Wk 5 Stats update – baby steps

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Like a baby learning to walk – so it is with my improvements……

Diet:  No real change – no cheat days – no massive nights out… (that will change next week – ha ha) I’ve started using the “My Fitness Pal” app to track my diet/calorie intake and I’m consuming an average of roughly 2000 calories per day. Considering the daily guide for men is 2500 as well as doing exercise I should be dropping weight – but on the other hand if I’m looking to build muscle then I need to be eating more!! I’m going to continue to use it and will post a full review once I’ve used it a few weeks.

Exercise: Yay! Back to 4 sessions – Body Pump, Body Combat, Home session (30mins x-trainer 20mins free weights), Gym session 😀  Feel much better for it – starting to get used to “Pump” and remembering what weights to use for each of the tracks etc. I do need to find an easier way to keep a record of it all though and make a proper “plan” for the gym/home sessions rather than just making it up depending on what I feel like.

Weight:  Lost again this week – now at 69.4kg – seems getting back to 4x exercise sessions and “normal”  food/drink intake does make a difference – it’s easy to think that “Just this once….” won’t do any harm – how wrong that can be!

Body Fat:  down to 14.3% – Loving seeing this come down each week – I must be doing something right!

Measurements: No real changes – HOWEVER – finally lost half inch off my waist !!!!!  Didn’t think it was ever going to happen.

BP/HR:  133 over 82 and 64 bpm – slight increase in my BP but still within “normal” range if at the higher end.

Steps:  Continuing to use my activity tracker and I’m now averaging 5300 steps per day – I even had one day that was just 300 steps short of the “required” 10,000 – if I’d checked it earlier in the day I would have done something to do the extra steps – lol.

Sleep:  Have really been focusing on my sleep this week – going to bed at 11pm weeknights and by 1am on weekend and I’ve been averaging 7 hours a night with around 3 hours of deep sleep (according to the tracker). I also tried using a herbal sleep-aid – which also seems to have helped as I haven’t been waking up during the night like before – the one night I didn’t take one  – I ended up waking up and lying awake for half hour. I will continue using them again this week – but then I think I will need to stop as I don’t want to start needing to have them.

Overall then – I’m quite chuffed yes they may still be baby steps – but that’s how we all start and as we start to grow in size and knowledge we learn and are able to make leaps and bounds.

 

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Wk 4 Stats Update – small improvements

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They’re here somewhere……  been a bit of an odd week this week.

 

Diet:  No changes – HOWEVER – on Tuesday the had a free buffet at work and though tried to pick the “better” options had far more than I needed. Also this weekend we had both mine and my partner’s visiting us (the first time they have met each other) which involved several meals out, a BBQ and a lot of ice cream and alcohol – eeek!

Exercise: Went to Body Pump and Body Combat and one gym session (due to the parents visiting) but did manage to try a fitness DVD at home too (Ryan Giggs Fitness DVD – says it’s like a cross between yoga and pilates and though some of the positions I found difficult as not great at balancing on one leg after the 45 mins – just felt it was a lot of stretching – which although useful it didn’t feel like I’d had a work-out).

Weight:  70.9kg – so have put on 0.9 kg but I’m not really focusing on weight – it’s all about the fat and measurements – lol!  Even so I was a bit gutted – but I think this is more to do with the conditioning we get that weight loss is necessary when improving your health.

Body Fat: 14.7% – not a huge drop  – but still a decrease which is great considering my diet this week.

Measurements:  No changes to chest or waist but increase of quarter inch on bicep/forearm and thigh/calf – mixed results. Disappointing that the waist is not shrinking since this is where I seem to be “fattest”.

BP/Heart rate: 131 over 77 and 66bpm – so another small drop in my BP – yay !!!

Steps: Up to approx 4000 on non-cardio days and 9000 on – so roughly increased by about 1000 – having the tracker is definitely encouraging me to do more when not at gym.

Sleep: Awful week as far as sleep is concerned – still “waking up” 2-3 times a night averaging 6 hours a night – Thursday night was particularly bad woke up 3 times and was awake for 2 hours during the night – grim.  Been shattered all weekend – not sure if it’s stressing over the weekend’s events or just too hot etc.

 

Focus for next week:

– Keep a food diary  – I think a change in my diet may be needed if I’m going to shift this middle-age spread.

– Sleep!! – going to try and find a better bedtime routine

– Get back to the 2x classes, 2x gym sessions!

 

 

 

 

Men’s body shapes – realistic expectations

Following my latest stats, I thought I would have a look around at what body type I would be classed as and get some ideas about where I want to be.

Search for men’s body shapes/types and you’re met with an overwhelming choice!

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When I was growing up fitness books would refer to just 3 body types – Endomorph, Mesomorph and Ectomorph, which my gym teacher would incorrectly simplify to skinny, normal and fat!! But times move on and both fitness and fashion magasines can now refer to men’s bodies from a variety of mathematical shapes (circle, square, triangle…) to various fruits, vegetables, animals and objects……

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It’s mad! For the main part fashion mags use them in order to “teach” us how to dress according to our body shape and to accentuate or hide attributes and flaws.  I’m not sure how useful referring to our bodies in this way actually is.

Being someone that enjoys fashion, over the years I’ve learnt basics like, horizontal stripes shortening/widening, vertical stripes slimming/lengthening etc. but at the end of the day I wear what I like the look of and feel comfortable in. I don’t know if I like the thought of my body being like an aubergine or a brick  and they don’t exactly have any “aspirational” or “positive” connotations.

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My other slight annoyance, is that although our bodies can be classified in these ways – there is nowhere I’ve found so far that says the benefits/consequences of each type, or what you can do to get to another catagory, or what is realistically possible.

Pick up any magasine and the image of the “ideal” man’s body that is pushed via aftershave/clothing ads is the “athletic” one. Every month we’re told how you can get a cover model body in anything from 6-12 weeks and apparently it’s all so easy and everyone can achieve it. But that’s the advertisers ideal – not mine!

I was reading one such article yesterday where the average guy in the office was able to pack on 20lbs of muscle, lost 12lbs of fat, all by simple switches to his diet, and 4 hours of gym time – that he could fit into his lunch hour at work so as not to interfere with his social life – really?!

In truth, his diet was quite heavily restricted, only had 1 glass of wine per week and had a personal trainer for the 12 weeks. How he managed to fit an hour’s gym time into a 60 minute lunch break is anyone’s guess – with travel/change/shower time – I would need 2 hours.  I’m sure if I could do all that they suggest then yes I might also see similar benefits – but the reality is as we all have different body shapes, starting points, genetics, age and lifestyles that all bear an influence – if I’m 5′ and skinny as a rake I am never going to get to be the size of the Hulk.  I may be able to do a lot to get an approximation of it – but it will take a lot longer than someone who is 6′ and a natural “endomorph”.

 

For me (using the body types 2.0 suggestions) I think I’m currently what would be termed as “skinny fat”  🙂  I’m fine with it – that’s my starting point.

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Proportions also take their part – I’m surprisingly fairly proportional – although my left side seems to be a little  higher placed – lol.

Setting some realistic expectations I think the “Otter” or what I would class as “Fit” would be where I would like to be as this seems achievable. In 12 weeks? Highly unlikely – but that’s the point in this blog. I want to see what is possible for a normal person that can still enjoy a few bevvies, chocolate and days when you really can’t be bothered.

Pieces coming together – stats update

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Time for my weekly stats update…..

Exercise: I gave Body Pump a try this week – in a nutshell it’s a class lifting weights to music. You need a bit of prep beforehand getting a step, dumbbells, barbell and chest plate together and having been warned opted for really light weights (2kg dumbbells , 10kg barbell and 5kg chest plate) even so when it came to doing what felt like hundreds of squats & lunges, my legs were shaking like jelly by the end and were still achey 5 days later!!  Just shows how little strength I actually have in my legs – but hasn’t put me off and I’m going to give it another go.

I also went to Body Combat as usual (I’d be lost without it) and went to the actual gym twice (same routine as last time).

Diet: no changes this week again.

Weight: 70kg (down 1kg again)

Fat: 15% (down 1.3% !)

Measurements: No changes – all the same as last week.   I know its unrealistic to expect sudden increases in my muscles after just a couple of weeks, but I started off being really down about it. Maybe the first weeks figures where just mis-measurements?  A fluke?

The more I thought about i, the more I realised I don’t know what I’m actually expecting. What is a realistic increase? Should they actually decrease at first if I’m losing fat?  Doesn’t muscle weigh more than fat?

After doing a bit of google searching I found a really interesting blog by a guy called Christian Finn about it http://muscleevo.net/how-fast-can-you-build-muscle/#.U54AipRdWSo  Really interesting – and to be honest, I really just need to take a chill-pill and see how it goes. We’re all different at the end of the day and being at the “slender” end of the scale can’t be expecting massive muscle gains – not that I want to be the size of Arnie!

Piece by piece – my knowledge and thoughts on this healthy living/fitness journey I’m on are slowly coming together – I don’t know what the final “picture” is going to look like and at the moment I think there are a number of missing pieces that I will undoubtably get frustrated at, but it’s interesting all the same.

On the right track – “Pulse” Activity Tracker

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It’s been over a week since I got an activity tracker – so I thought I’d write a little update/review.

Following on from the popularity of the many smartphone apps, Trackers seem to be the latest trend (fad?) and there are soooo many to choose from. Even Apple is looking to launch one apparently. Reading the reviews/promo you would think that it was something that everyone just has to have – I’m reserving my judgement……

The main choice of design is either built into a wristband or a small widget that can be fitted into a wrist-band, clip, keyring etc.

In the end I opted for one of the widget style ones that has various wearable options but I’ve just been putting it in my pocket as I don’t want another thing on my wrist and scared it would fall out the clip it came with. It uses a standard mini-usb charger (battery lasts about a week), measures altitude climbed and can also measure your heart-rate.  It syncs the data to a smart-phone app (android & ios) as well as a web-site account.

The first thing that surprised me was seeing just how in-active I am at work!

On a “lazy” day – work & home – I’m tracking an average 3000 steps.

On a “medium” day – work, gym & home – I track an average 5000 steps.

On an “active” day – work, cardio class & home – I track roughly 8000 steps.

Considering they say you should try for 10,000 – I’m way off!!  However, now I know – I seem to be trying to increase my numbers by finding any excuse to get up – coffee/water breaks, going to see other departments rather than email them, going for a walk at lunch and using the stairs more often.

I wouldn’t say that I’m competitive with myself enough to want to beat my results each day, but I do like the fact that it encourages me to do a bit more the following day if I see I’ve been a bit lazy.

I also really like the pulse monitor – you just press your finger to a reader on the back. I’m not sure if I trust it 100% but seems fairly comparable to the rate on my Blood Pressure monitor and the cardio machines in the gym. Having it handy means I can measure it at any time – home, work or cardio class etc. and I can get a clear picture of how rested/stressed I am and make sure I’m exercising at the most optimal rate and not overdoing it (which is important with my BP!).

If you wear it while you sleep it also monitors your sleep quality. I assume this is based on the amount of movement/length of time motionless. Being someone that doesn’t sleep well – again it seemed to confirm my feelings – averaging 6 hours of sleep, waking up 2-3 times a night, with just 1-2 hours of deep sleep. I seriously need to do something about that.

Overall I’m quite liking having it – even my work colleagues have been asking “how many are you up to?”

My only slight annoyances with it are the fact that your targets for sleep and steps are set at 8 hours and 10,000 steps – it would be nice to set your own target and the fact that it is so small, I have forgotten to transfer it a couple of times when getting changed.

I’m going to keep using it over the next few weeks and will try an incorporate the figures into my stats –  it seems like a good motivator but let’s see for how long.

From little acorns….

….. oak tress can grow.

First update on my stats:

Exercise completed: 2x Body Combat classes and  2x Gym (20mins X-trainer, 6x upper body machines, 1x lower body machine)

Diet: No changes but added protein/creatine shake after each exercise session

Weight: 71kg (down 1kg)

Fat: 16.3 (down 0.2%)

Chest: 43″ (up 1.5″)

Waist: 34″ (same)

Bicep: 12″ (up 0.5″)

Forearm: 10″ (up 0.5″)

Thigh: 21″ (same)

Calf: 14.5″ (same)

….. Not a bad start…..  a bit disappointed in no change to my waistline.

I think the increases in my upper-body correlate to the types of exercise I’ve been doing – but the amount of increase is a bit surprising – I didn’t think it would be that much – maybe I’m measuring differently?  I’ve made a note of the exact  places I measured this time so we’ll see.

Overall though I’m quite chuffed – gotta take care of these little acorns – lol

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Trying to run before you can walk

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All week I’ve been looking at courses to become a Personal Trainer – it’s unbelievable the number and variations to choose from  – full time, part time, distance learning,  modules available, CPD extras, not to mention the price differences (with costs ranging from £99  for a particular module to £3,750 for a full on intensive 6 week course with promises of placements/guaranteed interviews/jobs !!

So there I was getting all wrapped up in the thrilling prospect of being self-employed and having my own business, I know this is something I want to do and passionate about and something I can make a success of.  Even my partner (who is quite cynical about everything – ha ha ha) was getting excited for me.  Suddenly, I was practically writing my resignation and hand in my notice :-O

It was getting to the point that I wasn’t even sleeping properly ’cause my mind was racing with so many business ideas and choices – so the research continued, chatting with the course providers, about my ideas and what I wanted to specialize in etc.

It was then that reality started kicking in  – I only started acting on my own health fully last month!!

Beginning a new business or career, I’m well aware that there will be a salary drop – so worked out what income I would need to be able to service all my current bills (mortgage, utilities etc), cost of loan for the courses, tax, insurance, possible gym hire/equipment etc and so guessed I would need an income of at least £19k – so assuming a “normal” 232 working days a year roughly worked out about £80-90 per day.

Looking at the going rates for the North West area (£10-35 per 1hr session) – if I charged £20 as a newbie, that would be 4 sessions a day – and say an average 2 sessions per week/client for 1 month would mean i would need to maintain 12-15 clients per month (excluding any group/classes – which would be additional income).

Alternatively, starting employed salaries seemed to be between £14-17k, with possibly adding on free-lance work on top.

So it was all sounding quite manageable……. I then found the PT forums!!!!!!~@%$~#!  That was an eye-opener and a massive reality check.

A lot of the PT’s on the forums weren’t very positive about the “intensive” courses (though the people on them said they were good) as most employers/clients will base there decision more on experience, knowledge, looks, and personality. The qualifications are just a pre-requisite.  This is more than understandable given it’s the same in any employment industry.

That being the case – while intensive course may get the qualifications quicker – it costs a great deal more and guarantees the same – nothing!

Building up a business takes time and huge amount of effort – no self-employed PT whether affiliated with a big brand or on their own, are going to have a decent level of clients straight away.  With a lot of work (50-60 hr wks) you could get there in 4-12 months….

Surprisingly this hasn’t put me off the fitness industry – but it has told me that I need to be realistic and not get caught up in the hype that the training companies feed you on their very attractive sites.

Putting my sensible hat on – rushing out and signing up for a full time, PT course, forking out a hefty wedge with no business planning, easy access back-up plan, and possible debts/bills  I can’t afford to pay would just be stupid – but looking at the forums unfortunately seems quite a common occurrence in this very competitive industry.

My family can breathe a sigh of relief – I’m not plowing head-long into disaster – lol.

I’m going to take my time with this – get my own fitness sorted, get the qualifications part-time, work out a business plan and get some accounting/marketing advice, hopefully then work in a gym at weekends/build-up some clients outside my current work hours,  before then making the decision whether to go full-time.

This seems the best of all worlds, I get the knowledge/experience/qualifications gradually, but at the same time I can build up the financial back-up to be able to go it alone.

Always nice to have a plan 😀