As promised, the fitness run-down.
Try not to be overtly shocked that I’m posting on time.
I’m not a stranger to working out, actually, in some form or fashion. I started playing rec league soccer when I was four- largely because my brothers were already doing it- and was so happy playing that I didn’t branch out to other fitness avenues until I retired from it. I liked going to all the different fields and running around outside where I could see trees and the occasional mountains, arriving home smelling like grass and success.
Although Mom always thought success smelled like body odor and bleeding blisters. Funny, that.
Something about running through space, target and task changing every second from the other twenty-some-odd people running through the same space, quieted an otherwise overactive mind. Also, given that I’m built solid and prone to weight gain, the agility and endurance necessary to the sport kept me trim, relatively flexible, and very strong. I could go on and on about the sport, why I loved it so much, and the wonders it did for my body as I developed, but for today’s purpose, we can skip it. Suffice to say that my initial forays into and understanding of “fitness” were relatively narrow in that they centered around a single sport.
I arrived at the university I attended both excited and terrified of the gym they offered there for student use. What the hell were machines for? How do you use them? If I play in the adult leagues or intramurals, is someone there gonna guide us through workouts in the gym so I can somewhat hide my complete ignorance in a crowd? I won’t lie, I more or less kept to cardio workouts and machines for the first several months.
Thank God so many sorority girls did the same and made it look normal.
Although, I had no idea Greek lettered shirts were a dress code requirement for ellipticals. So many life lessons in college.
I took a kickboxing class as an elective at some point during my first year, only mildly surprised that I liked the dynamic flow of those workouts much better than trying to figure out what equipment was for (and forgive me, this was all before the smartphone era, so I hadn’t learned to just Google things on the spot yet). Until my oldest child was born, I did modestly pursue kickboxing, doing well thanks to some solid soccer legs and excellent cardio strength. But in that Charlie arrived, I got married, and my new domestic life had serious demands, I let it go, along with soccer.
The day after Charlie was born, I remember looking in the mirror of the hospital room and crying. My body looked like a chubby seventy-year-old’s. I mean, that child and the pre-eclampsia straight destroyed it. I didn’t want to touch my own skin. I was disgusted with all the really unsavory processes and goo that follows giving birth (NO ONE FREAKIN’ WARNED ME). Her father had an adverse reaction to the physical and emotional changes, too. Young and naive, I didn’t know what else to do other than jump on the box-set programs they sell at midnight on tv, convincing you that some hyperactive, forty-year-old man knows how to give you the abs you didn’t have before after growing and delivering a human. Going anywhere was out of the question anyway.
Unfortunately, I quickly grew bored of the same routines and traditional weighted movements. As a broke, single-income family, we couldn’t afford (and didn’t have the discipline for) meal plans as prescribed. By the time I returned to the university after Charlie, I had lost most of the weight I gained carrying her, but was eager to put things back where they were before. I signed up for another gym class elective, during which another classmate introduced me to Jillian Michaels. With an instructor who looked incredible after delivering triplets three years before and some aggressive woman on my tv telling me to “squat and kick” straight through to my dreams, I felt like I was in good hands, and, in fact, did regain my shape.
Only to get knocked up again.
I figured out I was pregnant with Lucas only because I was suddenly fatigued all the time. My usual weekday runs were suffering significantly, and I felt dizzy or off-balance for no reason. I was still pretty hungry, but I was also falling asleep in lectures or on the couch with Charlie after class. I woke up one day during the week leading into exams and just knew. Charlie on my hip, I walked straight into CVS and bought some tests (amid some real judgy looks from the cashier). Less than an hour later, I had two positive tests, made a phone call to my OB, and started researching safe pregnancy fitness.
I was not gonna get wrecked again.
I continued on with at-home fitness programs and walking with Charlie well into my second trimester due to time constraints from school. I looked great- from the back, you’d have no idea I was pregnant, which remained the case until after I reached my ninth month. Everything I read said I was gaining weight at an appropriate rate and would have a much easier time after delivery regaining my shape, so I stuck with it. Coming into the fall semester at school, I was already far enough along to skip registration for anything out of the gym on campus and had to email all my professors to let them know that my due date fell shortly after winter exams and may require creative proctoring. They were shocked when I came to class looking so small. Cruisin’ right through.
Until Lucas decided to attempt an arrival more than two months early, which put me on bedrest until he was delivered almost four weeks early.
Despite this minor hiccup, I did feel good after he was born. I was able to return to fitness as I knew it, and by the time he was two months old, looked like he had never happened. I had lost my scholarship, so while we were trying to figure out what to do to get back on track with that, I took up cross-country running during nap time and started researching body building. I spent late-night feedings learning about diet and nutrition, changing things around at home and helping the father of my children lose forty pounds in four months. Just as I was starting to realize that I might be studying the wrong thing and began considering changing my major, and right around the time Luc turned four months old…
I got real nauseous again, took a test at my mother’s behest, found out I was about to have Irish Twins, and cried bitterly on the couch.
Because of complications from Luc’s pregnancy and the proximity of that pregnancy to the last one, I was deemed high-risk from the get-go. The expectation was that I’d lose the pregnancy in the first trimester or otherwise possibly lose my life trying to carry the baby to term. I was so sick, so tired, and so scared that I didn’t jump on any physical activity until we cleared the first three months. I was then told that it would be unlikely that my body could carry her all the way to term, and so the count down to viability began while I was carefully coordinating the purchase of our new house. We had to get into that house and settled before she hit the weight-gain stages, just in case she came too early. I think the most active I was comfortable being was a few prenatal yoga videos and Zumba, which had become a thing.
Things maritally were beginning to unravel, and I packed up our townhouse largely on my own. I coordinated the move, did most of the unpacking, and quickly found myself bordering on pre-term labor again at about twenty-six weeks. My doc put me on modified bed rest, warning that any further signs would result in steroid injections to prepare Maddie’s lungs and possible hospitalization. It was a tense several months in the house, especially with a two-year-old and a non-mobile baby. We were all relieved when Maddie arrived safely only a couple weeks early, and I could go back to keeping my house together.
With three-under-three, a declining marriage, and crippling fatigue, I started struggling with depression that required some consistent medication. These things all impacted my fitness motivation, and it took the better part of a year for me to lose the weight and regain most of my shape after Maddie’s birth. By her first birthday, I was restless and borderline miserable, lacking motivation in most places, including fitness. Around this time, I found three key things.
- GORUCK- a set of physical challenges performed with a weighted ruck in an urban environment as a team with a team weight, guided by a military member serving as cadre, for an extended period of time.
- Spartan- as in, Spartan Race. At the time, they would email you daily workouts that required minimal equipment.
- BodyRock- an online group that creates free HIIT workouts, often performed live, with minimal equipment for varying durations.
As it would turn out, my body responds very favorably to HIIT training, and the BodyRock workouts could be done in a short period of time, at home, with constantly varied sets of movements. I learned so much about form and power, and the results came quickly enough to keep me on track. The stronger I got, the more I invested into equipment necessary to take on Spartan training with increasing weight, eventually using their events and GORUCK as motivation to work out consistently under a weighted vest or ruck.
By the time Maddie was two, I was consistently placing in OCRs. Out of my garage, I would train for nearly two hours, five to six days a week, often with my children or where they could see me.
I could drop in at any local Crossfit gym and Rx their workouts. I became creative on my own, mixing the three above styles into personal programming that made me the fastest, strongest, most durable I had ever been. The more life shit I had to cope with, the harder I trained, which in turn encouraged me and helped me find my self-worth. As I began to respect myself and my body, I also began to wake up to all the things that were wrong.
Part of what I resented about my eventual divorce was the toll returning to work took on my fitness. Over the last several years, I have more or less dwindled down to about the point wherein I found BodyRock and started there. Sure, I’ve maintained a working knowledge of training styles, form, and new skills, which I obtained after leaving GORUCK and Spartan events behind for less competitive, more outdoorsy, events. I’m still very strong and capable of bearing weight for long distances. But one of the most comforting and frustrating things about all of it is that I know what I’m capable of being. I know how to get there.
And I know it takes a while.
Which brings us to today. Between work and stress, I have gained weight and lost ability. Now that I have escaped darker days and partnered up with a training and events genius (Darrin co-owns and operates Catamount Expeditions, which has followed a successful several years running a strength and conditioning facility), I’m ready to make my glorious come-back. Fortunately, I have an accountabil-a-buddy in my sister, who has been my right hand for years in difficulty, but who also developed Avian Yoga-
My goal is to reach my working OCR weight and measurements in fourteen weeks, after which point I will adopt Darrin’s programming in preparation for our May expedition to Switzerland (yes, we’re taking on mother f’in Switzerland). The goal comparison is below:
Working OCR Weight- between 145lbs and 147lbs (I’m dense. I graduated high school at a healthy 150lbs, playing soccer all the time. Getting below 150lbs is actually very difficult for me and only resulted from capping my workouts on either side with running a couple miles.)
Current Weight- between 157lbs and 160lbs
Bicep Measurement- 12″
Current Bicep- 13.5″
Waist Measurement- 27.5″ (which I think is pretty decent considering Lucas was so big he permanently bent parts of my rib cage outward)
Current Waist- 29.25″
**Hip measurements are actually currently matching.
Thigh Measurement- 19.75″ (I have tree trunks for legs. We are firmly rooted…and I hate box jumps.)
Current Measurement- 22.75″
Some pretty notable differences going on. To be fair to myself, this is a tall order for fourteen weeks. At the peak of my OCR career, I was comfortably running between one and three miles before AND after my workouts, which were about forty-five minutes of straight weighted HIIT. The body I had at the time reflected those capabilities. So while the goal is to achieve the working weight and measurements, reclaiming the capacities will take quite a while longer, although I expect it to happen faster the second time around from memory and Darrin’s programming.
Also notable, following Darrin’s programming will be the first time I ever allow anyone to interactively program and assess me. I dread it a little because…you know…
Don’t tell me what to do.
But in this case, tell me what to do if you’re a big, bearded guy whose face I like to put my face real close to.
I’ll set a new goal after this first fourteen weeks is up, which should land right after my birthday, that, as mentioned above, will prep me for taking on the Alps as well as re-developing the machine. For phase one of this phase one (having to allow for the slow re-introduction of plyometrics and running after breaking bones in my foot), my week looks like this:
Sunday- Elliptical or Running as tolerated for no less than 30min, followed by yoga
Monday- Elliptical or Running as tolerated for no less than 30min, followed by HIIT Upper-body
Tuesday- Elliptical or Running as tolerated for no less than 30min, followed by HIIT Core
Wednesday- Elliptical or Running as tolerated for no less than 30min, followed by HIIT Lower-body
Thursday- Elliptical or Running as tolerated for no less than 30min, followed by HIIT Core
Friday- Elliptical or Running as tolerated for no less than 30min, followed by HIIT Total Body
Saturday- Elliptical or Running as tolerated for no less than 30min, followed by a ruck-based workout or hike
The running bit I’ll have to feel out over the next several weeks considering my injury. At this point, there is almost no plyometric or impact aspect to my workouts (even some plank forms are being modified for comfort). In good shape, I can bang out three or more miles in thirty minutes. I have no illusions of that happening right off, as we know running in environment is more difficult than the elliptical. But I’ll be fairly pleased if, by my birthday, I’m running comfortably near that pace, which means I’ll be able to start running under a weighted vest in March.
For HIIT, I’m using BodyRock at the moment to get my creative juices flowing again. Many of their workouts are around an hour long, with fifty seconds of work followed by ten seconds rest. That’s a lot of work, despite low rep count, and should hopefully give me a platform for increased weight and intervals after phase one. Again, currently being careful with low weight where it concerns my lower body due to injury. By my birthday, I’d like to either be programming for myself again, incorporating rep count intervals and heavier weight, or maxing out low weight equipment under a weighted vest with BodyRock.
My caloric intake when I was training for OCRs previously was between 2000 calories on training days and 1800 on rest days. Since we’re looking to cut about a pound or so a week between now and goal weight, we’re looking at 1500 across the board (unless, of course, my body gives indication that we need to change it).
And there you have it. Time to go bang today out before my accountabil-a-buddy checks in.
As always, feel free to continue to chime in via the contact link, social media, text, etc. And as a shameless plug, go check out the link to the Catamount Expeditions social media, or the website here.