An Endomorph's Journey to Health, Part 2

12 weeks ago I started a new fitness journey. It's been 6 weeks since my last progress update, so as promised, here we go. To recap, here's my program, enhanced with the progress since the last 6 weeks.

Intro

  • avoid simple carbs. This includes processed foods, flour, dough, bread, fries, etc.
  • skip breakfast.
  • avoid processed and added sugars - drinks, candy, cakes, donuts, etc. - fructose from fruits is okay, but fruit drinks are not.
  • avoid alcohol.
  • avoid coffee.
  • lift weights every other day, on the Stronglifts 5x5 program.
  • run at least 5k on the days between weights, then do VR Cardio.
  • do a total of at least 100 pushups per day
  • work at least 4 hours on the treadmill every day
  • take a healthy supplement cocktail for a faster recovery: Magnesium Citrate, Glucosamine Sulphate, and Bacopa as a natural nootropic.
  • if possible IRT distance and time, walk or bike instead of drive.

I log all my progress in a spreadsheet you can see here.

What's New?

So here's what changed since the last update, concretely.

  • I lost a total of 12kg in 12 weeks, which is a healthy average of 1kg per week.
  • my 5k runs are now consistently at a pace below 5 minutes, which means I'm back in my top running form. I need to find time to try running 10k now. The goal is to get to a 5m pace at 10k.
  • I can deadlift 130% of my body weight, maybe a bit more, but have decided to deload and work on form more. The goal is to lift 200% with proper form.
  • I can bench press 85% of my body weight. The goal is to get to 100%.
  • I can squat my own body weight. The goal is to get to 150%.
  • My pushups are at 30 per set. The goal is to get to 50 per set.
  • A new habit is fasting for 40 hours once per week.

All of the above goals I'd like to accomplish by the time it's been 6 months since I started this program, so by the time it's November 18th - another 12 weeks from now.

For a week on week breakdown of the past 6 weeks, see below.

Week 7

During week 7, I hit my first 100 daily pushups goal. That was 25 x 4 if I remember correctly, and from then on I more or less had 100 or more every day.

A strong slap in the face was the Stronglifts app going down - they had updated their application on Android to store information in a different format and this corrupted my local data to the point of being unrecoverable. Luckily, working in blockchain, I know how important ownership of one's data is so I had it all logged in the spreadsheet anyway. From then on I kept tracking it only in the sheet - the app never recovered.

A regular routine became VR Cardio after my morning runs. The game was BoxVR and each session lasted for some 30 minutes, burning - according to my Garmin and the game itself - some 120 calories. Perhaps slightly more because I use 1kg wrist weights on each arm when doing VR Cardio.

At the end of W7, I was down another 1.6kg to 80.3 from my last weigh-in at 81.9 the week before. Very good progress!

Week 8

I was focused on keeping my pushup game above 100 and tried to keep the week as green as possible. It worked rather well, but my weights game moved into regular red territory - at these weights it became very hard to succeed in all exercises in a given workout.

The last day I indulged in some cinnamon tea biscuits and was promptly punished by the weight loss gods by actually gaining 0.4kg to 80.7. This was quite discouraging given that I had been living with a ~2k calorie deficit for almost two months, but that's an extreme endomorph's body. Grows on nothing.

Week 9

I continued to slowly increase the weights I work with and had a mainly successful week. At the end I got a little lazy in terms of pushups, but everything else was more or less on point.

This week also marked the second month since I started the regime. To be honest, by now it had felt like it had been going on forever.

At the end of the week I lost another 1.8kg down to 78.9, a welcome change.

Week 10

This week was chaos.

For one, we had a massive hackathon at work which caused some sleepless nights - literally stayed awake and did a run or weights the next morning. That was pretty hard, so much so that I skipped VR Cardio - not just due to exhaustion but also to save time and focus on work more.

But another technical disturbance was the fact that Garmin got hit by a ransomware attack and went down, becoming unable to track exercises and data inputs. That's extremely discouraging to an accomplishment chaser like myself, but luckily the device could store the exercises to load them in once Garmin recovers. It didn't happen that week, but some 10 days later things returned to normal.

During Week 10 I also had my first coffee in some 6 or 7 months, and was surprised to find that it worked as advertised. Two cups held me wide awake through a 48 hour coding session with just 3 hours of rest.

The weight moved again, but barely - to 78.8 from 78.9.

Week 11

In week 11, I finally broke the 100kg deadlift barrier again. The ultimate target is "expert" level: 2x my body weight, so 150kg. That's another 4 months away for sure.

The end of week 11 was a great trip to a riverside where I did some upstream swimming, but it did get in the way of healthy food a little.

The weight loss was worryingly small again - down to 78.7 from 78.8. At this point, I realized I was in another plateau - three weeks of same weight. The body needed a shock to be kicked back into gear.

Week 12: The Fast and the Furious

I started W12 with a new breakthrough - I was finally able to squat past my body weight: the 77.5kg set was a success, which meant that I was up for 80kg which was more than my current weight! I also got my pushup sets up to 30 each - one more bump and I'd only need three per day to get 100.

Driven by this success, I started a fast at 7pm. I didn't touch food for exactly 48 hours. There's plenty of medical research that inducing ketosis through fasting once per two weeks or so is both healthy for resetting your biology, and a good shock to the body when it gets stuck on some input. Like mine did, maintaining weight on a deficit of around 2k calories per day. Given that I had been ingesting so few calories as is, the fasting wasn't actually nearly as hard as I thought it would be so I decided to, from now on, do a 40 hour fast once per week - start on Sunday 7pm, and break on Tuesday around noon.

In hindsight, I should have been more careful with the fast - it made me feel invincible and I let myself go a little through the week. I ate more in my "food window", I even had some sugar and carbs. This caused the weight loss to be smaller than expected - I only lost 0.9kg from the last weigh-in, meaning I was now at 77.8kg.

Another interesting thing that happened in W12 was that BoxVR was made into another game, FitXR, so my VR Cardio changed a little - for the better. Where BoxVR needed you to tap some circles coming at you, and the wrist weights made it slightly difficult to keep one's arms up for a long time, it wasn't really a workout that would kill you. With FitXR, that changed. FitXR measures punch strength and speed, so you have to give it your best when punching the circles.

I was blown away to find out that my sessions now burn ~400 calories instead of the previous ~150. This meant that with a morning run, I burned ~700 calories before breakfast, and I don't even eat breakfast.

It was even more surprising to wake up sore the next day: even after this much exercise, there were still muscles that never really activated. Shoulders and lats in particular were burning, and I loved it. FitXR is now my favorite VR game, I highly recommend it for calorie burning, even without weights!

The final realization of the week was that I need to deload my deadlift. I did get to 105kg, but my grip suffered and I was scraping my shins which indicates bad posture. I decided to deload to 90kg even though I didn't fail, just to work on my posture and avoid injuries.

Conclusions

As I approach my target weight of 75kg, everything is becoming progressively harder. I have to include fasting, I have to increase calorie burn with high intensity VR, and my weight workouts now last up to 2 hours.

If I didn't have the treadmill desk, I have no idea how I'd do it. A commute would kill my workout time, and sitting in an office would kill my back and do the opposite of what a treadmill does now. I'm extremely lucky to be able to work like this, and appreciate the freedom I have every day, even if some weeks include 160 hour hacking sprees!

The next update will happen in another 6 weeks, or after I've been below 75kg for two consecutive weeks, whichever happens first.

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