Aug 2, 2008

happy early birthday

As I approach my 40th birthday I'm struck by a few things:
  1. By no stretch of the imagination can I possibly be considered young. I think in your 30s you can get away with being called young. 40? No. I'm still young at heart but not young of body. I remember when I was really young thinking 40 was the crossover age where you become definitively old. Hot college chicks are never going to give you a second thought at this age. I'm there.
  2. As a result talk amongst friends about work, which was a popular discussion topic in my 20s and 30s, has lessened. Now there is more talk about health and kids.
  3. I have very little patience for crowds, line waiting, or loud noise.
  4. I have less ambition now except when it comes to my kids.
  5. Come 35 the body seriously starts breaking down. I find myself grunting now when I get out of a low seated sofa. Joints pop and click. Grey hairs have sprouted. Eyebrows have shown signs of becoming unruly. Even the ears have started to sprout the occasional long hair or six. When I horseplay with kids something always seems to to get strained. When I get out of the shower in the morning I think, "even I wouldn't fuck that."
I'm pretty much okay with 1-4. 5 not so much. I don't care if I'm rich when I retire but I want full mobility. A lady in her 60s that I know who works out religiously said to me that you can keep your physical condition through 50. After that it tends to decay but working out through that decline keeps it at bay. At 65 you can still do most of the things you like to do in your 40s with a bit of effort.

In the past I've hit spots in my life where academics or work took over my life and my physical body suffered. Normally it would get to a breaking point and then I would go nuts getting back into shape. That served me well when I was young but I've decided to change that by constantly staying in shape from here on out.

My first 2 goals with this in mind were to get to my high school weight by my 40th birthday and then to try and hit some type of physical peak (being limber, well defined muscles, etc.) going into the end of the year.

My high school weight I recall being 172 pounds. I'm not sure why I remember this. As of age 30 or so, and without any diet or working out I generally sit around 188-190 lbs. I used to lie to myself that 185 was actually trim for me (since I have more muscle weight now) and that my high school weight was really 175 (a little rounding). But that is a lie. I was 172 and that was my goal.

Losing weight for me is not that hard if I just focus on it. It takes two things. A hardcore Atkins diet and reasonably repetitive cardio work (and I usually throw in some light weight training). I don't believe that cardio actually makes you lose work as I've written here before. The research suggests it has no effect. But it is important in Atkins if you believe the theory that carbs are doing you in weightwise. Even when you watch your carb intake you are eating some each day. I go hardcore when I'm on Atkins so I consume about 10 grams at most per day. But the cardio makes sure those 10 grams are burnt off each day. Your body will always burn carbs first so it doesn't take a lot of working out to get rid of them.

My chosen method of cardio is the Ass-Cranker 3000. Also known as the Cycleops Pro 300PT stationary bike. It is the mean mistress of workout machines despite it's clinical and modern profile. And it has the most important feature of any workout equipment. You can hang clothes on it. Lots of clothes.

I would prefer to hit the open road on a bike but on New York roads that would increase my risk of death a thousandfold. The thing I like about the Ass-Buster is it measures not only speed, distance, time, and heart rate but most importantly Watts. Watts is really the best measure of the physical exertion you accomplish during a workout. Only on a bike is it really measurable. Not only that but the Ass-Shafter allows you to download performance data to your computer to track performance and make pretty charts of your self induced masochism. The importance of this is setting goals. I'm a big believer in goal setting and measurement. Each week or two I crank up the Wattage output I try to hit. It's brutal. I sweat about 1.5 lbs of water in a 25 minutes session. But it gets the job done.

I also added the Wii Fit. It's a bit gimmicky but it does two things. It gives me something to do on the days I don't ride. And it measures your weight and plots more graphs. And the aerobic/balance stuff is unique.

Short story, long. I started about 2 months ago at about 188 which means I had 60 days to lose 16 pounds. That's just under 0.3 pounds lost per day (1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories) or about a negative 1000 net Calories per day. For instance if I used to take in and burn 2,500 Calories a day at a neutral weight then I would need to now take in 2,500 Calories a day but burn 3,500. That sounds hard but I personally never find it had to do on Atkins. In reality I was probably eating 1,800 Calories and burning 2,800. Normally on Atkins I lose about 0.5 pounds a day or a negative 1,700 net Calories so I wasn't too worried about hitting the goal.

So my birthday is another 5 days from today but I gave myself an early present.

It says 171.5 but I like double verification on my measurements.
Good enough for me. I consider that success. The Wii Fit also tracks weight over time so you can see how quickly Atkins will shed the pounds.

The only downside of all this is that I think I need to lose another 4 lbs. I'm looking to have a ripped stomach by the end of the year and I still have some fat buildup. All my fat goes on my waist so I still have a little residual pizza/ice cream/chocolate in the kidney regions and the very front. But I won't worry about it too much right now. I'll stay close to a hardcore Atkins diet for a while and monitor the weight.

My next real goal will be spent on weight training. I'll ease back the Atkins a tad. Probably carb input of 30 grams on average but spend most of them on the weekend so I'm not such a friggin pain in the ass to eat out with. I'll stick with the cardio and try to get my Wattage up so that I'm building leg muscle. And then add upper body lifting. I think I'm going to go for actual length measurements (e.g., measurement around the biceps) there as well although I'm not sure what my goal will be yet.

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