Urgency

My heart was broken. A girl I had been dating walked away from our year long relationship to another guy, a guy more like her. They shared interests more closely aligned with one another, even sharing majors. The writing was on the wall after a response she had given while running for Winter Carnival Queen that sunk my heart. And essentially her response got her exactly what she wanted. She “brushed me away with her broom” was her response after asking what a Michigan Tech Husky might do with a broom. I understand I probably wasn’t the best boyfriend, but the break up sent me into a frenzy of hateful misogynistic Eminem music and continuously watching the movie Fight Club.

tyler-durden

I STILL love the movie Fight Club, though I’ve watched it more than any normal human should. Aside from the violence, it’s thought provoking story of a man fighting himself and the materialist nature to which many of us hold our self-esteem. As Tyler puts it, “You’re the all singing all dancing crap of the world.” If you’re not familiar with the story, the narrator’s job is to look into accidents for a major auto manufacturer and assess whether or not the company should issue a recall on the their vehicles. If the lawsuit costs less than to issue a recall, they don’t issue a recall. This is where the narrator said something that has been embedded in my brain and has only been re-enforced this past year with my ambition to make a better me this year. As he stood there looking at a burnt up vehicle with a couple of morbid insurance adjusters, he said, “On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”

“On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” Bleak, morbid, depressingly true, but mostly powerful. I think about this quote daily.

Bleak, morbid, depressingly true, but mostly powerful. I think about this quote daily.

It’s a good reminder of mortality. Time is limited and could be an immediately scarce resource for you on the timeline referenced. And it’s seemingly harder to pull myself up to put myself in a position where I’m tying a dollar amount to an hour of my day and I’ve HATED this practice for years.

Life is a funny unknown for the distance between now and the end. We will all finish life eventually, but will any of us truly finish it alive?

As I note in my post Two Books That Are Shaping How I work in 2018, we all have the capacity to learn and focus. I’ve taken this to heart in 2018. It’s been the driving factor of the number of books I’ve purchased and read. Accompany this with my attitude for trying to finish this life alive, I’m open to a number of different perspectives.

But the ultimate question now is why I’ve been as accepting of these new perspectives?

This past spring my daughter’s school was having a school picnic. Excited to spend the time with my wife and two daughters at this school picnic, I told my family the week prior I would be joining. As technical lead on a project at work, plans changed. The business owner traveled into the office the week of the event, and I had to choose between going to the picnic and remaining a culpable leader, employed, a provider financially. THIS KILLED ME.

It’s for these two reasons I’m choosing to get up at 5am. It’s for these two reasons I’m choosing to keep my body in a shape that runs efficiently. It’s for these two reasons I’ve started my own company. It’s for these two reasons I’m constantly trying to improve. It’s for these two reasons urgency to accomplish, succeed, and not have to ask “What if?”.

What motivates you?

It’s 10:30 during the work day. Stomachs tighten as lunch time looms.

“Hey, want to go out to lunch?” A common question asked millions of times over the course of weeks throughout businesses everywhere. But the next question kills more productive hours and thought than necessary.

“Sure, where do you want to go?” All be it, I understand people’s needs for dietary restrictions, or maybe they already had pizza twice this week, but the indecisiveness kills me. The struggle becomes real as indecision takes strangle hold of the situation and finally, here’s a subsanwhich from Jimmy John’s at your door.

Other winners of these types of questions include:

What are we doing for dinner?
Which bar do you want to go to?
What pizza toppings?

Indecisiveness kills me when trivial things aren’t decided quickly or beforehand. MAKE A FUCKING CHOICE!

Here’s how you can limit some of these moments of indecisiveness and mental gymnastics to put your brain on autopilot.

1. Plan Your Meals

Losing fat isn’t necessarily a will power game. You can be flexible in your food choices; however, if you’re planning and preparing your meals the night before or on the weekend, you have less to think about the next day. Your choices were made. The urge to call Dominos for a pizza, get Chinese food, or getting a quick sandwich at Jimmy John’s subsides. Maybe at this point you’ve freed up enough mental space to keep your will power high, or you’ll feel guilty about wasting the food you spent time preparing the night before. As the day wears on, your will power weakens and so will the ability to resist food, booze, and other things that offer a quick reward. So do yourself a favor, and plan out your meals.

2. Have a Plan for Your Day

If there’s one thing productive folk love, it’s having plan an executing it for the day. When executing a plan, you’re not mentally or physically wandering and wondering what to do next. Distractions and fires will exist, but you can be nimble to handle them mentally. After creating several day plans, the feeling of accomplishment also rises. It helps provide vision and goals for your day. Below is a sample of my day plan for a normal work day. I’ve executed this one enough to the points where it’s become habit.

To do list
5:30am – 6:15am: Get ready for gym and travel
6:15am – 8:00am: Workout and Shower
8:00am – 8:15am: Walk to Work
8:15am – 8:30am: Eat post workout breakfast
8:30am – 11:50am: – Work
11:50am – 12:30pm: Lunch and Walk around downtown. I take the same route every day.
12:30pm – 4:30pm: – Work
4:30pm – 5:15pm: Travel Home
5:15pm – 7:15pm: Play, teach, and eat dinner with the family
7:15pm – 8:00pm: Start Getting kids to sleep
8:00pm – 8:15pm: Pack gym bag, computer bag, work bag, and lunch for the next work day
8:15pm – 10:00pm: Read a book, work on Swoll Bro App (this comes with it’s own to-dos)

By doing this so routinely, it’s become habit. It’s provided me the freedom from having to overthink things in an age full of overwhelming options and distractions to accomplish what I need to do.

3. Have An App to Manage Your To Dos

As I noted above, working on my Swoll Bro App comes with it’s own set of to-dos. Remembering of each little thing I need to do with application development could mentally exhaust me. From having to security, front end/user interface specifications, to coding the rest service there’s many different things I need to accomplish that need to come to fruition. Without writing them down or putting them in a to-do list, things may be overlooked ruining the user experience. While I have a slew of generic things I need to get done during the day, I have even more sub-tasks. Each one is specific, concise, and should be able to be accomplished within the day.

So if you’re having trouble accomplishing your goals, try to relieve as much mental pressure on yourself as possible. If they are long running projects, break them down, put them in sub-tasks, you’ll feel like you’re achieving more if you’re knocking out small tasks one at a time.

Once you’ve been consistently making your plans, the mental gymnastics and pressure begin to relieve. Your goals will then be within striking distance and you’ll have hit the mark.

#getswollbro

And The Story Repeats

Returning home from Sunday night hockey, I pulled into my driveway. Playing in the beer leagues lends itself perfectly to its given name. Nothing’s quite as refreshing as cracking open a couple of cool barley pops after a game that requires so much effort physically. It’s as refreshing as downing that beer after being outside in the blazing heat of the sun after doing yard work while drenched in sweat. I got out of my car, grabbed my equipment, and placed it downstairs. My kids are typically in bed at this point, and my wife is watching the Walking Dead. Before the long week coming up and having just sweat profusely for the past hour, what’s another couple of beers going down the hatch or few handfuls of Goldfish crackers?

Monday morning, I hop into the shower with the thought I was going to act differently this week. I’d get up a little earlier, so I could get to work earlier and spend a little more time on cardio while I was at the gym. This surely would help melt the calories I put into my body the night before, and the day before that, oh and those Wednesday beers I justified because I ran a 5k on the treadmill after lifting. My diet doesn’t suck that bad, does it?

This story repeated week after week. I’ve tried a number of different workout routines from P90X, Max-OT training, and Men’s Health Huge in a Hurry. Getting to the gym on routinely was never a problem for me. It’s been programmed into me for the past ten years. At this point, like many other people, the feeling of frustration overwhelmed me. I started doubting my abilities and self-control. I started searching for answers.

Off To Amazon

We are genetic sequels of our parents. Whether we receive the good or the bad genetics, avoiding the bad could happen if I was proactive about it.

Arming myself with the knowledge would and will be key avoiding these genetic qualities that could manifest into life altering problems. Mostly, I wanted to drop the pounds that had me cringing when I took a picture of myself and seeing the love handles expanding. Being a desk jockey, something needed to change.

Shopping for a weight training guide on Amazon, I found a book of particular interest that had great reviews by everyone that practiced its teachings.

Locked and Loaded

I stopped my current training routines and pretty much just did cardio until I completed reading Bigger Leaner Stronger.

Michael Matthews laid out the information simply and backed by scientific studies. It’s provided in simple terms of here’s what you do, why, and here’s the science behind it.

Armed with the information provided in the book, I hit the ground running, or so I thought…

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude and Ideas

With the workouts being executed, my goal attainment seems like it was half a year to years away. At this point, my diet was still shit. This seemed to be a common theme no matter which program I was working.

It wasn’t until I was on vacation with my family in September of 2016, I gave myself that Monday speech. Except this time I was armed with knowledge of what I needed to do. I’d had enough of failing.

After a week in beautiful OBX, I sat down did as Mike Matthews suggested and created a spreadsheet of everything I ate. My mistakes, I was eating too much or too little. My macros were all over the place. I had no idea if I was eating too much protein, carbs, or fat. So finally, I adjusted for all of my foods to fit the program. The switch had been flipped.

Food Journal

Seriously, Failing to Plan, IS Planning to Fail

Working in software development with an agile method; programmers, project managers, and product owners work collaboratively to plan which features, bugs, and tasks will be integrated within a two week period, or however long we decide the spring should be. Typically this is met with ranges of success, but there’s always a retrospective of what the team can do differently alleviate any blockers and work more efficiently to meet their goals.

Reassessing and being transparent in my dieting habits would be crucial if I wanted to attain my goals. It was lunacy if I were to follow the same pattern of hitting the gym, eating shit, and expecting somehow to expect my body to change. I couldn’t outrun or lift my shitty diet. After this vacation, changes were needed.

While this was the hardest part in the determined effort to make a change, figuring out the macro-nutrient and calorie consumption may have been the most difficult. Luckily, I have a supporting wife as she does all the grocery shopping help with these changes.

There’s another step. Have an awesome supporting cast.

The plan was set in motion.

Tested Often and Early

In October, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to watch the Wisconsin vs. University of Michigan. Accepting, a few things crossed my mind that pertained my goals. We were heading to a mutual friend’s house where tailgating ensued with large quantities or beer and shots.

  1. Am I going to be able to keep sober? Past experience has told me no.
  2. What am I going to do about the food that is there? I did bring 2lbs of burger to be cooked up
  3. If I do let go, what happens to the rest of my goals?

Luckily, my friends appeared supportive, in their own manner. Obviously, I received crap because who doesn’t drink at a tailgate? Old habits would suggest for me drinking three beers, a light day for me, would turn into eight to ten beers.

After Michigan won a defensive battle of a football game, my friend and I waited for traffic clear Ann Arbor at our friend’s house. Still, I remained strong and I was given even more a reason to stay sober letting my friend take those Anheuser Busch horses by the reins. I drove us home once traffic cleared.

Six Weeks In – Round 1

Six weeks completed and I was finally on a week of rest. My hockey buddy was turning thirty and a number of people were headed on a charter bus to Joe Louis Arena, which for many of us Wings fan the last time.

I invited my dad to come along with us. I packed a small cooler with Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. Mind you, these beers are pretty high octane.

My old drinking habits caught up with me. I downed a few larger beers at the game. Six weeks of not drinking and changing my diet lowered my tolerance a bit. Normally this would be a Monday night snack of beers.

As we all piled back onto the bus in Detroit, around Lansing the heavy hopped beer beer started playing twisting knots in my stomach. My dad, next to me, had fallen asleep. I was holding a conversation with a couple of guys when the strong IPAs started making me nauseous.

Quickly, I reached down to my small cooler, unzipping it as fast as I could. I unleashed filling the cooler with a couple of extra beers floating around in it.

Saying yes to beer was saying no my goals.

When I got home, I threw away the cooler, walked up the stairs wobbly, and told my wife over and over how I was pathetic mostly because I can’t hold my liquor anymore.

Post Boot

I had my Sunday night talk with myself, and I felt not drinking for six weeks was easier than I initially thought. It was after those first six weeks of training, dieting, and rituals I felt I was finally headed in the right direction.

Respect Where You Are Through What You’ve Been Through

Six months ago I started a health journey that took me from 26% body fat to where I currently sit at 16.9%. With all the frustration in previous programs, I’m happy to settle with one that is yielding results. As 2017 starts, I’m excited and anticipating the journey ahead to achieve a goal I thought nearly unattainable. The past six months were challenging old habits relentlessly and for a large majority were thwarted. I kept my goals conscious in all my actions. I went to the Wisconsin vs. Michigan game where tailgating ensued and I remained strong and true to my goals.

At times, I found myself excited to get to the gym, while others I felt as if I was going through the motions. Getting my ass in the gym wasn’t close to the toughest part. The dieting and justifications for poor diet habits were the worst part. It wasn’t until I laid out a plan for my macros consistently and consciously providing my body the necessary nutrition to meet my goals did I see changes in my body. I picked foods I normally consumed, but had to cut back or eliminated other foods, primarily beer and foods that pair well with beer. Through these cuts and strategic timed eating, the past six months have provided significant changes.

My Six Month Roadmap to Body Composition Success

My goals in the first six months differed. Mainly my goals in mind, dial in the diet, drink less beer, and stick to the Bigger Leaner Stronger program. If you’ve been keeping tabs on my progress, you’ll know that what I’ve done so far has been successful in terms of body composition. My goals this time around are straight forward and simple. My overall goal is to achieve 10-12% body fat. So how do I get there? How would you get there?

The Roadmap

1. Knowing Where You Are

In order to get where you want to go, you need to know where you are. At the base of this, you’ll need to know your body fat percentage. Here’s a way you can measure your body fat percentage. I’ve gone the lazy way about things and have used my scale to retrieve my body fat percentage. You’ll also need to know how much you weigh, which I’m sure you can figure that out a bit more easily than body fat percentage.

For reference, I’m sitting at 16.9% BF and 168.8 lbs.

2. Calorie Consumption and Macro-Nutrients *

I’m looking to achieve 10-12% body fat over the next six months while keeping up my strength. For my purposes, I’m looking to cut. On muscleforlife.com a handy calorie/macro-nutrient calculator is provided to help dial in your diet. After you have your numbers from the calculator, make a spreadsheet of foods you enjoy and try to closely match your targets from the calculator. Here’s my spreadsheet of foods I enjoy and how I’ve dialed in my diet to help cut. I will note that my dinners typically healthy, but with a family I don’t eat the same thing every evening. How boring on the pallet would that be to eat the same thing every day? For some healthier dinner ideas, my wife and I have used recipes from the the Shredded Chef. We’ve enjoyed the gram cracker encrusted tilapia, protein pudding bars, french toast, muffins, and pork tenderloin.

Timing of your calorie consumption and the macro-nutrients are also important. As a guideline, I typically am a bit carbohydrate heavy before my workout, and protein heavy post workout.

*This is the hardest step in the roadmap. Mainly this is a lifestyle change in every aspect and moment in your life. I often found myself with “justification calories” or “what’s another beer going to hurt” mentality.

3. Weight Training

My weight training regimen will remain the same except, I’ll be working through eight weeks instead of my normal six weeks. For MOST weight training exercises, I’m doing three sets four to six reps. Should I get to six reps, I will increase five pounds per dumbbell or ten pounds be barbell usage. Between each set, I’m waiting two minutes between each set.

4. Cardio

Cardio is limited to three sessions a week and will remain as High Intensity Interval Training sessions. For a mix of cardio activities so I’m not bored, I range from sprints on a treadmill, jumping rope with box jumps, and elliptical intervals. Typically these sessions last 10-25 minutes. If you’re in need of a timer for interval training, I’ve created a HIIT Timer available in the Apple App Store. I also play hockey on Sundays providing the best, and in my opinion MOST FUN, HIIT workout.

Why do I choose HIIT training over longer bouts of cardio? LiveStrong.com has a great explanation of why HIIT training is better than jogging.

Six Month Roadmap Expected Result

With this roadmap above, it is expected that I lose 0.5-1lbs/week. I’m aiming to get my weight down to 159lbs and hopefully that will lead me to my 10% body fat percentage. After this stage has been completed, I will begin a bulk stage which will require more calories and heavier weights. Until then, wish me luck! Happy New Year!

Have questions? Email me at paul@swollbro.com

Where the Hell Did 2016 Go?

2016’s concludes in less than two months. With the holidays leading to gluttonous behaviors, those participating may have wrapped themselves in guilt as excessive pounds rear their ugliness on the scale leading them into your local meat head or “judgement free zone” facility. Funny or sad as it may be, as a frequent gym goer, patrons such as myself notice a packed facility only to revert back to normal capacity within a matter of weeks. Year long contracts have been signed, credit card number exchanged, and initiation fees waived to entice people making a healthier version of themselves. Frankly, I HATE paying for services that go unconsumed. I loathe that I have satellite television, miss my weekend beer league hockey, and missing a day at the gym. The last two have become so ingrained in my life, I feel empty if I my participation declines.

As these seasonal resolutionists fill the squat racks appearing clueless while doing push ups between the rack with the bar resting on the pins above them with no weight, I wonder what drives them away?* Time, intimidation, or forming a new habit all seem to have a force. Please realize, you’re there for you and no one else. I realize there are many questions, but here I concentrate on the excuses listed above. Hopefully you’ll start prepping yourself for a better you in 2017.

*Seriously, I’m happy to see anyone trying to improve their health and don’t mean to sound like a dick, but us that frequent the gym can spot these things. Part of Swoll Bro is for inclusion. While I may not have the answers for all questions, I can hopefully be relatable.

Time

To prove I’m relatable I’ll tell you two things. One, I have the same twenty-four hours in a day like you. Two, I put on each pant leg one at a time. My point is, I have time constraints working a couple of jobs, being a dad, husband, and I still find about an hour and a half to make my health better. Carve out time in your day to say, “This is MY time.” My opinion on this particular time should be morning or lunch time (if you can do lunch time, I’m lucky with the flexibility my job offers). I’ve found in my life, these times often remain consistent for unexpected events throughout the day.

ACTION ITEM
  • MAKE A PLAN AND CARVE OUT THAT TIME NOW!

Intimidation

I was first introduced to weight training in high school, even received gym credit for it as classes. I felt comfortable there around my friends and coaches for strength training. My barriers were broken down again, pretty easily, when my neighbors asked me to go a local meat head gym. What got me over the intimidation with the various machines, large plates and dumbbells, large body builders, was being introduced to each machine by my friends. Also realize, the large body builders in the gym probably have different goals from you and may be months ahead of where you’re starting. They’ve also acquired knowledge over the years as a base for their training and have been consistent training and dieting. But as you see, they are also proof that you too can accomplish your goals.

Lastly, if you find the machines, dumbbells, squat racks, weight benches, curl bars, whatever it is intimidating, know that the staff at those gyms are there to help you. Most likely they’ll even help instruct on how to use the equipment. ASK QUESTIONS!

ACTION ITEMS
  • Find a Friend to Go
  • Gain Knowledge
  • Ask Questions

Habit Forming or Dismantling

After discussing with a co-worker who frequented the gym prior to moving to Michigan, he also felt uneasy if there were times he’d miss the daily gym routine for the day. Why have these habits been formed? According to Psychology Today, “…behavioral patterns we repeat most often are literally etched into our neural pathways. The good news is that, through repetition, it’s possible to form—and maintain—new habits.” Terri Crews, shares similar advice via a Reddit.com AMA, which he notes, “Go to the gym, don’t even work out. Just GO. Because the habit of going to the gym is more important than the work out. Because it doesn’t matter what you do. You can have fun – but as long as you’re having fun, you continue to do it.”

Frankly, I feel lazy and disrupted if I’m unable to get to the gym in a day. While this is a good habit I formed, how have I dismantled bad habits, because as I’ve noted in previous posts that I am a beer lover.

The Dismantle

A number of habits needed to be dismantled in order to accomplish my goals. For instance, the extra calories and beers consumed in the evening needed to be shaved a bit. I didn’t realized how habitual having a few beers at night became as it contributed to the waistline. Along with that, it seemed as if this opened up path to eat more, particularly salty snacks. So what did I do to cut this habit? I think drinking is more of a social habit. Instead, I replaced my beers with water, which did a couple of things. It rid of the extra. calories and made me feel fuller longer.

After a couple of weeks, I felt saying no was easier, and I didn’t have the desire to reach for a beer at the end of the day. Also to help curb these habits, I’ve done the following:

ACTION ITEMS
  • Created a daily task list
  • Created a blog for accountability
  • Documented my food to take the guess work about what to eat

Membership or No Membership?

Finally, if you want to make changes for your life, make sure you’re going into with the correct mindset. I often ask myself during cardio, “What’s another five minutes,” as I approach the end of my HIIT. Another five minutes hasn’t killed me yet. With the suggestions above, I hope you can decide whether or not a gym membership is worth it.

#GetSwollBro

A Common Thursday – Sunday

As I get home from work on Thursday, I’ve had a long four days between being a dad, meeting deadlines at work, job training (this never ends as it seems some new, better JavaScript framework is released each week), and four days of heavy lifting which puts a lot of stress on my body.  My expectations physically are falling short, but hey I’ve been to the gym four times this week.  Let’s fall back to my favorite snack of Two Hearted Ale, El Madator tortilla chips and some salsa to boot.  I’ve probably burnt these calories somewhere this week.

Now that it’s football and hockey season (Go Blue!, LGRW), justifying that a snack and the game was easy but detrimental to my goals.  Then if you’ve been reading you know how my Sundays go with Beer League Hockey.

During those sittings, I would typically have, at minimum, three beers per sitting within those four days.  Two Hearted Ale has 210 calories per 12oz beer.  210 Calories * 3 Beers * 4 days = 2,250 Calories within a four day span.  There’s 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat.  So in essence, I was damn near adding 3/4lbs per week.  Beyond that, why was I eating an drinking so much, derailing my progress?  I think it comes down the four reasons I’ve listed below.

1.  Justifying Calories

As I noted above, the wheels for this have fallen off many times.  There have been notable times I wasn’t eating the correct things to keep me satiated through to dinner time.  Or, I’d find myself watching TV having a beer or three because I ran five miles earlier in the day.  Justification eating still hinders my progress but it’s been better now with my meal plans.

Essentially, my issue was not having a plan.  It’s much easier planning what you’re going to consume with foods you enjoy and not drive yourself nuts with something like rice cakes.

2.  Concentrating on the Scale’s Number

If there’s one thing, and probably still hindering me as well as others, it’s concentrating on that fucking number the scale provides me.  I should concentrate less on that number and more on body fat percentage and lean mass.  Sometimes after I hit a certain number, I would get complacent.  My drive would plummet, and I’d start the Monday conversation about not reaching my goals and how to get there.

I read a thread on bodybuilding.com about a trainer who was wondering what to tell his female clients who were gaining weight with his training guidance.  He didn’t make it clear to his clientele, as his clientele dropped dress sizes, that they may weigh more as muscle mass increased.  This is where there’s too much emphasis on weight.

FUCK THE NUMBER ON YOUR SCALE! I can quantify my results by lean mass, my energy levels, and how my clothes are fitting, which as of late have been looser.  If you’re too fixated on the scale, stop now.  Especially if you’re beginning to lift weights.  Yes, your weight can go up as a result of muscle mass but probably at the same time you’re losing fat.  FUCK YOUR SCALE’S NUMBER!

From here on out, I’ll weigh myself once a week and stop putting SO much stock in this number as the only quantifier of meeting my goals.

3. NOT Tracking Other Measurements

So I just got done ranting about the numbers you find on your scale.  Rather than being so obsessed with how much I weigh, it would be useful if I measured body fat with calipers, bicep/chest/leg size with a tape measure, and muscle mass.  One other simple way I’ve gone about this to not be discouraged is my belt has been able to tighten up since starting my six week workout.

Mike Matthews of Bigger Leaner Stronger provides an explanation below of how to measure body fat with calipers.

4. Patience

I’m still learning this one.  Being in a society of instant gratification, results that aren’t showing immediately have made me a bit impatient as it comes to the results I’m getting.  If you think about all the famously advertised workouts, P90X (which I’ve tried and got too impatient), Insanity, or Body Beast these things all take time, and effort, to complete.  They even note their success stories as “Results vary depending on starting point, goals and effort”.  So I’m taking a more positive approach and holding myself accountable by writing my experiences as I work toward my goals.  Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes and get out of your fitness funk.

 

It’s About Attitude

Sunday evenings for me are built with anticipation for my weekly hockey game.  I’ve been playing hockey with this team for a number of years.  Some I’ve played with since high school, they’ve been roommates, and above all some kickass fun friends.

My typical weekend would be filled with beer.  Unlike most people, those weekends may have started on Thursday.  Each of those days may have end with four beers or more.  Like I’ve noted in previous posts, my choice of beer is high in alcohol content and calories.

Finally, when I get to Sunday, I’ve consumed more beer than I want to meet my goals.  Why am I telling you about my hockey team and my beer consumption in a fitness blog?  I’ve had a series of attitude shifts about how I need to meet my goals and one of those has been to completely remove beer from my diet.

Small Wins Meeting Big Gains

Hail to the Victor!

I was invited to the Wisconsin/Michigan game by one of my friends from college.  We arrived several hours before the game started because what else do fans do before a football game, tailgate?  We stopped over at a friend’s who happens to live damn near a block away from The Big House.  Standing in the driveway, shots were starting to surround us, nothing abnormal for a tailgate right?  When approached, my friend asked me if I was going to have any beer.  Since we did drive a couple of hours to get to Ann Arbor in his car and gave me a ticket, I figured it’d be best if I drove home and he could have the drinks.  He did call me out for, far be it from my nature, to not have anything to drink.  The last couple of times at this house for a U of M game, I don’t recall much happening post game.  So in the end, I didn’t drink anything and drove us home after a pretty exciting Wolverine Victory over the Badgers.

Not Feeling the Peer Pressure

Sunday (10/10) start my winter hockey league with my hockey team I described above.  At bare minimum you can call these “The Beer Leagues”.  When I first started in the beer leagues having a couple of beers before the game would case my stomach on the first shift to burn and I’d feel pretty winded.  By the second shift a little better, and by the third pretty normal.  Over time, these pregame beers became a routine in my hockey regimen of getting dressed.

As I was getting ready for the game, the cooler full of beer was brought into the locker room.  I typically like heading to the game early to consume a couple of these beers, but this time I was certain to not drink.  One of my friends opened the cooler and started tossing beers to everyone.  He looks at me and tries to hand me one as I was no less than three feet away from him.  I told him, “No Thanks”, “I’m Good”.  With refusal for my answers, he tried to stuff the beer in my pocket.  At which point, I was still refusing and then he just cracked the beer and sat it down next to where I was sitting.  There, that beer remained full and undrank.  YOU WERE WASTING BEER JIM!

Guess What’s Still In My Fridge

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know I frequently have mentioned the Two Hearted Ale six pack that remains in my keezer.  I will let you know that six pack still remains in my keezer after three weeks.  I’m also proud to say, this is the longest I’ve gone without having alcohol in years.

What Else Has Kept Me Going

If you’ve been in a rut and your habits are stronger than your goals, I’ve found myself accountable for my goals by writing about it.  While I know I have a small audience (thanks for reading), I’ve found writing about it and publicly telling people (about how awesome cross-fit is…lol) about a normal desk-jocky overcoming the odds of a sedentary career and bad habits that may shorten my life.

Creating a plan for meals and knowing my macro-nutrients to accomplish these goals has made it much easier and routine.  I know exactly what I’m eating the day before alleviating any stress of what to eat each day.  I’m also the type of person who can eat the same thing every day, as I have enough variety, and be complacent.

My Friends Facebook Posts Have Not Gone Un-Noticed

Some of my friends are fitness enthusiasts.  One of my friends, Beth, that I find inspiring as a stay-at-home mom of three kids finds time in her day to meet her fitness goals.  Unlike this blog, I’m not specific about workouts or recipes, mostly because I’m following Bigger Leaner Stronger program and don’t want to run into copyright infringements (I’ve ran into that before in the t-shirt printing business).  Hopefully you can find some more value out of her blog than you’ll find here.

Another post that I took notice was about achieving a goal and the best way to shape your habits and create actionable steps to reaching those goals in a YouTube Video, thanks Carlin!

On the Daily

My alarm is buzzing at 6:15 and I follow the same a routine of shower, make a high protein egg breakfast, put the dishes away from the dishwasher, collect clothes for my gym bag, brush my teeth, tell my family I love them, and head out the door.  This routine became part of my daily ritual after I was married and a father.  My nights and mornings have variable based on how many times I’m disturbed in the middle of the night by my kids, but I try to stick to the 6:15 wake up.  The one constant I receive in the day is lunch time.  While most people actually would eat lunch during this time, I use it as my opportunity to work out.

At 10:45, I get up from my desk at work and head to the kitchen to grab my protein bar.  I know within 30 minutes I’m going to get my recess from sitting down and programming.  I’ve carved out the 11:15 time to head to the gym.  At this point, I’m game to head to the gym and make a better version of myself.  I’ve carved this time out and kept with the routine for the past four years.  I may miss lunches with co-workers, may be viewed as anti-social, but this is MY time.

So what’s kept me routine and sticking with it the past four years?

I find selfish to not be there for your kids because you don’t take care of yourself.  I was recently sick the past five days, and I hated not being able to play with my kids.  I knew at the time rest was the best option at the time, missing opportunities to go outside on the prettiest days of the summer made me ill content.  Do I want to be sick more often while I can be preventing these issues with diet and exercise?  Hell No!  If you don’t take care of your body, someone or something else will have to take care of it for you.  Do you want to be dependent on people or medications to you through life or helping curb preventable disease?  What type of example are you setting for your kids if you’re not taking care of yourself?  When you take that time to invest into your body with exercise and good food, you’re investing into life and into your quality of life.

Carve that time out and stick to it!

While I’m not suggesting you have to get into the gym lift weights and run like you robbed a bank, I suggest you find something that gets you moving.  The investment you can make is into you and your health.  Remember your body is the one asset you’ve been given.  Carve out the time take care of it before you regret it.

Over the course of time, my body had become weak due to my sedentary life style as a programmer.  Through six jobs and ten years of programming hasn’t treated my body well.

A lot of stories will tell you about former athletes or just being very active when they were younger.  It sounds the start of a P90x commercial, doesn’t it?  My story wouldn’t sound any different other consumers of that product other than I’ve had shortfalls and plenty of them.  Maybe writing about them will change things for me and provide some drive.

I used to have hockey practice twice a week, play street hockey with my friends, run, lift weights, play tennis, and bike.  Even at 5’7″ my senior year in high school I was barely pushing 135lbs.  I haven’t grown vertically any since then, so as you can imagine, I was the “small kid” growing up.  My neighbors growing up and my friends today constantly remind me of how short I am.  Their wit with short jokes seems infinite, and a constant theme of their keen observational skills.

In college, I became less active and had two meals pretty much throughout my four years in school.  I was walking a lot, whether it be to class or bar, so I remained thin.  Luckily I was able to play hockey for class, intramural, and a couple travel teams sporadically throughout those four years.  During that time, I did have an undying itch still to be stronger and more built, because that was entirely what girls wanted, right?  I guess I forgot to mention the amount of beer and booze I consumed and the cigarettes I smoked. My liver and lungs have prevailed so far, but I was weak.

So how did you, for some unknown, reason get to this point in my rambling in my blog?  Action on my part and a desire to make a better version of myself.  With my 9-5 taking a toll on every aspect of my being, something needed to change.  A couple of things did.  I met my wife, who told me, she loves arms, so I guess I’m scratching that itch I mentioned earlier.  Two, you’re given one asset in life.  YOU BETTER TAKE CARE OF IT.  I don’t want to be unhealthy, and being a father, I most definitely want to be a good example to my kids.

Now that I’m in my 30’s, I read a lot about life particularly from those with wisdom.  One of my favorite quotes that was shared with me was, “Do not fear getting old, it is a privilege denied to many.”  My only fear is that my body weakens to the point I can skate anymore, see one of my inspirations.  I’m told a lot of people in their 40’s wish they had worked their body more in their 30’s.  With all these motivators for me, I don’t think that’ll be hard.

What will drive you?