Thursday, July 19, 2012

Getting in Shape

Last year when I read the following post:

I really got inspired to get back into shape again.  During college and even the first few years after I was still in fairly good shape.  However in the past 2 years I have let myself go a bit.  Only occasionally going to the gym to push a few weights and running to the fridge for cardio.

The following is my one year dedication to the process, how I went about trying to get in shape and staying in shape, along with my injuries.

The Process


I will summarize the process I went through.

  1. At first I did alot of cardio, running in the morning and the evening for no more than 2 miles.  When I say 'run' I really mean 'jog', usually at 11 to 12 min/mile pace.

  2. I cut/reduced my carb intake.  I basically did something that is basically sacrilegious for asians, I gave up rice.  It wasn't that hard. However, I could not give up noodles. I ate it about once a month, 3 packs!

  3. I still occasionally drink, I booze it up, with beer, liquor, wine, mixed drinks, whatever, booze it up and then snack. I call those my break days.  It happens about once a month, maybe more?

  4. With consistently working out, running, and doing 'Insanity', I injured myself occasionally

    1. Shin splints first two weeks of going too hard too fast.  Had to take a 2 week break to let shins heal. Bought Vibrams to reduce heel strike and pronation.

    2. Chronic lower back pain. It hurt more and more as I increased my daily running distance up to 5 miles. Had to stop cardio or any high impact movement for 2 months. Visited Chiropractor and Acupuncturist to help with the healing.

    3. Rib injury causing me to go lighter on the weights and minimize any cardio.

  5. Keeping a constant routine and go at it hard when I'm feeling healthy.

  6. Workout buddies! Someone to motivate, push you on, and make you feel wimpy, yeah it really does make a difference.


The beginning (1-3 months).

I started by simply trying to curb my carb in-take and doing cardio.

Running every morning or as often as I could and working out at the gym.  I ran 1 to 2 miles (more of a 11 to 12 minute mile jog) during the morning and some more in the afternoon after work.  I got painful shin splints after the first two weeks of running.  Doing too much too fast.  I had to stop for at least 2 weeks.  I just walked around instead to keep active.  To compensate for this issue I bought Vibrams.  It helped with how I pronate, remove or minimize heel strikes and helped with my posture.

To increase the intensity of my workout I also started doing 'Insanity'.   After work I would do 'Insanity' and then run 2 to 5 miles, with a total of about 2 hours of cardio and 1 hr of weight training at the gym at work.

The diet was the most difficult part as I had to adjust my eating habits.  I basically stopped eating rice.  The hardest part was cutting out noodles as I love it so much.  I was just now more aware of how much carb I was eating.  Besides that I ate very much the same.

I loved how I was building up my running endurance where jogging 2 miles was easy and could achieve 5 miles without any extra strain.  However, those prolong running times caused my lower back pain to be more agonizing.  I would have iced my back or taking better care of stretching more but I did not.  I blocked out the pain knowing that I was making great improvements in my running abilties.  I've achieved an all time benchmark by running 10 miles!

The Middle (3 to 9 months)

After consistently exercising everyday and eating well my body was changing and not all for the better, it was starting to feel the stress!  Neglecting my chronic lower back pain caused more problems.  By the 6 month mark I was going to the chiropractor 3 times a week for almost 4 weeks.  He stressed that I needed to stop running and doing high impact exercises.  Something I wasn't willing to do completely, but I did stop running as often as I did.  I changed my routine around to doing more weight training and cardio to 3 times a week.  Monday and Friday 'Insanity' and a jog Saturday morning, weight training Tues, Wed, and Thur.  Sunday veg out!

Even with the chiropractor my back pain did not go away.  I tried an alternative by going to to acupuncturist. He said he could fix me.  All he ended up doing was emptying my pockets to help make my wallet lighter and telling me I shouldn't try to put a brick in my back pocket. That was a waste!

My progress became stagnant because I couldn't continue to run and my back pain made me have to take things easy.  I believe it was a two month period were I doing very little cardio.  Things started to change when I was able to have workout partners from work.  We were able to motivate one another and really kept our routine.  It also helped me increase my intensity.  I believe in a 3 month period from late January to March I received the most gain as you can see from my Day 240 mark.

The One Year Mark

With work constantly getting in the way of working out I fit in as much as possible.  I know that diet would trumped any exercise, thus, I made sure to keep my calories and junk food intake to a minimum.  I also started doing something in the 11 month that I been waiting to do for so long, joined a self defence class.  The cardio in these classes are intense and for once made me have to eat more carbs.  It was this slight increase in more cardio that I started to tone down a bit more.


I still haven't reached my goal of being really toned but I'm happy with the results so far. I just have to continue what I'm doing and maybe reduce my body fat down to 8%.  I know it'll be a tall order for me but nothing as been easy so far.