Progress on exercise regimen and eating plan

A year and a day ago (see Starting exercise at the YMCA), I made the decision to move from my slovenly-like appearance to something a little more healthy.

I signed up at the Eau Claire YMCA, and started my exercise regimen. And for about six months, the only thing I really did was torture myself getting up at 5:20 in the morning. I had the right idea, but the wrong plan. This is where Arthur stepped in.

Until the end of last week, Arthur was an employee of Critical Mass, a friend, and my gym coach. He’d get on my case if I failed to show up in the morning. He’d give me grief for eating the “wrong things”. He became determined to whip me into shape, even if it killed me.

In August, Arthur sent me an email with a list of exercises. A five-day plan, broken into body areas. Monday is chest and triceps, Tuesday is legs, Wednesday is back and biceps, Thursday is shoulders, and Friday is cardio. Wedged into every day is some abdominal training, to keep things into shape. Each day had a specific list of exercises, designed to strengthen (and assumedly tone) my pansy-ass physique.

For the first month, I didn’t really see much of a difference. Except that on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, I could barely get out of bed (the leg exercises, although wonderful, wreak havoc on the muscles), and biking to work after Monday’s chest and tricep workout was difficult because I had no strength left in my arms.

Slowly, but surely, strength began to creep into my body. Weights increased, and even had to move from using dumbbells for squats to using the squat rack. Lunges went from standing to walking (and believe me, that ain’t easy). And it won’t be long until I have to move from using free weights for some exercises to having to use more racks. But that’s all part of the fun, of course.

In nearly November, Arthur finally delivered on his promise to give me a change in my diet. While I had thought I was eating well, Arthur was constantly tsk’ing me for some of the things I was eating. I didn’t understand why. So Arthur send me a link to a Men’s Health article that illustrated an example of Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet.

Relax, it ain’t Atkins. All this one does is urge you to cut back on useless carbohydrates (such as sugars and starches). The result? No rice, pasta, breads, most grains, fruits, starchy or sweet vegetables. I still eat vegetables, but only certain ones. (And yes, I am taking multivitamins to make up any differences.) I now eat five times a day, including a snack at 10:30, and another at about 15:00. All designed to prevent my body from going into starvation mode.

I should note that the change in the eating plan took effect very quickly. A little too quickly. In fact, just before Christmas, I came to the shocking realization that I had lost a lot of weight. Perhaps too much! (Don’t worry, I haven’t been reduced to skin and bones.) I don’t know how much weight I lost, but it’s over four pants sizes! Needless to say, my clothes no longer fit — they hung off my like flags draped off the side of a building. Believe it or not, this necessitated a complete wardrobe overhaul.

At the beginning of the year, Arthur upped the ante again. After experiencing a great deal of discomfort after a back workout (my forearms were seizing up from having to grip the pull-downs), Arthur suggested I start taking protein powder. I wasn’t originally too keen on the idea, but Arthur said it would help with muscle formation and speed up weight loss. With benefits like that, how could I refuse?

Well, be darned if the stuff doesn’t actually work! Suddenly, the excrutiating pain often felt after the leg workouts was reduced dramatically. Aside from slight soreness, it was like I hadn’t worked out at all. But the results are still coming in!

It’s been a year since I started working out, and I can’t believe the results. I’ve still got a ways to go, so I’m far from done. But don’t worry, I’m not trying to look like Arnie. That’s just a little too much.

I think I can settle for Brad Pitt.

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