Archive for the ‘Fitness Diary’ Category

No one is in the office... Guess I should just

Ooooooooooooh Yeah!

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I recently came across an article regarding Trans Fats and the FDA’s ‘War’ on it. I’m not sure if your familiar but as a review, last month the FDA (Food & Drug Administration of the USA) declared that companies are to begin reducing (to eventual elimination) trans fats in food. Now if you have been living under a rock or are generally unaware of why trans fats are bad, click the link above or at the bottom of the post for all the information.

At first I welcomed the news – heralded it as some healthy sanity in the FDA based on clear evidence about the health impact of trans fats. As soon as I learned about trans fats – I made a concerted effort to avoid them because I love my heart and I want it to treat me well when I’m older. Also as the medical claims go: This change could potentially prevent 7,000 deaths and 20,000 heart attacks a year, said FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

While I still stand by the FDA’s decision to phase out trans fats and say it’s a victory for the healthy consumer, it makes me sad that they had to go any further than the 2006 law enforcing that trans-fat content must be displayed. It speaks to an endemic issue within most western societies where we seem to feel that our health is everyone else’s problem. We see people blaming fast food for them being fat or the candy marketing targeting kids. But an intelligent “pro-active” population should not need the FDA to step in.

To break this down – in a capitalist society like most of ours (including my native Britain) your purchasing dollar, pound, euro, whatever is the power  behind a brand. The more it is purchased, the more encouraged a product is because in obvious supply and demand – if the public wants more, make more.

So here is my point, it makes me sad that Trans-Fat products are not naturally being phased out as a result of an educated public making an active decision to stop buying products containing trans-fats. It makes me sad that we see people looking to blame products and brands for weight gain when all of the information is there. If you have gained weight because you eat high-trans fat foods, accept responsibility and make a decision, don’t push the blame to companies who make whatever you keep buying.

When I gained weight in university, I didn’t say my university should have had a healthy eating plan, I said I should stop drinking beer, eating hula hoops and not exercising. Those who do not take responsibility for their own health will never make progress – period.

Article on Trans Fats: http://www.recallcenter.com/fda-declares-war-trans-fats/

Yesterday was chest and triceps (with some core-maintenance work). This ended up being my best and my worst workout probably of all time. Let’s start with the good news:

My local gym idol was there in the gym yesterday so I felt pretty pumped (even though we don’t share a language and our entire communication process is through nods and waves). The man was yesterday benching 100Kg and looking pretty awesome overall. I decided today I was going to go for my PERSONAL BEST in benching. When I was ready and warmed up I began. My Personal Best (and my actual goal for the longest time) – benching my own weight – 85Kg. With my feet firmly in the ground, my teeth gritted and my iPod playing metal louder than ever before I released and I began. I pushed and I grunted but sure enough, it came down to my chest then peeled away again with every effort in my body. I did 3 whole reps!!! 

Now it was a little bit of a cheat so I’m not claiming victory just yet because a) it was on a smith machine – not a free bar so it’s about power but there was no balance. b) I did not go as low as I would usually go out of fear… All the same, heaviest I’ve been able to push on a smith machine so still a Personal best 🙂

Now why was this also the worst workout in history for me? I had become so emboldened by my successful benching, the proud nod of my gym hero and the fact that with him now leaving I was the fittest in the gym, I decided to try my hand at the free-bar benchpress to work on my balance. I started low (30Kg) and managed to move 15 reps on this quite easily so I felt pleased, thinking “hey, I dunno why I was so worried about doing free-bar benchpresses”. Then I loaded up to 50Kg. I pumped 9 reps, admittedly with a struggle and  thought ‘Come on bro JUST ONE MORE the bar came down, I pushed it up but it was a real struggle. It became clear very soon that I was not going to get it all the way up, so I went for the very low backup notch to save myself.

Here was where I made 2 mistakes (one immediate, one with hindsight)

  1. I suddenly realised how stupid I had been to push myself on a free-weight without a spotter.
  2. I had looked to my right side in order to check if I was high enough to release into the latch and as a result my left side started to drop

Because the left side had started to drop and the right side was in the latch I just couldn’t get the left side up again and to my terror, it was slowly dropping lower and lower, the bar eventually came to a rest on my face at which time I pulled my head out and the weights came tumbling on the floor. Idiot. The whole gym looked over and the trainer ran over to help and then in the most embarrassing moment he used the only English he knows “be careful.”

I felt humiliated. Not because I had not been able to secure the last rep on 50Kg, not because the entire gym (including the snarky idiots who are there every week and just stare at people) but because I had broken the one rule of the gym: safety. I had gone heavy, so pumped in my bravado that I could have injured myself because I was too proud to ask someone to spot me on a 50Kg lift.

Luckily for me, the only thing that was hurt was my pride but for every mistake made, a lesson is learned. So please if you do read my blog, take this away: NEVER BE TOO PROUD TO ASK FOR A SPOTTER. You’ll feel safer and be able to push harder. Learn for “bar-face” here and don’t make the same mistake.

My apologies for being very distant of late. I’m continuing to go through some issues personally which are dominating my life right now. It has been quite tough on my wife and I both emotionally and financially. The great part is this:

I’ve really discovered that the gym is something I need! Every day I wake up feeling quite down and I go home from work depressed, down and out. More than once I have got home and sat on the end of my bed feeling like I’m about to break into tears. I put on my workout gear and drag my ass down to the gym, put in my iPod and then I pump – heavy, hard and with intensity. Every time I leave the gym, I am smiling because it has got my endorphins up, adrenaline pumping etc on a chemical/hormone level but from an emotional point of view, I feel good about myself.

My issues are at the point where I’m almost certain I could be clinically diagnosed with mild depression but all I can say is this: I don’t need prozac, I don’t need therapy (as I already know the cause of this) what I need is the gym. …. That and another reminder of how far I’ve come. Again – hardly earth shattering since my last post but it does make me feel good about myself – and that’s important.

5 months of exercise amid a "corporate" lifestyle.

5 months of exercise amid a “corporate” lifestyle.

This weekend I got ambitious to say the least. Perhaps it was my new playlist (usually is) or maybe it was just that this last week I’ve slacked a bit and I was in the mood to show myself I tough I can be.

On Friday I had intended to go to the gym. But thanks to several last minute (emergency) work items, I didn’t leave office until 8pm and I had a dinner to go to (was hoping to gym BEFORE the dinner). I left my gym stuff at work and went dejectedly to dinner.

Saturday was not going to be the same so I woke up, walked to the office in my running gear, slammed my gym stuff on my back and started running. I ran just less than an hour.

28th September (Saturday)

I usually run about 10 mins more but today I decided to save myself… why? Because my finish line was – the gym! I arrived at my condo gym and immediately launched into core, shoulders and biceps exercises. I did a full hour on top of the running time and went back home. The amazing thing was – I was still pumped! (In a lot of pain) but pumped!

Sunday I didn’t do a Mega-Workout but I did push hard on a lot of fat burners. I did a lot of squats, lunges and 1,2,3, Heisman’s (spelling?) while carrying a 5Kg weight in each hand. With each squat or lunge, I did either a fly or a front lift with the weights to engage the shoulders and put some pressure on the core to balance. The result – feeling pretty chuffed with myself:

29th September (sunday)29th September (sunday)2

You may watch sponsored youtube videos promising the secret to 6 packs, or the “get a flat belly by eating these 4 superfoods”. You may even decide that the secret is to pick an important event and say “I want to lose 15Kg by my sister’s wedding”.

The secret to success as we all can guess is by doing 3 extremely simple things:

  1. Choose a realistic objective
  2. Make an achievable plan
  3. Execute

Now here’s the problem. That’s actually not the full story – it’s the simple version to get you thinking but the truth is (especially in fitness) those three items come with fine-print which make all the difference.

  1. Choose a realistic objective – which is based on a long term goal (e.g. to maintain XXXKg, to maintain a 6 pack, or even just to be a healthy, better version of “me”)
  2. Make an achievable plan that represents a lifestyle change. E.g. Don’t say “I’ll stay off carbs for the next 30 days and run 3 times a week” – say “I’m going to change to a diet which suits my fitness objectives and exercise regime” and let the diet will change as you change
  3. Execute unwaveringly – maintaining your faith in the process.

My personal fitness belief is simple – fitness should never be a short term goal.

It shouldn’t be about losing 10Kg for a wedding or getting the big look in time for a beach holiday. Fitness has to be an attitude, a life-style. It has to be something you live and breathe. I don’t mean that fitness is about being a gym rat – not at all and we all deserve our cheat days! But fitness is not a fashion accessory or a fad to be “for the summer”. It should be treated like a financial investment – you put in regularly into the right structures and future-you will thank you for the diligence.