud of their success! And a little proud of my part in it.

But at the same time, a few guys have expressed frustration at their progress. Not that they aren’t making progress – all my guys are, even those who barely listen to me! But some of them want to hit the gas a little harder. C___ in particular wants to see some abs and tends to grumble that those aren’t making their debut quite fast enough. I’m sympathetic to a point – abs are bizarrely motivating, especially to us fatties who may never have seen them in the mirror – but only to a point. And I say that because my guys tend to fall into some pretty obvious traps. Traps I feel like I warned them about… but then again, maybe it’s one of those things where you can’t really warn people away from a hot stove until they put their hand on it.

So what are the biggest traps my clients fall into? Let’s look.

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The Dark Secret of Fitness (shhhh)

I write a lot about momentum, sometimes more and sometimes less explicitly. Momentum is something I take for granted a lot of the time, even though there are those times I set down my flag and say, “Yes! Nothing is more important!” And that’s largely true. At the same time, nothing is more difficult to maintain unless you plan on maintaining it. (A failure to plan…)

This musing about momentum arises from me having not written anything here in several weeks. I lost my momentum – through both external stresses as well as just my failure to plan ahead – and so this fell off my radar. It shouldn’t have and I’m returning to it to attempt to rebuild that.

So, a little story about momentum:

I have some good news and bad news here along with my little story. First the bad news: the dark secret lying at the heart of health and fitness. There is no resting on your laurels. Ever. There is no point where you look at yourself and say, “OMG Finally that’s over. I can stop now.” There’s no stopping. There’s no finish line. There’s no top to this mountain.

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Fat and Disgusting

There are a few reactions that people seem to have to obesity. Not just people in general, not just society at large, but also the obese themselves. And most of those reactions are destructive: even, or perhaps especially, the ones meant to help the obese. I’ve touched on this briefly, but I wanted to explore a little more here and bring in some other things I had been thinking. This may seem like an odd followup to the last post about dreaming bigger, but it’s been on my mind lately for several reasons.

The other day I was talking with someone and the subject of our conversation turned toward fitness – happens a lot when you’re a fitness professional. Specifically he brought up my work here in Chicago and how he thought I’d never want for more clients in the city because of how fat the city seemed to be. The sentiment has been expressed before to me – that Chicago is just a fat city and needs more health professionals – but then he went on to describe how fat and disgusting specific people were at the grocery store, buying Dr. Pepper and Oreo cookies with food stamps then shuffling toward the bus to take up two seats. It boggled his mind that in a city where you have to walk everywhere, there are still obese people in such numbers. The problem was that fat disgusting people just refused to eat healthy. “I just don’t understand how they can do that to themselves!” he exclaimed.

“No. You don’t…” I said.

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On Dreaming Bigger

I’d started to follow up, as promised, on “Fatties and Phone Calls” because apparently that really resonates with people. But then I remembered that a certain kind of conversation has been coming up for me and the new guys I am consulting about training, which means it’s probably closer to the surface of my thoughts and what I think is important right now.

When I sit down with a client – this is before they even see the gym and usually over dinner or coffee so we can get to know one another – I ask them a range of questions designed to get a feel for them. Who are they? What is their health history? What are their goals? How do they treat and/or feel about their body? And they get a chance to interview me as well. It’s important to me to have a rapport with my clients… Usually the biggest reason they are working with me is because they know I’ve been on the other side of fitness – the painful, discouraging, difficult side of fitness – and so I, myself, am as much a part of their experience getting fit as any of the exercises I’m working them through.

Over the course of the “interview” between us one thing seems to stick out almost universally. My clients simply aren’t imagining themselves getting something they want out of fitness. They are dreaming too small. I’ll explain.

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Shallow-Phobia

I promised I’d get back to the idea of body image in Fatties Don’t Get Phone Calls (2), and so here that is.

I get the impression from talking to people about their weight that there is a pervasive fear about seeming to be shallow. This fear of seeming shallow colors a lot of what people think about themselves and their relationships to others, especially if like me they grew up struggling with weight and body image. People will go to unreasonable lengths to avoid the appearance of vanity, to such an extent that they end up making unhealthy and destructive choices in life… because it seems better than appearing shallow. It can keep us from making positive changes in our life and even sabotage us in some ways.

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Pyramids and Bridges: My Lean-Bulking Spring Workout

Part of this blog is a meandering discussion of body image and all that, but part of it is fitness based because a great many people ask me for fitness advice: either specific to their own bodies or just curious to know what I do myself. So I thought I’d describe my current routine for Spring.

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