Starting Atkins properly this week

I’ve been in a bit of a stall, weight-wise, probably because I’m on ‘pause’ with my workouts for a while, and I’ve had a couple extra cheat meals than I really should have in the past couple of weeks.

Still – I’ve lost about 15 pounds and 1.5 inches off my waist, so it’s not all bad.

Recently I got the latest Atkins diet book, just published about a month ago, so I’m going to start the first phase of that, ominously called ‘Induction’. whoooooooOOOoooo…

Anyway, it’ll involve me eating a bit less than I eat now, but not in volume (there’s no calorie counting, thankfully) – still lots of meat and the newer Atkins plans include vegetables for your healthy 5 a day – it’s just a lot stricter than I have been for myself, but it only lasts for 2 weeks, or longer if you want the weight to drop off faster. I was going to start with the second phase of Ongoing Weight Loss (comically called ‘OWL’ for short), but I figure I’ve come this far, I may as well see what the full plan will do for me.

Goal: fillet steak and lobster

Woohoo! This morning I was under 91kg for the first time in AGES.  90.9 to be exact, but who’s counting, right?

All this is thanks mostly to the low-carb diet I’ve been following since the end of May, but I do have to give a bit of credit to the ‘crazy’ Xtreme Fat Loss Diet I did throughout most of May – that got me on the start to dieting right and working out.

So anyway, what’s with the steak and lobster?

Well at the suggestion of one of the users on a low-carb forum thread I participate in, I’m going to have a congratulatory dinner once I hit my goal weight. When I first heard this a couple of weeks ago I was thinking Oh yeah I’ll have a nice fat steak when I hit 200 pounds (about 90kg). But I was pretty close to hitting 200 back then, and at this rate I’ll be under 200 this time next week (awesome).

So when I do hit 200, I’ll celebrate somehow (but not with a whole cheesecake or buying a TV) – then I’ll save the BIG celebration for when I hit my goal weight, which is 185 pounds (84kg). It seems like a long way away, but as long as I keep doing what I’m doing I’ll be alright.

I think celebrating with a super-tasty, home-cooked meal of a big 21-day aged ribeye steak covered with Montreal steak seasoning and a couple of butter-drenched Maine lobster tails is pretty close to the best thing ever. It’s healthy, I won’t be wolfing down pies and sweets, and I won’t be spending a ton of money on a new video game or TV or something like that.

So, yay me and let’s keep it up 😀

Probably going to start taking martial arts classes again

When I was a kid, my parents put me in karate classes. This was after Bruce Lee exploded into people’s faces in movie after movie, but with his popularity came people like Chuck Norris and the first wave of proper martial arts celebrities. This is before Segal (Above the Law), before Rain (Nina Assassin), even before Dudikoff (American Ninja).

I was enrolled because I used to get picked on at school – like many kids – and I guess I was an easy target, because sometimes the bullies wouldn’t let it drop. I never really got beat up (I did get punched in the face in middle school by a MASSIVE kid, though) but the threat was always there. My dad, being an Army Dad, thought I should start taking martial arts classes.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s there were no pads, there was very little protection – the first place I took classes at had a painted concrete floor, like a million mini-malls across America. It was painted red with a huge Yin-Yang symbol in the middle. One time, trying to do the Uncle Sam heel-click from Good Morning America, I broke my jaw and had to go to the hospital and have my jaw wired shut for a while. That kind of sucked. It’s the only bone I’ve ever broken (touch wood).

When we moved to San Antonio from Oklahoma, we looked around for a dojo to join and found one nearby run by a guy named Juarez, I think. He had older sons who were instructors, and his then-wife (girlfriend? not sure) was a woman named Rhonda, who was a really aggressive fighter in the sparring ring. I learned a lot in that school, and when I got busted stealing stuff from the grocery store next door, it was Sensei Juarez that came to get me and call my parents.

Eventually I joined the tournament team, got a ton of pads and routinely got beaten at various Tae Kwon Do tournaments. After a while I got a black belt, but not long after I didn’t feel I really earned it – after all, Shaolin monks don’t earn their top rank after just a few years of grueling daily training, so how did I earn mine after a couple of years of once- or twice-a-week 1- or 2-hour classes?  Besides, seeing little 8-year kids with red belts didn’t exactly boost my confidence in my own black belt.

But still, I had my name embroidered on a belt, and I used the confidence this gave me to stand up to other kids, and eventually the bullies left me alone and worked on weaker and younger kids.

Fast-forward many winters later, and here I am, approaching middle age and trying to get in shape…just to get in shape. One of the things I’ve realized is that I get disinterested pretty quickly with some things in my life, and exercising with the same exercises day after day just isn’t as cool as changing things up from time to time. Right now, on a week where I’m not injured or have anything else going on, I’ll mountain biking one day, lift weights 2 or 3 times and do Tabata intervals twice a week, with one rest day. If/when I start martial arts classes I’ll do the intervals just once a week I think, maybe I’ll drop down to weights twice a week.

So – which classes to take? About a year ago I went to a local kung fu studio to watch them do their thing, and it was interesting watching relative beginners learn their forms and do everything in unison, etc., but nowadays it’s not really my thing. The instructor explained to me that there’s the belt progression and everything from karate that everyone is familiar with, but he also does kickboxing classes which are less formalized and maybe more to my liking. This perked me up, because kickboxing is pretty cardio-intensive, plus there’s still the element of self-defense and even sparring, but in the end I decided not to go.

I think what I’ve settled on is Krav Maga, which is the martial arts style used by the Israeli commando units and taught to people like bodyguards, elite special forces, etc. – hard dudes. Now, I’m far from a hard dude, but when some asshole is in my face threatening me (because, y’know, that happens like every day to me – not!) I want to know I should be able to handle myself and ‘defuse’ things properly. I’ve seen a few shows on krav maga, which is basically a mix of various styles and uses a ‘no rules, no mercy’ approach to getting yourself out of bad situations. From what I’ve seen, it’s kind of a formalized approach to jumping in at the deep end of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) – you know, the UFC fights and all.

There’s an instructor in the city I live in that teaches in a couple different locations near me, and I think I’ll try them out for their free trial session, and if that goes well I’ll join up (£30/year plus £25/month) and see how it goes.

So, partly for physical training, partly for self-assurance, partly to try it out, I think Krav Maga is my game for the future.

Was away for the weekend – back on the diet & exercise

As I posted yesterday, I was out of town for a long weekend and wasn’t able to ‘diet’ properly, so I just tried to eat mostly protein and keep carbs limited to fruit and veg, with bread to a minimum…actually that doesn’t sound much different to a normal low-carb diet week!

Because we were camping and had a BBQ and a couple of gas canister cooking plates, we bought food for breakfast each day (basically bacon and eggs, except for the final day, when I had muesli because of the time it took to take down the tent and pack up). We also bought food for dinner for a couple of nights (lamb burgers one night and burgers & kebabs another night). Then we ate out a couple of nights – Nando’s for lots of chicken (no fries) and a cheat meal at Pizza Hut on the last night. At the actual Festival of Spee, we ate (mostly) sensibly, while carrying around lots of water (with ice packs) and tons fruit to munch on. It was ‘festival food’, so mostly burgers, roast beef, etc., (I didn’t have much of the bread, just a couple of bites) but we did have ice cream a couple of times as a treat.

So after four days away I weighed myself yesterday morning and was just under 93kg, about the same weight I was last Wednesday when we left! Mission accomplished – I didn’t want to gain any weight over the weekend, so woo-hoo!

Yesterday I had a killer migraine, and I was still tired from all the driving/walking/sun, so no mountain biking, but I’ll pick up where I left off with the lifting tonight, after I finish unpacking the car and before watching the Uruguay/Netherlands World Cup game.

My lowest weight in many many years

Down to 91.8kg (202.4 lbs) this morning, I’m really surprised.

I haven’t worked out in a week (no lifting, no bike riding) because I hurt my back a couple of Fridays ago and had to have near-total bed rest for a few days, and even now walking for more than 30 minutes or so can give me some pains. So with the reduced exercise capacity I’ve reduced my calorie intake (when exercising 5-6 days a week I require 3000 calories a day), and I’ve been losing weight steadily for several days now.

I’m aiming for 200 lbs (about 90kg) and I’m well on course for that, but I’m on holiday from Wednesday so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to stick to mostly low-carb stuff. It shouldn’t be too bad really, it’s a weekend festival/camping thing down south so we’ll be able to buy food from a grocery store each day.

Weight plateau broken?

Every dieter hits a ‘plateau’ – a time when they seem to stop losing weight. I’ve been on about 95kg for a couple of weeks now and tried not to worry about it, just eating the same stuff I’ve been eating and going on with my life.

I think my plateau may have broken, though. I did a fruit fast all day yesterday (apples & bananas only), mainly because I woke up late and didn’t have time to make breakfast, then I figured what the hell, I’ll just have fruit today. This morning I’m at 93.3kg (~205 lbs). I’ll have to see if that sticks for the next couple of days, but it was nice to get back to bacon and eggs this morning.

Definitely on a plateau

I’m nearing the end of my third week on low-carb. Most days I’m under 30-40g of carbs, except for cheat days when I might be about 150-200g. I’ve lost a few pounds, gone from about 213 to a steady 208, but I haven’t moved in weight or body fat % in a week and a half.

Until I hurt my back last Friday I was alternating lifting/intervals 5 to 6 days a week, so I’m not sure I can increase the intensity of my workouts. And hopefully it won’t be too long before I can start up again!

But to break this plateau I think I’ll have to drop the amount of calories I try to take in. On the days I do try to count calories (not with a book, but with the Daily Plate website on Livestrong.com) I’m trying to get to 2300 calories, which was figured out from an active calorie requirement of 3000 calories minus a 20-25% deficit to encourage weight loss. So maybe I should try to get to 2000-2100 calories instead, and continue my working out. I’m just not sure, because the working out will require calories to encourage muscle growth.

Will have to ask around on this one, methinks!